Lara Schaeffer
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Turning Perspective Upside Down

Perspective—it relies on an informed realization of a full picture with a wide and complete scope, one which in some cases takes time to completely fill in. When someone we love is late-identified as autistic, what a tremendous change in perspective happens. Some autistic people camouflage their autistic tendencies and natures because they have learned that those aspects about them make them stand out in a negative way. They likely have faced both subtle and obvious messages that their reactions to stimuli or the behavior, thought, or speech patterns that are natural to them are both unusual an unwanted in typical society. So they work to cover them and hide them...wouldn't you if you were able to? Then one day you find out that all along they’ve been autistic. What stores of strength, what resilience, have they needed to draw on all of their life! How strong they have been when so many, so often, have assumed the opposite of them! You mean that when this particular situation happened all those times in the past, or when this other behavior often emerges on the weekend or on vacations, that it is likely due to autistic differences? You mean when they seem to withdraw without explanation, or make what seems like a sudden shift to irritability, or get so excited that they seem to urgently need to keep sharing or exploring their ideas right then and there…? We can understand so much about our loved ones and their behaviors and interactions with us if what was previously undiscovered autism is uncovered. So then imagine the revelations that await the autistic individual who is newly-identified. The world turns on its end, to RIGHT SIDE UP, when we learn we have been autistic all along. And pain, frustration, resentment, bewilderment, damage, and more keep building the longer an autistic individual has to stay upside down, unaware of their autism.

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