Autism Tech Support

Autism Tech Support: My Signal

This is a new series I’ve been wanting to start for a really long time. I call it Autism Tech Support because I like the sound of it.

It’s going to be about the different things we have that make it easier to live life with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many tools out there claiming to help people like me, but I’m not sure all of them are useful. This series of posts are going to be me testing some out, but it’s also going to be some of the things that I already use in my daily life.

The first thing I am going to talk about is a bracelet called a “My Signal”.

This is the actual bracelet.

Now, I don’t know how available this is abroad, but you should be able to get it online.

The bracelet is really simple; it is red on one side and green on the other.

It really easy to use.

If you feel you can handle contact with others, you have the green side on the outside. If you can’t handle contact, you turn it over, so that the red side is on the outside.

Green on the outside and I feel ready to face the world.
Red on the outside and… well, I just want to hide at home.

That way everyone who interacts with you can tell how you are feeling.

I’m going to be really honest and tell you that I hate this bracelet a lot, but, and this is a very important but, I still consider it quite essential to my daily well-being.

If you are wondering why I hate it and why I still use it because it is essential, well read on – but do so with an open mind.

I have never, and will never, really wear this bracelet for my own sake. I mainly wear it to make it easier for other people to understand me. That’s one of the reasons I hate it.

I hate that I have to wear a silly, two coloured bracelet just to interact with others. I would have loved it if people would just accept me and try to understand me, or simply if they would listen to my words.

Somehow, no matter what words I use, I can’t convey my feelings very well.

Because, no matter how many times I talk about what makes me different and how interacting with others is a challenge, they don’t get it. For some reason, though, when they see my bracelet and I’ve explained how it works to them, they seem to be able to remember better. Maybe it’s just that colour coded moods are easier for them to accept, because it makes it visible and doubtless.

I think some people really think this bracelet is about my mood, but if you are like me, you know it’s much more important than just my mood, right?

Some days are good days, in spite of the fact that I can’t handle much interaction, so to make sure my day continues to be a good day I wear the red side out.

I also wear it red side out if I’ve been over-stimulated by something like a sound or bright light or something like that and I need some distance from others.

Sometimes, I’m just tired and need a break.

I wear it for many different reasons.

The important thing is that this bracelet communicates how I feel to the rest of the world without me needing to specify or announce it, and so people can give me the space I need. Most people understand it, because it’s so very simple. Red/Green.

Of course, it’s is not as simple as red = unhappy, green = happy, but it’s okay if people think that too. I don’t really mind what others think of me when I wear it, because the main thing for me is that it can give me what I need: a break from people.

What is also worth noting is that, in the event that someone does talk to me or need something from me and they see the bracelet is red, then they understand that I might not respond in the most polite way.

When the red colour is on the outside, I have little energy left and I function on back-up power, which will eventually run out, and because people know this, they can forgive me a little easier if I don’t have patience with them and snap at them or talk down to them.

I do that unconsciously when I am tired. People are generally very slow, I think, and when I have lots of energy I can handle having to communicate with others at their speed. When I don’t have any energy, my mind still works faster, but I can’t slow it down to match the speed of others. When they see my bracelet is red, others don’t expect me to be nice or polite, they accept that I might be rude, albeit unintentionally, if they still chose to approach me.

So, as you may now understand, to me this bracelet is, at least for now, essential to my well-being. It just makes things easier for everyone.

When I am home alone, I don’t wear it, nor when I just go out shopping or when I meet a trusted friend who understands me. I can hardly imagine going to work without my bracelet on, however. Of course, I am unemployed right now, but this bracelet makes me a lot less worried about going back to work. It is, in that sense, quite a gift.

Of course, if I am having a bad day, I’ll wear it wherever I go, because it will explain my behaviour to the people I need to interact with.

Something else about it is, that I also don’t like the feel of it against my skin, but until I find one that is made from something soft, I will use it nonetheless. I think most people actually prefer the material it’s been made from, but I just prefer real fabrics to the plastic, rubber-ish feel of the current bracelet. This material makes me constantly aware that I am wearing it, which is a nuisance. If only they made it in different types of material. Maybe someday!

Now, if you ever chose to use this bracelet, you don’t have to use it like I do. You should use it to help you out in situations where you feel it will help you. You might not think you’ll like using it, but you should definitely try it out a couple of times before you disregard it completely. I never thought I would use it, and yet, now I can hardly imagine going to work without it.

It is just the easiest way to communicate to others how I feel.

Try it out in different situations, or maybe create your own version of this bracelet with someone you know. It could be a secret signal just between you and your partner, or maybe between you and a family member, a secret but clear sign as to how you are feeling and what you need. I’ve thought about maybe turning a ring upside down or maybe using a necklace instead somehow, as a way to communicate without words, how I feel.

Sometimes, when I feel bad, I can’t speak properly and a signal like this can be very helpful indeed.

Let me know what you think and share your experiences with it, if you have used it before.

Kai

I graduated my masters in 2017 with a major in Japanese studies and a minor in international relations. Since my graduation I have focused on figuring out who I am, because I was diagnosed with Asperger's (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and it made me rethink my life and allowed me to understand myself better. Because I have always been passionate about writing, I decided to blog about my life in the hope that it can increase autism awareness.

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