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When People Say My Autism Is 'No Excuse'

Can you imagine someone pushing your disability aside? I’d bet many of you reading have experienced this. For the first 17 years of my life, I did what other people did, just a little differently. Something always felt “off,” but I couldn’t figure out what. Finally, in high school I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Today, it’s part of the autism spectrum.

I really do blend in most of the time. Then come instances where I mess something up at work, or when I need to be given instructions multiple times. Mind you, I do housekeeping — possibly the worst profession for an autistic person! There are other instances where people encourage me to be more social. Communication is a constant struggle.

I try explaining that my autism makes things difficult. Instead, I’ve gotten this reply more than once: “That’s no excuse.” One person who said this to me was teasing, but even then it struck a nerve. It sounds like autism is just a fabricated thing we can use to downplay laziness. After all, more people are diagnosed every day. There can’t really be so many of us in the world.

Aspie sarcasm right there. What do you mean, that’s no excuse? My parents didn’t fight for a diagnosis so you could dispose of it. I don’t tell people just to get sympathy. This is one case where labeling a person can be helpful, if only people would listen. It’s not my fault that we live in a non-autistic society. Millions of us have autism; I don’t understand how this fact is thrown away so quickly. We need to acknowledge it. I’m so frustrated, I could go on for days.

Bottom line, here’s what there are no excuses for:

• Pretending my autism doesn’t exist.
• Not researching autism spectrum disorders.
• Assuming everybody thinks like you do.

Autism is here to stay. If you shut it out, you’re not just missing a diagnosis. You’re missing who we are.

Getty image by Shironosov.