08 July 2007

A Few Bits Of Advice To Young Auties From An Older One

Have been doin' some thinkin', in however disorganised a fashion, about what I might say to any young Autistic about what to expect about livin' on one's own in the Big, Bad World, once he or she leaves home, if that's possible.

The following's a distillation of a combination of advice I've read and heard from some Neuro-typicals(so-called normals, for those of you who've never seen this term before) and folks with other disabillities, whom I've known over the 42, nearly 43, years I've lived, as well as bits and bobs I've cobbled together from my own experiences.

I don't claim that the following applies equally well to every autie on every occasion. They don't. Every autie, like any other human being, comes from a wide variety of backgrounds, and has his or her own temperament and range of experiences to deal with.

These are only my opinions, and don't necessarily apply to everyone and every situation.

One other thing: I can't say that I've always lived this advice, or that I've done it well. There are many occasions where I've not, and there will be many occasions, I'm sure, where I won't. I'm a human being, not God, and only Deities live their lives with a 100% consistency rate, unless they're Greco-Roman deities, who are as vain, capricious and nasty at times, as any human being.

I, on the other hand, am a human being doin' the best he can with what he has, and sometimes, that just ain't enough. Sometimes, too, I fail, just as anyone else can, and I think that anyone proffering advice of any kind has the obligation to say something like this. Otherwise, they're either lying to you, themselves, or both.

'Nuff said 'bout that.

Here we go.

1. When you find out, whether from your folks, a doctor, or whomever else, that you are autistic, have Asperger's Syndrome, Tourette's Syndrome, or any of the other "cousin" diagnoses, learn as much as you can about what they are, how they work, and they affect you and your individual circumstances. If you don't want to find out that much, just be aware that they exist, that you have one of these conditions, and accept those facts.

It also means accepting yourself for who and what you are, especially because this means that you have a harder row to hoe ahead of you than others, because you are going to have to deal with the fact that, in some areas, you aren't going to able to process some aspects of livin', especially social interactions, as well or readily as others.

It also means accepting that many people whom you'll meet, may, once they learn you're autistic, may consign you to the "Freak, Geek and Retard Squad". If so, bother as little as you can with them, because they aren't worth your time, energies and effort to try to change or have them understand you and who you are. They've their ideas of the world, humanity, and how both should be, and you don't fit into their those preconceptions, save as some sort of object of fear, ridicule, derision and scorn.

Such people's brains are closed off at the spinal column(am speaking only figuratively here), and only the information that they expect and WANT to hear, see and otherwise experience gets through to them. Therefore, best to have as little to do with 'em as possible, if you've anything to do with 'em from then on.

Arguing with 'em and trying to get 'em to see your point of view are complete wastes of YOUR time, energy, talent and emotion, and cause you more grief and anxiety than they're worth, because their minds are like a bank vault's doors on a Sunday mornin', firmly closed shut, and that's that. You've better things to do than to try and pry open such mental doors.

The most important part is that YOU accept yourself for who you are, and that you do your best to live your life as well as you possibly can. Anything that distracts from this is utter foolishness.

2. With those, whether autie, neuro-typical, or have another form of disability, and who love and accept you, please don't drown 'em in an information over-load about your being autistic, having Asperger's Syndrome, Tourette's Syndrome, or any of the other "cousin" diagnoses, or even about your latest hobby, enthusiasm or obsession, as even the most patient person will eventually, whether in their body language, or with their mouth, start saying, "Yeah, Uh-Huh, Sure. That's very interesting, but can we talk about something else, now, PLEEEAAASSEEE???!!!".

I know it can be supremely irritating, especially when you're on a roll and feeling real red-hot about a subject you really, REALLY like and care about. But, not everyone else in the whole world is gonna feel the same way you do, nor should they. This means that you have to work that little bit harder to read the other person's body language, facial expressions, and to listen to both WHAT they're saying in response and HOW they're sayin' it, which is something most auties aren't generally known for being terribly good at.

It's a problem I've often encountered in dealing with others in my life, and still very often do. But, it can be dealt with a good deal of the time with some work and observation.

Otherwise, you just end up irritating, annoying and eventually alienating others, when you don't have to.

