One of the biggest issues around autism is the misunderstanding. Most neurotypicals just think autism means one thing, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Before I researched autism when my son was two, I was the same. I didn’t know what it was. It sounded scary. It sounded like it meant he was going to struggle, that his life would be hard.

Then I knew that getting a diagnosis would only help us. It helps us help him. It helps us know how his brain works.

My whole life I’ve believed having a diagnosis – having an answer – is only a good thing. Without it, as a teen, I would’ve just felt like a weirdo or strange, instead of learning I had anxiety and depression. Both things that can be treated and understood.

I know lots of people who seem to dislike labels, thinking they are a hinderance, or that “everyone is getting one” nowadays. Yet, having that label allows for yourself to be understood. It explains why I forget why I entered a room. It explains why I’ll watch and rewatch the same few shows (I’m looking at you, Supernatural) rather than start anything new. It explains why my food touching is the worst thing ever.

Instead of thinking you’re crazy, the label allows for understanding. Now, these aren’t “excuses.” I think that’s a super important distinction. There’s no excuse for behaviours, but there are explanations.

If a room is too bright or too loud, maybe that’s why you’re rocking in your seat and dysregulated. If you had to be reminded a million times to do something, maybe you forgot because your brain can’t process all the info you’re being given, as well as your surroundings, but it’s not that you’re stupid or lazy.

Understanding allows those in our orbit to better know the why behind us, and to maybe not take perceived slights – what’s eye contact? – personally.

I know living and/or working with neurodivergent people can be a challenge, but remember the opposite is true; having to learn to live with neurotypicals is challenging for us, too.

In the end, the biggest thing we all need is accommodation. The world is not as black and white as we once thought and our views and beliefs about people need to adjust with that.

Truly all I want is to be understood.


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