* This post has been written by our previous Social Media Manager. *
Autism is a spectrum. None of us are the same. You both be independent and autistic, you can be physically/mentally dependent on the help of others, or somewhere in between. The beauty in autism is that it manifests in so many ways, that it’s hard to put an approximate definition on it.
Yet, there is still a long way to go until autistic people are treated equally in our less accommodating, discriminatory society, where the stigmas of being autistic still linger – even still in 21st century Britain. Unfortunately, there are still people who believe the ridiculous myth that vaccines will cause their child to become autistic - but nobody is asking why the diagnosis is such a bad thing? Every April is Autism Acceptance Month and every year we are still sending out the same message:
‘AUTISM’ IS NOT A BAD OR DIRTY WORD!
Growing up, I sensed that there was more to my weird behaviour and mannerisms. I withdrew from social interactions and preferred to independently with my toys. I delved into fictional worlds quite a lot and disregarded reality (most notably Harry Potter, but that’s a story for another day), and seemingly loved to hit my head against the wall simply for enjoyment. All these signs somehow pointed to autism, yet the people around me were completely oblivious and just saw me as “that shy, weird kid”.
When I finally received my autism diagnosis last year, as a 24-year-old adult male, it didn’t faze me. Why? Because it made perfect sense and provided me with relief, as there was finally an answer for my unique behaviours. I now know why I am who I am! I never once felt shame and I still don’t to this day. Although I am fully independent and capable of doing things without extra support - like most people I have weaknesses, only mine usually relates to my autism diagnosis. Yet I sometimes feel like people don’t believe me when I say I’m autistic, even though I have the diagnostic paperwork to prove it. Unfortunately, that's the world we live in, but nobody should have to prove their disability, regardless of whether it's developmental, physical, visual, or invisible.
Until the world is made more accessible for autistic people to not only survive but thrive, nothing will change. That’s the brutal reality of being an autistic person in a society that refuses to look past its neurotypical norms. Also, such changes can only happen if public perceptions are changed to truly understand the reality of living with autism and the wide surrounding spectrum. Autism acceptance has never been more important and poignant than ever. It’s time to be kinder towards those who live with autism, no matter where on the spectrum they may be on. It’s truly nothing to be ashamed about, so don't let society derived stigmas get you down!
Thanks - Cameron