(This post is for Autistics Speaking Day 2016 – check out the Autistics Speaking Day blog for loads of other contributions though out the day!)
My ASDay posts (and posts in general…) often just consist of me talking about myself, which is kind of tricky given that I’m supposed to be anonymous, so today I’m going to talk about you.
If you think you belong here, you belong here. If you don’t have a formal diagnosis, or if your diagnosis was lost or left in limbo by a mess of bureaucracy, you still belong here. If people don’t take your autism seriously, you still belong here. If you’re actually feeling pretty good right now, you still belong here.
You don’t need to feel guilty because you’re actually feeling pretty good right now. You don’t need to feel guilty because you’re not in a good place right now. You don’t have to feel guilty because the ways you respond on bad days don’t even make sense to you in hindsight on good days. You don’t have to feel guilty because you could do something one time and you couldn’t do it some other time. It doesn’t mean you’re fake, it means you’re human and subject to a multitude of other contextual factors.
You’re not just attention-seeking (and who decided seeking attention was such a bad thing anyway?), you’re not just running away from ~the real world~ (this IS the real world), and you’re not just trying to be a special snowflake (er, whatever that means). You’re autistic, even if you don’t fit pre-conceived neurotypical ideas of what autism is.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable with the latest TV show/film/book/whatever about autism. It’s okay not to like it or relate to it even if you don’t find it outright offensive. It’s okay to feel alienated by the version of autism that’s presented to us by neurotypical-led media. Again, it doesn’t make you fake or a Bad Autistic Person. At the same time, it’s okay to enjoy the representation while you can, to find solace in seeing someone vaguely like you even if it isn’t perfect.
The way you experience the world is real. It’s not over-reacting, it’s not wrong or weird or weak, it’s autistic and valid and real. Sometimes, the world can be downright scary, and this is especially difficult when the people around you don’t think it’s scary, they don’t recognise that you might feel differently (and they say we lack empathy?) and you’re left facing it alone because voicing your fears gets you judgement rather than support. It’s still just as real. But you’ve got this. You’ve made it this far, you’ve more than likely felt this way before, and you can survive again.
It’s okay to retreat sometimes, to focus on recovering from the constant overload, to take care of yourself. Abled people like trying to frame this as weakness or inferiority, but you’re only trying to achieve the same level of comfort that they have all the time in this society that was designed specifically with them in mind. It’s okay to be angry – there’s a hell of a lot to be angry about. But it’s also okay if you can’t fight back all the time. It’s okay if you have to choose your battles.
You are strong and kind and brave and capable and deserving of love.
And your special interests are amazing too!