Chloé Hayden: The World Has Changed Since My Autism Diagnosis, I Know the Future Is Bright
Matrix and NYX Cosmetics have teamed up with POPSUGAR Australia to bring you the Unstoppable Class of 2023. Together, we’re dedicated to heroing the voices of women, people who identify as women, and non-binary people who are powering a brighter future and making an important difference – because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from the individuals who are making a name for themselves. You can find all the pieces here.
Hello Future Chloé,
How are you? I hope you’re well. I hope you’re happy.
I haven’t written any letters to future us before, but I’ve written plenty of letters to past us. Plenty of letters to heal our inner child, to promise the little girl we once were that things have gotten better, that we’re doing so, so much better than we ever believed possible. Than anyone believed possible.
But I’ve never considered talking to our future selves, never sat down and written a letter to the us that does not yet exist. Perhaps it’s because the future is so unpredictable, and perhaps because that unpredictability can be so scary. Perhaps because it’s so much safer to write letters of promise to a younger version of us for a better future that we’re currently living in, instead of hopes for a future that is, well, still in the future. A future that we do not yet have control over, or insight to.
Alas, here we are.
The world has already changed so immensely from when we were younger, hasn’t it? The world as a whole, but also our own little world.
When we were 13, and diagnosed with autism… the world was so different back then. I remember coming home from that doctors appointment, and immediately pulling out my laptop, googling ‘autism’, and seeing nothing but terrible, scary, fearful articles that made us so, so terrified of who we are, and what our lives would become.
Now, in present day, when you google autism, those articles are drowned out by neuro-affirming articles, and pieces written by neurodivergent people, advocating for and embracing all that is different. When we look at books about autism, instead of books written by so-called-professionals writing pages upon pages of false cures and wrong, harmful narratives, we’re instead met with books from autistic people themselves, and books that embrace and affirm neurodiversity in all that it is. One of the most prominent of those books of ours… which, is still mind blowing. Have we written more books? I hope so.
The world is starting to hear us, our voices are finally becoming loud enough to no longer be silenced. But God, I hope that in the timeline you’re reading this in, future Chloé, the world is not just hearing us, but actively listening, and actively changing.
I hope, in your timeline, those articles that make our mind out to be a curse aren’t just drowned out, but are non-existent.
I hope, in your timeline, we don’t have to still fight for our right to exist as we are each and every single moment of each and every single day, and we are instead seen as simply another brand of human. Another perfect difference in the human genome that is not only okay to be here, but supposed to be here. I hope we are celebrated instead of condemned.
I hope that neurodivergent young people growing up in the future aren’t seeing their mind as their weakness, as a fault, as an issue… but are seeing it as magic. Because it is — neurodivergent minds are so, so magical.
I hope that when young people are getting their diagnosis, it’s not met with sorry eyes and furrowed brows and a list of resources to ‘fix’ them, but are instead met with a smile, and a “congratulations, you’ve just discovered yourself a little bit more.”
The future is a scary place — there’s so many things about it that are uncertain, that are unknown — and so much of our current media is telling us, and reminding us, that the possibility of a dim future is more and more likely.
But, future Chloé, I know with every part of my soul that the future is bright.
I know that more voices are about to be heard… that the world can drown out one voice, but they can’t drown out a chorus of them.
I know that young people are going to start growing up knowing that all of them, and all that they are, is good.
I know we are moving towards a future that is more accepting, more diverse, more inclusive, and more safe for all people, from all aspects of humanity.
I know it’s happening, and I’m so excited to see it take place.
Current Day Chloé
You can follow Chloé Hayden on Instagram.
Chloe wears The Frolic Oakley Top ($62) via The Iconic, Shona Joy Estela Ruched Midi Skirt ($260).
Photographer: Sevak Babakhani
Stylist: Amanda Bardas
Makeup: Emma Chen
Hair: Simone Cecchetelli