April is Autism awareness month, and I thought I would start off with a couple of blogs about what it can be like to have even mild autism. I find xkcd to be a good way to illustrate many different points in conversation, technology, and life. It is where a picture and some words say more than a long essay can.
While I have been told not being good with conversations is a human condition, every day seems to combine the following cartoons together. I either need a checklist to remember what things I need to ‘fulfill’ in a social conversation or I end up not knowing if the conversation has ended or not.
These are funny to me because I know I end up like this daily, but they are also not funny because it is frustrating to me and everyone around me. It can seem to them a lot like
I also realize I am very lucky. I can carry my post-it notes in my head most of the time, and only need to be reminded how to do things every now and then. Other people have it where it isn’t ‘funny’ and every day is a struggle to keep the world together.
There are other parts of autism which are harder to describe. The inability to close off sounds and scents are harder to explain. Some days it is an easy task, other days it is exactly like:
On days like that I can’t sit in even a library without it sounding like a cacophony of voices. The brain tries to parse every conversation which can make a work meeting much harder because the brain is trying to make each word heard part of a coherent conversation. This means that manager talking in the room and the guy outside on the phone to his girl friend get intermingled at times. You wonder why the manager is asking if you have a negligee or some other weird connotation. I end up having to cup my ears to focus on what one conversation at a time is doing or just write down prime numbers on a sheet of paper until the brain stops muddling up.
I know this isn’t how it is for every person with autism.. each one of us has it slightly different. I have been incredibly lucky in how my autism has manifested and just want to help people who don’t know what it might be like to know.