Just because you can’t see our autism, doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges

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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