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I’m Autistic & Misdiagnosed with ADHD

All my life, I knew I was different. It showed with the way I thought, did things, and just knew certain information as common knowledge. People treated me like an encyclopedia, however, they never understood my behavioral patterns. Almost 14 years later, I now understand that I am autistic with autistic problems!

Where it All Started

I was informally and misdiagnosed diagnosed with ADHD; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A caregiver gave me that diagnosis without any formal testing for ADHD. All it took was for them to ask a family doctor of 20+ years for an ADHD prescription. I didn’t really resonate with that diagnosis and was very conscious about it at a very young age. Growing older, I stopped taking the ADHD medication because I didn’t think I had ADHD. At the age of 22, I understand why there was a misdiagnosis of ADHD when my behaviors fell under Autism. Many people do not know the difference! AND are not aware that there are more diagnoses than ADHD.

What’s the Difference?

This is a Venn diagram of some ADHD and Autism differences with some overlapping similarities. Image found here.

This is How I Knew I Didn’t Have ADHD…

People with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention for an extended amount of time and may get distracted easily. Which wasn’t my issue. I had a limited scope of interest that didn’t show to be just one thing as it correlated with my academic performance in a positive way. It was the mask that greatly hid that I was autistic. My personal struggles with language also served as a mask that explained the negative impact of my reading scores. I only spoke Spanish but understood English when I came back from Puerto Rico in 2008. From my perspective, I was able to read the material and understand it. I just didn’t know how to write it down in English.

As a complex factor, another result of my impacted academic performance was how uninterested I was in reading certain things. I absolutely had no interest in reading anything besides ghost stories, Shakespeare plays, and/or poetry. When it came down to independent reading, I never read! SORRY MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS, but I was acting. I wasn’t the best actor and broke character a lot. It interpreted as ADHD because I would have rather looked outside than read something I didn’t have an interest in. That gave off that I was easily distracted.

This concludes the reason why I appeared to have ADHD and not Autism. But it doesn’t conclude this blog series!

– Dez 🙂

Autism: Music, Art & Equine Therapy

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There are many therapeutic services that benefit those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Each form of therapy is different and made to fit the needs of those using them. I will be sharing a few of my favorite forms of therapy which include music therapy, art therapy and even equine therapy!

Music therapy is the use of music to accomplish individual goals. These goals can include improving mood and self-expression. This includes listening, singing, and composing music as well as playing instruments! Music therapy can help those with ASD properly identify and express how they’re feeling as well as stimulate their cognitive function. This form of therapy can also help improve speech and language skills. We have a music therapist come in for my students once a week and it really improves all of their moods and encourages them to express themselves. They love it!

Another great form of therapy is art therapy! It is fun and can be very helpful for individuals who have ASD. This form promotes self-expression through various forms of art. These forms include drawing, painting, pottery and everything in between. Personally, art therapy is my favorite form of therapy. It can build improved visual and spatial skills while also promoting sensory integration. While promoting sensory integration, art therapy also encourages emotional and sensory control. Better control of these factors can lead to an increase in positive behaviors!

And finally, equine therapy. This type of therapy involves horses which is really great for some people. Horseback riding can soothe individuals with autism which allows them to focus better, think and participate in training. Their desire to ride horses will also allow us to encourage positive behaviors while also gently discouraging negative behaviors. A few of my students utilize equine therapy and it does make a huge difference for them.

I’ve included articles, or posts about the therapies I’ve shared with you! Check them out below:

Sounds and the Spectrum: The Benefits of Music for People with Autism

The Value Of Art Therapy For Those On The Autism Spectrum

Something about a Horse: Finding Benefits for Autism in Therapeutic Riding

Please read my post Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters! right here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters!

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For those of you who don’t know, April is World Autism Awareness Month. By celebrating, we have the opportunity to provide a better understanding and further the acceptance of individuals with Autism. We can do this in many ways.

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) references a variety conditions and characteristics that are accompanied with many challenges. Some of these challenges include trouble with speech, repeat behaviors and trouble with social skills. Autism is a spectrum. Individuals with Autism each have their own unique strengths and obstacles to face.

One of the biggest ways we can support individuals with Autism is through inclusion! Now I know some of you are probably wondering what that means! Well, inclusion is when you are being valued, respected and supported by those around you so that’s why its important. It’s all about focusing on the needs of every person. It also means making sure that you are helping each person reach their full potential. Individuals on the spectrum are just like everyone else and they have the same rights to inclusion that we do! Autism isn’t a disability, it’s just a different ability.

The students with Autism in my classroom are some of the sweetest, kindest and brightest kids I know. It breaks my heart when people aren’t willing to include them in certain activities because of their disabilities. They are capable of doing what everyone else can, they may just need a little more support but that’s okay. Inclusion matters because without it, many will be left out and feeling inadequate which could lead to negative feelings towards themselves. They don’t deserve that. Be more inclusive!

For more information on World Autism Awareness Month, check out Autism Speaks!

Also check out Kailey’s post “What is Sensory Overload?” here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

2018 Awareness Calendar

Hi everybody! To celebrate the new year, Turningpointct.org has made a calendar showcasing mental wellness awareness days to share with you!

Below is the entire calendar

Share with your friends, or enjoy it yourself! Some of the days may be familiar and some may be new!
We hope you all enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

Choosing to Walk Away

It is an amazing feeling to come to the realization that some things are just not meant for us. Whether they are prohibiting us from moving forward and reaching our goals, or they hinder us from being our true selves, walking away from things that are not meant for us allows us to grow into the best us we can possibly be.

In my personal experiences, the number one thing I’ve had to walk away from after realizing that they were holding me back were toxic relationships. Whether they were romantic ones or ones with friends, any ones I walked away from were hard. It is often difficult to leave something that you have become used to, but I knew that it was all for the better.

What things have you had to walk away from in your life because you knew they were not doing you any good?

CT DMHAS Bed Availability Tool

Looking for help but can’t find anything available?

Check out this new tool that CT DMHAS has created for those looking for a place to begin their journey to recovery! This is an informational tool that is available 24/7, letting users know where a bed is available.

Any questions you may have can be sent in via the comments page.