Updated: Apr 3, 2021
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person
When someone tells you they are autistic listen to what they have to say.
Do not be dismissive with comments (like I get) such as:
"You don't look autistic"
"Everyone is a bit autistic though" (although this one comes from a well meaning place normally someone trying to make you feel better, it is a frustrating comment as no not everyone is)
"You must have the easy kind"
"You are lucky you dont have it that bad"
"You have mild autism"
"You must be really good at Maths then"
"You are just quirky not autistic"
"Now you are diagnosed don't use it as an excuse to be different"
I spent 30 years of my life knowing I was different but not knowing why. Children are very cruel as are adults and they are quick to correct you when you have an out of this world idea, or you speak a little too loud or laugh at the wrong thing.
Over time you lose confidence in yourself and develop a mask.
My mask is a performance for people to feel more comfortable in my presence. I come accross as talkative, lively, confident and funny. However, that is years of practice and it is exhausting for me to do. There are some days I just don't feel like talking but know I have to talk otherwise people will assume I am sad. I like to be with my own thoughts.
My autism makes me:
-hyper focus I can get so engrossed in a task I forget to eat and take breaks.
- stressed about noises. I suffer with sensory overload. Going on a plane terrifies me for fear of being locked in with someone reading a newspaper or sucking on sweets or eating a bag of crisps. Technology has made this a lot less stressful with netflix and noise cancelling ear phones
-certain smells comfort me others make me unable to breathe properly
-bright lights make me dizzy. I don't like going into Tesco or Asda at night because it can be quite overwhelming
-I hate bars without music. Music is something that gives me comfort but places like weatherspoons are problematic for me because there is too much radio noise with people talking. I can hear every conversation and scrape of a plate so I like a bit of background music to focus on that and keep me calm.
-I am a visual learner and verbal instructions take longer for me to process. Be patient when I ask you to explain.
-I am above average intelligence and have a photographic memory however, I will never be a manager because I can't play the game well enough and labels don't really interest me. If you need a title to quantify your success in life it says more about you than me.
- I see people for people. I don't see colour or difference people are just people and everyone is different. I will watch how others treat and speak about other people and decide from there if I like someone or not.
- I cannot lie. I am a terrible liar. It's written all over my face and doesn't come naturally to me.
- when I don't understand something I go away and research it until I do
Despite my difficulties I cope by
- taking breaks from comms (my phone has a do not disturb function)
- I have a sensory diet. This is where I lie in a dark room, read a book, wear noise cancelling headphones, stick to a routine. It helps me recharge.
-keep an eye on my body. I dont understand my feelings so I watch for my irratibility and mood. If I cry for no reason its a sign I am overwhelmed and need a break.
-work with my employer to help me and them.
Autism is on the whole alright. I see things in a unique way and don't want to be cured. Being autistic is not a tragedy. It is who I am and I am very comfortable with who I am.
Disability is not a dirty word - Discrimination is