Being diagnosed with Autism is not something you ask for. It’s an awkward thing that just happens. You don’t decide to have Autism; you just do. You can’t really tell because it has no physical characteristics or any behavior that makes it very known in public. However, the effects of being diagnosed on the Autism spectrum are often unknown to people who don’t have Autism and sometimes not even to people within the community themselves.
Here are some of the things I wish more people knew about having Autism:
1) There will be moments where you feel like there isn’t anyone else like you in the entire world. This feeling is difficult and debilitating at times, but it’s also a blessing in disguise because when you find other people who are like you, they will be the closest thing to family that you have ever had. You will feel at home with them even if it’s only on the internet… but these connections are important and can help you out of some dark places in your life.
2) A lot of us don’t really talk about our Autism because we’re not really allowed to. Society tells us that being autistic is something wrong with our brain, so we should try to hide it as much as possible, or else people won’t want to be around us. That makes having a voice seem impossible. It feels like there is no one who understands what life is truly like for someone on the spectrum, making it hard to communicate sometimes. We need to connect with each other to make life on the spectrum a little less lonely.
3) Whether you’re male, female, trans, straight, queer, bi, or anything else in between… you are valid, and your identity is important. Your Autism doesn’t dictate who you are as a person, so don’t let it define you. You are not broken, nor do you deserve to be silenced for being different than others around you. Society has set standards based on majority rules that discriminate against people like us, but we need to break free from these standards and find our own voices through connecting with others who have Autism Spectrum Disorder just like ourselves.
4) Sometimes, there will be things that people without Autism will say or do that trigger some form of anxiety or social awkwardness. These things are not intended, nor do they mean that you’re weak for having a hard time, but it can still be bothersome sometimes. I’m saying this because I wish more people knew how difficult it is to deal with these things without having an outburst of some sort. Just remember, these difficulties are only temporary, and better days are coming soon enough!
5) If you have Autism Spectrum Disorder, it’s okay to want to be alone sometimes. You have Autism, so there will be times where being on your own seems like the best thing in the world. It might feel too overwhelming being surrounded by other people who don’t understand what Autism really is, so just take some time off for yourself to recharge. You deserve the peace of mind just as much as anyone else, so don’t forget about your needs!
6) If you have Autism, it’s okay to hate your body sometimes. It feels like everyone around you is always talking about their bodies and how they can be improved with exercise or various diets. When you have Autism, though, it most likely feels difficult enough finding a way to improve these things on your own accord, let alone if someone tries to tell you otherwise. So what I am trying to say here is that it’s perfectly fine for people with an autism spectrum disorder to not love their bodies all the time because the world seems hellbent on making them feel bad about themselves… but remember; there will come a day when you love your body no matter if it’s too skinny, too fat, or just not “perfect” enough.
7) If someone has Autism, please don’t assume that they’re unemotional and uninterested in relationships. It can be difficult for people on the spectrum to express their feelings because many of us might not even know how we feel a majority of the time! So please try not to take it personally if a person with Autism doesn’t share emotions very well. We still care about our friends and family, but sometimes showing emotion is hard due to having autism spectrum disorder… But I promise you this: once we really open up, then you’ll get to see all the beautiful things inside of us that make us who we are!
8) Being autistic does not mean that you cannot make friends. There will come a day when you find the perfect group of friends who understand you inside and out. Just remember, if someone seems like they might not want to hang around with you anymore, then it’s probably best for everyone if both of you learn how to cope with these kinds of situations on your own. You don’t have to be best friends forever, but I promise you that there are people out there just waiting for their chance to meet us!
9) Try your best not to be embarrassed about being autistic because embracing our differences is an incredibly important step in making this world more accepting of autism spectrum disorder. Autism is part of what makes you who you are, so don’t be afraid to show that off to the world. And remember, no matter how odd someone might think your expressions or reactions are, they’re not thinking about it as much as you are!
10) Autistic people don’t laugh any less than anyone else, but our reasons for laughing may sometimes seem unusual. There’s a lot of pressure on us from society to act “normal,” so sometimes we’ll have moments where laughter just doesn’t come out naturally… But please don’t worry because there is nothing wrong with being different. Just remember these things if you start feeling guilty for something you shouldn’t feel guilty about at all: Everyone has their own version of “humor.” And everyone laughs in their own special way. The more you learn about Autism and how we experience the world, the easier it will be for you to understand why we might find something funny in the first place!
11) Many people with autism spectrum disorder can make eye contact, but there are others who don’t like it much. If someone makes direct eye contact with you when they’re talking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re trying to intimidate or threaten you in any way. It’s also not a sign of disrespect if someone isn’t making eye contact at all; some people just prefer looking around because focusing on one thing usually feels too uncomfortable for them… Just remember that there is nothing wrong with having Autism and that every autistic person has different boundaries when it comes to eye contact.
12) Autistic people have been told that they’re “unreliable” and “untreatable” for a large part of our lives. No matter what some people might try telling you, there is nothing wrong with needing extra support in order to live a more independent life. I know this because I needed help from others while learning how to do things like pay bills or take care of myself while having autism spectrum disorder… But the good news is that all of this stuff gets easier over time! Just remember that if someone needs assistance, then it doesn’t mean they’re incompetent. In fact, many autistic adults would love the chance to be able to prove themselves as reliable individuals if only given the proper support!
13) Have you ever heard of stimming? It’s when autistic people do things like flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or even humming… But this isn’t done because of some obsessive need to “fit in” with society. Stimming is simply the way that we cope with our own internal needs, so please don’t worry about making whatever environment we’re in more comfortable for us.
