How to Accept Your Autism

Three Methods:Learning About Autistic StrengthsHelping YourselfFinding Community

Being autistic can be rough. People tell you that you're embarrassing or that you're rude or insensitive. But that doesn't mean that they're right. This article will help you come to terms with your autism so you can focus on being the wonderful human being that you are.

Method 1
Learning About Autistic Strengths

Autism is a disability, and being disabled can be hard. That doesn't mean it's all bad. Autism comes with its own strengths and endearing quirks, and it contributes to your successes as well as your struggles.

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    Learn about autism from the autistic people. Too often, non-autistic people write about autism without consulting real autistic people. They may come up with inaccuracies, laughable misconceptions, or extremely negative viewpoints on differences that don't hurt anyone. Thus, not all the bad things you read about autism are correct.
    • The autistic community often describes autism in a neutral or positive light. This may help you feel better about being autistic.
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    Read about the strengths that come along with autism. Autism is a complex neurological condition that comes with several blessings along with its impairments. You may experience some or all of the following:
    • Deeply passionate interests. These can lead to tremendous expertise, and possibly a very successful career or fun hobby.[1]
    • Helpfulness. Autistic people, in general, have a high sense of social responsibility, or the desire to solve problems and help others.[2]
    • Precision. Autism is often noted to lead to focusing on small parts, rather than the big picture. This can lead to remarkable detail-oriented work, where a neurotypical might be unable to focus so clearly on individual aspects of something.[3]
    • Visual intelligence. Autistic people have tested higher on visual and nonverbal intelligence tests.[4][5]
    • Sincerity. Autistic people tend to mean what they say, and act as a "voice of reason" without becoming mired in social complexities.[6] Your honesty and genuine spirit can feel refreshing to others.
    • Creativity and a unique perspective. Autistic people can learn in unusual ways.[7] This provides insights that neurotypicals may never realize, and can become a great asset in collaboration.[8]
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    Read about successful autistic people. Plenty of famous people have been diagnosed or thought to be autistic. Strong special interests, focus, and a unique perspective can lead to innovation and creativity.
    • Historically, Einstein,[9] Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson,[10] Mozart,[11] Temple Grandin, and more people were thought to be autistic.[12]
    • Famous autistic people today include Tim Burton,[13] Susan Boyle,[14] Adam Young (from Owl City),[15] Jerry Seinfeld,[16] and more.[17]
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    Consider your special interests. Special interests are a clear upside of autism: you have an incredible memory about these facts, intense focus, and the ability to act like a walking encyclopedia of information whenever you want. You also get to have a lot of fun doing the things you love.
    • Most non-autistic people would be jealous of the way you can recall and discuss information.
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    Read about the social model of disability. The social model holds that disability is not caused by defects in the brain or body, but by society's failure to accommodate and accept a certain variation.[18][19]
    • For example, most nearsighted people are not disabled: they are fully accommodated within society (glasses, contacts), and have the same opportunities that non-nearsighted people have. Their body can't do the same things, but technology makes up for that, so it is not an issue.

