I had a funny moment today at work, where I casually asked the service user I was working with where he’d had his cheesecake; I like to recap on the day, helping him remember what we’ve done, and we were going over the places we’d visited. His answer hit me as being very zen: “At the table”, which was absolutely correct. He interpreted what I’d said in terms of how he perceived it – which is of course what we all do – but individuals with autism tend to perceive and interpret communication in ways that day-to-day most of us might not.
People are quick to judge others who think differently from themselves, but we all see the world in very different ways, it just isn’t always obvious. Most of us play from the same book, we’re looking at the same pictures, so there’s less obvious miscommunication.
Working in care – from caring for older adults with dementia, to people my age with autism – has really shown me just how much of a spectrum there is when it comes to perceiving the world around us. We are bunched up around people who see things in much the same way that we do – for most of us, most of the time, at least. We actively surround ourselves with people who have the same interests, same jobs, same friends, same culture, and it does narrow our scope of reality. It holds us in from seeing just how massive the world is. This isn’t always a bad thing since we have to narrow our awareness somewhat to get by in our day-to-day lives, otherwise we would be in constant overwhelm or debilitating bliss. When it entirely wraps and blinkers us though, it becomes a hindrance.
There have been so many moments in this line of work that have entirely pulled me out of myself. I’ve seen aspects of myself reflected in the most unlikely people, and I’ve gained insights on all aspects of my life, and living in general. I’ve learned to communicate much better as well. Not being able to rely on any default understanding of how other people think or naturally communicate has brought about more awareness of my interactions. It’s funny to think, that no matter how meticulously I put together these words here that you’re reading right now, no matter how intentional my phrasing is, you’ll read it the way only you can.
We all have such unique perspectives on the life, and the magical thing is that we can sculpt it and hone it. When you change the way you see the world, and the way you think, the world changes. Our perception is in no way static. As we move through life – especially if we’re actively questioning what comes to us – we learn and grow, our perception of the world changes. So, what world do you want to live in?