The Negatives of Autism

Usually I am very positive about being autistic. But today I want share a few reasons why I sometimes hate being autistic.

Initiation error

Sometimes I wake up and have loads of things to do, but I just don’t do them. I can sit at a desk for 12 hours straight and not do a single thing (except watch extracts of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Jeremy Kyle, This Morning and other useless rubbish on YouTube of course). This is to do with executive functioning.

Executive functioning difficulties are very common in autistic people which can result in difficulties in things such as: initiating actions, impulse control, planning, using working memory and inhibition (the ability to block out or reduce the impact of things such as sensory input and thoughts, meaning that meaningless things can feel more important for autistic people than they do for others).

You read right, my brain actually thinks that watching Jeremy Kyle is more important than starting an assignment that is due the next day sometimes.

Setting your oven on fire because you forgot you were cooking 

Another issue poor executive functioning causes is having rubbish working memory. I forget to pass on important information at work, I forget what I have just spent the whole day doing (8 times so far this week someone has asked how my day has been, or what I have done recently, and my response has been ‘I have no idea’) and I burn lots of food when I am cooking, which includes setting the oven on fire the first ever time I used it when I was 18, because I forgot I even put something in the oven.

Now, I use constant timers, reminders and write everything down, because otherwise everything will go wrong.

It’s strange though, as I have a pretty good long term memory and remember some short term details, but not others (ask me how many kills I got in every game of Fortnite I played last night, or ask me if I have a certain Pokémon in my collection of over 1000 Pokémon cards and I can tell you, but don’t ask me what I ate yesterday).

When you don’t have enough information to solve something you “need” to solve

Autistic people strive off certainty. If we miss out a tiny detail, it can send our brains into overdrive while we try and solve the unsolvable.

Last week I was asked to go shopping at work. A few items included:

  • Apples
  • Chicken
  • Snacks

Apples – First of all, there are over 7,500 types of apple, how the hell do I know which one the person wants? At the shop I went to there were 7 different types. I’m sure most neurotypicals can cope with this, but how the hell am I supposed to choose? That’s before even getting started on how many apples they want!

Chicken – Do they want it dead or alive? Do they want a leg or a breast? Or do they just want me to go insane?

Snacks – Asking me to buy snacks is just mental torture. What does that even mean?

So I had an hour to buy a list of 53 items, 37 of which were not specific enough for my brain to comprehend, while I was in a supermarket where my phone had no signal (which I wouldn’t use to phone the staff anyway because they will probably get annoyed with me for struggling to do a task as simple as shopping, and I will get anxious because the new viewpoint they will have on me will take a while for me to understand and process). Oh, and I was worrying the whole time about what to do if I didn’t have enough money, or if I had spent too much. The stress and anxiety this caused was tremendous.

To make things even worse, TWO OF THE ITEMS ON THE LIST WEREN’T IN THE SUPERMARKET!!!

I got back with my ambiguous bags of shopping, awaiting my doom, to realise that no one really cared about what I bought or that some things were missing. Still, this experience was super duper stressful. Now apply this concept to every single time an autistic person is in a situation where things aren’t explicit and detailed enough for their needs. And trust me, there tends to be ALOT of these.

When you don’t have enough energy to brush your teeth or put on your pyjamas before you go to sleep 

This is related to spoon theory.   Sometimes, I get home and I am so exhausted from the day that I just drop all of my stuff onto the ground, crawl into bed and sleep, without getting to do anything fun beforehand.

When you can’t get to sleep 

When I eventually crawl into bed, I sometimes can’t sleep anyway because I am trying to solve something unsolvable, or my brain is busy analysing the day to the very last detail. You won’t believe the amount of times my colleagues have thought I’ve been on a night out and done an all nighter at work, when in fact I was in bed before 9pm.

Thinking of 97 things a brick can be used for in 5 minutes 

My brain is constantly in overdrive mode. Oh what I would do for a day off every once in a while. Does any neurotypicals want to swap for the day?

At uni once we had a starter activity where we had to name as many uses for a brick as we can in 5 minutes as an ice breaker. Everyone was in groups of two or more, but I did it on my own because I’m me. Anyway, the second place team scored 19 different reasons. That didn’t compete with the 97 reasons my brain managed to come up with. Did you know if you split a brick in half, and give half to a friend, it can be a fantastic token of friendship when you meet up and join them together?

Struggling to sit still

About 40% of autistic people are under sensitive to balance, and there is a high prevalence of ADHD in autistic people too. Both of these make it very difficult to sit still and concentrate. At university, I didn’t go to lectures because I couldn’t sit still for 2 hours straight. On public transport I wedge my body between seats as the sensory feedback means there is less of a need to move. This is worse in the mornings, when I need lots of feedback and need to do lots of stimming in order to keep focused on whatever I am doing.

Clumsiness 

Research shows that 100% of autistic people have some form of motor difficulty (yes you read that right). When I go to a training course, meeting or other similar event, I don’t introduce myself first, I say “I’m sorry in advance if I knock the table and spill your coffee”. I also say sorry at least 30 times a day. Even if someone bumps into me and it is their fault, my brain is at the point where it must apologise for EVERYTHING because I am so used to being the culprit. I actually said sorry to someone a few weeks ago after they punched me in the face.

 

By the way, having a negative post like this doesn’t mean I am not happy with who I am. I think to be self accepting, you need to accept everything; both the good and the bad.

Please also remember that since autism is a spectrum, so not all of this applies to every autistic person!

Sorry if this is a big grammatically incorrect or seems rushed. My battery is low and I wanted to publish it before I make my way home and either forget I wrote this or struggle to finish it off. I may make some corrections in the future, or I may try but end up watching some more Jezza Kyle. We’ll see.

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10 thoughts

  1. Thank you for this post. This basically describes my autistic teenager. I have found a lot of education in reading posts written by autistic individuals. It gives me more insights and clarity then ones authored by experts in the field.

    Liked by 2 people

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