I didn't always know I was neurodivergent.
June 17, 2021
Though I have obviously been neurodivergent my whole life, I was not diagnosed properly with OCD until I was twelve, ADHD until I was fourteen, and autism until I was sixteen.
This experience probably comes from the fact that I was assigned female at birth. Neurodivergence can manifest differently in people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB) compared to those who are assigned male at birth (AMAB), and due to historical biases in science and medicine, many doctors and psychiatrists are only trained to spot behaviors in those who are assigned male at birth. Many women and AFAB folks slip through the radar, especially if they are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Behaviors often get mischaracterized or misdiagnosed, and many AFAB people are assumed to be “quirky” or “shy,” especially if they are good students.
That is, essentially, what happened to me.
I’ve always been a good student and a diligent worker. When I was younger, this meant that my autism and ADHD mostly manifested in social and non-school environments, as I was able to focus and complete work efficiently. However, as I got older and work got more difficult, I started to fall behind. Because I had no diagnosis, I was unaware that I was any different from the students I saw around me, and I started to believe that I was not good enough to keep up.
Knowing that I’m autistic helped me realize that I’m not incapable. I need more help in certain areas. Sometimes I need more time, or clarification. Assistance does not make me less worthy; it simply puts me on a level playing field with neurotypical people.
I hope this series has helped you to understand more about neurodivergence. I hope that you’ll do more research if you’re interested — the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a good place to start — and I hope that you, like me, will come to realize that neurodiversity is beautiful.