Perhaps unsurpisingly given the rest of my about section, my neurons are not very typical—I have a tendency to think of things in a different way and struggle to operate in certain situations, particularly social situations. I’m not formally diagnosed, but I am probably somewhere on the autism spectrum.
I also have anxiety, which can also make some situations harder for me to overcome.
I generally have coping methods for a lot of the most common situations, but that doesn’t mean I find them pleasant to be in or are comfortable being in those situations.
I’ve known that I’ve had anxiety for a long time, but I’ve only started being consciously aware of my neurodiversity relatively recently, and it’s only very recently that I’ve worked up the courage to be open about it.
I’ve written a blog post about coming to terms with being neurodiverse, and made social reconnection one of my 2023 yearly themes in an attempt to overcome some of my social anxiety.
Accommodating my neurodiversity
I find crowded and loud places unpleasant and, over periods of several hours, somewhat overwhelming. I’ll usually need a break to have a quiet walk and get some fresh air after a few hours.
I have some audio processing issues and can struggle to hear things properly if I’m not concentrating (for example, I cannot listen to someone talk and take notes at the same time). I tend to find it difficult to pick voices out of loud environments, and I can struggle with strong accents too. I’m slightly deaf in one ear too, which doesn’t help matters.
I can sometimes be a bit oblivious to social subtext. It’s usually better to be explicit about how you feel or what you want.
I’m absolute garbage at small talk (in perhaps stereotypically autistic fashion, it feels a lot like pointless filler). I’m also pretty bad at remembering names.
I have a variety of stims that you may see me perform. My stims are typically very subtle and non-disruptive, usually consist of wiggling fingers and toes, rocking back and forth, bobbing to music, and repeating sounds (echolalia).
Accommodating my anxiety
As above, it’s often helpful for folks to be explicit about how they feel or what they want. Leaving it down to subtext can cause me to overthink things, sometimes to the point of being unable to sleep.
I prefer communicating using asyncronous methods of communication such as messaging apps or email. They give me time to ponder questions, research information and refine any answers, rather than needing to respond immediately.
I struggle to initiate conversations or involve myself in ongoing conversations, as I always feel like I’m interrupting people and my presence might be unwanted.
Relatedly, I really dislike phone calls and presentations. Presentations are basically a smoothie of my anxiety, dysphoria and discomfort with crowds all mixed together.