3. Got this bit of advice from a friend of mine with Cerebral Palsy who works for the State of Nevada Psych-Social Services Department, and while it's really more of an observation than a piece of advice, it makes sense to me, and has given me both a sense of perspective and hope that I didn't have when younger. It's that, when one is disabled, a lot of the major life mile-stones, whether that first good job, or at least half-ways decent one, first Sweetie, what have you, are gonna come a lot later in life than they do for neuro-typicals. There are a variety of reasons for this, not all of which I know, but the basic fact is that they are gonna come later for you than for many of your neuro-typical peers, so don't punish yourself by constantly comparing yourself and your situation to others, as that just only wastes your time and energy, and embitters you emotionally towards yourself and others in the process.

God knows, I have, and still do, a lot of that kind of crap, and I can tell you that it's hurt me in any number of ways. Am trying to cut it out as much as possible, but the habits of a lifetime can be difficult ones to break, so, if you can, please try not to fall into that habit. You'll find yourself a Helluva lot better off for it, I think, and, when and if these mile-stones come, you'll be able to enjoy them as fully as possible.

4. Many auties, so I'm told, have a problem with free-floating rage, which can manifest itself in incredibly violent bouts of temper. Me, I've not met that many other diagnosed auties in my life.

In fact, I've met damned few, other than myself, so I've only reports and my own experiences to go on here.

I know I have it, and I also know just how difficult it is to try and express one's anger, disappointment, fear, rage, what you ya, in a "socially acceptable" manner.

Many of the therapies and behaviour modifications prescribed by many psychiatrists, psychologists, etc, haven't really worked for me, and this is a problem with which I'll always have to deal in one way or another, 'til I'm dead, cold and rottin'.

That said, one thing to remember, if you can, is to pick which battles to fight and which ones not to.

For instance, if some son-of-a-bitch is threatenin' you with physical violence, and there's neither any way you can talk 'im out of it, or leave the physical situation, then you fight, as hard as you can, as much as you can. Kick, bite, gouge, punch, whatever. Just do whatever it is you have to do to get the son-of-a-bitch off you, so you can leave the room or wherever this is happening, and get yourself to the nearest authorities, or to someone who can otherwise help you.

But, that's a damned extreme situation, and not applicable to most of the crap that most people, at least working-class and above in the developed world, have to put up on a daily basis.

Using jiu-jitsu, savate, or various kinds of kung-fu moves on a particularly annoying boss, supervisor, co-worker, neighbour, or hostile acquaintance just ain't called for by the situation, and causes far more trouble than it's worth, especially for Y-O-U. So, they're right out.

So, what to do??? Good question. If you can, ask them, in a polite and reasonable manner, with a non-threatening tone of voice and body language, what the problem is, and why they're expressing that problem the way they are.

Sometimes, this works, because, one, you've caught them completely by surprise by responding to their provocations not in the way they might've expected, but in a manner that not only doesn't threaten 'em, but actually asks 'em something about themselves. If there's one thing that just about anyone, disabled or neuro-typical, loves to do, it's talk about themselves, sometimes at overly-great length.

If the person responds to this, you and him or her can then begin to hash out exactly what the problem is, how it can be fixed, and how the both of you can find a mutually satisfactory solution to the problem between the two of you.

Mind you, that's not always gonna be the case, particularly if there's already a strong current of dislike, if not outright hatred, between you and the other person, but, it's ideally the best possible approach to conflict resolution that I can think of at present.

But, if that's not the case, simple avoidance, or, if you have to deal with the person on a fairly regular basis, keeping conversations short, simple and all business with none of the usual bits of chit-chat and other social interaction are the next best courses.

That means, if you have to, and the situation's bad enough, either walk out of the room after saying that this present conversation's over, or, if need be, without a damn word spoken to your antagonist.

You may still get a bit of grief about that afterwards, but, you won't be in as dire a spot of trouble for either having told someone to go fuck themselves up the arsehole with a pogo stick, or physically assaulting 'em, and that means that you can go home at the end of the day to your usual routines and comforts instead of jail or the unemployment line.

