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This fundraiser ended on 09/02/11

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Funds from the A is for Autism fund will be used for Donna Montague's shelter for the month of September. She prays for your support.

Ever since I can remember I have been the odd one out. Indeed, an early memory I have is of my brother vigorously banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon yelling "Donna doesn't like the no-ise!"

Childhood was a misery of being constantly misunderstood, constantly punished, endlessly alone. Yet I aspired to be someone when I grew up. I felt the sky was my limit. That something was 'wrong' with me was obvious to my mother, but back then there was no name for it. I fought my demons daily and learned to be more like the people around me. I was bent on leaving my past in the dust!

Still struggling as an adult, I had learned to keep my suffering to myself. Walking was my hardest hurdle to overcome and keeping my gait 'normal' required all my concentration so that I was always exhausted.
After several attempts at a career, I chose to become an RN. In the back of my mind I thought I might learn what was the matter with me.I was 30, had never had a friend or a boyfriend and felt awkward even around my family...
After two years as an RN I moved to the US and continued working as an RN. However, the work did not become easier, as I had thought it would. Each shift I worked left me exhausted.Until, after about 8 years of sporadically working as an RN I could do it no longer.
I planned to study graphic design and become a freelancer, since I had so much difficulty working in big busy environments.I was becoming more and more sensitive to sound —a toaster popping would make me jump a mile, for example.

Going back to school proved my final undoing, even as It finally provided the answer to the question: what's wrong with me? I was recently diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Had the term existed when I was a child I probably would not be where I am now.

Having worked so hard to graduate (thanks to the school's disability service) I find myself close to my new dream, but closer to a nightmare. While working hard on finals I forgot to save my September rent money. I also forgot to renew my green card ( though that's not such an issue as I am a permanent resident). Without rent I will be evicted. I will lose everything I have worked hard for - my computer, my desk, my graphic design software. My life. I felt like I had died when I realized I had autism and would never be the person I had envisioned all those years ago. Just when I felt a new possibility at happiness as myself, the limitations of this neurological condition make the possibility of my downfall loom large.

Frankly, I am scared. This is my fund raising effort to raise $750 so that I can continue my fight for success in a word that has scant understanding of the struggle and failure adults with autistic spectrum disorders who were undiagnosed as children face each day.The most profound lesson I have awoken to today is that despite my feelings of isolation and anxiety, I am definitely not alone.

Donna Montague
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