A Letter to Those Who Don’t Understand Me: Living with Autism

This guest post is by Jaylin Stofferahn, a young woman who is diagnosed with autism and plans to attend Eastern Illinois University. Stofferahn is applying for the Spring 2024 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference started by me, Kerry Magro. I was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4, and you can read more about my organization here. Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams, our nonprofit’s new book, was released on March 29, 2022, on Amazon here for our community to enjoy featuring the stories of 100 autistic adults.

I am a weird girl. I am the rude, annoying, and lonely person in class that people only talk to out of pity. But I am more than that. I have autism spectrum disorder, which means I think differently than others. I am disliked by many around me because of my autistic traits; however, I dream of creating a better place for folks like me. Please grant me the gift of listening.
I know I am rude, but I do not desire to be. I cannot hear my tone of voice; I think I sound sincere, and others tell me I am being rude. I interrupt but never desire to; I get excited to share something I love. Also, it is arduous to tell when I can enter the conversation. I do not understand social cues that others grasp.
I know I am annoying, but I am working on it. I talk too much because I want to connect with others. I am loud because I cannot hear my voice. I talk about the same niche topics because they comfort me; they are what I love. If I share with you something I love, it is my way of showing you I care about you. When people talk about disliking me, the reason I often hear is, “She is so annoying.”
I have empathy, I promise. I cry when watching happy Disney movies because I feel so bad for the characters, I know are fictional and have a delightful ending. I have more empathy than most people I know; however, I show it differently. It is difficult for me to control my facial expressions. I think I am smiling, and my mother tells me, “You need to smile!” Many people then believe I do not care; that could not be further from the truth. I care too much about too many topics.
I am lonely and despise it. Many people see us autistic folk as cold and distant; that is not the case. I desire profound relationships; however, they are difficult for me. People turn me away because of my weirdness or my annoyingness; I have lost myriad friends due to a misunderstanding. Every day, I watch others interact in hopes of making new friends. I have spent my entire life attempting to fit in with others; I wondered why I could not squeeze myself into the mold. Then, I found the answer: I have autism; I have a different mold!
I have a different mold, and my mold is different than everybody else’s; not just neurotypicals. Every autistic person is different; some of us can talk, and some cannot. We all have distinct sensory issues, special interests, emotional cognition, etc. I am relaying my issues and story; I am not telling you how autistic people are; I desire to make you think twice before calling someone weird or annoying.
Because of the differences between every autistic person, you commonly hear labels such as “high functioning.” These labels, however, are rejected within the community; please do not use them to describe us. I am what others would consider high-functioning; however, some things would debilitate me that low-functioning people can handle. For example, I cannot stand items around my wrist; I want to writhe and scream if I have a bracelet. Other autistic people can handle it. Since we are all very different, using functioning labels does not accomplish anything.
I am tired of being treated like a child because I am autistic. I require patience and understanding; I do not need to be talked down to or given lesser treatment. Conversely, I do need more nurturing than the average person. I need others to be willing to understand why I am the way I am. Those who listen to my story become my closest friends because they know I am not rude, annoying, or loud.
Social media has created a poor place for autistic people. Everywhere you go, there is a TikTok comment that says, “Is he acoustic?” or even someone attempting to fake autism. Many people think autism is either an excuse to be weird or that it makes you unique. Every day, I hear people in the halls of my school using autistic as an insult. It is not an insult; it is a disorder many people struggle with daily. Stop using it as an insult or making it a joke.
So what does this mean for you? It means, please give us patience. Remember that we are still people, and this goes for everybody. Show patience and kindness to the weird kid in your class. Show kindness to the kid who keeps interrupting. You never know what someone else is struggling with; they may or may not be autistic, but they deserve kindness regardless. Everyone deserves respect and love.

Follow my journey on Facebook, my Facebook Fan Page, Tiktok, Youtube & Instagram.

What happens to children with autism, when they become adults? | Kerry Magro | TEDxMorristown (youtube.com)

My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum. I started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.

Autistics on Autism: Stories You Need to Hear About What Helped Them While Growing Up and Pursuing Their Dreams was released on March 29, 2022 on Amazon here for our community to enjoy featuring the stories of 100 autistic adults. 100% of the proceeds from this book will go back to our nonprofit to support initiatives like our autism scholarship program. In addition, this autistic adult’s essay you just read will be featured in a future volume of this book as we plan on making this into a series of books on autistic adults.


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