And then sometimes, it hits me.

For the most part, I am happy to think of myself not as disabled or disordered, but simply different.

And then sometimes, it hits me.

I see that much of what I have achieved and overcome throughout my life has been a direct result of being autistic, because it is such an intrinsic part of who I am.

I see the many strengths that come with being autistic. The many things I can celebrate about myself.

And then sometimes, it hits me.

I am happier now with who I am than at any other point in my entire life. Mostly right now, I move through my day serene,  and with an ease I have never before experienced.

And then sometimes, it hits me.

Today, late for a meeting. My beautiful children clamouring for attention, delaying my exit from the house. No time to compose myself before entering into two hours of in-depth database development discussions. Approaching the two-hour mark, my brain starts to fizz. The jargon, the complexity, the people talking. Hunger. Tiredness. The knowledge that I have another meeting to attend in 45 minutes’ time, with an entirely different group of people, discussing an entirely different topic, at which I will have to lead the discussion because I instigated it in the first place.

And it hits me.

I need to get out. If I don’t leave that first meeting now, I will never be able to shift gear in time; my brain will be unable to adequately switch to a new task, a new focus.

 I make my apologies and leave. Awkward exchanges of thanks/goodbye. Never quite sure how to verbally ‘sign off’.

 A quick visit to the office, just long enough to remind myself of this other aspect of my job, my day.

My next meeting involves an ordinarily 15-minute walk to a different part of campus. Construction work means it takes longer. There is noise. I walk past the children’s hospital on my way to my next meeting venue, and suffer that oft-experienced pang of hyper-empathy seeing children and their families, wondering what difficulties and challenges they’re having to bear. That agonising feeling of pain at other’s (imagined) suffering.

It hits me.

The air conditioning in the meeting room is too loud. It’s like an aircraft taking off. There are no windows, no visible green (I crave all things green). I focus on my colleagues’ mouths as they speak, only ever briefly glancing at their eyes.

I somehow manage to get the outcomes I need from the meeting. I manage to communicate effectively enough. But I cannot go back to the office just yet. Coffee and cake. It’s lunchtime, but I need to sit somewhere. Get down my thoughts in this blog. Compose myself before I resume my role of the capable, competent, clear-communicating professional.

Because sometimes, it hits me.

I am capable.

I am competent.

I can communicate.

And I can do many other things besides these. I am resilient and strong. I have powers. I have skills, and intelligence. And these days, for the most part, I am positive. Optimistic.

But sometimes, nevertheless, it hits me.

What comes naturally to others does not always come naturally to me. There are times when I must recognise that this fundamental part of who I am does make things difficult. I may be ‘verbal’; I may appear, on the surface, to ‘function’. But every day of my life, I contend with challenges because the world is not set up in a way that is ideal for me.

And mostly, that’s fine. That’s just the way it is. I like who I am.

But sometimes, it hits me.

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