I first found out I was on the autism spectrum when I was 11 years old. I went up to one of my teachers and asked them point blank, “People have always said that I was special, but why am I special?” The teacher asked me to talk to my parents. I sat them down to talk about it. That was the first time they told me I have autism.
Fast forward four years later, after not really ever being curious about learning more about my autism diagnosis, I began to research online about ASD. I began thinking of becoming an autism advocate. I had so many questions.
Now as an adult, I’ve learned so much about what autism means to me. Looking back, as a part of self-reflection, I wrote out a list of five questions I’ve asked myself about
having autism that I wanted to share with you in the hopes of educating others.
5. Why me?
Today, there is no known “cause” of autism. The truth is, I may never know why I have autism but I’ve learned so much about it being a part of my DNA that makes it a part of who I am.
4. Does autism define me or do I define autism?
So many people look at the label and stereotype of autism and think it defines their loved ones. Like Temple Grandin says though, “see the able, not the label.” Today I say autism can’t define me; I define autism.
3. Why do I have the ability to communicate more easily than some of my peers on the spectrum?
When I was researching the definition of autism as a teen I never knew autism was a spectrum disorder. Today I know that if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met just that… one person with autism. Some will find communication more challenging than others. Many will may have strengths different than mine.
2. No one in my family has autism, so why I do have it?
This question came up because for a while I felt so different than my family members because of my “quirks.” But I now know I’ll never be alone. Many of my family members have become experts in ASD to help me in my development.
1. Will autism prevent me from going after my dreams?
When I was struggling as a child I definitely had mixed feelings about this question. For example, one of my dreams as a teen was going to college. Many of my peers would bully me and say I’d never go to college, let alone graduate from high school. When I started applying to schools and got accepted into all 15 colleges I applied to, I realized one of my first dreams had become a reality. It opened a door for me to understand that other dreams of mine, like getting a full-time job, becoming a professional speaker, consulting on films and becoming an author, could also become a reality one day if I wanted them enough. They all came true.
Today, as an advocate, I just want to see all my mentees and everyone in our community get the supports they need to progress and accomplish their dreams. Autism has become a part of my skill set, and we hope we can do the same for others.
What have you asked yourself about your autism diagnosis? If I can ever help be a soundboard you can reach out to me anytime on my Facebook
This blog originally appeared on KerryMagro.com.