Autism Warriors

The choice to make it all a fight

Something is happening that is becoming harder to ignore. I have always been a peaceful person, live and let live, agree to disagree if necessary, you go your way I go mine. I tell people I am a lover, not a fighter. The fight is being brought to my door more frequently lately, or it is being pushed on others. I see more hype and more anger and more frustration, more people being targeted for angry attacks. Maybe I am just getting old, but it all seems so destructive and not helpful.

Kind of vague and non-specific rambling so far, right? Let me try to explain. Instead of conversation about any topic, I am meeting more people in groups I participate in and host who are intent on destroying and shutting down anybody who says something they disagree with.

I am experiencing and hearing more from others who have encountered individuals who specifically go to pages and sites to post angry diatribes about how bad certain expressed ideas are, and “why don’t you do “this and this and this” instead of saying “this” .
You are harming autistics, you are damaging and hurting us, you are not supporting us if you don’t “this and this and this” (naming specific ways the host, the speaker, the selected ‘target’ of the attack is supposed to think, act, believe and to do .
I have left several groups because of this rage and focused furious attacks on members who should be allies. If one does not think exactly as the attacker, one is a pure enemy and must be destroyed. I think this is a great illustration of classic autistic “black and white thinking”
This seems to happen on all ends of the spectrum, from parents of autistic children to old people like me, to young and barely communicating individuals using forums for social purposes.

I know about trolls, those who roam the internet deliberately stirring things up and provoking confrontations for the sake of their own amusement, and sometimes in gangs, joining together and taking turns attacking or observing others do the attacks.

What is different here is that these same attacking individuals are posting about how they go about their ways, and report triumphantly that they had these confrontations with the evil parents of struggling children, the evil old person who uses the wrong words, the evil person who dares express an opinion or suggests the wrong idea or thinks differently than what they “should”. They seem to see themselves as heroes setting the world right and destroying the monsters. Too many role playing video games in their past? Who knows?

In my own mind, I have an idea how the world “should” be too. It does not include attacking or shutting people down, shouting them down, harassing or distressing them or deliberately provoking defensive arguments. Autistic people have been bullied enough in “real life”. Forums and groups need ( for some of us) safe places where we can discuss ideas and support each other in our daily struggles. Life is hard enough without finding ourselves in the midst of angry diatribes and being the focus of hatred because our thoughts are different. We already know we are different every day. We don’t need attackers within our forums as well. I wonder what places on the internet spawn such angry and self justified individuals. I wonder how so many are seemingly cheering each other on as if they were accomplishing a victory or banishing an enemy.

I believe all sides need to be presented so that others can understand what the arguments are about, can see what issues are at stake, and can learn for themselves so that decisions are not made on quick gut emotions but are also clearly thought out and decided on from actual information.
I guess it is just another facet of autistic communication struggles, this direct attack behavior thinking of oneself as a hero, but it is one that I have difficulty finding peace with.
I would rather educate and elucidate, validate and inform than spend time fighting and fleeing while trying to defend ideas and thoughts.

I am learning how to use the “block” or “ignore” button.

I wish I had the inner strength, the ability to think quickly, the emotional resources to try to help these individuals, but I begin to think it is not passionate beliefs or intense devotion to a cause that they are espousing as much as it is some sort of sport, much as when the dog discovers its first henhouse. How exciting!!!
There, I am showing my old age, but I never did pretend to be anything but an old lady with autism… or maybe you prefer I say “autistic old lady”.
I actually use either description of myself and I don’t have to pretend that part.
No answers, life keeps rolling on. Watching with interest.

Autism Crisis

Emergencies can happen any time!

As part of my passion to inform and support older autistic individuals I also participate in some online forums. These are for the most part closed to the public and are designed as support and advice for autistic individuals exclusively. As well, there are a few public autism forums where anybody seeking information and/or support can join in.

Something that seems to happen frequently is that individuals on these forums appear with very urgent requests,
PM me
, Message Me,
Help Help Help.
It is urgent and immediately concerning, heartbreaking to get such requests from others in far away situations and no be able to provide information or help in a crisis.
Many times those messages may not reach others or provide the immediate aid the distressed individual is seeking.
Forums are not crisis lines or emergency hotlines. They are not meant to deal with emergency or crisis situations.

Lack of response can be triggering and lead to even more upset.

I would like to suggest that everybody has emergencies, distressing things happening in their lives, emotional or physical crises at some point.

We all need to be prepared ahead of time to have resources available when these emergencies do happen.

