Autistic Pride Day 2018 – Proud to be me

“But why are you proud of something that wasn’t your choice?”

That’s an argument I’ve heard all too often, in a number of contexts. My answer? Because it’s a part of me. And in order to have pride in myself, I need to be proud of all my constituent parts.

For me, having pride in who I am is integral to my self-esteem, which has been low for as long as I can remember. To be proud of my asexuality, my autism and other parts of me is to start to rebuild it, piece by piece.

For so long, I thought autism was a defect, and therefore I was defective. It hurt me, a lot. So being able to stand up and say I am proud to be autistic today is to begin to build back up what I lost throughout so many years of hating who I was.

Yes, being autistic makes some things so much harder for me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be proud of it. If I could have some ‘cure’? I wouldn’t take it. This is part of who I am, and a different, neurotypical Stephanie would be a different person entirely.

This is who I am. I can’t stand loud noises or bright lights, when I’m overexcited I jump up and down and clap in a very ‘childish’ fashion. People stare at me when I act myself in public, in a bad way. But I am who I am, I can’t – and wouldn’t – change that.

On this Autistic Pride Day, I want to send the following message to non-autistic people:

Accept us, it does us so much good. Don’t try to change us, your ‘therapies’ to try and train us to act more like you are harmful. Let us stim, it’s normal and healthy for us! Build up our self-esteem, don’t tear it down by saying we’re defective or incapable of growing as humans.

We are real, we are actual proper humans with actual proper feelings, and even if we act differently or communicate in a manner unfamiliar to you, don’t just assume we won’t understand what you’re saying about us like we’re not in the room.

I am not the same as I was as a child, autistic people grow and change just like neurotypicals. Just because we might take a little longer to figure stuff out, doesn’t mean we won’t. This world is hostile to us, it makes it harder to figure out. Your world is not as logical as you might think. Some things don’t make sense. What may be instinct to you, we might have to consciously think about. And vice versa.

I am proud of who I am. I am proud of all my parts. I am proud to be autistic.

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