After I was diagnosed with Autism + understood how society perceived people on the spectrum, I was always acutely aware that to be taken seriously, I needed to ensure that I was as competitive as possible. I intentionally concealed my diagnosis for years because of that knowledge, and I saw firsthand that there was a stigma surrounding Autism. Through comments & jokes, articles about Autism being like a “death sentence” or people assuming people with Autism can’t live independently (I have for 6 years) or hold a job, much less start their own company. Because I wanted to get into a field where strong communication skills were necessary, I kept my own experiences hidden. I didn’t say anything when people commented that others were “acting autistic” because they had an awkward moment. I didn’t want people to see me as the “Autistic one” I wanted them to see me as Hallie.
Being open about #autism is important, but it is incredibly hard (especially when you have a choice). It is hard because you will be judged on your diagnosis before your accomplishments, before people even meet you. .
I can never be just “good”, I have to be exceptional. Because of that understanding, I am cognizant that when I walk into a room, I may well have to combat the already ingrained stereotypes people have about individuals with Autism. Although this can be a painful understanding I’m grateful that I’ve been able to give hope to kiddos and families who are in the position I once was in. I’m grateful I get to help break this stigma, and 20 years from now, I pray that #neurodiversity will be an appreciated part of how our culture perceives diversity. That no other child with Autism will ever be made to feel like they’re not “good” enough or “worthy” because of their diagnosis. Today, I’ve made communication skills one of my greatest strengths, and my business. Don’t be afraid to share your story. It may just change someone’s life. I am thankful that God opened a door for me to share mine 💗