I am Autistic and I am Tired.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is Steve Summer’s 10 Tips on How to Communicate with Autistic People. He also wrote the moving Don’t Sweat the Small StuffSteve has, kindly, given me permission to post his latest note here. Thanks Steve and I hope you feel less exhausted soon, my friend.

I am Autistic and I am Tired.

Today I feel tired. —
Tired of being rejected.
Tired of being ignored.
Tired of being excluded.
Tired of being treated like an outcast.
Tired of being treated like a misfit.
Tired of feeling like others look down on me for being different.
Tired of being expected to try and act ‘normal’ to have a ‘normal’ life. — I am not ‘normal.’ I am Autistic.
Tired of people who think that just trying harder will make Autistic people ‘more normal.’ — Would you tell a blind person to try harder to see? Would you tell a paraplegic to try harder to walk? Would you tell a colorblind person to try harder to see the colors that they can’t see?
Tired of people who don’t understand Autism and who don’t make any effort to learn about Autism so that they can cure their own ignorance.
Tired of people who refuse to accept Autistic people just as they are.
Tired of people who presume incompetence.
Tired of neuro-bigotry.
Tired of the silence of others. Silence is *not* support.

Want to help us? —
Listen to Autistic people.
Make an effort to learn about Autism.
Educate yourself about what we go through each and every day.
Learn about how negative attitudes make us feel.
Practice Autism Acceptance.
Accept that we are different, not less.
Accept that we are different, but *not* defective. Don’t try to make us into a poor copy of your idea of ‘normal.’
Accept that we are okay to be ourselves — just as we are.
Accept that we are humans with feelings just like everyone else.
Accept that Autistic rights are human rights.
Presume our competence.
Don’t avoid us, include us.
Most of us have have social anxiety. Please be kind and reassuring to us.
Please reach out to us. We won’t often make the first move after suffering from a lifetime of rejection, exclusion, and being bullied.
Please practice inclusion.

I am Autistic and I want to be valued and accepted for simply being me.

*Steve Summers

I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (part of the Autism Spectrum) as an adult. I was diagnosed following my 11-year-old son’s diagnosis with Aspergers. I am happy to have my diagnosis. It was like a light being turned on that illuminated my entire life in a new way. Now I understand why I never really ‘fit in.’ It is like having a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders to have my diagnosis.

I don’t feel that people should make divisions between parts of the Autism Spectrum. I am autistic and I want to work to make the world a better, more understanding and accepting place for all autistic people. We need to work together for the benefit of all on the Autism Spectrum. 

I wrote this list due to continuing difficulties that I have had with the give and take of communicating with others. Many people seem too easily offended because they fail to understand these things about me. We all need understanding and acceptance.

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  1. Those words made me tear up.

    I was diagnosed with Aspergers a few months back, but both my parents and my doctors have known that something was wrong for about twenty years. They just didn’t know what. My father came to the conclusion that if he picked on me enough, if he just criticized me enough every time I had trouble socially, I’d be normal.

    It hasn’t, yet, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

    1. That’s so sad. I will make sure Steve sees your comment. So much work is being done on awareness but acceptance is what is really needed. I hope you can find it.

    2. I wrote this comment in a very emotional state, and not every part of it holds up when I think about it some more.

      I don’t think my father has made the conscious decision that scorn will help me socially. But he has insulted me every time I try to improve, pointing out how far I have to go. He is unhelpful, but I don’t think he means to be.

      But that still means that it’s a lot harder to improve than it should be. Still, I’ve received a lot of help from teachers and others.

    3. Hi Narfi,

      I am glad that you feel a connection with what I wrote yesterday. I understand how you feel. My Dad never knew what was ‘wrong’ with me (from his viewpoint) because I was not diagnosed as a child. I didn’t get diagnosed until after my son was diagnosed. For me, the diagnosis was a precious gift. It explained why I had struggled, and failed, to fit in with the neuro-majority. It was like a light was turned on that shines back on my life and gives me answers that have always eluded me.

      I hope that with your diagnosis, you can find some peace in realizing that it is okay to be your Autistic self. There is no shame in being yourself. It is a relief to just be yourself.

