My friends visited here in Denver about two years back. For fun, we tried out an ‘Escape Room’ downtown.
In we went. Two indolent teens were already in there, so I felt the need to assert command, precision, direction — y’know, all those extroverted hyperfocused mission-oriented skills that we autistic people have. I coordinated comms, got everyone thinking out loud, delegated explorers, logically ruling out possibilities, navigating clue by clue.
We did not escape.
I had to leave, but my friends went back afterward to try the rest of the rooms. They escaped from each one and set records along the way.
The lessons for me:
- I am a part of success when I am apart from it.
- I’m the rare friend whose absence is appreciated more than my presence.
It is the life autistic. And that is what I am.
Anyway. That’s the snarky angle, a little more scathing than true.
Aside from that, ‘escape rooms’ are essential for us.
I appreciate this fast-closing baby phase with Jo, my youngest. As a veritable scamp, I often whisk her away from the action, as it doubles as an excuse for us to just “find quiet space.”
And I need that.
No, not to escape forever. To pause. To ruminate. To unplug.
I can endure manifold stressors, torrential downpours of noise pestilence, and cavalcades of chaos — as long as there’s an “escape room” to escape to. It resets and benefits, lets the distress seep out, and balances back the unbalanced quiet. It’s why I’ll sooner agree to host than to be a guest or selectively opt into segmented loud and awkward places, as long as I can find a way to tunnel away.
It’ll be nice when we build more “sensory friendly” corners and spaces by design — I don’t think people realize that we need places to pause without it being seen retreating.
We’re normalizing this, turning riot into quiet, making space to rest overspaced minds — and this is good. This is beyond an autism thing, but I’m glad we can lead the way on the why and the where.
For now, I’m at least glad I can take a fussy baby out and find that solace.
With the renewed focus on mindfulness, mental peace, what’s to say that “sensory friendly” can’t be the new “friendly?” Maybe we should be leading the way here? To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.
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