Growing up with autism made me feel like an outsider — particularly when I didn’t understand why people were laughing, angry or upset. No matter what I did, what parts of my appearance I changed or what parts of my attitudes I changed, I never seemed to fit in with my classmates, friends or sometimes family.
Autism is often likened to being in a foreign country where you only understand very little of what they’re saying. That all changed for me when I put on some rock/metal music and stopped caring if I was different. The artists in question were NICKELBACK, ALICE COOPER, NIGHTWISH, BON JOVI and GUNS N’ ROSES. They provided an escapism when things got too much, it had a somewhat calming effect on me. It might sound strange but it actually was calming. It allowed me to switch off from the outside world in a powerful, yet calming way.
Fast forward to the present day, I have found a loving partner and a great group of friends who have the same interests. I’ve been a rock/metal music journalist for the last six to seven years and I have articles published on various websites and on my own blog. This interest in the heavier side of the spectrum has made me feel like a community more than ever before and has given me the opportunity to make friends, speak to strangers in a confident manner (for example meeting or calling band members for interviews) and allowed me to experience things out of my comfort zone. The music itself has a mellowing effect on my personal well-being, especially songs that remind me of certain events and certain people.
Even when there are moments when I’m overthinking the surroundings — such as if I’m standing the right way, constantly looking around feeling as if I’m being watched, feeling uncomfortable if the room is too crowded and if I’m saying the right thing about the right band — it was my stepping stone into a more active social life with amazing people who see me for who I am.
I am not ashamed of my autism, it’s part of who I am and I think it allows me to see things a little differently.