Tag Archives: autism expectations

Autism: December 2017 part 1

December of 2017 was a really tough month for me. A month filled with panic, hopelessness, and despair – and I really can’t even say why that was. It was just hard.

It didn’t help that time seems to be speeding up for me, making it even harder (and it has always been hard) to align my perceptions with reality. It also doesn’t help that there is so much pressure around Christmas – gifts and such – whether real or perceived.

And even if people say not to worry about it, worry I will – for excusing myself from what I feel that others expect of me leaves me with an overwhelming sense of guilt. Even if it doesn’t matter much to them I will still carry that guilt with me… forever (at least it seems like that, since I still feel guilty for every time I disappointed anyone, or said ‘no’ to a request, or…)

So it was a hard month. A sad month. A month where most days I could barely move, and it was all I could do not to cry most of the time. It was only a week before Christmas when I was able to gather up the motivation to even decorate – when often I have things up by the beginning of the month (for I do like the lights!)

Christmas Eve was busy. I made a turkey dinner (because it is cheaper than chicken) for my husband and son and dogs and cats – I don’t eat meat – and we went to church for the 2pm service instead of at 10:45am as we usually do (it was a strange Sunday.)

That might seem normal for most people, but it is a lot for me. So overwhelming that I dreaded it for more than a week before – and I was only cooking for my family. It wasn’t like I was cooking for a large group, or even for friends and extended family (that I can’t do, it is just too much pressure.)

It isn’t even like making food for my dogs (I have 3) and cats (we have 2 upstairs – my son feeds his own cat) is unusual. I do it every 3-4 weeks. But it is something I do on days when my son is cooking usually for it is very time consuming. You see, I make a large batch for them, and then freeze the food in silicone baking cups; enough for a month. The meat has to be cut into small pieces, no bones, and the vegetables, broth and such get blended up and divided after. It is quite a bit of work on the day I do it, so I don’t like to do anything else that day.

But I couldn’t help it for Christmas since the turkey was large and for everyone (but me.)

Anyway, I got through it. Once it was done I could relax a bit.



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Autism: What They Don’t See

The week was hard to begin with. I mean… the appointment on the Monday was one I had been dreading for six months. It caused a lot of panic, and nearly constant fixation on my inability to communicate well with the doctor. How was I supposed to say what I needed to say in a way that she would understand me?

She summed up the issue very well – in the very moment she was trying to ease my stress over the issue: “I think you are being very clear,” she told me.

And that is the problem. I think I am being clear. She thinks I am being clear. But, like what happens with most people who talk with me, when she summarizes what she believes I am saying, she is completely off the mark.

So what was I so afraid of? That.

People are so sure that what they are hearing is exactly what I meant, that they won’t even accept when I try to put it in another way to let them know how wrong that was, they don’t believe me. So as a result, they treat me as if what they believe I am saying is actually what I meant to say – and for the most part, it ends up being the worst possible response to my issue.

Anyway, the appointment that caused such distress in my mind for six months lasted all of fifteen minutes, and then was done.

Yet the week was still to come.


I guess that in most people’s lives, there are a lot of different things that go into a week: work, friends, church, cleaning, shopping, appointments, socializing, phone calls… but for me, if I have one appointment in a week plus church, that week feels busy for me. Anything more becomes overwhelming.

That week, however, started with church, had an appointment thrown in, a shopping day, a friend visiting, and a wedding. Impossible! Stressful. Exhausting. Overwhelming.

It was a lot!

Four days of things outside of routine are at least three too many – even though the appointment only took up an hour of one day (most of it waiting to get in,) the shopping took two hours of another day, and my friend’s visit took another two hours of another day. Five hours spread over three days, plus a wedding to attend.

Written down, it doesn’t seem like much – I mean, I don’t even have to work. In truth, though, I was completely overwhelmed before the week even started, and am still exhausted and panicking two days after it has ended.

I am aware that what I do is nothing compared to how other people live – but at the same time, I think other people are quite unaware of how much panic, anxiety, preparing before, analyzing after, emotional and intellectual work goes into such activities for me. If they did, I think they wouldn’t be surprised that I am unable to live with even that much going on in my life, let alone expecting me to do more.


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Autism: Expectations

Three months of basic trades, followed by six months of construction… “Jennifer knows how to do it,” someone says. No, I don’t, I think in a panic, we never got past the framing. And while I would like to know how to do all of these things, and while I would like to be able to help, I really don’t have any idea.


Don’t come to me as a specialist, I beg of them (though not in words), but they don’t understand. For them, having people believe in them, encourages them to try, and allows them to find success. This is not true of me, however.

If someone believes I can do something, and tries encouraging me in it, the pressure becomes too much for me. And like I cannot function while being watched, I also cannot function under the pressure of having someone believe I would be good at something. Under that encouragement, I end up failing, where others would succeed.

“She fixed out basement toilet,” he mentions proudly. Wait a minute – no I didn’t! I shout back to him in my mind. It didn’t work. I failed. Now I have to tell them I failed, where they otherwise wouldn’t have known I tried. Edification… is that the word? My husband is really good at it, only it doesn’t work for me. Suddenly I feel the attention on me, and that attention causes me to fall… to fail… I just can’t.

Taking things in the other direction doesn’t work for me, either. If believing I can succeed leads to failure, than telling me where I have failed should lead to success, right? But no. Any criticism. Any concerns over my abilities. Any mention of where I have gone wrong. Any comments that lead me to feel like you believe I will fail, and I will fail!

So how do others help me to succeed? It is best if I feel invisible. No thoughts of failure, no comments on success, mostly to have no one know… or if they know, to just ask me what I am doing, and not comment on how I am doing it.

But then, even I will share information on things I am doing in my life – just so it doesn’t always look like I am doing nothing, I suppose. I speak of the classes I am taking, or the kitchen I am painting, or the things I am trying to learn, or do… and in speaking of them, I feel the expectation from others grow. I feel them watching me. And I wish I hadn’t spoken in the first place.

Then a few months later, when I have decided working in construction is not for me… when the paint in the kitchen begins to chip, and I wish I hadn’t tried to fix it… when the toilet still rocks, and the plants begin to die, and I have become too tired to continue on… when all I have tried and spoken of have failed, I feel like a failure, and maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if none of them knew.

So maybe it is easier to speak of my struggles. If others know where I am failing, or know what I can’t do, the only direction I can go is up. Then they won’t expect anything from me – invisible – and if I do anything well, it might be a pleasant surprise. Maybe that is why I spoke so often of the struggles I had with my children. All were true, but apparently people wanted to know that all was well. How can all be well when working with traumatized, alcohol damaged children? Fulfilling, yes! But well??? It didn’t seem possible.

Yet speaking at all puts eyes on me – and so either people believe I am succeeding (in which case I will fail,) or people think I am failing (in which case I will prove them right.) It seems there is no way to win. So often, as has been true since childhood, I wish to be invisible. Then perhaps I would find the freedom to grow.


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