Proudly Autistic? Yes, and no
Okay, I realize that’s an incendiary headline, so please hear me out.
I completely understand and appreciate that many people feel a sense of pride in things they were born with. And if you’re one of them, more power to you. If it makes you happy, that’s awesome.
Personally though, I’m not really all that proud of traits I was born into, like my height, my eye colour, or my country of birth. The way I see it, it’s not like I chose them or did anything to earn them, so I guess I just don’t feel much responsibility for them either way. They were just kind of handed to me for free right out of the gate.
Many people on the spectrum declare that they are “proudly autistic”. This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently. At the most fundamental level, I suppose I can’t say I am proud that I was born autistic, because again, it isn’t something I achieved of my own volition.
However, (and here’s where I blow my own trumpet a bit) I am proud of myself for working hard to cultivate the strengths it bestowed upon me. I’m proud of myself for overcoming the challenges that come with it. I’m proud of myself for learning to embrace and leverage my autism. And above all, I’m proud of the person I have grown to be, and I think it’s safe to say that without autism, I wouldn’t be that same person.