Because I live a very solitary and quiet life, a life where there is very limited social interaction and where I work from home, I often forget that I have autism. Well, it’s maybe not that I ‘forget’, but more accurately that I’m not reminded of my autism so much.
I recently had to attend a large meeting (50 people) as part of a course I have joined. This is the first time I have been around people in a large group setting in around 10 years, ever since university.
During that meeting, I was reminded that I am ‘different’. I sometimes like to think that I’m not, but this meeting made it clear that I am. It was a highly unstructured meeting, with no definite end time, and no clear instructions as to what we would be doing. We found out during the meeting that the instructor would be selecting random attendees throughout the meeting to interact. This terrified me to the point I had a racing heart and tears in my eyes. I just wanted to leave.
I was brave and I stayed. I just listened and hoped I would not be asked to speak. Luckily I was not asked to speak, and I’m not sure what would have happened had I been asked to speak, because I don’t think I would have been able to.