Missing the Autism Show has had a huge effect on me, but it’s not an isolated incident where I’ve had to miss an outing. Throughout my life, I have experienced the same situation, and before my diagnosis, I didn’t fully understand why. I have missed family events, days out, weddings, and other occasions, and I have even had conflicts with people due to my inability to explain why I couldn’t attend, coupled with their lack of understanding. This only adds to the pressure and challenges that can greatly affect me on a personal level, which is why I believe communication is key.

In order for me to attend an event, I really have to mentally and physically prepare myself. I have to be ready to control my emotions and not respond to triggers, no matter how they make me feel. I have to adopt a mindset of being prepared for anything, which involves a lot of masking techniques that I have learned over the years. I am constantly on high alert when I am out, masking my body language, speech (tone and choice of words), eye contact, touch, mirroring, and even my choice of clothes, which has always been an important aspect for me. This is extremely exhausting, and after an event, I usually experience a shutdown mode for a good four to five days, as my brain has been completely overstimulated.

I missed the show due to a number of factors, but the main trigger that was the final straw occurred a few days prior to the show. I woke up to a message from someone who had sent me information that was over a week late. This may seem trivial to others, but to me, it was a significant trigger. I had already explained to this person, during a conversation about my condition, how important communication is to the way I function. These conversations are not easy for me and cause anxiety, but they are vital. It was not the first time I had explained this to the person, which made it even more difficult, as I didn’t want to be seen as someone who constantly explains simple things, which can be perceived negatively. The sad thing is, this person has an autistic son, so I assumed they would have had an understanding, as they had previously indicated. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Once the “seal has been broken,” all the masking I do on a daily basis hits me hard, and I am unable to control it. Everything becomes completely overwhelming. It feels like there is a battle raging in my head, and I don’t know how to stop it or regulate my emotions and mood. It’s a difficult and distressing experience.

Knock-on effect from having a meltdown last week – 

  • My positive pattern of being focused – STOPPED
  • Triggers negative thoughts (self-hate) • hyperfocus on suicide (which I struggle with in negative states) • emotional imbalance • autistic masking abilities drop • My relationship with family • low self-esteem • not being able to answer the phone or talk to or face people • imposter syndrome • trust issues • high ire ability 
  • I was promoting a new exclusive piece of art that I created for the Dementia Choir (who was also sending me flyers for the stand) to help spread awareness for them – STOPPED
  • Showing other autistics and carers how I create artwork on my phone, which they can possibly use to help them during a sensory overload or to help focus their mind. Spreading awareness of art therapy on a free app that would help others as it has me – STOPPED!

These are just a few things that come to mind as I am writing this but have more branches that could affect so many other people not to mention how it affects me on a personal level. 

I believe it’s important for others to understand the challenges myself and others face and the effort it takes to participate in events. Missing out on the Autism Show and other outings has had a significant impact on me, both emotionally and socially. It can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, and even conflicts with others. That’s why I emphasize the importance of communication and understanding. Please be more considerate to others, especially if someone has taken the time to be open and explain personal issues that aren’t always easy topics to address.

I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can raise awareness and promote empathy towards individuals with autism. It’s not just about missing events, it’s about the toll it takes on our mental and emotional well-being. I urge others to be patient, compassionate, and willing to learn about autism so that we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.