June 18, 2019

“Your blood pressure is higher than last time,” said the doctor.

“That’s because you were asking me questions as you tested it,” I answered, “and multitasking is stressful. Can you try again?”

She retested it, this time in silence except for instructions about the testing. My blood pressure was fine.

That appointment broke a myth I’d always believed – that asking for more time is inefficient. If it saves repetition, it’s actually more efficient.

When I try to do too much at once, it makes me anxious. If I notice the anxiety soon enough, I can follow a script:

“I just need a moment to finish this first.”
“I’ll answer as soon as this is done.”
“I can’t do both things at once.”

If I notice the anxiety too late, though, I lose the ability to articulate what I need. My brain goes into overdrive, and my mouth can’t find a way to explain it.

Noticing matters. Noticing saves me. Noticing is a skill that requires practice.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.