Having autism means that I can find it difficult to express myself. I am on high alert most of the time because the world I live in can be very confusing for me. So my emotions can consume me and I can appear to go from 0-60 very quickly.
But think of my behaviour it as if it was an iceberg.
There is so much happening inside me that you cant see, that it can appear to you like I explode out of nowhere. But my behaviour is often my way to communicate to you that something is wrong.
I cant always tell you how I feel when I feel overwhelmed. If you look for clues and try to understand what is happening in my world you can usually work out what could be causing my distress....
If I am crying at the school gates and my mum can’t get me in through the school door Maybe I don’t know what’s happening at school today. Maybe all I need is for someone to tell me step by step what my day will look like.
If I am pacing up and down the room It might be my way of calming myself down. I am probably stressed and anxious and the adrenalin in my body is building higher and higher. If you push me at this point I may lash out or run away so give me time and space
If I am chewing on my sleeve Chewing on things can help me concentrate and focus. So that’s why I do it. Don’t tell me off, give me an alternative such as a chew bracelet or gum.
If I scribble all over my work I could have really low self-esteem or find the interaction that comes with praise difficult to handle. I don’t know what to say or do in response.
If I run down the corridor I could feel trapped and panic, so my natural instinct is to run away or lash out and I don’t want to hurt anyone so running away to escape the situation is my only option.
If I lash out I probably feel backed into a corner with no escape, I didn’t mean to hurt you but I need you to give me some space.
If I look at the work in front of me or refuse to do something It’s probably because I don’t understand it, I am afraid to have a go or it’s not clear enough. I need to see a clear beginning, middle and end. If it is too vague, open ended or difficult to make sense of my immediate reaction could be to just not do it and refuse.
If I wriggle and fidget on the carpet I could be keeping myself regulated and focussed as the language could be too fast or complex for me to follow and I am starting to switch off. A fiddle toy, reduced language and visual support could help me when I need to focus.
If I put my hands over my ears I am not being rude. It could be my way of shutting out all the distractions that are distressing me.
If I push into someone It could be that I have sensory processing difficulties and I don’t realise how hard I actually pushed, I may have thought I only tapped them.
If I interrupt or don’t answer your question I am not rude, I may not understand the social rules of conversation and don't understand that I have to wait and listen when others are speaking. Make sure you say my name first so I know you are talking to me.
If I take over during games It can mean that I don't know the rules, I can find it hard to see things from your point of view and I can struggle with the concept of losing.
You can help me by-
- Keeping your language clear, slow and concise
- You can give me some space
- Acknowledge and respect how I am feeling
- Provide me with an escape from the situation
- Make sure I know what is happening and what to expect
- Not seeing my behaviour as naughty and avoiding negative language
- Seeing things from my perspective
- Autism acceptance month A-Z (April 2016)