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Autism isn’t a competition. Every autistic person’s needs are different. Every autistic person’s abilities are different. Sometimes they’re different day to day. Being verbal or having a high IQ doesn’t mean you don’t struggle. Not everyone’s struggles are immediately visible. 1/
It’s also complicated in that some people are autistic & have comorbid conditions, or learning difficulties. What we all need to be fighting for is better understanding of the spectrum of the experience & to all support each other. 2/
Not wanting to be cured of the fundamental neurology of who I am, because it would change everything about me & erase me from existence, doesn’t mean I don’t also appreciate how difficult it can be to be wired this way or wouldn’t welcome help with the shit parts. 3/
I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience. I can only share mine & why I advocate for neurodivergence to not solely be seen as some tragedy which needs to be corrected: 4/
I can speak. I can speak fluently & eloquently with a high vocabulary. I can translate that into written words. That’s one of the only things I can competently do. But because I’m able to do that, people assume I’m capable of much more. 5/
This means my life before diagnosis was a parade of shame & working myself into dust to try to hide my difficulties because I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do all the things I SHOULD be able to do. 6/
Have you ever had a brain fart where you suddenly can’t remember how to do a basic thing? That is me, almost all the time, with most everyday tasks. Between energy issues, coordination problems & executive functioning stuff, I genuinely can’t take care of myself long term. 7/
But because of my verbal abilities I have spent my whole life being told I’m lazy, I’m putting it on, come on Sara, you should be able to do this. I don’t know if or how I would have survived without the help of my husband, especially undiagnosed. 8/
Socially I spent my formative years being corrected. I was annoying. I was too sensitive. I was over the top. I was a drama queen. What’s wrong NOW, Sara? I could express myself verbally, but I couldn’t explain to myself or anyone else why I couldn’t make or keep good friends. 9/
I can’t go into an office every day. I can’t even work every day. I have to manage my time & energy with military strictness. But I am highly verbal & able to mask for short periods, so I am expected to be able to compete professionally with the same energy as my peers. 10/
Basically I am considered by the medical community as being “high-functioning” - but my support needs are enormous. In the long term I need constant help with pretty much all day-to-day tasks. I am incredibly lucky to have that help privately. 11/
We all deal with our lot in life in different ways. My whole life I have felt ashamed of who I am. Finally now I have a diagnosis that explains my neurology is different. So I decide to find every positive in that - I deserve to be happy & proud of who I am. 12/
And I understand that if you have a relative suffering in different ways & you see someone highly verbal banging on about autistic pride that might hurt you. But equally it hurts me to be told I’m an illness you wish you could cure & I’m not allowed to be happy with who I am. 13/
Anyway my rambled point is we all have different needs in different ways - nobody knows what it’s like behind the scenes for other people. We should all be fighting for ourselves & each other to be supported in the right ways, including building our self-esteem. All of us. 14/
Basically when you slam the “neurodiversity movement” as if it’s some trend, you’re saying people like me should just hang their heads & stay quiet, not try to participate, not try to help society understand us, not take any joy or pride in being ourselves. And that hurts. 15/
I should also point out that the people you think are high-functioning often also have meltdowns, shutdowns, long non-verbal episodes, hit their heads, rock & stim - it’s just unlikely you’ll see it happen. I often think if people saw me in those moments it would shock them. 16/
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