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When a Stranger Asked, 'Do You Have Autism?'

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I was at a bar one time and I was nothing but sober. I remember this young woman needing a ride home and I was going in the same direction as her. I offered her the ride if she would give me gas money. She agreed and I gave her the ride.

On the way to her destination, she was adjusting the volume of the radio and I asked her twice if there was a specific channel she wanted to hear. Then she asked me something surprising, “Do you have autism?”

I nervously replied, “Yes.” Her question came out of the middle of nowhere. I have never been asked that by someone in public in my entire life. She proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions and wanted to get to know me, telling me that she works with people with autism. She also told me she loves people with autism.

I was flattered to hear everything she had to say. She kept saying how proud she was of me for driving a car and everything else I’ve accomplished in my life, such as graduating college, finding work and living on my own. I also told her I’m pursuing a career as a full-time autism advocate. She admired that too.

At the end of the ride she wanted to tell me a quick story, then asked if she could give me a hug. I gave her the hug and then she went in her house. This ride made me feel good and it felt good that people can get a positive impression of me. All I had to do was be honest and be myself without fearing being judged. And I had nothing but a huge smile on my face at the end.

I know this can be a very personal question for a person with autism. You can answer it at your own discretion. If you don’t want to answer it, don’t. I think it’s better not to get angry at them regardless of your response. I know it’s hard, but one of the ways to promote awareness is to be honest. I have autism and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Getty image by Zinkevych.

Originally published: October 1, 2019
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