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Wired differently

November 26, 2019

 

We’re away for the weekend and I’ve observed these interesting patterns of socialisation in neurotypical people that just baffles me.
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Husband and I were told on checkin that we had access to a VIP section which was quiet, where people worked.
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We decided, completely outside of our true autistic nature to investigate.
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“Let’s humour ourselves and check it out”, says I, “we might enjoy it.”
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We walk into the VIP area where we’re greeted by two people at a desk who smile and ask if we’re here for the afternoon tea.
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We smile and I say very much outside of our comfort zone “Uhhh nooooooo…”.
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And they look at us and we look at them and I say against what I’d prefer to do which is walk out of there instantly, “So we’re looking for the area where people work? A quiet area?”
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Sure, we could go to our room but hey, I like to be adventurous and live on the edge sometimes.
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She smiles, gives us a tour, leads us to the quiet area where we’re still sitting and offers us a coffee.
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We give our orders and I say to my husband:
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“WHYYYYY would any person CHOOSE to leave the comfort of their room where they can get room service and instead, sit amongst strangers in order to be served food they haven’t chosen carefully?!”
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We had a good laugh at ourselves.
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Seriously though, when I choose to eat with someone I’m comfortable with, I generally go for the conversation and the food experience, yes.
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BUT I wouldn’t choose it if there was an alternative.
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I would never choose to go for afternoon tea amongst a busy room full of strangers chatting.
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Eating is a private and sacred experience for me, but perhaps that’s because I’m autistic.
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So is connecting with others.
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Our social communication is not in deficit, it is different.
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If I knew that lounge outside of this quiet room was full of self accepting, proud autistic people, I’d be there.
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Strangers or not.
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I’d know I was accepted and understood.
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I wouldn’t feel pressured to mask and exhausted afterwards as a result.
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I’d know I could say anything and have someone relate without fail.
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I could be late or leave early and not be afraid of disappointing or being disapproved of.
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Now this is not to insinuate that neurotypical
People aren’t kind, considerate and understanding.
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It’s just that I know my people.
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I know them by face, by communication, by energy.
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And I know that one of the greatest forms of relief in diagnosis for me personally was giving myself the freedom to not force myself to engage in communal activities when I didn’t want to.
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Not because I’m antisocial..
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Not because I’m a snob..
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Not because my social skills are lacking..
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But because I’m autistic.
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Wired differently.
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Wired to value smaller, closer, more intimate and personal connections with fewer people at once so I can REALLY connect.
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My brain is not wired to process all the smells, sounds, tastes, and energy of a busy and bustling environment full of human activity.
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I am wired for stillness, for quiet, for focus, for mindfulness.
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And whilst I’ve seen it written and heard it said that autistic people lack these very things, that’s simply because we’re put into environments that are not aligned with our neurotype and then considered disordered when it doesn’t work for us and others.
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We don’t throw birds into lakes and expect them to fly.
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It’s the same with us and highly social spaces.
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Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways
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Image: My wonderful partner for life

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