One of the thing that I’ve noticed over the years since my autism diagnosis is how others on the spectrum demand the world accommodate to them. That makes sense; like other persons with disabilities, there is a time when you do have to demand that changes be made to be able to work or simply live. But there are times that I wonder if what has to be done, when possible, is to…well, suck it up and try to adapt.
Let me explain. Something that I am learning over the years is that people won’t always bend to your wishes. There are a lot of reasons why some valid and some not. More often than not it bad intent, it just is. I’ve experienced this in a lot of situations. In those times, I’ve learned to stretch myself and try to adapt as much as possible. It isn’t easy and it’s not always successful, but what I am learning in life is that life really isn’t fair and that sometimes you just have to find the best way to get something done. Sometimes saying that your autism means that you are so focused on something that you forgot the other thing you needed to do won’t cut. Sometimes all you can do is apologize and say you will do better.
I’ve been trained as a journalist. Being a journalist means you have to interview people. Interviewing is not easy for me for the simple reason, meeting people and doing small talk is difficult. The other part is that I have to try to create a story from my notes. There is a part of being autistic that focuses on perfection. I wanted to make sure my stories had the right information and I was trying to make sure that the quote I used was exact. Let’s not even start talking about using the phone. The whole thing was draining and it made me not want to write stories even though I loved writing and I loved writing stories.
Without going into much detail, I was pushed to have to interview people and write again. It’s my job and for a long time, I was trying to avoid it. But when I had to do it, I had to find ways to adapt. Using dictation software on my iPhone helps with the fear of having to be perfect. I’ve had to learn to make small talk with people and I also wrote stories ahead of time so that I wasn’t so nervous.
I’ve had to adapt. I didn’t have a choice.
I don’t want my experience is something everyone with autism/Aspergers should do what I’ve done. Not everyone has autism like I do. But if you can adapt, I think you should try it. Just because you’re autistic, doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself.
I’m glad I was pushed into something I had to do. Reporting and writing didn’t have to be a chore. I learned to use tools that would make it easier for me to do the work. If I never allowed myself to try to adapt, I might feel better, but I think I would be a lesser person.
When I titled this “It’s a neurotypical world and I just live in it,” I was trying to get the point across that sometimes I can’t expect the world to make room for me; I have to adapt. Sometimes you have to. But I think I’ve learned I can live in this strange world at least on some days.