I think it can go without saying that living with autism can be quite difficult. Even people who are mildly autistic, such as myself, can experience a lot of frustration, anger, insecurity, fear, confusion and all those other emotions that come with coping with a disability. I know that I have, and still do, get tired of having to work hard all the time for something that comes naturally to my non-autistic counterparts. I often get frustrated with myself when I don’t meet certain standards, to which my disability plays an important part. With that being said, I don’t hate autism and I never have. In fact, I don’t even dislike it all that much.
I know it’s a strange thing to say; after all, who wouldn’t hate to be hindered in any way? Even I ask myself this question, however I think I am at an age where I can properly express the reason for this opinion.
Autism was, is and always will be a part of me. It does not define me as a whole, but I cannot pretend that it isn’t there. It’s there. But it’s not a villain or a monster. It cannot be slain and it cannot be resisted. Autism is just a mental disorder. It has no agenda; it has no feelings; it has no dreams; it has no fears. Autism is a word that simply describes behavior and pathology and that is all it is. Autism, in other words, is me in some respect and not some puppet master controlling me. When you try to create a monster or an enemy of a mental disorder (or really any disorder), you submit to the stigma- you allow it to consume you and undermine your agency. This is why i have chosen to embrace my autism.
When I embrace my autism, it’s not I’m being complacent, but rather that I am owning it. If I am the owner of my disability, it cannot own me. I don’t need to blame autism for my life being shitty (not that my life is shitty). I don’t need to feel hindered all the time. I don’t need to blame myself when society fucks up and I don’t need to waste my whole life trying to become something I’m not.
This is not about how my autism makes me a special snowflake, either. I’m a pretty average person, actually. This is about how I refuse to allow myself to think I am a victim. This is about how I refuse to believe that all my hardships are intrinsic to my disability, even if that hardship is a social construct, such as ableism. This is about recognizing that I have positive qualities, not in spite of autism but perhaps because of it, such as my “obsessions”. This is about defying the narrative that disabled people are pitiful and useless and miserable because of it. This is about not allowing others to speak over my experiences as an autistic person.
I am, by no means, saying that autism is a blessing, either. It’s a disability and disabilities are not fun and games. However, hating it is just self harm and that’s not good for anyone.