It is important others understand and work with me, around my autism. Something I also have to do. My being autistic was made worse because I never understood that’s what it was. I was always expected to conform.
It is important that everyone who isn’t autistic understands those who are. Having and dealing with autism is made all the more difficult and confusing for us, because we don’t always understand how we present, we just know how we are and that’s not something we can change.
But with autism coping with more than one information stream is difficult. If my mind is focused on something else, and someone is talking to me, I don’t always take in what they’re saying. If I am focused on something for too long, I need to mentally rest, so my brain doesn’t switch off trying to take in too much information.
When it comes to conversations and communication, people automatically assume gestures, tone of voice and eye contact are something I can do with ease. They also assume I have an ability to hold other things in mind, such as social rules, social context and relevant background facts. For most people this works most or all of the time, but can cause endless confusion in conversations between autistic and non-autistic people.
I find it difficult to let go of issues that concern or upset me, my mind is always drawn back to those. Because of autism, I can’t let those go, other times I filter issues out completely. Filtering is an active process, and it becomes much less effective when my attention or resources are consumed elsewhere. When I’m tired my filters tend to work at their worst.
Filtering is difficult. I find it difficult to switch between tasks. It takes time and effort for me to change direction. In other words, my autistic brain has a lot of inertia and resists a change in state. A sudden change of plan means I have to completely reset and work out how to deal with a change in circumstance and that can make me panicked, particularly if I’m asked to deal with someone I hardly know.
I experience things intensely, usually related to concerns, to the point of making me feel panicked. When my attention is fully focused on something, my brain throws everything it can at it. My senses are more intense than others. For example, unexpected input unnerves me. It might be something sudden, or something doesn’t seem to fit.
I find it impossible to let go of concerns that I can’t find a resolve on. I find it difficult to just let things drop, or wait to see how things go. Someone’s reassurance doesn’t help. Situations or conversations can be confusing, so I often have lots of unanswered questions.
Sometimes a question might have been answered, but with a delayed reaction it means I don’t always hear it, so I have to ask again. Things that drop out of my awareness usually stay dropped. It’s hard for me to keep tabs or my attention on lots of things at once, multi-tasking is impossible.
I may come across as indifferent, awkward just because my brain fails to acknowledge, understand or act on things. All of these features are a manifestation of a monotropic thinking style, because I have autism. It is no wonder I have anxiety, confusion and often feel overwhelmed. Only knowing why in my fifties has made it all the more difficult.
If people don’t accommodate my needs, problems accumulate. When that happens, with brain overload that’s when I shut down.