I thought this week I would give you a look at Autism from the outside – how a neurotypical who is closet to me experiences my Autism.
I sat down with my long-term boyfriend Alex and asked him to answer honestly, a few questions which I had prepared. Other than my close family Alex is the only other person who I don’t try and, ‘mask’ my Autism around. He experiences my Autism on a daily basis and is a huge support to me when I am struggling. 5 years ago I opened up to him about my diagnosis, – he was one of the first people I told – he has been there for me every day since, I don’t think I can put into words how lucky I feel to have him in my life.
I remeber when I first told Alex about my diagnosis he couldn’t even pronouce the word ‘Aspergers’ correctly nor did he have any inkling as to what Autism is. For this reason the first question I asked him was… Describe Autism for me?
I have learnt that Autism means that someone struggles in social situations and also find aspects of life harder than those without a diagnosis. It also means that you are no different than neurotypicals you just have more to cope with.
Can you give an example of when you have been with me and thought, ‘she’s definitely Autistic’?
When you touched the screen on the fireplace to check if it was hot. You couldn’t take my word for it, you had to see for yourself – I could tell it was going to bother you until you had touched it. The consequence was that you burnt yourself, although this seemed to shock you despite it being obvious to me.
How do you feel when I have one of my meltdowns?
If it’s because a plan has changed then I do find it annoying and hard to deal with. Whilst I am ready to carry on and adapt to the change, you are not. I am learning to be more patient when these situations arise. I will mainly feel sad and helpless, I think if I experienced how you felt I would know how to help.
Can you give any tips on how you can help with a meltdown?
Give the person time and space, but let them know that when they are ready you are there to comfort them. I have learnt that if you instantly go straight into trying to spur them through their meltdown you will not help, you need to give them space so that they can process and work through it in their own mind. When they seem more calm that is when they are ready for you to help.
What’s your favourite Autistic trait of mine?
You’re organised beyone belief! You even organise my life for me – haha!
You’re a very sociable person who likes to go out and enjoys being in large groups of people – do you ever find it hard when we have to leave events early or I don’t attend alongside you due to me being unable to handle it?
I do find it hard as I will often want to stay longer but your wellbeing will always come first. I wish you would be able to attend every event with me but I understand when you sometimes choose to stay at home. This was certainly a lot harder for me when we hadn’t been dating that long and my knowledge of Autism was limited. I understand more now and am more willing to leave early. Arranging a time we will leave the event seems to work for us, that way if we choose a later time you are more able to cope better as you can almost, ‘count down’ to how much longer you have to cope for and I get to stay longer too.
What situations do you notice I really struggle to cope with – where my Autism becomes more prominent?
When a plan changes because you always completely flip-out and often take it out on me. A change in plans always incurs a meltdown. After a while, when you have calmed down you will often apologise though. I know you don’t mean to shout at me. I have learnt to stay calm and let you work through it.
Do you ever wish I wasn’t Autistic?
Never, I wouldn’t change a thing as it makes you who you are and I love you for who you are.
Anything else you would like to share?
The general public need to be educated on Autism. I didn’t know about the condition before I met Billie-Jade and I can see now how ignorant that was of me. I am so proud of her for writing this blog to educate others, including myself, about the condition. The more we learn, the more we will have the tools to help make life easier for those with Autism.