Even then, particularly if you have what I like to call a delayed-action temper("Delayed-Action" comes from the term "Delayed-Action Fuse", which describes a kind of fuse that doesn't immediately ignite or start a detonator on an explosive, but is set on a timer that sends a electrical or mechanical signal to the rest of the explosive at a given point), which I've also noticed I can sometimes manifest, and that's where you're in such a state of shock, fear, etc, at the time, that you DON'T get angry at that precise moment, but later on, especially after the antagonist has gone, DO NOT, under any circumstances, take your anger and frustrations out on any living being, human, animal, insect or plant, that wasn't a party to the aggravation you've had.

One, they don't deserve your wrath, as they've done nothing to contribute to your aggravation, and two, doing that fucking well hurts them, for reasons that they can neither help nor have ANY responsibility for, period. In turn, this can lead to their getting very justifiably angry at YOU for treating them so rottenly, and this can lead to a whole new set of problems for you and them that none of y'all need, period.

If you have to, take a really long walk, or set of walks, around your block, drive your car, motorcycle, scooter or bicycle around town, pray, meditate, practise boxing or other martial arts moves, if that's what you're into, go out to the farthest possible place you can and scream your bloody head off, or find something else to occupy your mind, body and soul, until such time as you can better process whatever the Hell it is that's drivin' you 'round the bend at that moment.

Eventually, you'll haveta process whatever angered you and why, and, talkin' about it with family members, close friends, mentors, therapists, priests, pastors, rabbis, friendly neighbourhood bar-tenders, or any other person whom you know and trust enough to talk about this can help you get through this, and get a greater sense of perspective on your situation.

But, if not talkin' about it, at least for a while, is what helps you, then do that. Just so long as you find some other, better way of gettin' through that anger and all the associated emotions that go with it, other than verbally or physically, especially physically, givin' your antagonist sheer Bloody Hell on a Popsicle Stick.

Ultimately, however you decide best, find some way of dealing with that anger in a manner that will benefit you and yours greatly and minimise any possible harm to y'all in the process.

By the way, if you're thinkin' about takin' some sort of revenge on the arsehole-motherfucker-cocksucker-cunt-Sack of Wet Shit on Two Legs that is your opponent, my advice is, either do it right then and there, or not at all.

I don't care what the Sicilians, Corsicans, various former Yugoslav peoples, Albanians, Arabs, Israelis, Afghans, Chinese or others have said about taking revenge on some arsehole, no matter how long it takes, either do it immediately or not at all, because you will otherwise end up consuming yourself with hurt, anger, rage and all the rest of that crap, wasting time, energy, effort and resources that you could better use to make your own life, and other people's lives, better and happier, and making yourself good and miserable, and for what???? Bullshit, horse-shit, dog-shit, and fly-shit, if that.

You've got enough to do as it is, and besides, the societies I've mentioned above either have, or have had, at one time or another, social arraignments that either condoned taking revenge, or at least didn't mind it. That ain't the case in the US, Canada and the rest of the so-called developed world, and even in some parts of the so-called developing world, where social, legal and economic institutions generally tend both to frown on that sort of activity, and have some pretty tough sanctions against it.

In the end, the best revenge, as my long-time therapist puts it, is living well, and that means living the best way you can in a manner that you and yours find as satisfying, both in your needs and wants, as possible.

All the rest is just so much doodley-shit.

Am gonna stop here, 'cos I've pontificated enough on this topic for a while. However, I will return to this topic fairly soon in the future, because there are a few more items I want to say something about, and because I've a big, fuckin' mouth, too, which I love shootin' off, even if no one else likes it when I do.

I can guess that some of you out there, especially parents of autistic children and teens, might object to the barracks-room and prison-cell language often on display here.

That's your right.

But, for me, I like, Hell, love, expressing myself in this manner from time to time, and the fact is that autie kids, like the rest of their contemporaries, hear and use a fair amount of obscenity, blasphemy and other bits of oral and written naughtiness from parents, peers and a good deal of the media, so most little one's ears, at least much past kindergarten age, aren't all that virginal.

Also, the language, like the advice, presented here, isn't necessarily for every autie from every background and for every situation.

Whether kid, teen or grown-up, each and every autie is free to chose whether or not this advice makes sense to them and to accept, to decide that it's complete nonsense and ignore it, or somewhere in-between, and the same goes for its presentation here.

Whether you accept it or not, act on all or part of it or not, is up to y'all.

I put this here because I wanted to, and these are my opinions.

Take 'em for what'cha will.

Be seeing you.

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