I am autistic. I am only now fully beginning to understand what that means. For a couple of years now since I came out of my shell, I have worked toward the goal, as I stated, of “being successful at being a person”. But the last few months I have become very frustrated. Despite the growth I feel like I’ve had, despite the understanding that I think I’ve gained – it just seemed that what I sought eluded me. But finally I understand. I am autistic. I will never not be. No matter how much I learn, no matter how much I understand, no matter how much my behavior tries to align with my best perception of others expectations of me, the fact remains that I am autistic.
As I write about autism, I hope to expand the understanding of others as to what being autistic actually means – a hard goal, as autism is not something that has well defined boundaries. What differences exist in me because of being autistic, vs just being me, are a matter of conjecture. I cannot tell you what they are, professionals cannot fully tell you what they are. All anyone can do is define autistic tendencies – most all of which are present in me. But, admittedly, what I most hope to do is wish for others to see beyond that autism – to see that behind the qualities and characteristics that I might display that others see as odd, or “not normal”, that they would see a person. A person who in fact is intelligent, caring, loving, and just wants to fit in, love and be loved, just as anyone does.
The heart of the movement for Autism Acceptance is just that wish – acceptance. Just as the goals of those who are battling racism, cultural, or religious differences – autistics just want that same understanding that the differences that many would try to use to separate us are far less significant than the sameness that should unite us. We have struggles, we think differently, there may be some amount of accommodation, patience, and understanding necessary to have an autistic friend or co-worker – but first and foremost we are just the same as anyone else, and just want to do our best to be human, to fit in, to be loved.