A lot of the time, I am very glad I got diagnosed with autism.
In processing my diagnosis, I often feel really happy. I’ve been given a reason behind my quirks and struggles, a tool to refer to when my reactions or thoughts are different from everyone else’s. I now have access to a new level of help, without feeling like an imposter for needing it.
Early on in the first zoom meeting, the diagnostic doctor asked me what I thought my reaction would be if I was diagnosed with autism. My gut reaction was that I’d be relieved. I’d be happy to finally have the answers to all my questions about my brain and how I function. Most of all, I told him how I viewed it not as a shift in who I am, but a reframing of who I already was. And for the most part, that’s been my experience post-diagnosis.
Aside from the struggles my autistic brain has, I really LIKE the way my mind works. I enjoy planning every detail, keeping things organized, and living in a world embellished with intense imagination. I like having giant feelings (when they’re positive). I have a “superpower” when it comes to performing; I actually feel what the character feels. I can think their internal monologue without planning it out beforehand. I’m sure other people can do this – I don’t think I’m unique in that way – but the way my body reacts to stimuli from both the real world and my imagination makes performing an incredible (and exhausting) sensory experience.
I like who I am. I don’t think I’m god’s gift to anything, but I recognize that I’m a kind, hardworking, thoughtful person. This diagnosis doesn’t change that. Like I said, it’s a reframing of who I already am. And when I can think of it that way, I’m proud to have autism.