When I was diagnosed with autism at 4, there was very little being done to promote autism awareness. Today we have more and more people who want to educate and help. Many of these individuals include self-advocates such as myself who want to share their stories.
With that here are 10 things people with autism wish you knew:
1. Not all people with autism are the same. If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism.
2. We’re not all are math geniuses (i.e., “Rain Man”).
3. Being unable to speak doesn’t mean you can’t communicate. About 25 percent of people with autism today are nonverbal, yet they can be highly intelligent (like best-selling author Carly Fleischmann).
4. As much as you spread awareness for autism, we also want you to spread autism education. We want to be accepted for who we are and not seen as a label.
5. “Normal” is really only a dryer setting. Most of us are unique and that originality is a beautiful thing in our community that should be acknowledged.
6. People with autism are smart and talented. It may not be noticeable all the time, but all of our minds work in different and beautiful ways.
7. To those on the “high-functioning” end of the spectrum, please don’t say things like, “I could never imagine you having autism” to us. Autism is a spectrum disorder.
8. Kids with autism will become adults with autism. As much as we’d love to emphasize children on the news, we want you to know that autism is a lifelong disorder. We don’t want to be forgotten when we become adults, because we don’t grow out of autism.
9. If you see me in a public setting and I’m me rubbing my hands together or leaning back and forth, please don’t look at me like something is wrong. I ask for empathy in these situations as doing these things make me feel more comfortable.
10. Autism can’t define us. We define autism. This is the truth for everyone on this planet, actually. No one thing should be able to define us as people — we define ourselves. I’ve never wanted to be known by a label. More than anything, I want people to see me as Kerry.
We all are meant to shine in this world. I hope we are given the opportunities to progress and live the best lives possible.
Just like anyone else.