LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT
I want to tell you what it is like to have autism.
Inability to see the world through other people's eyes
At times you must think I don't care about you
or anyone else in the world. I am not more selfish or caring than
other children. I just have so much trouble seeing the world through
anyone's eyes other than mine. I may gain the ability to do this,
but it will be slower than most children. Apparently this empathy
with others is an incredibly complex task for our brains, and one
reason they are much larger than animal's brains. My brain just
has a much harder time learning that your thoughts, perceptions
and needs differ to mine.
Please don't think I am selfish, or think of you
just as an object. I have so much trouble seeing the world they
way you do. It is very difficult for me to follow what you are pointing
at, express my needs and fears to you, keep calm when things frustrate
me, or comprehend how my actions affect you. When I am overwhelmed
in the supermarket, I truly can't begin to grasp the frustration
and embarrassment you must feel as other shoppers judge you about
me and your alleged poor parenting skills.
I hope to get more social skills as I get older,
but I know you will still be frustrated with me. I will probably
rave on about my interests and take no interest in yours or other
people's. I may appear aloof, remote and disinterested in the feelings
of anyone else. My behavior will often be inappropriate. You will
feel at times that I am doing all these things intentionally. I
do know that your patience, love and strategies to help me understand
the world through other people's eyes increase my chances of showing
my love and gratitude to you.
Communication overwhelms me at times.It is so
hard to follow your speech when there are so many other sensations
bombarding me, and I can't understand your facial expressions, tone
of voice and what your body language is trying to tell me. Playing
with other children overloads me as well. It is so much easier to
stay in my own world and enjoy the order, pattern and routine of
my favorite things.
autism affects how I interpret of the world through
I have so much trouble with my senses. There is
a barrage of sights, sounds, textures, speech, tastes, smells, temperatures,
shapes, colors and images for me to process. Also I am much more
sensitive to some senses than you. When you are trying to talk to
me, I may be smiling at the pleasant hum of freeway traffic miles
away that you have the ability to filter out.
Your ability to filter out unwanted sensations
and make sense of the desired ones is another amazing thing the
brain can do. Mine has a lot of trouble with this. So often I am
awash in the details, unable to grasp the central meaning. I may
line up all my toys in straight lines and not use them for the purpose
you intended. In communication, I will have trouble with context
and take words at face value. If you tell me you have a cold, I
might think you have some ice in your pocket.
If we go to a picnic, you may remember chats with
friends, beautiful weather, laughing and having a wonderful day
in an abstract sense. I enjoyed the day because of the sound of
jets flying overhead, the smell of the cooking meat, the patterns
I saw in the picnic blanket and the feel of the grass I constantly
brushed with my fingers. I am drawn more to textures, vibrations,
smells, details and things instead of more general social experiences.
This is probably also why it is easier for me to understand and
remember things that I can see visually, instead of being told.
autism AND IMAGINATION
Imagination is another thing you probably take
for granted, but I don't. You will see other children in pretend
play, creating vivid stories, fantasies and role plays with gay
abandon. Once again, these skills require all the complexity of
the human brain. It is something I will only grasp slowly, if ever.
Pretending that something exists seems pointless and is another
reason I find playing with other children difficult.
My difficulties with imagination affect other
things too. My understanding of humor is unlikely to go much past
very concrete slapstick styles. It is difficult to imagine what
may happen in the future so tend to live much more in the present.
Lack of imagination makes it difficult for me to see wider possibilities
and opportunities, so I much prefer routines and order.
WHEN I AM UPSET OR ANGRY
Please understand that often when you think I
am misbehaving, I am trying to tell you something is wrong, but
I don't know how to express this yet. If I start screaming in a
public place, you get embarrassed, angry, frustrated and all sorts
of unpleasant emotions. But I don't do these things to make you
feel this way. Something has upset me and this is my only way of
letting you know. It might be the unpleasant feel of new clothes,
or a horrible sound you don't even notice or just simply too many
things happening around me and I feel swamped and helpless. Please
be patient and look for what is upsetting me. Please help me to
communicate better and respond a better way to things I don't like.
Returning your love
You have been very patient with me although it
must be easy to get angry, frustrated and sad because I am not developing
the way you hoped for. Please realize I still enjoy this life, although
in a different way to you. I hope one day I can develop enough to
express my gratitude to you for all your patience and love to me
even when I could not reflect it back to you yet.
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