When I learned that I was autistic, I was overwhelmed. I felt lost and misunderstood. I was fixated on what I perceived as my ever-growing list of deficits, and that made it hard to see myself as a whole person. Then, I found the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Becoming involved with ASAN helped me to understand myself in a different way and connect with a vast, wonderfully diverse community. Their Welcome to the Autistic Community video introduced me to the concept of neurodiversity, and it was revolutionary. It showed me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong; I was just thinking and acting differently from people who weren’t autistic.
Now, I get to stim. I have found my true voice in the written world and never go anywhere without my communication device. I feel more confident knowing that there are so many amazing people out there who are autistic and successful and happy being just as they are, and they are just like me. I used to be too ashamed to engage in my interests, but the autistic community changed that for me, too. Now, I hope to use my special interests to do work that will benefit other autistic people. I am finally me.
ASAN has also helped me get involved in disability rights advocacy. Their newsletter and social media are some of the best tools I have to stay informed about current issues that matter to the disability community, and their proxy call system has helped me to get more politically involved. Staff at my representatives’ offices used to hang up on me when I called using my communication device. The proxy call system gave me, and many other people who cannot make phone calls, an accessible way to make our voices heard.
I cannot wait to see what the coming year brings us, and I am proud and pleased to continue working and advocating alongside ASAN and the greater autistic community. Please consider helping ASAN keep their work going with a donation, or sharing their resources.
May the coming year benefit us all.