My name is Sophie and I come from Denmark.
I'm a sweet, polite, funny, intelligent young lady, if I should say so myself. And oh - I'm autistic.
Whenever I introduce myself that way, I get one in three responses.

1. "Oh, you don't look autistic!"
Even though this is the worst way you could respond, I get you. The media shows autism in a way that makes me not blame you. You might've seen Rainman, and expect autism to look and act that way - and it does for some! But the spectrum is wide, and autism doesn't look a specific way. Being told that I don't look or act autistic, is like telling a deaf person that they don't look deaf.

2. The "I understand sweetie" and proceeds to talk to me like I'm a child

Hey, first of all - thank you! This is of course not how I prefer to be talked to, but these people are trying their best to understand from what they've learned about autism. A very misunderstood part of autism is intelligence. I'm rather high-functioning intelligence wise, and a lot of people with autism are. Studies have actually shown, that many people with autism have a higher IQ, due to the logical thinking. And we find our way around the social world by studying and copying social behaviors, so it might throw some autistic people off, to address them differently than what is usual. But thank you for trying, people like you are so important!

3. "I'm sorry to hear that"
Don't be. I'm not. Sure, I sometimes wish i didn't have to struggle the way i do, but then I'd just have other struggles. Autism isn't the worst thing in the world, actually it really has it's perks. My autism makes it possible for me to really make me an expert on my interests. I've been riding horses for 16 out of my 19 years of life. I've competed in the world championship, the european championship and much more.
And contrary to popular beliefs, because of my autism, i feel so much empathy and love. I just have trouble showing it.
Just because i don't look you in the eye, doesn't mean I'm rude
Just because I don't shake your hand or hug you, doesn't mean I don't like you
Just because I don't laugh at your joke, doesn't mean I think you're boring

And of course there's people that put so much energy into understanding, helping and just being there. I know my mom has, and it makes me shed a tear when i think of how lucky I am.

I guess what I'm trying to say is; Yes, i would say autism defines me, but that's not bad. It sucks sometimes, but it's a blessing too.
Don't expect autism to be one way or another, it's so individual.
And remember, if someone tells you that they're autistic, know that most of the time it has taken all they have - It's really like coming out. So thank you for letting me come out as autistic here.

Thank you so much,