Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. A short blog post this week, but hopefully as sweet as it is short. The cause of my brevity is that I’ve got a lot going on, and neural load is finite. But at least it’s mainly good stuff I’ve got going on – I’ll come to the really good stuff shortly, but first…
Part 2 of Inside Our Autistic Minds aired this week. Much of what I said about it last week still applies, but of course two different autistic people were featured this time. The most interesting thing from the second episode, I feel, was the different reactions of the families and friends of the two autistic people to their short films. For Anton, it seemed his friends accepted the fact that he was autistic with little more than a friendly shrug of the shoulders, and a warm, So what? This was exactly what I would have expected from a bunch of working-class, northern blokes – I know that background well. I had to respond with a sigh, though, when one of Anton’s friends commented his younger brother was autistic, and described him as “wild”. Stuff like that doesn’t help, and while autistic viewers can rightly point to that as an example of the crap we keep having to put up with, for the casual viewer it was more anti-autistic bullshit that seeps into the public consciousness. For Ethan, it was more like a dam bursting, with a sudden flood of good will from his fellow students. I’m not sure it was all genuine, but I guess time will tell. Ethan’s explanation of his sensory issues was pretty compelling, and will have done a lot to educate some viewers.
After watching Inside Our Autistic Minds, I began to think about what happens when you come out as autistic. I suspected a lot of people would have watched the show and started to wonder if they might be autistic. Getting an autism diagnosis and then deciding whether to come out as autistic is not straightforward. This led me to publish a short Twitter thread on the subject, the content of which was this…
- There are a lot of non-autistic people chatting online about autism, in the wake of Inside Our Autistic Minds. Some of those people might not really be non-autistic at all, and are just starting to wonder…
- And when people start to wonder if they’re autistic, they wonder whether to pursue a diagnosis, either formally or via self-diagnosis. They might share their thoughts about this with family, friends, loved ones. To all those, I say this…
- Finding out you’re autistic in adulthood changes you. Other people might say a diagnosis doesn’t change you because you’re still the same person you always were. They are wrong. An adult diagnosis of autism changes you…
- Suddenly, you have a new perspective on your past. Everything makes sense in a new way. It’s both liberating and traumatic. Nothing will ever be the same. As you become more aware of your autistic traits, you’ll probably get the feeling you’re becoming more autistic.
- So whether you think you might be autistic, or you think someone close to you might be, either way the discovery will rock your world. Be ready for it.
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to understand this. I don’t say it to put anyone off pursuing a diagnosis, quite the opposite. But it helps to be aware that the transition into realising you are autistic makes fundamental changes to how to see the world, the people around you, and importantly, how you see your past and future.
Depending on whether you have already encountered the concept, you might be wondering what the hell I was talking about when I said in my thread that you might get the feeling you are becoming more autistic. This isn’t as daft as it might sound to some people. The extra awareness you gain about your autistic traits when you finally accept you are autistic after a diagnosis in adulthood does often leave people feeling they are getting more autistic. It’s something that is discussed regularly in autistic spaces on social media. It’s the extra understanding, self-acceptance, and removal of denial that leads to this feeling. And when you start to understand your own autistic traits, you might find you become more sensitive to things like sensory triggers as you now understand what sensory overload means and how it affects you. It was interesting to hear Chris Packham talk about how uncomfortable supermarkets make him because of the sensory issues. I worked in busy supermarkets for most of my adult life. Now, I can barely stand them, due to the sensory overload. So why didn’t that overload affect me while I was working in them? I did it for almost thirty years, so where was the overload?
The fact is, as people who know me well can confirm, throughout my time working in supermarkets, I often felt unwell in ways I could not articulate. I would often mentally chide myself to man up, and get on with it. I remember many occasions when moving from warehouse space or office space onto a busy shop floor would fill me with dread, but I couldn’t explain why. There were times when the shop was extremely busy that I would feel lightheaded and panicky on a crowded shop floor. I simply didn’t know what was making me feel that way. Now I understand it, I detest being in crowded shops of any kind. I recognise the discomfort as soon as it starts, and I can’t bear it. If I had to go back to working in supermarkets now… well, I don’t think I could. The environment would destroy me. This is just the tip of the iceberg of how learning you are autistic can change you. There’s much more to cover, but no time right now.
So, to finish with this week; some good news. Regular readers will already know about the ridiculous two-year soap opera that has been me trying to find a more suitable place to live. I’ve had so many disappointments, culminating in my recent decision to pull out of buying a house when things went horribly wrong. Following this, I made the reluctant decision to carry on renting for a while, but to try to find somewhere in a better location. Well, it looks like I’ve done it.
There are a couple of checks and signatures to complete, but even my most cautious self is finding it hard to doubt this will complete. All being well, by the time you read my next blog, I’ll be in a lovely flat in Sheffield’s Kelham Island. And best of all; it’s in the same block as my son’s apartment. It will be nice to not have to drive across the city to see him. It’s closer to my place of work, too, so that horrible commute will be gone. I’ll gain a minimum of an hour and a half every working day. Honestly, I’m so pleased, I can’t even describe it.
I will never put this blog behind a paywall. I want anyone, anywhere, to be able to access this content at any time. There are costs incurred running this website, however. So if you like what I’m trying to do here, please feel free to show your support with a small contribution via buymeacoffee.com.
So, on that happy note, that’s all for this week. Until next time, take care.
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Why Do I Write This Blog?
When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism. I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation. With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery. Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers. I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.
You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.