Autism: Please Don`t Criticize

03 May

Aside from the couple of days it rained each week, I have spent most of the past two weeks out in the garden… Well, not exactly most, but for me, something I focus on for 2-3 hours each day is most. That is about as long as I can be active, when my energy is high, without burning out.

The sun has been shining, and my girls have thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent out there. They are even learning to bark less – which is huge! Now, instead of barking from the moment they sense someone coming along the road, until they are out of sight in the other direction, for the most part they are only barking a couple of times at each end of our yard.

Of course, they still chase them from one end to the other (often doing circles and figure eights since they are so much faster than the people waling) but they are quiet for the most part. I am really pleased with their progress since just a couple of weeks ago I was so worried about what the neighbours would think of them, I was considering blocking off the entire stucco wire fence with landscape fabric (probably not the best idea, but the cheapest I could – or I should say, my husband could – come up with.)

A couple of different people who walked by, and saw me in the garden, asked me if I was planting seeds already. From their words I learned that it was too early to be planting in our climate, and I was thankful that was not in fact what I was doing.

Last year, along a section of our fence line, I placed a layer of newspapers and cardboard. On top of this, I put a shallow layer of top soil (it used a lot of bags for just a small amount) and planted wildflowers. Despite how shallow the soil was, the wildflowers grew. They were really pretty. I suppose I could have left that to see how many would regrow this year (from the sprouts that came up this spring, I would assume a lot.)

Vacation July 2016 004

That was not the plan, though. Whether I decided to re-seed it with wildflowers, or try to grow something else there, the plan was to go deeper (since the grass would have been mostly killed after being covered so long.) So I have been digging, and pulling weeds, and vines (which seem to be attached to the grass, but are a real issue in the soil) and taking out insects (though struggling with an inability to kill them even though I am pretty sure they are the type that would be bad for the garden) and tossing the many worms back in (with rubber work gloves, of course.)

And that is what I was doing both times the people came by and asked if I was planting seeds already!

I am really glad that isn’t what I was doing. “No. I am just pulling out the weeds and grass,” I told them, and they were satisfied with the answer. Had I been planting seeds, however (as a few say to plant in early April) I would have been so embarrassed by their question that I would have struggled to return to the garden for the rest of the year – and I would have had another meltdown after full of the thought of how much I hate having neighbours.

Maybe it would have been a mistake to plant this early. From their words, I guess it would have been. But it would have been my mistake – and I need to be allowed to make them; on my own, and without comment from other people. I can learn from my mistakes. In fact, I learn best from my mistakes – only all I learn from my mistakes when others comment on me is that I am a failure.

I know I am supposed to be able to learn from criticism. I know it. But I am filled with such shame from the words of others – and for good reason, for I have had way more than my fair share – that all it does is shuts me down, and makes me afraid to try again.

So I am really thankful that what I was doing was something they approved of – for I really have been enjoying my time out there, and would hate to have that taken away.


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One response to “Autism: Please Don`t Criticize

  1. Astrid

    May 3, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Oh wow, I didn’t realize this until reading your post, but I can so relate to not learning from criticism. I don’t learn much from my mistakes either, as they often frustrate me too. However, criticism, particularly voiced in a disguised way like in this example, makes me feel worse.

    Liked by 1 person


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