It is said that autistic people get overwhelmed with too many choices and quite frankly, this is not my experience at all. Does it mean my autism is ‘mild’? Well, not necessarily – it can mean that either I don’t share this particular trait or possibly even that autism research are flawed.
Recently me and John decided we have to start going on trips – after Covid lockdowns we both deserve to have a good time. But we can’t quite agree on how to decide where we should go. John suggested yesterday that he’ll make a list, I then said it’d better be a long one, but then I started fretting about all the options that won’t be on his list. Even if the list contains 50 places to visit, there will still be places out there that may be worth visiting, and if those are not on the list that means we can’t go there. I found that idea very distressing and decided I want to have the freedom to choose places from the map. I want my choices to be unlimited.
As you may know I was brought up in a communism country and never had a freedom to choose which winter shoes or a piece of clothing I want – instead I had to go for what fitted me. I never, as a child, could choose between an apple and banana as bananas were simply not available. The first time I had pizza I was 12, Chinese probably when I was already in my 20s. Even though communism ended when I was 11, having choices still eluded me. I’m 5’11 tall and for as long as I lived in Poland, which was till my late 20s, my jumpers sleeves were always too short.
I presume I learned that not enough choices means I won’t get what I really want. The only time when I feel overwhelmed by having to make a choice is when I’m in a situation where I know I don’t like anything that is available, like in this post: https://autisticandme.com/2022/03/25/unexpected-events-and-me-2/
I did make an assumption here at least once already that we, autistics, understand life through patterns – and that is what I learned – that limited choices mean disappointment. However, as much as I understand that John’s life experience is different, I am unable to imagine how growing up in a country where choices are close to unlimited made him feel and think. I try to think about it but my mind goes blank. Surely, the more choices, the better – I end up thinking every time.
And that brings me to another point: I believe that, contrary to what various autistic advocates say, it is not true that an autistic person is able to easily imagine what another autistic person thinks and feels. I believe we can only do that if our experience is similar to theirs.
Anyway, regarding to mine and John’s trips, we will probably have to choose separately were we would like to go. I presume he’ll choose the first place, I’ll choose the second. That is the only way, otherwise we’ll end up arguing: he’s fretting about having too many choices, me about having not enough. Interesting, isn’t it?