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Shame and Denial to Acceptance


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So, I want to start a thread on the topic of denial around autism because I've have yet to see anyone discuss things like this yet. If this type of negative talk isn't allowed, please let me know.

Let me start off by saying that I am fairly new to this website (a few days) and my autism in general.
Well, what I mean is, accepting that I could possibly be on the spectrum (haven't been officially diagnosed yet).

Around age 14, my mother actually brought up the fact that I could be autistic after I had first met and befriended a girl who had asperger's and she noted how similar we both where. But, being the hormonal and emotional teenager I was, I vehemently denied the possibility.
Not because I was afraid of being, autistic. No, it was more like I was afraid of how I was going to be treated.

You see, back then, when I thought of the word autistic, It often brought up images of the mentally-challenged people who I had went to school with. Specifically, a certian boy.

Now, this boy had trouble speaking, often interrupted the class, and had to take special ed classes. He was also "befriended" by people so they could look like the "nice guys" when in reality those same "nice guys" picked on him and made fun of him behind his back.

Back then, that's what autism looked like to me, and because of the way that poor boy was treated, I didn't want to accept it.

I didn't want to - couldn't - be like him.

It wasn't until a few years of struggling combined with a lot of reading, learning and internalizing later, that I have finally realized that I just needed to accept who I was. That -as much as I still have trouble admitting to it to this day- that it's okay to be the way I am.

And even though my brain still has a few inklings of shame and embarrassment still stuck to my interpretation of autism, I am happy with the fact that I have finally
(for the most part) accepted myself for who I am and am trying to move forward with my life.

So, I suppose this long rant was me trying to ask you all if you've ever felt anything like this? And if so, how did you deal with it? And has the realization and acceptance of your newfound diversity change your perspective on life?
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I remained in denial over the possibility of being autistic when I first began to suspect it in my mid-fifties. A time when I thought it was an amusing quest that would go nowhere because there's no way I could be autistic.

But my curiosity and persistence got the best of me. Eventually I put all the pieces together and realized that I was simply in denial.
We all suffer from the curse of the word "autism." The minute people hear it you're written off as Rain Man or Sheldon Cooper. Yet another reason I don't share that information. And I prefer Asperger's as the descriptive term as opposed to something heartless like ASD-1.
My guess is that ASD 1 (and ASD 2 and 3) is a temporary fix of a label, while they work on understanding and then defining more fully the different causes of autism that might give rise to more specific labels. It's such a varied spectrum, there's got to be a lot of different causal genes and or other factors in there. But not any time soon I would guess.

Yes I think many of us would echo the OPs slow discovery or acceptance of autism, not least because it's so misrepresented in the media by weird extremes. Nowadays I think of it as more like dyslexia, really, affecting my experience of the world but just a factor, it's part and not all of who I am.
Funny. The denial for me was with other people. "Oh, get real! AUTISM?!" "You can talk! You're not autistic!" "Haha! Yeah, we're ALL autistic!"

The stupider the people around you, the less they will believe.
I'm glad this thread exists. I was in major denial until recently.

I was diagnosed with autism at age 10, years after my mother first suspected I was. My mother is an anti-vaxxer and bought into the whole Autism Speaks thing. Around age 13 or so, I began to self-reflect (a little too much) comparing myself to unflattering pictures of autistic people on Google Images.
From this point, I had convinced myself either 1.) I was misdiagnosed or 2.) I had to cure this affliction or I would not be able to function or be taken seriously come adulthood. I remember there was a very specific instance where I had stared at myself in the mirror, crying, telling myself if I couldn't act like a normal person, there would be consequences.
From that point forward, all of my energy would be put into behaving like a neurotypical person. Obviously this wouldn't be perfect, but I spent a lot of my time trying to create personalities based on the situation I was in so I could blend in better. Whenever anyone suggested I was autistic, I would vehemently deny it and become extremely upset by it.
After a few years of practice, I would become fairly competent in masking my traits, to a degree. People would not pick up on it and I had convinced myself that I was either cured or was initially misdiagnosed. I would also vehemently refuse any disability related assistance offered by my high school at the time.
It wasn't until about a month ago (~7 years after high school) that I had a conversation with my aspie friend, and could relate to their traits and deficits. Now I'm here trying to undo the damage I've caused for myself.

I hope I could provide some insight. I struggle to hit the mark when it comes to "providing my own experience for" as opposed to "oversharing and hijacking the conversation" so let me know how I did.
This is a very insightful perspective and it makes me glad I'm not the only one who has gone through this. Thanks for sharing! :D
Anti vaxxers are my bete noir.

"Autism speaks" does not speak for autistic people. It speaks for NTs who think they know what is best for autistic people. Well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful for ASD level one.

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