Just because you can’t see our autism, doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges2 min read

This post is by Ryan Lee and Bekki Semenova, two rising autism self-advocates.

Photo of Ryan Lee (left) and Bekki Semenova (right)

Autism affects each person on the spec­trum dif­fer­ently. Still, the lack of under­standing of autism can lead to rushed judg­ments. For us, because we don’t look or act a cer­tain way that makes our autism obvious, people some­times expect too much of us.

As with any other autistic person, we still have sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges in our everyday lives that stand in the way of us living a com­fort­able life or suc­ceeding in school and work.

Having an invis­ible dis­ability is chal­lenging in many ways. It’s not fair that the world keeps on telling us to improve, keeps on telling us to change, and keeps on saying that we need to be more “appro­priate.” We are dif­ferent, and they need to not dis­crim­i­nate against us like that.

They think that autis­tics, such as us, need to be more aware of cer­tain things; but just because we can talk, say sen­tences flu­ently, and have verbal lan­guage, that does not change the fact that we are still fully autistic.

It may be hard for us to find the right words to express what we want to say. Sometimes, we might even have trouble under­standing what others are saying. For example, it is dif­fi­cult for us to under­stand when people talk too fast, use long sen­tences, or give instruc­tions with many steps at once.

People with autism are unique just as everyone else is unique in their very own way. We need under­standing and accep­tance from other people, and wider recog­ni­tion of how dif­ferent each person on the autism spec­trum can be.

It is impor­tant to remember that autism is autism. People whose dis­ability can be invis­ible can be very aware of their own dif­fi­cul­ties and extremely sen­si­tive to others’ neg­a­tive reac­tions. Autism is a word to char­ac­terize how our brain func­tions– not how it is wrong or broken– and that way should be respected.

Also, some people just don’t under­stand what it’s like to be autistic. They assume the worst about us autis­tics– like we’re stalkers, vio­lent, inca­pable, lacking empathy, and other neg­a­tive stereo­types– even when all we may want is to be friends.

They always assume we’re in the wrong; it hurts a lot and is infu­ri­ating.

They should get to know us by who we are, not on how much or little we act “nor­mally,” and not judge us on the super­fi­cial traits we present on the out­side.

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