becoming autistic

So here I am, becoming autistic. Not literally, of course. I have been autistic my whole life. But I am figuratively becoming autistic as I learn to recognize in myself the things I do to move through the life I want.

I am becoming autistic as I own how much I find it hard to be touched, and how noises bother me, and how I use screen time to disengage, how much I can’t do multiple phone calls in a day, how much I love my solitude.

I am becoming autistic as I grow more confident to claim my identity as a person whose needs are not the same as the majority, but who has found community with others like myself.

I am becoming autistic as I recognise myself, allow myself to just be, become comfortable in my own skin, and learn to care for myself in the best ways for me- not only after everyone else seems to be happy I have met their expectations of what I should be.

I am becoming autistic and it is good.

It comes with tiredness though. I feels a little like changing the rules. It takes so much thinking about to see myself differently than what I’ve been told, and have told myself.

It comes with uncertainty. What if this feeling of relating to autistic people is that for the first time ever I feel really accepted by a group of people I respect and enjoy knowing, and what if I am making it up? I find myself thinking,” well, if I have come this far…. why now do I think this? am I being a chameleon now, or is this truly discovery?” In the past my reason for thinking I’m not autistic was that I didn’t perceive myself to be disabled enough. But deep down I know I just was passing to myself. And then I recognise myself again. And I relax, because it doesn’t matter what others think, this journey is mine.

It comes with growing confidence. I am not prepared to go through the process of pathologising myself for the sake of formalities. I spent my life feeling not good enough and like my role was to please others. It is only the identification with the term neurodivergent that has begun to free me from that, and I will not force myself back there for a piece of paper.

It comes with a fair bit of fear too. It is hard knowing what some people’s reactions will be- I have been in advocacy long enough to know how many people treat those who are openly autistic- and choosing to experience that. And there is fear that I will not be believed or seen as credible because I do not have a life that looks to others like it backs it up. I feel like everyone has seen me being a fraud by passing as neurotypical, and now if I say I am autistic they will call that the fraudulent thing. It’s hard to put into words. It’s like realizing there is an easier way to be, but knowing many non autistic people think being autistic is worse, so they won’t understand why I’d want to be that way.

It comes with increasing boldness, when I am in the middle of fear and worry, then I discover strong words

Don’t you dare

Shrink yourself 

For someone else’s comfort –

Do not become small

For people who refuse to grow.

marina v. 

http://findingwordsforthoughts.tumblr.com

and I remember my passion for justice and my desire to walk before my children and model to them what it means to be proud and determined and unapologetically oneself.

So, I am becoming Autistic, and it is liberating.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 1.55.19 PM.png

image is my face (fair skinned female presenting person wearing dark rimmed glasses) half cut off by the right edge of the picture, and some tree silhouettes in the background on the left side of the picture. The picture is faded and in the style of an almost abstract watercolor painting. In the middle of the image there is a green speech bubble that contains the words “autistic, proud, determined, unapologetically myself”. Along the bottom of the picture is web address michellesuttonwrites.com

 

This post is part of my emerging autistic identity series- read them all by clicking here (clicking link will open a new window, posts are in reverse chronological order- first at the bottom) 

 

This article has been translated into Russian on the Neurodiversity in Russia website. To read >> click here << (link will open in a new window)

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13 thoughts on “becoming autistic

  1. Julie Creamer Jackson says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I was diagnosed at 30 while my son (then in 4th grade) was being diagnosed. My whole life stopped and then made perfect sense. I’m more comfortable now with myself at 36 than I have ever been b/c I know that I do belong in a community of amazing people and that for once in my life, I am “normal”, I am perfectly “normal” for an autistic person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nelliepmoore says:

    Again I want to say thank you. We share so much in common. I was diagnosed in December 2014 just a month before my 54th birthday. I’ll be 55 this coming weekend on the 10th and my life makes so much more sense now than it ever did. You said, ” But deep down I know I just was passing to myself.” Wow, that was so powerful! That’s it exactly. I too was passing to myself and never even realized how much, and I had done it so well that I did not know how to recognize who I was. I questioned too whether I was making it up? As I sat through the testing process with my doctor I thought my God can this really be it after all of these years and all of the missed diagnoses? I so wanted it to be it, to finally have an answer, to not feel like I was crazy. When the results came back, when he said I can tell you that you are Autistic I sat there with my husband in a state of suspended space. Time just stopped for a few minutes as I tried to process what he was saying to me and how it changed everything I knew about myself and my life to that moment, and how it validated and vindicated all of the moments when I prayed that I was not crazy for feeling the way I did. And what you said about being a fraud . . . THIS is the easier way to be. Those who are neurotypical may not get that, may not understand that, but then they have not lived their own lives carrying around the identity of the day, trying to pass, fit in, and live in a land so foreign that there was no place that felt like home. This. Being openly autistic and owning that. Dropping the persona’s others wanted me to be, and being me, on it’s worst day, will always be better than the 53 years I lived before finally knowing who I AM. I AM Autistic and I will do my best to shout it from the rooftops and support others in doing the same if that is what they want to do. We have so much to offer the world and there is no time like the present. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. patsysolanki says:

    Beautifully put! You speak for me when I don’t yet have a voice on this. I’m still in a shock/awareness place. After years of therapy and being told I’m ridiculously narcissistic/insensitive /selfish by family and other things I won’t mention by bosses. 55 and diagnosed last year by a woman who specialises in females. Friends almost need convincing. It’s a weird place. In my teaching degree my thesis included the fraud; imposter syndrome. Fascinating similarities. Well I feel I’m meeting my tribe at last xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. clare says:

    Thank you, I can relate to lots of your posts and love to read them while also on my own journey of learning to be the real me. I was diagnosed May last year even though for many years I knew that’s why I’m different and as my two sons also with ASD say we are unique.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Just as I am

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