By: Corey Coloma, Twainbow Director
Five years ago today I was diagnosed as mildly autistic. This was commonly referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome. My life would never be the same. It was a pivotal moment when everything in my life suddenly made sense.
However, I quickly learned how mistreated people like myself are. I would find out how the world views autistic people and how society doesn’t have a clue at all.
People would start using functioning labels for me like I was some second class citizen. Before diagnosis people didn’t question my abilities in this manner. I was an independent adult that was capable of anything I wanted to accomplish. But afterwards, I was someone that was viewed as disabled and inferior to others.
I would eventually be told I needed to be on social security and have a case manager through the county developmental disability office and I would need someone to help me interact with society how they deemed appropriate.
This was not what I wanted. I just wanted to be happy and find a career I loved. People often don't think I'm autistic because I don't fit their narrow minded view of who we are. Many people thought I must just be schizophrenic or that I memorized the questions to get a diagnosis. I went to the Amen clinic to have brains scans done about 4 years ago to prove I was autistic. That changed things for me.
The State has rules designed to control our lives and the lives of all people with disabilities. They choose what's best for their view of us. Not what we actually desire.
People would tell me I was high functioning. Something that really just says my autism doesn’t affect their life. Something that says my opinion doesn’t matter because I'm not like the people they deem as low functioning. Functioning Labels are one of the most useless pieces of an autism diagnosis. They don’t tell the real story.
I am constantly treated like an inferior person by so many people. Everything I do is ridiculed. People assume I am incapable. They assume I can’t drive or I can’t pay for myself because I must not have adequate employment. There are so many assumptions. The stigma and mistreatment of autistic individuals is much worse than actually living as an autistic individual.
People think I will be unable to communicate but people like myself communicate directly. We do not hint or play charades. If you ask indirect questions of me or hint at me and I don't respond all you need to do is ask directly to get what you want answered. It's also great if you tell me the purpose of your question as I will see all possibilities and not know what you are trying to find out. You should also know that I'm generally a private person and if you are fishing for something I will likely ignore you.
In 5 years I have completely changed my life. I continue to progress and better myself. I achieve my goals and continue the path I have created for myself. I have attained the middle class status and live in a modest apartment alone. I have nothing to prove. I am who I am and I have learned to love myself more.
I don't need anyone to be complete. I would love to have a dedicated life partner. It's something difficult to find in today's society. But I know I am worthy of love and will make a great partner. I am free to live my life how I desire.
Five years ago was the first day of the rest of my life. My diagnosis would nearly destroy me with two suicide attempts and a lot of heartache from the abuse I would go through. But after it all I would prevail and be reborn like a phoenix from the ashes.
I did not give up because of my autism but because of a great many life circumstances and abuse by those that were supposed to protect me.
You can shame me for giving up or you can realize that the mental health stigma with men is one of the problems with society and why men have such turmoil with living with mental health conditions.
If someone you know and love talks as if there is no reason to live or that they are worthless, reach out to them. Don't tell them to man up and shame them. Don't disregard their feelings. Support them in getting the support they need to change their life.
I'm so thankful for Louie in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without his loving guidance. I never would have been able to succeed without my therapist Lincoln Witt here in Eugene Oregon with his neurofeedback therapy that changed my life.
If you are in the Eugene area I highly recommend Lincoln Witt as a therapist. He works with people with disabilities and gender and sexuality diverse individuals and uses many ways to change your life including neurofeedback therapy that will fix PTSD, anxiety, depression and more. He takes most major insurance providers.
I never would have imagined where I am today without these people in my life.
I am thankful I was not diagnosed earlier in life for I would have grown up being told by the world that I was incapable and a second class citizen.
I have taken a great deal of time to think about where I want to be and what I want to accomplish and continue to progress towards that.
Please read my diagnosis story and where I am in life now at the following links.
With all things said you must keep in mind this is my story and not that of everyone. All of us are each unique individuals with different paths and different abilities.
Corey Coloma, Twainbow Director
Diagnosis Story: https://www.twainbow.org/2017/12/18/i-am-autism-diagnosis-at-30-a-broken-system/
My accomplishments: https://www.twainbow.org/2019/07/29/twainbow-defines-what-it-means-to-live-under-the-double-rainbow/