Autistic people process our senses differently, and that’s okay! Autism makes us who we are, and sensory processing is an important part of being autistic. People should try and understand autism and how it makes us different, instead of trying to change us.
“If the dynamic of autistic burnout really is related to spending more resources coping than one has, I’m not sure the real leverage in avoiding burnout resides with the autistic person alone.”
There are far too many examples of autistic people being arrested or sectioned, let alone reprimanded or ostracised, for having a meltdown—a reaction to difficulty and stress that is normal to our way of being, but not nearly well enough understood by others.
I believe that the best way to understand autistic minds is in terms of a thinking style which tends to concentrate resources in a few interests and concerns at any time, rather than distributing them widely.
Photo © dan_giles | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A red lit-up mute button featuring a crossed-out microphone symbol.] Alex Earhart autisticallyalex.com Hearing is the sense that gives me the most trouble to the point that I often wish I had a mute button for the world around me. Sometimes I even wonder what it would be like to have a cochlear implant that I could detach when sound was just too overpowering. The world is such a loud place and it seldom stops talking. Some days are better than others. Sometimes my brain does a better job at filtering sounds toward the back of my mind, but most days the sound comes at me all at once in a jumble of confusing, overwhelming chaos. Each sound jockeys for position at the front of my mind as each insists I pay close attention to its deafening shouts. It’s an exhausting…
Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © 2017, Maxfield Sparrow [image description: a turtle in the middle of the road on a hot, sunny day. His skin is dark with bright yellow stripes and his shell is ornate, covered with swirls of dark brown against a honey-yellow background. The turtle is rushing to get across the street and his back leg is extended from the speed and force of his dash toward freedom.] I hate meltdowns. I hate the way they take over my entire body. I hate the sick way I feel during a meltdown and I hate the long recovery time—sometimes minutes, but just as often entire days—afterward, when everything is too intense, and I am overwhelmed and exhausted and have to put my life on hold while I recover. I hate the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in front of others. I hate the fear that bubbles up…
The sad truth is that so many Autistic people, children and adults, go through autistic burnout with zero comprehension of what is happening to them, and with zero support from their friends and families.
When you help me cope with a meltdown and when you help create an environment that helps me avoid meltdowns, you are helping to build a kinder, gentler world that has room for everyone, no matter what kind of nervous system they have.