I thought today would be an excellent day to write a new blog post. Plenty has been happening of late and I may of forgotten to update.
On Wednesday, I fly to Singapore via Sydney arriving in Singapore at approximately 9pm Singapore time.
People have been asking me whether I am nervous and I am but I am also excited, anxious and a whole mix of other feelings that I haven’t been able to name yet.
My anxiety and nerves have nothing to do with the conference though. I know at autism conferences I can walk around with a green dot on signalling that I am cool to talk to anyone and if I want I can change it to yellow which means I would like to talk but not really to people I don’t know. I think life would be so much easier if people adapted the dot system in everyday life.
I like autism conferences because on the most part, I can be myself. I can walk around bare feet the whole time. (except for when I speak because I think photos of me wouldn’t look good bare feet especially if I wanted to use them at a later date for promo on my page). I like the feeling of things and being able to feel with my feet is heaven. For my speech I have packed my silver sparkly shoes, I like sparkly things because they look cool and they often have a great tactile base and I love touching things.
Autism conferences you don’t need to hide your feelings, if you need to you can go chill in the chill out room or you can socialise with the others there. As autistics we don’t have expectations, if you want to stim you can, if you want to communicate non verbally you can, if you just want to soak in the conversation you can. I don’t get told off for sucking my shirt collar or the need to have something in my hands when I talk. I am me.
Getting back to where I was before I went on my tangent though (I am good at that) the part I am most anxious about though is finding the transfer gate in the airport to go from the domestic to international airport. I have a map and I think I know where to go but I am still feeling an overwhelming anxiousness that I will screw this up. I have informed the airline that I am autistic and may need help with this. Hopefully it all goes smoothly.
The hardest thing at conferences (and in general) are the neurotypicals who seem to think just because you don’t fit into their mold of autism, you can’t be.
But I am.. below I have described how autism is for me in the hope of being able to educate others that it is not a one size fits all diagnosis.
While I come across as good at socialising, it has taken years of practise and mimicking of others.
-I struggle reading others emotions although I absorb them which has difficulties of its own as I don’t know which are mine and which are theirs.
-I don’t know when someone is finished talking or they are simply pausing.
-I want to say something before it is no longer relevant but unfortunately it is at the expense of someone else talking and they get angry. I am sorry for this. Telling me to shut up though will not offend me .
-I make friends easy but often come across as intense and struggle to maintain friendships.
-I am working on not being monotone during conversations and speeches
-I get distracted easy
-I need something in my hands when talking as I don’t know what to do with my hands and I get really anxious so this is a coping mechanism so if you see the stuffed quokka or the phone, know it is actually helping me to focus better on what you are saying
-I must pack using lists, in fact I live my life with lists, I have shopping lists on my fridge and a white board outlining what I need to do on my desk. I feel lost without my lists.
-Don’t change my routine, often I change it like bus numbers etc but it has to be initiated by me. The times are the same, I catch the 6:50 train Saturday and swap at Central cause Roma St is huge and hard to navigate and I hate when there is rail work as it throws my plans .
-if you are going to be late, please message me, I won’t be upset I will be happy that you took time to tell me.
-Don’t get me started on musicals or gymnastics unless you want a huge conversation.
-I will wear sunglasses sometimes at night to block out lights so please don’t make me feel bad for doing so. My eyes don’t like flashy lights so if I can block these out I will.
-I watch movies with subtitles and rewind multiple times cause I can’t auditorily process what I am watching. Same with musicals, yes I know I waste money seeing them multiple times, that is my problem. I have however sometimes found the script online and been able to read it so I can fill in the bits I miss.
-I seem to only need warm clothes on the top half of my body, I can have 4 jumpers on and be bare feet
-I am the worst person to take into a shop cause I will set off all the noisy toys and touch everything.
-I will rock in public when I am anxious or nervous
-I am sensitive to criticism but it is welcome if done lovingly by someone I know.
-Don’t force me to look at your eyes when we talk. I can pay attention to you better if I am not.
-I love warm, tight hugs from people I know/ people who ask.
-I am clumsy, I will walk into walls and tables.
-I have a horrible short term memory, I place something down and I have no idea where it is but I can tell you what happened many years ago in crystal clearness. For this reason if you give me instructions make a list or only give me maximum 2.
– I need downtime after socialising.
-Autism is not new, neither is ADHD, we are just getting better and more knowledgeable, the first book describing what we now know as ADHD was published in 1846.
I am leaving you with the story of the first boy/ man diagnosed with autism.
We will always be autistic and if you are kind and friendly you may get to know my non masked self.