Method 2
Helping Yourself

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    Remember that it's okay to be different. If everyone were just like everyone else, the world would be boring. Your quirks are part of what makes you memorable, and you don't need to censor yourself or try to look "normal." It is absolutely okay to be disabled and to look disabled in public.
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    Find therapies and treatments that work for you. A good therapy will leave you better off than you were before, and you will gain skills and be happier. You can also learn coping mechanisms, alternative methods of doing difficult tasks, and how to capitalize on your strengths.
    • Options include sensory integration therapy, talk therapy, occupational therapy, special diets, behavior therapy, and seeing a psychologist for emotional issues.
    • Always check with a doctor before altering your diet or attempting an alternative treatment.
    • Be careful about behavior therapies. Some therapies are based on compliance and may hurt more than helping.[20] If your therapist's goal is to make you more normal (rather than more comfortable or more competent), or if you feel upset and anxious about seeing them, then find a better therapist.
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    Stop trying to do things that are too hard. With the media constantly encouraging people to "do your best," sometimes people forget that it's okay to quit. You do not have to put forth 110% effort all the time—this can lead to burnout. If something is draining your energy or adding a lot of stress to your life, consider not doing it anymore. Sometimes saying "I quit" is freeing.
    • Disability doesn't just mean that there are some things you can't do. It can also mean that some things are painful or extremely draining.[21] Give yourself permission to quit or find an alternative way.
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    Focus on your skills and character strengths. This will help you spend less energy mourning your disability, and more energy on doing positive things and enjoying your life.
    • Spend time on your hobbies and things that you're good at. Enjoy the feeling of competence and expertise.
    • Make a list of your positive traits. Consider both personality traits and skills. Place the list somewhere where it'll be easy to see when you're feeling sad about yourself.
    • Help other people. Prepare food for the hungry, raise awareness for important causes, or write about your special interest on wikiHow. Effecting a positive change in the world will distract you, help others, and make you feel happier about yourself.
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    Practice self-care. Being disabled can be difficult, and it's important to treat yourself well. Cut out energy drains from your life so you can focus on what matters most to you.
    • Pushing yourself to meet non-autistic standards will only take a toll on your health. It is okay to ask for academic accommodations, take extra breaks, or quit doing things that are too stressful to achieve.
    • Pay extra attention to general health advice: sleep for at least 8 hours, eat fruits and vegetables, limit junk food, minimize stress, and exercise regularly (taking walks counts). Self-care is extra important for you, to mitigate stress and help with meltdowns.
    • If you have trouble with self-care, it's okay to ask for help. Assisted living, a group home, or living with family might be better for you. Talk with a doctor, social worker, or therapist if you're struggling. There's no shame in meeting your needs, and it'll free up time for things you love.
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    Get a mentor (or two). Look for people in your life whose judgment you trust: parents, older siblings, relatives, counselors, clergy members, friends, et cetera. Living in a neurotypical world can be confusing, so it's useful to have people to ask for advice. You can ask questions from "Is this outfit good for an awards ceremony?" to "This person makes me feel awful; what do I do?"
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    Stop apologizing for being autistic. You have the right to ask for accommodations, stim in public, and do what you need to do in order to function. Toning down your behavior is your choice—not something to be pushed or coerced out of you. You are not required to act more neurotypical just because everyone else is used to it.
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    Recognize that autism is just one piece of who you are—a kind, thoughtful, and lovable human being. People can love you and your autism. You can love yourself and your autism. You are not a lesser person.
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    Talk to someone if you are overwhelmed by self hatred. Anxiety, depression, and self esteem issues are unfortunately common in autistic people.[22][23][24] Identify someone you trust and explain to them how awful you feel.
    • If you think you may have anxiety and/or depression, schedule or ask for a doctor appointment. The doctor can give you a screening.
    • You are not being selfish or burdensome by sharing negative feelings. People can probably tell if you are feeling awful, they just don't know why or what to do. If you tell them, this is helpful to them, because then they can know what to do and worry less.

Method 3
Finding Community

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    Surround yourself with positive people. Look for the people in your life who build you up and leave you feeling better than you did before. Make an effort to spend more time with them. Ask if they'd like to get lunch with you, or if you could get together this weekend.
    • If you usually feel bad about yourself after spending time with someone, that's an important pattern to be aware of. Figure out why you feel that way, and whether the relationship is worth maintaining.
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    Meet the autistic community. This can be done by contacting a friendly support group, or through a search online. Learn what autistic people have to say about themselves, their symptoms, and the way they interact with the world. Autistic people, in general, are very welcoming to newly-diagnosed or self-diagnosed people.
    • Autistic people can offer advice and tips to those in need (and often do so, especially online)
    • The general positivity of the autistic community can help you feel better when you are feeling sad or have low self-esteem.
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    Avoid people and organizations that dehumanize you. You are not broken or lesser. People like you do not deserve to be abused, coerced, silenced, or eugenically aborted.
    • It is okay to cut toxic people out of your life. You don't need their negativity, and you're much better off without them. You are not required to argue that your existence is worthwhile, and it's okay to decide not to waste your time and energy on them.
    • If you're stuck with these people, you have two main choices: to educate them, or to avoid them. Educating them can be done by showing them an article, and making an appeal to their desire to be a good person. If you try this and fail, or if you know that they won't respond to reason, it's better to avoid spending time with them and avoid autism-related conversations. You don't deserve to listen to toxic ideas about your existence.
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    Get involved with positive autism-related organizations. They will help you understand yourself better and make a positive contribution to the world.
    • Many autism self-advocacy groups have a large online presence. You do not need to physically go somewhere to get involved.
    • If you can't find in-person autism organizations that are any good, try general disability groups. It can be tremendously relieving to spend time with a group where being disabled is normal.
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    Make autistic friends. Along with the usual benefits of friendship, you can share coping strategies, discuss autism together, and be yourselves without any fear.
    • Look for autistic people in autism acceptance advocacy groups, Special Ed (if you go there), or disability/autism clubs.


  • If you struggle with persistent feelings of sadness related to your diagnosis, tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, or a doctor or therapist.

Sources and Citations

  • Valerie L. Gaus, PhD. Living Well on the Spectrum.
  2. Valerie L. Gaus, PhD. Living Well on the Spectrum.
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