I’ve had quite a challenging and frustrating week. And at times it’s felt like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall (and at times I have literally been banging my head against a brick wall, but that’s a previous post). And there are things I have wanted to say, but have had neither the words nor the courage. So I’m writing them here instead.
1) I am the same person I was before my diagnosis
This is the big one for me, really. Getting a diagnosis has helped me understand why I think and behave in certain ways. But the label itself hasn’t introduced anything new to the way I think or act – although admittedly the challenges I face are perhaps more visible now I’m not trying to mask them all the time.
2) Just because I’m bad with people doesn’t mean I’m not interested in them
In fact, I find people absolutely fascinating. I don’t always understand other people, and interacting can be stressful and frightening, but I do generally want to be around people. I just need time to myself as well, and am scared of becoming a burden on anyone.
3) You don’t need to treat me with kid gloves…
Yes, I get upset easily. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want or need to hear difficult messages. It’s is, however, really helpful if you can comfort / reassure me if the message or delivery is upsetting rather than leave me to it.
4) …But I do need help sometimes even if I don’t admit it
I have various techniques that I use to try and manage my own anxiety / distress. But they don’t always work, and if they don’t work then I need help if possible. It’s counterproductive to let me stay in a room on my own for a long time.
5) I am not as different as you think I am
Yes, there are differences in the way I think and how I relate to people and the world around me. And this causes some challenges. But I’m still human. And we probably have more similarities than differences.
6) I am the best person to know what works for me
Because what works for one person with my condition won’t necessarily work for anyone else. And I’m pretty self-aware. So please listen to me when I say something will or will not work.
7) If you want to know something, ask me…
I’m happy to answer any questions about my condition and how it affects me, provided the question’s provoked by a genuine interest. I don’t appreciate being treated like a freak or being made to feel ‘other’. But I also don’t want this to become the elephant in the room.
8) …but not every conversation needs to be about the autistic spectrum
There are far more interesting things to talk about most of the time. Music. Writing. Politics. Comedy. The latest developments in pensions (OK, maybe not the last one…).