I’m sure my story isn’t anything unique or out of the ordinary, but I thought I would share it anyway. Some of these things may be triggering to some humans out there, though I wouldn’t lose any sleep over any of them. Maybe a chuckle and a head shake. That’s all people get from now when they share their obvious expertise on all things autism.
“You don’t look autistic.” I had no idea autistics all looked the same. What do autistic people look like… standard answer… Well, you know… No, actually I don’t. Please be specific. Nothing further on that then.
“You must be high functioning.” Oh sure. Very, very high functioning. Come live with me for one month. See how high functioning I am on a day to day basis. You could ask my wife or my best friend, as I have lived with them both as an adult. I think, however, it would be better to catch John in all his glory live and in person.
“It must be a pretty mild case.” Well, let’s see. The last meltdown I had was about three months ago in the middle of Dollar General because they didn’t have lavender scented Pine-Sol. I still stim, sometimes uncontrollably. Sometimes mildly. (I use mildly to make an ironic point.) Sometimes I can control it for short periods of time. Sometimes I sit with my hands under my legs to try and control my hand and arm movements in public. Then my body starts to rock back and forth. I never shut up. I have no idea when people are tired of me yammering, and I should shut up. I am constantly fidgeting with my face and hair. When I begin to get overwhelmed I run my hands through my hair more and more aggressively. That’s probably why I liked having my hair cut so short last summer. There was much less hair to fidget with. I still bang my head on things sometimes when I get angry or mad, or frustrated. If I am to be completely honest, I still punch myself in the face sometimes.
“You seem normal.” Reference the above. And may I also add that I have no filter. I flip people off, and tell people to go f*ck off or to go f*ck themselves. I mean these are people I like. Friends. Does that seem normal. I tell people they are terms of affection, but truthfully it’s an impulse I can’t control. So, no matter how many people tell me to stop (and there are many who have and still do) it isn’t going to stop. I would venture a guess that when your significant other touches you that you don’t flinch. I unfortunately still do after eight years of marriage and 15 years together. Being woken up with a gentle tap to the shoulder probably doesn’t make you come out swinging your arms and legs like you’re Bruce Lee in a death fight. I do. And I have to be honest. That really sucks.
“Now were you diagnosed by a doctor?” No, I decided that the lifelong struggle of being autistic would be super cool to brag about. That one triggers me a little bit.
“We’re all somewhere on the spectrum.” No. We are not. You can pick up on subtle cues from people. I cannot. You know when you are being made fun of. I do not. You know when people are taking advantage of you. I do not. Lawn mowers and loud mufflers don’t set you off. They do me. Barking dogs don’t send you into a terror filled elopement. They do me. You can enjoy many interests. I obsess over a very few. You can go into a restaurant or a store you’ve never been to before with no problem. Maybe even a little excitement. I cannot.
“You can choose to be normal.” The only thing I can choose to do when I hear this is not mule kick whoever it is in the crotch so hard they vomit. That’s my gift to them.
“Isn’t autism a childhood illness.” I’m not even sure where to begin with everything wrong with that sentence, but I will leave it at this… we autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
In conclusion, I don’t make friends very well or very often, and generally not for long because of my quirks, complexities, and lack of understanding certain things makes me very difficult to deal with at times. I’m difficult to work with or for because I am extremely demanding because I want 100 percent from people 100 percent of the time. My inability to accept physical contact has made intimate relationships very difficult over the years. I am often very clinical in the words that I use. That seems to put people off. I either try too hard or not enough, or, generally, have no idea how much to try or how to proceed. People say I have no filter, unfortunately that just another impulse control issue I have to constantly try and deal with. If I think it’s true, I say it. And generally it is, though it probably doesn’t need to be said.