I wanted treatment
When I got my autism diagnosis at 35 and started trying to figure this stuff out, I scoured the internet, researched standard treatment options, and searched high and low for anything that would help. I was quickly frustrated that most autism services were only available to kids (but later learnt that most of those were crap anyway, so blessing in disguise). That forced me to look for unorthodox solutions, to find my own way.
I had to confront a lot of my assumptions, my internalized ableism, and my own prejudice against using emotions or body signals as any sort of useful information. I gradually figured out that what I wanted treatment for wasn’t autism itself: it was the effects that being unrecognized and unaccepted had brought throughout my life.
I also had genuine mental health challenges and lucked into a great therapist who helped me with the trauma. She wasn’t autistic, and didn’t know much about it, but she listened, accepted me, and showed true compassion and kindness. She helped process the pain from the times that I hadn’t known what was going on.
I didn’t need treatment for autism. What I wished for was help figuring out my sensory world, recovering from autistic burnout, how to get my energy back, how to function better on a daily basis, understanding myself in new ways, and shedding the shame that had built up over years of not knowing why I was different, what was going on, how I could be myself, and other things. But those weren’t problems with autism, they were problems with trying to live a neurotypical life. And that’s a really important distinction.
So, I’ve been on this path for about seven years now; figuring myself out more and more, healing old traumas, dissolving new versions of internalized ableism that I recognize, meeting my sensory needs in new and different ways, unmasking in new ways, and with new depths every year.
All of it gives me back a little more energy, a little more perspective and a lot more freedom. I’m more at peace with myself than I ever have been in my life. New things are possible now that weren’t possible seven years ago, and also more motivated than ever to be a part of healing the world. One overlooked autistic at a time.