Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fall Semester is Almost Over!

In thirteen hours, I will be done my fall semester.  I have one last exam tomorrow morning, and after that, I'll be done!  I'm really excited.

I'm thankful for good friends who study with me and for the peacefulness of the library.  I'm thankful for my ability to learn and remember things and I hope I keep doing well on my exams.



I'm feeling good.  And I'm almost there.

Thirteen hours til I'm able to really relax.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Happy Tuesday


It's Tuesday.

I have a pretty major exam for school tomorrow, which is causing me less stress than it should.  I have another exam on Friday -- which is probably a bigger deal -- that I legitimately have not studied for at all, so that's kind of frightening.

I had a crappy week last week, but now I'm feeling a bit better.  I just need to keep myself awake and focused tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday in preparation for my exams, and then I'll be done with school this semester.  My first exam -- two Fridays ago -- went really well, so I'm 1/3 of the way done!

There is a lot of stuff I should be writing about, but I'm just too exhausted right now to do any of that.  I will try to get to it within the next few days.

For now, life is beautiful and I am thankful.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tumblr & Happiness & The West Wing & De-Stressing

This weekend, I will explain the many ways autism has effected this week of my life and the discrimination I've had to deal with in the last few days.  

But for now, I'm trying to be calm and happy.  I have an exam tomorrow that I am trying my best to study for.  

I love this tumblr site and it was recently updated!  It is called "Little West Wing Things" and it is for fans of the amazing show The West Wing and basically posts little quotations or concepts from the show that make me (and other West Wing lovers) happy.  

 Submitted by fangirl-squee Submitted by mbaldi
 Submitted by minalover 

Those were some recent additions to the site that made me smile.  

If you're a West Wing fan, you'll probably like this tumblr.  

If you're not a West Wing fan, you probably should be.  The show celebrates smart individuals and smart dialogue.  The show tackles complicated and multi-faceted issues.  I love it.  When I'm having a bad day, The West Wing is often my solace, and since I can't spare 44 minutes to watch an episode tonight, this tumblr is giving me a good few minutes of joy.  

Monday, 25 November 2013

I Hate Sad People

Sometimes people are sad.


I have never been comfortable around sad people because I don't know how to respond to them.


Sad people make me uncomfortable and anxious.  I just don't know how to react around them.  I shut down.  And there are people who turn to me for comfort, but I just don't know *how* to comfort them.  


I fully recognize that I am "bad at sad."  But I really stress when I'm expected to be comforting and I am simply incapable of it.  These are the moments I feel the most Autistic (in a bad way).  These are the moments I struggle the most to feel comfortable with myself and feel like an adequate person to those who love me.  I sometimes feel so incompetent in relationships.  And when people are sad, I tend to feel worse about myself.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

What Are "Meltdowns"?

The best answer I've ever heard to this question is from autisticdrift on tumblr (their tumblr is linked here).  Autisticdrift responded:

It’s different for everyone. Some people withdraw and get very quiet. Others appear to be really angry (throwing or hitting things, yelling, cursing). Others seem very sad/distressed (crying, sobbing, not talking or seeming inconsolable). Some people try to “disappear” by making themselves small, covering themselves with blankets or wedging themselves into a small hiding place. 
I don’t think there is a typical response across all people but I do think that each person has a response that is typical of them, if that makes sense.

For me, meltdowns start LOUD and ANGRY, with crying, yelling, throwing, and hitting.  Meltdowns are an out-of-body experience and I honestly don't comprehend myself or the situation when I'm having one.  I know I scream and cry and wail because I've seen it on video tape (my parents used to tape them when I was a kid because they didn't understand them and wanted to show my doctors) but I honestly have little recollection afterward.  I cry and I scream and I throw and then I shrink down into a tiny little quiet shell of myself.  I try to hide and make myself invisible.  

That is the progression of every meltdown I have ever had from early childhood until now.  

Meltdowns are a really unique experience and something that neurotypical individuals cannot usually understand.  

The most important thing I want to get across, though, is that meltdowns are not temper-tantrums.  Meltdowns are different.  Meltdowns are a response instigated by our unique neurochemistry.  They are not voluntary.  

When I am having a meltdown, I am not really there.  

Friday, 22 November 2013

Can Autistic Parents Be Good Parents?

An Autistic woman not much older than me is in the process of losing custody of her second child.  There are a lot of factors behind the fight, but the one that everyone seems to be focusing on is the fact that she has autism.  People have decided, apparently, that individuals with autism can't be good parents.  I've heard that so much recently and I'm very upset about it.  I've been struggling with how to discuss this concept in a blog post, but here goes:

Autistics are people.

It is true that our brains are different than neurotypical brains.  It is true that we often do things differently than neurotypical people.  It is true that we might be quirky or need more help with certain tasks than others.  But it does not make us less than human.

There are lots of Autistics who don't want kids.  There are lots of Autistics who don't like kids.  But there are lots of people in those categories too.  It is true that some Autistics may need more support and teaching when it comes to parenting, but it is not true or right or even remotely okay to blanket that in the completely untrue fact that "All Autistics would make / do make bad parents."

There are lots of neurotypical individuals out there who are bad parents too, but we don't hear about them, or when we do, we don't focus on their labels.  When it is an Autistic individual (who does anything!), the first thing people report is that that person is Autistic.  And that's where the focus remains.  Autism has all sorts of negative connotations because anything an Autistic individual does presented as something they did because of their neurochemistry.

I do not have any children yet.

Yet.

I want children.  I have always wanted children.  For a long time I didn't think I'd be able to have children because I struggle so much in relationships (with anyone) that I never expected to have a romantic partner or a support system in place, but I've miraculously been blessed with both.  Everyone close to me knows that I'm Autistic.  And sure, I do some weird things and they "blame it on the autism," but we all do weird things, mine just be a bit more noticeable at times.

That doesn't mean I'll be a bad parent.

I can't wait to be a parent and I have felt that way since I was a child myself.  I've always loved kids and am excited to one day have my own.

