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The Importance of Telling the Stories of Our Autistic Lives

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Life goes by so fast
You only want to do what you think is right
Close your eyes and then it’s past
Story of my life
Social Distortion

This morning I had music blaring through the house, as I often do. I was making herbal tea and getting ready to start work for the day. With Autism Awareness Month now upon us, I was thinking about my life as someone on the spectrum, and about life for anyone on the spectrum.

As the kettle started whistling, the song “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion was playing. As I listened to the lyrics above, suddenly my completed idea smacked me in the face. Metaphorically, not literally.

I have a story about my autistic life, just like you do. If it’s not your autistic life, chances are that you have someone in your life who is on the spectrum, so in a way, it’s your story too.

We all have stories to tell.

Maybe you’re like me and are a late-diagnosed adult who went through life wondering why you are the way you are. Maybe you were diagnosed at a young age and went through school knowing you’re on the spectrum. Or, quite possibly, you’re the parent of an autistic child and you’re trying to figure out where your child fits into this wacky world that still isn’t overly accepting of who we are.

It doesn’t matter where our stories begin, it matters where they end. It also matters how we progress through our lives, and whether or not we’re willing to take a look at ourselves in a positive light, even though most of society only hears about our deficits and not our strengths.

On the surface, my story is simple, but you could peel back layers of the story, much like peeling an onion. And yes, like the onion, there might be tears involved. Too often we focus on the bad things that have happened to us, but we all have good moments. Moments where we feel good about an accomplishment or something that has happened to us. I spent too many years focusing on what was wrong with me and why I am the way I am. Don’t make my mistake.

I was born in a time before autism as we know it was being diagnosed. I was 31 when they began regularly diagnosing kids with autism, and it was a while after that before they reluctantly turned towards adults on the spectrum.

I was verbally bullied by teachers, told I would never live up to my potential, and called Forrest Gump multiple times every working day by my boss for over 10 years. I was 46 when I was finally diagnosed, and it was shortly after that when I began advocating.

Other late-diagnosed adults will have different stories than mine, but I’m sure there are a lot of underlying similarities. Just as those who were diagnosed during school age have different stories than your peers.

Everyone’s story is equally valid and it’s not a competition to see who has the best, or worst, story. All our stories matter and make up the basis of what autism is really about. It’s about people with at least one thing in common: an autistic brain. The other parts of our stories are uniquely ours and no one can take away anything we’ve gone through or anything we’ve accomplished.

So, here’s my challenge to you. Tell us your story. The good and the bad. The rough patches and the moments when you shined like the sun. All our stories are equally valid and matter just as much as everyone else’s.

It doesn’t have to be long. You can share here in the comments section, or submit a story to be published on The Mighty like this one. Talking about things can be therapeutic, so give it a shot. Parents, feel free to chime in with your stories and questions as well.

I look forward to reading about your autistic experiences.

This story originally appeared on Not Weird Just Autistic.

Getty image by Nomadsoul1.

Originally published: April 30, 2021
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