Here is an article I submitted to The Mighty:
It is almost Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, and I wish to focus on the acceptance aspect of it all. It has been about a year since I received the blessing of a late diagnosis of ASD. I wish to be accepted for all of what I learned it means to be autistic. That means different things for everyone on the spectrum. What does that mean for me?
I wish to be accepted for my difficulty when it comes to making eye contact. Please know that I am listening carefully when you speak–possibly more carefully than anyone you know. I wish to be accepted for having big emotions, even though you may think I don’t have any at all. And along with that, I wish for it to be understood that I sometimes have severe difficulty regulating them. In fact, I used to engage in self-harm, but now I stim.
I hope that you understand that while I have great empathy (I am vegan for the animals, after all), I sometimes struggle with theory-of-mind. This makes it difficult for me to know where you are ‘coming from’ exactly. I hope you know that I am still capable of love; very much so.
Please accept that I personally know a heck of a lot about a little. I have restricted interests and would love to talk with you for hours about them. I will also try my best to be interested in what your passions happen to be!
Most of all, accept that I am autistic. Don’t assume I am neurotypical because I appear ‘normal’, hold a job, have an apartment, etc. I work very hard for these things and am very conscious of the efforts I put forth to achieve what many neurotypicals may take for granted. Embrace the fact that I am different, and be embraced for your differences, too.