Why my autism diagnosis was just one step on my journey
Kyle tells us about his autism diagnosis journey.
The strangest thing about the day I was diagnosed with autism was that it was like any other. It came and went, and that was that.
But the journey I went on afterwards was very different. 11 years after that day at Rushden Hospital, my message is simple: stay hopeful, stay positive, and keep going – because there will be downs as well as ups.
A diagnosis can be liberating
A diagnosis of autism can feel very liberating. I had always felt ‘different’ to others in some way or another. I liked things that others didn’t, and when I liked something, I was obsessed with it. I would have a full meltdown if I was taken away from it under any circumstances. But I couldn’t put a name to these differences until my diagnosis – now I can say that I am autistic.
But it was the start of my journey, not the end. And the diagnosis didn’t make what came afterwards easier.
But my message to anyone struggling after a diagnosis is that it can and will get better. Stay positive, keep going, and pursue what you want to do. You’ll get there, as I did.
I felt overwhelmed
Soon after my diagnosis, my family started to break up, and I began to really struggle at school. I had frequent meltdowns and often found myself dazed or angry for hours. It felt like years of family history were vanishing before my eyes. School was no better. I was almost trance-like at times due to being overwhelmed. I wish I’d said something to my teachers, but I didn’t.
I finished school, in the end, leaving with three GCSEs and missing prom. The last part is the worst: it still makes me incredibly sad to see local kids going to prom because I just wish I could have been in their shoes.
Now at this point, I should say this story very much has a happy ending! I have learned to be an advocate for people with autism. This year saw a real milestone for me: I was elected to be a town councillor in Abergavenny, which takes me closer to my dream of a life in politics.
If there’s a lesson, though, it’s that things can get harder before they get easier, and you have to stay strong and stay positive.
Things get better
The low points for me came just before I moved to Wales. After more bad education experiences, I experienced a nervous breakdown and was sectioned. But at this point, I became determined to bounce back and live my life.
I got a place of my own in Wales, so I was entirely in control of my life for the first time. I then went back to college and got to work. This time, school worked out for me – I got the grades I needed to go to university, and actually won awards. At university, I began to discover my passion for politics.
And now I’m the youngest councillor in Abergavenny and the first one elected there to be openly autistic.
I know that diagnosis can seem like the end of a journey. It’s important to remember that it’s another step – there are many more ups and downs to follow. But my message to anyone struggling after a diagnosis is that it can and will get better.
Stay positive, keep going, and pursue what you want to do. You’ll get there, as I did.