What I Want The People Who Say ‘You Don’t Look Autistic’ To Know

I am writing this so people will understand that autism has no “one look,” and that every individual with autism is affected differently. Autism can affect how people socialize and see the world, and it can affect a person’s sensory processing.

I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I also have ADHD, which affects my attention and makes controlling my behavior difficult. Yet I have come across a number of people who tell me, “Oh, I know someone who has Asperger’s. There is no way you have it,” “Oh, but you don’t look autistic,” or the most patronizing to me, “But you’re grand compared to other people, so don’t worry.” Even after I have explained to people what Asperger’s is, how it affects me and other people and also that there is no “one look,” they still don’t believe me.

When I asked these people what differentiates me from other autistic people they know, they say it comes down to my looks. Yes, my looks — the fact that I wear makeup and dresses the very odd time I get to go out is what makes them not believe me when I tell them I have autism. I have heard from many people who feel their diagnosis is also ignored because of that.

AMY TRACEY

I am here to tell people about my experiences with autism in the hopes that they will gain an understanding and a better awareness of this, for me and maybe others on the spectrum with an invisible disability.

I was diagnosed at the age of 20. I developed late as a child. I began to walk and talk before the age of 3, and I had to start school at nearly 6 years of age. I had a horrible time integrating into three of my schools, and teachers noticed I was behind on my reading, writing, spelling, and my social/emotional interaction with my peers. This led them to believe I had dyslexia. They then suggested to my parents, for me to improve my social skills, that I take up an eight-week socialization group in a clinic. Yet they still didn’t think I may have been autistic.