It’s natural for people in my age group to have one or a million quarter life crises. I can’t tell you how many I’ve had. Whether it was trying to decide what major to choose, the wretched “OHMYGOD, what am I doing with my life???” moments at 3 am bawling in my Easy Mac, stress baking while putting off assignments because I was so stressed about what I had to do the next day, etc. Quarter life crises are hard for everyone, but especially for autistic college students. Even though I’m out of school for the time being, I still consider myself an autistic college student. I’m still in that age group and I will be going back to school at some point. For autistics, any derailment in plans or routines will send them directly into a tailspin. A quarter life crisis will send them into an “Oh my god, what is happening into my life?” and they’ll shut down. I’ve spiraled into dysfunctional shut downs, withdrawals, and depressions over quarter life crises. And not just quarter life crises, but entering quarter life in general.
Just being in college. Going home for vacations means changes in routines, and changes in routines means feeling a little uprooted, and feeling a little uprooted means some changes in my behavior, i.e.: being a little more irritable, withdrawn, or numb than normal. Going back to school means the same thing. You get settled into a routine at home, all of a sudden you have to go back and go through the same thing all over again. A new roommate moving in means more stimulation and noise, and that may cause me to act a little scattered, anxious, or nervous. Because I’m sensitive to changes in the environment. If I seem nervous in class or don’t talk a lot, it’s because the noise level in the classroom is starting to get to me and I’m getting overstimulated. If I leave the room a lot, no I don’t use the bathroom that much. I just need to take frequent breaks so I can walk around and decompress so I don’t completely shut down and not be able to pay attention at all. Not everyone in this classroom can sit down for 50 minutes straight and pay attention like you.
Why do I have to have let my professors know I have a disability? Because I need accommodations so I can function in a college classroom. If it’s test day and you don’t see me there, I’m taking the test in another room where it isn’t so noisy and distracting. No, I am not ditching class. Do you see another person sitting next to me? That person is taking notes for me because I can’t process everything the professor says and need someone else to take my notes so I can understand the material. Do you see me at professors’ office hours a lot? I just need the extra help because I care that much about doing well in his/her class. I don’t ask a lot of questions to be annoying. I’m just trying to process information.
This is a little of the day in the life of what it’s like to be an autistic college student. I can go on and on forever about this, obviously but I won’t.
Until next time, my loves. xoxo