Awareness means we know what is hard for us. As we grow up autistic we are measured against the yardstick of “normal” in many ways over and over. Thus, autistic children often have a keen sense of who they are NOT. This deficit-based understanding may be necessary in the diagnostic realm, but it does little to support a healthy lifestyle. Who we ARE in this world – our abilities, strengths and interests – provide us with a satisfying life because that is the way it is with human beings. And yes, autistic people regardless how autistic you think they may or may not be, are ALL human beings. This means ALL autistics have intrinsic value.
People generally are very pleased with themselves when they have made an accommodation for me. I know this because they proudly announce it! In turn, I have learned to say thank you when people announce their thoughtfulness at making an accommodation for me. I truly am thankful because it allows me a fuller participation in the events going on around me. It also makes me smile because I have been making accommodations for people my whole life and it has never occurred to me to announce it!
For many years having friends eluded me. I find that to be true with many teen and young adult autistics. If you are in that predicament I encourage you to hang in there because it does get better over time.
One of the hardest things we have going against us as autistics is that it is generally non-autistics who try to help us to have friends. The only way they know how to help is to try to get us to make friendships work in the way they make them work based on the way their neuromajority thinking and interfacing with others and with the world work for them. Many times this is a big enough mismatch for autistics as not to work in our lives. When this happens we often blame ourselves. Here is something I came to understand in my 40’s. I share it in hopes it will be helpful to others.
Even though people described me as in my own world as I was growing up, I was in the same world as every other human being. I could not help it that other people could not see the details of the world such as the sun sparkles and the misty tails rising up from the ground early in the morning like I could, but that didn’t mean our worlds were different.
The neurology of a person with autism does not automatically organize the world outside their skin. When we are able to organize the happenings in the world we usually do so differently than neuro majority people.
As a young child I saw over and over how light from the sun interacted with water particles rising from the ground and with water droplets in the air. This repeated experience became useful over time in that I learned the predictability of this occurrence. I also learned the effects of various factors (such as clouds, rain, air temperature, wind, etc.) had on impacting the interaction of sun brightness with air and ground moisture.