In my teens and twenties, I made various friends and acquaintances whom I now realize were undeniably autistic. A few knew it, but most didn’t.
My attitude toward them, usually unspoken, was always the same: “This person is so incredibly cool. Everyone seems to ignore that because of their weird clothing and movements, but everyone is majorly missing out.”
One friend group was composed entirely of such people. I confess that I had the audacity and snobbery to fantasize that strangers who saw me with them would do a double take, wonder why someone as “normal” as me was enjoying their company, and maybe reconsider their own prejudices.
But all along, I was one of them.
I felt simultaneously humbled and honored to eventually learn that I’m autistic, too – the same kind of weird and wonderful human that I had both worshipped and judged.
I do neither anymore, because the veneer of mystery is gone. My exotic fascination with autistics has evolved into the comfort of a family.