Tag Archives: autism phone calls

Autism: Sometimes I Can’t

I had the best of plans for the day. I even knew in enough advance that I wanted to go that I could (should) have booked the bus, only…

On the Monday, the day I was supposed to phone, we were waiting for a visitor. We. My husband was home. I was glad he was home because I had a visitor coming, and I struggle a lot with such things. He helps. Only when he is home I can almost never do… things. Like housework, or phoning people.

Phones are hard for me. Really hard.

When I have to make a phone call, I need complete silence. I rehearse over and over what I am going to say in my head, and I write it down just to be sure, and I panic before I pick up the phone and dial. I can’t do that when someone else is around, and my husband was home from work that day (having switched days off with a coworker that week.)

So my husband was home, and that was difficult – for making the phone call at least.

And we were waiting for a visitor.

It doesn’t exactly matter who the visitor is, or how long they are going to stay, or what they are coming for – expecting someone to come to my home causes severe anxiety for me. Another thing that is really hard.

Sometimes it is worth it – like when my friend comes over every other week. I like visiting with her, and I know exactly when she is coming, and exactly how long she is staying. Though I still panic before, and crash after, I am always happy that she came.

Other times the visit is necessary, like when I have people coming over to fix my windows, or install new light fixtures, or… then, though they may only be at my home for half an hour, and though I might know approximately when they are coming, I still panic before and during – and though it is a short part of my day, I am exhausted for days after.

Then there are times like these. The visitor was the previous owner of all three of my dogs. When they gave us Misty-Grace, they asked my husband to keep his eyes out at work (the thrift store) for dog blankets, cushions, and such. They run a kennel, and have multiple dogs of their own. So we had collected a large stack of such things for them – and they bought a sleigh for us (one of the wooden baby sleighs for walking on the snow – since my dogs frequently prefer to be carried to walking.)

He was coming to exchange the items and see my girls. It was fine. I was happy he was coming, but anxious and panicky as always. We didn’t know when he was coming. He was driving from out of town, about an hour away. We didn’t know how long he was staying.

So we waited. And as I waited, knowing I was supposed to be making this phone call to book the bus for a trip I already knew I wanted to take, my panic grew.

In that level of anxiety, I can’t function. I couldn’t make the phone call. I couldn’t do anything at all. I was dizzy, and numb, and panicky.

By the time he arrived, it was 4 in the afternoon – and the bus place closes at 4:30. I knew through the day that I should be making the phone call, and I kept looking at the phone and trying to work up the courage, but I just couldn’t do it.

I had to do it. I wanted to do it. I remembered it needed to be done. I knew what I needed to ask for. And still…

Sometimes I just can’t.



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Autism: Late Phone Call

People who know me know that if they are going to call me, they need to give me the details of the call: time, date, reason…

I don’t like phones. I mean, I really don’t like phones. It starts with the unexpected ringing. Loud noises. Never a good thing. Then there is the unexpected: who is on the other end of the line? Why are they calling me? Are they going to make me feel bad about something (like not sponsoring another child in the world who is struggling – which I would if I could, but…)


Are they going to try to sell me something? Am I going to have to hang up on them, or find some excuse to get off the phone (like how people wanting to do surveys tend to choose the moment I am really busy making supper to call?) Am I going to end up resenting them?

Will I know what to say, or how to respond? My processing isn’t as fast as people seem to expect, so they get… annoyed, maybe, while waiting for my answers. That is why I like to know what the call is about – at least then, I can try to plan some things that I will need to say. Often I will write things down then.

Will I even be able to focus on the conversation? Likely not. Verbal is quite hard for me – that is why I prefer email. Often I will start saying something, and lose my train of thought – or I will try to listen to them, but a word sets off a series of pictures in my mind, until I forgot what they are talking about.

If it is important for me to remember what is being said, I will often have my clipboard with me so I can write things down as we are talking. That helps – but if I don’t know the call is coming, I probably won’t have that. Even then, if the person is talking too fast, I won’t be able to get the important things down – I am not good at note taking.

If they tell me they are going to call, it also gives me the opportunity to let them know if I won’t be available to answer. Maybe they don’t care if I miss them, but I will – and it will make me afraid to go out next time. Best to let me know.

On this day, I knew the call was coming, and I was prepared – or so I thought. We don’t have cordless phones. We did, but it broke, and the new ones we got to replace it were no good – I gave up on cordless for that reason. I suppose they expect people to be buying cell phones, or smart phones or whatever every year or so, and they don’t put much into cordless landline phones anymore.

Typically I have been answering in my dining room, and since I don’t talk to this person often, we end up talking for hours. The dining chair is hard, and I spend most of the time with my dogs trying to figure out how to get up on my lap, and stay comfortable. That makes it very difficult for me to concentrate.

