A nursing PhD graduate can be in denial too

A few days ago I paid my great aunt’s family a visit as a thank you for supporting my grandfather during his worst stay in a hospital. A while passed, her son and his 2-year-old child walked in the room and I was told the child has ADHD. I walked up to him and introduce myself, no response from him. His eyes were glued to his father’s iPhone, watching videos. I called him a few more times after that and he did not move his head the slightest. Yes, his eyes were still glued to the screen.

At this point I suspect that the child might have underlying problems. I asked his father “Does he make eye contact when talking to people?” — No. “Does he have friends?” — Nah. He quarrels with all of them. You can probably guess where this is going. Yes, I suspect the child is on the autism spectrum. I myself am autistic (then known as Asperger’s) and I can see my symptoms here and there from my family and extended family. The child is my relative, which means it is more likely that he probably won the jackpot.

I pulled his aunt aside to ‘discuss’ about her nephew. I picked her because at the time, only his grandmother (doubt she’ll grasp the idea of autism), father (I’m sure he’s in denial) and aunt (and the only one with a nursing degree in the room) were present. “Er… I suspect your nephew might be autistic. I know because I’m autistic too” — Nope you are not autistic I know what it looks like you are completely normal.

You don’t know me that well, but let me tell you I still struggle with my symptoms. They’re not that obvious anymore because I build up some tolerance and spent years practicing my social skills. These days, unless I let people know, they won’t know I’m autistic. So what are some of my struggles?

  • Loud noises — if you honk a car when I’m within a walking distance, I’d have a meltdown (read: curl up into a ball and crying) right then and there
  • Interpreting things literally — and I mean LITERALLY down to letters (don’t worry, I’m better at banters and jokes these days)
  • Inflexibility — whatever you do, if you need to change your plan please let me know at least a few hours before
  • Depression — yeah, this happens
  • Sensory overload — biggest offender of all. Throw me in a crowded room with activities 24/7 is the worst way to spend my day

These points are just to demonstrate that no matter how normal I look, I still have ‘underlying’ issues and the worst part is no one believes me when I hit rock bottom because I ‘appear’ so normal.

The aunt does not believe me — fine. It’s her opinion. The kicker? She says “meditation can cure autism (and possibly other ‘mental illness’).” NO it absolutely does not cure autism or insert any mental illness here. At most it makes us calmer but that doesn’t mean my ‘symptoms’ will go poof. I still can’t fix my ‘rigidness’ but it’s getting better. I still interpret things literally too. And occasionally depressed. And the reason I’m this calm because I take a meditation that deal with my irritability. Upping the dosage and I’m docile. Calm as a cucumber. I did my part, and if she wants to believe me (or maybe not), it’s up to her and her family.

Bonus: the father pulls his phone away from his son, and he attacks his father.