There are all sorts of emergency hotlines and helplines available today.
We can summon an ambulance or a fire team, we can call suicide hotlines, domestic abuse hotlines, we can seek urgent help for financial support, housing, food, and much more.

It is not unreasonable to spend a little time compiling a list of local to you emergency numbers to keep in a place where these can be accessed quickly.
Police, Fire, Ambulance, help and service hotline numbers are easy to find today using the internet.
Please take the time to prepare for emergencies ahead of time.
Write a list of helpful emergency numbers before you need them and keep them handy where you can find them if the worst suddenly happens.
You never know when an emergency or crisis will happen.
Help yourself find support quickly before you need to make that call.

Autism in Motion

We all have proprioceptive struggles

Autism is being understood more and more as a neurological difference that causes our sensory input to give us different information than the way neurotypical individuals process such input. We are “wired differently” in our neurology from all of our senses, and each of us is different.

I went looking for more information about the way we move as compared to neurotypical individuals. Much has been made recently of “micro movements” that seem to be common in autistic individuals, and how these movements might interfere with NT intuitive interpretation of social interaction.
Instinctive rejection of differing neurology is done rapidly and unconsciously by others interacting with autistic individuals.
Much comment has been made regarding how this could possibly be the basis for autistic social struggles.

I have been reading about involuntary movements and also about autistic “gait”.

I wrote about this a bit in the early days of the blog. I had been surprised to discover just how odd my gait must appear to others.

Gait is being analyzed and understood today through the use of diagnostic tools unimaginable only a few years ago.

I am attaching a link to an older article that discusses gait analysis and diagnostic imaging of individuals with various neurological diagnoses.

Most fascinating to me was the included video showing these gait differences clearly. ( thank goodness it was a clear and slow moving image that I could actually process! )

I was astounded to see my own gait reflected in the image for autism in the video. I have always been clumsy and awkward and my mother constantly criticized my way of walking, forcing me to crawl on the floor moving my head from side to side (remember the “patterning” theory of development in the 1960s?) and walk for hours trying impossibly to balance a book on top of my head.
She hated my my posture, and my gait, even going so far as to take me to a podiatrist, wanting him to fix my funny way of walking.
I recognized even at the time that he thought she was causing my self conscious and timid, awkward movement to be worse through her constant criticism.
He ended up telling her I had an extra bone in my ankle and that I could not help the way I moved.

She left me alone after that, what a relief!

I don’t believe for a minute I have any extra bones, I was so grateful to him for helping to free me of the continual harassment and criticism.

I digress.

When staying overnight with a sick friend at a hospital for a couple of days just a few years ago, I had to continually walk down a hallway which had a huge plate glass window at the end of it. When it was dark outside, this acted as a mirror to reflect my image as I walked toward it down that long hallway.
I could not help but observe my gait and was amazed to see how very odd it was! I tend to plant one leg and to swing the other leg around it in a sort of semi circle. One leg (my left) is almost straight in flight, moving forward without almost any deviation, and I weave my right leg around this one removing it from almost directly behind the left and swinging it in a sort of arc, placing it in front of the left, Sort of a weaving motion.

I was stunned. No wonder people look at me when I walk!!! How odd! I knew my gait was “off” but I had not realized how it looked to others. WOW.

That recognition was a couple of years ago.
Today I was searching online for articles on proprioception and gait, as well as micro motor motions.

I found this article from a few years ago.

Please watch it and look at the part where the motion of the autistic individual is shown.
Is there really a recognizable autistic gait?
That autistic individual portrays the exact same gait that I recognized in myself just a few years ago.
How interesting!
Are you aware of your gait?

What does it look like?

I am going to continue to search for more information about autism and our bodies in motion.

Misophonia and Autism

When little sounds drive you wild!

Misophonia is a common sensory processing struggle. It happens to individuals outside the autism spectrum too.

Recent studies, as quoted above show misophonia is a sensory processing disorder and most likely neurological in nature. No wonder Autistic individuals seem to experience this struggle more frequently.

The drip drip drip of water from the tap into the sink, the mouth breathing or open mouthed chewing of somebody across the room from you, the tapping of a branch on the window, or the clicking or tapping from toes, a constantly barking dog, anything can be the focus of this deeply frustrating processing disorder.
we can become anxious, furious, and even outraged at the percieved intrusiveness of the triggering sound or sound. This is not helpful to having good relationships with others, from co workers, peers in social situations, to members of a family. Misophonia can be very upsetting not only to the sufferer but to those around them who can become the focus of the rage and frustration involved in a triggered event.
There are things that can be done to address misophonia and to help sufferers cope.

