Is it Difficult for Autistic People to Describe their Challenges?

Here’s a list of the some reasons why it may be difficult for autistic people to describe their challenges especially during conversations.

  • Not knowing when interrupting is allowed in conversations.
  • Sensory overload.
  • The person’s autism wasn’t very obvious.
  • The need for longer warm-up times.
  • Lack of awareness of the performance of others which can let us know whether we’re doing reasonably well. If not, we’ll know that we need to speak up.
  • Difficulties reading social cues which can provide performance feedback so that we know that we need to get support.
  • Language or other communication difficulties.
  • Difficulties explaining them in plain English. It takes effort and time to translate them.
  • Not knowing how much distraction is acceptable. Should the work area be soundproof?
  • Forgotten baseline in terms of sensory overload which may be confused with getting used to it. If the work area is always noisy, you might not associate the difficulties concentrating with sensory overload until you experiment with removing distractions.
  • Lack of awareness of difficulties. How do we clearly know our difficulties if autistic people can’t experience what it’s like not to have autism and vice versa? Which difficulties are considered normal?
  • Myth that autism can be outgrown can cause the autistic person to overlook autism related challenges.
  • Difficulties describing emotions.
  • Difficulties expressing emotions which may cause the difficulties to be overlooked. Most communication is non-verbal.
  • Pressure to answer without enough time. Preparation may be needed before the social interaction even takes place. I would recommend being prepared so that you don’t risk coming to an appointment with nothing much to say. Writing it down can make it even easier.
  • Difficulties understanding what the person was asking for? When the question how’s your day is asked at work or school, sometimes it’s an opportunity ask for support.
  • Uncertainty about how much and what information should be given when sharing the challenges. I find that when I comment on blogs, it can take at least half an hour of editing before I’m satisfied with it. It also takes a while to notice the tone and whether additional information would be beneficial.
  • Difficulties multi-tasking. Conversations can have multiple topics and our challenges that we know of might be in the back of our minds when we’re concentrating on other areas or we’re busy. There’s also more mental resources required for using the right social cues and interpreting them.
  • Concerns that getting support may require too much resources although the long term cost of getting support may be lower.
  • Pressure to look non-autistic or avoid disclosing their autism.

I felt that I may have sounded vague because some people may have thought that my challenges sounded minor or were normal which can prevent getting the right support. That’s why I think being clear is important.

Having it written can be more effective than having it spoken because you don’t have to prepare it on the spot such as during job interviews. There’s less time pressure too. When I was asked about my autism challenges on the spot, I was only able to come up with a few words. I hope that blogging is an effective way to describe our challenges.

Is it difficult for autistic people to describe their challenges? What do you think?


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