I first found out I had autism when I was 11. I went up to one of my teachers and asked them point blank, “People have always said that I was special, but why am I special?” When the teacher responded and asked me to talk to my parents I sat them down to talk about it. That was the first time they told me I had autism.
Fast forward 4 years later, after not really ever being curious about learning more about my autism diagnosis I began to research online about Autism Spectrum Disorders. It was at a time I began the thought of becoming an autism advocate. I had so many questions. Now as an adult, I’ve learned so much about what autism means to me. Looking back, as a part of self-reflection I wrote out a list of 5 questions I’ve asked myself about having autism that I wanted to share with you in the hopes of educating others.
Today, there is no medical detection or cure for autism. The truth is, I may never know why I have autism but I’ve learned so much about it being a part of my DNA now that makes me a part of who I am.
Does autism define me or do I define autism?
So many people look at the label of autism and think it defines their loved ones. Like Temple Grandin says though, “see the able, not the label.” Today I say that autism can’t define me and that I define autism.
Why do I have the ability to communicate better than some of my peers on the spectrum?
When I was researching the definition of autism as a teen I never knew that autism was a spectrum disorder. Today I know that I’ve you met one person with autism, you’ve met just that…one person with autism. Some will be able to communicate better than others while others may have other strengths different than mine.
No one in my family has autism so why I do have it?
This question came up because for a while I felt so different than my family members because of my quirks. Now I know even if I’m the only person in my family who has autism, I know I’ll never be alone. Many of my family members have become experts in Autism Spectrum Disorders to help me in my development.
Will autism prevent me from going after my dreams?
When I was struggling as a child I definitely had mixed feelings about this question. For example, one of my dreams as a teen was going to college. Many of my peers would bully me and say that I’d never go to college let alone graduate from high school. When I started applying to schools and got accepted into all 15 colleges I applied too I realized one of my first dreams became a reality. It opened a door for me to understand that other dreams of mine like getting a full-time job, becoming a professional speaker, consulting on films, and becoming an author too could become a reality one day if I wanted them enough. And they all came true.
Now as an advocate I just want to see all my mentees and everyone in our community get the supports they need to progress and accomplish their dreams. Autism has become a part of my skill set today and we hope we can do the same for others.
What have you asked yourself about your autism diagnosis? If I can ever help be a soundboard you can reach out to me anytime on my Facebook page here.