Below are some of my challenges I have lived with but didn’t know what was behind them until learning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) wasn’t something only someone else had. I found out I was on the spectrum near the end of 2016. This challenging list doesn’t apply to all with ASD because when you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met only one.
Rules are not mere suggestions to me. I welcome and need them. In an unstructured environment, I feel as uneasy as a polar bear would on a beach.
Routine is almost as essential as air. I guess it has to do with feeling safe and secure in the world. I do change my routine occasionally, but if it is beyond my control, a change in routine can put me in meltdown country.
Stuck with no means of a graceful escape to hearing music that is pushing all my buttons. I don’t dare complain to the one playing the music, much less scream or cry because it would draw unwanted attention. I must, as I often have to do, pretend I’m just fine while boiling underneath.
It takes me longer to respond to someone. I need time to process what has been said in order to come up with a response. More often than not, I ask for a repeat to give me a few more seconds even though I may have heard them the first time.
I love hardball conversations about any one of my limited interests. Social chit-chat is hard for me to sit through. I often manage by drifting into daydream land if I can’t make a graceful exit.
It is stressful for me to be as busy as a bee or to be bored out of my skull. I love a schedule with the consistent rhythm of one thing after another instead of things happening all at once or nothing happening at all.
Physically and mentally, I’m years passed the half-century mark. Emotionally, though, I am about the same age as the elementary students I work with. I’m reminded of that when I’m behind the steering wheel stuck in traffic. Even though it isn’t the steering wheel’s fault, it is what I take it out on.
I don’t like it being pointed out in a group I am the quiet one. I’ve been a quiet person for more or less fifty years and so it isn’t news to me.
Timekeeping to me is crucial. If it is going to be around noon that someone will show up, I’d rather they say “noon-ish”; please not say noon if one won’t be there before or on the dot.
Highly sensitive! Such as when a check-out cashier says she’s not open. I will beat myself for not noticing the sign that she was closed.
Groups are my nightmares. I always seem to be the square peg in the group of round pegs. I don’t know if I’m more afraid of being spoken to or not at all.
I don’t write about my ASD to complain or seek sympathy; I write to offer empathy to those on the spectrum and to provide knowledge and understanding for those who aren’t.
I have a choice about reading about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or talking about it or writing about it. I don’t have a choice about living with it.