One can use “white noise machines”, a safe space where the sufferer can retreat to avoid the input that upsets us, headphones with music or soothing sounds, some attempts have been made to de-sensitize through longer and longer exposures to the upsetting sounds, and using Biofeedback might help in some cases.
Occupational Therapists may be able to help, depending on their specialties.
Misophonia is rare enough in the general public that many Family Doctors have never heard of it.
If you struggle, you may ask for a referral to a neuro psychologist or other specialists. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to find ways to help and to make self accommodations to protect yourself and those you care about from the effects of misophonia.

Autism and Abuse

Abuse is reported at a much higher rate for autistic individuals.
This is a trusted web site. I don’t post many links here but the info in this page is too important to not share. Self care always first. Learn the signs of being abused and what to do about it.

we need to know we are more vulnerable due to our neurology and we need to learn to recognize unhealthy relationships in order to keep ourselves safe.

Like other parts of every day living, learning our diagnosis can give us new perspective on old problems and help us sort and find better ways to live our lives. It is never too late for self care, never too late to learn new ways to survive and even thrive.

I left an abusive relationship 40 years ago after learning to be abused at home and being a victim for years.
Learning healthy self assertive behavior saved my life and my sanity.
I first had to recognize that I had been abused, and I had to learn how to take responsibility for my own life and my own “complicity” or compliance in allowing the abuse to happen.
I had to learn new healthy behavior, how to make better decisions.
Reaching out for help saved my life . You do not have to do this alone!

Please take care of yourself, you are worthy of happiness, comfort, being loved, finding peace and self understanding. ❤

Autism and Sorting Emotions

Do you know and understand your emotions?

So many of us have been trained to comply, trained in obedience, trained to respond in only certain ways to certain demands by others.
Many autistic individuals on forums I attend have said they learned to disregard their feelings because they were told over and over that it didn’t matter, they must do what they were told from a very early age. “do it” nothing else was discussed or explained.

Regardless if the emotion was fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, their emotions were disregarded and told either verbally or by actions that what they felt was unimportant.

I internalized this to a great degree, since insisting on my own opinion led to punishment even before I could talk.

Resistance was futile, trying to give my opinion or have any influence on my own situation regardless of discomfort or upsetting circumstances, etc met only punishment, shaming, and other very unpleasant experiences.

So much easier to be compliant and to do whatever I was told, jump to it, make sure I was safe by appeasement no matter the personal cost to me. I will do anything you say, don’t be angry, don’t hurt me! That was the only way I lived for 40 years. Survival mode. I had no idea I had alternatives. I had to have it explained in detail that there were other options available. Rigid autistic thinking would not let me see this for myself.

I became depressed and anxious. I attempted suicide at age 30 and was sent to therapy.
I learned that I could not express emotions at all. I could not even find emotions to express.
3 therapists spent talk time asking me how I felt and all I could do was sit there and cry.
I said “I don’t know” repeatedly, or shook my head and remained mute. Miserable and discouraging. I had begged for therapy throughout childhood thinking it might help and when I finally got the opportunity, it seemed like it was yet another failure.

“Talk therapy” may not work with autistic individuals for this very reason. Discussion might need to be based on something else besides feelings. “what do you think happened” What seemed to be the problem? Why do you suppose they did or said that?? etc might work better for most of us. (what do you think?)

I finally found a therapist who could reach me and teach me by asking me to write and read.
I was able to write and revise letters to the person or thing that was upsetting me and through multiple revisions and reading back what I wrote, I was able to begin to sort my feelings.

I had to learn how to get angry and to sort that anger from sorrow. I had to learn to recognize frustration, I had to learn to sort all the feelings I had locked away. I had to recognize I was having these emotions and to sort out exactly what they were.
After 30 years, those emotions were locked up tight and it took lots of emotional homework and scary memory sorting to begin to understand even the most basic of my personal needs and wants.
I really had no other want except to appease other’s demands for so long, this was very, very difficult.

I wish I had found books on emotions back then, but I suspect there was little out there (I never looked!)
Today we have a wonderful tool called an emotion wheel. It actually names our emotions and helps us refine our understanding of our feelings. What a wonderful tool!
I found some good ones on the “ ” website,
You can find others all over the internet in a simple web search.
I know there are many children’s books explaining emotions today. Even Mr Rogers came after I was mostly grown. Since I never relied on TV It might not have done a thing for me anyway.
I can’t use video/tv etc, I rely on printed words.
Others will find video explanations useful, or podcasts.
We have so many resources to use to learn more about ourselves today. It is never too late to “find yourself” and have better self understanding.

