Growing up with Autism

by Daniel Antonsson

When I was a child, I never walked around and thought that I was different. I was just me and people around me never consider that I could have a diagnosis of some kind. I was a calm and
proper boy that always tried to be kind to people and behave well in school. I was a little afraid of new things and changes and I was not the most extroverted person, but at the same time I carved out my role in the social life and made friends early on. I stood my ground and I was never bullied, I was naturally strong and I was good at sports, which made things easier.

Nowadays, teachers are more aware and have more knowledge about neuropsychiatric disabilities in a way that they did not have in the same extent 35 years ago. If I look back at myself during my early years in school, the things that stood out was that I had problems with textures. When it came to eating in school, there were many times I had to wait to eat after school because I did not like what was served. Moving forward some years, I loved almost all types of food that we were served in school, but it was just in the beginning I had these problems. I often walked around with scattered thoughts and being in my own world. I forgot things all over the place. Another thing was that I was hyperfocused on my special interest even as a child, but this focus became even stronger when I became an adult and it has followed me through all my life.

When I was a child I developed a strong interest in cowboys. I looked at all western movies that I could find and really liked Clint Eastwood. I read all the books about cowboys that I could find in the library. I also became highly interested in guns and my parents were a bit worried about this, but they soon realized that it was not hurting anybody. Later on, I started practicing target shooting. Over the years I have had some other types of special interests, role-playing games like dungeons and dragons, travels, martial arts, powerlifting/bodybuilding, healthy eating, motorcycles, business and economy.

I did not have any siblings and I think that it was good for me. My parents had a lot of time for me and they could be there to guide me. There has been times when I thought about how it could have been fun to have a brother or a sister. This was when I was an adult and my mother was so worried about me. There was a little too much focus on me as she did not have any more child to worry about. When I drove my motorcycle or travelled the world by myself, my mother always thought about the worst that could happen, that’s just how she is. I have a lot of beautiful memories. For example, when me and my parents went to the north of Sweden to ski, we did this every winter when I was growing up. I liked so much to sit in the car, just relaxing with my own thoughts while my parents were talking in the front seat of the car. Sometimes I almost felt that I was crazy because I could be stuck in the same thought loops forever, but at the time I did not have any answer to why things where in this way, it was not until I got my late Autism diagnosis that the pieces fall into place, I could see the reason to why I am the way I am and it gave me a better understanding for myself.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly how old I was when I got my diagnosis but I think it was when I was around 27 years old. I had a very good childhood overall, I spent time out in nature, sometimes with my parents and sometimes with my grandmother which I had a very good relationship with. We looked for different types of animals in the forest and when it was time for lunch my grandmother always cooked something nice for me, I remember her meatballs and potatoes and carrots that we picked in the garden. Sometimes me and my father went out fishing on the lake that is located near my parents house. We were not very good fishermen, but sometimes we caught something and a perch fried in butter on bread was just lovely. I do not have many bad childhood memories, I broke my arm and some other small injuries but I don’t view those memories as something bad. When i became a teenager I was never in the cool group and I never tried to be either, I gained my confidence in social interactions with for example girls a little later, it all worked out well in the end. I continued with doing a lot of other things like doing military service when I was a young adult. Of course there are always things that we feel that we could have done differently when we look back in time and I am not an exception, but I am thankful for my life, it has been a great ride.

Daniel Antonsson is a 43 year old Autistic man living in Sweden with his Venezuelan girlfriend and four year old daughter. He has always enjoyed writing about different subjects and being able to publish for the Art of Autism make him feel truly blessed.

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