I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. I don’t know why I never ended up doing so, but I remembered today, so I am writing it today. I guess it falls under, useful things to know if you’re an autie and dealing with other auties. It’s stuff I’ve been figuring out myself. This may be stating the obvious for all I know.
Approaching dangerous levels of overload looks different in different people. Something important I’ve noticed, is that the signals for it are entirely dependent on the person, and on what their normal abilities are, and what their thresholds for certain kinds of shutdown are.
I’m remembering in particular a conversation I had with a friend once. She said… something like (I could be getting this wrong, I’m picking what I think was the particular trait that changed), “I’m starting to get to the point where words, spoken or written, are just running together and making no sense.”
I replied, “Yeah. That’s how things are a lot of the time for me. But in you that would mean trouble.” And we kind of laughed about it.
I remember, once, reading someone talking about an utterly horrifying experience he had. He described his mental state at the time in terms that are usually reserved for people who have no mental state. And then he told me what he meant by it, and it was something I experienced on a regular basis.
I still don’t agree with the words he used to describe it, but I’m starting to understand why it is that he would find it a lot more alarming, and a lot more of an “imminent danger” signal, than I would. It’s not part of his normal, it’s part of mine.
Likewise, I was at one point experiencing a great deal of pain with typing to the point where I strapped a bent stick to my arm and typed with the stick. The reactions of a woman who knew me, and a man who worked in the facilitated communication field, were very different. The woman who knew me was commenting on the frustration I was probably experiencing because of the speed issue, and the man was congratulating me on how well I typed compared to people who use more FC than I do. (Although I’ve seen FC users type way faster than I was typing that day.)
Meanwhile, I’ve seen people talk about dangerous (to them) levels of overload and shutdown, when losing skills I’ve never had in the first place.
This isn’t meant to be one of those vacuous statements about looking at how fortunate you are in comparison to someone else. It’s more the opposite. I can see a potential for auties to say, “Well I never had that, so losing it isn’t a big deal, I live without it all the time.” And I keep thinking “No, this is one of those things that really is relative to how someone is doing normally. For some people, losing the ability to talk signals a big crash, for other people it is commonplace. The fact that it’s commonplace for some of us does not negate the fact that it signals a big crash for others.”