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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Processing My New Autism Identity through Writing

When I began writing essays about autism, I did it for myself. I was a newly identified autistic and there was so much I needed to work out for myself. After a lifetime of misdiagnoses and feeling broken, there was a lot I needed to work out in my mind.


What was autism and what was me?


What was masking and what would it look like not to mask?


If autism has so many variable characteristics spread across a spectrum, then what actually is autism?


What parts of myself were changeable and what parts would I need to accept?


How could I work with the parts of myself that I couldn’t change?


How do I converse about autism with others?


Why is there so much confusing, contradictory information about autism and how do I make sense of it all?


Essentially, I was searching for clarity and my essays were a way to do that.


I’ve written over 150 essays on autism now (you can read them here), as well as published over 25 interviews of fellow late-identified autistics (you can read them here).


My writing did for me exactly what I hoped it would - it helped me slowly find the clarity I needed within myself about these subjects. Yes, I had to research and read external sources, but then I took the time to process that information and integrate into my framework and life through writing.


Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares a collage of a bunny painting with the quote "There is Thunder in Our Hearts."
"The Power of Creation" Collage by Jackie Schuld

It brought me far more than writing. It brought me to the realization that I want to work with other newly identified autistics who are also seeking the same clarity.


It helped me shape my therapeutic framework of how I work with newly identified autistics (you can read my essay How I work With Newly Identified Autistics).


It also brought me Medium followers, as the autistic community miraculously found me and began interacting with my stories. This new level of engagement then brought me new therapy clients.


Today, my entire private practice is devoted to newly identified autistics.


I continue to write regularly about autism, but I’ve found the motivation behind my essays has evolved. I used to sit down and think about what was bothering me or didn’t quite make sense about autism. Now, I am typically motivated about what I wish others knew or understood about autism. I think about what needs to be clearer for newly identified autistics. I think about what needs to change in the mental health field so more autistics are not harmed by it.


Essentially, my essays are no longer just for me.


One could look at that and see it as a positive thing. One could interpret it as me being less egotistical or becoming more altruistic. Instead, I just see it as a natural progression. I obtained the clarity I wanted, and once I had it, I began expanding to other groups.


There is a part of me that mourns though. I miss the feisty angst I felt and would pour out onto the page. I look back at my previous essays and am impressed by the vulnerability and accuracy of my words.


I cannot write with the emotional power I did because I do not feel the same angst and confusion.


I feel the same about grief. I wrote and illustrated my book “Grief is a Mess” in the year after my mom died. I’m glad I created it when I did. It is a powerful, accurate book. I could not write that book today. Nine years have passed and I simply do not have the same feelings and thoughts to capture the poignancy of grief like I did back then.


So maybe the moral of the story is to embrace where you’re at when it comes to writing. To write what you feel and think in the moment, for you can harness that energy and have it become something you never dreamed.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.



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