For this edition of “One Faith, Many Paths”, I am interviewing my Facebook friend Sue Abramowski. When I started joining autism groups, she was the first person to friend me. I always enjoy seeing her posts on my feed. She always has a positive outlook on life, and I thought she would be a great person to interview.
1. How did you first discover the possibility that you were on the spectrum?
I’ve always known I was a little different. I was diagnosed with ADHD, OCD and anxiety at 25. I don’t remember how, but one day I stumbled upon a blog titled Aspie From Maine. As I read the author’s story, it stuck a chord with me: I could relate to her on such a level that a light bulb went off. Could I have Asperger’s, too? I did a lot of online research and took quizzes, and they all pointed to me being autistic. My psychiatrist at the time wasn’t convinced, simply because I gave eye contact and “engaged” while talking to her, so I got a second opinion. I also realized that the same psychologist who had diagnosed me with ADHD conducted autism assessments! I got an appointment, and three sessions and a few questionnaires later, it was confirmed. On March 19, 2014, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (or ASD Level I on paper).
2. What was your childhood like?
I had a fairly typical childhood, despite not being a very typical child! It was suspected that something was up back in preschool. While the rest of my class was paying attention to the teacher and doing as they were told, I was off in another direction, doing whatever I pleased. I’d often go to the Little Tykes playhouse, or just do cartwheels on the circle time rug. I went to a psychologist at that time, too, and remember playing with toys as he spoke to my parents. He dropped the ball, though, when his wife had a baby and he took a leave of absence, as he never got back in touch with my parents. Something tells me that had I actually had some kind of assessment, something may have been discovered from the get go. Through the years, I was always a bit different from the other kids. I remember trying to play along, yet something just didn’t click. As I approached middle school and later, high school, the differences became more apparent. The other girls started becoming interested in things like boys, makeup, their appearance, and fitting in. None of those things mattered to me. I wasn’t interested in the least bit (and still am not, at 33!). As I got to college, I continued to do well academically as I had all along, and changed my major from Biology Education to Social Work after I realized where my niche lay. I received a Bachelor’s in Social Work in 2006, and have been working in mental health and developmental disabilities ever since.
3. How does your autism manifest? Do you stim? What about things like synesthesia?
My autism flew under the radar. While it’s definitely there, one may not recognize it until they really get to know me. I interpret things literally, see things in black and white, have sensory sensitivities, and notice the fine details. I do stim. For me, it entails fidgeting with my fingers and examining them, wiggling my legs, looking from side to side, and playing with fun stimmy toys! I also have to feel every fabric I pass by in the clothing store. I’m a sensory-seeker, and a very tactile person. I also have synesthesia! For as long as I can remember, letters and numbers have colors. It carries over into days of the week, months, and street names. Friday has always been orange, for example.
4. What evidence can you give for God’s existence?
The evidence I can give for God’s existence is that everything happens for a reason. He created me different, because He has a special purpose for me. I feel that this is to help others, especially those on the spectrum and with mental health issues, since I live with both. I’ve also had dreams in which I feel God has given me a “heads-up” for what’s to come. I feel that it’s the gift of prophecy, in a sense.
5. Do you feel your autism may be a specific gift?
Definitely! God is using me as a tool to help others. Autism has also given me a sense of pride in who I am. I’m unwavering in my beliefs and interests. Self-consciousness is practically nonexistent for me. I am me, and I don’t care what anyone says! This has made life easier for me, and I’m very happy.
6. Do you have a favorite bible passage? If so, which one?
I don’t really have a favorite Bible passage. To be honest, I don’t really read the Bible. I wouldn’t call myself religious, however I’m a very spiritual person. I feel that it’s important to live my faith by showing others the way Jesus would want me to treat them, and how to set an example.
7. Who is your favorite figure in Christianity?
Who comes to mind is St. Francis, the animal saint. I have a love for animals and they are a very important part in my life.
8. What are your hobbies?
Video games and Android. I’m a die-hard Sonic fan, and have been since I was 9. I never tire of the original Genesis games; they’ll always have that magic to them. You can often find me rooting my newest devices and flashing the latest ROMs! I love typing in commands over adb.
9. Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to be a better person? Why?
I’d have to say my parents and my brother inspire me to be a better person. They always have my back, and are there to encourage me whenever I get down on myself. They give me that push I need at times. Sometimes I don’t believe in myself as much as I should, and they remind me to be confident.