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Autism Awareness Month

My story

Autism to me is the same as my physical disability. When I ended up in my wheelchair I adapted the life around me to make my life as easy as possible. I did exactly the same thing when I found out I had Autism, within a year I reduced almost 20 years of built up stress and confusion, I listened to myself and found what worked for me and what didn't.

In September of 2021 I had a conversation that lead me down this path, someone asked me when I got diagnosed with Autism and I simply replied with "I don't have Autism" which got my small group to be confused and surprised saying things like "Oh I thought you did" and "Are you sure?".

Turns out a lot of people in my life believed I had Autism, and to my surprise most of my friends had Autism themselves and thought I only got on with them because of it. So I did a lot of self discovery in that week, researching and talking to close friends and family, I put together a list and sent it to my GP to request a Autism test which I was shocked to get an approval for as again I still didn't believe I had Autism, I thought I was just over exaggerating things.

On February 14th 2022 I was diagnosed with ASD. It wasn't good or bad news, it was just news. I didn't know how to take it at the time, it was just a phone call then I went back to what I was doing. It wasn't until later when I got my report back from the tests I did that everything kicked in.

My report was the hardest thing I've ever read, it was so personal and intimate, it made me see a side of me that everyone else in my life has to see but I was blind to. I remember crying, thinking I was such a horrible person to people around me, like I made them feel like I didn't care about them. I wanted to apologise to everyone in my life, but I was just being me so I didn't have anything to apologise for. Instead I realised I didn't like the me I read about, I wanted to be someone I loved, this was a turning point in finding myself, becoming the person I am now and the one who's always looking for growth in my life!

With my diagnosis, I improved myself. One of the biggest things was I forget to be interested in other people, it's not that I'm not interested but if you asked me how I was I'd forget to ask you the same even if I wanted to know, I just wouldn't ask. This can be seen as quite selfish and it was the first thing I changed, I drastically made my social skills more suited to my mind. This didn't change overnight and it took a lot of studying and testing on my part to find something natural and comfortable, but now I'd say I have barely any problems with my social skills compared to how I used to be! I can definitely still improve but I have a lot of people tell me that I have strong social skills and within only a few hours of knowing me people call me a kind and fun person which is exactly what I want to be to people!

Sadly with improving myself there comes change, as I accepted some of my new needs and growth I had to remove some people from my life who held me back, who didn't accept my growth and kept me from getting to where I want to be. Now I'm glad I did that. I'm grateful past me could push through the pain of losing those people to be where I am now. I only have people who keep me in a positive mindset, they let me grow and I am an important part of my communities. I don't regret letting go because it is important you do to be a better version of yourself.

It's common for people to become 'more Autistic' after a diagnosis, I didn't understand this until I started changing my life to work with Autism instead of against it, but I didn't become 'more Autistic', I just adapted my life. You wouldn't say I became 'more disabled' because I started making my life more wheelchair accessible, the same for my Autism.

At the end of the day, I can't get rid of this part of me so I embrace it instead. I don't make it my whole personality and I don't let everyone know about my Autism but it's never going away and I'm not going to let it stop me from where I want to be!

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