For Autism Acceptance month, I am going public with the fact that I am Autistic. While being Autistic makes some aspects of being an entrepreneur difficult, other aspects, like the actual dog training, come quite easily to me. My Autistic Superpower is animals. When it comes to 'reading' what animals are attempting to communicate through their behaviors, I am exceptionally gifted. When it comes to communicating with humans, I can be more like a drunk clown, in a monkey suit, riding a unicycle with a flat tire; it might work, all might go well, even if it is a little awkward, or, I might careen out of control, crash into a bird, and burst into flames.
You see, I have all of these scripts, scenarios that I have rehearsed in my head, to help me navigate many human to human interactions. Sometimes though, something completely unexpected pops up, and I can choose the wrong script, freeze, or just have a meltdown (AKA a panic/anxiety attack). Controlling my environment as much as possible helps. Only going places that I am familiar with, or bringing a 'buddy' helps as well.
When I go to people's homes for dog training, I focus on the dog (and any other pets in the home) because they are 'safe'. I am highly sensitive to lights and smells (and some sounds), and sometimes become very uncomfortable in peoples homes. Because of this, I greatly limit the number of in-home training sessions I offer in a week. I only do one in-home session per day. I also ask that if someone is a smoker, they do not do so while I am in their home (this is important as I also have a form of environmentally triggered asthma).
Just to add to the fun, like many other Autistic's, I also have co-occurring medical conditions. This also often limits how much I can do in a given day (or hour, or minute, or even second). I get overstimulated and can get migraines, stomach aches, uncontrollable shaking, and sudden, intense exhaustion that crashes over me like a wave, dragging me into an almost immediate need for sleep. I have shared this information with you because I am not ashamed to be Autistic. I am proud of all the obstacles that I have overcome to get as far as I have! I am proud that I have reached the point where I do not give a flaming monkey-fart what people think of me; I used to care too much. I am now happy and secure knowing who I am, and how much good I have done in this chaotic world. Here I am, a spiritual being, trying to be the change I wish to see in the world, and even succeeding sometimes.
Kimberly Simmons Owner, For P.ET.S.