Happy birthdays to me: reflecting on 1 year with Autism

Caren Gussoff Sumption
5 min readFeb 10, 2022
Photo by Cristina Hernández on Unsplash

Mid-February, I turn 49. I feel a lot of ways about that.

But, also, I feel like I’m a child. A small one. A toddler. In the best of all possible ways.

A toddler turning 1.

So, I’m about to be 49, but also a 1 year old. At least in terms of being totally, completely myself.

Last year, at this time, I completed an official assessment through GRASP (the Global and Regional Autism Spectrum Partnership) and received the gift that gave me this new baby life: a diagnosis.

I have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

I am Autistic.

And it is fucking awesome.

Getting an official Autism diagnosis as an adult is a tricky, expensive, time-consuming endeavor. The truth is that most of us who make it to adulthood without getting a diagnosis have developed skills that have allowed us to, at least, limp along for decades, surviving, if not appearing to be outwardly flourishing. It’s not that we don’t (and didn’t) need services and assistance; it’s that we got adept at playing neurotypical enough — masking, guessing, nodding, pretending — that, at best, we spent our lives, so far, as “eccentrics,” loners, weirdos, or doormats well-enough that we could “pass”.

It’s usually an out-of-pocket expense, there are fewer specialists who understand adult Autism, and waiting lists can be years long. In addition, traditional Autism assessments like to interview the people who raised you to determine early behaviors, and for many adults my age, our parents or caregivers are gone. Finding folks who knew us young or professionals comfortable proceeding without these interviews can be a challenge.

Many folks — myself included — initially do the self-diagnosis thing. It’s kinda like feeling like a partner is cheating on you, thinking you’re Autistic; if you truly feel it in your guts, it’s usually true. And for a lot of us, that’s enough. It’s been costly enough to survive this long as undiagnosed Autists. A lot of us don’t want to pay anything more info this, tangible or not.

For me, it wasn’t. I’m Autistic enough that being Autistic didn’t even occur to me. Occam’s Razor is not how my neurodivergent mind works. I…

Caren Gussoff Sumption

Writer, dabbler, bon vivant. Nerdy words for nerdy people.