Being diagnosed late in life has meant that I’ve needed to learn a lot about a new subject that I didn’t know applied to me. I’ve read personal accounts written by autistic people, I’ve read research papers, I’ve looked into coping mechanisms – and mostly found that I’ve built my own solutions over the years without realising what I was doing. Trial and error were my constant companions.
Learning about what being autistic is, means that I can see the links between my behaviours and motivations for what they really are. Neurotypical motivations don’t apply to me, I don’t work like that.
It’s been a journey of acceptance and understanding that has increased my quality of life exponentially.
I listen to myself more. I recognise my needs. I don’t always do the things that would stop overload, but I’m aware of the consequences, I rock if I need to rock without worrying that I’m losing my mind. I just accept the soothing and forget the guilt.
Happiness is always a work in progress, it’s not the natural state of all living beings, it’s just one side of the coin. But I’m finding balance, my highs and lows are more even. I’m more peaceful. My ever-revving brain can be tuned to the things I want to think about, it can’t be stopped, but it can be nudged in the right direction.
So now I have something new to learn. For a very long time I was busy thinking that my brain was just like everyone else’s. I now know it isn’t.
Which means that I don’t know your brains at all.
It explains a lot. It explains why I couldn’t understand your actions, after-all, you must research and logicise as I do, mustn’t you? How else do you choose what to do? I could understand that some people can analyse more than others, but to not even try? You must have tried, so you must have known, so your actions must have been deliberate. Mustn’t they? Mine would have been.
Why do you play games with people? Why not say, “I like you”? Why did my now husband think I must be joking when I said it? Why was it only when we finally learnt I was autistic, that he actually realised I had meant it on day one? He needed that explanation because my motives were not the same as his.
All this autism awareness and acceptance and understanding is great, but where’s the neurotypical understanding?
I love trying to work you out. It’s a puzzle. A puzzle without the same rules that I have. You say things are wrong and then you do them anyway and it makes sense to you. I add all your unlesses to my lists as I come across them, and then I learn that each person has their own subtle nuances for their sub-clauses.
Going forwards my world is a study of motivations and predictions. There’s great joy in it. It’s all patterns. I’m a long way from getting things consistently right, but that’s part of the fun.
The important thing is that when I’m getting it wrong, I know that I cannot apply my motivations. Just as neurotypicals make their biggest mistakes when they apply their motivations to my actions. I’m not being rude when I can’t talk after over-extending myself socially. I’m not lazy when I’m tired after prolonged processing of too much sensory information.
I’m working on my neurotypical awareness.
It’s a work in progress.