Written in March 2023
I write from a perspective of experience with a frame of acceptance. I try to provide insight into the autistic mind, and I try to be positive about it, or at least frame the results of negative experiences in a positive light, although some of my writing is more cathartic/negative in nature. Even negative things can teach us valuable lessons, and give us renewed understanding to take forward and to build on.
The thing about moving forward is that in order for it to happen effectively, we must accept the past. In the spirit of autism acceptance week, I'm sharing some of my journey towards accepting my autism, and how the people around me have, or have not accepted the same.
Seven years ago I stumbled across the idea that I might be autistic. In all honesty I had given up on finding out what made me different. I'd decided I was done with “changing myself again to fit in with a new group of people” and with bothering at all what people thought of me. And then I read the article that sparked a huge life change. It was written by a late-diagnosed autistic woman, but it could have been about me.
That article gave me a faint buzzing sensation, like there was something in it that might be an answer or the key to working myself out. Now I know that a degree of alexithymia meant that I was only feeling a faint emotion, not a big one (because mine don't get BIG for me until I'm already dysregulated) but it was there nonetheless.
I was actually pretty accepting of the idea from the beginning, and as I read more and more online (the most useful resources I found in this period are in my resources section) my life started to come into focus; where before there had been confusion and misunderstanding there was clarity and reason.
I told a few people about this seed-theory of me being autistic and with the notable exception of my mum (who, it turned out, had always thought there was something different about me but didn't know what) I was met with a complete non-acceptance. Not having my words and testimony accepted was part of my experience as an (undiagnosed) autistic person, so happily this didn't put me off the seed of the theory, but it did drive it back into my mind where it germinated, and grew, and blossomed, and eventually fruited.
Getting my self-diagnosis confirmed seemed to be a necessary step in case I wanted to work in an office again and might need adjustments (it turns out a formal diagnosis is not necessary as per the Equality Act 2010 but at the time I didn't know this) and it would legitimise my identity in the eyes of the people who would not accept my self-diagnosis.
It's kind of ironic that the people who knew me then didn't accept I could be autistic, because at the time I wasn't able to accept myself as I was, still being on the path of discovery and acceptance. Five years on from getting the bit of paper and I'm at a place of acceptance. Now I'm working on creating that acceptance in the non-autistic (allistic) community, and where I can, helping newly self-realised or diagnosed autistic people online.
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