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Showing posts from December, 2019

Self Diagnosis in Autism

Autism is a rare field where -- at least within the autism community -- there's a general acceptance of self-diagnosis. I want to address why that is, and what it means for you or those you care about who choose to self diagnose.

I want to start by saying: "Autistic" isn't a label that people give themselves for fun, or for perks. It doesn't help you get a job, no one sends you flowers, and unfortunately it comes with a lot of stigma and misunderstanding. Many autistic adults choose not to disclose their diagnosis to colleagues or family members because of the challenges that would follow, and some autistic adults will even turn down funding awards because having their name associated with the award might "out" them to family or colleagues who are less than accepting. If you know someone with autism who is open about it, this is a good moment to pause and appreciate the courage it takes to tell the world something about yourself that you know can be use…

Getting Personal: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Autism

I don't fit the stereotypes for autism. When I was a baby, I didn't avoid eye contact, but rather would stare people down. I was extremely communicative, something my mother attributes to the fact that as soon as I was born she started a continued stream of conversation and refused to simplify to baby talk. I befriended my teachers, I had friends, I was involved in extracurricular activities, and I got excellent grades.

Most of this, I attribute to music.

When I was 3 years old, I started to study the violin. My teacher used the Suzuki method, which included group and private lessons every week. When you hand a three-year-old an instrument and round up an audience, you don't just tell them to go play; you spell out all of the expectations of a concert, what the musician's role is, why the audience is there. I effectively got an explicit introduction to social rules.

I was taught to make my audience feel included by finding a moment to look at each person, and to look a…

Identifying as an Autistic Woman, and Why Write as One

Hello all. My name is Emily, I'm 26 years old, and I'm an autistic woman. I'm also a PhD student studying Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. It seems like I spend an excessive amount of my time commenting on autism forums, so I decided to put all my thoughts in one place for those who may want to find them. Sometimes I'll share my personal experiences, sometimes I'll share anecdotes I've encountered in autism forums/communities, sometimes I'll share what I know of the current research, and sometimes I'll do some combination of the above. You'll have to forgive me for a bit of a sloppy start; there's so much to say and I've never been good at being concise, so instead I'm going to try to share it all and hope that I can be organized enough to still make sense.

So, I mentioned that I'm an autistic woman. Let's focus on that. Autism is so misunderstood in so many ways, but I'm lucky enough (sorry, that's sarcasm) to combi…