January 17, 2021

Autistic people are not burdens

By rosieweldon

The news broke this week that a Youtuber who had adopted a child and had him as their son for over 2 years, had given him away as he was found to be autistic and therefore has special needs.

As an autistic adult that has struggled my whole life with feeling like a burden this was a hard one to swallow. I nearly took my own life in 2016 because I felt like my family did deserve better. That I was a burden on them, I took too much and could not give back.

I then relapsed badly when I started at work and felt like a burden on my team. Because I took too much and could not give back.

Society isn’t built for autistic people. That’s a fact. Society is built for the majority of people, for neurotypical people. Yet, we are forced to try to function in that society. This obviously means we are going to need adjustments.

You can’t send a human into a fish’s world without reasonable adjustments of breathing equipment. Laughable to the fish as breathing underwater is easy for them. Yet, absolutely crucial for the human that they have help in that environment.  

In the same way it is crucial for our survival that we have adjustments. We are not designed for society as it is.

So, I have accepted I always have and always will need help to function. I can’t hold down a job without reasonable adjustments, let alone needing understanding and supportive colleagues. I couldn’t be ‘independent’ as an adult without my mum, stepdad and siblings propping me up behind the scenes. I couldn’t leave the house without my panic attack medication. The list goes on and on.

I can only function in society with help.

I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy trying to come to terms with that. It was the driving force of depression and suicidal thoughts. It is something I always battle with.

Would it have been better for my mum if she could have traded me in for someone easier to support? Would her life be easier without me needing help? Maybe. But I guess that’s not what life is about. We are living breathing humans. We aren’t defined by society. We are defined by who we are, as individuals. Isn’t the beauty of life in our differences coming together?

I looked up some stats for this blog and honestly wasn’t expecting them to be as bad as I found. Mind (UK charity) found that 21% of people have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime. 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year.

The absolute driver of my depression and suicidal thoughts was thinking I was a burden. I detest the saying that suicide is selfish. It’s not selfish. I wanted to do it for my family. I thought I would be helping them. Saving them from a life of having to help me.

Autistic people, and anyone else for that matter, that needs help to function, are not worth any less. They are not less deserving of love. They are not burdens. I am not a burden.

We all have a role to play. We all have value to contribute. I know for an absolute fact I wouldn’t change a single hair on the head of my autistic brother. He is damn perfect the way he is. I certainly do not care that he needs help.

Please make sure those in your life know this. Make sure they know they are loved and most of all, valued – for exactly who they are.

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