Proud to Be Autistic: A 'Love Letter' for Autistic Pride Day
My neurodiversity is intrinsically woven into who I am, what I am, and how I am. How I experience the world around me and how I connect and communicate with others. Thinking and feeling positively about myself has been a long time coming, and if I’m honest, all I’ve ever really wanted was to feel good about myself, to be happy, loved, appreciated, and accepted as I am. That’s all any of us want and need really.
Looking back at my early childhood, I know I started out that way, delighting in those early joyful experiences. The feel of grasses between my fingers as I wandered through meadows, all the glorious sounds of birds and insects. How I felt at home there and the unshakeable feeling of belonging and that I was safe. I knew I was different somehow and in the early days, I was OK with that. It didn’t matter. We can’t all be the same. if we were, the world would be a very boring place, right?
But then it did matter and it wasn’t OK and I didn’t belong. It’s fair to say I struggled. Perhaps not as much as others, but in my own way I did. Trying to fit in and trying to do it all the same as everyone else. Sometimes I got away with it. I passed unnoticed. Sometimes it all came to a head in a spectacular failure or so it seemed to me.
These past few decades I’ve been on quite an interesting journey of exploration accompanied by a most unexpected education. And surprisingly, this journey of discovery has brought me back to myself, a little bruised and battered, heartbroken, and certainly more cautious. But more authentic, and honestly, that feels amazing.
For a long time, I didn’t know the whole story as to what was it that made me different, no one did, there was no way they could. Motherhood lit up the dark and showed me the way, helped me find my community, my tribe. And slowly, over time, I came to accept and appreciate myself, who I am and how I am, and I learned the words which I can add to other words that describe my being Autistic. And neurodiverse.
Recently, it was made official and I am bursting with delight! I can look back now at what I have achieved, what turned out well, and when I was happiest and I see now that that was when I tapped into my natural abilities and used my autistic senses along with hard work. So therefore, I cannot help but be proud of that aspect of myself.
I am lucky now because I can now knowingly pour that into my creativity. All that wonderful detail I see and experience and can tap into has and will find its way into my writing. drawing, and painting.
My need to feel balance in my body brought me to yoga and my knowledge, understanding, and experience so far, I hope, will be something positive as I continue on my educational and professional yoga journey and I can’t help but be excited about that.
I can now knowingly use my Autistic abilities in caring for my family. Which is actually quite beneficial in many ways. For example, being myself lets my son know that it’s OK for him to be himself. Engaging in activities or not in ways which help take care of my health and well-being teaches my son how to take care of himself as well.
Coming back to myself, embracing it, and living as my own authentic autistic self brings me great joy. There is more to come and in a sense I’ve only just begun, but right now here and now I am happier being myself than I ever was trying to be like everyone else.