Why I’m Passionate About Sharing Autistic Lived Experience
As an Autistic person, it can sometimes feel as though our lived experience doesn’t count for much. Existing in a world where baseline awareness about autism is still abysmally low means we have to work hard to be understood.
We’re constantly trying to explain ourselves while correcting misconceptions and opening minds.
We’re trying to communicate the nuances of internal experience to counter assumptions based on external behaviour.
We’re ever striving to strike a balance between celebrating our strengths and acknowledging our challenges and need for support.
We’re working to improve representation in popular culture and media because it’s still so far from reflecting the diversity of Autistic experience.
We’re advocating for ourselves so that law and policy makers recognise that autism is whole of life condition, not a childhood affliction.
We’re battling a dominant narrative that prioritises the voices of non-autistic people and leaves us feeling silenced.
We’re defending ourselves against non-autistic people who profess to be experts on our lives.
The non-autistic population has a lot of catching up to do in understanding the experiences of autistic people and neurodivergence more generally.
And us Autistic folk are here to help.
Yep, funnily enough, we’re the experts on what it is to be Autistic. It’s not academics, journalists, parents, carers, support providers or even mental health professionals — unless of course they also happen to be Autistic.
When I took my first steps on this journey, it was learning about the lived experience of Autistic people that kept me going. Lurking tentatively at the edge of the Autistic community, ridden with imposter syndrome, recognising my experience in theirs made me feel that I belonged.
It was an important counter to much of the other information about autism in circulation. Had that been my touchstone, my journey would have taken a very different direction. It had very little to say about me or…