I have had so much steady state certainty for so many years that it has been easy to forget sometimes, that I have autism. When a mainstay relationship ends, the danger can be that an autistic person is sent into a spiral head spin, overwhelmed by the vast amount of change and new things that have to be learned. The one I want to focus on is relationships and two elements in particular today.
Don’t assume I know, because I don’t.
For an autistic person it is soooo damned hard to work out what is going on in the world of emotions already. Add to that someone who doesn’t understand your autism and you are sure to be entering a baptism of fire.
Don’t assume I know how you feel. I don’t. Don’t assume that I know the unspoken bits between the lines. I don’t. Add to that the fact that I KNOW that the first thing I THINK is going on is definitely not correct, in fact usually very very incorrect, you can imagine the stress I am under multiple times a day.
The cycle tends to go like this.
- I work out what I think is going on.
- I know this is probably wrong. So I try to work out what might be right. I can’t.
- I spend significant time stressing between 1 and 2, the more I think about it, the more incorrect I get.
- I talk to said person. They say things like ‘but then you knew that’… or óf course, you can read between the lines’. But I didn’t, and I can’t. And I’m very stressed now still trying to work out #1 and #2.
Be specific with your language please
Í’ll see you later’ means exactly what it says. It does not mean you will call, or maybe catch up on 3 days. If ‘later’ doesn’t happen, that also sends me into a spiral spin of stress, wondering what I did wrong.
Equally, making a weekly plan, that you casually agreed to – is lost on me. Autistic people think in black and white. Yes or no. As Yoda, says there is no in between. Say ‘maybe’ to an autistic person is like the WORST word you can use.
I remember when I was an ASD teacher in a special school, saying to a kid – ‘take a seat’. Now I meant sit on it, but the kid said “ok, where would you like me to take it to?”.
Like I said BE SPECIFIC. Just have a think for a moment how many times a day we might be tripped up by funny little literary acronyms. An extra step our brain needs to figure out what is normal. Yep, that is why it often takes us a bit longer to get there, mentally.
We aren’t just being needy
The stresses these simple things put on me and other autistic people take up so much of our already exhausted energy that we use each and every day just to navigate a neurotypical world and try to look ‘normal’. Something as small as this to a neurotypical person might be a minor annoyance or inconvenience. To an autistic person like me, this could lead to a total melt down which would take considerably longer to recover from.
Our brains are wired differently. We think differently. We see the world differently. That doesn’t make us weird, it makes us even more unique.
PLEASE NOTE: the examples in this blog are not based on anyone or anything in real life. They are examples of common problems I have noticed that I faced in recent months.