Friday, September 7, 2012

5 Things A Person with Autism Needs

1. Patience
 
Realize that it takes me longer to do things. My thinking is sometimes slower and it takes me longer to process what’s going on, what I have to do next, and how I’m supposed to do it. Please do not get frustrated if you find this tedious. I work best at my own speed. Do not try to rush me because I will only get more confused and more anxious. It also takes me longer to mature, to learn and to accept change in routine. And sometimes I need to be shown how to do things because sometimes I have trouble trying to figure out some things on my own. A lot of times I have trouble applying past experiences to new ones and at times it feel like I need to learn new tasks all the way from square one. Let me grow at my own pace.

2. Space
 
There will be many times when I will turn inward. I like to shut out the world around me, block everything out. My focus is in a place you can’t see. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it less real for me. Please give me my space when I’m in this place. I’m not doing it on purpose or because I dislike you or to get back at you or to get out of doing something. It’s like a bubble engulfing me and it’s hard for me to pop it. I attempt to break out of it but my focus and attention is poor. It’s best if you just let me be in my own space because when I get in this place, it’s calming and my thoughts aren’t racing like they normally do. The sounds and touches that normally irritate me and distract me are dull and my heart is not racing. I don’t like being in this place because I have trouble with getting things done, but I love being in it because it is safe and it is calm. I am sensitive to my environment and I have sensory issues so please remember that when things get loud, crowded, or chaotic, I get overwhelmed and frightened and over-stimulated. Please don’t stare or point or ridicule when you see me acting strangely. Please realize that it’s because of my current environment that makes me act this way; it’s because I’m surrounded with confusing stimuli and I am overwhelmed.

3. Support
 
I need to find my niche, my favorite activity, my talent. Please help me to find it so I have something to do that I am good at. This will give me confidence in life. Even if it is something as simple as stacking blocks. Whatever it is, it is my own activity—my talent—and I enjoy it and need to feel I always have something to calm me, something to keep me busy. When I find what I am good at, my self-esteem will increase. When you get me the support that I need, my life will progress and blossom. Please fight for my rights and get me support that I need because this world often looks down on me. I am a person just as you are but I just need a little extra help and some things I cannot do on my own so I need advocates who will help to get me in a good place in life. Because I’m not connected to the world and to people as well as you are, I will always need some guidance on how to maneuver in this world. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be helped. I appreciate everything you do for me but sometimes my autism makes me unable to show you that. Please never give up on me.

4. Structure
 
I work best when everything is predictable. When things are always changing, my brain can’t keep up. It feels as though the world spins too fast for me and everything is helplessly out of control. I can’t predict what will happen next and many days I live in fear of something drastically changing. I fear of not being able to keep up. It can be the smallest thing that can set me into panic—a thing you wouldn’t think twice about: the wrong brand of cereal, the smell of a strong air spray, the sound of something in the basement, the feeling of stiff, hard jeans on my legs. I am just more sensitive to everything around me; that is how my brain works. I like to think of my brain as a fine-tuned microscope that studies tiny things you normally don’t even see with your naked eye. When I focus on tiny details, it is quite distressing when they suddenly change. It’s just a different perspective I have—a different way of thinking, a unique perspective. Please always remember that because of how my brain works differently from yours, I see life slightly differently than you do. The best thing for me is consistence in my daily activities. Routine makes me feel safe. Little changes put me in a panic and no one can function like that for too long. Because of my sensitivity to stimuli and the way my brain focuses on little things, my anxiety is easily triggered and the best thing to do is to help me to re-adjust to my comfort zone. It may seem redundant and mundane to you to live life the way I do, but to me it is safe and comfortable and that is what I like. Feeling safe and comfortable makes me happy and that enables me to flourish.

5. Understanding and Love
 
I saved this for last because I feel it is the most important. Realize that I see the world differently. I process information in ways that are strange to you. I misread, I pick up the wrong details, I miss important cues. Understand that if I do things that appear strange to you, it is normal, safe and comfortable for me. Things are louder for me than they are for you. Tiny things distract me when you wouldn’t even think twice about them: for example, the ticking of a clock, the wind rumbling outside, the blinking lights on fire alarms, the flickering of a computer screen, the seams in my socks. The world moves too fast for me and at times it seems like it’s a chaotic mess. Many times I find myself trying to figure out what is going on and how all these people are unabashed. It can be scary. So please understand that there will be times when I will avoid certain things and situations at all costs. You may not see what it is that frightens me, but that does not make it unreal for me. Something may be so simple for you, and you may think that anyone in the world can do it, but it may be terribly frightening, uncomfortable or difficult for me to do. Understand that I see everything differently from you . I am a human being and I deserve rights and respect like anyone else. My disability doesn’t make me less than anyone else. I have trouble coping in this world and I have difficulties with socializing and communicating, but I am still inside myself—I am a human being and I have feelings just like everyone else. I just have trouble expressing them and bringing them outside of my head. Even though at times it may seem invisible to you, I LOVE just as you do, and I need your unrelenting love in return. There will be a lot of people in life who will not understand me, who will be annoyed or even afraid of me and I will feel that shadow over me. All I need is your love and to know that there is someone, if only just one person, who loves me unconditionally for who I am.
By Ashley Florek

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