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16 Things Autistic Pride Means When I Look in the Mirror

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I wish I could say I go into Autism Awareness Month with joy and excitement. Instead, when April 1st hits, I see an intense ball of emotions behind my eyes, swelling in my body as I look in the mirror and prepare to navigate the stereotypes, the stigma, the messages that have been used to tell me “I am not like other autistic people” or that “I am difficult and need to do better at making life easier,” and navigate being a part of a family who still won’t say the word “autism” or “autistic.” This all mixes with the perceptions that I can’t be married, I can’t be a parent, I can’t contribute to the conversation, and having people applaud me for existing and graduating high school before they even ask me my name or even say hello.

It’s been a challenge. But this year I didn’t want to feel this way every time I looked in the mirror. I didn’t want to hold onto that secret shame I have carried for years about being autistic after finally getting a diagnosis as an adult.

I wanted to ask myself as I looked in the mirror: exactly what in the world does Autistic Pride mean to me? 1. It means my soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter knows her numbers 1-20, letters, and many songs in part because of my counting and singing when I stim.

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