I think I'll be an excellent parent.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian said the R-Word

A few days ago, I mentioned that I'd seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians in which Khloe Kardashian said the r-word.  I blogged about it here on November 19th.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians is an American reality show about a large blended family whose members are (mostly) famous for being famous.


In the bottom row of this picture the right hand side, is Scott and, next to him, Kourtney.  Kourtney is the eldest Kardashian daughter and Scott is her partner.  Neither one is particularly appealing to me nor have I ever found them particularly appealing, but I found a new dislike in both when I watched the ninth episode of the fourth season and heard Kourtney use the r-word.

The context: Kris (Kourtney's mother) was complaining about Scott's poor work ethic and immaturity.  Kourtney, in what I think was an effort to defend him, said: "He's not r------d."

Then, a few minutes further into the episode, Khloe (she's the one on the far left on the bottom row, the third-born Kardashian daughter) says the r-word.

The context: Kris (Khloe's mother) tells Khloe she has to come to a function even though Khloe's husband is injured and she wants to be with him.  Khloe angrily responds: "I'm not r------d."

That language is inappropriate - ALWAYS - and I am offended that the Kardashians (public figurse who I believe some people must look up to) are using that language so casually and showing people that this is acceptable behavior.

The truth is that the r-word is EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE to a lot of individuals - particularly those with developmental disabilities - and it is absolutely inappropriate to use the term derogatorily because it implies that those individuals with special needs are worth less than their typically developing counterparts.

I'm sure the Kardashians didn't consider any of this before theyspoke.  But I think theyought to, especially since they might be looked to as role modesl.

We do have to "spread the word to end the word" and there is so much work to be done.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Special Needs Community Resources

Do you know what's weird to me?  There are so many community supports for children with special needs but so few for adults who require those same services.  In so many places, when you turn 18 you become ineligible for so many programs that are so essential for so many individuals.  That's so unfortunate.  It seriously makes me sad.

There are conditions that people put a lot of research money in to and conditions that people really pity in kids.  Those kids get a lot of donations and services in the community.  Those kids' lives are made better and easier by people who work hard to give them opportunities to reach their full potential.  But when they're 18, why should those services suddenly stop?  Why do so many organizations stop investing in people once they reach that magical threshold age?

I don't access any community supports right now.  Last year, I did access a few supports, mostly through my university campus's disability resource center, where one of the staff members was very helpful with guiding me to what I was looking for.  Before university, I attended all sorts of programs and groups as well as various therapies.  I now that I've reached my early twenties, I'm too old to qualify for most of them anymore.

But being "an adult" doesn't mean that someone is done needing help.  I know a lot of people who are much older than me but who rely on private services to help them in their day-to-day life.

Adults matter, too.

I think we all know that.  I don't think that's a groundbreaking statement.  But I do think it's important to recognize that a lot of places really do leave young adults stranded in terms of resources when they "age out" of programming.

Of course I see the value of helping kids, but what makes adults any less valuable?

In typically-developing culture, adulthood is seen as this magical time when individuals no longer need the support and nurturing they received as children because they are supposed to be fully independent.  However, for individuals with special needs -- including Autistics -- that often isn't the case.  As much as I would like to say I am fully independent, I know this is a lie.  I have so many people around me who help me with the little things I cannot do, and this is the case for most Autistic young adults I know as well.

One day I want to "grow up" to a point where I no longer need people to translate the world for me, remind me to eat, and make my house safe.  But I'm not quite there yet.  And a lot of people need more support than me.



So, I wonder, why does the availability of community resources decrease so drastically once one reaches "adulthood"?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Khloe Kardashian said the R-Word

I'm not a reality TV person.  Actually, I despise reality TV.  But I love my best friend and she wanted to hang out with me and wanted to watch a show called Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  I'd never seen the show before, but now I've seen a few episodes.

Essentially, it is a reality show that follows the lives of a very privileged blended family in the United States.  The family members are not particularly likable nor do they seem particularly intelligent, but the show certainly has its share of followers.  I've mentioned it to a few people recently and apparently it is quite popular; it seems like all of my close friends have seen at least one episode.

From what I can tell, the show focuses on the family's eldest three daughters whose names are adorably alliteration-y: Kourtney is the oldest, Kim is in the middle, and the youngest is named Khloe.  Everyone I've spoken to has a "favorite" of the three.  In the first few episodes I saw, my favorite was Khloe.

I was disheartened and offended when -- in the first episode of the the third season of the show -- Khloe casually used the r-word to describe someone she didn't like.  I thought that was just terrible. This is horribly offensive to a ton of people.  And since these women are influential public figures and many impressionable individuals watch this show and see these women as role models, I really worry that this sets a horrible example.

I don't think that word should be allowed on television.  It is not a nice word.  And even though there are so many people who understand and believe this, it is equally true that there are a lot of people who don't yet understand what is wrong with the r-word, and I think it is our job to educate them and set a good example.

Monday, 18 November 2013

This Is Autism

I am autism.


A lot of other people are autism as well.  I., G., H., A., C., T., T., M., A., L..... (some first initials of some Autistic friends of mine) are autism.

Today is This is Autism Day, and I feel as though I should be giving some deep and meaningful description of what exactly autism is and provide some uplifting analysis of how Autistics are integral for the healthy functioning of the world.

According to the DSM-V, autism can be diagnosed whenever there is a combination of a very wide range of possible signs and symptoms that the manual lists.  That is really vague.  But that's what autism is: autism is a ton of different things in a ton of different patterns and has a ton of different presentations.

For me, autism is:
- loving words
- making lists of names
- not being able to process emotions healthily
- struggling to control my anger
- crying over things that don't need to be cried over
- not crying at sad things
- an intense fear of social situations with large crowds or unknown people
- a special interest in quiz shows and empirical knowledge
- a love of my puppy, my boyfriend, my mother, and very few other people
- extremely sensitive to the needs of animals but not the needs of people
- horrible stress at the idea of change
- needing a solid and structured plan 100% of the time
- panic attacks when little things change
- shutting down in situations that make me uncomfortable
- jumping, waving, shaking, twitching, repeating words and sounds to make me feel better

I have no meaningful conclusion for today's post.  I just want to say: Autism is different for everyone.