      I hope that your Dad can learn to accept that you don’t intend to do anything to upset him, that you have a good reason for being the way that you are. We all need more Autism Acceptance. We have just as much right to be the way we are as ‘typical’ people have the right to be the way they are.

      You are not defective, you are different. Just like a Mac is not defective, it is simply different from a PC. And that is okay! 🙂

      (((Hugs))) to you!

    4. “wrong” is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. I feel that people who view autism as “wrong” are the ones who ARE wrong! People fear what they don’t understand, I believe in Steve’s mission to educate and enlighten others about autism so they can learn to embrace rather than fear what they see in people who are “differently abled”.

  2. I have an eighteen year old son who I believe to be on the spectrum, but I am having trouble getting a diagnosis. Most “professionals” are skeptical because he flew under the radar for so long. If anyone has any suggestions I would be very grateful.

    1. I will see what I can find and let steve, who authored this post know of your comment as he got his diagnosis as an adult. Generally, I find the thinking persons guide to autism site a mine of information. The UK’s national autistic society has very reliable info too. Sorry for not linking but I’m on my rubbish phone.

    2. Have you tried the Thinking Person’s guide to Autism? Different countries have differing procedures and I am most familiar with the UK but I will ask Liz of TPGA for help for you.

    3. my daughter didn’t get diagnosed until 26. My husband didn’t get diagnosed until 46. My first son was diagnosed at 6, and despite my bugging the doctor to help me with my second son who was displaying some of the same symptoms, he didn’t get diagnosed until he was 7. It’ s never too late. Just make sure you take your son to a very experienced professional. It can be such a relief to get a diagnosis, even if sometimes there is a grieving process. But it helps to know why, and what steps you can take to find acceptance, compensate for differences, and use strengths to an advantage.

      1. That is so true, Sandra. I felt such a weight off my shoulders when the Pad got an official DX. I compare it to being stuck on one level of a computer game – it certainly seemed as though some professionals were bad guys or objects to be negotiated. I found the whole process demoralising but ultimately necessary (the doc was referring to the Pwd as autistic months before he would formally DX and one professional told me the Pwd was “too happy to be autistic”)

  3. I was diagnosed at the age of 50. It was a great thing for me, but I think I went through that stage of “now I know what I’m doing wrong I can finally be normal.” Four years on I see that’s not so. I also see that non-autistics are, ironically, deeply unempathetic and have no theory of mind – things they say about us – because they assume that, in differing from them, we are doing wrong. What I call “the little laugh” – the response to autistic behaviours. Also, oh God help us, the classic line – “Everyone’s a bit like that!” I have replied to that in various ways. Here’s the one I’d like to use now: “Really? So you spent years friendless, untouched, and suicidal with loneliness? That was “a bit like” your life, was it?” In fact I shall simply stop having that conversation.
    What I have realised lately is this: I am different. I cannot socialise easily. I can’t do that dance. It isn’t hard-wired. Also I can’t filter out the horrendously loud sensory imput which comes from other people, even strangers sitting near me. And I have a lifetime of feeling ashamed of this. I realised that shame (whether coming from outside or inside) cannot be appeased. Change one thing and there’ll be ten, fifty, a hundred new sources of shame. So shame is the problem – not what I am ashamed of.
    We do not fit in. Like trying to play a CD on a record turntable. Like trying to cram a UK plug into a European socket with no adaptor. At the very best, we come over like Shakespeare translated into modern English – bland, controlled, pointless (and broken). I have to accept that. There’s that poisonous Ugly Duckling narrative – that one day I will wake up and everyone will love me! No. That’s a lie. I am this. I do not fit in. So what I have to do is stop being ashamed of it.

  4. I always thought autistic people are so intelligent… but this is outstanding.
    Thank you for help us to understand each another.

  5. Thank you so much for these thoughts and tips. I recently discovered after getting help for my mental illness that my father may be Autistic. Your list of 10 tips is spot on, everything you listed sounds just like him. Now I need to figure out if I should get him a diagnosis or just deal with it as a family.

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