Adulting With Autism

Getting a job is only the tip of the iceberg to adulting. Luckily I haven’t dived into the depths of adulting to the point that I have to buy insurance and make payments. Though I still have the basic adult duties that mostly involve socializing. As many of you know, socializing does not always come easy to those with autism.

Grocery shopping is one of the very first tasks that I was occasionally assigned when I became an adult. Fortunately though it was never a full list of food that the whole family needs. Instead it was an ingredient or two that my mom had forgotten or that extra gallon of milk. So fairly easy if you may think but of course I tend to make things overly complicated. I like to believe I have a fair memory of where the most commonly used items are. Although if the store restocks differently or if the company changes its packaging image then all hope is lost. I feel completely stranded in the store. In situations like these the most reasonable action to take is to ask an employee where the item is or if it even is in stock. I could never bring myself to take this step for various reasons but the majority of the time it probably was because of social anxiety. 

So in an attempt to not go back home empty handed I began my search at the beginning of the store. I thoroughly read every yellow price label even if the aisle I was in didn’t even relate to the item I was looking for. I continue my search. I couldn’t let a single shelf go unturned. Sure enough, if I had searched all the aisles and couldn’t find it, I still couldn’t bring myself to ask an employee. Even when I think I found the section where the ingredient should be I still don’t ask instead I pull out my phone and call mom. While explaining to my mom that I couldn’t find it anywhere I try to persuade her to settle for a similar ingredient but my attempt never succeeds because she always asks me if I have already asked an employee. I admit that I haven’t done so then proceed to gradually ask the employee if they have the ingredient and sure enough they do. If no one were around I would literally facepalm myself for how time I wasted searching. Recently I have practiced asking for help with the assistance of a family member and only with practice have I gained confidence to ask for help on my own. Thankfully employees that I have encountered at stores are very patient with me as I fumble through words. 

Text, Email or even letter is something I would prefer any day to making a phone call. Although texting is hardly even an option for scheduling appointments and emails don’t always get an immediate response and sending a letter to place an order is just outrageous. Though something about talking to someone and not being able to read their facial expressions or read their lips made phone calls terrifying. So did I attempt to avoid making phone calls at all costs? Yup I absolutely did until I developed my skill of script writing. At the time I had recently learned that receptionists are trained to read off a script and have a number of responses to reply with based on your question. So all I needed them to have a successful phone call was to make a script of my own that gave me the cues of what I needed to ask and how I should reply. Also literally writing it down on a paper assistant so much in case my anxiety makes me blank out. Here’s a few examples of a conversation that I would have using the scripted method.

Making scripted templates like these helped so much especially as I transition to face to face conversations at restaurants, doctor appointments and other facilities that I commonly access. Which I will discuss in my next blog post. 

 

Abigail Rivera
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