Autism is complicated, but it should never be scary.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Random Musings From & About Today

Today, I had school until 3 and now I'm sitting at home finishing up a paper that's due tomorrow.  My friend is coming over later and hopefully she'll motivate me to work a bit harder.  Today is also my roommate's birthday.  I had an all right day at school today but my instructor doesn't seem to like me very much and I'm upset about that.  Plus I had a horrible headache and my leg has been really sore all day; I've just been feeling "off."

I had a long conversation about medications on my way home with my best friend / roommate.  I was talking about how I want to eventually go off my medications.  She thought it was a bad idea, saying that I function relatively well on my meds and shouldn't do anything to jeopardize that.  I told her that I've been on so many pills since I was 9 years old that I don't even know what I'm like without them.  Part of me is scared to find out but part of me is immensely curious.  I want to know what the "real" me is and I feel like for the last decade-and-a-bit these medications have been suppressing the "real" me.

I have a lot of schoolwork to do tonight but I'm pretty tired.  I have my Diet Coke and All Dressed Chips here to keep me company, but Youtube is calling and I'm much more curious in watching The Brain Scoop and Sci Show than writing my paper.

I ate an avocado for lunch today that was not very ripe.  Eating it was challenging.  It provided a lot of amusement for my classmates though.  I guess that's a good thing.  A few hours later they were still talking about how funny it was when I spent half an hour trying to eat my avocado.

I had my hair up all day and then took it down when I got home but I still have a headache.

My room is cold.  I kind of broke my robe last week so I will need to get a new one eventually.  I'm still wearing it now but it's not as good as it once was.

My roommates and I watch Jeopardy every night at 7.30.  Hopefully I'll have my work done in time to partake.  I love Jeopardy.

I feel like I'm gaining weight and that's making me really self-conscious and uncomfortable.  I'm not sure what to do about that.  It's a recent fear but it's making me nervous.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Thankful Saturday

I am thankful for this day.  For spending time with the man I love.  For sharing my heart with him.

I am thankful that he forgives and understands my anxiety.

I am thankful for the good friends in my life.

I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for the children who love me.

I am thankful for this Saturday.

Friday, 8 November 2013

God Created Autism

It's no secret that I am a Christian.

While I know faith is not for everyone and those with faith often believe different things, my personal journey has been greatly influenced by my understanding of God.  


I spent a lot of my childhood feeling out-of-place and like there was something wrong with me because I never quite "fit in."  



Coming to terms with my autism took me a long time, and it wasn't until I realized that God created me for a reason and He was the one who gave me my amazing brain.  



I believe God gave me autism for a reason.  That's just what I believe.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Certain Project

Some of you might now that I am studying health sciences in university.

I have always been fascinated with medicine and the pathophysiology of illness so this was a good career choice for me.

In all honesty, I started university fearful of people and scared of making friends.  I really hated being social for the first few years I was here.  Now I'm feeling a bit better about myself.  I feel less passive. I know I "fit in" (at least some of the time) and I feel good about that.

Anyways, I love learning about medicine.  Medicine fascinates me.

I have a project to do for a course in the end of November.  The assignment is to research and present on a congenital or genetic illness/disease.  The teacher provided us a list of approved topics to choose from; it includes:
Cystic Fibrosis
Congenital heart
Sickle cell anemia
Hemophilia
Cleft lip/palate
Nephrotic syndrome
Polycystic kidney disease
Seizure disorders
Autism
Club foot
Hip dysplasia
Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Muscular Dystrophy
Type 1 Diabetes
Turner Syndrome

I sort of glanced over the list a few days ago, glared at it, and moved on.  Whatever.  I decided I'll pick something that isn't on the list.

And then yesterday, another person in my program sent out an email just to let everyone know what she had picked so that we wouldn't choose her topic.  She told us that the "disease" they had picked to research and present on was was Autism.

For obvious reasons, it upset me when she used the word "disease" to describe autism.  I know I am more than autism, but I do associate autism with me, and it's not fun to think of so much of me as "diseased."



Not impressed with people -- especially people who are studying to be in the health care field -- recognizing autism is a "disease."

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Do You Use "Autistic" as a Reclaimed Word?

Over on Musings of an Aspie, there's a great conversation going on about "Autistic" as a reclaimed word.

It's hard for me to give objective information about Autistic as a reclaimed word since I am Autistic and, in all honesty, Autistic is just what and who I am.  Autistic isn't an insult to me.  Autistic has never been an insult in my world.  In my world, Autistic is just how I am.



That's the thing I found most amazing about this post: the reminder that Autistic is a label and it does often have negative connotations.  "Autistic" is a word that a lot of people associate with stereotypes that do not reflect the wide range of individuals who fall along the autism spectrum.

I know that when I use the word "Autistic," I am using it in a positive way.  However, when others say "Autistic," I'm the first to admit that I don't know their intentions with that word.  And that gives me a sort of skewed understanding of Autistic as a reclaimed word; it is reclaimed in a lot of ways but its connotation is so dependent on who is using it.

And, of course, this makes me think about people-first language...  But we'll get to that (for a little rant) later...

Autistic is not an insult.

We need to get that out there.  We need people to know that Autistics are all around and it's important to treat them respectfully, which of course includes using respectful language.

Person-first language is not something that tends to offend Autistics (or, by-in-large, the Autistics that I know), while it is important to other groups.  That's fine.  Person-first language is amazing in some situations and we cannot put person-first language down, even if we like saying "Autistic" instead of "person with autism."  And if you like saying "person with autism," that's just fine too.

I think we need to focus our efforts on using respectful language and just being respectful in general.  I think we often do use Autistic as a reclaimed word and I think that's fantastic; we just need to continue to teach others that autism is not something that should make anyone afraid.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The 5 Scariest Autism "Treatments"

Emily Willingham, a contributor to Forbes, recently wrote this article.

It is frighteningly titled "The 5 Scariest Autism 'Treatments'"

And goodness, it sure is scary.

