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What is your identity?

As soon as we are born we are registered? Even before that we have a name, which our parents usually thought of giving us. This set of characteristics that defines us as a unique person is what we tend to call our identity. And this identity is built throughout our development. And if these characteristics differentiate us from one another. There are also characteristics that bring us closer, and this proximity also participates in the construction of our identity, namely associated to a group.

In the case of autism, and although this is a clinical diagnosis, I like to think, and I am not the only one, that there is an associated identity, namely a social identity. But also an autistic person's own identity that is being built and will be built along the development. And so, yes, it is fundamental to know that I am an autistic person. Yes, it is fundamental to do the diagnosis screening and also with this tool to be able to build my autistic identity.

But it is very common, even nowadays, to hear, either with children, young people or adults, that it may be better not to know you are an autistic person. Or even more, that it is better that others do not know that person is autistic! But actually, if this happens, the way we still observe it happening, it has a very negative impact on the autistic person. Not least because it does not help them to properly appropriate their characteristics and also their identity. And as such, to be himself. And I'm sure everyone will agree that no one will live well with themselves and with everyone else if they don't live well with themselves and their identity.

And we need to think that people interact with each other. Be it autistic people among themselves, but also autistic and non-autistic people among themselves. And so, there will be certain characteristics of each other that will be present and that will influence the way that interaction happens. And if one of those persons, be it autistic or non-autistic, does not live well and in a healthy way with their identity, or even is not aware of his own identity, certainly that interaction will be more compromised and threatened.

And if we know that all of us, from birth, will be more or less involved in the construction of our own identity. And that the period of childhood and adolescence are fundamental in the construction of a person's identity. It is urgent to rethink the importance of helping children and young people, not only to be properly and timely detected for Autism Spectrum Disorder. But it is also fundamental to have a practical, emotional and relational investment by all in facilitating the process of identity construction of the autistic person.

And if identity is a process of the person, it is also a social identity. This same identity, and mainly the way in which it is built, contributes to the involvement of the person in the social fabric and the community itself. And it is well known that we still see many autistic children, young people and adults with a reduced participation in the social fabric and the community. It is true that we are witnessing an active participation of autistic people in autistic communities. But it is also true that the representation of autistic people in the community is not frequent. And certainly not for lack of desire to participate.

And we all experience that being involved in community participation in many different aspects has a positive impact on our satisfaction and well-being, not only social but also psychological and even physical. As such, we also need to carefully step out of the paradigm of only looking at the diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorder and seek to intervene with the autistic person. So that we can think about the importance of this person being able to build his identity, either working together with other people, but mainly starting from himself.

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