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LETTER: I have accepted that autism is part of me – and I’m proud of who I am

‘Wonderful’ column about mental health motivated me to share my story

The Editor,

Re: “Breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and PTSD,” the Now-Leader online, Oct. 5.

After reading Anna Burn’s wonderful column, I feel motivated and compelled to share my own life experiences. I was born with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a high-functioning form of autism.

Living with autism has certainly been no cakewalk. Throughout my life, I have never been blessed with a core group of friends that I could count on for support. When I was in school, I often kept to myself because I could never relate to the mob mentality among cliques. So I basically spend lots of time floating around.

READ: Breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and PTSD

I’ve been judged, misunderstood, ostracized and rejected from social circles. I’ve struggled in many different situations such as dealing with co-workers in previous jobs, and driving.

For many years, I used to pretend that I was not born with a learning disability. Yet the more I was in denial, the worse I felt.

I have finally decided to let go and let the cards fall where they may. Accepting the fact that I have autism has finally brought peace to my life. This lifelong condition is part of who I am as a human being, and I’m very proud of myself.

I would like to give a message to those who cannot see past the stigma of autism. No one should feel sorry for me. I’m not asking for any sympathy whatsoever. Whatever others think of me is none of my business and I can only live my life for me. Nobody else.

Also, never refer to me as “autistic,“ as it sounds very condescending and narrow-minded. A person with cancer is not “cancistic,” just as a person with autism is not “autistic.”

If you’re going to talk about people with disabilities, then please watch your language.

Michael Bardouniotis, Surrey

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