Them: “Hey, can you get me that thing from on top of that shelf?”
Them: Can you ge–”
Me: Oh yeah sure
You hear the question, it doesn’t compute right away, you say “What?” as a kind of placeholder whilst you make sense of it, then just as the other person starts to repeat themselves thinking you’ve not heard them properly, you finally process the question and the penny drops and you answer fully, leaving the other person somewhat bewildered as to how you apparently didn’t hear but worked it out anyway. When your brain processes things differently and usually slower than your peers; this is what happens.
The last couple of years I have been learning Muay Thai and I can say for sure that slower processing makes things much harder than I’d like; where it’s obviously better to have the brain process things lightning-quick. It’s not just auditory, it’s visual as well – assessing a situation and reacting to it is nowhere near as quick as I’d want.
Sure, there are things my brain does really well and other things it doesn’t. It’s just that those things are different from the majority of people, so I am at a disadvantage more often than not.
Autistic minds are often good at many things. We also struggle with a fair few things too. With challenges in executive function, fine motor control, and general co-ordination; Aspies generally aren’t considered suited to things like Muay Thai.
We get no choice in the brain we are born with, so what should we do if it functions differently than how we’d like? Should we give up, avoid the things that are challenging, and achieve nothing? That’s one option.
On the other hand, my own plan is to work hard at the things I want to do like Muay Thai – even when I struggle. I keep going, practicing over and over until it becomes second nature, in time, reducing the processing work the brain has to do – and yes, it is possible to train the brain like this! Often it’s considered too much effort to bother working in this way, forging new mental pathways as you push ahead, and the advice you’d hear would usually be to go try something else where you can achieve results more quickly. Yes, it will take me a lot longer to get to the same point as others, my progress will be slower than I’d like, but why should I give up what I enjoy? I will simply work harder, longer, and develop more resilience to get to it.
It can’t be done alone of course. I’m very fortunate to have patient and supportive coaches – who encourage me on my journey, work with me regardless of my processing differences and push me to learn at the best pace I can achieve.
Surround yourself with positive people who push you to do and be better. No drama or negativity. Just higher goals and motivation.
Meme credit: Autistic Nerd. FB page
About Terri Mayne
Originally from Essex, Terri now lives in Nottingham UK where she works as an Associate Director at a global pharmaceutical consultancy firm. Terri loves going to watch motorcycle racing and on the road, rides a Suzuki GSX-R herself. She is learning Muay Thai and has found this has provided enormous benefits to her balance and co-ordination. Terri also enjoys Dungeons & Dragons, computer games as well as Star Wars and Harry Potter. Terri learned of her autistic identity when she was 33 years old after meeting renowned specialist Maxine Aston, and would not change it for the world. facebook.com/theautistrix