“There are few people whom I really love and still fewer of whom I think well.” — Jane Austen
Chances are if you are reading my blog you are here because you are living autism life in some way. If you are not autistic, maybe you have an autistic family member and it’s great you are reading about autism. I always encourage people to do as much research on everything they possibly can. Knowledge is power. Some people may not be so lucky to have a family they can also call a support system.
I have a certain few family members who will tell me to my face that autism is not real, is overdiagnosed, or even say it is made up. I have had people say these things to my face, behind my back and I’m sure over text in some way. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, some of those opinions are terrible. I have had to learn to accept that though I may want someone to accept me, I may love someone a lot, they may never be supportive of my needs and why I have them.
I have known throughout my entire life I was different. My mom would announce it proudly when we would meet new people. Around 7th grade was when I began to hear the whispers of the other kids. I tried to embrace it in high school, but the weird kids didn’t ‘get me’ either.
Before graduation, I was told by many teachers “things get better, people are nicer you will make friends.” This did not turn out to be true for me. I got fired from retail work for not having enough personality, not having a smile in my voice, and once for saying “Awful” when a customer asked me how I was doing.
I have had one friend throughout my adulthood. She is studying to be a psychologist and it was at her urgence that I sought diagnoses after a series of traumatic, life changing, and entirely avoidable situations. After my diagnoses I began researching my differences. I used to think of them as weaknesses, but now they are just part of my me, part of my DNA makeup.
I started to bring up my differences to some family I thought should have been as profoundly shaken as I was at my diagnoses. I was questioned. “Why do you always have to be different? Autism is overdiagnosed. You are just different. Autism is just another label.”
I was floored. Someone I had thought would say, “Wow! So much makes sense now, I am so glad you will have the opportunity to get support and knowledge you want to improve your life.’ The worst part was receiving this same reaction from a half dozen people before I stopped disclosing it.
Managing to pass for “normal” does not disqualify you from being autistic. Just because I managed to squeak by does not mean I never needed more support in the aspects of my life that autism presents. The level of support I receive from certain people does not determine the level of support that I need.
The doubts of your mother, father, aunts, grandmother, or anyone else you may have expected to be supportive who turned out to be the opposite does not determine your status on the spectrum.
I still love these people, although now I also I pity them and consider them uneducated. I hope that someday they will come around, but it’s not my job to do their soul searching or their research. Knowing where to expect support from has been a great help in itself.
Knowing I am autistic has changed my life in so many positive ways, I have achieved more since I accepted my autism than I would have thought possible before. Autism has been a part of me since before I was born, not just since my diagnosis.
The support system I have I have not had since birth. I created my support system, after I figured out where I couldn’t look for support. It hurt to realize my family was not my support system. I needed to know so I could find the people who do support me.
It can be difficult be honest with yourself about what you may need and from who. Some of my biggest supporters are people who I wouldn’t even speak to 10 years ago. Some of them are people who have been around my entire life. They don’t base their support on my diagnoses, but they are people who understand my diagnoses to an extent. Most importantly they understand I just need to be loved for who I am, like every other human and animal alike.
The people that truly care for you will accept and support you, without question, with or without diagnoses, with love and perserverance.