Today is World Autism Acceptance Day, and I have a confession to make. Some of you may already know this and some of you may not.
I’m Autistic. I got rediagnosed about 2 years ago after being suspicious for a while. I was diagnosed as Autistic when I was 3, but my parents kinda hid it from me because they didn’t want me to be bullied for it or “use it as an excuse.” It was heavily hinted at, however, and I always believed that I used to have it but I “outgrew” it. I didn’t speak in full sentences until I was about 4 and I had a one-on-one aide in the classroom from preschool through 6th grade.
However, I started to suspect that I didn’t outgrow it as much as I thought I had around the time I was 21. When I first went out on my own when I transferred to Sonoma, I got myself in a few awkward situations and I had a huge falling out with my roommates. I had to switch buildings. I also started to notice that I would forget what I was going to say in the middle of a sentence, which had never happened to me before. I had been debating on getting reassessed for Autism since I was about 19 or 20. I finally got reassessed in December of 2016. In February of 2017, the report came back confirming that I was still Autistic, and debunking the myth that people can “outgrow autism.”
Because of my story, I want to dedicate my life to smashing harmful stereotypes about Autism that lead people like me to self-doubt themselves. For the longest time, I believed the stereotypes that people said about Autism (i.e. girls can’t be Autistic, Autistics have no empathy, etc…) which led me to doubt that I was Autistic. I thought that I had “brain damage” that was caused by me being delivered by forceps (I had a dent on the left side of my head for the first year of my life).
I’ve known I was different since I was in kindergarten, but I was never able to put my finger on it. I didn’t really start to understand my quirks until I was about 12. I started to notice that other people seemed to automatically know what to do in complicated social situations, but I always had to ask someone for advice. When I was in 7th grade, a classmate once asked me [paraphrasing] “Why do you always ask adults to help you out. Why can’t you solve you own problems.” I didn’t know how to respond to that question because it was something I had never really thought about before. After a while, people (mostly adults) would start to get annoyed with me for asking about the same things over and over. Because of this, I had a slight feeling that I was Autistic (or Aspergers at the time), but because of all the harmful stereotypes about Autism, I was in denial about it for a very long time. It wasn’t until I started living on my own and working with young children that I really started to come out of denial and accept the fact that I’m Autistic.
The reason I fight so hard for Autism Acceptance is because I don’t want anyone else (regardless of neurotype) to ever have to go through the vicious cycle of self-doubt and denial about a fundamental part of who they are like I had to.
I will fight for Autism Acceptance and understanding until the day I die.
❤ ❤ ❤