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What Adults With Autism Would Like People to Know

Cheryl Cohen

In December 2017, we asked our Facebook followers to finish this sentence: “As an adult with autism, I would like people to know …” We read your thoughtful comments (80 in all from adults). The comments were varied, like the people who answered them, but we spotted some themes. The people who responded wanted others to know that they are unique and talented, that they want to be accepted and understood, and that they have challenges and struggles. You can view the original Facebook post below.

 Unique and talented

One of the themes that emerged was that people wanted others to know that they were unique individuals with a variety of talents and skills. They did not want to be stereotyped. Some wanted others to know that autism was part of them, not something separate. Here are some of the comments:

  • I don’t want to be normal. That would be so boring.
  • That I’m not nonverbal but smart and capable. My sarcastic wit is good too.
  • We are all different but in a very good way.
  • I am Autistic, not a person with Autism.

Acceptance, understanding and equality

Some people expressed a need to be respected, accepted, valued and understood for who they are. Some asserted that they don’t want to be changed or cured.

  • We want to be accepted and treated like regular adults.
  • We’re not broken…We’re just different!!!
  • I have feelings, I am not stupid, and just want to be given respect and a chance like everyone else. Please accept me and be my friend.
  • Respect!!!!!
  • Autistic people are not diseased nor a burden.
  • It’s not a disease.
  • Autism does not equal incompetence. #AutismAcceptance
  • I am doing my best and I cannot change to fit your expectations, no matter how hard I try. That my autism isn’t your problem. My autism doesn’t need to be fixed but I, as a HUMAN, still need to be supported, validated, and VALUED.

Challenges and struggles

The people who commented mentioned a number of challenges and struggles. People reported that they were bullied, mistreated, mocked, and excluded from society at large. Trying to fit into society was also difficult for some.

  • Even adults with autism get bullied by other adults.
  • We want to be accepted and treated like regular adults. We get bullied by other adults, yes, but if you are patient with us we can do extraordinary things!
  • That it’s lonely when you’re unable to inform your friends that gatherings are frightening. But you feel hurt if not invited.
  • Stop saying we all have a little autism in us as well. That is dismissive of what our struggles are.

Others mentioned specific medical and sensory problems that they wanted others to consider:

  • Daily struggle with uneducated people & meltdowns.
  • I still struggle to be a part of this busy, fast, loud world, but I’ve learned to hide the struggle.

Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts. Taking down the barriers to full inclusion and acceptance will be difficult, but with your ideas and actions, we can all make progress toward that ideal.