So you just found out you're autistic. You've been living your life wondering why you have such a hard time with things other people find effortless, why you notice things others do not, why you feel out of step with most of your peers.
And you hear the answer is autism. And the mix of emotions that goes with it is confusing -- relief, fear, denial, acceptance, a thousand things.
Welcome, and Congratulations.
Welcome to a community that takes care of its own. Welcome to a community of people who get it. Welcome to a community where being unusual is acceptable, where we know that your difficulties in "easy" tasks are not a moral failing, where we know that your strengths don't negate those difficulties. We have drama and personality conflicts, as do all communities, but we also have a lot to offer each other.
Congratulations on getting an answer. Congratulations on being an individual. Congratulations on being you -- you're probably pretty fantastic.
Some advice, whether you want it or not:
- Be yourself. To hell with anyone who thinks that who you are isn't ok. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with you. Trying to put up a normal facade day after day is unsustainable.
- Take care of yourself. It's ok to excuse yourself from situations that are overwhelming or painfully difficult. It's you who has to live in your skin and your brain, not anyone who tries to give you crap for it.
- Don't let anyone make you think you are broken. You aren't. Different, yes, but faulty? Nope. Having difficulties isn't the same as being fundamentally broken.
- As a corollary, don't go chasing every so-called cure that comes out. They are usually scientifically bassackwards, usually expensive, and often harmful to your vital organs.
- DO get any therapy that may be helpful. Anxiety is crappy. Sensory issues are crappy. Insomnia is crappy.
- If you have health issues, take care of them, but don't expect that to cure your autism. It won't, but it's a lot easier to function in this alien world if you aren't also sick.
- Seek out our kind. There's nothing like being in a place where everyone speaks the same dialect. It's beautiful. You need to experience the ease of relating to people who grok.
- Non autistic people sometimes get it, too. They're good people to get to know.
- Accept yourself as you are. Strive to be the best you that you can be. Always.
This essay was previously published at timetolisten.blogspot.com.