A short Q&A for Autism Acceptance Month

I was asked these questions as part of a bigger project and thought I would share here too.

How has being diagnosed as autistic impacted on your life?

Being formally diagnosed has allowed me to understand myself and to put into place things which help me. It has given me the validation and permission I was looking for to be kinder with myself.

How can society be more accepting and accommodating to autistic people?

Listen to Autistic people, even when we share things which aren’t in your sphere of reality or experience. If someone says its too hot / loud / confusing, believe them!

It is really difficult to advocate for yourself so please listen to us when we do this.

What kind of support or resources have been most helpful to you as an autistic person?

Online Autistic spaces and communities. I have learnt so much about myself through other Autistic people’s experiences. I love that we are creating our own resources, in lots of different, more accessible and accurate ways.

How do you think autism advocacy can help people better understand and support autistic people?

Through sharing and listening to stories people can understand our experiences and how to support us. They can understand the deep joy and sadness which often comes with being Autistic, especially living in a society which doesn’t work for us.

Advocacy is also important for Autistic people and our communities, we can finally see ourselves reflected in stories and experiences of others. There is a community connectedness there which is really important for mental health.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently been diagnosed, or to their family and friends?

Breath. Know that it fundamentals does not change you as a person. You will have lots of different (and possibly very strong) feelings about your diagnosis. That is okay. You may also start to look back and things will start to click into place. Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and space to process this. It can take a while. Be careful if you begin to be more open with your Autistic self, most people are nice (even if they don’t really understand) but some places and people can be less so. You’ve got this.

This and many more Autistic stories were shared by Papyrus and can be found here.

3 responses to “A short Q&A for Autism Acceptance Month”

  1. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to share my thinking aloud on here. Please delete or reply privately if not. Thanks for sharing your learnings. I am very conflicted about going for a diagnosis. Labelling people strengthens a dominant sector’s ability to ‘other’. These things you describe are common to so many people who either haven’t been diagnosed or don’t identify as autistic. To me they feel like part of human experience. To separate it out feels polarising. I feel panicky and anxious when I think about labelling the way I negotiate life. I look forward to your feedback.

    • Well Autistic experience is human experience, which is why it can be so hard to untangle. I’ve had similar conversations around OCD, because everyone experiences obsessive thoughts and compulsions at some point but what makes it OCD is how it impacts you daily, especially with regards to quality of life and mental health. Similar could be said for autism.

    • I suppose it also depends what you hope to gain from a formal diagnosis. For me it was to get help with University, as well as understanding myself better and feeling validated in my suspicions.

      I have been polarised my whole life, my label back then was just different: “weirdo” “freak” “creep”

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