I've had autism since I was three years old and I've always struggled to accept it. I can be sociable at times but its really hard to keep up, particularly when I have a bad night's sleep, which is common due to my insomnia. I'm so paranoid of saying or doing the wrong thing that would make me look like a fool. I have always been surrounded by people who have been unkind and inconsiderate and because of it, both my friends and family have made fun of me.
My parents have forced me to speak to people about it and have talked about my autism without my consent. They've always forced me to do things that I don't feel comfortable doing like learning to drive or swim. No matter where I go, I feel like the idiot in the room. I'm really clumsy and every time I make a small error, my parents yell at me. I have really low self esteem and mental health problems due to this. I'm a university student now so I don't live with them anymore, but I feel forced to go back home or talk to them. I don't even know if I can handle going home for Christmas. I don't know if being alone during the holidays would be better?
Does anyone get like this? And does anyone have any advice on how to cope?
Well.... I can emphasise with you because I had similar problems. My family was mad.
The only good advice I can give you is to meet new people who don't have preconceived opinions about you and start fresh friendships and relationships. Families don't change. Often their prejudice is fixed and won't go away.
When I first went to university and came home at weekends the situation was insane. My mother was angry that I had left the house, she wanted me to stay at home all day, don't work, don't study, don't travel. Just stay at home! My father was either completely ignoring me and pretending that I didn't exist, or shouting abuse and ridiculing me for anything. Such as watching tv. Or even speaking.
I also grew up in a negative environment and dreaded going home for Christmas, so much so I went home late Christmas eve and came back boxing day morning. Christmas became so much better when I didn't go home as instead of being thrust into an abusive environment I was able to use those days to be on my own and relax.
It sounds like you have a lot of insight into the challenges you face, which means there’s lots you can do to live a more fulfilling life. For example, lots of universities have a wealth of resources to help improve your self-esteem and overall confidence. It may be beneficial to speak to a university counsellor about this. You could also seek mentoring support from the careers service to explore what your strengths are and how you can sell these when you're looking for graduate employment.
To reduce the negative thought patterns my parents gave me I've followed the advice in the Chimp Paradox - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimp-Paradox-Acclaimed-Management-Confidence/dp/B006WCJ9OS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512024267&sr=8-1&keywords=chimp+paradox
I also use my PIP money to pay for someone high up in my field to explain the rules that I intrinsically do not know and to support me with developing strategies for handling situations. This has helped immensely.
Good luck with Christmas, whatever you decide. Remeber its ok to occasionally put your own needs ahead of your family's needs.
Oooooo.....i’m Going to have a look at the Chimp Paradox.
i was considering reading this....
One thing that age and experience will teach is just how cruel people can be at times. Sadly family can sometimes fall into this category.
Being at university is an opportunity for you to identify with yourself more and understand and address your needs. As mentioned already, the student counselor will be able to help and were invaluable to me when I was at university. You also get to see how nice and welcoming people can be outside of the home bubble as well, which is all good for developing your own social circles and groups who share your interests.
Family often don't change - they may calm down with age, but not always guaranteed. The driving and swimming could be them trying to push you to develop your skills, it could be that they just don't see how this impacts on you. I can sympathise on the clumsy aspect and being yelled at as a result. I would often accidentally break things due to my clumsiness and would be screamed at by my parents. All this does is heighten your anxiety and destroy your confidence. I don't know what your relationship is like with your parents, but I am only now just starting to address my parents over some of their behaviours and past situations to try and get them to see things in a different light. Albeit I won't be able to do this with everything, but they are still in denial of my diagnosis and struggles, so I felt it was time to try and get them to see it from my perspective rather than just burying their heads in the sand.
You know your parents well enough to know what you can and can't approach them about. You are an adult now and if you feel that you can't tolerate Christmas with them, you have the right to decline or, could you stop with someone else locally, so you can keep your time there as short as possible? It also means if you need to get away, there is somewhere local you can return to.
I agree with much that Starbuck has said. Just to add that being at university is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start fresh.
Autism is a behavioural disability or difference( if we are being tactful). The trick is to adapt one's behaviour to the circumstances and the people around you. This can be very difficult for autistics.
What behaviour patterns are normal at home can be seen as absurd elsewhere. And acceptable behaviour in places such as uni can be considered £@£#@*** at home. I speak from experience.