Why It's Hard for Me to Say 'I Am Autistic'
As an Autistic individual, I find it hard to tell people I am Autistic. Most of the time, I keep it a secret because some people are not very supportive when I reveal I am Autistic. In my last singing concert, I revealed to the audience I am Autistic. It was really hard for me. I was afraid I would be judged or shunned. To my surprise, people complimented me on my song, and I felt less anxious.
In my experience, telling someone I am Autistic can have both risks and benefits. If I tell someone I am Autistic, they might criticize or misinterpret me. They might not understand that loud noises are hard to deal with and that certain foods taste really bad in my mouth. But there can also be benefits, such as people being more aware of why I do certain things like cover my ears, eat certain foods, stim, etc. It’s also hard for me to say I am Autistic because of stereotyping and labels: “Oh, but I know an Autistic person and he never does that, you must not be Autistic.” Every Autistic person is different; each of us is unique and has challenges in our own way. We each have our own talents and special interests. In public, if I cover my ears, I worry, Will people stare at me? Will I be judged?
During sensory overload, I try to look OK, but on the inside, I am screaming. If there is loud noise and I cannot cover my ears, I will wince and have an upset facial expression. I cannot help it, it’s part of me being Autistic. I also sometimes will jump if startled, and this is also a part of me being Autistic. So if I say to someone, “I am Autistic,” I am being really brave. It is not something I reveal often, and it is hard for me to try to explain what it is like.
This is why it is hard for me to say “I am Autistic,” because the world can sometimes not be understanding of Autistic people.
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