News 26 Apr
What World Autism Day means to me
By Meisha Prouting (they/them)
World Autism Acceptance day is a day that brings many mixed feelings for me as an Autistic adult. Pride towards my Autistic identity, dread towards the inevitably loud people pushing 'cure', 'disease' and 'burden' rhetoric. Joy towards my special interests, finally being my authentic self, and grief thinking about my childhood growing up undiagnosed and thinking I was broken.
I spent a very long time trying to hide from the world. It took me a long time, but now, I love being autistic. I love the way my whole body moves to express my happiness. I love my honesty, my loyalty. I love my special interests that bring me indescribable amounts of joy. I see and appreciate the details and patterns in everyday things that allistic people seem to miss. Autism makes me who I am, it affects the way I interact with the world and every part of my being, and I wouldn't want to be without it.
Like many in the autistic community, I inevitably feel dread in anticipation of autism acceptance month. Between the parents pushing the 'autism is a burden' rhetoric, medical professionals pushing abusive therapies and fundraisers for hateful organizations, or 'cure' research, the attack on our community is impossible to miss.
Celebrating my brain and my community brings me a lot of joy. Connecting with my other autistic friends, sharing our comforts and special interests with each other in our uniquely autistic love language. Lying in my backyard watching ants going about their day whilst happily smiling. Autism acceptance day has me reflecting and feeling this joy all over again.
Due to being diagnosed late, there is always an element of grief for my younger self on autism acceptance day. I grieve for that lonely child, with no friends except for a tree they would walk around in circles and talk to for the entire lunchtime. For my childhood self, who was bullied and told they were a freak and an *r slur* for reasons they didn't understand. For my younger self battling through an accommodating world without the proper support, trying their very best and still struggling so much in ways others couldn't understand.
Autism acceptance day can really be a mixed bag of emotions for both myself and I know for many other autistics as well. The most important thing to remember is to show love, appreciation & acceptance for autistic people not just during this one day or even month, but every single day. We are doing our best to navigate a world not designed for us that still widely sees us as 'wrong', and we deserve to be celebrated.
All image credits: (Meisha Prouting, 2022)