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Discrimination is real and still goes on

On Thursday evening I experienced yet another setback- proof of how far we still have to come to achieve true inclusivity and diversity. I was actively and openly discriminated for being different. For not fitting the small mould required by the neurotypicals of this world. I am sure that this person didn’t do this deliberately- I refuse to believe they are truly evil however they made a mistake, a mistake which could have been so so damaging. As a neurodivergent person, I don’t ask for much, in reality all I ask is to be treated with kindness and respect. The same as everyone else- a basic human right. I am autistic- I am different but I am not less. It does not make me incapable or stupid. As a neurodivergent person I am just as capable as anybody else but the world isn’t designed for people like me and we take time and patience. Small things can make a huge difference and most importantly honesty. Be honest and be open. Being different isn’t some dirty secret or word that cannot be uttered. I am not someone to walk on egg shells around or to just be ignored. I have feelings and emotions just like everyone else. As I sent in the message to this person after the event- “You never know someone’s backstory, or what they are going through. You never know when your actions could lead to someone deciding to take their own life. I hope you take from this that is does matter. Everything you do in life matters. Every word and every action.” We are not responsible for other people but we are all responsible for our own actions and how they impact on other people.

This group thought of themselves as inclusive- like many places do. But true inclusivity means everybody- even people as weird as me! Inclusivity means people who are very different, people who are uncomfortably different, who don’t act in a mainstream way or who’s behaviour is really different from what you feel as acceptable. I was not harming or hurting anyone. I was not being disruptive and I wasn’t creating a scene. However, I didn’t fit exactly what they wanted. I was too much like hard work. This breaks me the most, not for myself but for all those young autistics out there who have this discrimination to come and the emotions which come with that. Knowing the reason life is so painful is due to something you can never change is scary and leaves you feeling completely hopeless. I am made to feel broken, a burden and unworthy on a daily basis. Autistics people’s life expectancy is a lot lower than their neurotypical counter parts and a large portion of this is due to suicide. Statistics show the high percentage of autistic people have contemplated or attempted suicide. For a non-life limiting condition this is completely unacceptable however situations like this confirm to me why this still is.

People would not believe the discrimination that still goes on, even in 2023 when it comes to being different. Why is being different so bad- it’s not, but people are scared of what they don’t understand. It makes me cross though that they won’t ask. No one is ever expected to know everything-but what you don’t know - ask. Educate yourself. There are plenty of us out there who would be more than happy to help you, in the hope of making the world a little more accessible and safer. Last night I was made to feel like I had no place in society, that being autistic meant I can’t achieve and that I am not welcome in this world. I won’t lie, it broke me. Last night- I was done, tired of everything in life constantly being a fight. I was ready to just end it all- what was the point, however hard I work, however much I push myself out of my comfort zone, however much effort I put in- I will never measure up. I will never be good enough, or if I am, my difficulties which come with that means I am not worth the effort. I was made to feel so small and so stupid. Completely unworthy. I have struggled with trust issues for a very long time now and initially this situation undid all the hard work I have put in to trust people. I never understood how people can say one thing but their actions show a completely different belief. I respected and even liked this person; I enjoyed attending their group and that is when it hurts even more. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I opened up the side I rarely do and for it to be hurt like that really was so detrimental. Last night I was ready to give up. I was done. I have worked hard to get to this position and it all felt like it was for nothing. I woke this morning early; sleep was tricky and I had a choice. As tired as I am, as much as I wish I could just stop fighting. As much as I want a break. I can’t, not just for me but for all those little autistics out there. It may feel like a complete uphill struggle. It often feels like a completely impossible task. I can’t however give up- I can’t let other people be treated the way I have- be made to feel like they don’t even deserve to be alive.

I will fight, I will shout it from the rooftops if required. I will never give up, while I have breath in my body. Empowerment is everything and the world needs to change. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean you don’t try. I face that every day. I have neurotypical people constantly telling me how to be and how to behave. What is acceptable and what is not. We have to raise our voices. We deserve the chance in life to succeed in whatever capacity that looks like. Yesterday I was broken and while I am still upset about the situation, I cannot let my self-worth be measured by the approval of someone who can make me feel like this. Autistic people have so much to give, we have talents, thoughts and ideas which can make an impact and change the world. We see things those who are neurotypical never could and ultimately, we know what it feels like to constantly have to prove ourselves. Prove ourselves against criteria which was never written for us.

So today, I get back up. Not just for me, but for every neurodivergent person. For everyone who has been made to feel like they are less than. For those of us that know that even the most mundane of tasks are a massive uphill battle. We deserve better. We will have better. People may not like to hear it but that doesn’t mean we don’t say it. If you are a neurotypical person reading this, I hope that you have taken something positive away. I hope it may trigger something in your brain, make you think or open your eyes to what is happening every day. If you are autistic, I know you will sadly relate to a lot of what I have said. I know it’s hard but please don’t give up. I know it feels hopeless and impossible but we need you here. We need your voice in the fight against disability discrimination- in the fight against all discrimination. We will not give up and we will be heard. Equality, diversity and inclusivity are real. They aren’t just buzz words- they have real meaning and impact on people’s real lives. Be a part of change.

Lots of Love

Hannah 😊 xxxx


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