I am an autistic woman, and I'm a feminist, bisexual, liberal, non-Trinitarian Christian, writer, artist, geek, and gamer. I also have other disabilities and I'm involved in disability rights as a self-advocate. I work with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and help run Autistics Speaking Day every November, and I'd be much more productive if I didn't melt down so easily or need so much downtime. I live with my husband, our roommate, and two cats (Echo and Tesla) in the St. Louis area. My husband and I want to move into a house and are saving money for that. We do not want children.
I spend a lot of my time watching documentaries, playing video games, and reading blogs and other interesting things on the Internet. I have a tendency to get really into almost everything that I like. I'll get interested in something and then spend several days learning everything there is to know about it and think about it frequently before moving on to a new subject. This makes the list of things I'm interested in terrifyingly long.
I spoke and read early but saw a speech therapist until I was in junior high because my speech was abnormal (no contractions, mispronouncing letters, and so on). I was misdiagnosed with several other conditions as a child and autism wasn't mentioned until I was 17. I finished college in December and will graduate with a B.A. in history from the University of Missouri at St. Louis in May 2012. Although my school performance looks decent on paper I have had frequent issues with misunderstanding assignments, losing or forgetting homework, and breaking down over school-related schedules for my entire life. My elementary school refused to give me any supports and even in high school and college I never received any formal support for my disabilities.
Being autistic affects my senses so that I become overstimulated very easily by bright lights, loud noises, strong odors or tastes, and touching certain things (velvet is one trigger). I can develop sensory overload very quickly if I'm already frustrated, and sensory overload can make it difficult to concentrate. I have difficulty living independently. My husband pays the majority of our bills since he makes a much larger salary than I do, and he and handles the paperwork, cooking, phone calls, and other tasks I find difficult or impossible. I can write better than I can speak. I have difficulty with unprepared words and can completely lose the ability to speak at times. (Text-to-speech software is a lifesaver.) I can't read nonverbal cues very well and come off as eccentric, stupid, or confused. I am so bad at talking to people that I feel like an idiot after nearly ever encounter with a cashier. I have anxiety problems as well, and difficulty forming friendships. My tendency to monologue about my interests probably doesn't help, especially since a couple of my interests (like the historical perceptions of death and mortality or general occult stuff) seem to make people uncomfortable. Most of my interests just bore people. I don't really understand it but neurotypical people don't seem to care about things the way many autistic people do. I think I would be miserable without constantly learning things, since it makes me feel as if I have a purpose.
I stim constantly by humming and rocking my body or parts of my body. I flap my arms and and hands when I get excited. The only stim I dislike is pulling my hair. It's involuntary, often caused by me worrying about something or being upset about something, and it was bad enough when I was in high school that I lost a log of my hair. When I was 18 my hair was uneven, balding in spots, and only about an inch long in most places. It took me till recently to get my hair back to shoulder-length.
People have told me that I am "high-functioning" or that it would be more correct to say that I have Asperger's syndrome, but I don't like this. I see functioning labels as insults, and functioning labels and the supposed forms of autism (ASD, AS, PDD-NOS) are inadequate when it comes to describing my strengths and weaknesses. My current diagnosis is Asperger's syndrome but I identify as autistic, and under the DSM-V I will simply be autistic. You may think based on my writings that I barely have problems at all, but I should probably warn you that it's hard to judge the severity of a person's disability over the Internet. I'm sure you'd have a much different impression if you observed me in my home for a period of time. The fact that I am able to write a blog, was able to finish school, or that I am married does not negate my diagnosis. A lot of autistic people have done these things.
I don't suffer because I am autistic, but I do suffer from chronic back pain from scoliosis and 5 bulged discs. Once in a great while I use a wheelchair, especially if I'm going to be walking around. I'm on several medications for the pain, including opiate-based painkillers. I have a very mild hearing deficiency (otosclerosis with a 20% hearing loss in the right ear and associated tinnitus) that doesn't affect me to a noticeable degree.