Monday, November 18, 2013
Some random notes from an adult, who has grown in to her autism.
Written and created by Linda
Autism has gifted me with so many things.
TRUTH - Lies make my head feel confused and churned up inside. Deception, scheming – I cannot see the need for any of it. I pity those who do.
BEAUTY - All around me there is beauty. Wherever I am I might stop to gaze at a flower, a bird, a raindrop sparkling in the sun. Most of the rest of the world rushes by, unseeing. I pity them.
EMPATHY - If someone is crying from sadness, I feel their pain and cry with them – this is a precious gift. I treasure it.
INTUITION - I have always relied on my “gut feeling” as an important factor in making decisions – it has never let me down. I treasure it.
So, I do not fit into a neurotypical world, so what?
Neurotypical assumptions and expectations do not consider that I am an individual. If you want to be a friend to me, or help me to be the best person I can be, it might help if you knew some things about me.
I take my time to speak. I may not trust you with my feelings. My emotions are my treasures, my precious secrets. Do not expect me to scatter them before you.
I love my body. It is a temple. Do not step on hallowed ground by assuming you can touch me.
I love words. I have always had many words to use. The people who laughed at my big words when I was little were not autistic.
I love people. I love learning about people, because each one is unique and fascinating. I love hearing about how people live, what their day is like, what they think and feel.
The world with its blaring sounds and furious traffic does not always feel like a safe space. So what? It is not safe for anybody. I feel safer away from the traffic. I love hikes in wild places, camping in the wilderness. I love time in my home, with restful colours, soft textures and birds chattering in the vine outside the window.
I cannot keep functioning without time to rest and relax. So what? I am not a machine. I enjoy my times of rest and solitude.
Don’t feel afraid to invite me to fun activities. I have learned to live with less-than-perfect physical co-ordination. I never planned to try out for a sports team anyway. So maybe I trip a lot. Most times when I trip I manage not to fall. Although I cannot avoid tripping, I have become quite good at not falling by now. I enjoy using my hands to knit and sew, even if all I have ever knitted is a rather wobbly scarf. I enjoy playing games even if my aim is the worst and I can often not reach the ball in time. I love dancing even if I lose my balance sometimes. I enjoy dance classes even though I often forget the routines.
I need respect. Respect my boundaries. Respect my sensitive skin. Respect my sensitive ears, eyes, taste buds. My boundaries. To me, you might sometimes seem half blind and half deaf because you cannot see and hear what I do. Respect my intellect. Do not assume that because I am a child that I do not understand. Do not assume that because I do not speak, that I do not comprehend.
If you want to really confuse me, adult or child, give me incorrect information. Just like with a computer, you are going to get garbage data as a result. I do *not* understand being given incorrect information when I request information. I might not understand that you are attempting to make a joke.
Your idea of a nice outing might be to go to a mall. To me, a mall can be fun but it can also be sensory overload. Flashing or flickering lights, echoing spaces, music, electronic sounds, too many voices. I am now an adult, I have learned coping mechanisms. I do not blame a tiny child for whom a mall or supermarket is pure sensory hell. Sometimes when I am overloaded I become non-verbal. All my processing power is trying to make sense of excessive sensory input. When I am non-verbal, watch my body to see what I need. I will be looking for an exit or for a quieter place to go to. Do not touch me. Please do not touch me. It may make me feel even more uncomfortable. Show me to a nice cosy coffee shop where I can relax. :)
Motor vehicles. Do you see that child put his hands over his ears as the car passes by? Do you think he is a freak? Well, it’s a perfectly rational response. That engine noise is loud, and can be scary. Why is it scary, you may ask. You might be unaware of the vibrations that course through the earth, through the air, through my body when a large motor vehicle or motorcycle is near. Such sounds and vibrations would have been enough to send my ancestors into the furthest deeps of their cave, as it heralded a storm, avalanche, or similar danger. My ancestors survived because of those senses.
Do not pity me. What I have, you will never be able to know or touch.