People with Autism or ADHD, can be so focused on what they’re doing, they don’t notice when others are talking to them.
I remember in my younger days when I was far more anxious around people. I’d treat going into public like a reconnaissance mission.
MISSION: Get in, get what you came for, then get out. Don’t make eye contact or interact with the locals in any way.
When people would talk to me (especially strangers), it was like I expected to be invisible but someone saw me and wanted to peak under my armor.
If I didn’t feel I could act like I didn’t hear them, I’d sometimes smile politely. Then I’d get back to what I was doing. It may seem dismissive, but if it’s at the expense of my calm and focus, I stay the course.
If I stopped and talked, it could send me down a rabbit hole that risks a lengthy conversation, with no clear escape route, that could derail my ability to complete my mission before overload sets in.
My brain does so much better when I’m expecting a conversation. Even when it’s someone I know, a heads up gives me time to make sure I have the time, energy and focus to give them.
When in public, holding it together is hard enough. Which is why completing tasks in busy places as quickly as possible can be good self-care.
I’ve learned, listening to music in these places decreases the likelihood someone will talk to me. It also releases neuro-chemicals to help me stay calm.
It can be challenging to balance self-care with social expectations. But wanting you to engage when your needs aren’t met, could lead to a crass exchange no one enjoys.
How do you handle these situations?