I’m tired of barriers hitting me in the face because I didn’t see them coming. When we talk about resilience in relation to autistic people, we’re often treated as though we lack resilience and I admit that personally I can sometimes feel like that’s true.

A lot of the things I do are complicated and stressful and require resilience and I can cope with that. When I have purpose and my problem-solving brain is taking charge, my resilience knows no bounds. I can stay calm in emergencies and do what needs doing, but when my resilience is measured by other people’s poor communication or an avoidable unexpected change, I can feel it crumble.

When we talk about getting autistic people into work we never give them credit for how resilient they have to be to deal with that change. We never give them bonuses for their achievements in coping with new place/people/routine all at once. The visible bit can be how overloading it all is when things don’t go according to plan and you’ve already coped with so much.

Being resilient enough to do the job is a different thing altogether. By then routine can have set in, environments aren’t new, support is in place, you know how things work; but those early days can be too much of a barrier for so many.

But I see you. I see how huge that beginning was, I know how tiring and painful and hard it can be, I know how unreliable the people you should be relying on may be; I see your resilience. I see it for what it is; that you are more – not less – resilient than those who aren’t affected by those things. You are incredible and mighty and if you can just push on through those difficulties can fade with familiarity and practice.

We are mightier than they will ever know and our resilience is humongous – even when we have to turn back.

15 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. Thank you, after taking a day of work today (because my anxiety has got so bad I wouldn’t have coped if anything went wrong), I needed this. I only started in October and have been working from home since November, it’s been so difficult and I dont give myself enough credit for how well I do cope normally

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    1. You are very welcome. You’re doing amazingly. Take the days you need to and go back with the certainty that you are showing such immense strength. You’ve got this 💐

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  2. Gosh, I so needed to hear that today! I found the most enormous wealth of encouragement in reading this. So much endeavour goes unseen whilst negotiating newness…to feel known and seen is the greatest joy. Thank you Rhi.

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  3. Please take care Rhi. Even in the roles and in the teams you would never expect, in your wildest dreams, the resilience needed to stop yourself from being completely broken from the numerous, NUMEROUS incidents that are wrong, discriminating, and soul-destroying. Because even in the “expert autism” teams it means nothing, despite putting yourself on the line for furthering the cause of what’s just and right and downright wrong, even then people will tut, people may say it’s wrong, you may even get a supportive manager (aka a person with power) to hopefully stand up for you and fight your corner, albeit only for a moment. When you take things further, and the multiple, MULTIPLE grievances are submitted, even then the people in power, the people in HR will, whilst dealing with these very instances, these multiple instances (aka grievances) they themselves will do you wrong. It is then that you realise that there is no hope, none whatsoever. Then also will come the crushing, soul-destroying realisation that you have put yourself on the line, for the cause, you’ve become broken. Even in your home time, your family time, you’re broken, because that is what it does to you. And so I offer these words of warning because I consider you a close friend and I would truly hate to see what’s happened to me happen to you too. Love.

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    1. Thank you. It is wise advice to only give as much as you can and it’s not advice I’ve always taken. Sometimes you can get stuck in the idea that you can improve things, when the right thing to do is to walk away. I always try to remember that if I take on too much then I can’t help anyone. Thank you 💐

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  4. I can really relate to this. Because I have had to become tough out of necessity, to learn to say: “No, you do not get to decide what’s right for me” to certain neurotypicals. For too long I allowed them to do that. No more. If no one else will stand up for me, I have to stand up for myself, despite whatever obstacles are put in front of me.

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  5. I just retired from a demanding job I held for 23 years. I cannot believe how toxic it was and how resilient I was. I also realized while working that the job required upwards of 98% of my capacity. It’s a strange adjustment to get used to not being so taxed, and not having to mask! I think I have a few months of healing coming up.

    Thanks for writing this. Your posts are always like the voice of a friend.

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  6. selfcare always first! that has become my mantra since my very late diagnosis. I know I have it (being resilient) because I survived my first 67 years without ever knowing about my autism and I lived to tell the story! Congratulations on surviving when there was so much more to adjust to, to cope with, to struggle through compared to neurotypical folks’ experiences. Give your self credit and I’m standing here on the side lines with admiration and cheering you on.

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  7. Not all people are created equal and that includes “neurotypicals” and people with autism spectrum disorder. I dislike the word neurotypical and that gave me a lot of trouble when I was trying to navigate out of the “victim” and “rescuer” mindset of Karman’s triangle.
    What also gave me some trouble is Maxine Ashton and Dr. Atwood’s books and influences. This gave my then borderline tendency partner (who I am happy to report no longer has those tendencies) who was masked as a neurotypical plenty of ammunition to try to crush my self-esteem. If only they prefaced their work with the understanding that there are exceptions and that there are aware people with Autism who have conquered their struggles and emphasized that through their work as well. That other people besides people with Autism have issues too.
    How I came out of things and that includes many Autistic behaviors and especially the high stress, was largely through my own research, journaling, and effort. There were also many who supported my quest and I will be eternally grateful to them.
    That being said, there were some things I learned through Atwell’s and Ashton’s work but the harm they did was greater than the benefit.
    Fact is there is plenty of prejudice around. The experts are no exception. Prejudice has been around a long time and it tends to change forms. That way people can feel better about themselves at the expense of others. That’s one thing that unfortunately has not changed in time.
    I am sure that I will be labeled and discriminated against. That’s nothing new to me. I will just do what I can until I can’t anymore while staying healthy and continuing to bring the family I have led into better health which is the highest of priorities for me now. I will not allow insults and words harm me. The reason is that I have a core. I know who I am. I’m happy with who I am and can be happy for who others are too as long as they don’t try to hurt me or the ones I love. I understand what other people are doing and saying. I don’t feel stressed. I stick up for myself and my family. I don’t need anyone painfully but am happy to give and receive. If that’s not normal, I don’t know what is.

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