Wednesday 19 April 2017

30 Days of Autism Acceptance: Day 19


Day 19:

Talk about your struggles and strengths.  What things are difficult for you because you are autistic?  What are the positives of being autistic?  Do you have a special skill or talent?

Being autistic in a neurotypical-centric world can be challenging at times, so yes, I do have a number of difficulties, and they are often difficult because of the world in which I live. However, there are definite positives of being autistic, too.


The world can be too loud, too bright, too overwhelming.

I'm hypersensitive to light, which can be extremely painful. I'm not sure how much of it is because I'm autistic and how much of it is because I have Irlen Syndrome, as there's a lot of crossover, but as I'm hypersensitive in all my senses, some influence from the autism would make sense.

My olfactory (smell) hypersensitivity can trigger nausea and headaches, and there are places I have to avoid because of the smell(s), especially if there are multiple smells combined. If I go past Lush on the high street I have to take a deep breath a safe distance from it, check in which direction the wind is blowing and then just roll past as fast as I can so I can breathe again. It's really not helpful when people say "It's not that bad" and "Stop being melodramatic about it" - yes, it is "that bad" and no, I'm not being "melodramatic". The smell is unbearable to me and causes me problems; please respect that.

My hypersensitivity to touch can make clothes shopping really challenging - there are quite a few fabrics that I cannot bear the feel of on my skin and quite a few that physically hurt. I'm difficult enough to shop for because my arms and legs are so long (if I want a long-sleeved top, I'm better off going to the men's section because women's long-sleeved tops generally stop about 3 inches short of my wrists), so this just makes it even harder!

I have very sensitive hearing due to being autistic, so sounds that don't bother other people do bother me and cause physical pain - the high-pitched whine of a kitchen appliance, the buzz of a heater, the crackle when the TV scart lead is ever-so-slightly out of its optimum position, for example - to the point where if it's not dealt with it can trigger a full meltdown.

Multiple noises make it impossible for me to comprehend words, usually things being said to me - they merge together and become one big wall of incomprehensible NOISE, which hurts and is overwhelming and generally triggers meltdowns.

Meltdowns are horrible. For me, they're triggered by sensory overload (sounds, light(s), smells, etc) or stress. It's a horrible sensation, complete loss of control, can lead me to hurt myself (such as repeatedly hitting my head or some other part of me against a wall), leaves me utterly drained and exhausted and (though this is at the bottom of my list in terms of importance) isn't socially acceptable. These days they only tend to occur when I'm unable, for whatever reason, to get out of a sesnory-overload situation (multiple noises and stress are the most common triggers for me). There are usually warning signs - it doesn't just happen out of nowhere, I'll be showing signs of increasing discomfort and agitation.

The time taken to process information, questions, etc is usually a little longer than for NTs. This can then give the impression that I'm not listening (and then people get annoyed with me - don't do it, guys, just allow us a bit more time to process and we'll answer when we're ready), that I've not understood (if I haven't understood, I'll say so), that I'm being rude, that I'm being evasive, etc. This one only counts as a difficulty when people aren't willing to give me the time I need to process things (this is particularly problematic at job interviews, where pressure and stress are already high).

Stress has a tendency to cause me to stumble over my words and/or on some occasions, when I'm stressed enough, lose the ability to communicate through speech. From what I've read, this seems to be a fairly common issue for autistics.

Misunderstandings of people, both verbally and non-verbally, is really common. It's something I'll talk about in more detail at a later date. It's caused a lot of difficulties with a lot of people.

I don't like admitting it, but I am vulnerable to being used and manipulated without realising it. It's happened to me on a few occasions and it's really not acceptable. This is a common problem for autistics, and another topic I'll cover in more detail in future.

My tendency to be very rigid can cause problems - I need structure and I need to know things. Not having them can throw me so badly off-kilter that it will mess up the rest of my day and possibly cause a shutdown or meltdown because I simply can't process it. If someone suddenly changes a plan, I really struggle to process it and if something unexpected comes up, something I haven't planned for, I can't deal with it. Again, this is something I'll explore in more detail another time.


I have an excellent eye for detail that others often miss.

I'm methodical, precise and thorough, which is really useful for many different things in life.

People know that when they ask for my opinion, they're definitely getting the truth! I've got a couple of friends who like going clothes-shopping with me because I'll tell them straight up, in these words, if they look awful in something! I'm not going to try and put a positive spin on it, I'm not going to be tactful, I just tell it like it is!

With my "special interests", you can be sure I'm an expert and know lots of information and details about them!

I'm very visual, which is really useful for someone working with sign language! I've picked up the language very easily, a lot more easily than many hearing people, because I already think visually - I recall things in images rather than words. It also comes in useful when learning new routes - I often only need the directions the first couple of times, and then the next couple of times have them to hand just in case for prompts, and then after that I'm good. I remember key visual details (and I'm also fairly good at translating into my mind the maps of the route that I've drawn). Also, everything gets colour-co-ordinated!


I suspect there are other things as well, but that's all I can think of at this point. A lot of the difficulties can be ameliorated or even removed completely if environments are more autistic-friendly, so they're more problems with the world rather than my neurology.

As for special skills/talents, I'm pretty good with words, I sign... Probably other things, so I'll come back to this another time. I'm quite tired now.

No comments:

Post a Comment