Since the onset of social media, I am learning more and more about others from their experiences. It is knowing which sources are reliable and valid. Overall, it has made me know that I am not the only one that has traits or similarities in some ways to other autistics.
Reading and watching the experiences on social media helps me feel related to the situations that I face continually. It also lets me know I am not alone and that doing things that can help the situation is perfectly fine in life, especially the fact that there is no shame in doing so. These experiences provide me validation in accepting my challenges for what they are and that doing what I need to do can not only help me in a situation, but in fact that I should do it.
I can feel the experiences of others in their journeys and know that no two are the same. There are similarities and being able to relate to those experiences to some degree helps me accept my challenges for what they are and that it is not going away. It is knowing so many that are now living the life that I once was and also in many cases that I am privileged to have the opportunities that I have in life by those seeing beyond the diagnosis and me as the person that if given the right tools to succeed can do so.
In the bad days it can be the confidence booster that I need to get through the more challenging bouts of things that may be blocking my view of progress. That there is more potential beyond where I am today. That I need to make my life the best that I can in this current moment and take care of my overall self and prevent myself from falling into the slump.
It is knowing in the experiences of other neurodiverse individuals that I do some of the things in the public world that may seem “odd” or “quirky” to others, that when given the set of circumstances I cannot mask my need to stim and that as long as I am doing no harm and I need to, it is acceptable and a part of me. For so long in my life there would be opportunities with others that I would be told not to do what I needed to do to cope with getting through something. While it may be known as irritating to them, it was causing no harm and in fact it was what I needed to do to cope at that very moment because I was absolutely unable to autisticall mask at that given moment. I would regret having to apologize for having to use the necessary coping mechanisms that may have seen odd or not be able to have the things that I need to have to go through the motions of life.
It goes without saying that I can relate more and more to autistics regardless of their ability to effectively communicate. I value all voices at the table because I can co-regulate with my family and have had the unique opportunity to see things from their point of view. It is a unique dynamic that puts me in a sometimes very precarious position in the autism community that I have to cautiously tow the line. However, because during my last crisis when the world shut down, I felt what my family felt and it was by their saving grace that they did not reach out to first responders or the crisis team, which could mean that I would not even be writing this article today.
It is knowing that all autistic voices are valid for what they choose to share, it is my choice whether I want to accept it as reliable information or can very much relate to it in my own way in order to protect my mental health or be compromised by the autistic community at large.
I know that I am not alone in my fight with autism. It has taken me until recently to accept what it is and not mask it as much as I was and that I have to use my rights and do what I need to do to accommodate myself in a world that is oftentimes not built for neurodiverse individuals such as myself. It is helping me live the best life that I can with the least restrictions possible.