26:19 Autistic Standard Time
First off, I should preface this by pointing out I am not a doctor or psychologist, and that the extent of my medical training is making out with a plastic CPR doll at age 15. This is just a personal observation, based on my own experience living on the spectrum.
Autism is often referred to as a developmental disorder because can involve the delay of certain milestones in social development, such as language, emotional control, and even intimacy.
What we don’t hear as much about, however, is that those of us with autism can be well ahead of the curve in other areas.
For example, I struggled with social interaction well into my 20s, yet in school I had special classes in year levels well above my own, including studying Year 9-10 History and English at the local High School when I was in Grade 5 and 6. It took me until I was 23 to enter my first intimate relationship, yet I was reading at an adult level before I hit my teens.
People on the spectrum tend to move on their own timeline. I’m 26 as I write this, yet I still feel like a teenager in many aspects of my life, such as relationships, and seeing “grownups” as this separate category of authority figures that I’m not part of. The big 3-0 is bearing down on me like a drunk hippopotamus driving a steamroller without a permit, and I still catch myself thinking about how maybe things will make sense “when I grow up…”
As a small child, I found I related best to those considerably older than me; I preferred the company of adults or much older children. By contrast, since about the age of 11, I’ve gotten along best with those younger than me, as I feel like I have more in common with them, perhaps because I’m hitting the same milestones as them years later.
But you know what? That’s okay. I’m fine with moving at my own pace. Life’s a journey, not a race. I spent years fretting about being left behind, but in the end it wasn’t catching up that gave me peace, it was learning to go with the flow.