By Yamila García
Since the moment I learned that I am neurodivergent I found myself in a dilemma. Should I say it or not? Should I fully expose who I am so I can advocate for myself or should I hide it in order to avoid further prejudice and rejection? I believe that most neurodivergents can relate to having been rejected for being different. People are often afraid of what is different and have an automatic rejection reaction. Knowing this but considering our own needs, it becomes difficult to discern when the benefits of standing up for ourselves outweigh the harm and discomfort of rejection or lack of understanding.
Some time ago, in a situation that was too stressful and overwhelming for me, I decided to request accommodations. I needed to get out of that situation as soon as possible. Naively, I thought that since it was a large public service company, people would be prepared to do it. I was asking to avoid a long line so I could get out of the noise and overstimulation I was in. I don’t usually ask for help and just hide everything, but I had been there for many hours. I approached the person who was at the door to ask for help, but every time I tried to explain my situation, they interrupted me, not allowing me to speak. Finally, after many attempts, this person managed to hear me and shouted, “Ohhhhh mental! It’s a mental condition!” This was in front of dozens of people and in the highest tone you can imagine. It was painful for my ears, but even more painful for my heart, as I was trying to learn to ask for help after so many years of “enduring” in silence. It broke my heart just thinking about people who can’t “bear” in silence like me and who have to receive this treatment just out of ignorance. It makes me think how useless any attempt to ask for help is if those who have the power to do so don’t know who we are and what we need. I really hope that this experience I had is not the usual treatment that everyone receives when they ask for help. I hope that even if it is the usual response, we don’t stop trying, because it is our right to ask. The world has been shaped for neurotypicals, but we also live in it.