Executive Function Brainfarts of Adult Professional Autistic Women

As I was getting dressed this morning, I found myself running around my bedroom naked like a crazyhead. I was looking for my bra, only to realize I had already put it on. Undefeated, I continued to silently talk myself down from the emotional ledge my mind puts me on when I become aware of executive function fails. There may be a pink blush spreading across my cheeks. That is the private showings of shame which I have the power to talk myself out of. “You are smart. You are beautiful. You are accomplished. Einstein couldn’t tie his own shoelaces. Now get yourself together, because that conference presentation won’t wait for you.”

Neurotypicals often joke about feeling stupid when they are searching for their eyeglasses, only to find them perched atop their heads. It’s usually me fumbling in my purse, patting the small front pocket where I keep my phone, just to “check” if my phone is there because opening the zipper to check with my eyes if the phone was inside, would require my brain to compute an inaccessible level of sensory-integrated instruction. All the while, the pocket-patting is making me feel muscle memory of what the purse always feels like with the phone in there, so it’s not registering the “lack of phone”, causing the frantic patting to increase. It takes more than an agonizing minute to realize that I already put the phone into my purse. “You are gifted. Your hair is stunning today. Mozart had no friends and died penniless and alone. Now get it together and go to that concert hall to perform.”

I sat at a panel with leading experts in my field at a lavish San Francisco hotel. The event was historic, especially for its inclusion of autistic scholars in the lineup. While I was able to hold my own throughout the intellectual discourse, I needed several days to recover from the sensory assault on my system. A week later, I went through my camera roll to find a photograph of a slide from a presentation I attended. I wanted to check the citation of the study which the presenter had referenced. That’s when I saw the photograph of myself wearing two different colored sandals. Staring at my phone, my eyes filled with angry tears. Did I really spend an en entire weekend with colleagues who thought it best not to say anything?

Granted, I wear the same brand and own several pairs in different colors. In California, anything goes and eccentricity is the norm. I wondered if I pushed myself too hard or if I had became a successful product of my environment’s overlooking acceptance powers. Has society really grown this much, or have people just become more silent of their intolerance? After Nikola Tesla’s wireless electricity project was shut down and he was silenced by the government about the Hindenburg airship disaster, Tesla said, “Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more”. I yam what I yam.

4 thoughts on “Executive Function Brainfarts of Adult Professional Autistic Women

  1. This brought a smile to my face. So good to know I’m not alone in this! Honestly if any of my clients saw me wafting round the office knocking over cups of tea, standing by the printer waiting for documents I haven’t sent to print or talking through what I have to do today with myself, I’d be surprised if they wanted to employ me at all!

  2. I bet if you started a hashtag of #mismatchedclothingonacademics you will find so many responses:) Neurotypical and not….:P My Geography prof showed up to class with his sweater on backwards and different socks on….it happens

      • Over the years I taught, I had a number of interesting moments”–deletions, silly errors, odd statements, moments of fogginess, etc. It is normal, average, common. To those who become hysterical about such things–“Get a life!!!” They have obviously never taught or done much. If they are administrators–God help us–they are anal retentives! And yes–such twits exist. Funny how things go sideway in their lives, it is always “different!” Do your best–that is all you can do. As a dearly departed old colleague used to say,
        “Don’t let the bastards get you down!

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