Original post from The Art of Autism
There will be triumphs and challenges along the way. You will gain and lose friends. You will question yourself constantly about who you are. It will take awhile to get acclimated with your autism, and it will not be easy. Change is good, and that’s what life is.
By Leanne Libas
Author’s Message: Hello fellow readers! I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving by spending time with family and friends. I’m very thankful to be alive and be surrounded by people who care and support me. Also, I’m very thankful that you’re reading this. I really appreciate it!
Introduction: YouTube created the #Dear Me campaign in March of 2015. The purpose of this campaign was to have YouTubers give advice to their younger counterpart. Inspired by this initiative.I decided to write a letter to my 11-year old self on how to deal with the discovery of my diagnosis.
It is your future self writing a letter to you. I miss writing letters because social media has taken over our lives. In order to remind myself not to be too engrossed by social media, I make sure that I continue reading books, and take a moment to look around my surroundings. I bet you’re wondering what the future is like. Well, it’s not like Back to the Future, yet there has been some modifications. As much as I would love to tell you about every situation that you will encounter, I don’t want to ruin the space time continuum, which made a black hole appear. To be honest, I’m not too sure if that’s true. But at the moment, I believe it. Instead, I’m going to give you advice.
By now, you have probably discovered something shocking. Surprise! You have autism! Everything is starting to make sense on why you are “different” than most people. I know that discovering your autism through your IEP (Individual Education Plan) wasn’t the best way to find out. You have every right to be angry at Mom and Dad! Yes, they didn’t tell you, but you can’t stay mad at them forever. They have many reasons why they didn’t disclose this important, excruciating detail about who you are. If you’re upset, then talk to them. At first, it will be difficult, but it’s best to let it all out. Second, autism is amazing! F*ck the bullsh*t you have heard and read about curing and preventing autism. I know, I know. Cursing is bad, but I’m making a point. If you want to know what autism is, here it is. Although autism does affect how you think and socialize, it doesn’t mean that you can spread it to other people. You will have it forever, yet it’s not all that bad. In fact, it is a great asset and it’s a personal learning experience.
Now that I got that out of the way, there are so many things that I want to advise you on. Since there are so many things I want to discuss about, I will narrow it down to the most important topics I have learned throughout the years:
- Is perfection realistic?
- Honesty is the best policy
- Be you
- Admit your faults
- Surround yourself with positivity
- Push your boundaries, but know your limits
- Is perfection realistic? Right now, you feel that you don’t want to be considered autistic. You want to rid yourself of that label by creating the fake version of yourself in order to appease people. You want to get all the A’s, the friends, the notoriety, the body. Society makes us perceive these unrealistic images of perfection. Over the years, your views on perfection will change. I will tell you this, perfection is what you make it. Do the best you can, not what others are achieving. You have your own activities; they have theirs. Don’t pursue into society’s idea of perfection.
- Honesty is the best policy. With our type of personality, it’s difficult to give any type of criticism because we don’t want to hurt a person’s feelings, and we can be uncomfortable with social interactions. Actually, being honest can help others. For example, if someone is not giving you space, just tell them. Don’t suck it up! Sucking up is quintessential to holding a sneeze. Did you know that if you keep holding your sneezes, there’s a possibility that you will injure your blood vessels?! Look it up if you don’t believe me! Overall, just tell people how you feel rather than bottling it up.
- Be you. Leanne, you are wonderful human being. You put others first before yourself and that shows your character. You step out of your comfort zone because you want to push your boundaries. You are a beautiful person; don’t let anyone tell you less! Don’t try to change yourself for someone especially if you want to impress a boy. In fact, don’t deal with boys. Just be glad that Mom’s not letting you date! You are not stupid, you are smart. You work hard because you want to improve. You are friendly and empathetic to others. Don’t let autism define you because it doesn’t take all of those traits away. Instead, it brightens them.
- Admit your faults. This is hard, yet it will take time to get used to. Sometimes, when you get into arguments, you’re technically correct and the opposer is wrong. But there are times when you’re wrong, and you don’t admit that. Realize what fault you committed and own up to it. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to goof up from time to time.
- Surround yourself with positivity. We all get stressed out every now and then. It’s normal to be stressed, but don’t wear yourself out. Holding in all the stress you have can harm you. Take a break and relax. Relax by talking to others, breathing, reading a book, or sleeping. If you’re hungry, eat! It will save you, trust me!
- Push your boundaries, but know your limit. When you start to mature, you will discover new activities that you weren’t expecting to try. You will become more adventurous, but tread this path carefully. We’re only human, and we can only take so much.
Overall, it’s your choice whether to follow my advice or not. You are your own person, and I know that you will gain a better judgement as you get older. This revelation will change your life. There will be triumphs and challenges along the way. You will gain and lose friends. You will question yourself constantly about who you are. It will take awhile to get acclimated with your autism, and it will not be easy. Change is good, and that’s what life is. This moment in your life is scary, but you’re not alone. There are others that are going through a similar situation, but they have different circumstances. Throughout this journey, you will learn more and experience what life has to offer. Autism is not the end of the world, instead it’s the beginning of one crazy yet exciting ride.
I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck!
Leanne Libas is a Freshman in College. She writes regularly for The Art of Autism. The Art of Autism encourages others on the spectrum to share their #DearMe letters and videos to themselves.
More of Leanne’s perspective can be read in the following articles:
Breaking Out: My Story – the Art of Autism’s most popular blog
Am I Autistic without a Formal Diagnosis?
How Ableism hurts Autistic People