Each and every one of us has a personality. In fact we have many aspects to our personality. We show a different side at work to what we do when we are socialising. Same for when we are talking to a boss as to when we are talking to our partner. It changes again when we are addressing our children and when we are talking to the children of others that we are unfamiliar with. All these different modes of being can be very confusing to integrate into your life if you are autistic.
I have struggled with appropriate behaviour for a very long time. This is one of the key behavioural differences and often how we are diagnosed in the first place. Theory of mind means that we can’t place ourselves into another’s shoes until we have experienced that particular issue in our own lives. To put this in a way a neurotypical (anyone without autism etc) would understand just imagine the difference between a person with children and a person without. They are completely different mindsets and once you have become the former you cannot go back to being the latter. I switched the wording here to indicate that autistics think differently so what is automatic to most, has to be learnt by heart for us. However that’s all it is. Learning which can lost if we are not feeling our best.
For me to function at my best requires a lot of down time. I can perform the expected chores of a woman with autonomy but I do need to be informed of the schedule beforehand so that I can plan and prepare what is necessary for the tasks ahead. If I am tired, do not expect me to be “social”. I may not talk for this is a cognitive activity that requires a lot of energy. I may not even interact with you even though I know you are there. If I am sufficiently tired, I may even fall asleep. Let me recharge and do not concern yourself with the fact that I am not behaving in a neurotypical way. I am not neurotypical so if I have let the mask of normality slip, know that I trust you to see who I really am. Not the version that gets presented to the majority of the public on a daily basis.
I/we have issues with sequencing so if you see me/us struggling with counting out my/our change be aware that I/we are trying to process many things at once and there is only so much that can be handled at once. We are either innately good at maths and mental arithmetic or we are shockingly bad at this. This seems a skill that is either there or it isn’t as maths is quite an abstract concept in itself. We have problems with abstract ideas as we like rules, systems and for things to be pinned down. It helps us to simplify the world around us as it is so very complex. It’s also in a state of flux and for people who like to analyse and quantify everything to the nth degree and smallest possible digit this is extraordinarily tiring.
So yes we can blend into the world around us without you noticing but when we are not a1 terrific you are going to notice that we are different. Please do not oestrisize us because we deserve a place in society too. You never know we may even teach you a thing or too about priorities or how to live life in a way you have never even thought possible before. Anything is possible with an open mind free of the constraints imposed upon it by the general population but having the ability to demonstrate these facts to those that matter and to affect change is even more powerful.
This post was inspired by my life but also by Chris Packham. He also has autism and gave such a rousing speech to the audience watching Icons. This is a BBC show to decide who has been the most prominent influence in the world over the past 100 years. Chris was so overcome with emotion that his chosen candidate, Alan Turing, won.
Alan Turing also had autism but he was gay too in an age where this was an illegal act. Imagine the pain of being told that your very being is a sin and a crime against nature therefore we’re going to punish you in the most cruel way possible. Chemical castration, as you have unnatural urges towards men. It doesn’t matter that your brilliant mind helped us win the war against the Germans anymore. We are going to behave in the most inhumane way towards you until you become heterosexual. This was of course an impossibility and I’m paraphrasing here but you get the idea that the man who ushered in the computer age was demonisized simply because he didn’t fit into the current societal ideals. If he did, he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did. Let that be a lesson to all who try to belittle your talents and attempt to remould you into a sheeople (one of the flock of sheep people). Relish your uniqueness and do what you need to do to become the best version of yourself.