Autistic Pride: I am Proud of Who I Am

Autistic Pride Day, on  the 18th June, is a growing grassroots initiative by the Autistic community.  It is a day initiated and led by Autistics individuals themselves to celebrate their neurodiversity.  It is distinctly separate from the Autism Awareness Day / week  held in April each year, which tends to focus on Autism from a carer perspective and often promotes a “deficits” and ‘tragedy’ model of Autism.  Autistic Pride Day focuses on what Autistics can do, the immense value of neurodiversity to society and celebrates Autistic culture.

“I am Autistic. I have my own individual personality. I am a student, a gymnast, a swimmer. I am creative, a friend, a daughter. I have lots of ingredients that make me, me. I am proud of who I am.

When I feel happy and satisfied I know I have done something well and feel pride. I don’t think pride is loud and celebrating, unless a pride of lions. Real pride is quiet. Its what we feel inside ourselves. Real pride comes from within, not from the outside.

Sometimes though someone can have so much pride, that they are not someone to be proud of. When pride is so big that someone thinks only they are right and its stops them hearing others, or when their pride means they make other people feel little, that is not pride to feel proud of.

I feel pride in being Autistic when I know I have used my Autism ingredients in good and kind ways.  When I use my sniff ability to return lost clothing to the person who lost it, I feel pride. When I use my ability to stay focused on only one thing, to practice and learn something until I achieve it, I feel pride. When I use my ability to think up different ideas to fix a problem, or to help someone, I feel pride. When I’ve used my ability in writing and sign language, to teach someone, or to say kind things, I feel pride.

When I do not use my Autism ingredients to do good things for myself, or to do good things for other people, I do not feel pride in being Autistic, or in being me. I think that’s because just being, just existing doesn’t create pride. Pride comes from what you do, what choices you make, what actions you do and how much effort you put into being you”.