One of my worst fears is how I will end up as an adult—will I be a thoughtful caring person or a selfish spoiled annoying one? This fear is rooted deeply in how I was in fifth grade—I was very self-absorbed that year—I really wanted to change, but I couldn’t, and people called me out on it. There are friends who knew me before I matured who I’d give anything to have them able see a more thoughtful version of me. In sixth grade, I made a friend who helped pull me out of myself and be able to focus on others, but my greatest fear is that I’ll reverse back into that boy who thought only of himself. This is a very easy fear to trigger in me—I’m self-conscious of every single move I make.

What it took me a long time to realize is that (not as an excuse but as an introspection) this is actually not that unusual for people on the spectrum, to struggle with thinking more outwardly. I have a friend who’s talked to me about being self-centered when he was younger and it’s actually more common than you think to have autistic people in tv shows told, “It’s all about you!” in a way which has kind of both hurt and been healing at the same time. We sometimes need more help thinking about others, but we are working on it.

Autistic people aren’t inherently selfish—we just need help getting out of our own worlds. I think understanding that and understanding that most of us mean well is really important for both the autistic and allistic communities—it can help lead to more understanding and it can help people on the spectrum get better at being there for others—belief in us helps us more than you would think.