It was good to read about dealing with autistic children and their special needs in survival situations, and I’d like to thank Grey Woman for her article. There have been articles about the elderly, the physically handicapped, those with dementia, but we on the autistic spectrum have been largely ignored. Our differences are too bizarre for most people to understand.
Adult With Autism; We Grow Up
Let me introduce myself. I’m an adult with autism, and I’m also a fervent SurvivalBlog reader and occasional contributor. I also like to watch water going down a drain, insist that my egg be on the right side of my plate, and relax by studying the structure of the knotholes in our paneled den. “Quirky” is putting it mildly.
Incidentally, I never really liked calling what I am a “disorder”; I prefer “difference”. For some reason, no one understands, my brain works differently from that of other people. Human brains, like human faces, are very different. It’s doubtful Mozart could have written “Hamlet”, and I doubt Shakespeare could have dreamed up the prototype helicopter da Vinci designed. The autistic brain is just different. Sometimes this difference is good; sometimes it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant for me and those around me.
If you ever meet me, you won’t perceive anything unusual. I’m good at hiding my differences. Besides, I rarely speak to people. I don’t relate well, because I can’t perceive the subtle cues in body language or sometimes even speech. I usually miss jokes, and teasing goes over me like a waterfall. I just don’t get it.
Needless to say, romance is usually difficult for those on the dreaded spectrum. We don’t pick up the verbal and nonverbal cues. Many of us are perfectly happy alone, and I find flirting impossible. I finally found a man who himself has a number of spectrum characteristics, and our marriage has been very happy.
While I can work with others, I prefer to work alone. Despite my academic background, I’m very happy doing trivial, routine tasks, such as the mass mailings I did at one college job. To me, it’s fun to analyze a task and then figure out the quickest and least tiring way to complete it. Routine is a great comforter.
Functioning, I’m Very High
In terms of functioning, I’m very high, especially in verbal ability. I have a Ph.D. from one of America’s best universities. The ACT, SAT, and GRE were a breeze for me. I communicate satisfactorily and politely with others, but the conversations are always superficial. I know others don’t share my interests, so I’ll probably talk about the weather. I’m aware that other people have little interest in Akhenaten and the Amarna period, the social effects of the bubonic plague, motion study, Pliny the Younger, prime numbers, canine evolution and intelligence, or Tudor England. The entire universe interests me, but the usual adult topics of clothes, TV shows, sports, and general gossip are boring torture for me.
Love to Rock
I love to rock and, for many years, did it from two to five hours a day, happily creating imaginary worlds in my mind. License plates fascinate me. I’m always looking for interesting combinations of letters and numbers, particularly primes. I enjoy imitating other people’s handwriting and analyzing the pattern of tiles, concrete blocks, or other objects in a room.
Eating is a major problem. I prefer to eat at home. While I like the food from several restaurants, I don’t want to eat there. Restaurants have too many people, too many things hanging on the wall, too much talking, and too much loud music. All that equals serious sensory overload. That’s why I’m usually in the carry-out line. New foods are a challenge, and without tactful urging I stay away from them. My husband was stunned when he learned that, at the age of 39, I had never eaten a pizza.
Travel is a nightmare. I only feel safe in my home and don’t want to be away overnight, even though I have an excellent bug-out bag in case my house someday becomes an unsafe place. We plan to bug in if SHTF. However, I’m very aware that short-term events can necessitate leaving. I’ll just have to deal with it.
One of the best ways to deal with it is to mentally escape, which is why I usually have books handy. The books I keep in the car are all familiar favorites. I like the familiar; knowing what’s going to happen is like being wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket. I rarely read fiction. Instead, I prefer history and science.
Meltdowns aren’t just for children. I still have them, and they aren’t fun. Fortunately, they don’t happen very often. I know what can trigger these monsters and avoid those situations whenever possible. If I do start melting, I go in my room and shut the door until it’s over.
I do many small, eccentric things, which go unnoticed. I constantly wiggle my fingers, tie knots in my hair, sway back and forth, and flap when I become tense. In public I try to keep the swaying and flapping to a minimum. At home, I relax and do what comes natural. If it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else and isn’t illegal, I figure there’s no problem.
I Analyze Trivial Events
I don’t think the way other people do. I’m constantly analyzing, studying, thinking, and coming to my own conclusions. What I analyze is usually related to trivial events in life. For instance, a spider who walked on my hand elicited a loud scream and then a thorough analysis: Why had I screamed? It was an instinctive, unplanned action, so its origin must lie deep in human evolution.
I imagined my female ancestors of 20,000 years ago out gathering berries. Suddenly one member of the group saw a dangerous animal. She screamed. What good did this do? It depends. If the animal was small or somewhat shy, the noise might scare it away. The sound would certainly draw the attention of her friends, who might come to her aid. Even if they didn’t help and she got eaten, her warning scream might enable them to escape, thus perpetuating the gene pool of the group. There was a lot of thinking for one little spider event.
Wouldn’t Want To Change
While what I am is sometimes viewed as a handicap, I wouldn’t want to change. If there was a pill that would suddenly make me “normal”, I’d reject it. My opinion of normality isn’t high. Normal people, in my experience, are too limited and boring.
Place in Survival World
Do I have a place in the survival world? I hope so. Some morning after TEOTWAWKI, as we all crawl out of our holes, I’ll come out, too. I’ll be the oddball who has unusual ideas and knows unexpected things. I’ll probably flap with anxiety. But I’ll bring a great harvest of knowledge, unexpected skills, great creativity, and a determination to see freedom survive.
I’m just a little different. Autism grows up.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.