This post is written to accompany a comic I wrote about having autism [see image gallery]. I would urge you to read that comic before reading the rest of this post.
No offense to anyone I know personally and feels I could’ve told this in person. It’s just too many people to explain this to separately and clearly. Making it a comic (and blog post) was the better solution .
If you want to know more about autism, there’s a section at the bottom with helpful links. If you want to know more about what my deal is, drop me a line.
At the time of writing, it’s been about 7 months since I was officially diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder, in February 2020) and the road to ending up with a diagnosis, took either 6 months or 4 years, depending on how you look at it. I’m writing this post mainly to add a bit of context to the comic and provide some references for those who might like to know more.
As the comic suggests, an autism diagnosis does not have to come with all the clichés but does come with it’s fair share of baggage. There’s also some unique qualities to an adult diagnosis. On the up side, there’s relief knowing where some of your ‘eccentricities’ or issues come from but there’s also potential for disaster. Chief amongst the worries (for me at least), is the reaction of the outside world and the implications it has on current (and future) personal or professional relationships. This is in large part because of the decades of misinformation and cliches surrounding autism.
As a result, I had to do a lot of thinking about how or even ‘if’ I would talk to people in my life about this. Ultimately, I decided to tell my employer + my friends personally but quickly lost the will to continue. It’s just too draining to try and explain the same thing every time and answer the same questions (or try to debunk untruths). So that’s why I decided to only tell a few in person and make a comic I could share to others. (I also did a small ‘personal’ story on Instagram for a limited group of people, while I was still debating my ‘format’.).
There’s pro and cons to telling an employer but I personally felt it was important for my well-being to do so. Not everyone does so, and I can respect that position as well. I’m also in somewhat of a luxury position where I have 13 years of work to speak for me so it would not be easy to be dismissed for this.
Then there’s the question of how ‘publicly’ (as far as social media goes) I actually wanted to acknowledge being an autistic person. I like to believe that any extra visibility that’s brought to ASD, by people ‘on the spectrum’, is a good thing. I’ve just seen too much misinformation about autism and Asperger’s lately (especially by so-called ‘experts’ and the media), to be comfortable with being a functional human being with autism and not acknowledging it. So I’m okay with this comic living on the internetz.
What I would like readers to take away from this comic and this post, is that It tries to explain what autism is for me personally. You don’t get a lot of medical or historical info but hopefully you’ll understand that autism isn’t necessarily what you’ve been told by the media.
For more specific info about autism (and related topics), I have added some helpful links and a footnote below.
Thanks for reading!
Footnote with the comic:
On the topic of ‘neurodiversity’: there is criticism against the decision to expand autism to include people who have debilitating issues as well as completely self-sufficient people saying it dissolves the medical meaning, or that a label such as ‘neurodiversity’ becomes something fashionable that minimalizes the very real issues faced by individuals with high support needs. While I don’t want to take away from those problems, and I understand they need solutions, I do think that talking about ‘a spectrum’ and ‘diversity’ is the way to strive for acceptance of human differences. The underlying issue is social/societal and not just a medical one.