I am 32 years old and have Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, Behavioural/Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress.
I am from a family of 15 siblings who grew up in a travelling cult environment and never knew a settled home in any way, shape or form.
Due to the upbringing I had, I did not go to school or see a doctor as these things were against my parents' beliefs, so my autistic spectrum condition went unnoticed, especially as most of my family were apparently on the spectrum, including my Dad and we were a closed religious family, like a cult.
There was no good side to my upbringing, with the family being unsettled and in poverty and living in unsuitable places, squats and hostels, and people outside the family despising us for being different and antisocial. We suffered a lot of violence and hardship. I grew up in a volatile and unsettled world and never received the help I needed.
Aged 12 I had a breakdown after severe gang violence against my family and I never fully recovered, I theorize and therapy professionals have endorsed this, that my brain temporarily stopped developing at this point and neural pathways disconnected. Which may be why I am childlike but my mental age is possibly normal.
But aged 12 I did not get the help that I then urgently needed, because my family remained closed and unaware of my need for help, or their need for help. I believe I should have been removed from my family at this point because the lack of urgent therapeutic treatment and help was a form of neglect, and the situation that my family was in was dangerous and I suffered physical injuries as well as mental ones.
From that time onwards I increasingly lost my ability to speak and interact and was silent most of the time. The full horror of what happened when I was 12 isn't to be explained here but it has damaged me for life.
Aged 13 and onwards life didn't improve much, with a move from the dangerous council estate to a year in a homeless hostel and then my remaining years with my family spent in houses in ghetto areas where gun, drug and knife crime were normal. There was no end to violence and instability in my family's life from when I was a young child to when I left my family.
I made my escape from my family aged 17, having never known 'normality' as most young people would see it, I had not been to school, seen a doctor, apart from a police doctor and a social services prevention, I had never been on holiday, I had never known anything except the closed strictly religious family and the violence and unsettled travelling life, I did not know about clothes, makeup, parties or anything that girls my age normally knew about. I had never even had a proper haircut.
But worst of all, my level of communication and ability to process what was said to me was very very poor, my interaction and understanding of the real world were both very poor.
I was undiagnosed, not aware that I was on the autistic spectrum and not aware that I had learning difficulties, psychological damage, behavioural/attachment disorder and Post Traumatic Stress. and nor was anyone around me aware of what was wrong, so I was misunderstood and treated as awkward.
The world of neglect and ghettos I left was very different from the world I came to in Hampshire, in the wealthy Winchester district, which was completely alien to me after years of ghettos and council estates and homeless hostels and squats.
It was inevitable that I would be misunderstood and would not be able to explain myself.
Within weeks of moving to Hampshire and starting College aged 17, I realised I was not able to fit in, understand or be understood, and this made me very anxious. The situation was a whole life adjustment, and I was at a disadvantage from day one and could not explain to anyone, indeed I did not know, what was wrong.
My lack of speech angered people, because they knew I could speak, but the thing was, and I could not explain, I did not know what to say and did not understand most of what was said to me, so by the time I had deciphered what was said, it was too late for me to reply. My voice was not under my control and I would physically not be able to speak when I tried sometimes.
I was also always afraid, ducking and cringing, which also annoyed people.
I was in a large group on my course, but, because it was a male-dominated industry, I was the only female, which, in the state I was in, was also not the best start into independent adult life, and I was bullied and sexually harassed, to which I responded with a vicious fear that came from my upbringing and surprised the young Hampshire lads who were from stable homes and obviously did not expect my anger.
Despite my continuing problems, I managed the academic work at college reasonably well, but was terrified of college itself, because of the crowds, the noise, and the open space of the country campus after years in the city ghettos.The whole new life was terrifying and I was also in constant fear of losing this new life and having to return to the ghetto where there were simply no prospects for me.
But of course I did not know what was wrong, what was causing my fear and had no way of explaining myself, so the staff would get irritated with me for always being alone and away from the noise and bustle of the student areas and sitting alone on the wall of the staff car park, because I felt a bit safer with the staff than I did with the students.