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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Aubin, LCSW

Unmasking Autism: Unlearning, Re-Learning, and Learning Who We Are

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Autistics are the last people to ever make a hasty self-diagnosis. Most of us who have self-diagnosed have gone through a long, arduous soul-searching research-binging journey to get here. I mean, let's face it, self-diagnosis is a pretty autistic thing to do. And trust me, we never thought we would be here. We had other explanations for why we were the way we were.

Realizing you are autistic feels a little bit like unplugging from the matrix. You thought you were living one type of life only to realize it was something else completely. After learning you are autistic, so much of your life that didn’t make sense starts to seem so obvious. Well, of course I was bullied and rejected by my peers in 4th grade due to a social faux pas. Of course, I’ve been a little paranoid my entire life, who wouldn’t be if you felt like you were missing something that everyone else seemed to “get”.

Some of us begin to realize that the biggest and smallest moments of our lives were directly caused or related to being autistic. Changing schools due to bullying, substance use, our relationships, our traumas, our careers, our illnesses, where we live… And we notice all the roads and choices we didn’t make because we were autistic. It’s like there is the life we could’ve lived as an allistic person, the life we actually lived as an undiscovered autistic person and the life we are learning how to live as an unmasking autistic person.

On one hand there is so much “me” in my past life yet, as I unmask and learn about myself, there is much “not me” too. Unmasking in many ways causes us to learn who we actually are underneath all of this painful baggage. And trust me, we late-discovered autistics are carrying around heavy baggage. We’ve lived almost our entire lives hiding who we are without even understanding why. It’s been hard.

I hope unmasking is liberating for you. I hope you discover what brings you joy and find ways to accommodate yourself so that perhaps you can walk down some of those roads you’ve avoided. I hope each new discovery about yourself brings you closer to the life you want.


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