AUTISTIC NICK’S EMOTIONAL ONSLAUGHT AND HOW I DEALT WITH IT
I have had over the past couple of weeks had an onslaught of emotions hit me and hence why my blog posts have become irregular although I don’t state which day, I am publishing a brand-new blog post, I feel that it’s something that I need to address and not in a YouTube video type manner!
You know the ones where it starts either “guys I feel that I need to address the elephant in the room.” Or “hey so I didn’t think that I would be making a video like this.”
No, I’m going to write about it from my perspective as an Autistic person.
Friday is currently my working day and the one day that I can prove to myself that I am that prepared and organised person.
I have my five-tier approach that I use when I am at work and engaging with other journalists.
This is how I set out my five-tier approach.
MY FIVE-TIER APPROACH
For me, making eye contact can make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I find it distracts me from listening to the person who is talking to me. My strategy for overcoming this is to look at some place on that person’s face that is close to the eyes, but not directly into the eyes. This can be a person’s eyebrows or hairline. By implementing this I don’t come across as not listening and appearing rude and I can fully focus on the conversation because I don’t feel uncomfortable or distracted.
Allow for pauses in the conversation, to give them me time to think and react and vice versa. You can read more about communicating here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/07/19/being-autistic-the-ins-and-outs/)
Be aware of challenges that I face with reading social cues. Autistic people may not understand facial expressions, body language, hidden implications, or hints—it depends on the individual. It helps to be clear about your thoughts and feelings.
Expect them to stim. Stimming is a natural Autistic behaviour that helps me to stay calm, think clearly, feel good, express my feelings, and adapt to a challenging world. You can read more about stimming here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/08/06/ten-things-i-need-you-to-know/)
KEEP IT TO THE POINT
Keep It to the Point
Stay away from allusions, metaphors, or any abstract statements.
Autistic people in general will not be able to interpret any kind of communication that relies on reading your internal emotional state or any kind of subtext.
Keep your sentences short and direct.
The pace of the conversation needs to be at a level that the Autistic person can maintain.
A handy guide covering all of the above can be found here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/03/23/how-to-talk-to-an-autistic-person/)
I also know how my day is structured as we have a plan in place for that too. This is very important to me to understand how my day was likely to be structured.
HOW MY DAY IS STRUCTERED
- I would come prepared with potential article ideas.
- My mentor and I would have a meeting at 10.30am to discuss those ideas and to see which ones would work best in an article.
- Nick to go away and research, email potential interviewees, etc.
- The mentor to come and check on Nick at 12.30 pm to see what progress he’s made.
- The mentor will be my first contact, if they are busy then my boss and editor is the next person I can go to for advice/help.
- Before Nick leaves for the day, he and his mentor will have a quick meeting to discuss what stage of the article process Nick is at.
- My boss/editor has also informed me that I can as long as I give notice work from home and they will check in on me via Zoom.
- If Nick feels overwhelmed, he can email/text either the mentor or the boss just to let them know that he’s heading outside/to his quiet room.
With all the above in place, it really hit me hard to deal with all my emotions in one single hit.
I really had to dig deep and resist heading into a meltdown on several occasions, even stopping myself from being on the brink of an Autistic shutdown.
Nothing I did sensory wise helped me.
I discarded my word searches, my solitaire, my music, podcasts, even watching TV shows!
I abandoned them all because simply put they didn’t work or weren’t affective here.
I even made an emotional check list https://wordpress.com/post/autisticnick.com/2844 and that failed.
I would take deep breathes, I stop my inner voices from sabotaging my thoughts, I sweat, I feel a panic attack coming on, but I remain calm.
I repeat to myself this isn’t your fault, it’s nothing that you’ve done, you have the strategies and tools to deal with this.
That I was safe, I had a grip on this, I was in control here and that I knew what to do.
I knew where my support system was and that I could ring them if I needed to.
I briefly remembered my panic attack strategy, which is the following, I repeat five things over and over again inside my head, which distracts my brain from thinking about the oncoming panic attack and diverts it to thinking about these 5 things that I’m thinking about.
I knew what was triggering all of this and my end goal was to not think about it and not stress myself out.
I did manage to complete my tasks, work through my day and head home.
Once home, after a shower I put on my pj’s and had a nap.
I can now report that I am feeling a lot better, the article is due for publication on Monday 23/8/21.
I’m relieved that it’s written, and I am not in a state of being emotionally stressed or overwhelmed to the point of having a shut down.
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.