Non-autistic people of the world, please could you imagine something?
Imagine that you notice every sound that's made around you, all the time, and that this gets worse if you're stressed.
Imagine that every colour and visual detail is sad omehow more potent, more noisy, like a 4K TV with its contrast turned up, and that things you notice distract you.
Imagine that your train of thought is placed on its tracks do precariously that anything - any tiny thing - can derail it, leaving you bewildered as to what on earth you were originally thinking about.
Imagine that sometimes a smell hits you so hard you want to vomit, or it gives you a headache, or makes you so upset you are close to tears, but everyone else is find with it.
Imagine that seeing different elements of your meal touch on a plate makes you feel so deeply unhappy and disgusted that you simply can't go near it, but no-one understands.
Imagine that you can feel your clothing at all times, that you can't block out their texture, weight, roughness. But you get mocked fof wearing the same comfy things every day.
Imagine that you cannot speak. You can think, you have ideas, you are fully aware of all things but the words can't come, they won't come, and people get frustrated with you.
Imagine that you make involuntary movements, that your arms and legs cannot be trusted to do what you've instructed them to do, and people think you are 'funny'.
Imagine that you just cannot show your emotions - your facial expressions are pretty simlar and people are always telling you to cheer up.
Imagine that you often misunderstand people's intentions and get traumatised regularly when you discover what they are: rarely is it a pleasant surprise.
Imagine that you struggle to know when to take part in conversations and find yourself constantly stalling, on the edge of socialising, or accidentally interrupting and annoying everyone.
Imagine you can't trust yourself to know when someone is joking. Ever.
Imagine you have a long, long history of multiple failed communications that have left you traumatised and in constant fear of further upsets.
Imagine that you are so stressed all the time by all of this that you need to stick to a steady routine, no alarms, no surprises.
Imagine that if your stress levels get to high (higher than most neurotypicals could even imagine) you'll melt down and everyone will accuse you of having a tantrum.
Imagine that you learn to try to pretend to be like everybody else, to the point where you copy behaviour from TV characters. You don't really even know who you are anymore.
Imagine all this copying, trauma, failure lead to a terrible terminal decline in your abilities - burnout. Imagine it never goes away.
Imagine no one believes you could possibly be dealing with any of this because you're a woman, or a person of colour.
Imagine you're probably dealing with a lot of this plus you're trying to get people to understand your gender and sexuality.
Imagine you find such solace in some activities that people say you're obsessed and try to stop you doing them.
Imagine you want to tell the world about your favourite things but no one is interested.
Imagine you know there's something different about you but no one is willing to help you work it out.
Imagine even if you do get help, that help stops at 18.
Imagine that the only representations of your neurotype that you see in media are either cold emotionless jerks or comedy fools.
Imagine one of the best things you can do to help manage your stress is repetitive little movements (stimming) but people tell you off for doing it.
Imagine that you have trouble sleeping but no one really understands why that is.
Imagine you just cannot remember faces at all, no matter how hard you try.
Imagine you suffer from much higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide than the general population.
You've been imagining just some of what many, many autistic people experience every single day. These are the things we feel, the things we do. And I've only scratched the surface.
Now people say we autistic people are the ones lacking empathy.
But you've just imagined our experience. I'm sure you now understand why we need your understanding.
Please note - not all autistic people are the same - the above are just 20ish fairly frequent traits that occur.
Also remember *this*:
Despite all this, despite how difficult it is, we #autistic people carry on and we survive and we try to adapt and we change the world. Thank you.