Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 2 - Page 54

To Disclose or Not to Disclose your Diagnosis to Friends Story and Art By Haley Moss In my twenty years as a person on the autism spectrum, I’ve learned that friendships and relationships outside of my family are one of the most fascinating concepts and one of the most complicated things out there. To begin with, humans are naturally social creatures. Since the dawn of time, pretty much, humans have found ways to communicate and cooperate with one another. However, this social component of our existence isn’t exactly natural for me or anyone else on the autism spectrum, and the friends we do have are pretty special people. I’ve often run into the “to disclose or not to disclose” conundrum when getting to meet people and when moving past the acquaintance level to being friends or more than friends. Feelings on whether or not someone should share a huge part of their identity vary. Some only talk about autism on a need-to-know basis while others wear it on their sleeve like a badge of honor. With disclosing, I have figured out that people usually fall into one of three distinct camps: 54 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses 1. Those who accept, understand and are willing to learn alongside me; 2. Those who accept and say nothing changed until it personally affects them; and 3. Those who are completely in the dark, so we go our separate ways. Not knowing which of those three responses you will get is scary, but for me, choosing to disclose to possible friends, current friends, or partners is worth the risk. This is a personal choice, and I am not saying my choices will work for everyone. But I share with you how and why I have chosen to disclose in certain situations so that someone else out there who may be on the fence on whether or not to open up and/or how to may be helped. Haley = Autism I used to only disclose to very close friends since I did not want to be judged any differently. Once upon a time, the only people who knew of my autism were my family, my best friend, and school administrators and teachers. Today, the