I scrolled through my Facebook feed and stumbled over this article, that had a few videos that simulate how it is to have Autism and / or Aspi.
I would like to share them (along with some comments from my personal experiences) with you guys, since this is indeed how it roughly feels and it would be absolutely great if more people could understand that, even more so since I am affected in the very same ways sometimes.
Although unlike Carly here I can verbally talk, I often end up in situations where I “CAN’T” do so, at least when in state of imbalance (e.g. being very anxious, upset, crying), which will make me “talk” to you in my head. I will “say” things to you, without the words coming out, which obviously always ends up in people being confused since they can’t exactly hear my thoughts.
In these situations, I don’t expect people to read my mind or magically know what I want / need (in fact, I KNOW they can’t hear me); it is simply just me being unable to speak “your” language at that moment.
I often feel like I have trouble to communicate in “your tongue”, since the way I express myself is often extremely different.
My first instinct is to communicate what I want or need via physical ways. It can be specific body postures, certain facial expressions or – and this is very common for me – actions (hugs, cuddles etc.).
During my attempts to socialize with people, I did discover that my actions are easily misunderstood and often assumed to be “moves on the other person” or alike, which made me end up “toning it down”, unfortunately resulting in me holding my own personality back. I don’t usually do that, but if you make more bad than good experiences with the way you are, sooner or later you may try to counter-act it, to not make even more people confused or also just simply to end your own pain.
I get really attached to people and have an incling to show how I feel about them with actions, more so than words. The problem is that a lot of my ways are what society deems “relationship stuff” or “sexual things”; basically “flirting” when in reality it is not about that at all.
To make a specific example:
As you know, I shared a room with 3 of my male friends during my trip to Boston for PAX. Most other normal people in a mixed room would be quite watchful and would probably also change some of the behaviours they have (e.g. changing clothes to put your bed-wear on). Me, I kept it as always, which means that if I had to change into my nightgown, I didn’t specifically go to another room to do it, because it was just what it is – changing your clothes – and I didn’t have any sexual or persuasive motives.
Now if you do this around people who have no idea about your condition (I really hate calling it that, because it sounds like I am sick), they’d most-likely take it out of context, but luckily my friends knew not to do so. If I honestly wanted to be all sexy, flirty and persuasive, I’d throw myself into lingerie, would pose in erotic ways and make moves (way different than just hugs, cuddles, touching, kissing or any of that simple stuff), but the fact is, that I wasn’t. It wasn’t my intention to begin with.
I sometimes also use words different and give them new meaning, leaving my environment utterly confused.
While I am aware that people get confused and I try to translate my language better, it is incredibly tedious and tiring always having to turn every single word around 5 times in my head, before I say it. Especially if people will still take it the wrong way anyway. This is neither their, nor my fault and it is just a fact that we communicate on two different levels, which brings forth a lot of misunderstandings and other unpleasant things.
I do feel though, that the best thing would be if I could just be myself and wouldn’t have to keep back parts of how I communicate (or other things). I always feel like people don’t HAVE to be around me or even need to be my friends. If they can’t handle my language, they are absolutely free to leave. What is not right though, is that I am expected to adapt, because this isn’t some choice where you just flip a switch and are fine. There is a lot more going on in my head than you’d think.
Here we have a good simulation of what it’s like to go somewhere for me.
Everything is bright; there are tons of (distracting) sounds and I hear everything; plus all this stuff that catches my attention (a million details every second, it seems). It’s overwhelming, as the previous video on my blurb already showed in parts, and often I end up with headaches or instances where my senses are so overwhelmed in other ways, that I may need to go sit in the dark for a while (this is when my eyes can’t take the blinding lights anymore) or have to do other things in order to get some relief.
All of these inputs also always keep my mind extremely busy, so I end up thinking a lot (which some people have previously labeled as “overthinking”, when it wasn’t that at all), to the point where I am looking for things to distract me. I recently have been playing a lot of *Smite* because of this; mostly due to the distracting nature it has. It lets me turn my mind off for a bit and stops the constant thought-flow AND sensory overstimulation. Though, I do have incredibly difficulties to make progress on the game, since the multitasking nature it requires is extremely difficult for me.
Playing *Smite* for me is like always knowing you won’t ever get to the level of your friends, because at some point you will hit a wall that you can’t pass anymore, due to how your brain works. And no, this is not me being a defeatist, it is a fact.
I have a lot of talents and I can pick up things pretty fast (depending on their nature) thanks to me noticing patterns really easily, but at some point I just hit a dead-end and get stuck. This is how it happened that – after 6 months of playing now, I am barely at the level that my friends have been after just playing a few games.
Sometimes it is extremely painful, because it keeps reminding me of how different I am (and I don’t mean in a “You are unique” kind of way) and how I will always have to put in a lot of extra work to make things go the way it does for my friends, but I try my best AND I especially try to keep up.
There is a lot more to say about this topic, but I wanted to give some thoughts to these videos, that I feel reflect the Aspi experience quite a bit.
I’ll see you around for more blurbs and articles on this and other topics. =)