I’m Autistic

I’m autistic.

I don’t like maths or science. I’m not a massive fan of trains either.

Music is good, but I don’t listen to it on big headphones constantly, putting the same song on repeat for years.

I’m not a boy and I didn’t attend a special school either.

I don’t rock constantly and I actually enjoy social interaction. Not all the time, but sometimes it’s nice.

I do indeed have empathy, in fact I am more sensitive than most people.

My name is Lia. I’m 19 years old and I was diagnosed with autism when I was 15. I had been struggling with school for many years before that, especially with bullying (which was most severe when I was 12). I didn’t know how to make friends, or how to keep friends. Most friends I made have drifted from me. They were temporary and I tried to keep in contact with a few but I don’t think they wanted to keep in contact with me, as their replies were very short and hard for me to respond to. It’s okay; we make temporary friends and long term friends.

As an autistic person, I have interests that are more deep than most people, but perhaps not as deep as other autistic people. I say this because I’ve suffered with mental health issues which have interfered with my interests at times. A particular interest of mine is animals, something that I have been crazy about for years. I love animals and love learning about them. If you have any interesting animal facts, be sure to let me go.

I was always an English person at school. I preferred essays to maths equations. It was always easier for me to write an opinion than solid fact. I just never understood or connected with maths, whereas English taught me that, to get good grades, you had to have your own opinion.

I know of autistic people that fit the criteria I listed above, and that’s okay. But we really aren’t all the same. I love sensory toys as I have trouble with my senses getting overwhelmed. I find they calm me a lot. I love to feel textures in my hands, but not in my mouth. Food that is too textured isn’t for me. I like it smooth and consistent.

I struggle with independence, one of the most suggestive traits of my autism. If I were more independent, perhaps people would think that I didn’t have autism. I also struggle with getting words out and might say things that are inappropriate because I want to fill a gap but I don’t know what else to say. People think I’m strange because of this, or sometimes they don’t notice at all. I prefer it when they don’t notice, or pretend not to notice, that I said something inappropriate. When they look at me strange, I become embarrassed.

The worst thing in the world for me is noise. It’s something I can never escape. It’s always there, somewhere, trying to climb into your ears. It drives me insane and I feel so sad when it is loud. Some people might be annoyed at too much noise, but for me it ruins my life. There are a few people that are insensitive when it comes to noise and that makes me upset.

Anxiety is a very real problem for me. It is the voice that never goes away. It cripples my mind and my heart. It isn’t something you can just get over. It works out every single possibility of everything then it combines them into one overwhelming feeling of destruction. That’s what anxiety is, for me.

Autism isn’t a stereotype, it’s a sphere of differences and I know very independent autistic people. I know people who love maths and people who hate it. I know people who love to rock and people who prefer other methods of stimming. I know more autistic females than I do males. In fact, I don’t know autistic people at all. I just know individuals.

Thank you for reading,

Lia

Dealing With Anxiety

A lot of people with mental health issues struggle with loneliness, me included. We struggle with feeling lonely but also with reaching out to existing friends. We don’t want them to deal with our mental health issues, so we feel guilty whenever we go out with them, so sometimes we choose not to go out with people anymore. We don’t want to be the burden.

One friend of mine, who I have only been out with just us two once, has a tactic which makes me feel a lot better. She basically said that if I helped her with her issues, she’d help me with mine. She told me about her phobias and I told her about mine and we both went out together. It felt like a trade, rather than me being a burden, and that really helped me get through it.

I hate the idea of being the piece of gum stuck to someone’s shoe. I want to be able to express my problems without being seen as a problem, if that makes sense. Most of the time I’m just terrified that they won’t be able to have as much fun with me there.

I really like the tactic that one friend used and if, in the future, I ever have a friend that feels like more of a burden than I do, I might use it again. It’s a good way of conquering something without realising that you are. For instance, her phobia wasn’t even around, whilst mine was, but I still felt more comfortable knowing that, if her phobia ever did crop up, I could help her like she helped me.

Anxiety is affecting so many people, and it stops lots of people from doing what they want. Make sure they know they aren’t a burden and that you want them there. Even if, after telling them this, they still feel doubtful, express your own difficulties and how they could help with them. Perhaps, like me, they might feel willing to go out. It’s just an idea that worked for me and I’m so glad it did because a couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing time out with a friend and my anxiety didn’t interfere with it that much. There were still moments of anxiety, but overall I felt calm. It was a change from what I normally know. I felt more in control.

Thank you for reading,

Lia

Say What You Mean!

