Does it define you? Your Autism…does it shape your entire life every step of the way? Being social…is that a struggle, having a job? Trying something new…is that a struggle…sensory overload or is it all a breeze?
A life where you are told what someone with Autism can and more than likely, cannot do! The number of times people become amazed when they discover I have friends is getting beyond ridiculous now! I have gone from having 0 friends in my teen years to have a good number of friends in adulthood so it’s not like I have always had friends, the stereotypical mould once fitted my life perfectly once!
Knowing about Autism for about 14 years, it’s been a struggle to get over certain urges to avoid social interaction…doing activities in more than one way and not stressing over everything! Comfort zones exist for a reason because they make us feel safe! Who doesn’t want to feel safe and happy? Yet at the same time, when it comes to seeing friends, you don’t want to miss out but what if it’s too much for you sometimes? It happens…seeing friends every day is a huge challenge for me as somedays…I just can’t be bothered so I’ll make up my excuses and stay home! It’s nothing personal but if my mind convinces me that if I go out, I’ll have a meltdown…I chose to stay home because it’s safer for me on that given day!
First off, socializing is very tiring for me and this is obviously because it involves not always doing the things that you like to do…that and you often go into places full of people and that can be very scary for me! University was quite tough in a sense because of that, yet I survived and didn’t have my confidence get shot along the way because I was happy that I at least tried to make new friends but I always had friends back home and my girlfriend who came to visit me often!
Being happy with the friends in my life, I have become grateful for what I have and happy that I do not fit that bloody mould that others have set for people with Autism…that we just don’t have friends! I have even been accused of faking Autism…because I have friends! Some people really think that someone with Autism can’t have friends…because they are known to struggle socially!
Eye contact, not a huge fan of it, intimidating really! it’s alright but not for long…many people get confused as to why I can’t look at them for long and think it’s rude to look away…I do try! Things can be awkward when it’s questioned because not everyone believes me when I try to explain why I find it hard…apparently, you can’t have fears or struggles without receiving a million questions about it!
Not always thinking before I say or do something…that one pops its ugly head upon rare occasions…the amount of time someone has called me cold because of what I’ve said during an arguement…well forgive me for using what I know will hurt you! When you’re angry, you sometimes can’t help but want to upset the other person…thinking it’ll cheer you up but most of the time, it won’t do…it just makes things worse…something I often find out once I’ve calmed down!
Double checking everything is a thing I always do a lot as well! When going out, I’ll double check I have everything, that I have enough time to get there in time…whether I’ll be talkative or not…even whether I’ll go or make an excuse for not going…I once went to Japan for 2 weeks but ran back home before we got a train to the airport because I thought I’d left a music box on in the living room! I convinced myself that it’d be bad to leave it alone for a fortnight…it was off!
Routines are something quite common in my life, I need to do things in a certain way or I just don’t want to do it! the number of times that I have attempted to do an activity differently but every time I feel irritated or uncomfortable and can’t continue and it’s hard for me to ever understand why this is but I don’t argue with it because doing the same thing never gets old for me…pepperoni pizza never gets old for me, I don’t need to add more meat on there!
However, I can do things in a different order…like have breakfast before getting changed for the day…most of the time I have my breakfast after getting changed but some mornings I switch it up, not on purpose but it doesn’t ruin the rest of my day, although I have heard that some people have to do everything in the same order every day…not sure that I could because I’d be too stressed to do it all in the same order every day and if I made an error, I’d go crazy! A sensory overload and I’d begin to over think it all, becoming somewhat obsessive!
I have a job and I quite often need to do different activities so I can’t always do things in the same order! Things can get tough a little when I do things differently simply because I become uncomfortable, however…development over time has helped me realise that it isn’t the end of the world when this happens, new things can be a wonderful experience and it’s amazing how I can question why I never tried some new things a long time ago!
Does Autism define me? No…it’s stressful sure but many other things are as well, my autism is just a little extra on the side that pops up from time to time to remind me it’s there! Once it did defy my life because that’s all that mattered in my day-to-day life but nowadays, it’s an afterthought…when you forget you even have Autism, it has to be! Everything listed above is annoying but not life changing…some days I’m just tired, that’s not always down to my Autism though…the only thing I associate to what I have today is my sense of worrying too much when I really don’t need to anymore!