AutismBC asked an autistic adult in our community, Millie, to share their perspective on reframing shameful thought. They encourage people to treat themselves with empathy and acceptance and offer more positive observations about their own autistic traits.
Watch the two-part YouTube series or read the transcript below to learn more.
Hi, I’m Millie. I’m autistic and an ADHDer. I am transgender and a person who uses drugs. Part of the reason I mention those labels is they sometimes cause me to feel shame.
These are some of the shameful thoughts and the ways I’ve learned, over time, to reframe them.
The shameful thought: I am alienated from society and, therefore, won’t have a community.
The reframe: It’s understandable that you feel lonely because our society makes it difficult for autistic people to fit in. Unfairly, systemic factors and harmful public perception of autistic people play into it as well, and there are far more allistic, non-autistic, people than there are autistics. Seek out other autistic people and, in general, people who share your experience.
The shameful thought: People think I’m boring, obsessive, or rude when I share my intense interests.
The reframe: You can find so much joy, learning, and curiosity in what comes along with autism. Make intense interests into fulfilling hobbies, or maybe a business or career. Most importantly, know the enjoyment of your interests will help you have a satisfying life that is full of wonder. Surround yourself with people who are just as passionate as you are, and learn new and interesting things from other autistic people.
The shameful thought: Stimming is embarrassing.
The reframe: Stimming helps you regulate your nervous system, pay attention, and communicate. Because of this, it’s vital to your health and well-being to be able to stim. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of this and aren’t understanding of behaviour outside of what they view as normal, so they might have a negative reaction towards stimming. It’s understandable if that feels hard.
The shameful thought: I should hide my autistic traits for the comfort of others.
The reframe: Masking less will help you like or accept yourself more. At the same time, you might lose relationships or job opportunities, but hopefully gain others that are stronger and healthier because they are based on a true expression of yourself. Some amount of masking might be worthwhile, but it comes with risk.
The shameful thought: I’m wasting people’s time by using AAC.
The reframe: I sometimes need to use cards and text-to-speech to communicate. Before, there were times when I could not speak out loud or communicate clearly. Using AAC has actually made my conversations with people less stressful and more meaningful, and I feel more comfortable with what I have shared.
How do you cope with shame as an autistic person? Let us know on social media!