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If an autistic person feels safe with you, you are a real gem indeed

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Sometimes my brain has the mistaken belief that everyone is capable of understanding me, that if I just send them enough research articles or videos about the autistic experience or if I send them an instagram post with easy-to-read bullet points, maybe it’ll be digestible enough. Then I wake up and learn, once again, that it ain’t that simple. To be autistic is to be chronically misunderstood and spending most of your time figuring what to do about it.

Most people I know are silent about me being autistic. It’s kind of like a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. Their silence leaves a deep, dark chasm for me to imagine their worst judgments and perceptions of me. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or having nothing nice to say, either way, there is no safety in not knowing where they stand. As a highly sensitive autistic person who feels viscerally every squeak of a chair, every slight grimace, every misunderstanding, I feel every silence too.

This is partially why being autistic is so hard, we mainly deal with our difficulties alone. Whether we either can’t communicate about them or don’t feel safe to, we are usually the sole witnesses to our internal anguish and pain. We keep quiet about things that bother us due to the fear that we may bother others or be judged. We make choices based on how little we’ll have to bother and interact with others. We forgo our dreams, our own basic human needs, take the longer more difficult road, just to avoid the pain of being misunderstood.

So, if an autistic person sees you as their safe place, you are a rare gem, indeed. Somehow, you have made it through all the barriers that this person needed to set up to protect themselves and shown yourself to be someone who isn’t likely to hurt them. This is not easy for us to find. Some of us spend our whole lives without ever finding it.

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