The Autistic College Student

My classes started October 26, and the first discussion post (all online college students love those!) made me think of how differently I see things than other people. When I was majoring in criminal justice before COVID (I lost my job when the courthouses closed and am a communication/new media major now), I had to do a paper on the 4th Amendment; unreasonable search and seizure or warrantless search and seizure. I was supposed to explain why it became an amendment, and why our founding fathers felt that way.

The first thing that popped in my head, and the example I used in my paper, was Disney’s Robin Hood animated movie. It is one of my favorite movies. Robin and Maid Marion are foxes, Little John is a big bear who looks a lot like Baloo from The Jungle Book.

In this movie, the sheriff goes around and lets himself into everyone’s homes and just takes what he wants because King John raised taxes again, and it was the Sheriff’s job to collect those taxes. At one point, he visits a dog who has a cast on his leg, and the sheriff raises the casted leg and coins fall out of the cast, which the sheriff promptly takes. He also takes money from a “blind beggar” (Robin Hood in disguise).

I used the above to explain why our founding fathers included that in the Bill of Rights. My professor thought this was an unusual explanation, while I thought it made perfect sense. I got an A on that paper, but that wasn’t the first time I have been told someone didn’t think of something in the same way I did.

My mom was, and my husband is used to my “odd” thinking. I approach things differently because I can’t express myself “normally.” When I’m feeling out of it and spacey, I say I’m feeling really Kevin. Kevin equals spacey because…Kevin Spacey. I said that to my psychiatrist over the phone recently and my husband said, “Honey, he doesn’t know what that means.”

I met a work friend of Mom’s one time and I don’t remember her name, but she was wearing a purple pantsuit, so she became the Grape Lady. Any time I mentioned her, she was the Grape Lady and mom knew who I was talking about.

Just like off-brand food and medicine are fake food and medicine, i.e., I only get Heinz ketchup because I don’t like fake ketchup; my prescription medications are fake medications because name brands, such as Effexor and Zyprexa, are more expensive, and it’s WV law. We also buy Amanda butter since I don’t like the fake stuff made with oil.

In February, I kept collapsing and could not stand back up; my legs were too weak and wouldn’t work. I had hubby take me to the ER, and the receptionist wanted to know what was wrong. I told her my legs were lightheaded and I kept sinking to the ground and couldn’t get back up without being picked up.

The receptionist just looked at me and said, “What?” I said, “My legs are lightheaded,” again (why didn’t she understand this?). Hubby told her my legs kept giving out. Duh, that’s what I just said! For the curious, I had critically low potassium below 2.

With autism, something that isn’t always noticeable on the outside, people tend to think autistics are being smart alecks and sarcastic or funny, when that’s not the case. I’m often viewed as lacking empathy or compassion when it’s the complete opposite.

My confusion and literalness is seen as crass and unfeeling, especially online and through texts. Short of getting “Autistic” tattooed on my forehead or making that disclaimer before I text or talk to people online, I’m at a loss. I’m stuck being insulted and angry-faced by complete strangers (and family) who don’t know a thing about me.

Published by Amanda Riley

Amanda is a general, legal, and medical transcriptionist and freelance content writer for companies from WV. She loves her 3 kiddies, reading, writing, and crocheting. #AutismAtWork

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