January 9, 2019

Two years ago, I was diagnosed as autistic. It seemed to explain all the mysteries of my life, and it helped me find better words to describe my experiences. Since then, many parents have told me that my writing helps them understand their kids better.

On the one hand, this encourages me a lot. Understanding my own brain, which has long been a special interest of mine, now also seems to be meaningful to others.

On the other hand, it breaks my heart that so much of the information I share seems to be new to people. It was new to me too a few years ago, but it wouldn’t have been if I’d spent more time learning from the few autistics I knew.

For example, I could have asked:

“What kinds of things seem easy to others, but feel hard to you?”

“What kinds of things feel really good to you, even if they serve no other purpose?”

“What kinds of things would be helpful to you, if people knew you needed them?”

If you have autistic kids, or autistic friends, and you’ve never asked them such questions, then I really encourage you to do so.

It may take them awhile (minutes or days) to think of an answer, and it may be easier to answer in writing. But I am not exaggerating when I say that feeling understood can be life-changing.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.