Yes, I am Neurodivergent.
Autistic, Dyslexic, Dyspraxic, Bipolar.
This article shares part of my story, and I hope it will help you see why it’s not okay to invalidate neurodivergence.
Throughout history, people have struggled with understanding neurodivergence. Invisible disabilities are harder to observe as they are pervasive and affect all aspects of a person’s life. There are a lot of stereotypes around what neurodivergent, particularly autistic, people look, sound and act like, a lot of these stereotypes, are not only simplistic but false. I was diagnosed with autism and various other neurodivergencies in December 2012. Since then, my life has gotten infinitely brighter.
Before being diagnosed as dyslexic, I would berate myself as “stupid”. Before being diagnosed as dyspraxic, I would hate myself for being “lazy and scattered”. Before being diagnosed as having mood disorders, I thought I was a “glorified parasite”. Before being diagnosed as autistic, I was a shell of myself. I chipped away at the parts of me that I knew were unpalatable to the neurotypical world. After 15 years of masking, I buckled under the weight of societal expectations.
You may see me now, and question, is he really autistic? Is his dyslexia actually that much of a barrier? Does he deserve support or recognition for his dyspraxia, what even is dyspraxia? We all have bad days, does bipolar ii genuinely warrant medication? Aren’t you just a snowflake? Anxiety is something we all have!
Validation, Self-Acceptance and Self-Worth
A part of me understands where the confusion may come from; after all, I spent years of my life listening to, internalising and reinforcing negative beliefs about myself. This happened to the point that I didn’t even trust my own experiences, much less that of others. But never have I felt more alone in the world as when I tried to measure myself up against the stick of neurotypicality only to come off different every, single time.
Coming to accept my diagnoses was a long, steep road. But the day I began on that journey to self-acceptance was the day I stopped surviving and started to live.