Artistic Autistic

| Working | July 1, 2015

(I’m very autistic and get stressed out in crowds and when I’m away from familiar places for too long. Despite the fact that I love France, I am still an English tourist surrounded by unfamiliar things. I had an operation on my back a year ago and it is still very painful when people touch it unexpectedly. When I am in an art gallery, someone bumps into my back.)

Me: “I need to sit down.”

Dad: “I don’t know where there are any chairs, [My Name]. You’ll have to keep walking.”

Me: “No, seriously.”

(I reach the other end of the room before sitting cross-legged and as far out-of-the way as possible. I start stimming (repetitive motions made by autistics), though it doesn’t prevent the meltdown, and my memory goes too fuzzy for me to remember at this point. However, there are some bits that I remember.)

Dad: “[My Name], follow my breathing.”

Me: “I can’t!”

(When I calm down enough to look up and try to stand up, I find a lot of people who seem to be looking at me from my perspective. Some have their phones out, but they were probably trying to take a photo of the painting behind me. However, I still haven’t regained enough logic to be able to understand that and start to think that they’re filming me, which sends me back into my meltdown.)

Dad: *to other people* “Please can you give her some space? She’s autistic.”

Mum: “I’ll go and find someone to help.”

(She finds a security guard who speaks English, as I am the only person in our family who can describe my mental health conditions in French, and I cannot currently speak many words of English.)

Dad: “Come on, get up.”

(The security guard opens a rope for us to get to an isolated room where I can calm down. However, he leaves for a moment and returns, looking rather more angry. At this point, I am blaming everything on myself and am thanking him as much as my anxious brain can manage. It isn’t until later that my parents tell me what had happened.)

Mum: “It wasn’t your fault. There was a tour guide and when she saw that the guard wasn’t watching because he was looking after you, she decided to get her group through to the main part while skipping the other rooms. The guard saw and he asked to see her tour guide card, and when she showed it to him, he took it away, which is bad for her, because that’s how she made her living.”

Me: “What?”

Mum: “She saw that the guard was paying attention to your panic attack, tried to break the rules, and lost her job.”

Me: “So I inadvertently got a tour guide fired?”


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