Something I struggle with a lot is people saying one thing but meaning another. I automatically assume that they mean exactly what they said, but this often isn’t the case and it’s very confusing deciding whether or not they meant what they said.

Sometimes, this makes me feel betrayed when they didn’t adhere to what they said, but it can be because they never really meant it in the first place. They were just making conversation.

For instance, someone says ‘oh we should do that sometime’ or ‘we should meet up’ but they didn’t really mean it. It’s something that a lot of people seem to say but not mean. It’s kinda suffocating trying to differentiate between a legit promise and a fake one. I just wish people would say exactly what they mean. It would make life a lot easier.

If people told me exactly what they thought of me, life would be easier too. I can differentiate between people who like me for who I am and people who want me to become something I’m not — and stick with the friends that accept me.

I just don’t understand why people always say the opposite of what they mean. It means that I get my hopes up for something that’s never going to happen. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of failed promises, but I still seem to get my hopes up because I never know when one is real.

Sometimes, promises are real, and I am so thankful for the people that say what they mean. For instance, when MyMindSpeaksAloud said that she’d love to go to a cat cafe with me, I was wondering whether we were really going to do it. Now it’s booked and ready for August! I am very excited about it, and it’s really happening, unless a cat-astrophic event happens that prevents it. I love puns.

If people just told everyone what they meant, we would all have a much easier time, in my opinion.

Do you find people confusing?

Lia

I’m Not Who You Want

I’ve noticed that people expect a lot from me. Honestly, I can’t do everything that is expected. People forget sometimes that I’m autistic, I think. I guess, for a while, it makes me feel more normal but I shouldn’t have to hide myself. My true self isn’t the person people want me to be. This doesn’t mean that people should avoid me, or worry about how to talk to me; they should talk to me exactly how they would anyone else. The only difference is that my reply might be vague or unexpected. It might not be what they wanted. I try to talk normally but sometimes my words get knotted and I end up saying something different than what I wanted to say. That’s just how I am. My thoughts and my words often don’t align. Sometimes, I don’t even speak at all, and that’s not because I don’t want to speak; I feel a physical block on my words. It happens most with strangers but it can happen at anytime with people I’ve known for a while too.

When chatting online, I come across as a very different person to how I act in real life. I type what I wouldn’t dare speak, and my online voice is more confident than my real one. This too can give people the impression that I am capable of a lot. The truth is: it embarrasses me to talk about what I can’t do. That’s why I don’t mention it to my friends unless it’s important for them to know. I put on this act that makes me appear able to do lots of things, when really I struggle to do most things.

I’m someone who needs a carer. That carer is also my mum, which means she is around me constantly, to help me do things. I’m someone who needs someone to go out with me, because I can’t go out alone. I’m someone who has a meltdown about the silliest things. The other day, I had a meltdown because my mum thought my meal was hers and peppered it. It was pasta and I can’t eat pepper on my pasta. A lot of people wouldn’t care about something like that but, like I said, the silliest things cause me distress. I have to have things exactly how they’re supposed to be and, if something goes wrong, I can’t cope.

I’m not who people want me to be. I’m trying so hard for my problems to not affect me, but they will always affect me, because autism isn’t temporary. I don’t mind being autistic, it’s who I am, but sometimes I wish it was more understood. There are many stereotypes around it, but I’m not those stereotypes. People thing that if I keep trying, one day my problems will go away. They won’t go away. I’m autistic for life. I can try to make things easier, but it will take time. It’s not something that can happen overnight.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to go out alone, but that day is not today, and it probably won’t be for many days yet to come. People who pressure me into trying to do things that are hard for me just make it harder still. I’ll do things at my own pace.

Understanding isn’t easy if you haven’t experienced it, but imagine you walk into the middle of a movie, and have missed important parts of the plot. You keep trying to ask people questions, but they’re busy watching the rest so they keep telling you to be quiet. That’s kinda what it’s like. You don’t understand what’s going on and you try to figure it out, but you’re still way behind.

Thank you for reading this post,

Lia

Our Strengths

There are a lot of things I can’t do that others find easy.

I can’t ride a bike; I did have a bike when I was a kid but I never made it to the stage of not having little helper wheels.

I can’t tie my shoelaces. This is one thing that I struggle with that almost nobody else does. I was sitting in a group the other day, and I noticed how many people were wearing trainers with shoelaces. It was a lot of people. There are obviously people out there that struggle with it as well, but I haven’t met them. If you see me wearing shoes, I will most likely be wearing black ankle boots. If I’m not, then perhaps I’ll be in my slip-on trainers.

