As I continue down the journey of my personal self-discovery. One of the things that has helped me refrain myself from the process is the ability to make connections with others with similar challenges so the world that I was living in didn’t seem so small although it was physically, it made me be more of a friend that I ever have been.
When I had started using communication channels to connect myself to others with similar challenges, being the overly anxious person that I can now be at times, I would find every defense mechanism in finding a reason why that wouldn;t be a good thing.Yes it is wise to be educated in the ways to properly protect yourself from those with bad intentions. When finding someone it takes you putting on your detective hat and doing some research? Who are they mutually connected with? Does their profile look valid? Are you meeting them through groups of similar interests and needs?
It takes a strong backbone and recognizing when you are being led into vulnerability and then setting up the proper precautions. It is something that I have learned while growing up and then continually building my profile and setting the proper privacy settings so that I do not make myself or those I am connected with vulnerable as well. If it seems odd or looks deceptive then it probably is. Before you really get to know someone, do your research, see what they really want in your connection. For me I can read through the lines if someone is not being genuine and then I have to close that chapter for my own protection. Again do your research, are they in similar groups and communities as you are? Did they maybe go to the same school or they have places that seem like no one else would share that are entities that primarily serve those that are disabled, indications of autism related knowledge is a plus.
You, just as much as the other person, have to put up defensive boundaries to protect themselves and know what is safe to discuss versus what is not. I totally understand that it takes some courage to put yourself out there and before I moved out on my own I was very reluctant to do so. I would encourage anyone that is seeking to make genuine connections to join groups where you can share and get support for whatever challenge you are facing. As much as a double edge sword as Facebook can be if not used properly, it can be a driver in making sure that you can connect with others and maintain your wellness by making the world less of a lonely place to be in.
The fact that I hit rock bottom alongside when the world shut down because of COVID took away many of the supports that autistics needed to connect to the world outside of their home. Additionally, for a very long time, primarily due to a development of a vaccine and not having the opportunity to get a grasp of what the virus particularly was and how to protect those have higher support needs resulted in them being contained within their home even longer than the general population and as a result they have struggled with the ability to connect in the manner that we once did in addition of the extra precautions needed to be in what we know as the new normal.
As such, many autistic individuals that were dependent on community based activities where the ability to connect with other individuals has since diminished greatly. Prior to COVID, a push (at least in my state) was being made to abolish segregated entities such as workshops, adult day programs and other similar places were being waned in a capacity of just having a place to go for the day, rather the confines in which they would previously spend their day was beginning to make a push for individuals to be present in the communities that they reside in all walks of their life.
As a result, there are indeed individuals that have autism and other challenges that have increased challenges of them being integrated into the community because of challenges that present additional hardships or cause excessive burden in attempting to do so or through an attempt in good faith that results in extensive challenge where the need to reinvent the wheel and this is where either the individual or those in charge for their care have to begin to make their own connections. Having the ability to connect online is the golden ticket of having your connection to the outside world and as a result of the adverse effects of the government lockdown and the rebuilding of community integration, there has been more tools to ensure that individuals with autism and other related challenges have the tools at their disposal to be educated and know the safeguards of being able to make genuine and honest connections to increase their social network.
I know this post has been lengthy and can seem a little apprehensive when many of us make every attempt to keep our guard up from autistic individuals and those with similar challenges from becoming vulnerable from those wanting the innocence of the person. However, by the person being restricted to only the world they physically can see and feel, they are missing out on a world that has shut so many doors on them already and trying to rush them into something that they are not comfortable with. This makes them build their world on their terms.