Phonecalls while autistic. 

Today I had a bit of a meltdown. To be honest, I’m still in the middle of it. But because writing usually helps calm me down, I’m hoping writing about why it happened may help. It all happened because I need to make a phonecall. 

Yup, a simple phonecall. 

To a government agency. On behalf of my kids. I won’t say more about why I need to make it as I don’t like writing too much about my kids. But I’m afraid it’s one I need to make and it’s not going to go away. 

How I know about it is that I asked a question on a Facebook support group for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and was given this phone number. And assured that the person I needed to call would be sympathetic. That they would understand, and that I would receive the help I need. 

The last time I phoned a government official, also seeking help with my kids, also to a ‘lovely’ person who was ‘understanding’ I got ( in my mind maybe, or through a miscommunication) screamed at.  Ok, maybe not screamed. But she definitely raised her voice. 

Maybe that experience has influenced how I’m reacting today. Or maybe if I’d never had that interaction, it wouldn’t have mattered. 

Because phone calls freak me out. Not so much receiving them, though that’s also hard. But making them. Picking up the phone. Especially if it’s important. And especially if it’s someone I’ve never phoned before. 

I can now actually phone to make an order from my local Chinese takeaway (literally behind my house) without breaking out in a sweat. Because we always order the exact same things. And I can order coal. Again, exact same order every month. I know the words to use, I’ve used them before. I have a script. 

But phoning people for the first time, or to discuss something different to usual is so much harder. I do prepare a script. Not written down, but I go over ‘my end of the conversation’, over and over in my mind till I’m sure of what I need to say. The same way I do when I have a face-to-face meeting. 

But it’s so much harder than face to face. I find it hard to understand what people are saying. I’m not hard of hearing, but often need to ask them to repeat themselves. I also apparently have a ‘funny’ accent. I’ve been mistaken for a child pulling a prank. 

But it’s more than that. It’s a weird type of dread that I can’t even explain. 

So, I’m sitting here crying because I can’t make a simple phonecall. 

And wishing more government agencies, more doctors, more school staff, had and responded to emails. Or texts. Or online forms. Or ‘instant chat’. These forms of communication have made my life so much easier when it comes to interacting with customer service from various private companies. Why can’t public services follow suit. 

Why, oh why, are there not more options? 

Feeling a bit better. But still can’t make that damn phonecall. 

Will try again later. 
[image of a black icon depicting a telephone handle, with black concave lines eminating from it to represent sound waves.]

5 thoughts on “Phonecalls while autistic. 

  1. I hate phone calls too. Passionately.
    I used to need to talk to people on phone when i worked. Now… nope nope nope. Text me, email me, don’t call me.
    I try to keep in mind most people apparently dislike being on phone, and for many it’s because they don’t see the other person. Haha… now here’s my advantage, they don’t see me. I can make a funny face or walk in my apartment while talking. I can tell them I’m taking notes etc. But i also hate if i need to make notes and im not on computer, or i need to find some info, or i need to point them out that nope, I don’t see what something looks like in front of my face. Then i also need to switch into thinking from images to language and hope i can fluently brain in the language I’m supposed to speak in. That can actually be a huge thing, as if i have to use my first language i stumble a lot and don’t know a lot of words because i never really use it.
    There are only a few things I don’t mind on phone: tech support (i can show them exactly what i do and they can hear it too, ah the joys of blind tech) and airlines, esp if trying to get a specific seat.


    1. You just reminded me of how tongue tied I get when trying to speak on the phone in the Irish language. My children go to an all-Irish-speaking school and though the staff prefer us to speak to them in Irish, I no longer attempt to do so on the phone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to this article and maybe if I didn’t take a whopping amount of an anti-anxiety medicine I still would have as much trouble as the author in making phone calls. I still procrastinate. I was overjoyed when texting became a thing and I now realize I literally don’t call anyone I know except my very elderly father on the phone (he doesn’t type and he lives in another state). I text, email or talk in person (and I avoid talking to some people in person). I answer the phone if it’s a local call because it usually is a machine asking me to verify I am coming to an appointment. Otherwise, I let it go to voicemail. I love voicemail because I can repeat the message as many times as it takes to actually catch all of the information. it is common for autistic people to only be able to understand verbal information if it is relayed at a certain speed. Too fast and my brain doesn’t compute it. You can press “4” on your phone multiple times to re-listen to a voicemail but what do you think would happen if you had to actually ask a real person to repeat themselves multiple times?

    Liked by 1 person

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