The Joy of Being Autistic

From someone who is autistic and has mental health conditions, I want you to know you are not alone.

According to various studies, around 40% of autistic people have at least one type of anxiety disorder and 70% of autistic teenagers have at least one mental health condition.

Before I got diagnosed with autism, I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which is very common for autistic people assigned female at birth. A few years later, it was said I had depression and atypical anorexia. Until recently, I blamed my autistic brain for ‘giving’ me these disorders and pain. I couldn’t see any good in being autistic and refused to let myself express joy authentically. I’ve realised how harmful this belief is and how freeing it is to allow myself to be without judgement.

There is so much joy when I flap my hands and squeal with excitement when I see an animal I adore or when a flower blooms, how cloud formations and rain make my heart sing. These moments of sparkle bring joy to those around me and myself. To see anyone experience happiness brings smiles and connection, which should be encouraged. It shouldn’t matter to your loved ones if you experience joy or any other emotion differently. You are allowed to express yourself, and your perception of the world matters.

Autistic people process 70% more information than neurotypicals, which can be overstimulating. However, I like to reframe it to, ‘I see the details of beauty others miss’. Nature is my safe space and what some may say is my ‘special interest.’ I love experiencing it in all of its wonders. From the way the sun shines through leaves to the sound of the waves crashing against pebbles. It regulates me in a way nothing else can while lifting my mood.

I encourage you to seek out your special interest because you deserve to be joyful in whatever way that looks like to you. If you don’t know what your special interest is, think of what you liked when you were younger or ask other autistic people what theirs is, as we often have similar ones. It can feel impossible to try new things, so take it one step at a time and you will get there.

As someone who repressed all joy to someone who allows themself to stim in public, I know you have it within yourself to live freely and joyfully.


Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!

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