Tag Archives: perspective

Processing

I am going to talk about processing speed YET AGAIN because things have happened in my life YET AGAIN to bring it up, though I suspect they will always happen for the rest of my life.

Before I get into that, though, I want to side track a little bit. I have gathered that one thing people like to read about is autistic perspective. Not only on specific issues and the life (though yes, that is important) but just how we see the world and what just existing is like for us. Which is kind of cool and I like sharing perspective, but is also challenging. I have lived in my own head for my whole life. I have spent exactly 0 years, 0 months, 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds living in anyone else’s head. So yes, I know all about my own perspective, but what I know much less about is how that is different from neurotypical perspective. There are some things I can figure out are different for me just by looking at behaviors and the like, but there are lots more that I only seem to know about when other people point them out. Sometimes they are expecting something from me that I consider absurd and in discussing it we both learn that it is easy for neurotypicals but difficult for me, or we’ll be having a conversation and I’ll just casually mention something in my head and they’ll respond “wow, that’s totally weird!” or whatever else.

When that happens, I write about it. This helps me to work through it since I do a lot of my processing via writing, and apparently it is useful for other people to read about in order to understand more about autistic perspective. Yay understanding!

So anyway, this is a thing that I have found happens fairly regularly. Sometimes with the same person, over and over and over again. I’ll explain what things are like for me and why I do things the way I do them and they’ll be all “oh, ok, I see” and then a few weeks or months later, it will come up AGAIN. And AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. Yes, it has gotten a little tiresome for me.

It usually goes like this: someone says something that hits a button or a trigger or something, and I feel hurt. Then I process that for what is, apparently, a Very Long Time (it is not unusual for this process to take weeks). Eventually I bring it up and ask to talk about it, sometimes needing to refresh their memory on the matter since to them it is often ancient history already.

There are usually two phases of response to this, one which varies wildly and the other which is pretty consistent. The first is just their response to me saying I am hurt or upset about the thing. Ideally they will be willing to sit down and talk with me and listen to my perspective about why and how it was icky to me and we work it out (happily, that is what happened the most recent time. sometimes people get very resistant to working it out or hearing me out which is a problem in and of itself).

The next part is always, ALWAYS, about the fact that I “waited” so long to talk about it. Sometimes people get upset with me or accuse me or “bottling things up” or being stubborn or something, and other times people just request that I bring things up right away when something hurts or bothers me.

And then it’s all kinds of uncomfortable, because honestly, I cannot do that. I rather wish I could, it sounds like people would respond much better if I did. But that just really, seriously, is not how I work and I cannot make myself work that way.

Instead I have to process. First, I have to notice that I am upset. This is usually pretty quick, but when I was younger it could take a while. Then I have to connect that emotion to it’s cause – the thing someone said or did. Usually it starts off fairly broad (“something about that makes me feel icky”) and then I have to work through exactly what it is that tweaked me (“oh, this word hit this trigger so when they said these words I actually heard that message which may or may not actually be what they meant”). Then there is a period of working through what I feel and whether or not I can work through the upsetness on my own. If I can, I don’t bother to bring it up because it just doesn’t seem worth it. If I can’t, then yes, I’ll bring it up as a thing to talk about. This is not a quick process. If there is something going on in my life that is demanding my processing power, then it can take even longer.

To make it more specific – the most recent example of this was with my psychiatrist. We were talking about ativan and how I was sometimes tempted to take it while I was dealing with my cat Genzi’s cancer because of how overwhelming and stressful and awful it all was. In that conversation (which happened over email), at one point she mentioned that dealing with stuff like that builds resilience. This happened to hit a trigger of mine and tweaked me kinda hard. Weeks later, when we were meeting in person, I finally brought it up, saying:

In an email convo about ativan we had several weeks ago, you said “the act of coping through tough periods builds resilience.” Only I heard “you are weak and need to be stronger so that you can stop being weak!” I really hope that’s not what you meant and I know this is a trigger point for me, but I’m hoping you can give me more words to clarify and reassure me that’s not what you meant. Unless it is what you meant. In which case, maybe nevermind.

Then we talked about it. Yay! Turns out that weak thing was totally not what she meant, and I talked a little bit about how I have a very sensitive trigger there and how it hit that trigger. THEN she brought up the thing about how she wants me to just bring things up right away instead of “waiting.” *sigh*

I know I’m saying this over and over and over again. Autistic people in general are often saying this over and over and over again. But seriously – we need time to process. I often go more slowly than other people in conversations. I take more time to think through things, and I need more time to find my words. Sometimes a LOT more time. Sometimes weeks. It’s not because I’m “waiting” or “hiding things” or whatever else. It’s because it takes me a while.

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Filed under issue, personal, request

Melora

I have a confession to make. I’m a nerd. One of the things I’m nerdy about is Star Trek. Even now, years after they have aired, I like to re-watch the various Star Trek series that I particularly like. Of course, I say “confession” but I’m not actually ashamed of it. I like Star Trek! woo hoo!

Anyway. I’ve been re-watching Deep Space 9 for the umpteenth time, and I want to talk about one of the episodes. Specifically, an episode that dealt with disability.

In this episode, we have a character named Melora. Melora comes from a planet with very low gravity, which means that she finds “normal” gravity extremely challenging to cope with (and yes, ST totally ignored things like circulatory problems and just stuck with mobility issues). She needs a wheelchair or a special mobility suit doohicky along with various accommodations in order to function.

All of which is fine and dandy, but what caught my interest was the presentation that while she has a disability in the context of normal gravity, she has particular abilities when you change that context. Due to where she comes from, she is far more functional than everyone around her when the gravity is turned low. Of course, she wants to be able to function in the world most people are in, which means she has to cope with a gravity that is too high for her. It’s either that or don’t leave her planet at all.

However, in the episode she is suddenly offered a cure. She could be “fixed” if she wanted to be, she could have her body changed so that she could handle the gravity that most people consider normal. However, she also has to contend with the fact that it’s not as straightforward as just being a fix. She would lose something in the process. She would never again be able to go home beyond short visits. She would completely lose her affinity with low gravity environments.

In the end, she decides that the price is too high to pay and she would rather stay the way she is, challenges and all. Personally, I really liked this model of disability, and I like the idea that sometimes a change in perspective can make the difference between ability and disability. It matches my perspective on ASDs, so it was nice to see.

Of course, there are requisite disclaimers. Melora works as one model for some disabilities, but it does not work for all of them. In some cases, trying to apply this model would be incorrect or even harmful, like the myth that blind people develop a “sixth sense.” There are also people who disagree with me regarding ASDs, people who view their own spectrum disorder as simply a collection of problems, with no accompanying abilities. While I certainly disagree with them, they have the right to self-define in the way that works best for them.

In the end, you cannot have one model or narrative for disability, as disability is not a monolith. What works for one will not work for another, and it is very very important to remember that. But Melora worked for me, and I found that pretty cool.

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Filed under ability, ramble