2016 saw me diagnosed with Autism and ADD. At that point it came as no surprise. I had just failed my senior thesis class. For the second time.

Schooling had always been manageable for me. I didn’t apply myself but that was never a problem outside of math. The way high school worked had many points in my favor. Tests were about what we learned in class. I could get away without doing homework most of the year. I learned information in high school for tests. But I never “learned” school material at home. I learned other things at home. Things normally having to do with reading. Or music.

But college was different. There were more people, strangers. My high school was in the same building the junior high was. I knew the people there. The teachers were ones I’d had before or previously seen. I interacted with that environment for 6 years. When it came time to start all over again I crumbled.

The first three years I managed. I used the methods I learned from high school. Sit in the back, pay attention to the teacher, ignore everyone and everything else. I made no friends. How could I? I lacked the social skills to do anything but stammer my name and an
answer when called on. But I managed. Until my last year, and that last class.

By then I knew something was wrong. There was no reason I should feel as anxious as I did before, during, and after attending that senior thesis class. It made little sense to me. Especially when all we did was discuss our thesis progress as a group in preparation for our end of class presentations. After the fourth class I stopped showing up. I would drive the hour commute to the school, get to the correct building, get inside, and then walk to the library and stay there for the duration of the three hour class period.

I failed the class and couldn’t graduate. The school let me try again. I failed again. At that point I knew something was wrong. My mom knew something was wrong too. She found a doctor and together we went through the entire process of diagnosis.

So did I know? Not until it was nearly too late. Were there any signs, or clues? Sure, but those only help when you know there’s something to look for. Until that senior thesis class I was just antisocial, depressed, and anxious.

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