Many Autistics report when they disclose their diagnosis they get sympathy responses like “I’m so sorry.”
Here’s HOW to say you’re autistic so that the listener won’t think ASD is a pathetic thing to have.
Another example of a pity response is, “That must be really rough.”
I have not had any pity responses, and though that could just be a coincidence due to the particular people I’ve revealed my autism to, I have to believe whole-heartedly it had much more to do with HOW I told them that I’m autistic.
I didn’t just blurt out of thin air, “By the way, I’m autistic.”
Outside of autism functions, I’ve told my tax preparer (who’s been doing my taxes for many years) and two medical doctors (whom I’ve seen many times prior).
In all three cases, I preceded the revelation with a gleeful look on my face.
Certainly, if you reveal your autism diagnosis during a moment of stressing out or being frustrated, you’re more likely to generate a pity response.
If you don’t want a sympathy response when you tell someone you’re autistic, don’t tell them while you’re stressed, harried, struggling to figure something out or during some other negative context.
How to Tell Someone You’re Autistic so that You Don’t Get a Sympathy Response
For the life of me, I just can’t see how you can get a pity reaction by beginning your revelation with something like, “By the way, last March I received some very good news…”
Some more openers:
- “I have some exciting news to share.”
- “Recently I gained official membership to a most exclusive club of fascinating people.”
- “By the way, I finally found out why everyone ELSE is so strange…”
Really, I just can’t see how these openers could lead to someone apologizing for your autism or making some other pathologizing or overly compassionate comment.
If the idea of being gleeful over sharing your autism diagnosis seems bizarre, that could be due to having been conditioned by society’s unacceptance of ASD; of society’s viewing it as a mental illness or an unfortunate way to exist.
Autistic self-advocates are working at changing that still-common perception!
You can be part of that change by prefacing your autism disclosure with cheerfulness and excitement.
However, here is an interesting take on this whole thing by Jess Owen, co-creator with her sisters of thewyrdsisters.co.uk and diagnosed with autism at 25.
She explains, “I really hope that we’re working towards a future where autistic people don’t have to worry about how to disclose their diagnosis.
“It should be up to neurotypical people to form a respectful response, not us.”
Jess Owen, along with her sisters Emily and Abi, run thewyrdsisters.co.uk, about autistic sisters navigating a neurotypical world. Their goal is to spread information and awareness, and open up a conversation about neurodiversity that will make life easier for everyone.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.