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My Autism Makes Me Different, Not Less

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I am autistic, but autism doesn’t define me. My social difficulties don’t mean I can’t have friends. My lack of eye contact doesn’t mean I don’t care. I’m not a picky eater, I just struggle with food. I’m not melting down for attention; I’m trying to gain control and regulate. I don’t like to be late, but sometimes transitioning from one place to another is too much. Don’t see me as less than because of my autism, but also don’t question it. You might not see it, but you don’t see the whole picture. You don’t know I try so hard to keep it together in front of you, then melt down when I’m home where it’s safe.

You may think I use my autism as an excuse, but it’s an everyday fight. I struggle with communication; body language and nonverbal communication confuse me. Eye contact terrifies me, but I try my hardest to make it. Small talk is a challenge, but I can talk about deep things for eternity. Sensory input can become too much sometimes. Lights too bright. Things too loud. Too hot or too cold. I don’t like wet and sticky sensations. I try to keep it together, but sometimes I just can’t. I rock and hum to try and regulate, but it can become too much for me to handle. I have autism but autism doesn’t define me. I am unique; I am special; I am me.

I am autistic, but there’s a lot more to me. I am creative and I see things differently. Autism isn’t debilitating; I can overcome the obstacles put in front of me. Doctors say I’m “high functioning…” whatever that means. So a lot of people question my autism, because I don’t “seem autistic.” They have this narrow view of what autism is. They don’t think it’s people like them. People think because of my autism I’ll never be independent, but that isn’t the truth because I’m in university.

It is time to educate people on what autism is. It’s time to make a change in society. My autism makes me unique. Society often sees those with autism as less than everybody else, when in reality we are just people who view things differently and sometimes need a little more help and patience. Being autistic means I need clear instructions, because reading between the lines is very difficult for me. But when given clear instructions, I can do things well and without much trouble. Being autistic, I have trouble with social skills; I also have social anxiety that plays into the mix. Nonverbals and facial expressions can leave me confused, and though I try small talk I struggle with it. But I can talk about deep and emotional things for hours on end.

Being autistic doesn’t make me less of a person; I like to believe it adds to me as a person. I see the world in a unique way because of my autism and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

Getty image by Master Z.

Originally published: April 18, 2018
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