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My disability is my most sacred ally.

So much of my anger, resentment and self-loathing as a young person came from the pressure I felt to mask.
 
Masking is both something I, as an autistic person partake in as a choice at times to get to where I want to be in life (e.g. jumping through hoops to get into courses or job interviews), and for survival (not wanting to be targeted, etc).
 
But I spent the most time feeling internal rage at how much I dumbed myself down.
 
I kept quiet about things I knew about, didn't add to conversations or discussions, didn't share about my passions because I was so anxious my body would freeze, shake or I would become mute.
 
I hated trends.
 
I hated the music everyone else loved.
 
I hated the tv programs everyone else raved about.
 
I hated the style and fashion everyone went on about.
 
The haircuts, cars, shoes...
 
For me, a PDA autistic, it was all mindless monotony.
 
Tedious.
 
It's not about thinking I was better than others; it's that I am wired to be someone, unlike others.
 
Many of us are.
 
I felt frustrated and defeated by the fear and insecurity of a society that wanted to copy one another, follow a particular way of showing up in the world and felt safer to conform than to be different and risk being disapproved of.
 
When you're a neurodivergent young person and you KNOW you are different, it's extremely challenging to accept that this is positive when adults around you conform.
Young PDAers sense fear.
 
We sense insecurity.
 
We sense in others the need for mindless monotony and for me, it created barriers in my ability to connect with a person in safety and security.
 
It wasn't their fault. It didn't make them bad or wrong.
 
It just meant that I knew if ever there was a situation where doing the right thing meant going against the grain or stepping out of line; they were likely to choose the safer option.
 
Stay quiet.
 
Stay small.
 
Follow trends.
 
And that was a threat to me.
 
I knew as a child all I had was me.
 
I was my advocate.
 
I am my advocate.
 
We are all conditioned to stay quiet, stay small, and follow trends from the day we're born.
 
But some of us don't have the luxury of the ability to comply.
 
What kind of world is it where society considers a free-thinking person to be disordered?
 
This one.
 
Pathological Demand Avoidance.
 
But let me tell you this; my disability, although inconvenient for others, is my most sacred ally.
 
It gifts me incredible determination.
 
Doesn't allow me to say No to myself when I need or deserve better.
 
It forces me into radical acceptance of myself because try as I might, I can never be any other way.
 
I cannot be a people pleaser.
 
I cannot be anything other than boundaried.
 
PDA gifts me with a higher integrity of self.
 
Whilst our PDAer youths may not be accepted as children, seen as insubordinate and rebellious; the very virtues they hold that trouble others so much are the same incredible virtues that when nurtured and understood will prove their birthright of powerful leadership through disruption of systemic monotony.
 
And for those of us who are afraid; may we sit with our own discomfort of the confronting fear within that prevents us from side-stepping, showing up louder and being off-trend.
 
May our children lead the way and return us to the truth of what is truly important.
 
 
- KF
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