Through Your Eyes
World Through Your Eyes – P.S. I Love You
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More by Britt Nicole
There are a number of preconceptions about how I'm supposed to look, as well as what an autistic person is and is not capable of.
Little Wing (rehearsal version)
When I ask what people mean by it, the response is usually that I "speak fluently" or "seem normal. Defining normal is a task for another social anthropologist. I am who I am because of my journey through life, and my current autistic self is a reflection of that journey.
I had a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, or high functioning autism , when I was about 8 years old. Considering that this diagnosis came about in the '90s, it was an early diagnosis, compared to some of my peers'. I imagine that I was displaying most of the typical signs of autism: repetitive behavior, sensitivity to visual, audio, and tactile stimuli, narrow ranges of interest, and difficulties in understanding body language and the subtleties of social interaction.
The only unusual elements were that I engaged in imaginative play — an area that was supposed to be beyond my abilities — and that I wanted to engage with other people. This led to a number of strange contradictions. Following an assessment, it came to light that I had a reading age of 18, but the professional opinion was that I wouldn't be able to comprehend the contents of a fictional book.
Alongside my studies, I went to speech therapists and took part in a number of short "holidays" with others in similar situations, where I was encouraged to learn social skills through exercises and role play.
- Imaging Mass Spectrometry: Protocols for Mass Microscopy;
- How to Write Letters that Win.
- Nechronicles: Exodus.
I practiced and tried to put my knowledge to the test in the real world, where nobody follows the rules — of taking turns, being polite, and not talking over someone — that we had learned. I love meeting people, spending time with others, and having a laugh. I am a member of various role playing and board games groups, while I also attend a writing group that occasionally goes out drinking and a drinking group that occasionally writes.
One aspect of my autism is that I'm constantly trying to read everyone around me. I try to gauge moods that I might not be aware of and display the correct signs that I'm engaging with and wanting to take part in conversation. It can take a lot out of me, and I need to spend a considerable amount of downtime unwinding and processing the events of the day. And yes, also getting to grips with the neuroses of any social faux pas that I may have committed.
For example, one of my work colleagues has suffered from a number of bereavements. I want to show that I'm sympathetic and that I empathize with her to the point that my heart feels heavy, but I am completely disfluent when it comes to expressing this verbally.
I am envious of those around me who are able to naturally and casually approach her and offer support. Instead, I have to rush off to get myself a coffee and return with my thoughts in order at a later time.