When I was five, I vowed no longer to be autistic. My momentous decision took place in kindergarten, during the Christmas pageant. Though I was nonverbal at age 3, when the pediatrician advised my mother to institutionalize me and cut her losses, I must have fully understood what he was telling her well enough to be ashamed of the dreaded "a" word two years later.
For the next forty years, my autism was a dirty secret I divulged, almost as a passing afterthought, to only my closest friends and, much later, to parents of newly diagnosed kids.
People they told either said I was making it up, since I am not only verbal, but loquacious; or they felt vindicated in their suspicions that I really am a little off.
Whenever I alluded to my autism, it was always in the past tense. That is not to say that I didn’t secretly devour what little I could dig up about my "former" condition, as a part of me must have known that autism doesn’t just evaporate.