I might not know how to do something, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it. For example, I want to do the dishes, but I forget the steps. It would be great to have a visual example nearby so I can reference the steps on my own. I hate when someone gets impatient with the way I am doing it – I’m trying to remember! I have to mimic the right steps over and over in order to create that routine. Luckily in my job, there’s a lot of repetition.
Right now, I like how I spend my free time. I come home from work or school, and after I go through my routine of putting away my lunch items, I go upstairs and cut paper. It’s the most relaxing activity I can think of. No one makes me stop or try something else. I might want to try something else some day, and hopefully I will get support for it should I need it. I feel lucky that I have a pretty busy life right now, and have little down time. Keeping myself busy with activities that feed different parts of my life it’s so important. School and work and the gym each feed a different need my brain and come together to make me feel complete. The only thing missing is a girlfriend.
I used to have such a problem making eye contact. I think it’s because I would be listening with such intensity that I had to focus my gaze at a point in the distance. It’s like with the words, I couldn’t have the intensity of the eye contact too. I’ve gotten so much better at looking at people’s faces that now I can maintain a gaze for several seconds. I have to admit that it’s incredibly intimate to look at someone’s face for so long and not be intimidated or creeped out. Why? Because I think that one’s eyes truly are the mirror to their soul.
Having a great memory system has also been somewhat of a burden. It doesn’t happen often, but I do get sudden flashbacks, and they can be very overwhelming.
One recent flashback I had was from school and the first grade. The teacher was very nice, but all her instructions were sung because it was a Montessori school. I was reminded of this at school when someone sang a little song in the same sort of way. It took me back there immediately, and I can’t say that it was pleasant. Thankfully, not all flashbacks are negative, and I get to enjoy lots of wonderful memories.
Right now I feel great about myself, but there are so many times when I feel like crap because I’ve done something wrong, and I’m getting yelled at for it. When it’s something any other 16 year old would get in trouble for, no biggie. But so often, it’s related to my autism. For example, when I repeat the word “Okay” over and over, and everyone is yelling at me to stop repeating, or when I cut an important piece of paper. These are times when I feel terrible about being autistic. I wish I could control these better and not piss everyone off.
It’s been explained to me that this where my anxiety/OCD and stims overlap, and that’s why they are trying to get me to stop; to lift the needle off the record, if you will, and form a different response to stress. But it’s so hard, and it also hurts my self-confidence. Very often, I want to yell back at people, “Is there anything I do right?” I am loved, but like all relationships, that love can be complicated. I hope that as I make my way in the world, I can get a better handle on my anxiety and allow myself a break from feeling crappy.
I have all of these so-called “symptoms.” Rather, I think of them as gifts. My interactions with my environment involve every waking cell of my body. This is why I shut down from time to time, and especially when I was a kid, I couldn’t handle all the connections and signals I was receiving from all the stuff around me. Over time, I learned how to turn some of those signals so I could focus like a neurotypical person. But I love it when I am home and can relax as an autistic.