Autism And Going Out In Public

You Need To Go Out, they said…

Going out in public is something many of us take for granted, but for Autistics, it can be daunting. I wanted to find out more, so I found some Autistic people commenting about their experiences online, and here’s what they had to say:

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“Going outside is very difficult for me. People who don’t know me will stare at me, and people who do know me will stare harder. I’ve been told that my sensory issues ‘aren’t a big deal, but it doesn’t feel like my senses are in charge of what I need to do; they only respond in the presence of other stimuli.” – Samuel (22)

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“I spend my days bouncing between two worlds in my head. I feel like everyone is waiting for me to be socially acceptable in the presence of every single person, but it’s just not possible. I can’t always control when I switch between these worlds or how long each one will last. Sometimes it seems like everyone hates me because of who I am inside, even though they don’t understand me. Other times its just one person who hates me, but they can make a single moment feel like a lifetime.” – Anna (23)

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“I know I’m going to mess up when I run into someone in public. Every time I look at them or speak to them, it’s going to be painfully obvious that I don’t fit into their expectations of who they want me to be. They’ll never understand that I can’t just up and go wherever I want whenever I want, so instead of being able to have a conversation with them about something normal, they’ll turn away from me because of these reasons.” – Daniel (24)

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“I don’t know how to handle public interactions. I know what the expected behavior is supposed to be, but I don’t know how to adjust my current behavior accordingly. Other people think about what they’re going to do before doing it, but for me, it’s all happening at once.” – Erik (15)

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“I can go months without talking to another human being unless I have to, but when I finally do go out, people are so self-centered that it’s like they don’t care about anyone else.” – Emma (19)

“When you’re Autistic, there is no such thing as entering or exiting a room; everyone sees you enter and leave at all times. Because of this, you can’t just go anywhere because everyone will be watching you do it. You can never seem like you fit in, no matter how hard you try to make them believe otherwise.” – Grace (23)

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“I try to make sure I look okay before stepping outside my house, but every time I walk out, I lose track of how many times people see me putting on or taking off my makeup before I actually leave.” – Jack (19)

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“I know that the minute I walk into a public space, everybody knows where I’m going and what store I’m in. No matter what else is happening in my life, they’ll remember the times when I’ve gone to this store or that store; I know it’s going to be very difficult for me to blend in.” – Jacob (22)

“I can’t imagine what it must feel like for someone with Autism. It seems like most people are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t care about how things affect others, which makes socializing really hard for those who don’t fit into the mold of what people expect.” – Lyle (31)

Coping Strategies

“I feel more comfortable when I’m in public if I have headphones with me, even if they’re not plugged into anything. Then at least people know I don’t want to speak to them.” – Samuel

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“When I go out somewhere new, it takes a lot of planning ahead of time. If the route is too complicated or if I know that there will be too many people around, then it’s just not worth the stress of trying to do something outside.” – Anna.

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“I always carry an emergency note with me wherever I go. Even if it just says where I am, what time it is, or why I’m upset/angry/sad/etc., at least people will have some idea of why I’m struggling. If it’s about an Autistic meltdown or shutdown, I always make sure to go somewhere where nobody else is around.” – Daniel.

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“I try to avoid places with a lot of noise if possible. I know that if there are too many noises at once, they’ll start to blur together, and I won’t be able to hear anything. It can take me a long time to recover from that sort of thing, so it’s always better for me if I just avoid it.” – Grace.

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“If there are other young Autistics around when I’m in public, then I try not to hang around them too much. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about it and assume that we’re together or something.” – Jack.

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“I can’t go out during certain days of the year because there is so much going on. Sometimes I have a really hard time with holidays, even though everyone else seems to enjoy them so much.” – Erik.

What Do I Do?

Well, I’ve been able to calculate for how long I can ‘put on a mask‘ to go shopping, so after 3 hours I head home. I only visit Normal – I don’t stay there…

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