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World Autism Acceptance Week

Day one: a blog entry from Ray, who attends our online activities.


I don’t feel I am entirely accepted. 

I haven’t had anyone personally challenge me or tell me their thoughts on how autistic they think I am, but I have heard some horror stories about that happening to other people in my groups.

Because I’m well-spoken and self-aware and come across as relatively intelligent, sometimes people don’t consider my additional needs, or check in with me, because they’ve made the assumption that I know what I’m doing. 

But I’m just masking. I’m just putting on that front to be brave. I feel like my needs are not always met in all situations.

 I think people need to stop making assumptions about what autism should look like in people, and how it presents. 

When I disclose that I’m autistic to people that I don’t know well I often hear things like:

“Oh, my nephew’s autistic, oh yeah I know all about that.”

“How old are they?”

“8!”

“Oh yeah I’m sure I’ve got loads in common with them!” 

I feel like people make assumptions and box us in to a place where it’s easy for them to understand, but they never get to know who we are. 

I’ve made a lot of effort these past couple of years, since the lockdown, to make friends. I’ve never really had real friends before. Since I found out I was autistic later in life (I was in my 30s), it made me realise that my friendships have never been genuine, and that made me distance myself from people. 

When I found out I was autistic I thought I’d try and find real friends, and I’ve been able to do that. So now I have real friends, and I love that.

Through online activities I’ve found a way to socialise that’s safe for me and has boundaries in place for me to get to know people, and for them to get to know me, but with less risk. I’ve been able to make real connections over things that we like.

I do meet up with some of the friends that I’ve met online. We go to town and go to the game shops and the cinema and stuff like that. 

I’m looking for a PA at the moment. I’ve got lots of plans and things that I want to do, but I’m really held back by my confidence and anxiety. A good PA would help me to stay on track about the things that I want to do, and check in with me, making sure I’m where I need to be. If they could drive maybe they could help me to go places sometimes as well! 

As well as acceptance from society and the communities we’re involved with, self-acceptance is really important. I know some autistic people that really struggle to accept the fact that they’re autistic and wish that they weren’t and feel like if they weren’t autistic then things would be easier – they wouldn’t struggle with so many things. 

It’s really difficult to reframe that, to see benefits, and to appreciate everything about yourself when it seems like all of your hardships are down to the fact that this world wasn’t built for you. I often blame myself for not being able to “fit in” or “get on with things” like I feel like I’m expected to. It’s hard not to feel blame for that. I don’t know how to frame this in a positive light. 

Accepting yourself isn’t the easiest thing and it’s something that we all struggle with, but it is a good place to start.