The Next Decade in Autism


I came across a ranking of someone’s best albums of the decade and realized “Wow, decades are long, and there’s no way I remember all of this.”

It’s the frame with which I’m going into these new Roaring Twenties: If I can barely recall the events of the last ten years, I’m probably not going to predict the next ten years any better.

Ten years ago I’d have guessed I’d be in management, living in a modest home, likely sans kiddos, and writing fiction books.

End of decade: I’m in data (which would SHOCK my math-averse younger self), with two lovely gals and a third kiddo en route, in a home I’ve come to love, and not writing fiction at all (unless you count my wild rural satire ventures).

Guessing and predicting are fools errands — but there’s a better way to play the long game. 

What helped me most the last decade was growth. Growing in skills, understanding, kindness, advocacy, introspection, and transparency. The challenges also grew, but I felt I grew in ways to meet them better.

This next decade, I’m hopeful that The Life Autistic will get better. Not just mine, but those of others.

Not many years ago, an autism diagnosis was considered a death sentence. A grim judgment. A daunting challenge.

I remember a random church visit, meeting a mom who introduced her son, worryingly adding that he had “Asperger’s syndrome.” He must have been five. I could just tell it was at the forefront of her mind, like she needed that out in the open to justify and help explain whatever behaviors he might demonstrate.

I wanted to talk to her, reassure her somehow, assuage that lingering fear that she aired so openly. I didn’t. And I wonder what became of that boy, who seemed nothing but curious and focused and perfectly fine. 

There’s still a long way to go, but kids with autism today have it much better. There’s “awareness” now, so at least it’s in the aether. Organizations offer support. The ripples of empathy have emanated further into the pond of understanding. We’re getting there. 

It’d be awesome for the rest of us—the ones well cloaked, adapted and masked to the rest of the world—to enter and exit this next decade supported, understood, and appreciated even better.

Where our need to decouple isn’t seen as aloof.

Where we can use a big word without being deemed snooty.

Where our occasional directness won’t erase goodwill or be seen as rude.

Where our sensory needs and preferences aren’t onerous to others or detrimental to us.

Where we can stim, flex, and warp in and our of normal and be welcomed back.

Where our difference goes beyond tolerated to celebrated.

Where we can be us, only more so. 

Here’s to where we end up by 2030.



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