Hi.

I’m Erin Ryan Leigh. I discovered something about myself the other day and have created this blog as a spot to work through it and record things. I’m using a pseudonym, and I’ve chosen a typically female first name followed by a typically male one on purpose, primarily because it suits my personality. (I originally wanted to call myself Erin Paul, but…nah.) My apologies to any real people named Erin Ryan Leigh. I’m not them, okay?

Last Tuesday, I was reading a thread on Captain Awkward. I adore The Captain and I’ve learned so much from her about personal relationships and how to be a better person. Even when I already knew the stuff, she’s often been the one to give me the vocabulary so that I can talk about issues with other people. After I read the post, I read about half the comments. Someone mentioned that she had diagnosed herself has having an autism spectrum disorder and mentioned fitting the criteria for “adult women.” I thought “Hmm, that’s interesting. Do adult women have different traits than what we usually think of autistics as having? Even when we think of high-functioning people?” So I quickly googled “traits of autism in adult women,” found Rudy Simone’s list, and

Burst into tears. Because I fit almost all of them. It explains so much about my life. I’m 51 years old, and despite being obviously smart, completing a difficult undergraduate degree, and working hard at so much in my life, I’ve always considered myself a failure. According to many people’s criteria, I am. So it was a relief to be able to put a name to my difficulties, and maybe find a solution. But I also cried for the time I’ve lost. And I cried for past-me, who often knew what she needed, asked for it in a very reasonable way, and had people bully me instead. Finally, I cried because I don’t want to think that every individual trait I’ve been proud of is just part of some pathological condition.

I bought one of Rudy Simone’s books and also one by Christina Kim. I don’t fit every trait they’ve listed, and I don’t agree with every way that Simone, in particular, presents Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I’m still sure it describes me. Now I need to investigate more and figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I’m pretty excited, actually.

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