There is an ongoing discussion in regards to whether or not autism is a disability or a difference. Many we talked to discussed how they feel different. For some of them, it was positive to be different, others describe it as a sense of feeling isolated and trying to fit in. Autism affects many and can present itself differently in each person. Many feel that they’re on the outside looking in. It’s challenging at best to try and work and lead a normal life. You feel differently than others yet, it’s not an obvious condition or disability news. You do things differently and, you know that for many people this stands out.
Of course, everyone is different, we all know that. However, it’s as if you’re from another planet and always the odd one out or the third wheel trying to appear natural. Loneliness, at best, becomes the default. While differences can be lonely for some, others find it comforting. Some, as an example, feel that they can’t fit in. Social situations are challenging and it’s hard to mold to the normal expectations of society. For some, trying to get along with others or trying to act “normal” so that others don’t wonder about you is a strange feeling. Others don’t see anything wrong with you until they begin to interact with you, at that point, they begin to see the differences.
Memories that you’re not like others or that you don’t fit in reign in your head. Others feel as if they never quite belong or that they stand out, especially in their family dynamics. I feel different from my siblings and my parents yet, we’re family. It makes me feel like a freak. Autism manifests itself and feels different in each person. I’m sometimes scared to say “hello” because I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I don’t want people to “rate me” on the autism spectrum. The cruelty of others makes me more cautious. I’ve often hung back or not said anything at all because I feel different and don’t want to remove all doubt from someone’s head. Each time I consider running, I seem to receive an email from another hurting mother that is trying to hang on to her last shred of hope in regards to one of her children and autism. I see that I am actually looked up to as an expert thanks to my ability to talk to others in regards to autism.
While I may feel different inside, my opinion is recognised and heard. Clearly, I can’t allow my own fears to silence the need for a spokesperson. The truth about autism is that it’s a neurodevelopment condition often characterised by a variety of social struggles and interactions. It can interfere with both my verbal and non-verbal communication. My sensory processing is off-kilter and it can restrict my behaviours, or it can create repetitive behaviours.
Let me help to break it down even further. Many of these things are going on in my head. They’re psychological manifestations that flow from the neurological system of those who are struggling with autism. The more people understand, the easier it is for me to share with them my hopes, fears, and concerns. Autism knows no bounds. It can affect anyone.