For a few years, I seriously thought about entering the military. The structure and routine of being in the military was something attractive. I knew that would be an environment I would flourish in.
Why did I never go?
I will tell you the simple reason first. I couldn’t run the mile in fifth grade during the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge any faster than 14 minutes. Everyone else ran it in 8:30-9:30. I knew I hadn’t gotten any better at it by the time I hit high school. That didn’t give a lot of hope to get past boot camp. I had read that, even in the Air Force (which had a six week training period at the time), you would wash out if you failed the physical portion three times in a row.
What’s my other reason? I had no confidence I could finish boot camp. I just knew I would react poorly to the environment. I could never conjure more explanation then that. Now I can.
Boot camp, now known as Basic Military Instruction (or BMI), is a sensory overload experience.
I can hear current members and veterans alike saying “you bet it’s a sensory overload experience”. The thing is, that experience will illicit certain reactions and patterns of behavior when the soldier/marine/airman/midshipman must execute on a real scenario. But for those who are autistic, this is something that would backfire…
I always thought I would flourish if I could just get past boot camp. But for now, it’s just nostalgic reminiscing.
Also published on Medium.