I honestly believe that one of the most powerful words in the English language is ‘help’. It’s only four letters, but if used in the right situation it can make a huge difference. You don’t even need to make a full sentence. Just that one, monosyllabic word and poof! mountains will turn back into molehills, worlds will turn the right way up and that infamously named creek, which you were navigating, without a paddle, will seem much more manageable.
To many, this may hardly seem like ground breaking news. After all, ‘help’ is one of the first words we learn to say. So why is it that, as we get older, we forget how to use this powerful word?
In today’s post I want to take a look at why people within the autistic community can often be so reluctant to ask for support, and provide some help of my own on what to do, after we accept that a problem shared really is a problem halved.
Why People With Autism Don’t Ask For Help:
It’s all to common for people with autism who, like myself, could be considered independent, will push away any offers of help, for fear of inviting in the possibility that we’re not quite as independent as we thought. I know this is the case for me and it just goes to show that pride really does come before a fall.
But pride isn’t completely at fault when it comes to understanding why people with autism won’t always accept help, because it may also be down to denial (at least it is for me).
Not denial because we are ashamed of our autism, but because we see other people on the spectrum, and we think that, as we are more capable of getting by without a significant amount of support, then we don’t need help at all.
A word I throw around a lot when discussing this is that I often feel like a ‘phoney’ if/when I ask for additional support. I feel like, if someone is wasting time helping me, then someone else, who could really do with a helping-hand is missing out. This usually results in me keeping quiet when I am in need, and has put me on a self-destructive path which has caused me: difficulties at work, misunderstandings with friends, and affected college grades (which I all but failed). However, after 23 years of side-stepping opportunities which I thought I didn’t deserve, I am finally ready to make a change for the better.
Why People With Autistic Family Members Don’t Ask For Help:
For people with autistic family members, help can take many forms:
- Help learning to look after their autistic family member
- Help to relieve some of the stress that comes with having an autistic family member
- Help finding a way to help the autistic family member
The list goes on and on. However, in the same way that autistic people themselves rarely seek the help they may require, it’s all too common for autistic households to let pride and denial get the better of them, when they themselves need to seek support.
The best examples I can think of for this is how parents with autistic children often think that as this is their child, it is their responsibility to ensure that they can provide the best life possible for them. Although this is an admirable way of thinking, it doesn’t mean it has to be achieved on their own.
In a similarly wrong way of thinking, many households where there is an autistic family member will also may not ask for support, because they believe, that if they do get help, they are not solving anything, but are instead dumping their issues on someone else. The reality however, is quite the opposite.
Why it is OK to Ask For Help:
A lesson which I have learned whilst at university, is that help isn’t something that gives you an unfair advantage, nor is it something which shows weakness. Help is a personal concept which is tailored to the individual, and without it we’re essentially pressing pause on any possibility of future progress.
For the people with autism, asking for help won’t take away our independence (Braveheart reference not intended) – it’s ensuring that if anything comes along which threatens it, we are prepared.
Similarly, asking for help with an autistic family member isn’t admitting defeat. but is making clear your intention to succeed, and shortening the path to victory.
This also applies for people looking for a ‘break’ from an autistic family member. Taking a break isn’t the same as throwing in the towel. it’s taking a time out, so that, when you do return, you come back bigger, badder and stronger than ever.
Asking for help is many things, but one thing it isn’t, is a mistake. If you or anyone you know is struggling with something/anything, it’s important to find a way to get the support needed, no matter what: whether that’s through talking to someone you trust or contacting a professional.
Don’t get me wrong though, it’s fine to try and tackle things as individuals, but as the saying goes: no man is an island. Things rarely get better on their own and the fact is, help always helps.
Some Helpful Resources:
Before I finish today, I wanted to give you a short list of places to ask for help. As with my monthly news round ups, the links to these websites can be found by clicking the names in bold red. I hope they help:
The Samaritans: Open 24/7, The Samaritans can be called or messaged at any time, about anything that is eating away you. They will always provide a listening ear.
National Autistic Society: The National Autistic Society are the autism gurus… need I say more?
Mind: Mind are a mental health charity providing: advice, support and much more to people suffering from mental health issues. They are also highly praised by Stephen Fry, so you know they’re good.
Calm: Calm is a well resourced suicide prevention site for young men.
No Panic: Provides support to people who suffer from OCD, anxiety and panic attacks.
Young Minds: Young Minds offer help to parents who are worried about their children’s mental health.
Family Lives: Help with all aspects of family life.
Together Trust: Based in the north-west of England, Together Trust offer a range of different support and care for people with special educational needs. Though this is very specific to a certain location, they have been included as my family has previous experience with Together Trust and I would highly recommend them.
AutisticandUnapologetic@gmail.com: I’ve put myself at the bottom of this list, because I am far from an expert in anything (except Star Wars trivia). However, I have received emails from people seeking help in the past and I always try my best to reply in a fast and friendly manner.
Carry on the Conversation:
Today’s blog is a bit different from my usual style, so I would love to get your feedback, did this style of article interest you? Would you like to see more or less of this type of article on A&U?
As always, you can let me know your thoughts by leaving a message in the comments below, or I can be reached directly on Twitter @AutismRevised and via my email: email@example.com.
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Thank you for reading, and I will see you next Saturday, for more thoughts from across the spectrum.