What could I do? I was a prep cook in a restaurant. I hated politics and avoided it like the...well you know. I'd never finished my bachelor's degree; it seemed unlikely there was anything useful I could do.
Only now I knew better. I knew because of the "label". Without it, I never would have found a community of others like myself, who together were beginning to make a difference. Having a word for the way I was had changed everything. It had made me responsible.
I went back to school. I started to talk to people about autism, what it means to me, what it is and what it isn't. I started to deal with the box I had never known existed. This is only the start of my story, escape from the first in a possibly infinite series of nested boxes.
In December, I will graduate with a degree in social work. My plan is to continue in graduate school, specializing in advocacy, public education efforts and (legitimate) research. I have a research grant for the summer to study the needs of autistic college students from their own perspectives. I hope to follow the example of others, like Michelle Dawson, in making a contribution to the literature which promotes fair and objective thinking from an autistic viewpoint. Finding out about autism, I found a sense of direction and purpose. Is this in-the-box or out-of-the-box thinking? Alas, I can't answer that. There are still many flakes to be dealt with. I have already gotten the prize.