Autism cannot be determined by how people appear. They may be masking their true identity to blend in well.
Traci Neal, Wife & Daughter
Master’s Degree- Educational Studies (University of Phoenix- online in 2014) Bachelor’s Degree- English (University of South Carolina- Columbia in 2012)
Poet & Youth Speaker
Hello! My name is Traci Neal. I have autism. My clinical diagnosis came after a conversation with my mother around early August of 2023. I do not recall what we were talking about. I only remember that it led her to say I may be autistic. I heard my mom mention the word ‘autism’ before, but this time, I felt led to do further research. Once I found information on this condition, I saw a lot of similar symptoms of myself in it. Then, I talked to my younger female cousin about being tested for autism. She recommended I get tested by a psychologist. Although I was a little afraid to find someone, I was tired of hiding who I was to appear normal. I was able to be diagnosed by a professional psychologist named Dr. Michelle Peterson. I learned so much about my autism from her. I discovered I got tested for ADHD also and I have it. That is why I am hyperactive. With the diagnosis screenings, I fell below the basic level of adults in my age range for a good portion of the tests. The autism did not come as a surprise. Those tests were hurting my literal brain so much. The best way I can describe my autism is like a free-thinking child. A good movie reference is Babes in Toyland starring Drew Barrymore when she was a kid. It is a great depiction of how my brain operates. The phenomenon with my spectrum is the connection to my spirituality. With my Christian faith, I depend on God to function well in every aspect of my life. My view of God is pure. I love our relationship since God gave me the love I always wanted. In return, God shares amazing poetry for me to write that I would not be able to do on my own. I know God is the only reason I have two college degrees. I do not remember any information given to me during those times. I can only recall things I learned from childhood such as songs, movies, and television shows. This is due to the fact I process things by having repetition and routine. I communicate better nonverbally through conversations, performing poetry, singing, drawing, and dancing. These are ways I express how I am feeling and how I learn. Even my nonverbal communication is heavily influenced by my relationship with God though. After elementary school, there was no repetitive academic knowledge presented or a consistent schedule. Since receiving my diagnosis, I have greater self-awareness and a humbled view of how I stand. Unlike some on the autism spectrum who are considered ‘geniuses’ being highlighted in the world, I am the total opposite. I would probably act in childish behaviors if I did not have God providing me wisdom on what to do and say daily. I am grateful for my Autism and ADHD. It makes me have to completely depend on God