In honour of Autism Awareness month this year, I participated in a CAN video that highlighted the important distinction between being aware of autistic people and being accepting of them. I think it’s very crucial to be accepting and inclusive to individuals of all different abilities because everyone deserves mutual respect and kindness.
When I first found out I had autism at age seven, I didn’t understand what that meant, let alone how receiving an autism diagnosis would impact my life moving forward. On the outside I didn’t look autistic, but within, I felt very different from my peers. I was very quiet and kept to myself most of the time. I didn’t enjoy hanging out with other children my age. Reading body language and facial expressions was challenging for me, and this is something I still struggle with as an adult.
I have always had a tough time accepting myself. However, in the last few years, I have realized I should not pay that much attention to how others perceive me. I am still learning to embrace my autism and think of my diagnosis as a blessing rather than something I should be ashamed of. I have always been very open and honest about my diagnosis because it is a part of who I am. I don’t want to have to hide this part of myself in order for others to accept me. It’s not something I feel anyone should have to do. That is why I wanted to be a part of this video that challenges the wider community to be more accepting and supportive of people on the spectrum.
Through sharing my story, I hope that more people on the spectrum will be inspired to speak their truth and support the movement from awareness to acceptance. By incorporating autism acceptance into my life, I have felt more comfortable interacting with neurotypical individuals. I don’t feel as much of a need to hide my autism. I am also starting to get to a place where I can openly speak about my struggles with my friends and family.
As a writer who has written two books on autism spectrum disorder, I feel as though I am better able to express myself through written output. Sometimes when I am speaking to other people, the words get jumbled up in my head and I have trouble forming sentences even though I know what I would like to say. I believe that we all have a story to tell and that our voice should be heard and not silenced. I am constantly learning how to be comfortable with sharing my stories with other people. I feel as though writing brings out the best and helps me and helps me hone my creative skills. I am able to speak honestly about how I feel, and this is something, which I have trouble doing verbally.
It’s taken me years to accept my autism diagnosis and I think it’s because I didn’t really understand myself when I was younger. I wasn’t sure why I would get angry with other people if they didn’t want to be my friend, and these negative thoughts would often lead to depression. I tried to switch to a more positive way of thinking and tell myself that it wasn’t my fault if other people didn’t want to hang out with me or get to know me. But, still the hurt and animosity would catch up to me. I didn’t know how to handle these emotions and I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. It’s taken me 26 years to learn to accept myself and come to terms with my autism diagnosis. However, sometimes I have bad days where I feel as though nothing is going right, and those around me don’t understand how I am feeling. My life is not perfect and I don’t think it’s ever going to be and this is something I have learned to accept.
Practicing autism acceptance has become a huge part of my daily routine. I encourage other individuals on the spectrum to practice autism acceptance as well. But more importantly, I encourage the community at large to choose acceptance.
Through writing and telling my story, I hope that I can inspire other autistic individuals to become more comfortable with their diagnosis. I believe that everyone is unique and special in their own way, and this is something I wish I would have come to realize earlier in life. Autism doesn’t define who I am as an individual, but it’s a small part of who I am. And a part that I am proud of.
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