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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 29,163
Location: Long Island, New York

12 May 2022, 8:15 am

Some people with autism finally feel seen. Here's why.

Kelsey Burke joined TikTok in March 2019 to share funny videos with her friends. Little did she know it would become a large part of her journey with autism.

The 22-year-old joined TikTok prior to getting diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but as content creators with autism starting popping up on the app, she started to feel a connection.

"These videos were really catalysts for me — every single one made me feel heard. I remember thinking, 'Wait, I do this too… I do that too! Oh my gosh, I’m not the only one who does that?'"

Flash forward to now, after being officially diagnosed in late 2020, Burke says the app has helped her feel more seen and understood.

"From interacting with my own followers to seeing other content about autism, I am slowly realizing that I was never broken. I just have a different brain and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s pretty amazing to see the world in a different lens."

Dee Ruffin, who's known as @asapskrr to his 150,000 followers on TikTok, also learned about autism through the app.

"I didn’t know squat about autism growing up. It’s not something they teach in school and nobody in my immediate family had it, so it wasn’t a conversation topic," he said, adding it wasn't a big conversation on Tumbler, Vine and Instagram growing up either.

Videos from people in the autistic community would come across his page under the hashtag #actuallyautistic, which has more than 2.3 billion views. Other related hashtags are also highly viewed on the app – #autistic has more than 2 billion views, #autismawareness has 4.5 billion and #autism has 8.7 billion.

"I’d just spend hours scrolling through it and following the people I related to the most. Eventually, I started posting about my struggles and autistic people started following me because they could relate."

I had a lot of 'strange,' unexplained habits growing up that I was punished for. I punished myself for these habits as well. Learning that these habits were just symptoms, talking that out with my mom, helping her understand and hearing her apologize gave both some much needed closure."

It's also been a space for people who were diagnosed with autism early in life.

When I shared my story one day on TikTok the response was overwhelming," he says. He uses his platform to advocate for himself and others living with autism as well as promote the music he makes with his community in mind – in hopes it will help others with autism feel seen too.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman