Ever feel like you’re drowning in a social situation? Like if you don’t get to be alone in five minutes or less you won’t be able to breathe?
I’d spent a wonderful day with a friend. We’d done the shops and lunch and it was all good. When she dropped me off at home, I invited her in to see our apartment thinking, of course, that she would then leave. That’s an Aspie for you.
Instead, she and my husband, Cash, struck up a conversation. They had no idea that I was done.
To my dismay, Cash did what I, as hostess, should have done–offered her coffee. I quickly put the coffee on, even thought it meant she would stay longer than I felt I could manage. I worked hard at not showing my disappointment as I brought in the steaming mugs.
Then my husband said the kids wanted to get together the next day for Father’s Day. “Oh, what did they have in mind?” I asked,visions of them taking him off somewhere for the day dancing in my head.
“They’re coming here,” he said.
I’m an Aspie, so caught off guard, no filters, right? I blurted out, “Oh no!” It was already 5 p.m. and we were having people for dinner tomorrow? The bathrooms needed cleaning. Dinner for six planned and prepared.
“Just coffee and dessert is fine,” he said, his face falling at my attitude. My guest was shocked at my ungracious response.
To change the subject, Cash talked about the trip we were planning to the southern US to visit relatives. My friend had an inspiration: “A road trip with George and I!” she exclaimed. “Wouldn’t that be fun! We could take two or three weeks…” She and my husband elaborated enthusiastically about the vacation.
In my present state, I was now forced to imagine three weeks in a compact car with three other people. In a very warm climate.
Mind and body immediately responded with all the symptoms of intense claustrophobia.
However, I managed to breathe more or less normally while smiling and nodding in some of the right places. I did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings. She is a lovely person.
My friend left at 6:20 p.m.
At 3 a.m. I woke thinking about the day. I had enjoyed being out with my friend. But, I realized I needed to make my expectations clear when we set out—tell her that when we came back I’d be bringing her in to see the suite, but then I had things to do. And I should have reinforced that just before leaving the restaurant.
As for the kids coming over—I always enjoy them, but I like to have lots of good food ready, and I didn’t know if I’d have time to do that, and so I reacted badly.
Cash was up by then, too, and after talking things over, we decided to take a chicken out of the freezer. He roasts a great chicken, and he’d be happy to do so. I would go to the store and buy his favorite lemon cake and strawberries for dessert after making the apartment presentable.
We hugged after finding our happy solution, and went back to bed.
We had a great afternoon. Not a speck of chicken was left.
As for the trip? Well, that has four months to die a natural death.
Volunteer Services are a great way to prepare for work in the real world. Volunteering can be a sort of head start program for Aspies. Here’s why:
1. It gets you out of the house and interacting with people in a positive way that benefits you and your community.
2. It’s a non-threatening way of finding out what kind of work you like, what kind of hours you can handle, and how long you can stand to be part of a work place interaction.
3. If you don’t like it, you can quit. You will still give notice so that someone can cover your shifts, but if you find the co-workers snarky, or the clientele is too much for you to handle, well, no harm done.
4. You will learn to schedule your responsibilities. You have to make a commitment. You have to show up when you say you will. You have to be good at what you say you are good at. You have to know that you can get there (public transit, walking or bicycling) on your own.
5. You will learn to be reliable and punctual. You will get good references if you do,.
6. You will learn to work with other people of varying ages, professions and education levels. You will become part of a team. You will learn how to interact with them in a non-abrasive way.
7. You will learn to understand heirarchy–how people rank in an organization, and how they fit together.
8. You will learn to follow orders–to listen carefully, to ask questions if you don’t understand or are not sure of what is being asked of you, and to find out what special tools or equipment is to be used in the carrying out of these orders.
9. You will develop different skills, to varying degrees of competence. These skills do count on a resume.
10. You will experience limited rejection–most organizations are more than happy to greet new volunteers.