Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I Cannot Tell You

Landon Bryce on thAutcast has requested to post the following:

From Niamh:

Please, please wait for me to find the words to say what's on my mind! I can't translate my thoughts into words as fast or easily as you can, and sometimes I just can't retrieve the right words at all. If only I could wire up a projector to my brain and stick it to my forehead so I could show you my thoughts rather than tell you. If you put me under pressure to speak quickly, I'l probably blurt out the wrong word entirely and say something bad that I didn't mean to say at all. I'm verbal, but speech does not come easily!

If only you knew that I can better listen to what you say if I don't look at you. It's not that I don't like you, or that I don't like looking at you, or that I'm not interested - I AM interested and want to hear every word you say, and looking at you only doubles the work my brain has to do. I can only look at you OR listen to you, and forcing myself to do both brings on far too much stress.

Don't get offended just because I can't cope with noisy pubs and clubs and house parties. I would go to them if I could, and occasionally I do, but I would much prefer to meet you in a quiet café or go for a walk with you. I want to see how you are, hear your stories, and enjoy your company. I care about you and want to spend quality time with you, but I can't do that in a place where I can't hear you, can't understand the conversation because too many people are involved, and am too busy trying to stop myself from feeling overwhelmed to be able to relax and enjoy myself.

Stop making such a big deal out of me rocking back and forth, or spinning around in an office chair, or fidgeting with my arms and legs and face all the time. It's not "crazy". It's not harmful. It's not something to be alarmed by. It's just movement. It's movement that I crave constantly. My brain wants to correct its sensual perception of the world around me. It asks my body these questions over and over: Where is my face? Where are my arms and legs? Where is my torso? How big is my torso? How close am I to the objects around me? What's touching my neck? What kind of fabric is wrapped around me? How firmly is my friend hugging me? And the only way my brain knows to find the answers is to tell my body to rock back and forth (Here's where my torso is!), thump myself on the chest, upper arms, and other parts of my body (That's how big my body is!), pull at my face, rub it or scratch it (Found my face!), tug at my clothes (Ah, it's cotton!)... I could go on. My brain keeps forgetting where my body is in relation to its surroundings, and keeps forgetting what's touching me when it's touching me too lightly to perceive it correctly. I self-stimulate even more when I'm in a noisy environment or an unfamiliar one, because that gives me even more sensory information to try to understand on top of all the rest.

Please give me a break if I can't think of anything to say or ask. If there's something you want me to ask about, the likelihood is that I'm not going to pick up on that even if you hint about it. Just say it. I care, and want to hear about what's important to you, but I'm not good at giving you cues to tell me about it, or at picking up on your cues to direct me towards asking you. Just because I don't understand how to do much besides sharing my own thoughts does not mean that I'm self-absorbed and uninterested.

If you need me to do something, spell it out for me. Don't be vague. Don't act all surprised and disappointed in me because I couldn't understand the task, when you gave me no instructions beyond telling me to do it.

Don't try to turn me into you. It's disrespectful and selfish to try control somebody's lifestyle just because YOU aren't able to accept them for who they are. If I enjoy playing music for 9 hours a day, let me do it. I'll be in a far better mood if you do. If I like wearing loose, comfortable clothing instead of tight, fitted feminine outfits, let me, because I'll be completely distracted from everything and everyone around me if I have to wear what you like to wear. Don't think that forcing me to go to house parties will make me magically able to deal with them.

Don't tell me that I'm not autistic when I have been diagnosed officially by a professional with 20 years of experience in his line of work. Stop imposing your ignorance on me by trying to stop me from believing in my diagnosis. Stop telling me I look "normal" and that I don't "look" autistic, because there is no autistic "look", and considering the continuing increase in autism spectrum diagnoses around the world I think autism is actually pretty "normal" these days.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Open discussion is encouraged, but posts judged to be bullying or using inappropriate languages may be deleted. Please exercise good judgment when commenting. Comments will be moderated.