I want to share with you the revelation of my 58 year journey to the “label” of Asperger Syndrome. For some reason, my mother labeled everything. We had Dayton labels in our clothes, shoes, on cameras, umbrellas, Bibles, Well, everything that could be labeled was so that it might be returned if lost to its owner when found.
A year or so before my Mother, Lorena Etter Dayton, passed away  I had mentioned to her that I was on a journey. I asked her if she could share with me anything about my childhood that might help me to understand that I was, in fact, on the spectrum of Autism, specifically Asperger Syndrome.
Like most everyone I mentioned these feelings to, she said she didn’t think I was Autistic. She did add very quickly that I was not a happy infant or toddler. I cried so much and could not be satisfied regardless of what they tried. That was it. This was all of the information about my childhood that I would have to go on from the generations before me.
Yet, I knew there was much more. After all, I have lived this wired for an amazing life. We are on a wonderful journey together, God and I. I don’t think it occurred to me that I was different in a way that could be “labeled” until I was over 50. I believe God reveals information and answers for us in his timing.
As an adult, God began to uncover thoughts within me that directed me to begin a search for answers to the questions and feelings I had carried with me for so many years and I began discovering, connecting, and learning more about my divine wiring.
I was battling a re-occurring health issue. Believe me, I read about many illnesses during this time. I could understand how those who don’t feel good could grasp onto every little symptom that is remotely similar to what they are feeling…just to have an answer. God provided an answer for my health and while I was searching, I stumbled upon a web page one day and began reading about Asperger Syndrome. I felt an overwhelming peace. I thought, c’est moi, it is me, Phyllis, I have been found.
In 2012, I decided to Facebook message a former Plainview resident and friend, Jessica James Baldridge. They have an Autistic son, and she had worked for many years within the field of Autism in the Dallas, Texas, area. She led me to valuable information that would validate my feeling that I was, in fact, an adult female with Autism/Asperger Syndrome characteristics.
About a year passes, and I have a nudge to revisit the information from Mrs. Baldridge. I decide to retake the quiz to determine if there might be anything different in my life now, in comparison to then, that could have influenced the results. Once again, the results confirmed that I was most likely on the Autism/Asperger Syndrome spectrum.
It is at this time that God really began to reveal thoughts, feelings, characteristics, etc. of my life that would confirm within me that things did match up for an ASD diagnosis.
The earliest recollection that I could attribute to this new “label” for my life were the times my mother worked with me on the inflection of reading sentences. We practiced going up and down and down and up. We practiced periods, exclamations, and commas. She showed me that every word needed its own “color.” I can remember her telling me that I spoke in a monotone. My mother helped me to understand that I was okay but that what she was sharing was how others needed to hear me talk and read.
As things began to connect within me, I continued to put the pieces of my puzzle together. Both of our parents worked outside of the home. I would be home many hours each week alone. I never minded the alone time, I remember enjoying it. When my parents came home I would retreat to my bedroom. I did play with other children in the neighborhood and had one neighborhood friend that is still a dear friend today, although we don't see each other often.
There were many other traits of this new revelation that were connected within me; I was amazed. Who would have guessed? God knew.
God was revealing my wiring for his purpose. Above all, I have always wanted to glorify him and share his love through testimony and ministry.
It is the end of 2013, and I have searched and called different clinics and Universities in Texas that deal with children with Autism/Asperger Syndrome but, there was no link to anyone who works with adults, much less the female adult on the spectrum. I even emailed Tony Attwood. He is a clinical psychologist and author from Australia. He is known worldwide for his knowledge of Asperger Syndrome. He did respond to tell me that he would be in the United States for conferences, and maybe we could get together. I have been led to the most amazing people.
Again, God was not revealing anything more about where he was leading me. Then, I saw a link for a website that was maintained by Rudy Simone called Help 4 Aspergers. I discovered that she also was the author if Aspergirls, a wonderful and confirming read for me. On her site, there was a page with Drs. Who Diagnose. There she was. Eva Mendes, with her expertise in adult women with Autism/Asperger Syndrome, and she lived in the U.S.A.
There was an email link, and I sent Eva Mendes a note thinking that she most likely would not respond but, she did. I called her, and we visited for some time. We talked about the reason I feel strongly that I need a diagnosis. That purpose is two-fold; one is that I need to know for sure in order to have a ministry to help others know and understand their wiring gift, and the other reason is so that I might be studied in order to further the understanding of the adult female with Autism/Asperger Syndrome.
This journey I am on has made me very apprehensive but, in Christ I find peace & rest. It is as if the curtain is being raised for Act II. I have not traveled to this place & time alone. My husband, children, grand girls, and precious friends have traveled with me. We are here because God is leading.
In March 2014, Clinton and I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to the offices of AANE (Asperger Association of New England) to visit a psychotherapist, Eva Mendes, regarding a diagnosis for ASD…for me.
We are all created neurologically different. People are wired differently. In my opinion, this design of unique traits allows our God of creation to be glorified in very different ways using varied abilities. We are all on the spectrum.
God wired me in the most beautiful way and I am honored to be his child. He led me to my acceptance of Jesus at the age of seven to protect me and to guide me into his ministry using my differences to His advantage. His plan for me started long ago and it will continue on with my eyes a little more open and having a clearer understanding of where he will use me in the days ahead…my heart is open.
As I mentioned we all are different. My ASD traits will look somewhat different than the next persons. There are four basic and highly technical criteria for diagnosing ASD according to the DSM-5 that is used to diagnose ASD.
If you are interested in reading about adult diagnosis, there are several websites and books available. I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Self Discovery for Adults by Cynthia Kim has some great basic information in it. I’m grazing on it now.
Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment differences characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.
There are many famous people through history which are thought to have had ASD: Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Andy Warhol to mention a few. We have heard, more recently, about Susan Boyle, James Durbin, Dan Aykroyd, and of course; Temple Grandin. All uniquely different and all diagnosed with ASD.
Chances are that unless we understand the characteristics or traits we will not recognize them among us. We realize that most will never know this about me until God uses me to reach others. I never dreamed that the pieces I held in my hands, from the time I was very young and still hold today, would come together in such a beautiful revelation!
We are all indeed special.
Fresh Find: Granola cookie anyone?