7 Reactions to my “Coming Out”

I’m only “out” about my Aspergers to a few people so far, family and close friends. Most of my coming out has been done by email. Talking about it is still very hard. The reactions have been interesting – not all what I expected. They’ve all been kind, and for the most part positive. No one has run a mile or behaved any differently towards me. I hope this post might help other readers who are thinking of disclosing but unsure whether to do it. Here’s what people have been saying:

  1. Mum: “You’re not really autistic are you? I mean, you’re not very autistic.” What she means is, I mask well now mostly. In my childhood I was screamingly obvious. But it was the ’70s and I was a girl. I think she’s in denial because she feels guilty for not having spotted it sooner. It’s not her fault. It’s thanks to Mum filling in the questionnaire about my childhood that I got my diagnosis last year. She is overall very supportive.
  2. Dad: “I’m fairly Aspergers myself.” Well, yes. A comment by my stepmother about Dad being on the spectrum, was one of the reasons I looked into getting a diagnosis for myself. Dad never would – he’s 73 now and it wouldn’t change anything. But he obviously is and that’s where I get it from. Dad & I don’t always agree, but we’ve always had an understanding, because our brains are wired in similar ways. He’s supportive.
  3. Sister: “I’m not surprised.” She knows me better than most people. It doesn’t really bother her. We get on well, I’m still me and that’s all that matters.
  4. Good friend who has worked with autistic kids: “Do you still want me to hug you when we say hello and goodbye?” Yes. I don’t suffer greatly from touch sensitivity. But thanks for asking, I do appreciate being asked.
  5. Partner’s friend: “You’re the 7th person I know with autism.” So, I’m kinda normal then, that’s cool. And 7 is a lucky number.
  6. Friend I’ve not known long: “I’m very sorry.” She doesn’t know me well yet, and I know she means to be kind. But I’m not sorry. Autism is not good or bad, it just is. (See my previous blog post about this friend’s comments.)
  7. Partner’s relative: “Really? I’d never have guessed.” He means to be kind, and I’m pleased that I mask well, but autism is not something you can see. This is where we need to educate people. So much work still to be done!

I haven’t yet had the classic response “Well, we’re all a little bit autistic” yet, I’m waiting for that one! I have an answer ready: just because we all occasionally mis-spell a word does that mean we’re all a little bit dyslexic? Again, people mean to be kind but education needs to be done.

I’m hoping to come out more widely this year. It’s not easy. It’s a gradual process. There’s always a chance it could backfire, and once I’m “out” I’ll never be able to go “in” again. I have a dream of one day becoming an autism speaker, so I’ll keep working on it!

 

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