Many in the U.S. have now been diagnosed with
HFA (high functioning autism)/Asperger's Syndrome
and can function in the world both personally and professionally.
I am one of those people. My name is Terrilee Tatum.
I was a NESA graduate at Lee High School in 2001 and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Kinesiology Degree from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2006.
I enjoy playing in recreational tennis leagues and tournaments, running, and producing artwork in my spare time.
As a person with HFA, my greatest challenge has been reading people's body language and fitting in socially.
16 years ago, when I was diagnosed with HFA there was not as much awareness about autism as there is now. Even at that time few people knew what it was.
I have been able to work more independently in jobs since then. With a lot of patience on my part I have also become more socially adept in the neurotypical world.
Family support was and still is important to me, so that I feel comfortable in my current job and navigating social relationships.
Now I am working for the ATC of San Antonio and doing more for them each week it seems. My confidence has grown because of the support network there, through coworkers and supervisors and at home too, where everyone has been very tolerant and understanding.
It has helped so much now more than ever to work in a non-hostile environment,
where my gifts are nurtured and I am not so out of place.
This is key for those with HFA, both personally and professionally and that neurotypicals are aware and understand what it takes to show tolerance towards Aspies. Without that level of awareness, there would be little to no progression for individuals with HFA.
From there, I have accepted that I have HFA and treat it as something more positive; something I've learned to accept and not let it get in the way of me accomplishing my life goals. There really is no shame in being this way; my brain is just wired differently in a sense.
It is who I am and now more than ever, greater numbers of individuals
find out they have HFA too,
at different stages in their lives.