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Down South to Dixie!

Stretching your Imagination

The "Rubber Band Theory"

The image above shows two "rubber" bands. On the left is a "drive belt" that is employed in many cassette decks, the other is a just a standard elastic band.

Although they may look very similar, they couldn't be more different from each other.

A drive belt, while perfect for a cassette deck, is no good in an office - you can't even shoot them at people :-)

Similarly, an "Elastic Band" is not suitable for use in a cassette deck. Usually, they are too thick which makes them unstable when they are running. In turn this makes the deck's transport unstable, affecting the sound quality.

"Buffy's Rubber Band theory" looks at the ways in which we deal with new information and change, and why it can be so devastating for someone on the autism spectrum.

Elastic Bands are normally very stretchy and flexible. They will eventually break if stretched outside their elastic limit, but they are designed to be stretched, and to return to their original shape.

They have the ability to be flexible and to return to their normal shape without any lasting damage.

Generally neuro-typical people have the ability to be flexible and to adapt and stretch to whatever life throws at them.

Although it may cause annoyance and frustration, it doesn't usually have any lasting effect on the individual. They have the ability to "get over it" and carry on their life as normal.

In contrast, a cassette drive belt has virtually NO elasticity. They must fit the deck EXACTLY. But they are fragile and it can be very difficult to fit them without damaging them. They are very expensive too.

Even without damage from handling, over time, the belts often become stretched and work themselves loose, This makes it impossible for the deck to play a tape properly. Eventually the belts either break, or become sticky like chewing gum.

What a "drive-belt" lacks in elasticity, people with autism lack in their ability to think flexibly and to deal with change.

When we are presented with such situations, it often causes us frustration, anger, pain and may even result in permanent damage.

It causes so much upheaval and distress for us that we can't just go back to what we were doing, or carry on with life.

I cope with most changes quite well, But then again I have never been "allowed" to show any signs of autism, so I have had to learn to cover things up. But this does not mean that I do not experience distress.

Sensation-wise, I am left feeling a bit like a pressure-cooker, which results in a nasty headache, leaving me feeling sick and dizzy. Adrenalin kicks in and adds to the problems.

Even when people offer to help, I am sometimes snappy with them. My thoughts are focused ONLY on the source of the problem. When others try to help, this adds to the existing problem, resulting in frustration and snappiness. I don't mean to be, but being in pain and distress makes me irritable.

How this relates to me

Having autism, makes me fragile like a "Drive Belt".

Unfortunately, I have been brought up to be "Neuro-typical". While I am sure that those around me wanted the best for me, I have nevertheless, been stretched and pushed to do things that weren't the most suitable for my needs.

The upshot of this is that, there are large parts of me that have now been irreversibly damaged.

Increasing age, and the loss of protection offered by "childhood innocence" leave me feeling very exposed, and fragile. I often have feelings of "too-much, too soon" and I sometimes find myself worrying over what I have missed in life. Even though I am ageing biologically (I am fast approaching 40), In my head, I seem to be stuck at 25.

Now that I getting more support to do deal with my autism, and I among people who understand me better, I feel that I am able to fight a lot of these feelings

Please remember

When someone with autism is upset or distressed, their actions

and behaviours may come across as being aggressive or challenging.

It is not the individual's choice to behave like this,

they are simply reacting to something that has upset them.

Your understanding will help us a lot!