Revealing your autism to others?
Some people decide to keep their autism secret, not even telling their families.
Many decide to reveal to only a few selected others.
Others decide to ‘go public’ and live openly as autistic.
Decision to make your autism public or not is difficult due to social stigma and known incidents of discrimination once that autism has been revealed. There is no taking the announcement back, ” just kidding, really, I’m not autistic at all! “
Once the reveal is done, you may find events are not unfolding as expected. People take your announcement in many different ways.
Revealing your autistic identity to your spouse or siblings or parents, or your best friend might seem like a relief, but many times your request for discretion or secrecy will not matter… once the fact is out of the box, it is news, and news travels, even among loved ones with the best intentions.
Our daughter has disabilities, and we have always been open with her about them, and have shared information about them to anybody who is interested. We see this as educating the public and making the” unknown scary ” medical/neurological disabilities as normal to discuss as cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, or other once taboo subjects now known and understood by most people.
I feel the same about my autism and use any discussion or interest to be an advocate for autistic folks whenever possible, whether pointing out false ideas, explaining the experience of being autistic, or talking about lack of support, etc etc. I look for opportunities to be an advocate.
Autism: It is a known neurological condition, and yes it does affect a person through their life span. I have nothing to gain through hiding as though I were ashamed.
(Some professionals may fear losing status or credibility if they reveal their autism, I understand why they choose to remain silent, the stigma is real!)
The decision to remain silent or to reveal autism’s presence is a personal one, and I respect that. If somebody reveals their autism to you, please ask if they are openly discussing the fact, or if it should be held in confidence and not to be discussed with others. Then honor the request!
I want to point out that if you reveal your autism, you may not get the responses you expect or hope for.
Your autism is personal and for most of us, newly diagnosed and unsuspecting at this old age, the discovery of our autism is profound. Not everybody will see the significance of that, nor will others see your autism the way you see it. Don’t be surprised if you get condolences… people are recognizing your struggles and trying to be sympathetic with that. Don’t be surprised if they say “No you’re not” thinking that they do not match their own ideas of what autism “is”. You can ask if they want deeper explanation and information but most will refuse, telling you that it is impossible and to never mind, “I love you just the way you are”.
Very few people will be as interested as you are in your self discovery.
For you it is amazing and engrossing… and very personal.
For others, it is a bunch of facts that don’t make any difference to them (personally) except in a peripheral way. Most people, even if they care deeply for you, will not understand the changes you are going through as a result of your new self understanding. They want everything the same, and don’t want to have to learn new ways as well, or to be inconvenienced by new routines, accommodations, new ‘house rules’ or other adjustments you may want to make in your life. They want the same old you and in the same old way. That is human nature. Please be patient!
Don’t be surprised if others “don’t get it”.
It is taking a lot of time and trouble to sort out all of the new and interesting things you are learning, and since they are not interested, they will be reluctant to spend the time and effort to understand as well as you do.
I will repeat that this is human nature, and not an indication of lack of caring. It is simply more personal and therefore a ‘bigger deal’ to you than to anybody else.
I have made autism one of my passionate interests and I am currently studying it for hours online and in books.
Autism has become a “special interest”.
When talking about your autism, you may recognize that same glazed look, anxiety to escape, barely polite behavior that others get when you talk to much about your other favorite subjects.
( ask me how I know! )
Autism is simply not as interesting to some people as it is to us.