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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Screaming to be Heard

By Out-of-Sync Woman
I often feel unheard and unseen by the people around me. It’s worse when I’m with my family since the only time I’m noticed is when I make a mistake or lose my temper. I feel like I’m drowning around my family. Even with my friends, it’s hard for me to feel heard too. My friends used to not respond to my texts but since I recently lost my temper, they pay attention and respond more. I dislike losing my temper but sometimes it’s the only way I feel heard. It’s only now that I‘ve realized how many of my blogs deal with feeling unheard and unseen by the people who matter to me. I think it has a lot to do with my family growing up.
My father was a big fish in a small pond. He was so busy with feeling important at work, I didn’t see him much. This was probably a good thing looking back on it. He would sometimes go on outings with me. I was a shy, stressed, depressed teen who wanted to spend time with my Dad. I could never keep his attention on me; he would always find someone else to talk to and I was left standing there feeling left out. It didn’t matter where we went, something or someone else would grab his attention; I felt like an extra in a play. I was stuck there bored, angry, and hurt with no way to leave since I couldn’t drive.
I have a lot of siblings too. My Dad made a point of saying who the smart, pretty, sporty, and fun one was of each of his kids. He would pit us against each other a lot. I was the smart one but that’s because all I did was study. My siblings are more verbal and flashy than I am. It was hard to be heard when we got together. Two of my siblings and my Dad would often pretend to be joking and act silly. There was a mean undertone to the exchanges that only ended when someone got their feelings hurt.
I had two people I cared about, my Mom and my one sibling. Sadly, my Mom passed away in my early twenties and my other sibling is busy with parental and familial duties. As a result, I feel even more unheard these days. How do I deal with it? I avoid my family by limiting contact with them. I try to understand how my past impacts my present. I try not to think too much about the past since it makes me sad and angry. I try not to get angry when I feel unheard these days. I often don’t know what to do. I’m struggling a lot with this topic and these feelings. Feeling ignored makes it harder not to yell, cuss, or say horrible things. Saying mean things makes me feel “seen” and after all, negative attention is still attention, unfortunately.
I believe having any type of disability means people often don’t listen or they believe that they know more than the person with a disability, that they have more experience and discount the person, treating them as a small child. I feel that it’s often worse when it comes to Autism due to the unpleasant stereotypes that other people apply to those with ASD. My family has used my Autism diagnosis as a reason for treating me like a child who can’t be trusted to take care of herself. They seem to “pat themselves on the back” when they try to “take care of me.” I graduated with honors from high school and college. I am very capable, hardworking, and diligent. I truly only need a little help and support to live independently in a successful manner.
I think what I’m talking about is a pretty common feeling for a lot of people. Sometimes the hard thing is finding someone who cares and who will listen as well. Even after I find someone like that, it’s difficult for me to know if I’m heard at all. It takes trust for me to believe that I’m seen and heard and that’s not easy for me to do due to my past history.
Everyone has things from the past that worked then but not so well now. Part of being happy and healthy is letting go of non-helpful things from the past. It’s about learning new ways to see, think about, and deal with the present. As with all things in life, it takes work to change and it’s often not easy. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. You can ask for help. No matter your current issues, best of luck with understanding, learning, and moving on.