So this time, I was ready! The call was coming at 1pm – we had arranged that. I went to my bedroom, and had my clipboard with me, and a good pen (and a pencil, just in case.) My dogs came to the room with me, and got lots of attention right before 1pm, so they were sleeping on their pillow on my bed.

I was prepared! Then 1pm came, and the phone didn’t ring. Did I somehow knock it off the hook? Nope. Was it plugged in right? Of course, if it wasn’t, the dining room phone would have rang. Did I get the day wrong? No – it was Thursday, and we had only arranged it the day before.

Every minute that passed brought more anxiety, until 15 minutes past the hour, I was in a full panic attack – sure that something was really wrong. Maybe she was angry with me. Maybe she was trying to figure out a way to say ‘no’ to my (really important) request. Maybe something happened to her. I started out really excited to talk to her – even on a phone – and ended up believing my world was about to come crashing down around me… again!

And then the phone rang, and we talked for two hours, and everything was fine.

I don’t think I will ever understand how someone can arrange for something at a certain time, and then be late for the meeting. It just isn’t who I am.

And if I am ever that late for something, or late at all, really – there is likely something very wrong!


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Autism: Not Normal

Just when I start to think that I am doing okay; that I could possibly keep a job without experiencing extreme anxiety; that I might be able to function in the real world; the phone rings. It isn’t even for me, and my heart is racing. The call was anticipated, and even desired, and still it sent my son running to his room to hide, and left me pacing the house.

Just when I want to pass for “normal.” Just when I think I am not so very different from everyone else, and the diagnosis must have been wrong. Just when I am trying to convince myself that I can succeed in their world. Just as I am beginning to think that I can – the phone rings. One sound, and all of these thoughts, all of these theories, all of these desires go flying out the window.

And I am reminded that the only reason I feel okay right now is because I am home. And even home doesn’t keep me safe always.


We wanted this call, yet we can’t deal with it just the same. The call wasn’t even for me, and I am having a panic attack. It was for my son, and as he says, he can’t. It isn’t that he won’t, or that he doesn’t want to. I know this place he is in, and I feel for him. We need this, and still we can’t.

So he is locked in his room, looking very upset. He knows we need this, but he can’t! And he feels it. But that acknowledgment that we need it, or that he should do this, doesn’t help him to do it. It didn’t help me, either. And to force the issue will bring to him the same traumas that were brought on me whenever I was forced to do these things.

And I wonder why these things, that are supposed to be in place to help people like us, still require us to be able to function in a typical way in order to get the help. It seems unfair, and it reminds me again and again that we are not typical – and it hurts. It does, because I was just beginning to think we were doing okay.

It is always a reminder from the outside that confirms the fact that we do have Aspergers to me. When we are alone, doing our thing, we do okay. But when we are called into their world, and fail to meet their expectations over and over again, it hurts – and that is when I know that I have Aspergers. It isn’t an excuse. It isn’t a pretense. No matter how hard we try, we fail in their world.

Only that acknowledgment then confirms to me how very important this phone call was – because we need that help. We can’t just get up the courage, and find jobs, and continue on in their world. I have been there. I have tried that. I have a string of shame and failures to prove it – but I never succeeded.

The only time I really believe I could succeed in their world, is when I am not required to be in it. So I am reminded of today – and I am praying that they will understand, and will help (my son) despite (our) inability to answer the phone.


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Autism: Avoidance

All day I have been trying to talk myself into it… Okay, maybe trying is a bit strong a word. More I have been panicking, and doing whatever I could find to occupy my mind, and stop thinking about it. I know I have to. I know at some point, it must be done – and once it is, perhaps I can calm down.

I didn’t say I was being logical. How often is anxiety logical?

The letter came in last night. I was even warned it was coming, and that when it arrived, I would have to make the phone call. So I was preparing myself, and even talking about it. The letter is a good thing. It tells me that I am eligible for services through community living BC (did I mention that I live in BC?)

I am not sure exactly what that means. I have been doing my normal research, and looking it up online, but my brain appears not to be working lately (I think it has to do with the constant shocks) and despite all of the information, I really can’t figure out what they do. Help with employment, maybe, but even I now agree that is not the right option at this time (a lot has changed since they took me off of work.)

Still, they do other types of supports, so maybe something will help. Only I need to call them. I need to call them to set up the appointment. I am sure that my struggle with the phone is listed in their paperwork on me, but the paper (and the warning email – not that it was really a warning, she just let me know it would be coming) both said I would have to call.

So I thought, do it right away. Get it over with. Of course, that didn’t happen. On went the tablet for Facebook games, and then… well, I had to get my Sims through their Junior year at college… and then I might as well work on their Senior year – after all, I want them to get back to their home, so someone can take care of the baby (the babysitter is neglectful, and the mom can’t really afford to quit work unless someone else contributes to the family.)

