Thursday 23 February 2023

Autism: Where my order is another's disorder

The order of disorder

When I returned home from a month’s holiday to a fresh home, my friend who was my house-sitter in my time away had cleaned up, new sheets on my, the bathroom quite spick and span, my kitchen and the stove hub sparkling, not a sight of dirt anywhere, but sadly, due to my apparent reaction, none of which was verbalised though inadvertently acted out, I lost our friendship.

I recall when I owned a place in Amsterdam that many loved to visit, I had a cleaner, not because the apartment needed cleaning up, but because he seemed to know where to put things that were out of place, I would return to an ordered place with a good idea of where everything is, it is my home, I am comfortable after that visit.

Just leave it there

There is probably a reason why I do not employ cleaners, I lived in a house in Ipswich over 30 years ago. The landlord had arranged for his cleaner to visit every fortnight to do up the place completely unbeknownst to me.

When I got back to where I thought was my home, I noticed from the moment I walked in, I had to run out to speak to my neighbours, things were not where I had left them and the house was rearranged to the landlord’s pattern without my input, I might as well have been in a strange hotel room.

I like order, yet, my disorder is some sort of order in itself, it is my comfort zone, much as it can be unusual and strange. I guess many may not understand why this useful act of ordering is upsetting for me.

I was in a strange place

When I got home in August, within the apparent order was a subtle displacement, things were not where I left them or things were not replaced when used. With my dangerously keen eye for detail where it does not matter to others, I began to see too many things were not where I put them, in the space of an hour of my arrival, I felt I was not in my own home because I did not know where things were.

A few days later, I had to call my friend over to show me where he had put three laptops away for safekeeping. I rarely ever have guests in my home and definitely no parties, my friend does have friends and strangers over, in certain videos he has recorded at my place, I had to be told it happened in my home.

I guess through a series of meetings in the two weeks after my arrival, my friend decided I was hostile, ungrateful, and maybe even nasty, so he cut all contact with me until he needed to collect an important document two months later. Not once did he discuss with me how he felt, I was hurt and implacable when we met. I still think he is a friend, maybe someday we would resolve things.

Coming to an understanding

However, there is an issue that reveals itself in my mannerisms and attitudes, some of which I will write about eventually. However, I am writing this because my best friend called me last week after having watched a programme on television, the night before. He was not sure of how to broach the subject, he then said, there were many things he saw on the programme that made him think that was familiar and it was ‘our Akin’.

For myself, I know I have been somewhere on the autistic spectrum, not necessarily evident or serious, but significant enough to be noticed by others besides the apparent upset I have when my disorder is reordered. I guess even those quirks were somewhat masked by me from my house-sitter friend who lived with me for 6 months, some 4 years ago. I suppose there is no easy way to help people understand that some strange things related to the lower spectrum of autism attend to a part of my personality.

It is no excuse and not essentially a bad thing, I work on a lot of things of adaptation and integration, even if some of my quirks leave me looking so totally out of place. I have learnt to be comfortable in my own skin whilst aiming to be the best person I can be. This is the first of some of the writings I hope to publish about living with low-spectrum autism.

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