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Stephen’s Story about Embracing Autism

Meet Stephen, a 42-year-old who sees the world through a different lens. Stephen is autistic, which means his brain works in its own special way. But here is the thing, autism is not the same for everyone. Stephen wants you to know that. 

“Some people think they know how autistics should act, but they’re usually wrong,” Stephen says. He knows because he has been there. One common misunderstanding is that autistic people are cold or do not care about others. “I’m emotional,” Stephen explains, “I just struggle to show it sometimes.” 

Stephen often finds himself in situations where he feels overwhelmed, but no one seems to notice. “It’s like being lost in a crowd, screaming on the inside,” he admits. “I have moments where I feel myself getting stressed in situations and start asking myself why no one is noticing.” This emphasizes how Stephen is feeling. He had to learn how to navigate expressing emotions later in life because it did not come naturally. 

One time, Stephen went out with friends, and someone said he did not seem to be having fun. “I was actually having a blast,” he laughs. But sometimes, his expressions do not match his feelings. There are reasons for that, like how certain sensations, like clapping, can physically hurt him. “For example, I do not like cheering or clapping – I avoid it- the feeling of slapping skin physically hurts.” 

Growing up was not always easy. Other kids did not understand him because he did not follow the crowd. “I felt like a robot in a human world,” Stephen recalls. He even saw himself relating to Data, an android from the Star Trek franchise, always trying to understand human emotions. 

Stephen’s interests are unique too. He loves soaking up knowledge from books, games, and news. “I dive deep into things,” he says. Right now, he is hooked on graphic novels, but who knows what’s next? That’s the fun of it for Stephen. 

When asked about Autism Acceptance Month Stephen responded with “I think it should actually be called Autism Celebration Month.” Stephen shared he’s proud of being autistic. “Being different is cool,” he beams. Often in society we are expected to agree on things to make others feel more comfortable. “I can’t lie, it is so ridiculously unnatural – if you ask me how I am, I will always tell you the truth – people need to do that more often.”  

Since coming out as autistic, Stephen feels more relaxed. He does not worry about fitting in or doing things ‘the right way’ – and do you know what? People like him for who he is. “Just let people be themselves,” Stephen says. After all, that’s what makes the world interesting. 

For more information about adult support services at Autism Nova Scotia, please visit: