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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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!