14) Sometimes, it can be hard explaining what autism spectrum disorder feels like considering there are many different ways to experience the world. For some of us on the spectrum, learning how to read facial expressions has been incredibly difficult, while others might find it nearly impossible. It’s also possible that certain kinds of sensory processing will play a large role in our daily lives. Well, whatever challenges you may or may not face with Autism doesn’t define who you are as long as you’re able to learn how to love yourself for who you are no matter what others try telling you.
15) It’s true that some people on the autism spectrum have trouble with empathy, but it really isn’t fair when they get called out for things like not understanding social norms or being physically affectionate with others. Some of the biggest misunderstandings about autistic adults happen because many of us need to take extra time in order to process social cues and cues… But this also means taking longer to understand feelings, so please don’t think we’re just being cruel when we seem emotionally detached from you.
16) Holding a job can be incredibly difficult when you have autism spectrum disorder. A lot of the time, we’re told that it’s not worth having an education if we don’t go to school in order to get a degree… But the truth is that many autistic adults would love the chance to prove themselves as valuable employees if only given the proper support! So when an autistic person works hard to make you happy at their place of work, please remember that they are doing what they can because they want to help others even though it might take them longer than anyone else. You’re also not any less intelligent because of your Autism or anything like that either because there are plenty of job opportunities for people with unique abilities too.
17) Sometimes, autistic people might appear selfish to others, but that’s simply because many of us don’t understand social queues. No matter what some people might try telling you, there is nothing wrong with needing extra time in order to learn how to react appropriately in situations. I know this because I used to be really bad at reacting right away and was often told that it wasn’t fair for me to expect other people to wait while I figured things out… But the truth is that every person should only be expected to do what they personally feel comfortable doing, so please don’t worry about what other people think when we seem self-centered.
18) People sometimes tell autistic adults stuff like, “You’re here so you can help teach us how not to be so judgemental towards others.” But this isn’t why we exist, and it’s really unfair because nobody has the right to tell an autistic person that they’re fundamentally flawed… We can only do what we can, and if you don’t understand something that we say or feel, then please remember that it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us either.
19) If you know an autistic adult who seems bothered by loud noises, bright lights, bothersome textures, etc., then please just try your best to help them relax in whatever way works for them. And whether or not they seem open to physical contact when comforting, it still means a lot when other people reach out to make them feel better when they’re in pain. You’re not completely alone because there are plenty of things that you can do to help, even if it might take them a while to learn how to respond in ways that help them feel safe and comfortable.
20). Sometimes, autistic people are seen as being incapable of love, but this really isn’t true. Most of us might struggle with certain parts of intimacy, but the truth is that we crave affection just like anyone else! A lot of times, autistic adults have trouble understanding how others might react when somebody gets close, so they may need more time than most people in order to get used to physical closeness… But please don’t ever think we’re incapable or unwilling when it comes to giving and receiving love because we would never want you to think anything like that about us.
21) Autistic adults are often expected to learn how to act like everyone else without much help whatsoever, but the reality is that it’s really difficult for many of us to navigate social situations, even when we’re doing what we can! So if you absolutely must give constructive criticism, then please remember that there might be ways in which you could provide support, so everybody feels safe and comfortable… Because autistic people would love nothing more than to hear praise for what they can do right instead of just being criticized whenever they make mistakes. You’re not defective because you sometimes need extra time to process things.
22) Sometimes, autistic people might ask for help during a crisis because they don’t want anybody to get hurt … But others might end up asking for help in order to cope with their own emotional pain because they’re not good at regulating themselves when things get overwhelming. So if you understand that somebody won’t always know how to respond when you try seeking support during a meltdown, then please ensure that they feel safe and comfortable before trying anything… Some autistic adults might even need reminders in order for them to recognize what it means when people want to comfort them, so you should be patient whenever helping someone who has developmental disabilities.
23) When autistic people seem “meltdown-prone,” please understand that our brains are wired differently than yours are, so just knowing what triggers us is often difficult. And since we can’t predict when something will set us off, there isn’t any point in telling us that we’re just trying to get out of doing something or that there is no reason for us to be upset. A lot of times, an autistic meltdown can have nothing to do with trying to avoid responsibility or being manipulative. And even if the underlying cause might seem kind of silly, it’s still important not to tell an autistic person who is having a hard time coping with their emotions that they should just pull themselves together… We don’t always understand why our mind feels so awful!
24). Sometimes, autistic people are taught at a very young age that they need to act more neurotypical so they won’t scare away the people around them. They’re told over and over again that they need to stop stimming and talking about their special interests, so they can blend in better… But please don’t ever mention that to an autistic adult because we know it already, and it hurts no matter how many times you say something like that. What we need is for other people to learn more about Autism and neurodiversity – who we are – before expecting us to change the things that make us happy, comfortable, and safe.
25) And last but not least, please remember those autistic adults would be out of place if nobody were focusing on helping them become integrated into the community! Because even though our differences might make understanding us difficult sometimes, it’s still important for people to respect what we want instead of assuming what everybody else needs. They shouldn’t just assume that they know what would make us most comfortable or assume that we’re trying to avoid responsibilities. And the next time you try teaching an autistic adult how to do something, please remember to use patience because helping someone learn a new skill is no easy task… But if you are patient with us, then there’s nothing stopping us from learning whatever it is for ourselves!
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