I am autistic.
A lot of you will not have realised this, and it hasn’t really been that important that you knew until recently.
By the way, Eminem, Bill Gates, Alan Turing, Daryl Hannah, Albert Einstein, and even the inventor of Pokémon is autistic, to name a few. Are you surprised?
To put it simply, autism is a different brain wiring that affects your perception of the world, and how you communicate and relate to other people.
Being autistic has a lot of advantages:
- I have a great memory – Though this is also selective – My long term memory is fantastic and I’m good at remembering random facts, but my short term memory is shocking and I forget little things like remembering to get my food out of the oven!
- I’m a good problem solver – I have unique thought processes which mean I can come up with innovative and creative solutions.
- I’m really good at Maths – It’s a common misconception that all autistic people are good at Maths. But I’m one of the people who is.
- Autistic people are often really blunt and honest – If a dress makes you look fat, I’ll tell you. Sometimes people get offended by my honesty, which I think is silly. Why ask if you don’t want to know the truth?
- I’m great at reading people – After talking to someone for 5 minutes I know whether or not they are nice and genuine and whether I will get on with them. There’s no wishy washy stuff and no in between, I quickly either like someone, or I don’t. Though I have to admit, I have been wrong a few times in my life.
- I’m not afraid to speak out or be different – I’m weird and irritating, but I don’t really care what other people think about that. I’m just being me.
- Autistic people have more capacity to store and process information – I can excel in something if I focus all of my energy on it – I got good grades at school and college and this is probably why. This is probably also why I’m absolutely sick at COD.
(I couldn’t work out how to upload Xbox One game clips so this is the best I’ve got for you soz)
So why am I writing this?
I am happy with who I am and do not want to change. But being autistic also has its disadvantages.
A big difference in autistic people is the way our brains work. For me, socialising is not instinctive but instead a logical process. When someone asks me a question, I have to analyse the question and logically work out the best response based on responses I have used in the past, responses I’ve heard other people use and the reactions to these, as well as analysing the person’s tone of voice, body language and their current behaviour compared to how they usually act and how other people act too. For neurotypical people, this is a process which happens unconsciously, making interaction a lot easier, but for autistic people, it’s not that simple
This doesn’t just apply to socialising, but to theory of mind, recognising emotions, giving the right eye contact and more. Luckily, I can usually do this process quickly enough to appear ‘normal’ and more or less fit in.
But as you can probably imagine, doing this every day during every interaction is bloody exhausting.
Sometimes i cheat and use the same learned responses so I don’t need to process as much. Whenever someone says ‘how are you’, my go to response is ‘I’m alright thanks how are you?’ no matter how I feel, just to save a bit of energy.
So I have been doing what everyone else does. Going on nights out, socialising and whatever else every day. But then when I’ve gone home I’ve needed time to rest and get my energy back to repeat the next day because of the extra work involved for me.
But recently it got to the point where I couldn’t do this anymore. I started using more energy each day than I could recover each night due to taking up more commitments like working more and studying at university. I started to decline, started to withdraw and started feeling more and more worn out. As this happened, I started eat less, sleep less and started getting even more anxious that usual (autistic people often experience anxiety) which had an even further negative impact.
In December I hit rock bottom. As a result, I failed my university exams and I was pretty miserable. This is when I realised that I need to change how I live my life.
Now I’m having a break from university and starting semester 2 again in February next year so that I have time to get back on track.
I’m also going to stop trying to hard to fit in and start being myself more. This starts by letting everyone know that I am autistic.
If I say no when you ask me to come out or to meet up, it’s not necessarily because I don’t want to, but it could be because I don’t have enough energy on that particular day and need some time to recharge.
The things that I am expected to do, like fluff things up and not be blunt and honest, to give the right eye contact, to get a degree and get a good job, to stop gaming and ‘acting like a child’, I’m not going to conform to anymore.
Everything I do will be for me. I’m going back to uni in February. Not because I am expected to do it, but because I want to. And if it doesn’t work out or I end up not going back and people are annoyed with me or judge me because of it, I don’t care.
People expect me to message them every now and again for pointless small talk, but I feel like it’s exactly that – pointless. And it uses up a lot of energy. Sorry if you get frustrated when I don’t get into contact, but it’s important that I preserve my energy and it doesn’t mean that I care about you any less.
For the past few months at home I have spent all of my time with headphones in, avoiding conversation and being alone. I’ve also been quickly angry or frustrated when people have tried talking to me, asking questions or initiating some draining small talk. It isn’t that I don’t want to spend time with anyone, it’s that I need time without interaction so that I can function properly when I am doing important things like when I am at work. I will still talk to you and we can still go out and do activities, but only when I feel like I can. Though I have to admit I haven’t felt able to do much recently, which is why I need to start doing more to get back on track.
To everyone reading this, I’m still the exact same person. You probably won’t even notice any difference in me and you’ll probably still see me as the exact same tool who’s shocking at football (even though he loves it) and has the worst voice on the planet. I just won’t be doing everything the way I’m expected to anymore.
(I really wasn’t lying when I said I cant sing!)
Don’t forget that I am just one autistic person. Every autistic person is different and unique in their own way. Don’t judge them based on me, and don’t judge me based on them. We have similar thinking styles and have some of the same challenges so we can relate to each other a lot, but we are still individuals. Just like every neurotypical human is completely individual.