Learning Your Limitations As An Autistic Person

(cn: discussion of ableism)

Hi all,
Today’s post will talk a bit about learning limitations in relation to autism as this is something that I had come to realise quite recently and would like to share some thoughts. One of the things that I was hoping to achieve this year was to possibly travel solo as a tourist in a foreign country for a few days as traveling is something that I have been really wanting to do for years. I had thought this was possible for me to do however I later realised that it was not something I am ready to handle yet. It had disappointed me however it was something that I needed to come to terms with as traveling is quite common for young people today and there is the expectation that young people like me will do quite a lot of it.

Life experience is often the best way to find out things for yourself. For an autistic person, this can include attempting unfamiliar situations or experiences new or with other people. The more life experience you have, the wiser you are and more self-aware you are of your own strengths and weaknesses (as I have previously talked about here). Knowing your limitations helps you assess what situations that you’d be able to handle and what would be best avoided. This helps avoid unnecessary meltdowns, drama and other possible serious incidents.

For example, many autistic people have sensory sensitivity meaning certain places like pubs, clubs and crowded cityscapes are best avoided otherwise a sensory overload could happen. For others, certain forms of communication may not be possible for them to do due to anxiety. For example, many autistic people cannot use the phone or hold unstructured face to face conversations so may seek to avoid them as much as possible. For those that require additional support, this knowledge is essential.

It’s okay if you cannot do certain things on your own. It’s okay if you cannot do it at all without help. It is not easy to ask for help as there is a stigma surrounding asking for help as society (in the West at least) places emphasis on individuality and autonomy. Society can be very ableist and quite hostile towards disabled people due to misunderstandings and stigma hence it is even harder for them to speak out. However, asking for help is also a form of strength as it shows acknowledgement of your own limitations and may be able to help you improve your overall quality of life. In the case of an autistic person, pushing yourself too hard risks leading to burnout or meltdowns afterwards often due to having to mask in order to be accepted by the NTs around you.

The right people will understand if you aren’t always able to do everything on your own and will support you. You may have to change your life goals so that they better align with what you are able to do. There is no shame in admitting that either. In my case I’ve had to re-evaluate what I would like to do with regards to traveling. There is no time limit for travelling or experiencing anything new aside from when your life ends and keeping that in mind helps me look at it from a new perspective. That in itself may prove useful for helping people come to terms with limitations.

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,
Subtle

(@subtle_writes)

Self-Awareness – The Importance of Learning it for Autistic People

Hi everyone,

The first post of 2018 on this blog will briefly discuss the importance of self-awareness and why it’s important for autistic people to develop this skill. This is something that I have personally undergone a lot lately so it has given me food for thought, hence the inspiration for this post.

Self-awareness is a powerful thing to have and to be able to utilise it is powerful as it can shape your personal development, career path, social interactions, romantic life (if applicable) as well as understanding certain events from the past (which helps avoid ruminating). The meaning of self-awareness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.” In other words, somebody realising whom they are and what makes them unique.

Autistic people are one social group that need to learn this skill more than others. There are a few reasons. Firstly, listening to perspectives from other social groups won’t apply fully (if at all) since each group has differing quantity and types of struggles they face (ie. Women, PoC, LGBTQ+) despite some overlap in places. Secondly, even within the autistic community itself, every autistic person is different because autism is a spectrum. Therefore, every autistic person needs to learn how their autism affects them uniquely. That said listening to other autistic peoples’ perspectives is important as some individual traits/quirks are relatable. Thirdly, this helps with personal development – namely, the autistic person finding out what life they want to live by finding out what works for them, what they like, dislike etc. and making themselves happy. This can take decades and that’s okay, there is no rush to do this.

The biggest reason though is self-acceptance. Once an autistic person understands and accept themselves the obstacles of life become easier to accept. This especially applies when it comes to masking as an allistic as this only can be done by autistic people for so long. Do you not want to go out and socialise like many extroverted allistics? That’s fine. Find something else that makes you happy such as engaging in a passionate hobby. Self-acceptance involves being happy with yourself and not worrying what other people think even if it deviates from “the norm.”

However achieving self-acceptance is much easier said than done especially with how society at large treats autistic people. This leads to additional obstacles such as anxiety, depression and internalised depression being placed in the way. However autistic people are awesome in their own way and they deserve to be self-aware just like allistics. In that way autistic people that are able to overcome/manage these obstacles are mentally stronger than many neurotypicals.

A final point worth noting regards advocating themselves to others. This is so they can be understood, validated and helped if need be. Because of this, it is important for those around them to accept what the autistic person says – friends, family, carers etc. One important message I have to say to those people is this – disabled/neurodiverse people know themselves best. They know their limits, their likes/dislikes, goals etc. They may not be able to put it into words but they have some idea even if they cannot form it. Sometimes you can help them do this but that should only be done if they are asked. Never invalidate their feelings or try to convince them or others that their feelings are what you believe they are. This contributes to some of the obstacles described above.

Either way, that is all for today. Hope 2018 treats you all well!

Best wishes,
Subtle

(@subtle_writes)