I can’t do a lot of things to do with clothes actually. I can now do buttons (I couldn’t at all for many years) but it’s slow and usually, I’ll put the wrong button in the hole, so my mum will have to correct it for me. I don’t understand how collars work, and often get that wrong too. Don’t even get me started on my childhood of wearing ties that I couldn’t do up. I learned to loosen them at middle school, but sometimes they’d fall out of it and I couldn’t correct them. Also, ties mean the top button has to be done up, which is torture. I also can’t do up bras, so I wear sports bras all the time. They’re more comfy, anyway.

I struggle with going on public transport alone. I used to be able to do it, but due to a break in confidence, I haven’t been able to do it in a while. I’m hoping to regain my confidence but it could take a while. I can’t buy stuff in shops. Again, I could do that when I was younger, but I haven’t had the confidence to in a while. Also, I need help ordering at restaurants. Occasionally, I have the confidence to talk to the waiter, but usually I can’t.

There might be a lot of things I can’t do, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a lost cause. These things I can’t do just set me apart from what’s ‘normal’. Normal is knowing how to do most of these things. Often, you can’t survive in this world if you don’t have such basic knowledge. I know I struggle to survive, but I have knowledge of other things. I read poetry daily, and you learn a lot from poetry. I have an inability to express myself properly, when speaking, and poetry taught me that expression isn’t about speaking. You can express yourself just fine on paper. I might be an awkward speaker in person, but putting it down gives me time to know exactly what to say.

I also learnt about morals and philosophy, not from any lessons at school, but from simply opening my own mind. I opened my mind to the thoughts and opinions of everything around me. I even thought about what inanimate objects would be pondering; it helped me to open my mind. From that, I felt the suffering of the creatures around me, and I wanted to help them. So, I became vegan. And the fact that I have maintained it for almost four years gives me the courage to say that I have perseverance. I used to think I was weak, and perhaps I’m fragile in some ways, but I’m stronger in other ways. My fragile emotions just show I’m sensitive, and that I care deeply, so is that such a bad thing? Caring? I don’t think so.

I think everyone has something special about them. They all have things they struggle with, but they have something else which makes them who they are. If we were all the same, we wouldn’t have names. But we do: that makes us different and individual. If you don’t know what your strength is, then perhaps it’s modesty, or perhaps it’s such a great strength that you’re the only one who can’t see it.

I’m not talking about what you’re good at. I’m talking about what strength sets you apart. We’re all different, and often you can tell who someone is just by hearing them walk. It’s a privilege to be ourselves, so why don’t we appreciate what makes us that way?

We’re all special. Remember that.

Lia

Rain Clouds

Everyone has a little box in their brain

full of rain clouds

that will never go away.

They’re the rain clouds

you can’t let fade,

because they’re the darkness

you need to keep.

They’re tightly sealed,

until those days

when you think about them.

My box is full to the brim,

and rain clouds are fighting

to get out every day,

and more are getting leaked.

They fill the parts of me

I don’t want them to fill,

and rain is getting in the way.

My happiest thoughts become

soaked in rain.

And me?

I’m already drenched.

There’s no saving

a soggy piece of paper.

Urges

Urges send my hands reaching,

clawing at what they want,

but then I stop them.

I have to stop them.

Urges control my mind,

every thought in it

wants the same thing.

Happiness, sadness,

anger, they all become one.

One spear aimed at the heart.

Whether it misses or not,

that’s up to me,

and whether I listen

to my mind.

The spear misses this time.

The Thing About Selective Mutism

I have selective mutism. No, it doesn’t mean that sometimes I choose not to talk. It means that I physically can’t talk in those moments. I want to talk but the words will not come out. In fact, there’s not much selective about it.

For me, these incidents can occur if I get a certain vibe off someone, and I don’t like them, or if I’m in social situations, particularly in large groups. I have good days and bad days. Some days I can speak freely and other days I can’t.

My mum once took me to a counsellor but my body refused to speak to her, so it was deemed useless. This was because I didn’t like her and found she had a certain tone in her voice that scared me. It’s important that people speak to me in a certain way, and if they don’t, sometimes I won’t respond.

I also usually don’t talk to people at first, until I feel comfortable with them. If you ask me a question, though, I’ll usually respond. Sometimes, it might just be a gesture though, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk. I just need to get into it.

It has actually gotten to the point where my mum talks for me most of the time because she’s worried I won’t say anything. It shocks her when I do speak up as it can be very unexpected. If I’m feeling more confident that day, I might talk more.

