As a teen and a young adult, I had much more freedom, I could pretty much go wherever I wanted to and explore and wander around having more autonomy. I was often very uncomfortable in most situations outside my home, usually in situations where there were a lot of people or where the attention was on me. So, I didn’t wander and explore that much, instead I would keep to myself, learning or daydreaming. I was a very isolated person for a long time. Yay me! More time at the library!
I knew there was something different about me, I just didn’t know what. I wanted to fit in so I pushed myself as much as I could to spend time with my friends and tried to be involved in some activities. That worked until people started getting interested in me romantically. Then I didn’t want to know anything about the women approaching me, because it was going to change my routines.
I didn’t really understand people: what caused them to be in a certain state or have a certain emotion while interacting with each other. For me it was more like looking through a television screen or a video game. I knew the reality was in front of me but there was always a feeling that my full consciousness was not completely there. I was always processing thoughts and questions while observing. I observed their behavior and their interactions so I could mimic them when I had to fit in more, but in my mind, I was very different. Everything was such a struggle and uncomfortable.
Music and television had a big impact on helping me go out and confront different challenges. Music would help me with moods and TV would help me understand interactions and scenarios between people. Some TV shows could give me a boost to challenge myself by absorbing a character’s personality. I would try to have that character’s mindset to face and overcome some uncomfortable situation or be more open and talk to others and be funny. Thank you, Van Wilder and Dick Solomon, for teaching me how to be cool and funny.
Sometimes, it’s also the music from movies that help me have the right mindset to face situations. Punk rock pumps me up and gets me ready to be active. 80’s slow rock songs help me think. I was raised on country, it helps me feel in the zone when I am driving around on a sunny day when everything is cool.
The entertainment industry is a very powerful tool to help with understanding interactions, helping to have that extra push to try to explore new things. It motivated me to have a better quality of life. It was my own way of self-regulating by mimicking film and music. Every person on the spectrum needs to develop tools to self-regulate, and there are several available like mimicking, but also techniques like The Zones of Regulation, Brain Gym, as well as breathing and meditation techniques. There are always more to learn, and you never know when it will be helpful. It’s great to work with the Autism House as I am often learning new techniques I didn’t know about before!