Honestly, the 'treatments' Ms Willingham writes about are really shocking and disturbing so I'm not going to detail them here.  I linked above to the article if you would like to know more.  Essentially, what Ms Willingham uncovers is that the 'treatments' people have used (possibly with good intentions) in order to "cure" Autistics are extremely dangerous and can cause permanent harm or even death.  That's terrifying to me.



I don't believe that Autism is something we need a cure for, but I do agree that some Autistics function better with certain interventions (like medication or ABA).  I know I do, and I don't think that makes me any less Autistic or any less human.  Regardless of your opinion -- and I know that as soon as anyone mentions "autism treatment" or "autism cure" there are bound to be people riled up -- my public service announcement is:

Please be educated and, above all, please be safe.



Monday, 4 November 2013

Autistics Speaking Day (A Few Days Late...)

Matt over at Dude, I'm An Aspie posted this amazing blog in honor of November 1st being Autistics Speaking Day.

Matt is a great blogger and artist who was one of the first autism advocates I really related to when I discovered him online.

I spent Autistics Speaking Day doing what I love - SPEAKING about autism and fighting for the rights of Autistic individuals.  Unfortunately, the weekend was super busy and I really haven't had a chance to talk about any of that on here.  But since I've wanted to talk about Matt's adorable post, because I think it is so relatable and if you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out.

In Matt's post from his Dude, I'm an Aspie blog (I linked it above), he talks about the "monsters" of autism.  He describes these as the individuals who pretend they're on the side of Autistics but really they're spouting nonsense or pushing their own agendas and causing genuine danger to Autistics.  These are the people who spread paranoia.  These are the people who treat Autistics as less than human.  These are the people who firmly believe that autism is a disease that needs a cure and Autistics would be much better off if they weren't Autistic.


I've tried and failed to write a post for Autistics Speaking Day and then a lot of life things came up and now it's November 4th so hopefully I'll get a chance to talk about that but I'm not making any promises.

Regardless, I think the most important thing to take away from Autistics Speaking Day is that Autistic individuals need to have a voice when it comes to issues that concern us, and Autistic individuals deserve the same dignity and respect that anyone else would deserve.

We need to speak up for ourselves and not let our voices be drowned out by people whose agendas might not be as pure.

"Be loud!"

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Accessibility & Anxiety (& Autism)

As much as autism has been a factor in my life, I have had more troubles with anxiety in recent months.  I haven't had an autistic meltdown in what feels like a long time, but I have definitely experienced issues with anxiety in my recent past.

On the campus of my university, there are buildings I cannot go in to and restaurants I cannot make purchases from.  Or rather, there are buildings I am physically capable of going in to but buildings I simply cannot go in to because my anxiety won't let me.  I have places I won't walk alone - not scary places or anything like that, just certain hallways or stairwells or shortcuts that I cannot take without feelings of panic.  

Anxiety has kept me from doing things.  Anxiety has kept me from buying food I want to buy and has actually kept me from going to some of my classes, simply because I cannot go to certain places.  Anxiety is hard for me.  People throw the word anxiety around like you wouldn't imagine, and one of the biggest culprits of that is my roommate.  She's also one of my best friends, but I cannot stand it when she says she's "anxious" and "worrying" about these little things.  She says this so casually but after a while I just start panicking at the very idea of anxiety.  

I guess my Autistic-ness is most apparent when I express my anxiety.  For me, anxiety manifests in chewing fingers, flapping hands and arms, shaking head, pulling at my skin, disjointed speech, and repetition of words and/or phrases.  

Today, I cleaned my laptop while I was anxious.  I clean my laptop any time I take my laptop off my desk or out of my room, so this is not an unusual occurrence to me.  But anxious me?  

yooouuuuuu are not clean you are nnnnnot clllllleeean lyyysol lysol lysssssol lysol clean top top top top top top wet wetttttttttt clean wetttttttt lysol lyyyyyysol clean clean buttons buttttttons butttttttttttttttons butttttttttttttttons 

That's not an exact quotation of what I said.  I can't remember exactly what I said.  But thinking back -- this was probably an hour ago -- I know I was definitely muttering to myself something along those lines.  Self-talk is not abnormal for me.  Repeating words is not abnormal to me.  Drawing out certain syllables because they feel good on my tongue is not abnormal for me.  But all three together with the speech pattern I get in to when I'm having a "bad brain day" or "bad brain moment" can be frightening to people who don't always see my autism.  


This post started out just about anxiety and I guess I got talking about autism in the middle there.  That's all right with me though.  I have a multiple diagnoses.  Autism was my first diagnosis, but from there I've obtained a few more labels over the years, and when you have multiple conditions all in the same brain, sometimes they start to overlap a bit.  Case in point: When I'm anxious, I display more Autistic traits than I usually do.  

Anxiety is hard because I don't know how to stop being anxious.  I am at a point in my life where I can accept autism as my primary diagnosis and I can recognize that the way I do things is often different than others.  And that's fine with me.  That is out of my control.  That is my neurochemistry, and autism makes me who I am.  

Anxiety is harder to accept.  Anxiety is something everyone has -- even neurotypical individuals -- and anxiety is something you can have control over.  Anxiety is something you can harness and tame whereas autism is not.  Or, rather, this is how I have always been told.  

I feel bad when I can't stop my anxiety.  Something inside me tells me that I should be able to stop it, that I shouldn't really experiences these symptoms, that it's all in my head and that I have control over it, I just have to stop feeling those feelings. 

My problem right now is that I can't just stop being anxious.  And that's frustrating to me.  

On Brick Heck & Characteristics of the Autism Spectrum

One of my favorite shows on television right now is a little gem on ABC called The Middle.

It's a simple family comedy that genuinely makes me laugh.

Characters include the frazzled mom, the out-of-it dad, the over-it son, the over-enthusiastic daughter, and the younger son.

The youngest son is the favorite character of a lot of people I know who watch the show.  He is a quirky boy-turned-preteen who loves to read, has a lot of special interests, dislikes socialization, and repeats words to himself.  He is also loveable and quite adorable.  This is how the writers created this character of "Brick."



