We all deal with conflict in our own way, calmly, angrily or somewhere in the middle. When you have Autism it gets a whole lot harder. Dealing with a conflict, having communication difficulties, anxiety and feelings that are either more or less sensitive than normal.
Some people have a good handle on their feelings, they can manage conflict by staying calm. I know that you have people who are the opposite, who jump straight to anger with very little provocation.
If however you have Autism, this makes things a whole lot more complicated. To start with just communicating with a stranger is an issue, add to that we feel anxiety a fair amount, and being in this situation just makes our anxiety go into overdrive. Now add to that for most of us, our feelings are either almost non-existent or hyper sensitive.
For me I have very few feelings, I don’t feel empathy, I am not usually quick to anger, I feel happy most of the time, or at least I don’t feel sad or unhappy, I don’t feel love in the normal sense, I don’t feel guilty but I don’t like making people feel bad, and will try to avoid this at all costs, but inevitably I do upset people from time to time by being too honest.
With Aston I try my best to not leave him upset, so if he gets upset when I leave, I will do my best to find a way to leave without him getting upset. However if it is not possible I know he will be fine probably before I’m even in my car or very soon afterwards. This is not me being horrible, I just don’t have these feelings, I never have, I don’t understand them, or people who have them, it seems as if people get upset and feel bad a lot.
For me, I think in black and white terms, when I see people having all these hurt feelings it doesn’t seem worth all the pain. I’ve been told that these people like being this way, it just seems alien to me, I’m much happier being the way I am.
When I am in situations that cause conflict, these always start with me trying to get my point across and falling on deaf ears. No matter how many times I repeat myself, it just seems as if people don’t understand what I’m trying to say. When this happens, two things happen, firstly I seem to feel angry because my point seems so obvious to me but not them, then secondly this is where my honesty starts flowing and I feel unable to stop it.
I have had occasions when I have made Juno quite embarrassed, I remember one particular occasion when we had to go to the council to try to get some help with my grandmother who needed some extra help, and I reduced the woman at the council to tears. I couldn’t even understand what she was upset about, but did I feel bad, no not at all, I don’t even understand why I should, feelings have always puzzled me.
I have had many such encounters, I don’t seem to go very long without upsetting someone, or them getting annoyed with me for something or another, but I just wish people would understand I don’t feel these feelings. I don’t understand them and when I do they seem to explode in me and make me overreact, It also means that I take a long time to calm down.
With some people they will not recover in my eyes, I will feel that what they did was so out of control, that if I ever do forgive them it will take a very long time to get back in my good books. On the other hand some people I’m close to, if I vent at them, I do stew for quite a while but I will get over it soon enough.
Having this reaction when people don’t understand me means that I shy away from these situations at all costs, and will, if possible avoid any and all conflict if at all possible so as not to cause people unnecessary upset.
Trying to avoid any and all conflict and discomfort means I miss a lot of activities, Aston will be three this month and I have never attended any of his birthday parties and this year will be no different. I do see him on his birthday I just don’t attend the parties that have lots of people, noise, kids screaming and shouting.
Now, I have mentioned before that Leigh and I have an unusual marriage, but the reason is that we are so similar in certain situations, Leigh is the opposite of me when it comes to planning, she is very much a spur of the moment kind of girl and gets annoyed at the level of planning I put into things like changing a room round.
When it comes to socializing she is quite similar, she prefers to visit people one or two at a time and doesn’t like large groups. She does however have friends, sometimes it seems like hard work for her to keep on top of them, but she is also the same as me when it comes to conflict, in her youth she was very quick to anger,, but these days will avoid it like I do. The difference between us is that she would try to resolve these things by e-mail, and the idea of even trying to deal with things face to face is something to be avoided at all costs.
In finishing this post I would just like to say if someone you know has Autism, and they don’t have feelings, it is still possible to upset or annoy them. If they do something to upset you, just remember that they can’t help it, most of the time they don’t even realise that they’ve upset you, and if you over react they will wonder why you didn’t just understand that it’s not their fault they upset you, and their feelings are very difficult for them to understand. It’s not like you didn’t know they had Autism.