I haven’t kept up with this challenge as I’ve been away on holidays and spent most of my time offline. So now I’m going to catch up by doing a few days at a time.
Day 4: Reactions to Coming Out
I haven’t really “come out” in a lot of areas of life. But I’m gradually expanding the areas in which I’m doing so. I suppose I first came out to my husband, who was not really surprised and is very supportive. I then mentioned it to a select few friends. Most of whom were supportive but one of them said I was “using autism as an excuse for being a shitty friend”. We are no longer friends. I told my mother and my sisters. I haven’t told my brother to his face but that’s more because I rarely talk to him.
I then went along to an autistic group here in Galway. They were obviously all supportive. Then there was the AuSome Conference last February, where I made no secret of being autistic. And I added some of the friends I made there to my Facebook but didn’t make a big deal of it.
Then a few weeks ago I read this piece by The Autistic Advocate and was so moved by it I spontaneously decided to “come out” on FB. Now, I rarely use FB and have few friends there besides some one or two from childhood/university, close family such as cousins and aunts/uncles, and a few recent additions of autistic friends. And I should have predicted it but the only people who responded, either with “likes” and/or comments, were people who already knew. None of my family members responded. I don’t know if it’s because it didn’t come up on their timeline as I haven’t interacted with them in years, or if they had reasons for not responding. Either way, I don’t really care. I’m still glad I did it.
As to coming out to my GP, other medical professionals, my kids’ school staff, other people in general… I’m not sure I’ll ever do that unless I absolutely have to. Which is quite sad really but that’s the reality of the situation.
Day 5: Special Interests:
Like a lot of autistic people, my special interests have changed over time.
Astrology, Enneagram, Ayurveda, CFS, Fibromyalgia, Ehlers Danlos, Autism… The exact interest might have changed but the common thread in all of these is trying to get to figure myself out better. So I guess these would be classed as “self-knowledge”.
Botany. Zoology. Ecology. Learning scientific names off by heart. Reading scientific papers (which overlaps with some of the subjects that fall under “self-knowledge”) Reading in general. I don’t remember learning to read. It’s just something I have done my whole life. And when, as happens when I’m going though burnout, I can’t read, I feel like a huge part of myself is missing.
Day 6: Supports and Appreciation
I’m not sure what this title means or why supports should go alongside appreciation. In any case, I’m not sure what supports to write about. I don’t have too much in the way of supports. I have my husband, who is my rock and steers me clear of trouble. I have my kids who love me no matter what. And I have one or two friends and also I go to a local monthly autistic meet-up. And I have this blog, which I find vital to support my mental health.
As for appreciation. Well, I appreciate the autistic community worldwide. I appreciate my husband and children. I appreciate my friends. And I think all of those people appreciate me back.
Day 7: The Autistic Community
By this I mean the community of autistic people worldwide. I don’t mean non-autistic allies or those non-autistic people who consider themselves part of “The Autism Community”. The same way a White person cannot be part of the Black Community and a straight person cannot be part of the LGBTQ community.
The Autistic Community is by far the best place to go to learn about autism. You can find us online, through FB, Twitter, blogs etc (search for #ActuallyAutistic) or through our books or in person. Not everyone in The Autistic Community is on the same page. We don’t always get along. There can be plenty of in-fighting. But on the whole we are a welcoming bunch who just want to help. And most of us have a common goal of fighting for Autistic Human Rights.