What if they just don’t like you now?

It seems to be a common occurrence for autistic people to be rejected in some way by their families, shortly after coming out as autistic.

In discussions with my autistic friends, we try and figure out why this is. What changes for our families when they know that we are autistic? What changes so dramatically, that they don’t like us anymore, or trust us anymore, or have faith in us anymore?

There’s a long list of possibilities.

Maybe they are embarrassed of us now. Maybe knowing we are autistic robs them of the bragging rights about how ‘successful’ we are. Maybe once they told their friends how good our jobs were, or how smart we were or how honest we were. Maybe now they feel like they can’t do that anymore. Given we are autistic and they don’t want that to get out.

Maybe they’ve spent our childhoods complaining about us, what naughty children we were, how impossible parenting us was. How they’ve suffered. Maybe they now have proof that there really was something ‘wrong’ with us and this makes it even more our faults.

Maybe they don’t believe that we are autistic. Maybe they just don’t see it, or it can’t be true because we talked/walked/toileted/made eye contact like ‘normal’. Maybe we just got along with things and caused no trouble and they hardly saw us anyway. Maybe we were so out going and the life of the party and couldn’t stop talking. Maybe we were just defiant/trouble/difficult but certainly not autistic.

Maybe they think they might be autistic too and god forbid, surely no? Or maybe they look at your other parent and wonder if it was them. Maybe they ponder what they did wrong for this to happen.

Or maybe they are angry at us for bringing something so disturbing into their lives. Maybe they wish we had said nothing and how about we all pretend that they never heard us when we said the word autistic.

What if now that you know you are autistic, you have permission to stop trying to stuff those horrible feelings that everything is wrong and you are broken down so deep. What if you can’t struggle against it anymore and can’t go another day longer enduring the damage that comes from trying to ‘pass’.

What if now you feel a freedom to be yourself. Or at least to be comfortable with getting to know your real self. The self that went quiet or raged or broke down or denied for so many years.

What if they just don’t like you now that you are not playing the same role that you have for so long? The one where you be who they want you to be. Or the opposite of who they want you to be. Or anybody other than yourself.

What if they just don’t like you now.

Is this the cost of identifying as autistic?

2 replies
  1. Naomi
    Naomi says:

    Yes. Every single one of these things and more. It confirms every bad thing they’ve ever thought of me and at the same time they don’t believe it. It puts a stigma on the grandchildren which only a rejection of ignorance can remove. It becomes yet another thing I can’t do right in their eyes. And that was already a very long list.

    And for me, the diagnosis is the opposite of all these things. It has brought a fresh understanding of my children and better ways to relate to them, more self-acceptance than years of undiagnosed therapy could ever bring. It had helped me understand my children’s grandparents and their willful ignorance and their aspie traits. It has given me the courage to be myself for the first time in my life. It has brought me healing and a like-minded community. It has helped me embrace my strengths and find strategies for my weaknesses.

    They didn’t need another excuse not to like me, but now I like myself better than ever before.

    • Jenna Brown
      Jenna Brown says:

      All of the above. My family rejected me sometime around the time I started to walk and talk, because I was a “difficult, disobedient, willful kid who wouldn’t shut up, wouldn’t conform, asked too many questions, and just refused to do the right thing even though I was smart enough to know better.” Having a diagnosis just confirms all the nasty beliefs about me, and at the same time they don’t believe it and still believe I’m just being willfully difficult, lazy, and now they KNOW I’m not right in the head. *eyeroll* I don’t need or want those toxic jerks in my life, but it still hurts. 🙁


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