This is my A to Z of autism as it applies to me! Other people may have different experiences but these are mine and my opinions. Enjoy!
Asperger’s: often considered a mild form of autism but don’t say that to an Aspie, there’s nothing mild about it. Asperger’s is just a specific set of autistic traits.
Benefits: there are lots of benefits to having autism: focus, attention span, knowing a lot about specific interests, the list goes on.
Communication: some people with autism are non-verbal and use pictures to communicate. But that is still communication – just a different form.
Diagnosis: It can take years to get a diagnosis but it is almost freeing when it happens. Putting a name to the differences you always knew were there. It is like a signpost to help and advice and information.
Education: Some schools are great but some schools (and some teachers) just do not get autism. There is always the option of home education… I can see a post about home education is coming up.
Friends: Yes we have them. Enough said really.
Girls: Are there really less girls with autism or are they just better at hiding it and learning to fit in?
Help: If I am struggling with overload you can help by:
Not touching me
Finding somewhere quiet
Keeping calm and not shouting.
Idioms: Those strange sayings that people use like “Pull up your socks” and ‘It’s raining cats and dogs” They don’t mean at all what they say and can be confusing. Why would I pull my socks up, I’m wearing tights?
Jokes: Yes I get jokes and yes I find them funny – that is the funny ones anyway. I don’t like jokes where not everybody laughs though.
Knowledge: Often people will have a large amount of knowledge about a special interest. Great if you want to go on mastermind but also that special interest is comforting and helps people with autism deal with the stressors of life.
Lying: To lie shows a lot of empathy, as you know what the other person wants to hear and then tell them. I am very against lying for moral reasons but I do have empathy and could lie if I chose.
Mental health: People with autism often have accompanying anxiety – but it’s no wonder really trying to fit into a NT (see below) world all the time. It’s hard work I can tell you.
NT – Neurotypical – somebody who doesn’t have autism
Opportunities: I wish there were more opportunities for people with autism as I think we have a skill set which is very adaptable to many jobs. The statistics show more people with autism are out of work than in work. That makes me sad.
Processing: Sometimes it takes me longer to process what you are saying to me. I’m not stupid it’s just my brain is processing all the little details of life that your brain filters out.
Quirks: Yes I am a bit quirky but life wouldn’t be half as much fun to me without my quirks. Everybody has quirks (yes even NTs) and that is what makes this world so amazing.
Rules: They are really important to me and I need to follow them. I like rules – they make me feel secure.
Senses: And before you say anything there are seven senses, not five. The extra two are proprioception (knowing where your body is) and vestibular (balance). Sensory issues often accompany autism and senses can be too sensitive or under sensitive.
Timetables: No we are not all into train timetables, although personally I quite like them, but knowing what is happening when – like on cruise ships (see previous post) – is very reassuring.
Unique: This is my A-Z but if you have met one person with autism you have met one person with autism. This list will not apply to many with autism and that’s okay. We are all unique.
Visibility: Can you tell someone has autism just from looking? No it is a hidden disability and therefore some people think it doesn’t exist. It does and some little things can make life for a person with autism much easier. For example it would be helpful if some clothes shops turned down their music.
Worry: Because I know that sometimes I miss social cues I worry that I might miss them. With family and close friends I can be myself and trust them to speak honestly without adding confusing body language or sarcasm into the conversation. Thank you to my family and friends for this – it makes life so much easier.
eXercise: People with autism can find a sport that works for them. I found karate, fencing and rock climbing. Sports that aren’t team based worked for me.
Young: people often know about children with autism, but those children grow up to become adults with autism and sometimes the world forgets about the adults. For example out local cinema puts on screenings for people with autism where they leave the lights on and turn down the volume but they are always for children’s films.
Zig-zag: sometimes we just take a different path but we can still get there.