Every year since I figured out I was autistic four years ago, I understand myself a little better. I am better able to understand how I fit into the world (or don’t), or which of my traits are autistic traits, or why I behaved a certain way in the past, or how I might change my life for the better in ways that support my needs.
Sometimes it’s epiphanies, and sometimes it’s little daily habits. Sometimes it’s new memes, and sometimes it’s new articles. Sometimes it’s new autistic friends, and sometimes (often!) it’s old friends who newly discover that they’re autistic (but I suspected all along).
But even among the non-autistic people I know, autism is becoming a less-taboo subject, a more socially acceptable diagnosis. It’s often now just a descriptor to which many people are merely responding, “Oh, okay,” and then they sometimes ask for advice about how to help an autistic niece or nephew.
I feel like I figured out I was autistic at the right time. Past the time when it was seen only as a deficit. Past the time when I would have internalized any shame or negative thoughts because that’s what society would have placed on me. Way past the time it would have forced me into abusive “therapies.” And at just the right time for the autistic community to really begin thriving online and for me to participate in it.
I’m grateful that my Autistic Pride doesn’t feel forced, faked, or shameful. It feels part of a community, full of clarity, and, at the same time, just an adjective to describe me. It just feels right.
Happy Autistic Pride Day, 2022!