When I figured out I was Autistic, I cried. But not for the reasons you think. I wasn't worried about the stigma. I wasn't worried about what people would think of me. I wasn't scared of the label. I was... relieved. There was this indescribable flood of relief that just washed over me.
Thirty-some years of feeling like an alien, of not knowing what was "wrong" with me, of not understanding what I wasn't getting "right" were gone.
I don't post about Autism to evoke sympathy or to become some sort of spokesperson. I post about it, because I know how much easier my life would've been if I'd known sooner. I think about little girls who collect rocks, or have kinships with animals more than people, or who wear the same dress over and over again, or who get frustrated when plans are changed, or who don't understand why someone would start a conversation with you just to end it on an insult. I want those little girls to grow up knowing that they can have a full life on their own terms--like I wish I would've known as a little girl.
And I say little girl specifically because AFAB (assigned females at birth) are much less likely to be diagnosed with Autism than their assigned male at birth counterparts. When I was 13 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Just last year I was told by a psychiatrist that it was definitely a misdiagnosis. (Some of the symptoms are the same, but some psychiatrists stick to the surface and don't look deeper for the cause.) A few months after that I went through the complete diagnostic testing for my autism diagnosis. I received the official statement about a month later.
I don't think of the first 30+ years of my life as wasted. I just think that they could have been spent so much better had I known.
<3 The Pop Art Girl