I have autism. My brain is wired differently to most people. I want to blog about my problems dealing with the world.
(Please, other Autistic people, if any of this is myth, legend or just-plain-wrong please let me know. I have no psychological qualifications, I’m just an autistic person sharing his thoughts.)
Occasionally this means I may meltdown as a response to overstimulation. It may be too much light, I have light sensitivity or being in a crowd with too much going on at once, or too warm. Usually it is a combination of things. Then bang! What looks like a grown man having a childish tantrum, but is nothing of the kind occurs. It is not a tantrum to get attention or to get my own way, it is the opposite, I want peace and quiet to calm down from overstimulation, I need a quiet place. I have become not childish, but child-like, vulnerable.
Meltdowns are not the normal behaviour of autistic people. We do not need lecturing on them, particularly during or soon after a meltdown occurs, that just makes things worse, we are already overstimulated, another stimulus is not the way to go. We need less, not more.
But it is more than just sensory things, that can lead to meltdowns or even burnout. There are five main pillars that hold us up. They are mental, emotional, physical, social and sensory.
I am not anti-social, social is anti-me. I like being with people but some social settings can be difficult. Parties, where a room is full of people having conversations, is not easy when you are unable to turn off the conversations so you are hearing four or five conversations as well as the one you are having and trying to concentrate on. Being against the wall helps as it reduces the directions that these other conversations come from.
This is also true about meetings where people break into groups, church meetings included, it is difficult concentrating on the group you are in if you can also hear other nearby ones. As I said, I am not anti-social, but being it these social situation is tiring so I have to ration my social time.
I have arthritis in my right foot. The pain has been constant since the accident that caused arthritis. Sometimes it is no more than a dull ache at others, fortunately rare, the pain overloads everything, but worse is when the pain is less than an ache, then it itches inside the joint which is inaccessible for scratching. This tends to strike at odd hours, mainly when I am wanting to sleep.
I also have type 2 diabetes that can make me tired, and I catch infections the same as everyone else.
Some say that autistic people have no empathy. This is untrue, and I wrote about this back in April. But still, it persists. Only today (day of the first draft, 28th August 2019) someone has reported on Twitter that a lecture started, ‘Everyone can empathise, except autistic people.’ Bad science sticks. Then there is the energy caused by masking, trying to act like other people in order to be accepted. Some things just make you tired.
Autism is a psychological condition, not a mental condition, but the stresses of living within a world designed to be bright, loud and full of fluorescent lighting mean that autistic people are more susceptible to depression than others. The suicide rate among people with autism is higher in the autistic population than the general population: 9 times higher in autistic adults without learning difficulties and autistic children are 28 times more likely to think about or attempt suicide. (Data from Autistica)
These five pillars are what keeps me balanced. if any of them crumble, well…
Don’t get me wrong on this, I love my life, I am mostly happy, but there are times when things are unnecessarily difficult when all it would take to be easier for autism or physical disability was for other people to give a little more thought. Not chatting in doorways would be nice, or there always being a quiet place, a bolt hole to escape to when autistic apprehension comes on.
Things can interact. I get apprehensive in strange places, when I get apprehension I pace ar walk fast, then the pain increases and the tiredness. If there is a sensory issue at the same time such as bright sunlight or flickering light, in a place where a crowd of people cannot be avoided, then that’s all the pillars affected at once, I need out or I an heading towards burnout, just by being in a strange place.
But burnout is another subject. This blog is long enough. Bye for now.
Thanks to Seeking Sara, whose video I have ruthlessly plagiarised in writing this blog.