autism related

Space: An autistic Frontier

In case I haven’t mentioned this yet, I’m designated autistic. I say ‘designated’ because my mind is the only mind I’ve ever known, and to me it seems normal, however I’m told I’m wrong. Society has decided that the way my mind works is wrong, without ever looking deeper and has decided my way is inferior. This makes me weaker and assumes I need fixing. From my point of view, I see how they’re stagnating. My brain allows me to defy social and gender conventions as if I have transcended. From their point of view, I need chemically correcting as if they could rewire my brain. But I laugh at them, because 40 years ago this form of treatment was also ‘socially acceptable’ for gay people and look how far we’ve come from that.

My way of thinking is who I am. I don’t need correcting. To change how I think and perceive the world would be to kill who I am. I object to killing anyone on the grounds that they think/believe/love differently.

Rant aside, I thought I’d use this blog to also highlight my views as an autistic and show that this ‘condition’ that is bat around is just a different mindset and not something that requires truncating. So this post will be about one of these ‘quirks’ and hopefully you’ll see that it’s only human. And like everything else, this is my view of the ‘problem’, I don’t intend to marginalize or generalize.

So let’s lay down some basics. Autistics are known to have a different sense of personal space. For me my personal space is twice as large as the average human’s and I am hyper aware of this space. I get really annoyed when people invade it. My skin crawls and because of my hyper-awareness I become paranoid. This feeds my social anxiety. However I’m used to people I know walking close to me in large built up areas.

It took years for me to get used to walking close to my partner and being able to hold his hand normally.

On the flip side, when in crowded areas I become even more aware of people in my space. It’s like taking your dog to a new place, they’ll get excited by all the new smells but it will overwhelm them. This is very similar to me in a crowded area, because my brain too becomes overwhelmed and then I start to panic. However I don’t panic just because of the situation. There’s a distinct difference between panicking because you’re suddenly surrounded by too many people and panicking because your brain stalls (for lack of a better term). It’s just the same as losing your train of thought.

Yet I also panic if someone gets too close to me because of my larger personal space. I can’t tell you if this is due to the autism or my history but I tense up when people hug me, pat me on the back, or hold my hand. It does however elicit the same response from my brain. Beyond the panic and the fear is anger. I hate when people get too close to me.

I’ve lost count of how many times some one (this happens a lot when I’m shopping,) when some one behind me has got so close to me I can feel their breathing. I frantically try and keep control of my anger because it comes so quickly when this happens right after the skin crawling and the shivers that run up and down my spine. If I don’t control it I go from calm Hiko to bloody violent Hiko in seconds. The amount of times where I’ve almost spun around and punched the person in the face only to find it’s some old person. Then my brain wonders how much of my reaction is due to being autistic. If some one was an inch from your back would you react the same? Would you get angry? Would you be checking all your pockets in case something was stolen? Even if your answer is yes to all of the above, because I’ve been told my brain is wrong, I instantly hold my tongue. If I did start something my only defense would be, because the world has labeled me ‘special’. How am I to know what’s wrong for every one else in the world after having a wedge driven between me and normality? I second guess everything, even my base instincts because I’m the one that’s wrong and doesn’t fit.

Another part of my personal space is my things. My property is, in part, an extension of myself. This doesn’t mean people can’t put their stuff next to mine. I don’t mind that. However, where my stuff resides becomes it’s space. That space is where the object belongs. It’s like how kitchen draws have dividers and spoons, knives and forks have individual spaces. So if I leave something, somewhere I expect that it will still be there when I return because that’s the space I’ve allocated it. So for example: if I go out for a day I do not under any circumstances think it should move. If it’s general location is in the way or becomes a problem it can be moved but has to be moved back afterwards. (Personally I don’t think this is a big thing to ask. The ‘normal’ people I talk too think this is also acceptable.) So understandably it annoys me when I come back to the place and it’s all gone. It’s been packed away or is no more. This annoys me because some one has moved or interfered with my property but also because I have lost countless things this way that I would have never had lost if they had been left. For example I’ve lost; one of a kind gifts that I’d spent hours making and can not make again so I waste money buying them an inferior gift. I’ve also lost a charger that cost me £40 to replace (The person who had moved/lost this has never paid me back.).

I also lost my house keys for 2 years. (For my parent’s house. I was about 16.) I couldn’t tell anyone because I’d get in trouble and face a bill for new locks and keys. I found them when searching my room, at the bottom of a bag I hadn’t packed, with a label that wasn’t in my hand writing. 

This also ties into my room being ‘my space’and my territory. The average teenage boy hates his mum coming into his room. I detest it. Stuff gets taken, cleaned when it’s not necessary, destroyed, moved or thrown out. My room SHOULD be my sanctuary. The place where I can be me. It’s the place where I rest my head at night and should be able to feel comfortable. However I don’t. It should be mine and I should have the right to keep it in a way I like. (This doesn’t mean it’s a mess. However I understand I have clutter but that’s due to my storage space being used for other people’s things and stuff I’m not allowed to throw out like old clothes.) Yet every time I spend time at my fiance’s place I come back to find my room turned upside down, stuff moved, stuff touched, stuff out of place, and random assortments of object piled up on my bed. I could understand this if some stuff really needed tidying and needed moving, but I should be told so I can move my things. This is such a basic thing and yet my family do not understand this at all. I’ve tried explaining this to them but they ignore my requests and continue.

So for this blog post I would like any of my readers (you can stay anonymous if you like,) just to comment on whether or not my ideas in this post are like your own. What would you do? Would you do the exact same as me? Just keep it respectful.

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