Absolutely yes, autism and happy do go together, they can go together and they must go together. There is much sadness, struggle, and suffering often associated with autism. But it’s not all that at all. I’m autistic and I am happy about it. I know many other autistics who are also happy about it.

In fact, I am in essence happier being autistic than I ever was when I didn’t know I was autistic and I was trying to be an allistic. But first:

As Pharrell says at the start – “It may seem crazy…”

But yes I am happy. A damn lot of us autistics are in fact happy about autism, happy about being autistic, happy to be able to be a part of an autistic culture and an autistic community.

Does that mean being autistic and living as a proud autistic is without a struggle, without difficulty and without problems and issues?

Absolutely not.

But happiness is not about circumstance. Happiness is not about life being easy. Happiness is not about being just like the broader world thinks you should be. Happiness is far more base level than that. Happiness is far more core than that.

Happiness, I think, derives from being comfortable in our own skin. Comfortable and accepting of ourselves.

Greater happiness is evident when a person is not at war with themselves. Greater happiness is evident when a person is not doing everything they can to try and change the essence of who they are.

Depression and anxiety are very common co-morbid conditions for autistics. It’s something I myself have had issues with for many, many years, well, diagnosed for many years but, if truth be told, I am pretty sure it has been an issue for my entire life.

H is for Happy and yes autism and happy go together.

Yes, I am happy to be autistic. I am happy that autism is a constant member of my life and my greater family.

Here’s why:

Before I was happy, I was sad.

Before I was happy, I was always angry.

Before I was happy, I was always unable to embrace myself.

Before I was happy, I truly believed I was wrong, that a wrongness emanated from within.

For the first 40 years of my life, I didn’t know I was autistic. I thought and believed I was a neurotypical, that I was like everyone else underneath. But, that I was a lesser version. A wrong version. A version unable to get it together, to complete what I was meant to complete.

I believed it because that’s what I was told. That’s what I was taught. That’s what the world around me made clear.

Richard, you will never amount to anything.

a yellow smiley faceRichard get yourself together.

Richard can’t you be more like the rest of the group.

Richard, you’re a failure.

Richard you…..

And yet, within that thought and belief was an undeniable and unshakable in the end, a knowledge that I wasn’t like everyone else. A knowledge that I couldn’t appropriate. A knowledge seemingly to scary to grasp hold of and explore. A knowledge that was forbidden to be believed.

Consequently, childhood was a strange and somewhat surreal experience, an experience that marched on into young adulthood and towards middle age. A sense of trying to be like everyone else but being unable to quite see clearly enough to know how to do it. Oh, I could academically know how but I couldn’t really know it.

In the Christian Scriptures the writer Paul the Apostle writes in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 about as a child seeing dimly but as an adult we will see clearly. Now Paul is talking about the Christian idea of salvation and sanctification, but it does make me think about life not knowing you are neurodivergent and the change that happens when you realise you are.

In my mind I often picture my pre-autistic enlightenment as that period of my life that I walked along a footpath (sidewalk) encased and surrounded by a thick mist that I couldn’t quite see through, which, upon the moment of realisation of my neurology suddenly and instantly cleared.

Suddenly and instantly I was not wrong, not less, not flawed. Just different. And you know what:

That makes me happy.

H is for happy, but…

To receive that happiness one must be more than just aware of autism.

To receive that happiness one can’t hate autism.

To receive that happiness one can’t fight autism.

To receive that happiness one must accept autism.

In time acceptance will become celebration.

In time celebration will become pride.

H is for Happy… Yes, Autism and Happy do go together…

I can see clearly now….