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66 Things Autistic Individuals Would Like You to Know

Editor's Note

Can’t sleep? Join the Up All Night group on The Mighty to meet people who can relate.

These messages were provided by (or on behalf of) members of the autistic community, with permission from and thanks to Leanna Lewis.

They are written in the order that they were received, as they are all equally valued and valid.

All autistic individuals are unique, so messages that represent the views of one individual may not represent all autistics.

1. Autistic does not equal incompetent.

2. Always assume competence. It is so important.

3. Autistic children/adults can be extremely bright academically, but that does not take away that they struggle and need support and understanding.

4. Talk parallel to me, not at me — I love being side by side.

5. I’m hard-working and do what I can to achieve my goals and I like sports. (child)

6. I am good at Minecraft. (child)

7. As a frequently misunderstood autistic person — I get it wrong sometimes, please be patient with me.

8. I love my friends; I just can’t show it well.

9. I know I should call you more often, but I can’t bring myself to pick up the phone. This doesn’t mean I am not thinking of you or don’t care.

10. We’re not all the same.

11. Don’t assume I’m less able than you.

12. I wish the world could see that when you’ve met one autistic person you’ve met exactly that — one!

13. My son would like everyone to know that he has a brilliant sense of humor and loves playing practical jokes on people.

14. I’m going to be a veterinarian! (child)

15. I don’t “look autistic.”

16. I am tired and stressed and like when the people I love cuddle me.

17. Autistic does not mean unable to work.

18. I actually really like hugs.

19. Executive dysfunction is often a part of autism.

20. I’m not slow, I just have an executive functioning disorder.

21. I’m not “stupid.”

22. I’m not lazy, I just have an executive functioning disorder.

23. I have huge courage every day to overcome stress.

24. Being different is lonely.

25. We get bullied a lot in school and might stop trying.

26. We are sensitive people.

27. We are human.

28. Different is not less than or bad, it’s just different. I look like you but I’m not like you. I’m different and it’s not OK for you to expect me or force me to be like you!

29. Just because I’m clumsy doesn’t mean I am “stupid!”

30. I’m autistic. Just because my face is blank doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything. I feel everything.

31. Stimming is as natural a response to stimuli that is overwhelming as rocking or bouncing a leg. Let us stim, please.

32. My partner has made tremendous efforts to understand my existence in the world, and what it means to be me. Their acceptance has made all the difference.

33. Something I’ve heard from several other people like myself: we’re analytical about our feelings and free-flowing with our thoughts. Breaking that down, it means I need to think through my feelings and let my normal thoughts flow without stressing myself out.

34. I feel everything, all the time.

35. I’m not a savant, but I do have eidetic (photographic) memory.

36. Some autistics like myself are environmentally aware at a level that borders on hypersensitivity; I can feel the breeze from someone moving in the next room with the door open. I can hear the heartbeat of people relatively close to me in the same room (I’m good at hide and seek, ha). My sense of smell can be either a help or a hindrance. I can discern specific spices in dishes, but I can also smell our cats’ litter boxes. Ew!

37. I can tell when you don’t want to be with me, I can tell when the relationship is one-sided, and I can tell when I’m being excluded.

38. I’m usually quite positive about being autistic, but am struggling to start having two-sided relationships. I put a lot of effort into talking to people, going places with them, trying to get to know them. So when I realized, and continue to see, that my “friends” don’t come up and say hi, don’t start conversations, don’t try to make plans with me, it hurts. I wish people would just be honest with me, so I didn’t put a lot of time and energy into someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

39. If I ask you to turn down your headphone music, I’m not being rude. It physically hurts me.

40. I’m slow and I make mistakes. Please be patient with me.

41. Overstimulation hurts. We’re not being difficult; we’re just trying to cope with your cloud of chaos.

42. Autism doesn’t affect me, the world not accepting and always giving out false information does, along with ignorance. I can feel intense emotions and care about people, but feel awkward and don’t want to hug them. I can literally feel your vibes, so when you say you’re not angry, I can tell from your changes in tone of voice,
expressions and I can also tell that you try to pretend to be calm when you say that.

I’m extremely empathetic to the point that I can cry hard when I see someone else cry, as I feel like I’m them in that moment. I will defend them and stay by their side but I won’t show affection in the way of touching, and that makes people think I’m emotionless, because most people want a shoulder to cry on or long hug to make them feel better. I have boundaries like everyone else. People in the past have crossed my boundaries because they don’t think it’s that bad to them. I freeze up or don’t react to it as I mask, but it makes me meltdown and shut down when I’m in my safe space. I may be gullible sometimes and do things that neurotypicals don’t, but I am human, please treat me like one.

43. It’s not that we don’t feel, relate, or consider others; it’s that we do it so intensely and differently.

44. I’m not being dismissive. I’m trying desperately to wear the face and use the tone that conveys that I am taking what you are saying seriously, but that’s apparently not what the neurotypical world sees. I’ve considered acting lessons to trying to figure out how to make what I’m communicating externally match what’s going on internally.

45. Sensory overload physically hurts like a severe migraine. I also get those, so I know exactly what I’m comparing.

46. Please don’t call me an alien. You may think it’s a funny joke, but it’s not. It hurts. It further isolates me. I’m just as human as you are.

47. Autism ≠ lack of empathy. It’s quite the contrary. We care too much, about everything.

48. Mine will probably say No or Blippi because he’s 3. (child)

49. Sensory overload is pain.

50. Sometimes I have bad days, sometimes good ones, just like everyone else.

51. Functioning labels and “levels of autism” are 100 percent flawed.

52. Functioning labels: grading humans is degrading.

53. Being autistic defines every aspect and experience of my life. I experience the world autisticly.

54. I care so much. Too much. It hurts most of the time.

55. I’m often confused at the social world going on around me, but I have to try to fit in for survival. This is exhausting.

56. I am still a good mom.

57. Just because I’m an autistic adult, please don’t treat me like a child.

58. I’m not being difficult, the world, your world, is difficult.

59. I ❤ my neurodiversity.

60. I am an individual. Autism is not one size fits all.

61. Just because I’m doing something differently doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong. That includes how I converse and interact. You expect allistic behaviors, and mine aren’t. That doesn’t mean I’m rude or uncaring or incompetent. I deserve and expect respect, and if you won’t give it to me, then you don’t deserve my time or effort.

62. Those kids you think are “weird” in school that you say horrible things about could actually be autistic. You may seem to be accepting online when you’re sharing a picture or story about autistic people, but in reality, you don’t realize we’re right in front of you, being bullied by you, because you think we seem odd.

63. It’s OK to be me. I may seem different or odd to some, but it’s part of what makes me who I am. It’s my uniqueness.

64. Trying to behave like how society expects is exhausting. I just want you to be OK with me being me.

65. Speech is not the only valid form of communication. Also, nonverbal does not mean non-thinking.

66. If I encounter people who are unfairly prejudiced against me or anyone else, I use logic and try to appeal to their common sense and change their mind.

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