Autistic and Proud?
There has been some discussion lately over whether it is appropriate to be proud of being autistic. My reply would be that it depends on exactly what you mean by ‘proud’.
In my mind, it is only appropriate to be proud of things that you have actually created/achieved. For example, I would be proud if I had run a marathon, passed my exams or saved a child from a burning building.
Therefore, according to this logic, it is inappropriate to be proud of being autistic, as it is a random act of fate and not something that you had any influence over.
However, I am proud of the fact that I am autistic and have survived this long.
I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 49 and I’ve had a lifetime of struggle, with very little help and understanding from anyone. I’ve been penniless, lived in sub-standard housing and ended up hanging out with people that used me, purely because they were the only people that wanted to know me.
I’ve had a lifetime feeling isolated and inadequate, knowing that I was different, but not knowing why and not knowing what to do about it.
I am proud of the fact that however bad it got, I remained true to myself. I never compromised my principles to make life easier for myself. I never lied about a co-worker, never stabbed someone in the back, never let anyone down.
I believe that I am a good person. I’m honest, rational, logical, generous and caring. I believe that many of my positive personality traits are a direct result of my autism. It’s impossible to imagine not being autistic, although it would be fun to try it for a day.
Throughout the bad times, when I felt so entirely alone, I knew that I had something that other people didn’t have. I called it ‘this thing’ for years, but it was only two years ago that I realized that ‘this thing’ was called autism.
You could argue that if I wasn’t autistic, my life probably wouldn’t have been such a mess in the first place. It was this lack of social skills coupled with my unusually high moral standards which caused me to fail every formal job interview I ever had.
At least I can be secure in the knowledge that I remained true to myself throughout. It was my autism that gave me the strength to survive where others might not have done.
So yes, I AM proud of my autism and I’m also proud of myself.