This is something that I have been idly thinking about since my diagnosis (which, granted, was not even a year ago). At first I was so excited that I had an explanation for my weirdness that I was telling lots of people. Then I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be so loud about it and stopped telling people. Now I’m wondering, in a more serious way, just how out I should be.
I have been told that I pass for normal some 90% of the time. Then again, I have also been told that it is screamingly obvious that I’m a little odd, though it’s not obvious why exactly I am odd. In any case, the question is regarding that last 10% of the time. Usually involving something going wrong, a trigger being tripped or my simply being overloaded, and a meltdown or shutdown happening. That’s bad. Plus, people don’t always know what they are looking at. My going elsewhere because I have a dire need to get away from whatever is causing the problem can look to others like storming off in a huff. Plus, sometimes I need odd things, like how I can’t stand to be lightly touched, or I prefer to not touch people unless I am fairly close to them, and I need to watch my environment to make sure I don’t get overloaded. I have learned the hard way that people can be somehow personally offended by my needs or think that they are pointless and silly. Putting them in a context of an autism spectrum disorder could, potentially, really help.
On the other hand, people tend to have ideas of what ASDs are, and what they mean, and what a person on the spectrum looks like. Those ideas are frequently erroneous. Putting myself out there means that I will be subject to people’s biases and prejudices, both in my personal life (such as it is) and any potential professional life. There is some minor possibility that I could educate a few misguided people, but it’s certainly not something I’d count on. So being out is definitely a risk.
I don’t have an answer, but right now I am learning more towards being open about the fact that I have neurological differences. Maybe not announce it all the time, but not treat it like a secret either. Yes, I am on the autism spectrum. Yes, it has a huge impact on my personality and identity. No, I am not rain man.