I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder just over 3 years ago, and although I have experienced my life this way for 39 years, there is still so much learning for all of us to do. So here are 6 things to know about my autism.
Aspergers is sometimes referred to as
“High Functioning Autism” (a term I’m not crazy about) but in reality it is actually hard work. What that means is that people are often far less empathetic because I don’t seem to struggle as much as it seems and most people tend to think I am old enough to know how to behave so they don’t expect me to have social challenges.
Being “high functioning”means living with high expectations.
I don’t always answer the phone. Sometimes it takes me too long to respond to messages because sometimes I don’t feel like talking much. I do my very best at all times, but sometimes it’s ok to remember that I have some challenges that I cannot control, and I will not always meet your expectations.
We will almost always see things differently.
Autism makes me see the world much differently than you do.
Actually I am beginning to learn just how different my view of the world is. I’m learning it’s ok to respect that everyone doesn’t see things the way I do, and I’m asking you to respect the fact that we will almost always see things differently. No need to try to change my mind. My mind is working just fine. It’s just very different.
Every coin has two different sides, but it doesn’t change the value. We may see things differently, but we can still find value in each other’s perspectives if we try.
My being so different can be difficult for you. I understand that I am not always easy to figure out, but more often than not this is a direct result of my psychology not my personality. I don’t choose to be difficult anymore than you choose to be difficult for me to understand.
Autism is not a character flaw; it’s part of how I was created just like my eye color or height. It’s who I am, not just how I act.
I don’t see me the way you see me. My autism makes it difficult for me to read facial expressions. Growing up I didn’t learn how to mirror facial expressions and emotions very well. I really only recognize smiles when attached to laughter. That means that my facial expressions are often not as distinct as yours. I often don’t know what my face looks like when I am conversing with you. Please know that I’m not angry with you or disinterested in what your saying. It really helps me to know what you see. You can help me by asking me how I feel, despite how my face looks. Don’t assume anything. Please do me the honor of being honest with me while allowing me to be myself.
Ambiguity=Anxiety. The world I live in is extremely black and white. I like deadlines and due dates. I like appointments. I hate being late and I don’t like showing up too early. I turn lights off and close doors constantly. I love rules and I color inside the lines. All of this is because I don’t do well in unplanned, and unstructured in environments. Spontaneity scares me. Sudden changes in plans often feels like turning off the lights in a room and making it pitch black and asking me to navigate my way out of the room. I know my lack of flexibility can drive you crazy, but ambiguity makes me anxious, and it’s usually not good for either of us. I’m working to be more flexible, and perhaps you can learn to help me by being a bit more predictable.
I get lonely too. Yes I like to be alone, but that doesn’t mean that I like to feel lonely.
My need to be alone is in no way a reflection of how I feel about you or about people in general.
I love people. I love to hang out with people. I do struggle with being in large groups, and I can’t do it for long periods of time. Social activity is like sprinting for me. I can do it, but it is fast and furious and I can’t do it for long periods of time. Don’t stop inviting me to your gatherings. I would love to be with you, just know that I can only give you what I am capable of handling at the time.
*this post also appears on The Mighty