Then I thought that I would call after lunch – but I barely looked at the phone before I turned on Netflix, and watched three episodes of House. Meanwhile, my anxiety is growing, and I can barely feel my cheeks (the anxiety makes the shocks more numbing, apparently.)

I have to go out tonight, and yet I am blocking out all thoughts of obligations, so I haven’t even had my shower (and my son just reminded me that I forgot it was my turn to make supper.) I can’t think!

For this? I don’t know how people do it. While I assure myself that I will make the call tomorrow, somehow even I don’t believe it. If I wait, do you think someone else will make the call???

I didn’t think so.

Avoiding. I hate the phone. Why couldn’t they have just asked me to email them? They would have got an essay then.


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Autism: Making Phone Calls

Read the paper, look at the computer… read the paper again – and start shaking. The phone call needed to be made. There really was no way around it, though I searched… but it wasn’t something that could be let go.

The paper said I had been paid. My bank account showed otherwise – so what happened to the money?

Phones. They shouldn’t bring about so much fear, but always they do.

Wasn’t it enough that my heart was racing as my son had to make his own phone call that morning? But no. Now I had to make one, too.

Thankful. That is what I should be feeling, as my disability application got accepted so fast. I was told six months, and the paper came in one. But the money wasn’t there. It said, “paid,” but I hadn’t been paid.

So my overactive imagination started working overtime, and all along the anxiety grew. What if I gave them the wrong bank information? I know I checked it, again, and again, and again – I am compulsive that way. But I could have been wrong. It happens a lot.

If my money ended up in someone else’s account… I could see them having a happy Christmas. It really wasn’t a lot – definitely not enough to live on, or calm that anxiety – but it was a few months back paid, and for someone not expecting it, it would have made an excellent Christmas bonus.

It would have been my fault. I was sure the mistake was mine. They said, “paid,” and I wasn’t.

Still I would have to claim it on my taxes, probably. That is what the paper said.

So we would still be struggling a lot, while someone else was enjoying the money, and I would have to pay taxes on it. So unfair, but still my fault – always my fault… I keep getting it wrong.

Fighting back the tears, I knew what I had to do – call the disability people, and see what went wrong. Stupid, stupid me. Why can’t I do things right for a change?

Sweating, shaking hands. Numb, tingling body. Hard to think. Hard to focus.

What if I make this phone call, and they think I am okay – I know I am not, but they can’t see me. I will be cut off.

Fear. Brokenness. Strong anxiety – will this medication never work?

She put me on hold as she left to find out what happened.

The clock ticks in the background. The minutes pass by. My fear grows. Trouble.

Finally she comes back on. “The wording was bad,” she says, “the payment will come in January.”

“Thank you,” I reply, and hang up the phone. Not my mistake. I should be able to calm down now.

Eight hours later, my husband comes home from work. I go to cut his hair, and my hands are still shaking. Badly. The answer was good. No need to be afraid. Yet still I shake. Still my body is numb. Still I am struggling, and fighting a meltdown – over a five minute phone call (most of which was spent on hold.) Five minutes:Eight hours.

And still I beat myself up as if with a little effort on my part, I should be able to live in their world.


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Autism: Phone Calls

The phone rang twice today, and both times I panicked. I didn’t answer it, of course, there are too many variables, to many unknowns in answering a ringing phone. So I let it go to the answering machine, as I so often do. I have to be in a really good place – that, or expecting a call which must be answered – to pick up before it gets to that place.

I stood shaking in the hallway, counting the rings, and wondering; fearing, that I would have to pick up. If it was my mom, or brother, the fear would be that it was news on my grandmother – and it wasn’t good. If it was anyone else… I really did not want to answer that phone.

But it rang, and the answering machine picked up, and I quickly determined that I would indeed have to answer. It was disability calling.

Had I left it completely for the machine, I know from experience that I would have had to spend much of the rest of the day trying to call them back. That is even more stressful than answering would be, so I answered.

Good news, I guess. They should have my answer on eligibility in less than five weeks – so much better than the six months they gave me last time I talked to them. Good news, I guess. It isn’t an answer, but at least I know one is coming soon.

Good news, I guess, but hanging up the phone did nothing to reduce the anxiety caused by hearing it ring.

I don’t like phones.

Then it rang again.

Two phone calls in one day seems unreasonable to me. Don’t they know what this does to me?

Once more, I took a breath, and waited for the answering machine to pick up – my heart beating hard in my chest, my head dizzy, my cheeks and hands tingling… this is too much for me.

This phone call was my husband. Just a question. Not a big deal. Yeah, right!

It has now been about five hours since the phone last rang, and still I cannot focus. I cannot concentrate. My body feels numb, my breath comes in gasps, my heart is racing.

Somehow I think it shouldn’t be this hard on me when the phone rings.

But then, maybe that is why they are trying to get me on disability to begin with.


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