Anytime I drive through Sullivan I have to eat at this one place. I've done it every single time dating all the way back to my first trip for TouchPoint back in 2010. Yesterday, though, was the first time I actually ordered a combo meal so I was a little off my normal pace as I thought about what to get as I didn't want the fries. Because of this change I wasn't all that responsive to the cashier's conversation as she talked and talked and talked (I think it was about food allergies) and I gave no indication I was listening to which she then said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I'm talking your ear off as you obvious aren't listening."
Was I trying to be rude or disrespectful? Not at all! However, after the fact I could see how I came across the way. The problem was I had just got deciding what, of the ten or so items I could have instead of fries, I was going to have with my combo so my mind was coming off a deep processing session (okay, maybe for you ordering something isn't considered "deep" but when I've ordered the same thing for years on end a slight change instantly gets put into the "deep" category) and I just could not catch up with the conversation the cashier was having. The bad part about this is the fact that I don't really have a sign that says "Processing: Please Wait."
When one is doing an update, or anything it seems, on a computer there will, at some point in time, be something like the image to the right. For those of us on the autism spectrum there is nothing like that. The lady at the place yesterday had no idea the amount of processing I had just done for what would appear to be a simple task, but for myself it took a little bit more effort and she had no idea my brain was in the midst of going around in circles processing what had and was about to happen.
The later yesterday, at my presentation in Rolla, I heard from three parents who each had an issue with a teacher whom did not give proper processing time. One teacher went so far to yell at the student and it was all over the misunderstanding of processing. As I say in my presentation, "We truly live in a society where everything is now now NOW" and that is a major disadvantage for us on the autism spectrum when there is no understanding. If we aren't given the time to process, and if we're then scolded for "staring off" or "not paying attention" then our anxiety levels rise which increases the amount of processing taking place and this within itself creates more processing and then I'm processing so much that I can't even make sense of what I should be listening or paying attention too.
Because of the way society is now, in terms of being a now society, it would be hard to imagine that a person does need some extra time to process. The more at ease, at least for myself, that I am the easier it is to process. If I'm scared, and overly aware of my processing time and I know the other person has no patience for the time it's taking then I can almost guarantee that the interaction is going to suffer. It's a vicious cycle and one that shouldn't happen. However, it does because we don't have a visible marker. We don't have a spinning icon informing the world of the processing taking place. And on top of that we don't have the understanding from a lot of people that need it that processing is taking it place. It may not look like it, it may not seem like it, and it may seem we aren't interested but only if the world in general could know just how much processing is taking place and how difficult it is to come up with an answer when I'm analyzing fifteen different things as well as hearing everything else in the environment.