Editor's Note: Allison M. Kramer graciously shared her story as an adult on the spectrum.
More than mere quirks, my autism affects relationships with others and sensory processing. This eventually grew more problematic in my teens. It also helped me to be highly organized, creative and to know myself; something I am told is hard for neurotypicals.
My mother used to call me the onion in the petunia patch, and not just because I was a little stinker. I amused and angered the "perfect" people in my life due to the glaringly obvious fact that I didn't fit in or belong anywhere outside my home. I rocked, walked "like a duck" as one classmate put it, and screamed, plugging my ears, when a teacher put on an old, scratchy record.
By the time I turned 14, I began to notice increasing sensitivity to other sounds already too loud, especially when accompanied by startle. I began to experience more meltdowns more frequently and much lower overall frustration tolerance. Add to this intense bullying during middle school and high-school years and the sudden loss of a parent at age 14, as well as very little understanding and compassionate measures being attempted by professionals and first responders beginning in my late teens and extending to the present.
Since my mom passed in 2014, I have endured much loneliness and isolation due to having nobody to spend my day with. I spend the day with Netflix. My sister has been taking care of me since our mother's death. She does have a full life and can't always be present.
Photography, more than writing alone, helps me to share what my mind is seeing. I see beauty in brokenness. My photograph of the broken window symbolizes to me that, given support, a disabled individual can show forth their beauty. I also make bracelets when I have enough money to buy the material, which isn't continuous.
I wonder where I will live if I outlive my older sister. Will there be children screaming up and down the halls? Dogs barking through the walls? I need a safe place both for me and for others.
Allison M. Kramer is a woman in her thirties from the American Midwest. She was first diagnosed as having “autistic features” in 1998 and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder in 2004. Rocking has been Allison’s default stimulus since she was old enough to sit up. It helps relieve the intense anxiety she experiences on a perpetual basis. If a sailor has a ship in every port, Allison has a rocking chair in (almost) every room. She has limited engagement with the outside world. She lives with her older sister in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and authors a blog at https://through1filter.blogspot.com/?zx=c1eb5e3f47839c06