When I was eight, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I felt much, much unhappier starting that year, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. People with autism are often more intolerant of things that are inconvenient to them compared to others, and did it ever show.
But the reason it was so upsetting to me was not simply that I couldn’t eat foods I enjoyed – it was the social aspect. I already had no friends, and this made social events harder because I would worry that I couldn’t share in the food and people would be wondering “Why?”, making me feel even more out of place.
The conflict extended to family relationships. I was generally unable to eat Chinese food anywhere other than home, because Chinese restaurants apparently have difficulty keeping up with the times on this issue. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that I have Chinese heritage and Chinese culture was part of my life growing up. After years of enjoying delicious Chinese food, I suddenly couldn’t.
At other restaurants, this was still an issue. We needed to find out which restaurants had gluten-free good ahead of time. I tended to be very analytical when I was younger, and could spend a long time making decisions. Now add the frustration of said decisions being limited, and the impatience of the rest of the family. My mother wouldn’t let me tell the waiters myself about this, she insisted on doing all the talking (nobody else in the family has celiac by the way) and I was not patient. Neither was my mother – she would get angry at me for my own impatience, and blow it out of proportion, demanding I learn to be more accepting without teaching me the skills.
This was before the term “gluten-free” was universally known, so a lot of people would be unfamiliar with the condition. By the time my teenage years began, it had stopped being a problem issue in my life. Still, the first few years of knowing it did make my miserable childhood worse. Can anyone else relate?
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