Holding it in

I have just finished watching the second series of A Typical, a Netflix show based around a young boy, Sam, who is on the Autistic Spectrum. I adore the show and it is a portrayal of Autism which I relate to, not just through Sam, but through his sister Casey too – it reminds me of my relationship with my younger brother and how I am always wanting to protect him from the world.

Whilst watching the show my Mum and boyfriend pointed out that I often comment on the way which Sam handles the different plot lines. I comment that I am like Sam in my head and I wished I let it out instead of ‘holding it in’. By it I am referring to my Autism.

I often find that in situations I have a running commentary in my head of things I want to say or impulsive things I want to do. I have to really work hard to hold some comments in as I have learnt over the years that they can be perceived as rude. If someone asks me if I like their new hairstyle or outfit I know I must respond politely even if I want to say it is the most hideous dress I have ever seen. Sam would say the latter as would I, in my head – it would take all my energy to rephrase it in a way which wouldn’t hurt the person’s feelings. I have learnt this skill through trial and error over the years. When people ask me for my opinion I feel like I am reading a script rather than speaking my mind due to me ‘holding in’ my Autism.

If Sam doesn’t wish to be in a situation he will announce this and then exit. In my head I would wish to do this but after being frowned upon over the years I will sit and suffer the bright lights or uninteresting conversation until I receive the social cue that I can leave.

I wish I could let my Autism take over as Sam does, but I am very aware of what others think and do not like anyone thinking badly of me. So, I let myself suffer and ‘hold it in’.

Trying to be socially acceptable when you’re not wired to be is exhausting and one of the many reasons why I often have burnouts. I understand many on the spectrum aren’t able to ‘hold it in’ just like Sam isn’t. I am lucky to have learnt this skill. I think ‘holding it in’ is similar to females on the spectrum often masking their autistic traits and mimicking how they believe they should behave leading their autism to be un-diagnosed until later on in life.

It may be because I am Autistic but I think we should be more honest with one another, say what we want to say and react how we want to react even if it does mean offending somebody. I think there’s a distinct difference between being rude, being cruel and being honest. Honesty would save a lot of time in life and make it much simpler. People on the spectrum are not being rude or cruel – they are being true to themselves.

Maybe us ASD sufferers are wired correctly and the neurotypicals are the odd ones out?

As Sam’s best friend Zahid says – “People with Autism are the normal ones as they see the world how it really is.”

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