It took a lifetime to find out I am autistic.

It is taking a lot of time to find the “holes” in my life experiences and to fix them.
Life has never been better.

If you have problems with outbursts or upsets but can’t define exactly why you are upset, if you cry easily, anger easily, or mostly feel not too much of anything, learning more about emotions may help you too.
I never understood “why” I was feeling upset and anxious, I never understood why I was fearful , overwhelmed, depressed. I still can not define anything that makes me “happy”. It is still a work in progress.
I would love to hear from others who find sorting emotions a struggle. What has helped sort emotions for you?

Training me

Why some “skills training” never works

I was gratified to find this article in my mailbox recently. It is so difficult to explain sometimes

why telling me I have messed up, correcting me and scolding me, giving me “pointers” or refusing to listen to my explanations about the way I struggle to understand my world are not helpful. This article/blog makes a good start.

I read books on “being popular”, books on “body language” , books on communication, empathy, social skills and manners, and was “taught”, “coached” “scolded” and punished for social blunders all of my life. I have tried so hard to fit in and to be aware of cues. This simply does not work for me (and for many other autistic individuals) because my “awareness” is broken. By the time my very poor visual and audio processing get through with any input, the subject under discussion has moved on and continues to progress, leaving me very far behind. I miss nuance, I miss tone, I miss subtle cues because my senses simply do not operate on a level where I can instantly and accurately interpret anything done “in real time”. I can not train my senses to pick up on cues in a timely manner, this will always be slow and inaccurate, and my understanding will always be impaired when doing things at normal speeds in “real life”. I have the same trouble watching video, movies, tv and with things like lectures, podcasts, and general conversations, especially in groups and in places where other things are going on around me, activities, background noises, other conversations, etc. No matter how many times you tell me to make eye contact, watch for body cues, listen for tone of voice or try to understand other cues which are obvious to those with normal (NT, neurotypical) sensory processing, I can not train my neurology to work faster, better, and more efficiently. For me, the best understanding of my world comes through reading the printed word and looking at charts, graphs, simple illustrations and images not in motion. Other senses are simply not reliable enough to use in every day interactions with others in a successful manner. Spending time over and over telling me I am doing it wrong will not fix it as much as I would like for that to happen. I desperately want to be able to interact successfully with others, and in quiet places with an understanding and patient other, I can many times do fairly well.
I am so frustrated with people who tell me “you can do it, you just have to try harder”. I can’t seem to explain to them that it is not a matter of teaching me what I ought to be doing, I know that full well after so many years of struggle and pain in unsuccessful interactions, even after all my study and my constant attempts to perform as expected. It has left me with a feeling of utter futility and perpetual frustration and some resentment too. I am capable of understanding how inadequate my neurology is, but all the wishing and trying in the world will not make me suddenly able to understand when my neurology is not adequate for performing the expected interaction, transaction, assignment, request, or task that I am asked to do.

It has left me with a feeling of complete futility and resignation, and I fully expect the blame and shame for my inadequate neurology to be placed on my simple ignorance, my willfulness, my lack of moral character and my stubborn refusal to cooperate out of spite, cruelty, haughtiness, pride or other assigned characteristics placed on my shoulders by neurotypical others who simply do not “get it”.

A few days ago somebody was telling me how I needed to get trained how to do a certain task involving making videos of others, and I tried to explain yet again that I didn’t think my visual and audio processing was adequate to the task.( I get motion sick among other things) I was ignored and told anybody could do it, denied that I had these struggles and that I simply was being recalcitrant and oppositional, I could do it if I would just try.

I guess in many ways our autism is very hidden. If we are good at faking it, we are then punished for the ways our neurology still can’t keep up with what is asked of us, judged as lazy, willful, ignorant, stubborn, and uncooperative, even accused of being passive aggressive when we fail at expected tasks .

I came home feeling like I was going to vomit, with a severe headache, neck and shoulder aches.
Once again I may have chosen the wrong group to volunteer for. I seem to be OK in very small groups, although I am exhausted after a meeting, but if I continue to come home not only physically and emotionally exhausted but also sick from the struggles of trying to “keep up” with what is happening in “real time” this is yet another failure at attempts to interact with others as a volunteer or to be useful in meaningful ways when interacting in “real time” with others.

