18 Things I Have Learnt After Being Autistic For 18 Years

I am officially 18 years old & an adult…very scary! To celebrate this milestone I decided to reflect on the past 18 years as an autistic (although I have been autistic my whole life I was only diagnosed November 2020).

This was quite emotional to write – like many other autistics I have been bullied, I have been abused, I have battled depression and I did not plan to live to 18. BUT that all changed when I received my autism diagnosis. So here it is.. 18 things I have learnt after being autistic for 18 years.

1. I may not always be enough for other people but I am me and that is enough for me.

2. There is a community out there that is inclusive, supportive and non judgemental. I am honoured to be part of the Actually Autistic community – it is a place where for the first time in my life I feel safe and understood.

3. Yes I may have many challenges, but I also have many strengths. My struggles do not define me.

4. I am not broken or damaged as society views autistic people. I am simply a perfectly whole autistic person trying her best in a neurotypical world.

5. I don’t need to compare myself with people whose brains are wired differently to mine. My brain may not understand things the same way, but it is beautiful.

6. I am allowed to ask for accommodations and these NEED to be met. I am not a burden for needing adjustments, it is a necessity as I am living in a world that is not designed for me.

7. Being different is nothing to be ashamed of. No one in the world is the same – everyone has different skin colour, hair etc. so neurodiversity is no different.

8. I have a right to take care of myself. If I need time on my own to recover after socialising that is ok. If I need to say no to something that is ok.

9. My honesty makes me unique. People say stuff that they don’t mean. There are rules which don’t make sense. People will ask you questions that they don’t want to know the answers to. I am not rude for questioning things.

10. I deserve to be loved for who I am and I shouldn’t have to change for others. I am perfect just the way I am.

11. It is easier to form a connection when the other person is willing to make an effort to understand you. It is even easier with other autistics!

12. I am not faking being autistic. Autism is a spectrum and everyone is different. Just because I don’t struggle with a minor sensory issue doesn’t invalidate my diagnosis. I don’t need every trait.

13. It is ok to have different interests to my peers. It is ok if I love disney and animals but everyone else loves Grey’s Anatomy, I don’t need to pretend to like things so other people will like me.

14. I don’t need to blame myself for things that aren’t my fault. It is not my fault that people don’t explain things in ways I can understand. It is not my fault if I cannot do certain things. It is not my fault that the world doesn’t make sense.

15. Be cautious of where you get your information from – there is a lot of false and harmful information spread about. Autism does not need to be cured, it is not caused by vaccines, ABA is abuse. Always check your sources.

16. My struggles are real and my needs are valid even if others tell me otherwise. I am not being ‘dramatic’ or ‘exaggerating’ everything I experience is real.

17. I am special and the things that I am mocked for are the things which make me fierce, determined and loving.

18. Being autistic is the best thing in the whole world.

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