HOW TO TELL A FRIEND THAT YOU’RE AUTISTIC
Recently I was having a conversation (it’d been so long I had almost forgotten how to have one) when the person who I was talking to asked, a question that made me stop in my tracks.
The question that they asked me was have you told all of your friends that you’re Autistic?
I was initially stumped as I hadn’t ever thought about it that much.
But it did make me stop and think and to my amazement
I realised that I hadn’t informed as many people as I thought I had
Now, it’s not like I’m ashamed or embarrassed by my Autism far from it, but for me I guess that it boils down to a mixture of emotions.
Firstly, it’s not something easy to drop into a conversation.
Me: Hi, how are you?
Them: Great, how are you?
Me: Yeah, I’m good, by the way I’m Autistic. Shall we have Chinese for lunch?
Secondly, I think that I’m maybe not that comfortable telling people.
I don’t want to see that pity stare coming back from them. You know the one I mean.
There eyes become diluted and then they bring out this patronising voice and you can see and feel that they’re taking pity on you.
Thirdly, would once they know begin with or without realising start to treat me differently?
Would I not be invited to certain events in case I have a meltdown in public? Or would they only include me if they felt that it was a low-key thing?
Would I even be worthy of an invite to lunch or dinner or a birthday party?
Fourthly, would they begin to assume things about my behaviour and Autistic traits? Would that lend itself to them beginning to exclude me from their lives, slowly they’d come up with plausible excuses for me not being invited until I ask them outright and they say
“You and your Autism are just not welcome in our lives?”
Maybe your reading this thinking that’s a harsh reaction but it has happened to me although they didn’t quite word it like that.
So, if you have decided to inform your friends how do you go about it?
Write down exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it to that to that person. Maybe do it on a one-to-one basis that way you won’t feel overwhelmed and remember to allow to time for them to respond and if necessary, ask you some questions. I would highly recommend that you check out www.autisticnick.com for a general idea on what types of questions they may ask you and jot down some answers just so that you have something to refer to during your conversation.
My advice is to go somewhere you feel comfortable, somewhere that you’ve been to before like your favourite café for example. You may have a certain section that you like to sit in, and you feel comfortable in. That way you’ll feel less stressed about meeting your friend to tell them that you’re Autistic.
This is very important. It’s down to you who you tell. Don’t feel that you have to reveal it to everybody via a loudspeaker or in a private group chat. It’s up to you who you think will be the best/right person who you want to inform.
This depends on how long you’ve known the person who you’ve selected to tell. If you’ve known them for 10 years then I would think that you pretty much know them very well and are able to gage how they’ll react, if on the other hand you’ve only known them for 6-months then I’d probably wait a bit longer. But that decision is up to you.
When you think that the timing feels right, go out to the café and tackle it head on. Unfortunately, I am unable to come with you to this meeting between you and your friend and so I cannot say how they’ll react to you telling them that your Autistic.
But remember if they turn out to be a jerk then they weren’t worth being friends with in the first place. If you feel that you cannot go into this alone, then ask a family member or a support worker to accompany you. And that way they can be on hand if things don’t turn out the way that you expected.
Personally, I think it’s down to you the Autistic individual to tell who you want when you want. No one should pressure you into telling and you shouldn’t feel that pressure. If you don’t feel ready, then you don’t feel ready. No one can force you to say anything it’s entirely your decision.
Maybe sometime soon I’ll be able to work up the courage to tell all of my friends but until then I’ll happily stick to telling those close to me who I am.
Carry On The Conversation
Have you told all of your friends that you’re Autistic?
How did they react?
Did you lose friends because of it?
Let me know in the comments section below