Autistic at YALC

Or any other busy conference really…

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On Sunday I went to the last day of the three day Young Adult Literature Convention. It’s only its second year, and is held with the London Film and Comic Con (LFCC).

It’s only four months since I was diagnosed as autistic. Or technically, as having an “autistic spectrum condition” and I’m still fitting this into my self image and learning to own my autism. Because 39 years and 8 months of being undiagnosed autistic and of being “high functioning” and “coping” (Ha. Ha.) doesn’t lead to instantaneous acceptance or “feeling autistic”.

So. Autistic. Geeky conference. Day out without the children. Get to spend it with friend. Sounds great.

Considering that a much higher percentage of geeks are probably autistic spectrum than average population, my minuscule experience of LDCC made me think it pretty much sucked at autism friendly.

And I consider myself to have comparatively mild traits. Most of the time.

Not that I was going to LDCC, it was YALC. But I live in an Oxfordshire village and on a Sunday the earliest trains meant I got there after 11am, so LDCC was in full swing and the early entry for YALC was irrelevant.

If Jax hadn’t tweeted me that YALC was on level 2, I wouldn’t have known where to start. There was a huge mass of people. Dark corridors of people up and down in lines. Tables full of film and comic merchandise, blurring into a mass of colours. Cos players everywhere. People randomly stopping in front of you to take pictures of cos players. People all around. Noise all around.

(I don’t get cos play. I get being different but after several Joker / Harley Quinn couples, Batpeople of all sizes, Harry Potters, zombies, and hair in every shade of pink, blue, and green, it’s not so different any more.

I still want to dye my hair blue. I like blue.

Or maybe purple.)

I think it took me over twenty minutes to get from the entrance, and up a mere two stories to find YALC. Which was practically empty in comparison, and a much nicer set up to deal with.

The signposting at the venue was terrible. There were “maps” near stairs and lifts, if you could call them maps. I could just about work out what floor I was on from them, but it wasn’t easy to see where on the floor you were, and finding the stairs was a matter of walking around walls until you got lucky. And then the stairs were one directional, which was only signposted at the staircases. On A4 paper taped above the door.

There were also lifts. I got one from level one to level two. It was going down but I figured it would go back up after so I got on. Almost everyone else in the lift was also going up, but the staff member controlling it was going down first. Two people got out on the ground floor. Back at the first floor, one person got annoyed that the lift was going up.

I’ve spent my life thinking that everyone else got given a rulebook that I didn’t, and Sunday made that feeling even stronger. Fortunately I now know that most people did get that rulebook, but there are lots of people who didn’t either, and we rock at different things.

I openly stimmed. It’s not something I usually do, but I’m letting go and letting what happens happen. I sway back and fourth a lot without noticing usually. And clench fists. And open and shut zips. And bite lips. Okay, I stim a lot. On Sunday I noticed my hand doing some jiggling. I’m not sure what it did, I was concentrating on other things. It was a new one for me.

You may think I didn’t enjoy YALC. I enjoyed YALC. I may not have done half what I planned; I may not have heard three quarters of what was said at the workshop I did attend; I may have got frustrated (internally) at the staff member who didn’t seem to have been briefed on what she should be doing; I may have talked to only a handful of people, bought no books, and gone to no signings; I may have left earlier than I originally planned.

But.

But I experienced what it was like. I know how to get to a new place I didn’t know how to get to before. I learnt a bit more about how London Underground works to get the right train. I stood about three feet away from Tom Savini accidentally (Tom Savini!) I saw lots of lovely books to drool at. I listened to people be passionate about books. I rekindled my knowledge that publisher publicity people are very lovely.

I also learnt that I’m probably not really going to be a YA blogger. I like YA and read it for me, but my passion is for fiction aimed at younger ages. I feel a lot more comfortable with picture book people.

I also learnt that I’m a lot more of an experienced blogger than I give myself credit for. I know what I need to know, even if I’m not the best at implementing things. I need to believe in myself more.

And I learnt that spending the day with a good friend lets issues and anxieties fade away. But I think I knew that anyway 😉

One response to “Autistic at YALC

  1. it was so good to see you again.

    It was kind of challenging wasn’t it? I am slightly sad that I didn’t think to bring Read me like a book, but other than that I wouldn’t have wanted to do the queueing anyway.

    I chew my lip. Shake my wrist. I’d pace, but the dodgy knee makes that more difficult.

    You’re right though. The point is that we did it. And next year we’ll know a bit more of what to expect.
    Jax Blunt (@liveotherwise) recently posted..Education in the garden with Miles Kelly/ The Wildlife trusts handbooksMy Profile

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