People, in general, are very complex creatures. We’ve millions of signals per minute, synapses, senses, impulses, chemical, biological reactions, exothermic, endothermic, thoughts complex strings of DNA. It’s little wonder that people are confusing.
I recently had a conversation in which someone said that my tastes, as an autistic person, are different from those of another person with autism. A point that they appeared to be surprised by. That’s rather like saying that two people with brown hair are going to like the same type of music.
Sure, there are certain traits by which autistic spectrum disorder is recognised and diagnosed. However, we are not all the same, anymore that two neurotypical people are the same.
Back to basics for anyone not paying attention…
Every single person on the planet differs in some tiny way: We, the autistic community have some areas in which we struggle, mainly in social situations and in having a tendency to adapt rigid or obsessive interests and behaviour.
I recently had an interview and assessment for an organisation which uses various forms of intelligence for analytic purposes; this proved to me that which I break down any problem into components and approach a problem in this manner, I am not an analyst.
I know a number of highly successful people in the IT industry, who can spend hours working on coding: theirs is a very special skill and one in which, SOME people on the spectrum, have excelled in. I also no a lot of other creative people who also fit within the spectrum. Our passions, obsessions and attention to detail can be incredibly useful in certain technical areas. These passions and obsessions can make us very interesting people: they can also lead us to ramble on regardless of how long the other person lost interest in our conversation…
.. sorry about that, to anyone who has had to listen. ‘Now, can I tell you about this power meter than I am considering?’
My own tendency to obsess leads to, when teaching, me giving incredibly detailed notes, handouts and lesson plans. I am, however, taking a slight career curve; as teaching English as second Language is simply failing to meet my financial needs and with this in mind, I have accepted a support role working within the autistic community and helping others, a role that I am very much looking forward to.
My personal obsessions, include my mountain biking and generally keeping in shape to benefit that. I’m not a naturally gifted athlete, and my claim to fame is that I have been overtaken my a several time Olympic and World Champion.
However, as a person who isn’t overtly technical, I know an awful lot about bikes. In much the same way as I’m not an electrician but I can wire up a nightclub setup almost without conscious thought. I’m not sure that on either, I can perform anything more complicated than rudimentary maintenance without far more effort, time, frustration, foul language or things being thrown; so repairs and such get done by someone with a different skill set to me.
It is therefore, important when considering a person with autism to remember that it is a very, very wide spectrum. For myself, I’m fairly high functioning; I can do most necessary things independently and there are those who require a great deal of support and assistance.
I was recently praised upon my honesty in talking about how the condition affects me. I talk about it, because, as a person in my forties before being made aware I read… by this, I mean that I read a lot, I then embarked upon a course to learn more about the condition, which allowed me to understand further and to relate my own experiences to the subject matter. I’m no expert, I just know a little. But in being open and honest about my being on the spectrum, I am be open and honest: why should I pretend to be something I’m not?
If I pretend, then I’m lying and I would rather not. Also, I believe that offering people the information allows them to process it. Also, by being open, I hope to reduce stigma. After all, there is a lot of us out there in the world and I hate to think that people are having to hide: the world is a scary enough place without having to hide and keep secrets.
I have the fortnightly sense of impending dread at the thought of going to Aldi this morning; but frankly I have reduced this fear of packing at the same speed as the cashier can scan the items by telling them that I am autistic and can they just give me a moment to pack.
Anyway, I hope that this helps someone. Whether they are on the spectrum personally, or if the spectrum touches upon their lives.
Anyone wishing to chat can contact me. I am also going to put up more specific cycling content later on this week for anyone interested.