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When I was learning to drive it took me until my third driving test to pass.

Not the theory. That I got that first time. They tell you what the rules are. You study them. You do the test. Simple.

But the practical test? Three times!

Why?

Roundabouts.

Roundabouts have become my analogy for understanding autism. More specifically, for understanding the world when viewed from someone with ASD.

You have these rules and laws, and whether you agree with them or not, they just are. So, you’re told that if you just follow x and y then you get z. But that’s not always true.

And herein lies the problem.

Because the people who came up with these rules don’t seem to understand them themselves. No one seems to follow them, yet you’re meant to follow them. It’s living in a state of confusion and wondering why the hell no one else sees how ridiculous it is!

I failed my driving test due to roundabouts on my first two tests, not because I didn’t understand how they worked…but because no one else followed the rules I was being taught to follow.

So, how are you meant to pre-empt another person’s move, which is hard anyway without the ability to read body language, when they don’t even follow these ‘social rules’.

Hmmm…

What’s it like looking at the confused daily trivia of the world of the ‘neurotypical’ from a far more astute viewpoint.

Roundabouts.

Roundabout

Let’s use some examples, shall we?

 

a.) Roundabout conundrum

So, you approach the roundabout, and you know to give way to your right. Everyone gives way to their right. That’s the rule.

The people coming around the roundabout will indicate when they come off to let everyone know what their intention is.

No one is coming from the right. Cars are coming around the roundabout. You watch to see if their coming off or continuing around.

No one is indicating to come off…but they turn off anyway.

Where is my gap to get on the roundabout? The person behind me is waiting for me to make my move. There are cars coming from my right. I wait. They don’t indicate. They turn off. Time drags on. Traffic piles up behind me.

Okay. There is now no one coming from the right to confuse me with their miscommunication.

I signal onto the roundabout.

I pull out.

I go around.

And…

…the left lane driver pulls out in front of me.

angry confused female driver

Okay. So how does this problem present itself in daily life?

 

b.) Conversation conundrum

 

You get to work, and you have something really important to let your boss know about a project you’re working on.

You must update on this information before you can continue with your day, so you go to approach him with the issue at hand. He keeps talking to you about the weekend. This has nothing to do with work, and you really need to share this information.

So, you wait.

When someone else is talking, you wait for a break in conversation. It’s polite. It’s the rule.

You keep waiting.

Someone else from the office is now stood beside you. They have papers in their hands. Your boss nods and takes the papers. He’s still talking.

Waiting…

‘So, how was your weekend? Get up to anything fun?’ Invites your boss.

Yes! Here’s the cue…

‘No. But I’d really like to run…’

In storms Gary from sales…

‘Hey! How’s it going guys? Jerry, I’m going to be sending you those sales figures for the monthly KPI report’

Really?!

Man frustrated and shouting

Conclusion

Roundabouts: Do as we say. But we may not always do as we say.

Soooo…

Just get on with it until you have enough life experience to pre-empt any possible roundabout scenario. Soz buddy.

 

Understanding Autism

Have a little patience. Give a little extra processing time. Be clear with your meaning. Never assume people know your intentions if you don’t make them clear.

And don’t be a Gary.

 

 

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