Writer's note: I can't stress enough that, "if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism" as it applies greatly to this post as these examples are mine and mine alone. Also, to some of these situations, on any given day, the words behind the words could be different...
A teacher once asked me, "do you need any help?"
I responded with, "No."
Why did I say no? I do need help, so why did you ask instead of just helping me? I know I need help but why don't you? I just don't get this, these fractions make no sense and the rules for inverting or, flopping, or whatever it is when dividing, or is it multiplying, makes no sense. Please come back, help me, but if you ask again I'll probably say no.
A man entered an elevator last week that I was in and said, "hello, great day, isn't it. How are you?"
I responded with, "..."
What is going on? I may not know much about social rules but I know beyond any reasonable doubt that no one, and I mean NO ONE, speaks to those they don't know on an elevator, so why did you just talk to me. This is going to be awkward, isn't it. You don't know it, but you've freaked me out and I'm frazzled so I'm just going to stare at the floors now, three, two... why are we slowing? Come on ground floor, you can't come soon enough... There, we made it, I'm sorry I didn't say a word to you, but you sort of broke a social rule and I wasn't prepared for any conversation to take place so I meant no disrespect, it's just that I don't speak on an elevator.
Many times in my life I've been told, "Aaron, that was a good job!"
I have often responded with a hesitant, "Yeah," and with a halfhearted, "thanks"
Was it a good job, really? I know I could've done better because it wasn't perfect. With that said, are you just telling me it was a good job or are you just telling me it to be nice because I know that's what people do so I'm actually confused right now. If I seemed a bit stuck up after your compliment I had no intentions of seeming so, it's just that I don't know how to respond because I quite honestly have no idea if what I did warranted praise because I simply did what I did because it needed to be done.
On a hot day at a race track five years ago a person was delivering water and asked, "Hey, Aaron, do you need any water?"
I thought about it and said, "Nah, I'm good."
Come back! Why did I tell you I was good? Oh, I wish I could tell you my concept of, "if I were dying of thirst would I ask for a glass of water" because I feel as if I am actually dying right now, but you've already driven away on your golf cart so how would you react if I radio in and actually say I'm not good? Why couldn't I just accept the help then and there? Would you have thought me weak? It's a 100 degrees out here though, and I'm not Superman, we all need water, but for some reason I told you I was fine when I'm not. I'm sure in fifteen minutes I will radio in and when that time comes I can only hope you won't be angry with me for refusing help when it was offered, but I just don't know how to accept help.
In first grade he music teacher played something to show us what heavy bass felt like and I quickly rose my hand and said, "it is hurting me!"
She responded with, "no it isn't!"
No it isn't? Then what am I feeling? I can't state that it's hurting again because my classmates will probably laugh at me, but teacher, I'm feeling something I've never felt before. My legs and arms feel as if they're on fire and I'm feeling every bit of noise. Why didn't you believe me? Maybe someday I'll be able to explain this, but for now I'll just close my eyes and try and endure this onslaught of noise.
Many, many times in my life a loved one has told me, "I love you."
My response is always the same, "..."
Oh my goodness, I'm silent again, but I do, I do love you, but I can't say it. I don't know why I can't say it, but I do. In this silence is the struggle I face. For some reason expressing emotions just isn't there but that doesn't mean that I'm lacking in it. Maybe it's fear that someday I won't hear those words; maybe it's a fear of your reaction should I say it and this could be even more so because I haven't said it for so long. This silence must be hard for you, I understand, and you may think you're talking to a wall as I stare back at you in a blank stare, but I'd like to say so much but am simply unable. I know I'm loved because you keep telling me and yet I keep responding with silence, but you must, I hope, know that I love you because you keep telling me and each time I wish I could reciprocate, but I hope you understand hidden within the silence, or the words I may sometimes say in brief, are many more emotions and thoughts than you can imagine. I'm in here, I really am, but sometimes I just can't tell you what I want, what I'm feeling, and that fact that I truly appreciate you and all that you are and all that you've done for me.