I forgot what it was like to interact in the “real world”
I have been relying on internet communications, reading and writing and conversing in emails and on forums using the printed word almost always since I have obtained my autism diagnosis.
Yesterday I gave a talk on the nature of autism for the local adult learning group associated with the community college where I live. I was video taped and participants joined on Zoom.
There were 3 persons besides myself in the studio/classroom, including the camera operator and several online. I was gratified to have the support of the group to make my presentation, since I am trying to reach out to raise awareness of autism, especially in adults.
I had forgotten how difficult it is for me to do things in “real time” .
I became anxious as the presentation went on and more questions were asked. My mind could not form words fast enough to say clearly what I was thinking and I gave inadequate answers. My heart pounded, I had chest pains, and I was shaking inside… I was essentially in flight mode, I call it “stampede mode”. But I was able to finish the talk with the help and support of those in the room with me.
Interacting in “real time” with others even in that small group was so difficult and so draining. I must use a tremendous amount of energy to perform under ‘real time’ interactions.
When my sensory processing keeps me from keeping up with events, questions and what I am seeing it takes a huge amount of concentration to focus and understand, to prepare the words I want to speak and explain things adequately .
None of my spoken words or the things I hear are intuitive or well sorted, things just go too fast for my processing. I simply don’t have proper tools to do “real time” without struggles and anxiety.
I used so much energy and was so stressed and distressed by the time I got home!
I had forgotten what a toll on my physical and emotional resources it is to interact with others in “real time”.
I am amazed that I survived all those years of not knowing or understanding my diagnosis and that I survived with luck, keeping my sanity and health for most of my life. How blessed I have been, how lucky to have made it this far.
I was acutely aware yesterday of my sensory struggles, ( my disabilities) and am worried about how it will be seen and understood by those who are just learning about autism. Maybe that is good if observers could see how I struggled. That is part of the nature of autism.
I was exhausted by the time I got home about 2 hours after I had left home, and the inner quivering did not quit for several hours.
I am determined to do this more frequently if I can find groups to talk to, to force myself to interact in “real time” to explain and interact, answer questions and raise awareness about the real nature of autism without all the stereotyping and mistaken assumptions.
It is so important to me to spread the word about autism, to explain it, to try to reach adults who missed early diagnosis because it simply was not available at the time of our childhood or young adulthood.
I am hoping I will become more comfortable and be more self forgiving of my struggles and feelings of inadequacy as time goes by. Right now part of me feels like I failed miserably.
The video may be available on youtube for a while, look under “ALL Alpena Michigan” for a series of talks from this excellent program. I have never seen myself on video before. I think I am in for a shock. ( if they post it online) I will try to post a link here if the video is shown on line.
LINK address to Youtube video, you may have to copy and paste. thank you
Resting up now and doing self care, finding my self comfort rituals and trying to figure out how to do a better job next time. Thank you all for being here!