suzefricker@mylifeaccordingtome.org Available all the time, just send me an email and I will get back to you.

The Autistic Brain

Through talking to other autistic people I feel like I can say this with confidence. When you have to get something out you gotta get it out. I regularly find myself with songs stuck in my head and the only way to get it to stop is to sing it. It is important for me to get it out otherwise I get stressed out.

Before my diagnosis, my ex used to get frustrated with me because we would be having dinner and then I would just start singing something. Before my diagnosis, I did not understand why I did it, but now I do and when I need to get something out, I just gotta get it out. Sometimes it has to be a couple of times before it goes but it goes away eventually.

Just remember if you are autistic and you need to get it out just do it. Don’t be concerned about the people around you. It would be worse if you kept it in and that lead to a meltdown.

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Golden Rule for meltdowns – Personal View

So, I should note that this will likely change from one autistic person to another. But whilst the method may change, the principle still remains the same.

Since my diagnosis in 2018, I have had to find ways to cope. The biggest thing that I have struggled with is meltdowns. How do you survive a meltdown? For me, my meltdowns come in stages.  These stages are different levels of severity.

What I have learned helps for me is music. Whilst I was on holiday, I was getting stressed and didn’t have my music with me (dopey me left my phone at the hotel). I had an overexcited day doing things that I never thought I would ever do and then was on a boat where people were speaking VERY LOUDLY and I was on the verge of a meltdown.

Any other time I always make sure I have my phone with me for the music because when it is on I am able to zone out and calm down. So how can this work for you? try finding something that ALWAYS calms you. For me its music, for you it could be screaming, or singing, or using a fidget spinner but always keep it with you. Don’t be afraid to use it and you may find that your meltdown may be staved off.

If any of you try this let me know how it goes for you.

Autism and surprise

Well, as we all know, Autistic people are not very good with sudden change. That is why this one particular autistic person feels the need to say this as it was a good surprise I got. On Wednesday I went to go and see Giovanni Pernice, which I have already had a slew of people telling me “your autistic, you can’t do that” so please no one who reads this please say it to me as I will honestly find a way to block you.

The surprise came when during the intermission, I went to get a picture with one of the Strictly stars who had been on this current season who I thought was soooo amazing and I loved watching him with his professional dancer Janette Manrara. Can you guess who I am talking about? Obviously, Dr Ranj.

I was getting very overwhelmed and was almost at full meltdown mode when I got to him. I asked if I could take a picture with him and started to cry. Embarrassed by it, I told him I was autistic and that I was getting overwhelmed. He took me to one side, ( a quiet space) and stayed with me and talked about dancing and what I liked and stayed with me while I calmed down. I had explained to me that I was diagnosed last year and that I was still learning how to cope which was hard for me. I then fretted that I got a picture with him and my friend who was with me didn’t… He came back in with me when the intermission was over and went to my friend just so she could get a picture with him as well.

This was a surprise to me as I have been having meltdowns at least once a week and have had varying reactions. The good ones came from very different places. He did not have to help me. He did not have to stay with me. He certainly did not have to make sure my friend got a picture with him as well and yet, this celebrity, who I have adored watching on telly took the time to make sure I was ok. He made sure that I was able to go back and watch the rest of the show which I did. I was able to stave off a full meltdown until the very end because of him.

Dr Ranj had never met me before and will probably never even see this but his random act of kindness was so important to me as I was getting quite low about the lack of support I am getting in some areas of my life that it really has inspired me to continue in my quest to make sure that anyone who is autistic and wants to be able to do things others say that they can’t because they are autistic have the courage and the support they need to be able to do it.

Dr Ranj you are amazing and this random woman who you have never met before and probably never meet again is so very grateful to you for everything 🙂

Meltdown – remembering

So because today I have been recovering from my meltdown yesterday, I have been thinking about my childhood. Obviously, I was not diagnosed with my autism until very later in my adult life and I have pushed things to the back of my mind but today I have been thinking about all the random times.

There are two that I currently remember. Once when my mum decided that my sister and I had to walk to school on our own. I was thrown because she had never done this before and I broke down into a major wreck until and crying massively. My mum had to come down and in the end, had to take us to school.

In hindsight, this was due to the change in my routine which I could not handle. This is something that could have been worked on had I been diagnosed as a child. My mum would have known not to change my routine and honestly, it could have saved some people some stress. I had to deal with many things that day, however, I remember that meltdown clearly in my head.

