My nephew is eight, and his best friend is autistic.

My sister and I have had chats about it before. When they first became friends, she was telling me about how the friend’s mom was really anxiously trying to explain what ASD is, how he’s not violent, how he sometimes get overwhelmed, and my sister was like, “Hey, it’s ok, you don’t have to explain the basics, my sister’s autistic. So, does he have a comfort object?”

And my sister was telling me how the mom looked soooo relieved, she almost wanted to hug her, but she also noticed, “I think his mom’s autistic, too. So I didn’t touch her.”

A few weeks ago, my sister told me this story:

Oh, sure B. (the autistic friend) has meltdowns sometimes. Last week, he was over and got frustrated, so he went into this thing he does, I don’t even know how he does it! He rolls his whole body over until he’s got all his weight on his head, on his own head! I call it his “snail posture”, it’s the cutest thing. And Z. (her son) just sits there right beside B., waiting for him to “get better”! At first he would try and pat him, you know how Z.’s such a huggy kid, but I was like, “no, just be near him, he knows you’re there! Always ask before you hug people, remember!” And after a while he pops up and he’s ready to go again.

We talked about that and other stuff for probably another hour. and after I hung up the phone, i cried until I threw up.

If I’d been allowed to do those things, I probably wouldn’t have turned out the way I am

and if I hadn’t turned out the way I am, my sister wouldn’t know what she does or feel the way she does.

Life is a funny thing sometimes, and sometimes we make the world better just by existing.

It’s high time we as autistic people need to seriously rethink the way we assign value to ourselves, and the ways in which we allow others to dictate our value. Letting go of internalized ableism is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it needs doing.