To Robert De Niro, From Someone on the Autism Spectrum


Dear Robert De Niro,

As someone on the autism spectrum myself, I want to thank you. In fact, my appreciation has nothing to do with the film.

I was not diagnosed until I was about 15 years old (I’m 26 years old now). Those first 15 years were a long battle full of misunderstandings and meltdowns. It seemed like everything I did was wrong, and I didn’t know why. When I finally received the diagnosis, people began to understand me more. And although I still have many challenging moments, things have become easier over time.

I cannot understand what it is like to have a child on the spectrum because I do not have a child on the spectrum. Nor can I speak for anyone else other than myself. However, I can say that I wish I had received my diagnosis sooner. I wish people had known. I feel it would have reduced the amount of stress and anxiety I had from the lack of understanding.

Since I was diagnosed, I have become a major advocate. I try to spread awareness as much as I can. I try to focus on the things I’m capable of and spread hope. There are still times when it’s difficult and I get frustrated and just want to say “I can’t do that.” But we all have these bad days – some more than others.

In the end, I just want people to know. I want them not to be mad at me when I need to take a break after only a few hours of work. I want them to realize I’m not overreacting to the firetruck going by, but that the siren really hurts my ears. I’d like them to give me a moment to process what they’ve said in a conversation so I don’t misinterpret it. In the end, I really just want people to be more autism aware.

This is why I want to thank you for being a voice in the autism community. Thank you for spreading awareness, simply by stating that you know someone on the spectrum. Thank you for helping everyone to become more aware.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a powerful moment you or a loved one has had with a public figure. Or, write a letter to a public figure who you feel has helped you or a loved one through his or her work. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Robert De Niro Removes Anti-Vaccine Documentary From the Tribeca Film Festival

Robert De Niro made headlines earlier this week when it was announced that anti-vaccine documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” was slated for an April 24 showing at the Tribeca Film Festival. After generating a great deal of criticism, it was announced on Saturday that the documentary was removed from the festival lineup. De Niro, who co-founded the festival in 2002, released the following statement about [...]
young boy looking out window

When Advocating Becomes Bullying in the Autism Community

As someone on the autism spectrum, I definitely consider myself to be a major self-advocate. I truly love sharing my experiences. My hope is that others can take what I’ve been through and apply it in a way that may help someone else on the spectrum. Sometimes it can be difficult to be an advocate. I [...]

When You Ask a Child on the Autism Spectrum to Stop What He or She Is Doing

I like to try to explain things by using bodily functions as examples. Because often with people on the spectrum, some of the things we do seem less important to others. But for us, it’s a need, not a want. Imagine you really had to go to the bathroom, and you finally get to go, but [...]

What We Need From the Grandparents of Our Son With Autism

So you realize he’s “different,” and everything we’ve been telling you is, in fact, true. Instantly, all the plans and dreams you had for him changed. You may not have said that out loud, but we can tell by your absence. Don’t worry, we understand. It might not be OK for you right now or [...]