Chapter 5: A Revelation of Giftedness and the Circle of Support
Today, I assisted my parents in moving out of the house they have been renting for the past year. They will be staying with my partner James and me for at least the next month as they wait for their new home to be built in Arizona. It's a peculiar feeling to see my parents move into my own home, almost like completing a full circle.
I anticipate no problems with my parents staying with us, and James appears to be open and welcoming to the company we'll have. I'm genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with them before they relocate to another state far from me. Although my parents aren't flawless, they've always been incredibly supportive of my life's ambitions. I feel fortunate to be able to provide support to my parents during this significant life transition.
A few years ago, I wouldn't have been in a position to support my parents like this. At that time, I was struggling with several issues and had become increasingly dishonest with those closest to me. I was trying to maintain the façade of being their perfect daughter and not rock the boat, even though I was facing many challenges. I kept up this charade for a while, but eventually, things started to fall apart. My dad was the one who I confided in about my marital struggles and alcoholism a few years back. He listened patiently, without any judgment, and was very supportive. I am forever grateful for his and my mom's unconditional love and support during those tumultuous times.
During my childhood, my Mom was my biggest cheerleader. She always went above and beyond to offer me the activities and intellectual challenges that I craved. At six years old, I was tested and identified as gifted and talented. Even though I switched schools frequently and was unable to remain in the gifted and talented program, my Mom made sure that I had the resources and support necessary to flourish. She taught me to read and write at a young age of three and always praised my academic abilities throughout my educational journey. I owe so much of my success and confidence to her and my dad for their unwavering support and encouragement.
The topic of giftedness did not cross my mind for many years until about a year ago when I became deeply interested in human development. During my research, I stumbled upon the concept of neurotypes and realized that I was classified as a gifted child. I subsequently delved into deep research on giftedness, as I tend to do, and found an abundance of literature and studies on this aspect of my identity.
Approximately six months ago, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I stumbled upon a ven diagram that caught my attention. The diagram was created by Katy Higgins Lee, a renowned marriage and family counselor, and showcased the intersection of various traits associated with the gifted, ADHD, and Autism neurotypes. As I studied the diagram, I began to see many similarities between my own experiences and those of the gifted and ADHD neurotypes.
The gifted neurotype is characterized by high intelligence, exceptional creativity, and a strong desire to learn and understand the world around them. Meanwhile, ADHD is associated with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating. Finally, the Autism neurotype is linked to social communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and sensory sensitivities.
At that time, I found it interesting that I did not identify with any of the autistic traits in the diagram. However, upon reflection, I realized that this may have been due to my own self-stigma and denial about the possibility of being on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, I have discovered that I have developed a keen ability to camouflage and mask the traits associated with my autism. It was a realization that opened up a new perspective for me and made me more curious about the topic. I began to read more about the intersection of these different neurotypes and how they can manifest in different individuals.
As I delved deeper into the research surrounding these neurotypes, I began to realize that many of the challenges I had faced throughout my life could be attributed to my unique combination of traits. For example, I had always struggled with focusing or even getting started on tasks that where not interesting to me, but I was also highly creative and curious.
Additionally, I often felt out of sync with my peers and struggled with social interactions.
Throughout my young adulthood, I believed that my struggles in social situations were a result of my self-diagnosed anxiety disorder, which was later validated by a therapist. In my early years, my mother provided aid to overcome these hurdles. However, as I matured, I became more conscious of my socially unacceptable traits and began to camouflage them to conform to societal expectations. I became adept at distinguishing between socially acceptable conduct and behaviors that were considered unusual or odd. The act of constantly masking my true self proved to be the true source of my anxiety.
During my seventh grade, I was incessantly teased by my classmates for twirling my hair. One boy even went as far as to say that it was a sign that I was a lesbian. As a result, I tried my best to avoid twirling my hair in public, but it was impossible since it was a subconscious behavior that I was not even aware of most of the time. As I began to learn about autism, I came to understand that my constant hair twirling is a form of stimming. While all humans stim to some extent, those who diverge from the neurotypical tend to display this behavior more intensely.
Stimming, short for self-stimulatory behavior, is a term used to describe repetitive or stereotyped behaviors that individuals engage in to provide sensory stimulation. Stimming behaviors can be physical, such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning, or pacing, or they can be vocal, such as humming or repeating words or phrases.
Stimming is a common behavior in individuals with autism, ADHD, and other neurodivergent conditions, and it is believed to be a way to regulate and soothe sensory overload or to provide sensory input that is lacking. However, stimming behaviors can also be disruptive or distracting to others, and because of this they may be stigmatized or discouraged in certain social situations.
Some individuals with neurodivergent conditions may not be aware that they are stimming, while others may use stimming as a way to cope with anxiety, stress, or boredom. Understanding stimming and recognizing its importance can help individuals with neurodivergent conditions better manage their sensory needs and feel more comfortable in their own skin. It is important to note that not all individuals with neurodivergent conditions engage in stimming behavior, and that stimming is not limited to neurodivergent individuals.
It is a relief to realize that hair twirling is a natural and beneficial form of self-soothing for me. In the past, my ex-husband found it irritating and would often try to stop me by slapping my hand away, which only added to my feelings of shame and abnormality. Now, with a better understanding of stimming, I am able to engage in this and other calming behaviors without judgment. In fact, I have found other forms of stimming that help me cope with my heightened sensitivities, such as tapping my fingers or rocking back and forth. By accepting and embracing these behaviors, I am able to better regulate my emotions and reduce stress in a healthy way.
As I work on this non-linear book, I've decided to include random subtexts as they come to me. During a brief break from writing today, I realized that I was on page 9, which means I've met my goal of writing 3 pages a day thus far. Writing, thinking, researching, and discovering make me incredibly happy. Putting my thoughts on paper is when I feel most fulfilled, and if I could get paid to do this every day, it would be a dream come true. Being a writer is my ultimate goal, as I want to share my wonderful brain with the world. I hope others will find it as fascinating as I do, and I look forward to continuing to write and share my stories and ideas with my readers.