I have noticed that when people see me they see a “normal” human who is a fine member of society, and therefore assume that I will act as such. But this is not always the case. I often find myself in situations where people do not understand why I am acting a certain way, or people not understanding why I cannot accomplish a task that all “normal” people should be able to accomplish.
I have experienced people expecting more from me then I am capable of. When people see me interacting with others, being successful in school, and just being a good member of society they assume that these things are easy for me. But it is the exact opposite. Every interaction with people is thought out and gives me extreme anxiety. I have to work twice as hard as other students to accomplish all that they do. In order to pass the MCAS in high school I studies with my mom for a full year before I actually took them. Others students simply took it with little to no preparation. I may look like I function in society, but to be honest the world is hard for me to navigate on a daily basis. If my parents want me to go into a store alone to buy something they will need to tell me before we leave. If we get to the store and then they ask me to go in alone, my brain will freeze and I will be able to function. Whenever I have had to do an oral report in class I would often fake being sick and stay home. This is partly because I am a shy person, but it is also because whenever I have to speak at all, like when someone asks me a question, my brain is overloaded with thoughts trying to put them into coherent sentences and ideas. So even though the oral report is on a specific topic, my brain will still be overloaded which causes me to fumble over words and sound like I do not know what I am saying even if I have done my research thoroughly. I am not saying that I cannot do these tasks, I am simply saying that I may need more time than others. Yelling at me to hurry up or yelling at me because you think I am acting out does to help me function it makes me shut down even further. Giving me time and understanding that I may be overloaded will help me accomplish all that I know I can.
People in the Autism community may not be surprised by my experiences, but I think that people outside of the community may be. When they see me cover my ears and rock back and forth in class they might think that I am weird or acting out. I hope that sharing these types of experiences, people will help people outside of this community will be more understanding when they see people experiencing sensory overload. And that they will then educate others so that they will understand that everyone functions at their own pace and we need to be kind and caring to all.