Last year, I was diagnosed with autism at the health center at my college. After questioning myself for years, I decided it was time to find some answers. I made an appointment to see the psychologist at my school where they diagnosed me after an interview.
The news wasn't a shocker to me, but rather, sort of a relief. A light bulb flickering on, or a "Brain Blast" like Jimmy Neutron would say. I decided to use my experiences by creating a Facebook page called "Emily Enlightens" to educate more people, along with share on my own personal page. Autism has taught me so many things after I became more open about it, but here are a couple for now:
1. I learned to accept myself. The idea of self-love made more sense to me. Opening up helped me to focus more on my own opinions, instead of others.
2. I developed closer connections with people with similar experiences. I have met some of my closest friends who either have autism or different disability. It's a level of empathy that should never be taken for granted.
3. Not everyone is willing to understand what you go through, no matter how much you fight against them or no matter how honest you are.
4. Despite the few who do not want to understand, I have met several people who do. I have had people (with and without autism) ask me questions to learn more about autism.
5. Opening up about my autism has opened doors for me. I joined an international honor society for college students with disabilities. I became an ambassador and social media chair for Bear POWER. I received an Outstanding Advocate Award in December.
6. Autism is a gift. People are quick to pick apart how a disability can negatively affect someone. I think that autism is a beautiful way of living.