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Siege002
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14 Feb 2020, 2:35 am

First post, and I’m going to give a lot of background and context here, so I’ll put a TLDR at the end.
I’m 36 and recently diagnosed with an “unspecified ASD” (if I remember correctly - it would’ve been Aspergers before the most recent update to the DSM, and I’ve been approaching it as Aspergers).
I had (what I’m coming to learn is) a fairly common experience growing up - being bullied and harassed and generally being made aware I was different, with no understanding of how or why I was different. I internalized a lot of the hurt I experienced, built up some unhealthy defenses that add to my difficulty connecting with people, and just generally had a lot of trouble ever feeling like I belonged in “normal” society.
My explanation to myself for what was different about me never went deeper than “I’m just a weird guy”, and it felt like all the hurt and confusion I’d experienced was just my unlucky lot in life.
A relationship with an insightful, caring woman who took the time to try to understand why I behaved the way I did, combined with seeing a therapist who has a lot of experience treating folks on the spectrum, led to the recognition that I’m an Aspie (also, how do folks feel about that word?), and it’s been so enlightening and liberating.
I’ve gone back and revisited so many moments in my life with this new context, and so much of what I’ve been through and what I’ve done makes so much more sense to me. Instead of being a uniquely “weird guy”, a misfit who just doesn’t fit in anywhere, I’m a perfectly normal neurodiverse person, who’s inability to fit in some places and who’s “strange” reactions to certain social, emotional, and physical stimuli are actually pretty common and understandable.
One thing that stands out to me after a lot of reflection is that most of the regrets I have (and we all build up a pile of them over our lives) can now be covered by the umbrella regret “I wish I’d known sooner”.
I don’t think I would’ve wanted (or needed) intensive therapeutic intervention when I was a child. I don’t think knowing would’ve saved me from all (or even most) of the pain I experienced or mistakes I made. But having the context that I wasn’t just unexplainably “broken”, that there were, in fact, other people like me, and that it made sense that some things didn’t make sense to me... it would’ve helped me so much in processing the pain I went through.
So, all that being said, I heard about something called World Autism Awareness Day and thought “what a great idea!” I don’t blame my family or teachers for not recognizing my Aspergers when I was a child - I don’t have all the classic signs, and (as far as I can tell) the condition didn’t start gaining any sort of widespread recognition until the mid to late nineties (and even then, only really in psychology circles). But I think it’s so important for kids who do have Aspergers to be made aware that they process and perceive things differently from their NT peers, and that those differences don’t make them “bad”, “other”, or “less-than”. Having a parent, a teacher, or friends who understood that my brain worked a little differently would have made a world of difference in my emotional development, and I think it’s important that all kids have someone in their life who they feel understands them.
In reading about WAAD, I came across the history of it - the negative association with Autism Speaks (and the whole pile of seemingly willful missteps that that organization has made), the preference among some for an Autism Acceptance Day, and the view of some folks that WAAD is more focused on the NT experience of having autistic loved ones than on autistic people themselves. But I don’t make any of those associations when I hear about it. I also couldn’t find any recent threads on it.
So, what do people think? Is it a worthwhile cause? Is it too tied up with its own history to be worth the community’s time? Am I overthinking it?

TLDR: I’m a 36 year old and recently diagnosed with ASD. I wish there’d been more awareness when I was a kid so I could have known what was up with me. But there’s some negative history surrounding Autism Awareness Day. What do people in the community think of it?



ASPartOfMe
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14 Feb 2020, 4:15 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet. You will find that the experiences of many members including me who went undiagnosed until well into adulthood similar to yours due to lack of awareness when we were young.

Awareness can be a good thing or a bad thing. Awareness could mean being aware of somebodies condition in order to accommodate and accept them. Awareness could mean be alert to a threat. A lot of Autism awareness has been about being aware of autism as a very bad thing. That is why Autistic rights advocates have set up Autism Acceptance Month and Autistic Pride Day to counter the negative messaging.


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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


CockneyRebel
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14 Feb 2020, 4:22 am

I'd rather call it Autism Acceptance Day. I also like Autism Pride Day as well. We have enough awareness and that type of awareness is very negative. I feel that we need to move away from awareness and move toward acceptance.


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Mark0700
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17 Feb 2020, 7:04 am

good article