You’d think I would have learned what doesn’t work after years of failed attempts, wouldn’t you?

It simply does not work to try to teach ourselves how to do things that are neurologically impossible for us. It simply does not work to tell me how I have failed in so many ways. I am painfully aware of this. I am made to feel the failure and the shame, It is not something I will get over by willpower and “training”. My neurology is what it is.

No matter how self aware we are, no matter how much we try, autism makes us different, autism is often a struggle, autsim is a core and essential part of who we are and who we must live. No amount of willpower or training will change my neurology.
Today is “autism awareness, autism acceptance, neurological diversity day” .

Autism and burnout

Self care always first

Burnout is common among autistic individuals since it takes so much energy to participate in every day life and all it entails. Most things that come naturally for NT (neurotypical or average) individuals are a struggle for many autistic folks, form daily activities such as shopping , workplace demands, housekeeping, care of family and trying to keep up on friendships and other important relationships. Even special interests can be all consuming and draining of energy, especially if there are a lot of other demands in one’s life.

I began to suspect my autism diagnosis about 6 years ago and spent several years studying autism, learning about it online, reading books, articles, blogs, and participating in forums for up to 5 hours almost every single day. I began to blog, have been trying to work on a book about adult autism, and attending several forums, being admin and moderator for several autism pages as well. Autism has become a second career. Add to that recent speaking and volunteering for a “lifelong learning” group at our local community college.

I could sustain that pace indefinitely but find I am exhausted now and in mourning. Our old dog is leaving us little by little. We will soon have to make a decision about putting her down. Mean time I am getting up every 2 hours every night to make sure there are no “accidents” in the house. This is leading to exhaustion and feeling tired most days, napping for a couple hours off and on during daytime hours. I am feeling very drained physically and emotionally. I know the physical side, not getting enough rest, contributes to the limited emotional resources I now seem to have. Depression is setting in.
Other struggles adding to this are complications and frustrations over book production and a recent bout of rejection after having been given a specific invitation to participate in giving a presentation have led to my feeling depressed and frustrated. I am glad I can recognize this right now and try to change things. Self care always first is one of my most insistent mantras, and I plan on taking my own advice.

Time to back off and do self care. I am cutting back on my groups and passing the torch of admin and moderator on to others where possible.
I am going to at least try to keep up with the blog and spend more time doing rest and self care things.
I want to head this off before it becomes complete depression and breakdown.

If you are feeling exhausted, frustrated, depressed, anxious and overwhelmed, are you taking the time to do self care?

Random Autistic Thoughts

Things that are on my mind lately: ” aha moments”

Things are kind of quiet and sad at our house. Our good old dog is ageing and it won’t be long before we have to make a painful decision. I am getting up very frequently to let her out at night and sleep is scarce lately. I am very very tired. This will be our last dog. Our cat too is elderly and has a chronic sickness, also not doing well. We have decided it would be unfair to bring a new animal into our lives at our old age and risk leaving an unwanted pet behind if we might pass on before it does. Risks of falls and all the chores of caretaking another animal might be too much as we continue to age. Animals have always been a very big part of my life, so my mind is working on this sad transition even as I expect it is coming soon.

So these circumstances got me thinking about my own ageing process. I am 70. Women in my autistic mother’s family tend to get dementia by age 80, although their bodies have gone on much longer. I feel as if my time is running out and there is a certain sense of urgency to almost everything I write or post these days.

Random thought two days ago. I am still sorting the past and gaining “aha” moments of insight, still putting past upsets, pains and struggles, humiliations, failures, etc to rest.
My mental filing system is working well and after maybe a couple of repeats even the worst memories agree to go to the “finished business” file where I send them and don’t seem to appear.

But with those issues settled, my brain keeps bringing new experiences from the past up for examination. I am rarely truly troubled by these memories as I have alread re lived and painfully examined them over time all these years, and can readily assign them to the files as soon as I recognize they too are “finished business”.

It crossed my mind that I have known about my autism for about 6 years, had diagnosis 2 1/2 years ago in Sept of 2022. I suddenly realized that I will probably be sifting, examining and sorting the past for the rest of my life.

I have loads of difficult memories in the memory bank to work through.
I wonder if I had obtained diagnosis earlier , would this still be the case?
I am willing to do the emotional homework, it is still interesting to understand those old traumas through the new lens of my autism.

