Going to my group today, my biggest fear was that I wouldn't fit in. That kind of did happen, only, not in the way I expected. I expected that I was somehow be completely different than these people.... not autistic at all, maybe. That I wouldn't have anything in common with them. That's not what happened.
There were only three other people, all men besides me, all older than me (two in their late 20s, one in his late 40s). They all have Asperger's, and if I may say, they are as stereotypical Asperger's as it gets. One of the guys also has Tourette's and therefore a vocal tic that is "unrelated" to his Asperger's. When it comes to the autism spectrum, the doctor said that I am considerably more severe than they are.
Whoa. What?! Me?! I thought that I was really, really, really mild. But these guys don't have problems with eye contact. They were discussing things about body language that I didn't know existed. They don't have any sensory problems. One is married, with children. None have problems with meltdowns (?!) or stimming or self injurious behaviors. I don't want to discount their struggles, but I'm left wondering, where is your autism?!
So, I guess I have to reframe my idea of my own autism, I guess, if what they have can also be considered on the spectrum. I'm just a bit confused. Anyway, today we talked about body language (I was lost), making eye contact (it makes me hurt, so he had me practice watching his mouth, but I still kept looking away, darn it), melt downs (guess the other guys don't have those or even understand what they are), how to show that you're interesting in a conversation, sensory overload, how other people show that they're bored of listening to you... basically, went through many of the traits of Asperger's and how the affect each of us. These guys did not talk. I've realized that I'm somehow more outgoing than many people with autism... not always engaged with people, but I do like to talk to them, sometimes. Just, don't you necessarily try to talk to me, if I don't know you, because I might ignore you. It's gotta be on my terms :)
The doctor asked each of us what we'd like to be able to do better in social settings. For me... when I go out, I can't just go out with a group of people unless one of a few certain people (i.e., my mom or Leigh or someone) is going. I need someone who I can really depend on in case I get confused or melt down when I'm out. I'd like to be self sufficient enough to be able to go out to eat with a group or something and handle the little things that come up well enough not to have to depend on someone. Also, I kind of need that person as a social "filter," so that I can communicate with the other people. Anyway, if I could even get moving in the right direction, that would be great.
By the way, Disney would is absolutely INCREDIBLE about handling even last-minute dietary restrictions. We set up a few reservations... it was taken care of within four hours of the initial e-mail: the reservations, dietary notifications, forms to fill out, emails about what I can eat at what places at each park. An awesome lady named Brenda does a great job handling it all. This huge places, which has 60,000 employees, can handle individual dietary issues like that, and such a fast turn-around! And, I can eat brownies, pizza, ice cream, and chicken tenders at dozens of places at the parks down there, not just one or two things at a couple of random spots! Ahhhh! Not that I'm excited or anything :)