The show never references whether Brick has any diagnosis, but he definitely shows traits of stereotypical Asperger's Syndrome (or at the very least, he sure acts a lot like I do, or so people tell me).  On the show, Brick's parents make some comments about how he's different and he attends a social skills program for the first few years of the show, but other than that, Brick is just Brick.  Brick's behavior might be odd and definitely deviates from the behavior of the other children on the show, but nobody ever questions him.  We all just accept that Brick is Brick.

We see this on a lot of TV shows nowadays -- Autistic traits as part of a character who is never officially diagnosed on the spectrum.  Is this a trend?  Is autism the new popular thing?

And if so, why are real autistic individuals still so disadvantaged in the community?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Please Be Respectful of My Mental Health

Dear Roommate Who Won't Stop Complaining,
Please stop.
Please.
Complaining is not good for my mental health.
Complaining stresses me out and makes me really anxious.
You are making me feel really uncomfortable.
You are making it really hard for me to focus.
I was supposed to have a really good day, but I'm having a really crappy day because of you.
I am anxious because you keep saying the word "anxiety."  Please stop doing that.  "Anxiety" is not a good word for me because - in people with legitimate anxiety disorders - it can cause actual anxiety.  Anxiety in real life is bad.
I have had legitimate mental health problems since I was a child.  I have been hospitalized multiple times.  I have seen countless psychiatrists and other doctors.  I've taken way too many medications over these twenty years.
I need to keep myself around positive people so that I do not relapse.
Please be positive for me.
You don't know my whole history, you only know bits and pieces of it.  That's because it's embarrassing.  And it really is embarrassing.  It is embarrassing how poorly I can function when things are not lined up properly for me.  I do not always feel comfortable sharing myself with people because I know if you knew everything, you probably would not want to be my friend.  But just trust that I need positive.  Just trust that I need good things around me.
I don't want to get sick again and I'm trying so hard to take care of myself.
Please be respectful of my mental health.
Sincerely,
Me

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Good & Bad Day

Today I had a good day.  Today I had a bad day.  The good part of the day is chronicled first.  The bad part of the day is chronicled second.

I have always had issues with germs.
I have struggled with severe OCD since I was a kid and I've been taking Prozac for it since I was either 9 or 11 (can't remember).
Anyways, over the years, I've gotten better at touching things, but I still feel most comfortable when most everything is clean.  I struggled living with roommates for this very reason and I waited years to try living with others because I was afraid of how I would react to other people touching things and not cleaning them the way I would.
Today, my roommates and I had a cleaning party.  We ordered pizza and cleaned the apartment.  Today, I cleaned the living room surfaces, oven, kitchen countertops, microwave, bathroom floor, bathroom sink, bathroom counter, and toilet.  Today, I scrubbed and scrubbed and now I'm feeling a lot better about those areas.  I'm also glad that my three other roommates pitched in and now our floors are clean, our dishes are all done, and the whole place is vacuumed.  I don't really know what else has been done, but I know things have been done and that makes me feel good.

Also today, a good friend has been complaining a lot.  I hate complainers.  I really do.  I really struggle to deal with my own mental health when others around me -- others who geuninely are a lot better off than me -- are complaining and complaining and complaining and complaining for no apparent reason.  I know that anxiety is personal but when you take every little thing and choose to fixate on something just to get sympathy -- which is what I believe is going on here -- I get really upset.  Maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture.  Maybe I'm not understanding.  Maybe there is more going on here than superficial anxiety about a school situation.  But it looks like she is using the excuse of "anxiety" to get out of a mistake she made in school that might get her into some trouble.  As a person who has been struggling for years and who has been to doctor after doctor for treatment of my anxiety, I really don't like it when people take my diagnosis and throw it around like it's something so mundane.  Anxiety is crippling.  Anxiety is not something to justify constant complaining.  

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sad

Recently, I’ve been really “low.”  I’ve been feeling “down.”  I’ve been so stressed by such little things that have just been making me really upset and really frightened in the past few days and (actually) weeks.   I am a pretty anxious person to begin with, but these last few days have been a bit over the top crazy. 

Honestly, when I am uncomfortable, my discomfort is apparent to those around me.  I try to be civil and kind, but it is really hard for me to “go with the flow” without making a big deal about it.  I really and truly do despise change and I am very fearful of situations I feel I have no control over. 


It’s ironic that this is one of the best times of my life.  I am actually feeling incredibly good right now.  Life is good.  Everything is going my way.  I have a job that I enjoy.  I’ve been able to treadmill frequently.  I’ve been doing well in school – very well, actually.  I’ve been really well-organized and I’ve been getting everything done in ample time.  Actually, things are pretty low-stress right now.  They really should be, but for some reason I just can’t seem to be happy. 

I don't know what's wrong, but I know I've been getting in a lot of fights and arguments recently with people I very genuinely love and care about.  And the fights haven't been productive; they've been over little things that don't matter.  They've been fights over things I really don't even care about.   They've been fights over control.  

I don't know how to stop fighting with people.  

I don't know how to be kind when I'm feeling like this.  

I don't know how to make myself happy again.  

I am so thankful for so many things and it's so clear how much I have in my life, but I can barely even put it into words how frustrated I am with this whole situation.  

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Friendship Sadness

I got really depressed about my friendships today.

In the last few months, I feel as though I've really neglected my friends.  I didn't have many friends to begin with and now I feel like I really don't have any friends at all.

I live with three other young women, but we don't really spend that much quality together.  I don't often want to spend time with others - I really don't like the process of making friends - but I like having friends when I want to spend time with them.

It's hard to have friends when, like me, you hate making friends.

But I feel like I need to work on that.  I feel like I need to make some good friends and repair some old friendships that have dropped down to mere acquaintanceships.

I am sad.  I feel alone here.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I Am Capable

Do not ever let anyone tell you that you are not capable of something just because you are Autistic.  

Today, I saw a young Autistic woman -- barely a year older than me -- discriminated against by community workers just because of her Autism diagnosis.  Let me assure you, this woman is kind, well-meaning, persistent, competent, intelligent, and CAPABLE.  This woman is no different than any other human, and yet the way these professionals spat the word "Autism" -- as if it was some terrible disease or something that made her "less" -- made her seem incredibly "other" even though she clearly was not.  

