Teachers weren’t my only friends at school. You might recall that I had a lot of trouble with my peers during Middle School. They were loud and immature kids that had no direction for their youthful energy. When I started riding the bus to traverse to and from school, slightly less obnoxious company surrounded me. The caravan was as loud as it can be, but loudness was focused in different circles. Not just in random directions.
One of these circles included me and a few familiar faces with whom I shared the ride home, a few classes, and lunch break. These were my High School friends. Although we didn’t do much outside of school, we made lots of small talk about our lives in general (TV, favorite comedians, movies, news, local gossip, etc.). These new friends made for great company and made me experience for the first time what it was like to have a social life in the real world instead of in a structurally guided club.
And speaking of clubs, I was a member of a couple different after school clubs throughout my time in High School. I may not be what you call a “social butterfly”, but I did enjoy the activities. Some of these activities lead to making some real-world friends later on. My favorite club being the Boy Scouts. With them I was able to open up a lot more than I did in school. We went on trips; we hiked, camped, cooked and learned how to be self-reliant and work as a team.
Along with my teachers and my real-world friends I had one more friend that I have nurtured from birth and has helped guide me through all of my life’s inconveniences. He lives in the Happy Place, the place where I pace.
I am not sure exactly when or how this started, but I can remember this extending back to my elementary school years. Back then I had fabricated another traveling companion besides my autism. This traveler was a fictional self that I often modeled after others who inspired me as a child.
You see, as an autistic child, I had very little idea how a boy my age was supposed to behave under certain social conditions when “tuning out” didn’t help. To help me get a bead on how to conduct myself, I subconsciously invented a shadow self that would act as an encouraging guide towards how I would behave. This alter ego often took on the appearance and qualities of many different inspirational figures, both fictional and non-fictional, I admired at the time in my youth.
As I got older, this shape-changing tutor evolved into a completely new entity altogether. Midway through high school, I had finally combined all the best elements of the past incarnations and composed a new permanent alter ego; one with a fixed purpose, form, and name. This new fabricated entity was named Vizor Keys…Don’t ask me why or where that name came from. For some reason the name “Vizor” just stuck.
When I made Vizor Keys, I made him to be an ideal version of myself. Not in realism mind you, but in perspective. This fictional shadow self I created is free from any social deficiencies that the real me suffers from. Through him, I would engage in a ritual known as pacing.
Some psychologists will refer to the ritual with the term “Autistic Fantasy”. This ritual of mine can be observed from afar as moving back and forth, engaging in a self-soliloquy.
While I pace, I would venture into a fabricated dream world of both fiction and nonfiction. To better elaborate, I would use the dream world in one of two ways:
-First as an adventure world for Vizor to let off some tension harmlessly. I would often use music of various types to set the tone and mood of the fictional stories.
-The second method is that I would use this simulated world as a virtual rehearsal to better prepare myself for real world events. The rehearsals I would emulate certain possible real-world case scenarios. Through these simulations, I would be better prepared on what I would do, what I say would, and how I would phrase my external messages in these instances.
I owe a lot to Vizor. He has helped me keep the peace between my world and the real world. Helping me coupe with bizarre, non-sensible, and the agitating. He has been the one to help clear my head and prepare my head for when the world is not perfect and I thank him.
Evidentially, I’m not the only one who has some to rely on such dimensions in the brain for comfort. I have met autistic others who pace when they are stressed and I have read stories about other people, both child and adult, who rely on autistic fantasy to help them relax and sort through stressful events. I found comfort in knowing I was not the only one who had island retreat like mine.