In gaining my skills to regroup for the next chapter in my life, I have made the decision to do a blog series on Adulting. The eleventh installment is about instilling positive interactions with others
Being on the Autism Spectrum comes with many stereotypes. One specifically I want to address is that we have no “filter”. This can be true as we age and learn a new vocabulary that comes with some vulgar and other words that can come across as harsh, when oftentimes, we are the most lovable person to so many and we care, yet there is also a stereotype that we do not care, when in reality we do. It could be we don’t have out mask (and I don’t mean our face covering), but or mental mask to where we must mimic others to get by in life, and it’s exhausting.
Another stereotype is that we want to be loners. That could be further from the truth. Being on the friend market is one of the hardest things to do. We want a friend, and we find one, but for one thing or another it doesn’t work, then it hurts you bad. Because it could be not your fault at all but at the same time you are often masking and thinking every single play of the friendship and what word choice and its like a chessboard waiting for what move you will make to advance the friendship. To be honest it’s exhausting and cumbersome, that at times a friend becomes worried if you are ok. You want to tell them their faults, but you are so afraid to that you can’t because you are in fear of losing that sole mutual connection that you’ve been longing for an extensive time.
I would not be anywhere in a working, professional, or other relationship without the roleplay tool, where I must constantly rehearse the words I am going to say to a person. There were times I didn’t, and I realized that sometimes later in life and I feel really bad. Sometimes my word choice wasn’t the best and it had a poor outcome. That, with many things could have cost me a lot of failures, however it would be the saving grace of my “village” to get me back on my feet and while it would be almost another year before I would be myself again, it would pay dividends off in the future.
When we are interacting with others and we are not masking, we must be wise and considerate of the word choices we make, because others may not see the whole picture, but you may need to explain to them what you see and meet a mutual connection of how to resolve the issue at hand. This isn’t easy. For me it takes sometimes mimicking those conversations on YouTube or watching the TV. Seeing how other characters display their body language, especially if you re-watch a movie that you enjoyed as a child but watch it when you have expanded your vocabulary and understand subtle meanings.
One of those for me was the 1994 film Forrest Gump, and I know what my following autists are thinking, yes, a movie of a perceived autistic. However, there were things I caught onto even ten years after it came out when I watched it as a young adult, such as his mom having a night with the school principal so here boy could have the finest education possible (what I would call a true educational advocate.) The movie has several metaphors that we as autistics wouldn’t get at the age he was at, so we see how he is perceived as autistic. How he longs for a relationship and had the chance one New Year’s Day, but his senses were heightened, and he broke up the double date. He felt sorry after, but he had good friends. And he had that relationship he did, he just didn’t know it and had a offspring that he met before his longtime lady friend then wife would pass away, but he was faithful to her and stood up to her. Yes, years later, I kept track of those subtle moments in the movie and it made more sense of things and helped me to interact more and understand things better.
In essence, rehearse, roleplay, choose your words wisely and you’ve got this!