It disheartened me that these well-educated people are so uneducated about autism and what it means to be Autistic.  

All Autistics are different.  Some Autistics need more assistance than others.  But regardless, we are all human, we all deserve dignity, and we are all capable.  We are individuals with a diagnosis of a neurological condition, not an illness or disability.  We are not ill.  We are quite able.  

It scares me to know that people -- especially community workers who should really know better -- think Autism is this terrible and scary thing and don't even try to get to know Autistic individuals.  As it goes, "Autism isn't a tragedy; Ignorance is the tragedy."  Yeah, I'd agree that's true.  Ignorance is also incredibly frustrating.  

Please don't be ignorant.  Please don't believe that all Autistics are the same or that an Autism diagnosis precludes an individual from certain rights and responsibilities.  


(I think the illustration above is just kind of silly.  I found it on Google).  

I am capable.  

Autistics are capable.  

Friday, 27 September 2013

100th Post on Young Autistic Female

Years ago, I came up with the idea to blog about my life as a young woman with autism.  I was in the ninth or tenth grade at the time; I had just started at a new school and, frankly, I was in a pretty dark time in my life.  Those early years of high school were very difficult for me.  I had a lot of anxiety problems in those years, a lot of social issues, no friends, and was going through a phase where I was often considering self-harm.  I had a very troubled relationship with my family at the time and, for whatever reason, every difficulty I ever had seemed to be attributed to autism.  I had tons of doctors at the time and my parents would seek them out complaining that they didn't know how to handle me and my autism.

I started this blog exactly 100 posts ago - last December.  I was going through a rough time then as well and blogging about ASD made me feel better about the relationships I had lost due to my then-recent difficulty in social situations.


100 posts later, here I am.

This is definitely not the most-read blog -- nor do I imagine it ever will be -- but that's all right with me.  The purpose of this blog is not to accumulate thousands of views a day.  Instead, what I endeavor to do here is share pieces of myself as I am able.  I try to share how I live as an Autistic individual and the struggles I face and how I overcome them.  This is kind of a cathartic thing for me, actually; it definitely helps me through some of my challenges.  I also like to share some issues I see in the Autistic community here.  I like to share news stories and advocacy issues and as much as I can about the little things I see in the news and other sources.  I want to connect with other Autistics online; I want to find mentors.  I want to discover and provide insight.

I am proud of myself as a Young Autistic Female and, frankly, I think that's the most important thing to me about this blog.  This is where I share my Autistic pride.  This is where I share that I'm OK with my quirks and, for the most part, I see my Autistic differences as having made me a better person.  I am pretty content with my life right now and I enjoy sharing it.

Happy 100 posts, you guys!  I've enjoyed being here as a tiny little part of the Autistic blogging community and I can't wait to continue blogging, meeting new people, and connecting with you all.


And, as always, THANK YOU for reading!  

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being Assertive

It is really hard for me to be assertive.
It stresses me out.  I have an actual physical reaction to it.
In front of my closest friends and closest family, I am able to assert my true feelings.  And yet, even then, being assertive is really difficult.  I usually break down crying after confronting somebody.
I hate being assertive.  I hate being assertive, and yet it stresses me out to reveal what I want and stand up for myself.
I'm not sure if it's a confidence issue.  I'm not sure if it's a social issue.  I don't know why I don't like being assertive, but being assertive always makes me anxious.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A Critique of Autism Awareness Posters

I'm not sure how I feel about this poster.


I understand the purpose of graphics like this, but the problem with them is that they support a really narrow view of autism.  The pictures above (from UK charity at this site) are quite simplistic and depict autism as something simplistic as well, but we know that isn't the case.  Not all Autistics are alike, and while many Autistics display certain traits, it's upsetting when people lump all Autistics in to the same category and assume we all share the same characteristics.

Here's another example:



This poster is from a website that lists a series of "health problems" and includes autism on that list.  I have issues with the depiction of autism as a "health problem," but I'll get to that another time.  This is the site, if you're curious.

My point here?

Education is great!  I love education!  Education is the only cure for ignorance and, unfortunately, there is a lot of ignorance surrounding autism.  But we need to provide people with the right education.  We need to teach people that Autistics aren't all the same.  We need to tell people that all Autistics are unique and don't all display the same traits.

We need to teach people that being Autistic is not a disability but rather a difference.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

90s Flashback

When I was younger, I loved this show.


When I was younger, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was my favorite.  I loved Sabrina and the other characters (especially Aunt Zelda).

Of course I'm far from the only girl who liked Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  I don't even think I'm the only one who wished I, too, could be a witch.  I enjoyed the way Sabrina was different.  I enjoyed the way Sabrina dealt with her challenges.  I enjoyed the way Sabrina took charge of her own life and always tried to make the best of any situation that arose.

Sabrina didn't always fit in, but neither did I.  Somehow, I felt like I could relate.

In episode 1 of the 5th season, Sabrina says to her new roommate: "I don't have to justify myself to you.  Whether you think I'm weird or not doesn't matter."

I loved that line when I was a teenager and it still gives me a happy shiver to this day.

"I don't have to justify myself to you.  Whether you think I'm weird or not doesn't matter."

For some reason, that is so empowering to me.



I love how this show scoffs at normal.  I love how this show celebrates the joy of difference.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

My Food Anxiety

School is consuming my life right now.  I had classes all day today and now I'm doing homework and floating around on Youtube.

I've been eating quite unhealthily recently and I'm upset about that.  When I don't eat well, I get jittery and anxious and I start to stress out a bit.  I get nervous when my blood sugar gets wonky.  I know this, but sometimes when I'm stressed, it's really hard for me to eat properly.  I get even more stressed at the idea of making food.  And I crave snack foods and need to snack to soothe myself.

Today, I ate & drank:
- hot chocolate
- one cinnamon bun
- a small plate of tortilla chips with some cheese and salsa
- a small bowl of Sunchips
- some pretzels
- Nearly 2.5 litres of water
- 2 litres of Diet Coke
- a lot of animal crackers

I'm not feeling great.  I'm enjoying these animal crackers at the moment, but my head is starting to feel wobbly and I want some proper food.