I find talking online a lot easier than in real life. It means I can put across thoughts that would never cross my lips. I like interacting with people, and talking to them, but I am normally not the one to start the conversation.

It’s hard not being able to talk when I want to all the time. Like the words are right on the edge of coming out, but they just don’t. My thoughts become overwhelmed with words that never came out and sometimes, I might just explode in a fury of thoughts later on to my mum. She doesn’t always like how much I talk to her, but I can’t help it! It’s what is stored up from earlier.

I can come across as rude for not talking when spoken to, but that’s out of my control. I hope this post helps people to better understand selective mutism.

Lia

What Not to Do to an Autistic Person

I’ve mentioned this before in posts, but I thought I should put a disclaimer before this one, just so you know. Autism is a spectrum, and the things that I don’t like or that make me stressed might not necessarily be the same for other people on the spectrum. They might have other worries.

This is a list of tips for people who might know someone with this condition. However, it is definitely not accurate for everyone, as mentioned above. It is accurate for me, though.

  1. Do not make arrangements with me that have less than a week’s notice, or that don’t have all the details sorted out until very close to the scheduled day of meeting. This stresses me out so much and I get so worked up over it that I am 84% going to cancel. If I don’t cancel, I’m probably going to be sad and tired for a while after meeting, because I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for it.
  2. Don’t speak to me in a demanding way, or with a stern voice. This just causes me to panic and I actually take longer to do the task than if you had just asked nicely.
  3. Please don’t ignore any text questions I have! I cannot stand the ‘read’ feature on social media. I use Facebook and Instagram most often (both of which have this feature) and it causes me an unsettling amount of anxiety when someone ignores my text. I’m talking about people who read it and then decide to never respond. This applies largely to questions and stuff that would normally incite a response. Just.. please…
  4. Don’t look at me too intensely. I am alright with you glancing at me occasionally but it kinda makes me feel uncomfortable if you look at me too long. I’m sorry, it’s just hard to deal with eyes looking at me… I sometimes want to permanently hide under a sheet so no one ever has to look at me.
  5. Try to avoid touching me. I am extremely sensitive to touch, and sometimes I feel so obliged to hug people and it really feels awkward and uncomfortable. Also, please do not touch my arm or something if you’re trying to get my attention or for whatever reason — I know you only lightly touched me, but it hurts! Most people wouldn’t be affected but sometimes my mum will tap me and I’ll go “ouch!” and she’ll think I’m being over-dramatic, but it actually hurts.
  6. Compliments… gifts… help. I am alright with compliments and gifts, as long as you don’t expect a response. I have been called rude for this but it is just so awkward! I am really grateful that you like my hair or for the potato you gave me but it makes me really embarrassed, especially around people who aren’t my close family. My mum calls me beautiful every day, that’s enough compliments for my entire life! I also struggle with confidence and don’t know whether you’re being nice or truthful. It’s hard to decide!
  7. Don’t speak too loud. You can speak at normal volume, but do not yell at me or raise your voice. I’m sensitive to noise, too, and tend to retreat from loud noise and often won’t respond, or might even try to cover my ears.
  8. Don’t expect me to never say inappropriate things. If I’m feeling awkward, or the conversation has stopped flowing, I probably will say something inappropriate. For instance, I might say something about potatoes because I love them and they’re the first thing I can think of. What gets me is when people question why I said that, or look at me strange. I’m not like you.
  9. Don’t forget me. I know I’m not the best person at maintaining friendships, because I eventually drive them away with my inappropriateness or my anxiety, but I always try to do the right thing. I try. It’s hard when people don’t accept me for the way I am, and how difficult I can be. I might be complex, but I can be solved. Just try it.

Thank you so much for reading this post,

Lia

Expectations

I’m an empty casket, don’t put a body in me. I don’t want something to sleep within me, I don’t want the weight. You expect me to fulfil my purpose, of carrying a body, of being a container for it, but I want to be something else. I want to be free. I don’t want to do that, maybe I want to have nothing inside of me, because then I can fill it with my mind and my soul, without them suffocating.

The body is going in… I’m drowning. I can’t see the body but I can feel it. I can feel the crushed emotions, I can feel the sleeping soul. I want it gone… but, you see, it is my destiny to contain this body for the rest of eternity.

Eternity? Yes. I am to be the home of this body. I can rattle and squeak… but I can’t let it out. I have to fulfil my expectations, the ones I wanted to be gone. I can’t do anything. I can’t throw the body out. I have to live with this weight.

Have to.

Expectations.