My parents used to say, “We just can’t take you anywhere”, meaning I could not be trusted not to cause a “scene” – and for parents who valued appearances in society as they did, this was quite the denouncement.
It has only been four months since I emerged from extreme isolation and denial of my social difficulties – the way I dealt with it was by NOT dealing with it: staying isolated and alone, the way I like it. I truly prefer to be alone, and, until recently assumed most autistics were like me.
NOT so. Even some of the most severely impacted are not as misanthropic as I; in fact, they are surprisingly affectionate. I am beginning to consider perhaps my hermit-like qualities are not even related to autism at all. However, the fact remains – I am still as averse to being with other people for more than an hour at a time, maximum. I simply do not LIKE them when I am required to be in their presence. They irritate supremely and my hostility and aggression when irritated is still not completely under my control. I no longer profess to “hate” them as I did vehemently when younger (and before Buddhist training), but still resent any occasion where I must interact face to face, unless it is a structured activity with clear rules, like sporting activities or firefighting. One on one contact is preferable, as there are not as many variables to attend to, but I really prefer digital and online communication – I express myself best there and do not get as frustrated, as I control the interaction and can step away when necessary when getting frustrated.
As a child and adult (up until 1999, when my last documented episode of public aggression occurred), I was extremely aggressive, and, for this reason, was placed in very restrictive settings where they could physically restrain me. I saw no reason not to be so violent until multiple arrests and beatings from the police forced me to re-evaluate my public lashing out. At that time, I discovered Buddhism and its practice of non-violence and rose to the challenge of changing my behavior. I was successful; however, my main strategy was to limit my exposure to provocative situations, which basically meant not venturing into public except when I most others are not present- i.e., never being out in rush hour, going to an all – night supermarket at 4 AM, etc. This did not completely curb my physical and verbal assaultiveness – as recently as a few weeks ago I hit my support person as he was attempting to restrain me from engaging in another obnoxious behavior – disruptive yelling late at night. The difference is now I feel remorse and truly do not want to be this way.
Here is an article on aggression in ASD: https://www.dovepress.com/aggression-in-autism-spectrum-disorder-presentation-and-treatment-opti-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-NDT.
It spends much time discussing antipsychotic medications, which have been tried on me, to no avail. First off, I am extremely sensitive to the neurological side effects such as Parkinsonianism/Extra Pyramidal Symptoms. My diaphragm actually seizes up, and I cannot move the muscles needed to breathe. This makes antipsychotics potentially deadly for me. They also did not ameliorate any of my behavior issues, and since I do not have a thought disorder (schizophrenia), they are useless and harmful for me. Ritalin and the stimulants, which I was on for many years, also do not help in the long run. Neither do any of the other classes of drugs, and, believe me, I have been on them all. Buddhist practice and the willingness to change are the only things which have worked for me, and for that I am grateful.
Thank you, Autistry Studios, for helping me seek resources which may help with self-control, like this one:
It may seem simplistic, but I have never attempted anything like this. Only the challenge of following the Buddhist precepts has inspired me to try. When others were attempting to control me, I resisted strenuously -and my will is extremely strong.
Next essay will be on the two days I behaved atrociously in public and how depressed it made me feel – until today I have been unable to even begin writing on this subject.
I am doing better regarding aggression, but have a long way to go – had I not ventured out on those two days I may still be under the illusion I now have it all under control.
On the bright side – I no longer fight with strangers – nearly all aggression is verbal now, and even that is infrequent as I know my triggers and usually avoid them; the two disastrous days were an experiment against my better judgement. I also did not wear my weighted vest, which DOES help calm me -and both days I FORGOT MY SQUISHIES! It is remarkable how much these items calm me. It is also remarkable how often I forget this.
As far as lashing out at my support guy – I AM sorry, and even that episode was minor.