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Well meaning people tell me to exercise my brain
I know I’m not alone being told that maybe I should try without some adjustments. To kind of exercise my brain and maybe get a little better at certain things. Increasing my tolerance for noise, for example, by not always using my headphones. Some well meaning people have told me I need to build up tolerance. Otherwise I will end up not tolerating any sounds at all. I get the idea that exposure can be a strategy if there is anxiety for certain sounds involved.
Autism and sensory sensitivity is not something you can train to go away or to tolerate better
But my sensory sensitivity is not something I can expose myself to to make it go away. It’s always there and aids like headphones prevents my brain from being easily overloaded. Maybe I could have done without headphones for a while in a noisy sound environment. But at what price? Using up a lot of energy to filter out disturbing sounds can result in not being able to do more that day. Or, to end up in meltdown or shutdown later. But you don’t see that. All you see is a person who seems to function well without headphones.
Autism is not social phobia
I sometimes get told that I should be out a little more around people, for example, go shopping etc so that I don’t become completely isolated or shy. Again, I understand the idea of exposure when it comes to anxiety in eg social phobia. But I don’t have social phobia. Not as described in the DSM. I am not afraid of social situations. They just take a lot of energy from me because I don’t read the social game the way neurotypicals do. My brain gets completely exhausted trying to interpret different codes, signals and emotions that people send out. Possibly that in turn gives me anxiety. But it’s not anxiety in the first place that dictates that I prefer not to meet so many people.T
How to help autistic people
The best way to help an autistic person, imo, is to encourage them to learn to identify their needs, to express them and to ask for help dealing with them in a way that is best for them. You wouldn’t ask someone who uses a wheelchair to come up to practice the 100m sprint without their weelchair. Why is it so hard to accept differences when it comes to the brain and things that are not immediately visible? Why so many opinions instead of asking how and why certain aids such as headphones for example, are helpful for an autistic person? Don’t assume that an autistic person can handle something well just because you don’t see an immediate reaction. The reaction may come when you are not looking.
More nuanced knowledge about autism needed
Better and more nuanced knowledge of autism is needed to prevent others to push themselves into a template they don’t fit into and the consequences of that. If my experience can contribute to that, well I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was worth my suffering, because I think that would just sound cheesy, but it does give it a new meaning. For me, that meaningfulness has to coexist with sadness and anger over what could have been. But perhaps mostly over what could have been avoided.
Do you want to see what other autistic people have to say about this subject, click here where I first posted this text –> https://www.instagram.com/p/CjurZHusZ47/
Thank you for reading.