Age at realization/diagnosis

View past chats on this topic: December 8, 2019 and June 19, 2022.

All autistic and similarly neurodivergent people have had experience with ableism. How that ableism is expressed can depend on who does or doesn’t know we’re autistic, as well as when and where. Others’ (and our own) knowledge can also affect what support we receive. #AutChat

For example, if authority figures know we’re autistic as children, we may be forced into harmful therapies. If no one knows we’re autistic, we won’t be able to access formal accommodations. #AutChat

It also matters whether we know we’re autistic/neurodivergent. That can influence how we understand our experiences, and what we do. For example, we may label some things as ableism, or seek community with autistic/neurodivergent people, or request accommodations. #AutChat

We want to caution folks against oversimplifying things. For example, not all people identified as autistic/neurodivergent in childhood were formally diagnosed or told, or received accommodations. #AutChat

Likewise, not all people who went unidentified until adulthood pass as neurotypical or need fewer supports. Not everyone was identified as a very young child, or after age eighteen. #AutChat

We also want to caution folks not to assume that whatever ableism and/or support you’re aware of in others’ lives—or in your own—is all there is to it. Ableism is sometimes hidden from observers, and support we receive isn’t always obvious. #AutChat

Q1: At what age/stage of life did you discover or begin to suspect you were autistic/similarly neurodivergent? If formally diagnosed, was it before or after that? Do you know if others (for example, adults present in your childhood) knew you were autistic before you did? #AutChat

Q2: If you or others knew you were autistic/neurodivergent when you were growing up, do you think there were ways it was helpful? Ways it was harmful? If you and/or others *didn’t* know, are there ways that was helpful? Ways it was harmful? #AutChat

Q3: Do you wish you personally had been identified or diagnosed at a different age? Do you wish it had happened in a different way (e.g., through formal diagnosis, community recognition, self-diagnosis)? Do you know of other folks who feel differently about themselves? #AutChat

Q4: What things were helpful or would have been helpful for adults in your life to tell you about autism/neurodivergence when you were growing up? #AutChat

Q5: What advice would you give to parents or guardians who suspect their child is autistic or similarly neurodivergent and are wondering whether and when to tell them and/or to seek diagnosis? #AutChat

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