I haven’t written about the day-to-day challenges of living with autism for a while. The stuff that seems as though it should be so easy, but isn’t. So here are just two of the minor challenges I’ve faced over the past week.
Being challenged on a (possible) social faux-pas
OK, so I’m not sure there was any way I could have got this one right!
But the everyday challenge here is not so much whether I made the right decision, socially speaking, but how to handle being challenged on a perceived social mistake.
And I’m afraid this one concerns toilets. Sorry. I’ll try not to lower the tone too much.
Went to a concert on Saturday evening. And the venue has the most ridiculous public bathroom arrangement – two completely separate entrances to the same set of facilities. These entrances are off two completely separate corridors, which are accessed directly from the street.
So I went in one entrance, saw there was a spare cubicle near to the door I entered and, well, went to use it. As one does. Only to be challenged by a woman pointing out there was a queue. At the other door. Which I couldn’t have seen from the entrance I used – and I hadn’t actually realised that there was another entrance.
And I just froze. I had no idea how to respond. Too much information to process.
Someone intervened. Pointed out that there were two entrances and told me to just go ahead. Another example of the kindness of strangers.
Getting a busy train from Three Bridges to Horsham. Already stressed because of two separate platform changes and the train being a bit late.
Train arrives. There are no seats. I wonder what to do and am pushed out of the way by people who want to get their cases loaded on to the train. They take up all the safe places to stand with their cases. I can’t get to something to stand against and I can’t bear to stand, unprotected, in the train aisle.
I need to get off the train.
But the doors are closed and locked.
I look around for somewhere I can stand and cope with the journey. I’m getting more upset now. Less able to think.
One of the women with the cases speaks to me. I can’t understand or process what she’s saying.
I manage to run to the next carriage and find a corner to lean into.
I hope no-one tells the train guard. I can’t talk to anyone at the moment. I check my bag for my alert card. At least I have some way of explaining.
I have a safe place to stand and a plan.
I start to calm down.