An Update from Emma on Living With Autism
Since we began serialising the story of Emma Wishart’s life and her challenges with autism, she has made some changes. So many people have read and commented on her story that we wanted to share this update with you. We wish Emma all the very best with the next stage of her life and hope she keeps in touch with us so we can share more with you.
When I was 14 I honestly, genuinely and truly wished to end my life because I had no hope that I was wanted or that there was anything for me. I can feel afraid of hope because if you hope for something that doesn’t happen, the disappointment can be crushing. I was afraid to be let down again.
But I have a naturally optimistic disposition and always try to look for the best in a situation, or ways to solve things instead of only complaining about them. As I have told in this story, I have been treated appallingly badly by many people, usually before it was known that I was autistic. In a few instances I have been treated badly by people who I told that I was autistic. Sadly they didn’t understand or care to find out what that actually meant for me or their interactions with me. My reason for sharing my story is not to be self-indulgent and I am not looking for sympathy. My aim in sharing these experiences is to show how some people seem to think it’s fine to treat autistic people (even if they don’t know they are autistic) really badly. In my next project I will be exploring what some of the reasons might be. I am writing a full-length autobiography describing a lot more of the things that happened to me, and some of the outrageously dangerous things I have done, and why.
My hope in doing this is to increase understanding and therefore acceptance of the differences that autistic people have in our ways of thinking and how this translates in our communication and behaviour. I will be writing about many of the co-occurring and often misdiagnosed (or missed altogether) conditions that often come with autism and how they affect me and some of my friends. If I can cause someone to stop and think about what they are doing and perhaps for a moment think about what the other person is experiencing before chastising, humiliating, punishing or abusing them, then I will be very satisfied.
The ideal future that I hope for would be that everyone will be appreciated for their uniqueness and gifts instead of being labelled as dysfunctional and deficient. People will be accepted for who they are instead of being forced to conform to societal norms and ostracised if they fail. People will be encouraged to have jobs suited to their skills and be allowed to flourish in comfortable surroundings. I have so much hope that people sharing their personal stories will help to achieve this. We need to make autism personal, show that we are people, give it a human face. Autistic people seem to me to be somewhat dehumanised in the media.
I felt I was an abject failure as a flawed neurotypical person. But as an autistic person I am sincerely hoping that I will be able to make a difference and help other autistic people.
Emma says of herself: “As a pretend-normal person, I was an abject failure, but I am really hoping that as an actually autistic person I will be able to do something useful and make a difference to others.”
Please note that since posting this series from Emma Wishart she has been published in an anthology from Editor and writer Mair Elliot, From Hurt To Hope- Stories of Mental Health, Mental Illness and Being Autistic. @Jessica Kingsley Publisher 2021