The Moments I Went Mute

Yep. That’s me šŸ™‚

There were times back in 2017 when something happened that was completely beyond my control. The restaurant business is not only grunt work, but extremely overwhelming for all who work in it. I once worked as a dining room attendant at PDQ in Sanford, Florida. That joint gets packed. I’m talking about the line circling the dining room. I’m talking about cars circling the drive way, waiting to order at the window. It’s that packed. And I was one of the two dining room attendants. Keeping that dining room tidy was a challenging task because so many come in and go.

So here’s the scary part. Due to working in a busy place, something happened. I had sensory meltdown, something beyond my control. My meltdowns lasted up to 5 minutes. And when I say sensory meltdown, I’m not talking about dropping to the floor kicking and screaming. I’m not talking about covering my eyes and ears. I’m talking about my brain going into overdrive, eyes watering up, and going mute. This happened twice. I rushed to the restroom both times to avoid getting noticed. When I hid in the bathroom stall, I attempted to speak. No words came out.

How did I feel? I felt helpless, confused, and terrified. I felt like a computer that has frozen. Overheating of a computer can cause it to freeze. In my case, the busy restaurant was the overheating. My brain was the computer. Going mute was the freezing. Similar to waiting for a computer to unfreeze, I had to hide in the bathroom stall until I was able to talk again.

Unfortunately, meltdowns are unpredictable. We don’t know if or when they will come. However, the autistic individual can feel it coming early on. The first sign for me is being on the verge of tears. Since the two incidents, I began keeping water with me to relax myself. It works wonders! I’m able to get through countless workdays without incident. I’m still in the restaurant business as well šŸ˜‰ I’m just got offered a job as a server.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get overwhelmed. I mean, who doesn’t? The restaurant business ain’t no joke! All I’m saying is that God would never put us in situations that we cannot handle. Being an autie in the workplace will not be an easy journey, but will be worth the rewards that will be reaped. The reward: besides getting paid, being out there in the world with everyone else.

I know sensory overload will be a lifelong struggle, but I cannot let that deter me. I’m longing to meet new people and visit new places. If meltdowns come along, I’ll just go to a quiet place until I’m calm and go back to where I was. Life is hard, but it can be beautiful.

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