I am randomly struck again by how truly impaired my sensory processing struggles and my neurology are. I have been so interested to follow random studies and look for blogs, books, articles on pages about autism, and to follow groups online which support older autistic adults and those of us who are just learning about autism and suspecting we may be autistic .

I made a comment in one forum about some books and links that had been helpful to me, and immediately after my comment, another participant listed many many websites and youtube, twitter, and other very recent media which all involve video and visual presentations.
I realized that I have missed out on many, many sources of input because I simply can not process video content (movies, videos, moving pictures or images of any sort or real life interactions/lectures, podcasts, etc) in “real time”. I was stunned with a huge feeling of loss for my inability to participate in those things.
I have long ago accepted my limitations, so the feeling did not last long, but the infrequent self insight is always an unpleasant surprise and involves for that short time a painful feeling of loss. I know everybody experiences these feelings off and on. It just tends to be something of a surprise. Like other “aha” moments it is a sudden unexpected insight sneaking up on me.

Like the disturbing memories I must file in my “finished business” mental file, and like the sudden insight into how impaired I actually am in one way or another, I suspect that I will also have other “aha” moments for the rest of my life.
I welcome most of those insights.

I have 68 years of not knowing about my autism to sort and understand. I have far less time on earth than that to continue to work to sort it all out. I truly consider myself a “work in progress” even at this late stage of life.

Autism and speaking

Autism mutism and related vocal topics

This started out with my own struggles with selective mutism as I thought about how to explain that. But selective mutism is just the tip of the iceberg.

One of the primary defined struggles listed in the DSM in order to diagnose autism is struggles with communication.
An autistic person must by default, then, have struggles with speaking, self expression, understanding others speech or communications, and responding to such as in a conversation, taking or giving directions, understanding expectations or intent, etc..
We may communicate with written words or sign language, use a message board or an electronic device and be able to communicate, all good.
But a significant number of autistic individuals have struggles, challenges, disabilities, and problems in speaking at all.

Studies tell us up to one third of autistic individuals never speak.

Many to most others( autistic individuals) have specific trouble with self expression, either due to physical or neurological differences, or because of anxiety or sensory processing differences.

Today’s children are being screened and helped much earlier in most places in the USA and much more is understood about how to help with communication skills.
Older adults may have grown up without benefit of professional assistance and my be firmly locked into old diagnoses or misunderstandings and labels about their speech patterns, their difficulties in self expression, about their ability to understand and to be understood.

How many older adults today could be helped though new tools being used to help youngsters in clinical and professional settings today? How many older adults trapped in institutions and care homes or at home in caretaking situations could benefit from today’s understanding of neurological problems with communication and speaking. Once labeled are these folks stuck in non productive and unhealthy patterns that keep them tied to being dependent and misunderstood, frustrated and heavily medicated??
How many could have a better life through better communication now that we have learned so much about autism, speech and communication, and physical, neurological and emotional/ anxiety which lead to difficulties in communication?

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that results in a person’s “locking up” or inability to speak at certain times or in certain situations. Selective does not mean that one has a choice or that one chooses to become mute, but rather that it happens only in select or specific situations or conditions.
In my own experience, it seems to be that my processing of speech and hearing (which are very poor) is not fast enough to meet sudden demands. I tend to lock up when asked to respond with words quickly with expectations from others as I am pressed to respond rapidly and with full understanding.
I just can’t make myself “go” that fast! I called it “deer in the headlights” response because I freeze before I can respond, just as a deer freezes sometimes before it explodes into action.

I am fortunate to be able to speak in most situations and have got better at it with my life experience.
As a child this was truly disabling, to be called upon in a classroom or expected to interact with a stranger and being prompted to “say something” in many situations where my anxiety was already on high alert. I simply could not perform as expected. The more anxious I become the less speech I seem to be capable of, and the slower I am to respond.

Today I can tell people ahead of time that this might happen or wait for the freeze response to pass and explain (not always, opportunity to say something in social situations is often fleeting)

If you struggle today with problems in communication of any form, be assured that you have many alternatives. You can get referred to professionals of all sorts who are able to help you sort out your struggles and help you get connected with tools and training you might need to live a better life through better communication.

If you were given a diagnosis regarding communication problems long ago and told there was nothing to do about it, consider checking with today’s speech and language experts, occupational therapists, psychologists, and other professionals to see if more has been learned since your diagnosis.

There is new understanding of speech and communication today and there are so many new ways to help. There is no shame in reaching out. Self care always first!