It now seems in retrospect that everyone recognized from the very beginning that I was an absolutely unique individual. Unfortunately, no one--not even me--knew what to do with that and I have never done very well with the "throw him in, sink or swim" approach to educational challenges (usually I just drown).
The more I read, however, the more it seems that this same challenge is going to follow me into present and future interactions with others within the world of autism. I'm discovering an ever broader and ever more confusing spectrum of responses to the basic question of what autism is and how it is defined. A great many sources, for example, seem to assert that autism means less emotional expression and connection. I think I'm deeply engaged with my emotions, but they are more often oriented around environments and experiences than around people. Does that mean I'm not autistic after all?
One person recently expressed doubt that I have high-functioning autism because I'm often "too eloquent" within my writing and speech. I do verifiably tend to interpret language too literally, however, and often don't understand jokes that people tell--similar to the way I find the old slapstick comedy of the three stooges horrifying to watch, always being more concerned about whether or to what extent someone might have gotten hurt by the imitations of violence being displayed. All of which is only complicated even further by the discovery that I'm gay.
As a minority within a minority, my isolation is really quite logical. A corresponding ongoing struggle, however, is convincing myself each day that suicide is not (logical). I don't think it's necessary to repeat that finding one's place or finding a way to fit in, is a struggle that nearly everyone faces; that the assertion that "there's no place within this world for me" is always based upon limited perception and knowledge. There are frequently a thousand other options which remain invisible only because of the assumptions and biases that shape our individual perceptions. Additionally, the general encouragement to make a place for one's self when such a place doesn't already exist, is of course easier said than done.
For myself at least, a primary way of creating the strength to persevere, is to remember the many artists, philosophers, free thinkers, and anomalous persons within other times of human history, whose success came later in life. Had they not refused to give up, however, their accomplishments would never have happened at all. A principle essential ingredient of life, therefore, is faith--at the very least in the tentative existence of one's future accomplishments.
So every day I try to remember, "Whatever challenges today includes, I need to get through them somehow, if I am ever to see and to participate in the beauty that resides within tomorrow."