Updated: Nov 1
If you have recently been diagnosed with autism, you may be feeling scared, confused, or overwhelmed. You may be wondering what autism means for you and your future. You may be facing stigma, stereotypes, or ignorance from others. You may be feeling alone or different.
But you are not alone. Yes, you are different, but you are autistic. And that is a wonderful thing.
I am autistic too. I am also a teacher, a mother, a mentor, and a happy and fulfilled person. I have faced many challenges in my life because of my autism, but I have also discovered many strengths and joys. My daughter is autistic too, and she graduated from New York University with a degree in psychology. She has a bright future ahead of her.
I want to help you understand and embrace your autism diagnosis. I want to share with you some of the things that I have learned about autism and myself. I want to show you that autism is not a problem or a curse, but a part of your identity and a source of your potential.
What You Need to Know About Autism Before Exploring a Diagnosis
Autism is a neurological condition that affects how you perceive, process, and communicate with the world. It is not a disease or a disorder, despite the medical community’s current label of it, but a spectrum of differences and diversity.
Autism can manifest in different ways for different people. Some of the common signs of autism are:
Difficulty with social skills, such as making eye contact, reading body language, or understanding sarcasm
Sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as sounds, lights, smells, or textures
Special interests or passions that you pursue with intensity and focus
Repetitive behaviors or movements, which may include arranging items in rows or patterns, preferring a limited range of repetitive activities, or experiencing the same book, song, video, etc. repeatedly
Desire for routine and structure and discomfort with change or unpredictability
Anxiety or stress in unfamiliar or challenging situations
Autism can also bring some amazing abilities and gifts, such as:
Creative and original thinking, such as finding new solutions or perspectives
Exceptional memory or attention to detail, for instance, remembering facts or noticing patterns
Strong logic or reasoning skills, for example, solving puzzles or analyzing data
Musical or artistic talent, such as playing an instrument or drawing
Strong loyalty and commitment to honesty, even when that might mean being more honest or open with your views than others might be
Kindness and empathy, such as caring for others or animals.
Autism is not something that you have or that you suffer from. It is part of who you are and how you see the world.
How to Embrace Your Autism Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with autism can be a life-changing event. It can help you understand yourself better and get the support that you need. It can also help you appreciate your strengths and celebrate your differences.
Here are some tips on how to embrace your autism diagnosis:
Learn more about autism: Many books, websites, podcasts, videos, and blogs can teach you more about autism and its culture and community. You can also talk to other autistic people online or in person and learn from their experiences and insights.
Accept yourself as you are: You are not less than or more than anyone else. And you are certainly not broken or defective. You are different. And different is not bad. Different is beautiful. You have unique talents and challenges that make you who you are. You don’t need to change yourself to fit in or please others. You just need to be yourself.
Seek support when you need it: You don’t have to go through this journey alone. You can ask for help from your parents, teachers, friends, counselors, therapists, doctors, or mentors. They can provide you with guidance, advice, resources, accommodations, or interventions that can make your life easier and happier.
Advocate for yourself and others: You have the right to be respected and included in your school, family, society, and world. You have the right to express your needs and preferences and to have them met. You have the right to access information and opportunities that can help you grow and thrive. You also have the power to raise awareness and educate others about autism and its diversity.
Enjoy your life: Autism is not a barrier or a burden. It is an adventure and a blessing. It can open up new possibilities and experiences for you. It can enrich your life with meaning and joy. It can make you proud of who you are.
Autism is not something to be afraid of or ashamed of. It is something to be proud of and celebrate. It is part of who you are and how you see the world.
I hope that by sharing my advice with you, I can help you embrace your autism diagnosis too. My daughter and I are proud to be autistic, and I hope you are, too!