Anonymous asked realsocialskills:I’m an autistic student who’s starting college next fall. I’m wondering if I should tell my roommate(s?) about it first, or if this will affect the way they think of me. I like to think…
Just my point of view here: I’ve always disclosed to everyone I deal with on a regular basis. I’ve found it helps to be understood better. That said, I’ve run into a very small number of teachers who’ve treated me very shitty because of it.
When I tell people, I let them know my personal strengths and weaknesses and tell them that most stereotypes aren’t very accurate. Then I ask if they have any questions. Most as very good questions and I help inform them. This may be while I haven’t had many problems.
I would probably reframe the question as “how do I present to others?”
If you cannot pass as allistic in the 85-100% range (this is sort of made up, but you get the idea. “high functioning” and all that jazz)
Do you want to be seen as “that weird kid”? or “that autistic kid?”
So, if you choose not to disclose, and people notice your behaviours, they see you as an oddball with quirks. Sometimes if it’s endearing, you can be the lovable goofball. If it’s taken negatively, you can be treated like an outcast.
If you choose to disclose, you no longer have the option of just “having quirks” You will be “that autistic kid”. Which label is better? I can’t say. I’ve experienced positives and negative of disclosure and non-disclosure. Disclosure can sometimes give and excuse / explanation for your behaviours, but if you don’t follow the stereotype built into someone’s head, they might start trying to police you into becoming their view of autistic.
I.E. “You’re too smart to be autistic” or “Don’t all autistic people flap their hands? If you were really autistic, you would flap your hands.”
Quirky / weird / oddball people, on the other hand, aren’t policed by stereotypes. You can just be the kid who has headphones on and chews gum quietly. No one knows that you’re doing it as an autistic behaviour. However, if you need accomodation, you may not get it as easily because you don’t have a label that explains your needs.
Also, there are advantages and disadvantages to having people assume you’re doing it on purpose.