What to Say When Others Think We’re Lying

So I’ve been thinking: what can we say to people who view our neurodivergence or disability as an excuse or almost a lie? How can we help others understand it’s not a choice?

While I watch my younger daughter play hockey (I swear, it’s the only time I have to write here), I’m going to write a list of things to tell people that think this way:

  • I didn’t choose to be this way.
  • My brain just works differently and it requires different things than others’.
  • I’m not lazy.
  • Everyone has different needs. It doesn’t make anyone better or worse than anyone else.
  • Just because you can’t see my disability doesn’t make it any less debilitating.
  • Yes, I may look “normal,” but that’s because I’ve been forced to learn to act in such a way to survive since childhood. And, by the way, what does “looking normal” even mean?
  • Even if I can do things others can do, it’s much more exhausting, both mentally and physically.
  • My brain is literally wired differently. It’s not bad or wrong, but different, and that makes it harder to live in a neurotypical world as a neurodivergent person.
  • Why would I lie about this?
  • This is who I am regardless of your beliefs or preconceived notions. Period.

Honestly, in the end, none of this should matter. Saying “I can’t” should be enough. You should never be forced to prove what you’re saying about yourself, no matter what that is or who it’s to.

You should never be forced to justify why things are the way they are for you. My husband and I have basically realized no one would lie about being autistic. No one would choose to have these challenges.

Even my son, whose autism is one reason he’s excellent at math and so empathetic and so much more, told me he sometimes wishes he wasn’t autistic. His challenges clearly already bother him, even at 8 years old.

So despite our autism and ADHD being things we accept and are a part of who we are, they are challenging. Every day is a battle.

Every day is also different. Every day is never the same for us. I could wake up wanting to get something done, but if one thing goes wrong, my whole day could be shot to hell.

That’s definitely not a choice. No one wants a harder life.

What else would you add to this non-exhaustive list? How do you all deal with people who question your disability?


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