What I Wish Others Would Understand About Me Being Autistic
1. Consistency/routine is my friend.
Sudden changes are hard for me to deal with. I plan out everything weeks in advance. Routines are my friend. I do not like sudden changes at all; they throw me off, and I have to completely re-plan everything. It’s like construction: I have to reconstruct all my plans piece by piece. It would help me if others would tell me a change beforehand so I would have time to process it and make the necessary changes. A routine is my friend and helps me feel calmer.
2. I am very sensitive.
The littlest criticism can put me into a depressive episode quickly. Sometimes I wish people would not point out all my flaws because I feel like I’m in a “spotlight,” except it’s not for singing, it’s for pointing out my weaknesses. I wish people would say, “I love that you are so good with animals, but I would like you to work on your ‘x’ problem. I know it’s hard, but you can do it.” Also, I need people to understand that I don’t like to talk about certain personal subjects, and if they keep bringing it up it makes me really stressed. If I say I don’t want to talk about something that is a very touchy subject for me, then I don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes I need space to work on my issues. I am a very sensitive being underneath my skin.
3. My sensory world can be chaos.
Sure, I’m not melting down, yet my brain is in overdrive, and I am fighting the urge to curl up in a ball, cover my ears and sometimes even scream. I hear everything at once, and lots of movement can be overstimulating to me. A bunch of people flapping flags with loud noise in the background could easily send me into sensory overload. I also have a bad sensory food reaction. Textures are a big thing. I hate mushy textures, changing textures or bland/strong flavors. My service dog helps me with my sensory issues. I can focus on her instead of the sensory stimuli, and if needed, I have her do DPT (deep pressure therapy) to help calm my overactive senses.
4. Social communication is like trying to be in a play.
Social communication can be easy for most individuals in the world, but not me. First of all I have severe anxiety about making a mistake communicating. I may say something inappropriate accidentally or not know of some kind of gesture or phrase that isn’t socially “acceptable.” I may muster up the courage to have a conversation face to face, but then I get lost and don’t know what to say. If I’m talking about my interests then it is easier, but it’s hard to try to break the ice for me in the world of social communication.
5. Meltdowns are painfully hard to deal with.
A meltdown for me can come on in several different forms. They can be sudden and short, or as long as 7-10 minutes. I cry and cry. Sometimes I scream too. But, I never hurt anyone during the meltdown. Afterwards my voice is usually hoarse, I am exhausted and my body reacts even afterward with the adrenaline flowing through my body. I’m not trying to get attention; it’s an explosion of fear and frustration that has built up inside of me.
6. I need time to think.
I need time to process things. I am slower in math than most people, and I have a slower processing speed. If people try to go faster in things such as learning a new language I often get behind because I’m still processing the last question and answer. Please Go s.l.o.w. I may need more time than a neurotypical person, but I can learn if people guide me slowly in the right direction.
7. My issues are real.
Sometimes I think people believe I am faking, simply because I am not spinning a top or humming in a corner. Every autistic person is different and sees the world in a different way. You may be puzzled by me describing my “anxiety attacks” and “sensory issues,” but please trust me on this, they are very real.
8. I need acceptance.
Accept me for who I am, value my strengths, guide me slowly with love, and I promise you will gain trust from me and we may even blossom into a great relationship. Criticizing or scolding me will result in me shrinking away to protect myself. It will create stress and anxiety, and most of all, there will be no trust. Acceptance is so important. Please just accept and love me just the way I am because I believe God made me this way for a reason, with the good and the bad. I am unique just the way I am as He has created me.
Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash