I Was Autistic. Then I Wasn’t. Then I Was Again.

Miya Sue

By Miya Sae

It’s crazy what a lack of understanding can do even to those of us who are autistic.

I was born in the earlier half of the 90s. There was more stigma. Hateful organizations were the only ones in the spotlight. Stereotypes weren’t being fought against as much as they are today. “End Autism Now!” propaganda was all over the place.

In other words, I was led to believe that autism was a tragic disease that needed to be “overcome.”

I mean, I was a child, so naturally I listened to what the adults said. I listened to my family when they said, in their own ways, that I need to become more “normal” because I was socially incompetent and embarrassing. I listened to my teachers who promoted fundraisers to erase autism from existence. I listened to my peers who talked about autistics as “the weird kids.”

When I was a teen, I was told that I had autism. I didn’t know what that word meant at the time, but would go on to hear only negative things. But then as time went on, those same people told me that I actually didn’t have autism. I had something else. Or nothing at all. Or, they never said I had autism in the first place and I was just imagining things. I just needed to try harder and stop being so lazy, weird, rude, weak, selfish, obsessive, stupid, awkward, or whatever other affectionate labels they apparently wanted me to carry around for the rest of my life.

But I knew myself. I knew I was different from everyone else. An outcasted alien who didn’t belong. So I went with the “yes, I really am on the spectrum” conclusion.

Then came my miraculous testimony (which I won’t get into here, but it was awesome). When I became a Christian, a lot of things quickly and dramatically changed in me, including but not limited to: the ability to make and keep friends, going out and doing social things, no longer hating people or life, suddenly developing conversational skills, and just overall a whole new level of social competence.

So I came to the only logical conclusion with the information I had: I was no longer autistic. God healed me!

I went around for almost ten years proudly telling people this, which I now look back on and cringe. I was genuinely excited and filled with joy, even though I had no idea what I was talking about. I wish I could time travel and take it all back, because it was actually an extremely harmful thing to say, particularly for other autistic people who might’ve been listening.

One of the leading stereotypes I was believing was that only children can be autistic and that they “grow out of it” eventually. So by the time I got to adulthood, I was both “healed” and “grown out of it,” so surely my autism was a thing of the past, right?


I was in for a rude awakening.

Come age 24, I was struggling again. Burning out, actually. Depression hit me even though I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be depressed, which made me more depressed. My social skills and capacity for handling social situations were fading. I couldn’t force myself to be peppy and outgoing anymore. I didn’t want to leave home most days. I couldn’t “fight off” my special interests anymore. I couldn’t “overcome” the overwhelm that I faced at work, at church, or anywhere that required me to act neurotypical.

In other words, I couldn’t mask anymore.

I couldn’t keep doing this thing that I didn’t even realize I was doing for a decade.

Regardless, I went on for the next couple years trying to “tough it out” and “overcome it again” because that’s what I’ve always been expected to do. I went to therapy. I went on medication. I went through a handful of church mentors. But nothing was helping.

Not until I got connected with the most wonderful faith mentor I’ve ever had, who is also neurodivergent.

That began a whole process of exploring the possibility of still being autistic. I started doing research, which of course had to be much more than Google searches, because those are dangerous in this area. I started talking to other autistic adults. I started discovering that a few people I know personally are autistic and I had no idea. I started reading memoirs by autistic authors. I started learning what it actually means to be autistic, that stereotypes don’t apply to all of us (or even most of us), and started hearing, for the first time, that autism is actually a positive and valid thing.


Wait, so you mean that it’s more than just social struggles. Hyperfixation, sensory overwhelm, picky eating, and a whole list of other things… that’s all part of it too? And it’s not a shameful thing I have to feel bad about? There’s nothing wrong with me? Autism doesn’t have a “look”? It doesn’t need to be cured? It’s not just a side thing but literally our entire brains that make us who we are?

Come age 26, I finally decided to pursue a diagnosis. It was more curiosity than anything; I wanted to get a professional opinion (which, despite how people want to dress it up, that’s exactly what an autism diagnosis is, especially for adults: an opinion). And sure enough, I’m autistic. Always have been and always will be.

And I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m not only unashamed, but proud to wear that label.

I’m no less of a Christian or a human being because of it.

Miya Sue

Miya Sae is an autistic Christian and an aspiring author. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2016. Diagnosed at age 26, she has become an autism advocate and strives to bring hope and encouragement to other misunderstood, neurodivergent Christians like herself.

Miya became a willing Christian at age 14 after a dramatic and unforgettable encounter with God. Since then she has been passionate about sharing the love of Christ with anyone who desires to listen. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their two feline children, Nebby and Mochi.

One reply on “I Was Autistic. Then I Wasn’t. Then I Was Again.”
  1. says: Ali

    Congratulations Miya! (I hope I spelt that right!) It took me till much later, my fifties, to get my diagnosis. It has helped me so much to understand how my life has been. I was interested in what you said about faith and its ‘effect’ on your autism. When I became a Buddhist in 2001 a similar thing happened. (I hadn’t been diagnosed by then and thought I was a manic depressive – the last label I had been given). I found belief and being part of a largely mentally positive community, really boosted my confidence and gave me a lot of energy. But like you when other life challenges came on I struggled again. At one point I thought it was because I wasn’t practicing correctly and had many doubts about myself and the members of my faith community. Then a friend, and leader, had their diagnosis and we have learnt so much from one another about autism and being a person of faith with autism. One surprise was that not all reactions to us within our faith community are positive. I suppose I assumed that people with positive philosophies would have respect and positive reactions to everyone. But of course everyone has some human failings, even people of faith. I have learnt now to stand up for myself in a positive and non-threatening way. Good luck with all that you do! Thank you again for sharing your experiences! You seem very wise!

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