Over the last couple of weeks I’ve called myself autistic. I haven’t said it out loud but I’ve written it. I’m autistic. It’s scary. I’m autistic.
The fear isn’t fear of being autistic, it’s the risk of claiming something that I might not be entitled to claim. That I’m stealing something that isn’t mine to use. Because I don’t have a formal diagnosis for autism. I have an ADHD diagnosis, but when I went through the assessment the autism question was overlooked and I didn’t know enough to fight for it. In some ways I understand why the doctor and psychologist who did the assessment didn’t look into the possibility of me being autistic, I know that I’ve learned to perform way too well. I know that my body language seems too neurotypical now, I know that they didn’t know how much I’ve practised a “normal” body language. That I’ve practised what to say, how to talk, how to move, what to do. They didn’t know how much effort I put in my behavior. So how could they know?
How could they know when the assessment process is so biased? How could they know when our culture has such a narrow perception of what autism looks like?
Over the last year I’ve read a lot, I’ve learned a lot, and finally I had the support I needed to dare asking myself if I’m autistic. And after six months of debating with myself, looking at the arguments, reading some more, revisiting my childhood through writing, I know what I believe. I believe that I’m autistic. But how could I know?
How can anybody know when I’ve spent over thirty years practicing a neurotypical behavior? I guess that I never will know for sure and that I have to trust myself in this case.
A couple of days ago I called myself autistic on Twitter. I actually did it. Because I’ve made the choice to value what I know about myself.