Wellness Wednesday: Connections

This week has been its ups and downs. First, I want to report that the weight loss and walking is continuing at a good pace. We made a milestone over the past weekend of reaching an overlook, as we did last fall. We will be getting there over the next few times before progressing forward. However, this week I want to focus on the need for connections in our lives. When I speak of connections, I mean the need to connect with others in whatever way you need to as an autistic person.

As an autistic person, a common stereotype is that we like to be alone. This is simply not the case, at least not for me anyway. I long for connection and when I get it, I feel much more satisfied and well. When I do not have that connection, as I did this week, I tend to isolate. This results in me dislocating from the real world and not wanting to be around anyone.  Friends to an autistic person can mean the world. We just want to belong in a society that has a wide array of norms that we quite don’t understand. It can be difficult to navigate the uphill battle we face on a consistent battle of needing to understand others and feel accepted.  We just want someone to accept us for who we are.

While I have family and that is a great connection to have because they know us better than anyone else. There’s a lot of contention by parent-advocates on social media that they are not listening to their autistic. However, in many cases I feel that is simply not true because they know their child more than anyone they know and, in many cases, they want their child to live as full and engaging life as much as possible as they come of age. At times, especially in non-speaking autistics, they are discounted for their value that they can contribute to a friendship or conversation. Clearly all autistics just as much as neurotypicals want that acceptance that we all long for and to have connection with people other than my parents.

It took me a long time to accept that in elements other than with my parents because of the often times generational differences of parents and child. I believe that if a parent wants to connect with their autistic child and it is of a healthy relationship, then by all means have that relationship. I have a quite close bond with both of my parents; however, I tend to lean on my mother more for support as she is the more supportive individual in the parental dynamic. Siblings cannot be discounted either. They can be a listening ear and as a support in many cases on the level of the autistic individual that they cannot otherwise have. Yes, siblings of autistics can at times feel that they do not receive a proper amount of attention to their needs because the needs of the autistic child can outweigh that need. It is a delicate balancing act as is any family of multiple children to manage, but even more difficult when an autistic child is involved. Ultimately, the needs of siblings cannot be discounted nor their value to the autistic as they age and can sometimes become their number one support.

Regardless an autistic need to connect with someone other than their parents is oftentimes paramount. Especially in the need for another autistic peer so that they can bounce ideas and feel validation of how they feel about things that their parents and neurotypical friends cannot comprehend. Neurotypical friends and allies should also be valued as their interpreter to society when we go into the world that has multiple social norms that we may just not always understand. Both are key essential connections to have in the lives of an autistic person. They must also understand while we value their connection and input, we must sometimes need a break for ourselves to regulate and recharge our batteries because of being overwhelmed as it would in any other instance where we may not feel comfortable and mask our norms so we can function in society.

The point of the story is, we want friends, autistic and neurotypical, we want that connection.

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