The first post of 2018 on this blog will briefly discuss the importance of self-awareness and why it’s important for autistic people to develop this skill. This is something that I have personally undergone a lot lately so it has given me food for thought, hence the inspiration for this post.
Self-awareness is a powerful thing to have and to be able to utilise it is powerful as it can shape your personal development, career path, social interactions, romantic life (if applicable) as well as understanding certain events from the past (which helps avoid ruminating). The meaning of self-awareness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.” In other words, somebody realising whom they are and what makes them unique.
Autistic people are one social group that need to learn this skill more than others. There are a few reasons. Firstly, listening to perspectives from other social groups won’t apply fully (if at all) since each group has differing quantity and types of struggles they face (ie. Women, PoC, LGBTQ+) despite some overlap in places. Secondly, even within the autistic community itself, every autistic person is different because autism is a spectrum. Therefore, every autistic person needs to learn how their autism affects them uniquely. That said listening to other autistic peoples’ perspectives is important as some individual traits/quirks are relatable. Thirdly, this helps with personal development – namely, the autistic person finding out what life they want to live by finding out what works for them, what they like, dislike etc. and making themselves happy. This can take decades and that’s okay, there is no rush to do this.
The biggest reason though is self-acceptance. Once an autistic person understands and accept themselves the obstacles of life become easier to accept. This especially applies when it comes to masking as an allistic as this only can be done by autistic people for so long. Do you not want to go out and socialise like many extroverted allistics? That’s fine. Find something else that makes you happy such as engaging in a passionate hobby. Self-acceptance involves being happy with yourself and not worrying what other people think even if it deviates from “the norm.”
However achieving self-acceptance is much easier said than done especially with how society at large treats autistic people. This leads to additional obstacles such as anxiety, depression and internalised depression being placed in the way. However autistic people are awesome in their own way and they deserve to be self-aware just like allistics. In that way autistic people that are able to overcome/manage these obstacles are mentally stronger than many neurotypicals.
A final point worth noting regards advocating themselves to others. This is so they can be understood, validated and helped if need be. Because of this, it is important for those around them to accept what the autistic person says – friends, family, carers etc. One important message I have to say to those people is this – disabled/neurodiverse people know themselves best. They know their limits, their likes/dislikes, goals etc. They may not be able to put it into words but they have some idea even if they cannot form it. Sometimes you can help them do this but that should only be done if they are asked. Never invalidate their feelings or try to convince them or others that their feelings are what you believe they are. This contributes to some of the obstacles described above.
Either way, that is all for today. Hope 2018 treats you all well!