What difference does a diagnosis make? There is no magic cure. Autism does not go away.
For me, a diagnosis has made the world of difference. I am finding my tribe. A group of people that experience the world in a very similar way to me. Who have very similar struggles. The fact that other people are struggling too does not diminish our individual struggles but it can make them seem more manageable. We are not individual failures because we can not make things work. We are wired in a different way to the vocal majority.
I am learning to manage my own expectations of myself. Just because other people seem to be able to do things doesn’t mean I have to, or even that I should want to. I am learning who I am again. I am learning what brings me joy, what brings me peace, what brings me happiness.
I am learning to ignore the shoulds and expectations of society. Society does not give a damn about me or my happiness. Society wants me to conform so that they can feel better about themselves and where they are at with their lives.
Paradoxically, the more I learn about the things that are a natural struggle for autistic people, the easier I am finding things. I pick my battles. I set my limitations. I make my goals realistic for me. I achieve these realistic goals. I get more things done because all my energy is no longer focused on trying to do the one thing that I can’t.
Psychologists may argue whether the achieving of the things that autistic people struggle with is so low on their (the autistic’s) list of priorities is nature or learnt behaviour, when NTs think it is so important for everyone to achieve these things. If these things really were so important in the grand scheme of things, we would be able to do them. We shouldn’t have to care that we can’t do them if they aren’t important to us just because the vocal majority care and think we should care about them too.
Mostly there is peace and acceptance in knowing I am not alone. I do not have to meet every autistic person to feel that I belong. I would like to meet some. I would like to have friends that I feel understand me and don’t suck the life out of me. But there is so much relief in knowing that they are out there, that I can find them if I want to. Knowing that if I need them they will be there, even if only virtually, to help me, because they too want someone to be there for them, to understand them, to acknowledge that their struggles are real, even if they don’t make sense and even when (especially when) their struggles seem to contradict their achievements.