7. Autistic people are autistic our whole lives.

Autistic people are born autistic.
But all babies look the same.
We don’t know a lot about how babies will turn out until they get older.
We usually don’t know if a baby is autistic until they are a toddler.
That doesn’t mean the baby became autistic when they became a toddler.
They were autistic before, but people could not tell.

Autistic people grow up to be adults.
We don’t stop being autistic.
You can’t grow out of autism.
If you are autistic now, you have been autistic since you were born.
You will be autistic when you die.

Adults and kids look and act different.
This is true for everyone.
Autistic adults look and act differently than autistic kids.
We learn new skills, get new hobbies, and make new friends.
Things that were hard when we were kids might get easier.

Most movies, books, and stories focus on autistic kids.
So, many people do not think there are autistic adults.
But there are autistic adults! We just look different.

Some autistic people get taught to pretend they aren’t autistic.
People might punish us if we act autistic.
But we are still autistic inside.
Pretending not to be autistic is really hard. It hurts us.

We might get better at pretending as we become adults.
People might see us and think we are not autistic.
That’s not true, though. We are still autistic.
We’re just pretending not to be. And pretending hurts us.

Autistic kids grow up into autistic adults.
We shouldn’t have to pretend that we are not autistic.
People should know autistic adults exist.