Bold Journey Magazine Article: My Personal Journey

The Autistic Autism Consultant
May 22, 2024By The Autistic Autism Consultant

Bold Journey Magazine Article

Featuring: Kara Nash, ASDCS, RN

We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Kara Nash, ASDCS, RN. Kara is the founder of The Autistic Autism Consultant and works with people on the autism spectrum, as well as educating others about what it’s like to live with autism. She’s presented at regional Autism conferences, schools, churches, law enforcement agencies, as well as to therapists and medical providers. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Kara below....

Kara, so good to have you with us today. We’ve always been impressed with folks who have a very clear sense of purpose and so maybe we can jump right in and talk about how you found your purpose?

Being born in the mid 70s when little girls didn’t have autism, or so was the common misconception, I struggled to communicate my challenges with the world around me. I didn’t want to be perceived weird or different or to disappoint my family, so I tried to hide the things that I struggled with. Even with all of the effort I put in, I was still bullied pretty severely by kids at school, and the older I got and the more importance was placed on being able to socialize with my peers.

One of the key signs of autism is asymmetrical development, meaning kids on the spectrum may hit some milestones early and others late for their age, or never at all. Some examples from my own life are as follows.

From toddlerhood, I was fascinated by letters and how they fit together to form words, which then fit together to form sentences. I’d copy the words off the backs of shampoo bottles, record album jacket covers, magazines, and anything else that had the text chunked into smaller blocks.  I started reading around age 4. I’d read everything in our small town library by 3rd or 4th grade and had taken to reading the encyclopedia and different dictionaries. With the dictionaries, I took great pleasure in highlighting the words that I’d seen in books, along with the words that borderlines on “dirty words” like “damn”. I was after all in elementary school and some experiences are universal to most children.

Although I was a happy child when left to my own devices and the world of books, I found fitting in in elementary school confusing and frustrating. There were things that the other kids could do that for some reason I couldn’t master that I tried to hide from my teachers and my parents.  I often felt like basic directions were being given to me in a language that I didn’t speak.

Until 4th grade, I was unable to distinguish my left from my right. Because I excelled in other academic areas this seemed to annoy the adults in my life who would say things like “You’re smarter than that” and “if you wanted to learn you would.” Teachers tried to teach me with techniques like the “L” in your left hand (meaning my thumb and pointing finger when extended made an “L”), but both of my hands had “L”s in them depending on how I held my hands.

Looking back, I’d guess my confusion was a mixture of being too literal and having difficulty understanding the concept of fronts and backs of hands. Since the back of something is usually the part you don’t see, that means as I sit here typing the back of my hand is the lighter-colored side closest to the keyboard. At the same time, if I raise my hands off the keyboard and turn them palm up, then the back of my hand is the side that gets more exposure to the sun.

I had a lot of challenges with visual spacial words and their meanings. Often, especially when I was young, my confusion came off as sassiness or being uncooperative. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong, I only knew that the adults weren’t happy with my responses.  At rest, it’s been shown that the autistic brain processes up to 42% more information than the neurotypical brain. With the increase in the amount of information I was taking in, it often took me extra time to answer adults verbally or to understand certain concepts. This was often misinterpreted as my not paying attention.

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Bold Journey Magazine Article