HELP AND BEING HELPED

I like to think “help” works both ways, at least in my line of work. As you may
know, seeing as I like to talk about it on my site, I educate medical staff and/or
students on how to safely interact with people on the Autism Spectrum. That is the
“helping” part. As for being helped, there is no way in Hell I could do this job on
my own. My bosses and co-workers help me immensely by filling in the blank
spots. I do not know how Autism impacts others; it’s all about me and my personal
experiences. My girlfriend has helped me more than I can say. Like me, Allie is on
the Autism Spectrum and we just connect and “get” each other.

Now, I know “help” can be literally saving someone’s life or helping them out
physically. I have been in that situation, as well. I broke my arm back in 2015 and
could not reach my cell phone. My sister had to help me by calling my dad, who in
turn, called 911. I cannot express enough gratitude toward the doctors, nurses,
surgeon, and mostly family for helping me when I needed them most. But I like to
think that gratitude from me, in turn, helped the staff at the hospitals. I can transfer
my own experience into very real and relatable situations these doctors might
encounter. That in turn will help them know what to do if anything like this
happens to anyone else who is in a similar situation.

Please note I am NOT by any means trying to dictate to doctors, nurses, students,
or any kind of medical staff how to do their job. When it comes to medicine and
treatment, I am totally lost and clueless. All I am doing is giving almost life hacks
or just advice on how to interact with me if I am ever in their hospital. I am NOT
saying “You need to do this, you need to do that…” That’s not helping. That’s
telling someone how to do their job. I have no idea how to act medical. I think it’d
be an insult to all involved if I said “You NEED to treat people with Autism in the
hospital like this”. Actually, I think it’s a hindrance if I say “people on the
Spectrum” because I know damn well that when it comes to Autism, there is
nobody like me…or anyone else for that matter. We are all insanely different,
Autistic or not.

If I give info about me and my medical history and the doctors apply it to others
who are on the Spectrum, I know the results could very well be negative. That’s
the very last thing I would ever want. I help people by making it crystal clear that
you CANNOT treat all people on the Spectrum the same way. I am tempted to say
you can’t treat all people on the Spectrum as “equals” but I know how wrong and
negative that sounds. All I mean by that is, simply put, you can’t take me and use
me as a baseline for Autism in a medical environment. Someone who is low-verbal
or non-verbal is not going to respond the same way as me, and vice-versa. I know
that sounds harsh, and if you want to rip me a new one in the comments, go for it.

I like to think I am helping the community. I know they are helping me in return.
Getting back to my original premise, it works both ways. Help and be helped. It
can and does work simultaneously. I was able to help the staff in the hospital when
I was in for a week for my arm by communicating what I needed and they, in turn,
helped me by just being there for me. It gets lonely in the hospital and I think they
knew that because they took time to actually talk to me about everyday things.
That helped soften the blow and made it more bearable when my family wasn’t
around. The only thing they could have done better is let me sleep more, but I
understand why they woke me up every few hours, even if it was annoying.

So that’s my rant on help. Let me know what you think in the comments below and
as always, thank for reading!

-Tom

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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