Self-care is important, especially for Autistics.
I’ve been semi-following the events going on on Autistic twitter lately: the Nazi rally and deaths, the watching and decrying of that Netflix series, Atypical, which hasn’t had any Autistic consults so it generally is cringe-worthy, sucky television. This is on the heels of the health care debate and also in the midst of whether we’re bombing North Korea and/or Venezuela and I had college friends from Guam so I actually know where that is and….
So, yeah, the world right now is getting a bit spinny out of control.
I’ve noticed that we Autistics, likely because we can’t go out as much as neurotypicals, will obsess online with what’s happening in the world and how it’s showing us how the world is going to end. I’ve been trying to just say some prayers and let God fix it. Why? Not because I don’t want to help, but because I know what is likely to happen to me if I’m not careful. We start school in a little over a week, I can’t lose my voice now. I can’t have a melt-down now. There’s never a good time to struggle Autistically, but some times are worse than others.
So I’m careful about how I interact online. I have to be. And honestly, with today being the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who gave his life for another prisoner in Auschwitz, who refused German citizenship just because he couldn’t handle the white privilege and got locked up just because of that, well, I’ve gotta believe he’s got this.
What follows is my account of the first time I was unable to speak.
A few times when I was younger, I remember not speaking because I was mad about something and didn’t want to speak, lest I say something stupid. I think it was a conscious choice, but now I wonder if it was or wasn’t.
Last night, when I got to my evening class, I realized that I left something at home and as I was searching for a virtual copy, I was struggling to come up with the right search terms. I was going to have to come up with another version of what I would have brought to discuss, or admit I couldn’t present. Not a huge deal, since my teacher is understanding and I could have submitted it upon returning home where I would surely have found what I was looking to find.
But during this, I think I stumbled onto the Facebook feed of one of my former students. A Latina, she has three daughters. They are all citizens (not that it matters). Her eldest daughter was legitimately scared, and asking over and over again whether they should be packing since they’re going to be sent back to Mexico. This, clearly, freaked out the younger girls.
Around this time, I realized that I wasn’t able to speak. I talk to myself a LOT. I like to hear the sound of my voice and rehearse things I’m going to say. I was sitting alone in a room, and suddenly, I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t decide if I was faking or not. I started panicking. Then, I remembered the Autistic Twitter Universe talking about how people were internalizing the pain of others today (moreso than usual) and it was going to be a hard day. I remembered my husband losing his voice at work when he was stressed. In his case, it got better when he came home. I texted him and then decided to tell my teacher, in writing. Fortunately, he’s easy. We had a conversation while I wrote and he spoke and he said I could leave or stay and we’d make things work. We did, as it happened.
Here’s how the experience went: