Autism Unveiled April 2, World Autism Awareness Day
I use humor as a social tool to establish boundaries concerning depth of engagement. I am more at home with objects and ideas than with people. I like getting deeply involved in an area of interest. While I can pretty much blend in or keep up in social situations, I am not quick-witted or fluid. I use logic and observation to pre-plan actions that help mask my social awkwardness. Eye contact takes effort. I always assumed that I was normal, but just had weaknesses in some areas. I feel most engaged with life while creating works of art.
Here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my family about my OCD:
“While living in ****, I became paralyzed with fear that my paintings would fall apart if they came into contact with particles of road salt, cleaners, perfume smells and even residue on fingers from chips or fries.
This fear was all consuming. It was probably on par intensity wise with a person who thinks that they might die in the near future.
To reduce this possibility, I started to undertake rituals. They were innocuous at first and seemed to help me feel calm.
I stepped around salt on the sidewalk; I would leave a room if someone was using cleaning products; I would keep my distance from people wearing perfume; etc, etc.
Yet, these rituals became more commonplace and much more necessary as time went on. If I couldn’t do a ritual to ease my anxiety, I would get irritated or instantly physically exhausted.
I started to wash my hands a lot. For about half a year, I washed my hands every day for one and a half hours. Thank God ***** was paying for water and sewer!
Around this time, I stopped holding *** hand because I was worried about coming into contact with traces of deodorant and hair products.
I knew that I was not acting normal, but it took several more years before I admitted to myself and became aware I had OCD.
Michael St. Germain, Massachusetts
Michael’s blog is www.mikesartnook.blogspot.com
Michael is part of the Autism Unveiled Project. Six weeks of posts by people on the autism spectrum ending on April 2, 2015, World Autism Awareness Day.