Welcome to Steve’s Aspie Adventures



Whether you are reading this as a parent, carer, friend or are on the spectrum yourself, a warm welcome to the blog and I’d welcome your comments. I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition as a teenager. Throughout my life this has brought unique challenges, deep lows but also very happy times. I hope with this blog I can share some of my experiences, challenges and successes with you. My hope is that it can help along the way at breaking down some of the fears, misconceptions, stereotypes that come hand in hand with Autism by giving an insight into what it’s like as an individual living with the condition.

At times when I’m affected most by my condition life can grind to a halt, but that has given me a drive to experience all I can when I’m feeling well. Travel brings a new perspective on life and the experiences it brings have made my good days even better and given hope in my bad days. For me it’s a metaphorical middle finger to a life-long condition. In my other blog (The Adventures of Steve) I share some stories of my travel and adventures.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog. Feel free to share this with your friends if you've found it helpful. I'd love to hear your thoughts, any topics you'd like to read about and own experiences so please comment or message me.


Please note, that in all my blog entries I can only relay my personal experiences and perspective. It is important to remember that every single person on the spectrum is an individual with a different story to mine. I have no medical expertise or training and am writing to share my personal experiences only.


Friday, 11 July 2014

5 times you should tell someone you're an Aspie

Should I tell them I'm Autistic? This question comes up regularly and it's never an easy one to answer. Sensory Overload is hitting and I feel myself building into a meltdown, I've started to draw attention to myself and am acting odd. 'Should I say I'm autistic??' I panic, and excuse myself by saying 'Sorry I'm just a bit drunk' and running off. This is a great approach in a bar with friends but not ideal at work or when talking to the police!

So when is a good time to disclose your condition? It varies so much depending on circumstance and personal preference, but here is my top five list of times I've found it helpful to come out of the autism closet....





1. Dating

'Shouldn't they like me for me, why do they need to know?' Indeed, if you're looking for a quick hook-up then great but if you're in for something long-term, well if you're an aspie then it's part of you that might be relevant to let them in on at some stage. In a relationship my aspie tendencies can make relationship dynamics a bit different to what might be expected. A great example is if I'm not feeling good then I need alone time; yet in a relationship there is an expectation to talk. Do I want to be leaving a girl feeling like I'm rejecting her when I'm just trying to fend off a meltdown? No, of course not! But with open communication it's easier to talk about these situations. I try and approach the subject of autism early in the dating game. 'Hi I'm Steve, I'm autistic' will send 'em running, but casually steering the conversation towards the subject after a few dates seems to work well. It also gives a clue as to their preconceptions.

'I did a talk at an asperger's support group last week' I offered to my date. The reply,

 'I dated a guy once, he was well fit, but then he said he was autistic. I was like yeaugghhh!'

This one clearly wasn't to be the love of my life - at least I knew before getting too involved!


2. Work

Employment is a big issue and a big part of life. For me it is a no brainer, my employers need to know! For many, the opposite response would be heard. But why not be open with the people you probably spend most of your day working alongside? Perhaps it comes down to this question...

'What if they discriminate!?'

Yes this is a real and ever present thought with employment. The hard answer is, yes they might. It's a hard fact of life that people can sometimes be small minded idiots and no amount of laws and legislation can change that - this is exactly why I see it as essential to be open about it! Think about it, a large portion of your life is spent at work. If your potential management are unsupportive or discriminatory then perhaps it's better to find out before accepting a job with them?

Assuming that you are not in possession of a magical neurocloaking device which enables you to completely hide all aspie traits, it is likely that at some point it will come out anyway. I feel more comfortable knowing I have allies I can turn to if I get into difficulties. I've had many times in my working life when I've had to address issues. It's never easy but when the condition is already out in the open then it is easier to address the problem directly. For instance simple communication difficulties can be addressed so much faster if you aren't tiptoeing around not revealing yourself as autistic.

The benefits for me in disclosing this with management has far outweighed any negatives I've ever encountered. Adjustments, flexibility and genuine caring support from colleagues - all of which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't have known.

Who and when to tell? I'd always say your line management should know, but not necessarily all your colleagues. I think by posting this blog everyone knows in my case, but for you, use your discretion and seek advice from someone you trust.

When to tell? Again up to you, but Preferably before having a meltdown at work. Believe me, having a meltdown at work if they haven't been told about your condition is MESSY!


3. Police

You've just crashed the car and the police turn up. What do you do? Have a meltdown probably! Any situation that involves the police will probably be stressful in some way and acting odd at this stage is probably not ideal. I carry an alert card in my wallet and car for this very reason. In the UK all police officers are (should be at least) autism trained and this does at least give you a bit of back up should they start getting heavy handed. As a meltdown can be mistaken for drunkenness or violence to an onlooker it is really in your best interests to find a way of alerting them that it's not before you get pepper-sprayed and dragged away. This has never happened to me, but the alert card is staying just in case...


4. Travel

Travel can be a very stressful thing and navigating airports, train stations and bus depots triggers sensory overload. You are trapped with bright lights, noise and people. By letting staff along your way know of your condition you often find people go out of their way to ease your journey. I always get pre-boarded on flights as this helps me settle before the masses arrive. Sometimes it is possible to be met and escorted or found a quiet room to wait.




5. Leisure Activities

I was always naturally private about my diagnosis. 'I don't want charity' I'd say and would never use the word disabled. Until one day. I don't know what it was but something flipped and I just thought why not! 'I'm disabled!' I chirp while waving my disabled badge at everyone. Doors open, prices drop. Bonus.

Sounds like a great discount scheme but it's actually very helpful and allows for access to places and activities that otherwise would be a strain. Take theme parks for example. Most offer a queue jumping scheme for those with proof of disability. Sounds like a good perk but unnecessary? A 2 hour queue with 200 other noisy people with no clear way out with bright lights on a hot day. OVERLOAD! For most it's an annoyance, but for me it could trigger a meltdown very publicly that renders me out of action for weeks. I'd just have to avoid that ride altogether. The queue jump makes it possible, and why not? Shouldn't we get access to attractions as well?



Thank you for taking the time to read this list. Please I'd love to hear your thoughts on where is and isn't good to disclose your condition, let me know via Facebook or by adding a comment. If you've enjoyed reading this please feel free to share it.

2 comments:

  1. Very insightful and I agree with it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So do I! Right on the button. This should be required reading for professionals in the mental health/ASC services.

    ReplyDelete