Disclaimer: This article is based on personal experiences. I speak only about my own experiences, the experiences of others may differ.
I have always been different. Different enough that it was noticeable, but not so different that people felt bad about treating me poorly. While most teenagers and young adults have trouble with relationships, school, family life or all of the above, Autism definitely creates unique problems within these categories.
These are the things I wish you knew about me, an Autistic Girl.
I like to feel included
There aren’t many people who don’t like feeling included. I never liked parties, or going out much, but I always appreciate when someone invites me anyways. While I may not accept the invitation, I always appreciate it, because it means that the person likes having me around. Making and maintaining friendships is a struggle for many people who have Autism, even more than your average teen, and I will always appreciate someone trying to include me.
Verbal communication isn’t always a strong suit of mine
Having a conversation takes a lot of thinking for me. There are so many social rules that come naturally to you, but that I have had to (and still have to) learn (Seriously, one of my favorite reference texts for social rules is “The Asperkids Secret Book of Social Rules”, which is a book I think every teen who has Autism could benefit from). So if you’re talking to me, and I’m taking longer than average to respond, or I start talking about something that is waaaay off topic, please try to be patient. I promise I am actually doing my best
Like most young people, I’m self-conscious as is. Your staring doesn’t help.
Ok, I 100% acknowledge that sometimes I do things that probably look very strange to you. Maybe you don’t even realise you’re staring at me. Unfortunately, the world isn’t fluent in the language of Ciara-Beth. Most people doesn’t even know it exists. So if I burst into tears in public and can’t communicate verbally, or if I’m flapping my hands, or jumping around like a lunatic, or if I’m wearing an outfit that is DEFINITELY not stylish, just know it’s for a reason. I may be overwhelmed, or excited or I might have woken up this morning and every item of clothing in my wardrobe bar that one dress was making my skin feel like I was burning alive. Staring at me when these things happen, make me feel like an idiot, and nobody likes feeling like an idiot.
I’m Autistic, Not An Idiot
If I’m out with a friend or a parent, and you find out I have autism, and you start asking the person who I’m with questions about me, or what I want, you’re insulting me. Unless I cannot verbally communicate with you (which will be very obvious, I promise), it’s rude and disrespectful, to both me and the person I’m with, to talk to the person beside me about me. If you’re in doubt, ask me the question, and if I can’t communicate, the person who’s with me will explain. I promise, you’re not making a mistake if you ask me a question and I can’t communicate with you.
I always appreciate an attempt to understand me
I have spent 20 years trying to understand how your world works. I might seem like I understand most things, but a lot of social rules just don’t make sense to me. All the same, I respect that they make sense to you. If you spend even 10 minutes building LEGO with me, or if you’re holding an event and you ask me how you can make it accessible for me, I will appreciate it 110%. Any attempt you make to try and make sense of my world will always be welcomed with open arms. And if you accidentally get it wrong, I promise I won’t be mad.
So there you have it. 5 key things I wish everyone could know about me, as an Autistic girl. I hope my world makes even a slight bit more sense to you.