I don't know.

I get food anxiety.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Anatomy of Yesterday

Yesterday, I had classes most of the day.  During my short break, I socialized with a friend I haven't seen in a while.  It was nice to see her again and catch up.  After classes, I went to the gym to treadmill for half an hour.  Treadmill-ing has often been my stress reliever and yesterday was no exception.  After a good treadmill session, I went home.  I ate pretzels and drank Diet Coke while doing my schoolwork.  Yesterday's schoolwork took up quite a few hard-working hours, but I eventually finished it.  I also took a short break to watch some Rookie Blue (it's a show I've watched before and enjoyed, but haven't had a chance to catch up on in over a year).  I then completed my schoolwork and had a shower.  I was exhausted.  I fell asleep promptly after climbing into my bed.

Yesterday was a good, productive day.

I hope today will be good as well.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Thankful on a Monday

Yesterday, the pastor at church reminded me of the importance of prayer.  So often I recognize God's great presence in my life but forget to pray to Him.  That sentence right there just reminded me that I plan on writing a blog entry about autism and religion some time.  I am religious (obviously) but I don't care whether you are religious or not, or what religion you are, as long as your religion is based in love and being kind to others.  I find religion really interesting and, as a teenager, I became a Christian.  I'll talk more about that some time probably -- if I ever get around to writing it, that is :) -- but for now, I'm remembering in this moment how thankful I am for the many good gifts I have received from my God.

Whether you are religious or not, I believe it is helpful to recognize the good things you have and be glad for them.  I believe I receive these things from God, so when I give thanks, I give thanks to Him.  Other people believe differently than me and that is absolutely all right.

I am thankful for good friends who forgive me with grace and love.

I am thankful for a wonderful partner who makes me incredibly happy and for his loving family which has welcomed me with open arms.

I am thankful for intelligent parents who love me and support me.

I am thankful for my puppy dog, who gives me hope and joy daily and reminds me to be thankful.

I am thankful for a sweet niece who finds joy and wonder in little things.

I am thankful for good prices at Wal-Mart and inexpensive Diet soda.

I am thankful for the prescription medication that I take; thankful that it exists and is affordable for me, thankful that it works to improve my life.

I am thankful for the talented authors who write the books I enjoy.

I am thankful for teachers and classes and school.

I am thankful for tickles and jokes and games that make me smile and bring me joy.

I am thankful for new jobs and new opportunities and challenges that make me think.

I am thankful for the good people who share my religion and who provide me company at church and in worship.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Dating & Relationships - Advice & Information

Perhaps some day I will formalize this.  Perhaps I will write it a bit nicer and fancy it up a bit.  But for now, I'm just pointing out a few quick little things that would have been helpful for me to know when, at the age of nineteen, I started dating for the first time.  These are a few of my hastily-written tidbits of advice.  If you want to add to it, please add your two cents in comments!  Thank you!

Social cues in dating are complicated and often very subtle.  I don't know how to read all of them.  And that's OK.  It's not something you can learn overnight.  If you are uncertain and feel comfortable to do so: ASK what the other person is trying to tell you.

Make sure you are comfortable with the person you are dating.  Consider that you'll have to spend probably an hour or so on a date with them.  Are you comfortable with this person for that long? 

Eye contact is usually expected for the date.  Are you comfortable with that?  Especially for a long-ish period of time?

Be prepared for small talk.  Small talk can be uncomfortable for a lot of people, but it usually does come up on dates, especially at first.  Be ready.  

Everyone thinks dating is hard.  Remember that.  Sometimes you can feel awkward and uncomfortable and alone while navigating the complicated world of dating.  But you're not alone.  Other people have experienced the same suffering as you have.  

Really consider whether you feel ready to date before you choose to do so.  "Wanting a boyfriend/girlfriend" is not a good reason to date.  

Practice!  Dating is really socially complex and it can help to "role play" a date, either by yourself or with someone else, to practice and start to feel comfortable with the kind of behaviors and conversations that come with dating. 

Make sure the person you are dating is nice to you and shares your values.  It can be difficult to assess whether someone is interested in you, but if they are unkind to you in any way or do anything you are not comfortable with, they are probably not right for you.  

There are many levels of intimacy, such as holding hands, hugging, kissing, and sexual contact.  Which level you engage in is dependent on various factors, some of which are complicated.  

Consider with yourself and/or discuss with someone you trust whether you are old enough / mature enough / ready for sexual contact.  Be sure to educate yourself and your partner about sex.  Be sure to have an open and honest, frank discussion about sexual contact before you engage in it.  If you are uncomfortable in any way, you should not engage in this behavior.  Remember to always practice safe sex and use condoms properly.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Story of My First Boyfriend & Dating Can Be Scary

About a year ago, I was in a relationship with a young man.  This young man was my first boyfriend.  Our relationship was not particularly long-lived and -- frankly -- should not have lasted as long as it did.  I had never been in a romantic relationship before and I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be like.  I suppose I was glad that somebody found me attractive.

This young man and I never spent a lot of time together.  We rarely communicated.  He was hardly the one person I would confide my secrets to, nor was I to him.  We were just "dating" as they do in university, something I'd never experienced before and something -- to be perfectly honest -- I didn't enjoy as much as I probably should have.  I should have been pickier.  I should have seen the "deal-breakers."  I shouldn't have been so lenient.  I should have seen the signs and when I didn't like his behavior, I should have confronted him.  I was so scared to tell this young man how I felt.

I merely wanted a boyfriend.  I had never had one before, and it was exciting to have someone who -- at least some of the time -- wanted me.  Our feelings were never mutual and honestly mine were more of infatuation or lust than actual interest.  I was interested, I suppose, but I didn't know how to express that interest.  I didn't have the tools I needed to know how a romantic relationship is supposed to unfold.

He was the one who broke up with me, and it wasn't a surprise.  I was dreading it because I wanted to have him as my boyfriend because I thought I loved him, even though it turned out that I actually kind of despised him.  I just had this fascination with him, you see.  I wanted someone, and he's just the one who ended up in my life.

