What sticks in my head the most are the number of people who responded to my saying “I am autistic” with “Oh, I knew that.”
Apparently I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are either autistic or have autistic family members without realizing it. And several of them saw the signs and symptoms in me and all, independently, just decided not to say anything.
For the most part, this is perfectly understandable. You don’t randomly walk up to the new member in your synagogue and say, “By the way, are you autistic?”
I’m still a bit miffed at my sister.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, and I understand why she didn’t say anything. My biological family really got into the whole “don’t label people thing.” The problem is that labels aren’t always bad things.
When labels become boxes, that’s bad. But sometimes labels are road maps. Guidebooks.
They show you how to find the information you’ve needed but never knew how to find or even if it existed.
My sister, when I told her I’m autistic, said she realized that almost as soon as she met me. And I nearly screamed at her for the decade of trouble I might have avoided if someone had handled me that road maps just a little bit sooner.
I didn’t. Instead we talked about labels, and how sometimes they are good things. And she admitted that our brother, diagnosed as a child with Asperger’s feels the same way I do.
I admit, I’m a bit more amused than miffed at this point. And a bit envious. She seemed to assume it was obvious to me that I wasn’t neurotypical, so there was no point in saying anything. And she was sort of right. I always knew I wasn’t like the people around me, that something was different about me. For her, the important thing was being supportive and accepting of my differences and treating me like an individual. Because that is what the family she grew up in DID.
It would never occur to her that being different would seem like being broken, being wrong. To her, it was just being different. And god I envy her that.
But still, 10 bloody years, sis. I love you, I thank you for your support, the next time I see you in person I may just strangle you a little, and thinking of you and this right now, I can’t stop smiling.
This post is part of the 30 Days of Autistic Acceptance and Appreciation posting challenge.
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