Today is Autistic Pride Day. I’ve been having a hard time lately and not feeling proud of myself so this is what I want to say to myself:
Today it’s OK to be you. It’s OK that your best friend is a cat. It’s OK that you don’t understand why your friend said you ruined the holiday with your moods and you didn’t think you were being moody (she was wrong). It’s OK that because of this, your second best friend is now another cat. It’s OK that you don’t feel you can cope with work – you’re so tired you have no spoons for anything else. It’ll be OK even if one day you won’t be able to manage at all, you survived last time that happened and will survive again. It’s OK that you never know what to say and it took you 10 minutes to work out your colleague was being sarcastic the other day at work. It’s OK you often unwittingly say things that people laugh at. It’s OK that you’re sometimes boring and drone on. It’s OK that sometimes you have no words at all. It’s OK that people patronise you and treats you as younger than you are (that’s their problem). It’s OK that you have meltdowns even the ones where you hurt yourself. It’s OK that you have shutdowns and need to spend a lot of time in bed with earplugs in. It’s OK that your executive function is bad and you struggle to be organised. It’s OK that you stim and repeat favourite words. It’s OK that you try and try to do certain things that are hard for you and neurotypicals come along and do them easily. It’s OK that you’ve tried and tried to be normal and failed.
It’s OK. It’s all OK. All these and everything else that other people say are a problem are actually OK.
Autistic Pride Day is about taking pride in yourself as you are. Not judging yourself by neurotypical standards It’s about claiming your identity.You are fine as you are. You are an autistic woman. Even though sometimes you don’t feel autistic enough to call yourself that, it’s what you are. You’re strong. You’re a survivor. You spend so much time pretending to be different, you’ve almost lost yourself but when you get time to do something alone, you like yourself. You’re happy stimming and talking to yourself and doing the things that make you smile.
And Autistic Pride Day is about being part of something bigger. The autistic community. You find it hard to feel a sense of belonging to a group, but looking at tweets from other autistic people, you realise this is about all of us. There are people that get it. You’re no longer alone. Pride is about being proud of the whole autistic community. Every voice that speaks up says be proud, hold your head up high.
So happy #autisticprideday to myself and to all autistic people. Be proud. Be happy.
Today it’s OK to be you.
And tomorrow and every day.