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How I learned to accept my autism and love myself

This guest blog post is by Ryan Lee. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. To view his story click here. To hear his podcast interview click here.

I am so blessed to have made it another year. Also this year really meant something to me. You know why? Because I fully learned to accept myself. For a long time I was ashamed of the fact that I have autism. A few months ago I came across this book called "Population One: Autism, Adversity and the Will to Succeed" (by Tyler McNamer, it’s a book recommended for everyone to read). It taught me to accept my label of autism not as a "disability" but an "extraordinary ability" as my own.

Back then, during middle school and most of high school, being ashamed of my autism I felt so angry, depressed, confused, impatient and isolated. At times, I expressed it so intensely that I started hurting people physically and mentally. I even started breaking rules. For a long time, I tried really hard to fit in and hide my autism by observing what other people were doing. I literally tried to fit into their world and be like them, seeking approval and the attention of others, but later and more this year, I reasoned with myself and realized that I can't be and think like everyone else. It was easy for me to love others but I didn’t love myself.

Also, most times I never took anyone's advice unless it was someone I trust dearly. I also never talked about it because there are people out there who can be so mean, especially when they find out you have a disability, and treat you as if you're not human with feelings.The "r-word" (and being called it) made my blood boil so much and sometimes caused me to be vengeful. I have a hard time reading body languages and sometimes I rub people the wrong way and I don't even know it. It’s hard to put yourself out there for others in the world, to be ridiculed and deal with others’ limiting beliefs of your abilities and differences. I have become stronger and more confident in my life even as others’ placed limitations on me. I'm also lucky to have friends that listen and are accepting, because if they really are your friends, they'll accept you no matter who you are, but only if you accept yourself first. It took me a while to learn that.

No matter who you are, there are positive characteristics about you. Write a list of the fantastic things you have to offer. They won’t be things that everyone will value, but that doesn’t matter. They just have to be things that you like about yourself. Flaws and all, you are who you are. All the good things and the bad things about you make you unique, and should be cherished. If some people don't appreciate it, then its their loss. Not everyone has found out how to appreciate you yet and thats okay. It doesn't change the fact that you are inherently a good thing. No matter what anyone in the world says, you will always shine. Be strong and brave and show true passion for yourself. 

"Be Heard. Be Strong. Be Proud" - Lemonade Mouth

This blog is part of an ongoing series on our site called "In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum," which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism. Interested in contributing your story to our blog series? Email us at

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.