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Then again, I did have I was unusual, but I think other people noticed it more than I did.In high school, though, my friends and I drifted apart.Having my disability diagnosed and explained didn’t make me stop hating it. Recently my day job has brought me into contact with other autistic people: first one or two, then more and more. We may not be putting on parades in the street, yet, but we’re not hiding. Seven years after my diagnosis, I started learning about autistic culture, not just bare diagnostic criteria. To my joy, I found that the idiosyncrasies that I thought were failings had perfectly natural causes.

I may have had trouble coming out — even to myself — as disabled, but I didn’t have trouble coming out as gay.

I had the fortune to grow up in a lovingly supportive family.

I finally figured that my life was not entirely working out the way I thought it would.

Researching online, I came across a then-obscure condition called Asperger’s Syndrome.

When I was growing up, celebrations of gay pride were already common, but I had no concept of being proud of my autism. I had no idea how many other people there were like me — if there even was anybody like me.

Not that I thought I was special, just uniquely broken and of no concern to a society embarrassed by bodies or brains that do not function typically.

The sound of certain fabrics being rubbed is like a needle being scraped against my brain, part of the sensory issues that autism brings along—it’s not just me being fussy or particular.

My physical clumsiness and my scattered-brain were part of it too, as was my ability to focus exclusively on a subject I enjoy and my dislike of dissembling (especially to a friend).

(Autistic children are far better understood than autistic adults, because that is where the money goes.) My Mum told the hospital receptionist that we were there for an appointment, and the receptionist looked at me sympathetically and then asked my Mum: “And how old is Euan?

” Already, it seemed, I was expected to be spoken for, not spoken to. I wasn’t willing to submit to other people having that conception of me—an object, not aware of my surroundings, a broken man—or to having that conception of myself. We’re generally not as cute as disabled kids, and society looks at us as hopeless cases.

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