I’m in the middle of reading Luke Beardon’s new book, “Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults” and I’ve paused to splurge this. I am frantically typing because I want to get back to it, but didn’t want to lose my train of thought.
I’m on the chapter about autistic resistance to change. Luke is sympathetically describing why, in a life of instability, we may need the small things to always be the same. It makes sense. It all makes sense. He does that. He’s one of those sense-makers. We need more of them.
It got me thinking about my routines, I have a lot of them. Every day I wake up about an hour before my alarm goes off, I have a coffee (always the same way), and one of those effervescent vitamin-energy-godawful-tasting things in a pint of water. That’s my breakfast.
You may say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it is. To me this routine is vital. It is time to settle and get my head around upcoming plans. I’ll run through the coming day, skim over tomorrow, bear in mind the looming week, and remind myself of any key events on the horizon.
It’s also sometimes the only thing I’ll drink all day. I don’t seem to get thirsty. Long ago I decided that the best way to make sure I drank something, would be to do it all at once. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing, and there have been times of nothing.
I don’t have to think about my breakfast, I don’t have to ruminate on it or make decisions, because it is a fixed point. It’s an easy bit. Lunch may depend on many factors, but breakfast is a certainty.
I need those points that don’t need thought. I need my reliable checkpoints to keep me grounded. I need to know that there are things in this world that don’t require my mental effort.
When they change without warning, I am lost. I have cried over spilt milk; not because it was spilled, but because it was the last of it and my coffee would be different.
I needed this book today. I’ve been feeling detached from myself. I’m glad Luke covered “mild autism” early on. It was levelled at me a few weeks ago. A warm smile and a, “well yours must be very mild” said with a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
A pat on the shoulder that turned my chest inside out because I hate to be touched by strangers. But that’s ok. It was probably a mild skin-crawling. That’s lucky. Phew.
I’d been feeling put-on-a-shelf; a shelf for those who have put all their effort into fitting in, and whose reward is to not be quite different enough to deserve consideration, but still too different to be included.
It left me angry with myself for putting a lifetime of effort into all this masking malarky, when I could have been using that energy on something I love doing instead. Tonight I am feeling more me again.
I’d better wrap this up, I have a book to finish, it’s good. I’d put up a picture, but I am a heartless monster who buys things on a kindle, so it wouldn’t be pretty. I’m guessing I’m just going to like it more and more. Fingers crossed there’ll be a dinosaur in the second half. There probably won’t be, but I always secretly hope someone will drop one in. You never know.
And I should know by now never to give up hope. This is a hopeful book, for hopeful people. It’s about the possibilities for a good kind of change. How we can adjust the environments for autistics to make things better. I’d give up my coffee for a world like that.
I’m going to do that autistic thing of saying something and assuming you’ll all know what I mean. Reading this book is like tipping a bucket of clean water slowly down a grassy bank. The flow just fast enough to make a smooth, wavey surface, that glints in the sunlight and throws water-patterns everywhere, whilst the fronds of grass wave back and forth within their thin river. I can’t manage higher praise than that.
And now I have finished it. What an uplifting final chapter, just loveliness. I am all a-glow (I barely noticed the lack of dinosaurs).