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How Being Diagnosed as Autistic at 29 Helped me Find my Identity

The standardisation of the human existence in society makes us try to fit into it in a way that we end up cutting pieces of us to do so. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics attempted to describe the average Australian, which was apparently a woman. However, when they tried to find that woman, they could not. When attempting to find the “normal”, no one is found.

“While the description of the average Australian may sound quite typical, the fact that no-one meets all these criteria shows that the notion of the ‘average’ masks considerable (and growing) diversity in Australia.” Australian Bureau of Statistics

That goes for everything in human existence. It is a spectrum. Just like Autism.

I found out I was autistic at 29 years old, and it meant I had to review and analyse every single piece of my life in a new light. I also found out at 27 that I had hearing loss. For many years people joked that I was “a little deaf”, but as it turned out, it was a disability.

I’d struggled with identity since I was a little girl, and I was mocked for being “weird”. I tried to fit into this immense number of rules and subtle social requirements that seemed impossible to understand or achieve.

As I grew, part of me started believing that it was my fault, that I was just not enough to be accepted. That lead me to depression, anxiety and imposter syndrome, where every time I achieved a new goal, very hardly won, I would feel undeserving. That was because society designed a preconceived goal for me that I was not meant to achieve.

By not fitting in this imaginary and fictional standard in society, people that have disabilities, but do not know it, grew to not reach their sense of identity and with that their sense of worth and purpose.

One of our most certain things as human beings is our constant search for belonging, for identity. I was only able to truly understand myself once I found who I am, and it changed my life in many more ways than I thought it was possible.

The attempt of society to hammer us down to that standard, ends up taking away precisely what makes us unique, individual and deeply human. However, the social model of disability brought us a way to frame disability as a social issue, instead of a medical “problem” to fix. With that, it also brought us a community, inclusion and a sense of belonging and identity.

Disability is not our full identity, and we are much more than that, but it does shape a lot of our struggles and wins. Disability needs to be seen as a necessity for inclusion, community and support, and although some disabilities do need to have medical support, it can’t be our only goal.

I am a disabled autistic bisexual woman, and I do not fit into the standard. I celebrate that, because I deeply believe what can help me making a positive impact in my community, is exactly the part of me that stands out.

The people that helped to advance society with their scientific, political and activistic ideals were extraordinary people, and ordinary people at the same time.

We need to design society as Autism is – a spectrum of full diverse people instead of a standard that does not exist and accept that we need diversity to lead us to evolve and grow as human race.

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