What is Autism?
Autism is a life long social and communication DIFFERENCE, but it is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. People with Autism communicate intelligence, needs, feelings and experiences differently. We communicate love and pain differently. We experience people and the world differently and there are many, many positives to having a brain that functions this way.
We aren’t disabled by Autism. Rather, the world is disabling because it was not built to accommodate the way our brains work. This can make us feel like a bit of a problem sometimes.
The only way this can change is if autistic people share their experiences of being ‘on the spectrum,’ since most information about Autism is written by non-autistic people, for non-autistic people, and they have no lived-experience.
Thus there are many misconceptions about the autistic spectrum. Some people think everyone is ‘on the spectrum somewhere.’ They think you can plot your Autism on a line to see if it’s mild or severe. They think it’s possible to be ‘a little bit autistic.’
Textbooks and the media like to simplify Autism to make it easy to understand, but, as humans, we are not really designed to fully understand any mind. These simplifications are invalidating to #actuallyautistic people, creating stereotypes and barriers.
Autism isn’t linear, it changes everyday depending on many things.
Asking me how autistic I am, is like me asking you how non-autistic you are. I was born autistic and it’s always there, but sometimes my traits will be mild, severe, or insanely useful, depending on the social and sensory environments I am in.
Just because you experience my Autism mildly, doesn’t mean I do. It just means I have found ways to empathise with the way you experience the world in order to ‘belong.’
Another misconception about Autism is that you can see it. Well, you can’t. That is the blessing and curse of it. Poor eye contact, ordering and sorting, lists, lines, logic, facts, stims, routines and rituals etc. are mechanisms that children and adults use to cope with Autism, but they are also the traits of people that suffer with insecurity, stress, anxiety, and other conditions that are accompanied by anxiety.
Autism is a social and communication DIFFERENCE. You can’t see it, you can’t grade it mild or severe, you can’t ‘cure’ it. You can’t choose it, and, unfortunately, you can’t swap brains with me to see what it’s like.
But you can accept it.
You can access it, you can accommodate it and you can love it, just as I can learn to do all those things for you too.
The lady in this video is talking about her diagnosis of Autism at the age of 35 and her journey is very similar to mine. The first time I saw this, was the first time I realised that I was not alone, and that I should share my lived-experience like her, to help others sooner.