Figure it's only fair I answer my own questions here.
My Autism Origin Story
I am the sole parent of a 14 year old son on the spectrum. I didn't pick up on it, it was the school that did. Half because I didn't notice, because he is so much like me. And half because I structure my life in such a way that there's minimal stresses for me so there were no triggers for him at home. So there were never any shutdowns or withdrawals or issues with sensory stuff. He's an amazing and smart kid, who loves science and has been having philosophical debates with me since he was 5.
He was diagnosed at the age of 7. And my family barely accepted it. Instead they had the view it was because he didn't have a man in his life. Because I was bringing him up wrong. He didn't have autism, it was me that was the mistake. Not all of my family felt this way, but enough that it hurt.
And from that point of diagnosis of my son, on meeting, introducing and explaining to people, so many would ask me: Are you on the spectrum too? People assumed I was because of my behaviour. And as I read more and more and learned more, I recognised that probably 80% of the things that qualify for my son being on the spectrum, I either experienced as a child/teen/young adult, and in most cases, still experience.
I've come up with so many ways to cope, to pretend. To fake eye contact, to hide the scratch marks, to limit my social interactions, noise cancelling headphones, quiet environment. To have a job freelancing as a developer so I don't have to navigate work places. To avoid using the phone. Using public transport (because I can't cope with cars). I have no in person friends. Not one. I have a couple of amazing friends online. I really struggle with anxiety and depression, sleep and taking care of myself.
This year though, I've been working hard on myself and my mental health. Setting up routines and just taking tiny baby steps. And once I took a few of those baby steps, and became more comfortable slowly dropping those masks, I got myself a new doctor, one that understood myself and my son a bit better and didn't give less than helpful advice like: He just needs to join a sport.
And from them, a referral to a psychiatrist. Because we're in lockdown we had the first meeting via zoom session last month and there will be a couple more before I get an official diagnosis. But he did state that I am almost certainly on the spectrum.