When I Feel Excluded as an Autistic Person

I’m not the easiest person to take places. I’m not the easiest person to introduce. I don’t do a great (or sometimes even good) job of carrying on a conversation, especially with strangers. I stim. I often have a chew toy with me.

Some people might think of me as a liability or think they have to babysit me. They may want to make a good impression and are afraid I’ll say something wrong or make others feel uncomfortable because I’m not making eye contact.

But when I feel excluded, when I’m not invited, it really hurts.

If I feel like other people don’t believe in me, why I should believe in myself? If other people don’t think I’m capable, why should I try? I’m told I need to expand my comfort zone, but I need opportunities to practice this.

I have goals and aspirations beyond where I am now. I don’t want to be invisible for the rest of my life.

Autism doesn’t mean I don’t want meaningful relationships. Autism doesn’t mean I can’t learn or I don’t want to learn. Autism doesn’t mean people won’t like me.

When people do meet me, when they find out what I do and how I do it and that I have autism, they are typically impressed. They want to know more. They think it’s cool. People are learning to appreciate difference… at least some of them are.

I have feelings. I want to be appreciated. I want to be thanked for my work. I want to be talked to even if I can’t always respond. I want to be included. Don’t just talk about me. Get to know me. Get comfortable with inclusion.

If you are being excluded, my advice is to be nice anyway. Believe that it is their ignorance and not a reflection of you. It is not your fault. You did not choose your neurology. You are doing the best you can.

Follow this journey on Erinmmckinney.com.

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