The other time was when I was a teenager. Once again I was supposed to be able to go to the library with my sister. My parents were supposed to come with me however, my dad had to work suddenly and could not come. My mum was also sick that day and could not come to the flat. Once again this was a change to my routine and I broke down into tears and kept saying “bye” to the front door. My sister, at the time, got so annoyed she punched me in the stomach. My dad heard my scream from the flat and came running down the stairs and brought us up to the flat. I then spent the rest of the day curled up on my parent’s bed and I wouldn’t speak to anyone including my sister.

Again, in hindsight, had I been diagnosed maybe they would have not made plans that could potentially be changed and maybe be a way in which they would be kinder to me. That would seriously have been better.

What I remember is that I was drained after each meltdown, however, I don’t remember having it feel like this before. Maybe the older I get the harder to deal with the aftermath of a meltdown.

Honestly, I wish I had a service dog to help me 😦 What I am noticing that now I have been diagnosed I am trying to embrace both the positive and negative parts of it, however, the negative sides can be quite horrid. Now I have the diagnosis I do not need to hide it which made it worse, however, embracing it would be so difficult.

London – Not a good place for someone with Autism

I have decided today, after coming home from work stressed, having vomited on the tube and in tears that London is no place for someone with Autism.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I got to the underground station and I have people pushing and shoving me,. I don’t like being touched unless it is something that I have instigated like hugs etc so having people bumping me, pushing me and shoving me was NOT good… Even got pushed into a tube door when someone tried to get passed me to get off the tube, before the door had opened.

I got to my change station, and had two foreign women either side of me screaming in my ears and when I looked at them to say something I swear they might have slapped me so I didn’t say a word which made me get worse.

I got on my second tube and the same woman kept standing on my feet repeatedly.

Then a man came onto the tube with so much smelly stuff on I was actually physically sick. This would also be the same man who saw that I was using the bar next to my seat and CHOSE to stand when his bum was on the bar. I just had to curl up in my seat and hope for the best. Even stuck half my face down my top so that I didn’t smell him but me, and STILL I smelt him.

I got home and was so stressed I was pulling my hair and crying. Full melt down… Now I am exhausted I will be having a shower and going to bed.

London is no place for someone with Autism, not at all.

Personal Thank You

Being Autistic is something I am still learning about. I have triggers and sometimes I know how to deal with them and sometimes I don’t. My biggest one at the moment is one particular tube station in London. It is HUGE for me. There are so many different escalators just to get off the platform that I get overwhelmed and get lost. I have had to use this station 3 times in the last few weeks and every time I get lost in a new way :S

But my thank you goes out to the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police as I don’t know which police officers I met or which one they were from. Every time I have gotten overwhelmed and lost I always seem to manage to find me a Police officer with a service dog. The two-legged officer gives me directions that I can understand and the four-legged officer gives me love and affection in a lick of letting me pet them that I feel able to get off of the ledge of full meltdown and find my way to where I need to go.

So to all of the two legged and four legged officers in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police #ThankYouForYourService and thank you for helping this Autistic Woman out. Your officers won’t of known I was Autistic, but it made a BIG impression on me and I am super thankful for that as it helped me avoid a meltdown which would have made me feel very embarrassed when it passed.

Autism – Social Energy

Last year during International Day of Persons with Disabilities we had a talk from Genius Within and they talked about the theory of Social Energy.

Basically, it is like the Spoon Theory for Lupus. We all have social energy tanks. Those who are Neuro-Typical have larger tanks than Neuro Diverse people. This is the key thing to know. Now like the spoon theory every action that we do takes away from your social energy tank. The problem is is that when someone who is neurodiverse who has a smaller tank thing gets drained a lot quicker than a neurotypical person.

Unlike the Spoon theory, however, we can refill our tanks. The idea is that if someone who is neuro diverse’s tank dips below 30% then we are likely to be in a meltdown mode. So with your social energy, it is very important to know where you are at and how you refill your tank.

For me, to refill my tank when I am at work, I go to the coffee shop and speak with the staff there. I find the break from work and what is draining my energy is a way to refill. When I goto my coffee shop I can be a little crazy and let out stresses. When I then return to work I find that I have avoided a meltdown. For me when I am in meltdown mode I know that I go very quiet and you can’t talk to me and I won’t talk to anyone. So to avoid this I keep an eye on my energy levels.

The other aspect of this is the fact that you need to find your safe space to do it. I know one person who stands in a closet. Others go and sit on a bench doing nothing but people watch. It is your safe space to find it.

Since learning this theory my team at work and I use it a lot. They ask me what my number is at when I need a break. This helps me focus on my own needs. I think that you all need to work on this to see if it can help you try and avoid your meltdown phases.