Things To Understand

What are some things I wish people knew about life on the spectrum? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Life on the spectrum is exciting for me, but sometimes, I know I seem odd in public. These are things I wish people knew more about me. Note that this is just me on the spectrum. Many things could apply to others on the spectrum or they might not apply to some at all. When you meet one person, you’ve met one person.

First off, if anything here is truly something that needs to change, consider autism an explanation. It is not always a justification.

Eye contact is hard. If I’m not looking in your eyes, it doesn’t mean I don’t care. If I am in such a situation, I mentally have to tell myself to look in someone’s eyes and even then, it’s a strain.

If I seem to be doing something else, it doesn’t mean I am not paying attention to you. My former in-laws found this out once when I visited them and I was playing my 3DS and they thought I wasn’t paying attention, until they found out I could repeat everything they said back to them. If anything, many times, this can be help me focus better.

This also helps if I attend a talk somewhere. If I am in the audience and on my phone, I am actually hearing what you say. This helps me to better pay attention. If I’m not, I can easily have my mind wander away and miss everything.

I am not an emotional person, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I can have happiness and joy, but I can also have sorrow and loss. I can also have anxiety at times and I don’t know why.

Some social situations are very stressful to me. I can go to a function where several people get together and we’re supposed to socialize, especially over food. It’s really hard for me. Please understand that. Also, please don’t ask me if I want to get anything. If I wanted to, I would have.

Please don’t ask me a question like “How are you?” I am sure you mean well, but it’s a vague question and I don’t know how much you want to know. I would prefer a simple “Hello,” instead.

I am sure you mean well, but if I don’t know you and trust you well enough, please don’t touch me. I especially hate it when people touch my back due to my steel rod. I can like touch at times, but someone has to be at the place where I can trust them and that is a place that is earned. However, if you ask, I could be more open.

I am an introvert, but even I sometimes like to be around other people. Loneliness is very real, especially when you’ve been divorced. I could want to do something with you more than you realize.

I would rather speak to a crowd of 100 people than to speak to one stranger face-to-face. The internet has been a gift as it has helped me find a voice to talk to people I normally wouldn’t get to. Even when I do evangelism for class, I normally need someone else to initiate conversation.

Speaking of such, your experience of Christianity and mine are very different. Most modern praise choruses I find simply shallow. Give me the old classic hymns, especially “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Don’t tell me about an experience of Christianity as I don’t find many concepts, such as the leading of the Holy Spirit, taught in Scripture.

Understand I will often take your language literally. Be careful with what you say. Sometimes, I do this to be humorous, but many times, I honestly don’t understand how you’re speaking.

I speak sarcasm fluently, but I’m often horrible at recognizing it.

Sometimes I need assurances things are okay between us. I don’t often know where you stand based on your body language. I often can wonder if I have offended you and be concerned about it.

In a conversation, I could be often trying to figure out everything you’re saying in every way and if it’s not a concept I’m familiar with, I can lag. I’m trying to interpret many signals at once I don’t understand. If I seem to bounce back to an earlier point, that’s why.

I find jokes funny constantly and they never stop. If I have a running joke with you, you are in a very good position. If I normally joke with you and I suddenly stop without any apparent reason, there is a reason. I joke more with people I feel safe around.

I have my personal obsessions. I can go on endlessly with you talking about Smallville and I know my video games exceptionally well, but I’m also as readers of this blog obviously know a fanatic when it comes to theology, philosophy, history, economics, etc. There are many areas I like to learn about always.

Friends mean so much to me. To have people I can rely on around me is an immense relief. When people show me they’re thinking about me, it’s incredible. It tells me I am not out of sight and out of mind.

I will often speak wordlessly. Sometimes the words are there, but it’s like there’s a mental block in my head that I can’t get past. This can often be seen as rude when I am silent, but it is not my intention. It really stings when I hear people speaking when they think I can’t hear about me being rude.

I get nervous in food situations. That’s my side of the spectrum. If I’m around people I don’t know well enough and there’s a meal going on, it gets me nervous. I tend to avoid church gatherings centered around a meal. If I visit and don’t eat anything, it’s not my trying to be rude. It’s just uncomfortable for me and I’m extremely finicky anyway.

Speaking of friends from earlier, I’m extremely loyal to mine. I want to do everything I can to help you out. One reason I want to get a lady in my life is I love getting to adore someone.

Many people on the spectrum have various habits that they do. I tend to hum video game music. It’s something that gives me a sense of adventure in my life.

I like things to be orderly. I run on a tight schedule. Generally, I will take a shower at 7 every night. I will turn off my games two hours before bed, be on my computer doing work for the next hour, and then spend the next hour before turning out the light playing some light games on my Kindle as well as a little light reading.

I honestly don’t notice many things like hygiene. If I miss a spot shaving, that’s why. Even when I’m doing that kind of thing, I have to keep my mind occupied and I’m usually reading a book at the same time.

Vague terms don’t make sense to me. I’ve recently found this out as now it makes sense why when I was sick as a child and my mother would ask “How do you feel today?” I never knew what to say exactly. Give me something specific I can work with.

If you want to get into my world easier, speak about my interests. It’s a great way to open me up.

If you come forward wanting to immediately be my friend and are really extroverted, I will be wary of you immediately.

I am capable of a lot more than you realize. When you try to tell me I am not capable of something when I am convinced that I am, you just increase my drive all the more. Telling me I am not just means you don’t believe in me to me. It means so much when people believe in me and invest in me.

If you must correct me on something, be gentle and please let me know we’re okay at the end. That assurance means a lot. At the same time, I’m not a child. It’s a fine line, but we can find it together.

That’s a lot, but one more thing to understand…..

I am also in the image of God just as you are. I happen to love my Christian walk and I see Jesus as my king and try to serve Him to the best of my ability. I consider my autism a gift as it allows Christ to shine through in my weaknesses all the more when the world said I wouldn’t succeed at all.

There are plenty of other people on the spectrum. Like I said, some of what I said will apply to them. Some won’t. Get to know the person you’re dealing with. We’re all individuals.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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