One of the things I really want to focus on with my blog this year is to create more autism awareness content.
I want to use my platform as a place to dispel some of the stereotypes and misconceptions around autism because let’s face it, there are a lot!
So as its World Autism Awareness Day today, I thought what better time to start!
Autism is a spectrum
Every person on the spectrum is different, it’s why it’s called a spectrum in the first place.
Personally I find that my autism makes traditional jobs impossible to cope with, I’ve had several different jobs and never lasted longer than a few months.
It’s one of the main reasons I decided to become self employed; something I love, but which comes with a new set of challenges of its own!
On the other hand, Chris has had his job for over 5 years now and while he doesn’t enjoy it, he copes really well in it.
People seem to assume that all autistic people are exactly the same, and expect you to say and do certain things based on the experience they’ve had with another autistic person.
That’s like expecting all people with blue eyes to love the colour green, just because you once met a person with blue eyes who liked green…
There’s isn’t a “look” to autism
Oh boy, if there’s one thing I’m getting a little fed up of hearing its “you don’t look autistic”.
Worst of all, they think that saying that is a compliment!
Now I completely understand that most of the time this is meant in a genuine way, but just think about it for a second.
It’s the same as saying “you don’t look disabled” to someone who isn’t in a wheelchair – which is also a big problem but that’s a rant for another time.
I recently found of that quite a number of people mix up autism and Down’s syndrome, or think that if you have one you have to have the other as well.
I’ve no idea where this has come from, but it’s definitely not true!
Of course, someone with autism can have other conditions too, both physical and mental, but without getting too deeply into the medical side of things (which I’m definitely not an expert on) those conditions aren’t usually related to each other.
We’re not all amazing at maths
Apparently this comes from a film called Rain Man, although I’ve never actually seen it so I can’t really comment on it.
But since then everyone seems to think being autistic means you’re good at maths, which in my case is definitely true.
I only just managed to scrape a pass in my GCSEs!
This ties back to autism being a spectrum; some people are amazing at maths, others at languages and others (like me) have really good memories.
But there are also people who aren’t particularly academic and might be better at practical activities like woodwork, building or graphic/digital design.
Everyone has different skills, and being autistic doesn’t change that.
Women can be autistic too
This is something I wish medical professionals would actually understand too.
As a general rule, women are better at masking and hiding their autism than men are, which is why we’re missed so often.
The lovely Rebekah has an awesome graphic that highlights this perfectly, so I’m going to let that speak for itself:
When I went for my initial assessment, I ended up with a guy who basically didn’t believe that women can be autistic and tried to tell me I was just slightly anxious!
As you can imagine, that didn’t go down too well with me.
I’d waited three years to get an assessment and then I ended up with a guy who basically refused to believe anything I said because I didn’t have my mum with me.
I was 23 at the time…
The whole process was horrendous and I was so angry and upset that I phoned up and cancelled the whole process as I couldn’t face going through those two more times!
I might go into this in more detail in a separate post, so let me know if this would be something you’d be interested in hearing more about it?
Being autistic can be great
In all honesty, there are times when I love being autistic!
There are downsides of course. Meltdowns are a bitch that can knock me for days or even weeks at a time and working in a traditional environment is out of the question for me.
Even uni is difficult now because I’m forced to do things I struggle with as part of this course, and unlike my undergrad, they aren’t providing an alternative such as working on my own or presenting in private.
But even then, there are still positives and I personally don’t see autism as a disability or disadvantage.
I know that no everyone will have this point of view.
I know some people on the spectrum hate and really resent it and that’s okay. I’m writing this from my own personal point of view, and I know how lucky I am that I can function fairly well in my day to day life.
I’m a lot like a cat; I can kind of survive on my own but someone really should supervise me – I’m not joking when I say I actually managed to burn soup one time!
Are you autistic or know someone who is? What is the one thing you wish people understood about autism?