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Where Am I When I Am in My Head?

Mary Janca, self-advocate and high school teacher

Where am I when I am in my head?

That is a pretty specific question! I tell you, I’m not like any other Autistic!

But then again, no Autistic is like any other Autistic!

How about non-Autistics? Are you, whether you are Autistic or not, like anyone else?

I’d like to think I’m like some celebrity or scientist that I currently worship. Maybe you imagine yourself to be like a rock star. You and I could imagine ourselves as the same famous person… and catch each other doing the same scripting or air guitar riffs in public! Who knows?

But that is all speculation. How can I, or you, or anyone, predict what’s going on in our heads when we are in our head?

I can tell you this. Humans do tend to veer toward some of the same mental escapes. If not of being someone else, it can be of a different setting, like a beach island, or a hobbit hole. It can be of being a character in a videogame (and since this is creeping more and more into the adult world, sorry, kids, your parents might start scripting video games along with you!). It can be anything.

Why do Autistics tend to be “in our head”? Anxiety. Lack of control. The mind is something we can (partially) control.

We can’t always control our moods. We can’t control what other people do or say around us. We can’t control change. However, we can control our imagination.

And – as more things around us become uncontrollable – why not turn more to the thing we CAN control?! Our imagination!!!

So, what is uncontrollable? People, the weather, noise, light, changes in locations, schedules, you name it. Everything and anything that cannot be controlled causes stress.

Why do we need to feel a sense of control? Because we feel so very lost when we are overwhelmed with stimulation and input. Which is what happens with… everything.


Mary Janca was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 33 years of age after years of struggles, including trying to fit her unique self into various molds. She works as a high school teacher and coach for students who are of all learning and social abilities (including with ASD). She has a Masters in Special Education, a Bachelors in Film & Anthropology, and teaching certifications in various subjects. She enjoys exercise, travel, learning, people, reading, and art. 

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