For so long the actual lived experience of autistic people has been either ignored or translated through the eyes, ears and other senses, not to mention the brains, of largely neurotypical people.
The consequence of this is increased distress and decreased well-being for many if not all people on the spectrum (in my world ‘the spectrum’ is a three dimensional thing, not a straightline), no matter how ‘their autism’* looks on the outside.
What you see on the outside may bear no resemblance to what is happening inside us, either because we are masking so well or because we do not have a way of communicating it to you in a way that you will hear.
This means that a whole section of society is unable to contribute to their fullest for lack of adjustments and shifts in mindset. Even more, this lack of understanding and accommodation contributes to some of us needing more support than might otherwise be the case.
And that’s just the economics perspective.
More important is the human cost. I want to contribute. I want to make a difference, however small, to the society I am part of. And I want to do it in a way that doesn’t harm me and send me into burnout or suicide.
The recent #TaketheMaskOff campaign has challenged me to come out about being autistic (more on that later, trying very hard not to sidetrack, not to pin you to the wall with information). Baby steps. I’ll start with this blog, albeit incognito for now. Not out of shame, but because I don’t have the energy to deal with the ‘but you don’t look autistic’ and the ‘aren’t we all a little bit autistic?’ responses without resorting to STFU.
So, welcome to this exploration of the inside of autism as experienced by this particular autistic woman.
*There’s a whole thing around use of language. Sometimes I get bolshy about it, sometimes I go with mainstream language or with economy of words.
To avoid any confusion, I am autistic. It is the way my brain is wired. It is not a side order or a handbag I carry around. It is not an illness.
(meme courtesy of indentityfirstautistic.org )