We are hiring!
Click here to view our open positions.

An autistic young man overwhelmed in a crowd.


Why Do I Get Overwhelmed in New Places?

When I go somewhere new, I am not comfortable. I am very guarded. There are a lot of things that could threaten me. I am not aware of this fear. I am not able to respond to you as I can at home. I am not the person you know when I walk into the house and talk to you for hours on end. I am not the expressive person who does my unique behaviors, such as saying funny comments to friends and family, or showing how I really feel about something. I am quiet. I am withdrawn. I may lose control of myself and have a meltdown. Why?

“My thoughts went very quickly from curiosity and stress to hating this new place.”

In a new place, there is a lot of information to take in. I may or may not be aware of all the things I am processing. Most likely, I am completely unaware. I do know that I will not be able to talk to you as I usually do. I know that you will act differently because I am frustrating you. That adds to the stress that I am already feeling in this new place. I may get triggered into obsessive thinking, with my mind switching from observing the new place, to taking in that you are unhappy with me.

Then I get into a cycle of bad with a capital “B,” and I can lose my control. I can think that I am a Bad person because I am frustrating you, but I cannot help it. I may forget or not know why I am acting differently or why I am feeling stress. So when I make someone else feel negative feelings about me, for me being me, I must be a Bad person. I am already feeling bad from stress of being in a new setting, and I am making you feel bad, therefore, I am BAD. This can easily lead into a meltdown.

What can you do if I have a meltdown? Stop, think first, and remember to tell me that everything will be okay. Please help me cut off the cycle of thinking. I am cycling from thoughts about myself, everything going terribly, and hating being in this new place. My thoughts went very quickly from curiosity and stress to hating this new place. Help me calm down and overcome this. I really do want to go to new places. I just need to learn to manage myself. It is very hard.

Autism is a beast.

Thanks for supporting me.


Mary Janca works as an educator for individuals with autism and their families.  She is on the autism Spectrum and uses her own insight to connect with others and guide them to understanding autism in ways that trainings and literature may not reach. 

She has been teaching college, high and middle school for over 20 years to students of all types of learning styles. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education: Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and has state certifications in multiple high school and middle school subjects. She has also been involved in many agencies as either a helper or receiver, including: ASNC, TEACCH, Vocational Rehabilitation, and specialized school environments. Her goal is to be able to help in as many settings as possible, because there is such a high need for educators.  

Mary enjoys the quirks of having autism but appreciates being able to connect with others. She goes through many of the trials that most individuals on the spectrum face, including trouble with taking the perspective of others, following expected behaviors, and managing emotions. She hopes to keep learning about the field of autism, so that she can continue to reach out and help others.

For more Autism Society of North Carolina news and features, visit our Blog.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.