It has been nearly a year since we broke up and so much has changed.

I now know what true love is.  I now know what true support is.  I now am with a person who makes me immensely comfortable.  I am with a person now who doesn't make me anxious or ashamed of who I am.  I am with a person who is good for me.  I am with a person who brings out the best in me.  I am with a person who trusts me and who I trust.  I am with a person I don't have to make compromises for.

The point of this history is to really emphasize that -- when I was nineteen years old and in my first romantic relationship -- I didn't know what "dating" was and I didn't know how to handle it productively.  I have never been excellent in social situations and the one-on-one of dating with all the pressures that it comes with was absolutely overwhelming for me, a "Young Autistic Female" who'd never so much as looked a boy in the eyes.  Dating was scary.  Dating was hugely and immensely scary.  I rushed through dating that first young man with such fervor and frustration because I didn't know whether I was doing it right and I was constantly second-guessing myself.  I was terrified.

The advice I've received subsequently about dating has been invaluable.  I am so thankful to the many friends and family members who have stepped forward to explain dating and relationships to me and who have made sure that I'm safe and comfortable.  Because dating can be dangerous and frightening if you don't know what you're doing.  And I really hope -- for all the other girls out there -- that there's someone to teach you how to date safely and comfortably.

I'm thinking of doing a quick series on this.  Maybe I'll share some "tips" I learned about dating and relationships.

Anyways, I just wanted to impart that dating can be scary -- for everyone, regardless of whether you are Autistic or neurotypical.  And if you need a little bit more education on dating and relationships, that's absolutely OK as well.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

First Day of School

Today is Thursday.  Today is my "first day of school."  Technically, classes started yesterday and kids have been moving in to campus all week.  But today was my first class.  I'm hardly new -- I've been here years -- but still, getting back into the swing of things after an amazing summer away from here is going to be hard.

I don't like large groups of people, but unfortunately, university campuses tend to be just large groups of people.

I've found the past few days have been really difficult in terms of the many people around.  I dislike that the nights have been full of screaming teenagers drinking alcohol outside.  I don't like rambunctious partiers -- on principle or in reality -- and I don't enjoy that the entire campus seems filled with them right now.

Right now, I'm able to find solace in my small corner of our apartment, in my bedroom.  Thankfully, I have bright and understanding roommates who don't mind that I have my fair share of quirks.  Thankfully, I enjoy school -- I'm good at school.  I like studying and learning.  I get good grades.

I'm thankful for the new gym on campus.  The treadmill has been really great in aiding my stress recently.  I am glad I have that.

Still, I miss the comforts of summer.  I hope things get easier for me, in terms of anxiety.

I'm so happy, but I'm also feeling really anxious for some reason.

My goodness.  I have 237 days left of school for this year.  I hope it goes smoothly.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Autism is a Difference, Not a Disease

I LOVE this picture.  I have loved this picture for a long time.  In fact, for a while last year, this picture was my desktop icon on my computer.


I think in our society there is this perception that autism is a disease, that it's something we have to "cure."  And all that discussion of "curing" autism is one of the things that bothers Autistics the most (or at least it bothers me).  I know what illness looks like.  I have worked as a home support worker and a nursing student for years.  I have done 1:1 respite support.  I have worked with people in varying states of illness.  And I mean true illness.  I have seen people who are healthy, people who are sick, people who are very sick, and I've seen people die.  Because that's what happens when you have an illness.  An actual illness.

I don't know why people think Autism is an illness.  Autism is not an illness, it is just a difference.  Autism is just a difference.  Autism makes me different.  Autism makes me me.  And I have no issue with being Autistic.  I was born Autistic and this is just how I am.  And I think I'm pretty awesome.

I am Autistic and I'm very happy being Autistic, thank you very much.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

This is an excellent video that explains Sensory Processing Disorder.  While SPD is a condition all o its own, a lot of Autistics (including me) experience SPD.  SPD is sometimes hard to explain because it is so individual.

In this video, the narrator talks about the seven sensory systems: sound, taste, smell, touch, vision, proprioception, and vestibular.

He discusses how you can be over-responsive and under-responsive in each of the seven systems and they each act independent of each other.  I love the metaphor of the big cups and little cups the boy talks about in the video.  It makes a lot of sense to me and I think it's a great way to explain it.

I have a little cup for sound, vision, and touch.  This means: loud noises really bother me, multiple noises at the same time really bother me, fast music really bothers me, too many people talking at the same time really bothers me...  This means: bright lights really bother me, repeating colorful patterns really bother me, flashing lights really bother me, sometimes the TV screen or computer screen bothers me...  This means: sometimes I can't stand it when people are touching me (especially light touch), I get easily startled when people touch my back, I really don't like it when my hands are not clean, I really don't like touching things directly with my hands...

I have a big cup for proprioception.  This means: sometimes I need to run around or jump or stomp or wave my arms or hands to release energy when I'm feeling stressed...

I think the rest of my "cups" are medium-sized.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Loneliness

There is this perception that Autistics like to be alone.  Perhaps it is because we so often create our own worlds that we feel most comfortable in.  Perhaps it is because we enjoy our solitude.  Perhaps it is because loud noises and large groups of people make us uncomfortable.  All those things are reasons I like my "alone time," but it is also very true that I need my "social time" as well.


I like people.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I don't.  I guess it is more accurate to say that I like certain people.  My best friends, I like them.  I like many of the people I have classes with.  Some of my classmates I don't like so much.  I like many of my boyfriend's family members, his roommates, his church community.  I like the role models I've sought out for myself.  I like some of the people I work with.

While it is true that after a particularly stressful day, I'd love to just go home and sit by myself and do nothing at all, I didn't have a stressful day today and now I need some social interaction.  Today, I went to work, sat at my desk, and watched the clock.  Today, I wanted to leave all day because I was tired and bored.  But when 4.00 came around, my coworker asked if I was leaving and I had to think about it -- because I used to live near my boyfriend, but now I live an hour away.  I just moved yesterday and that was incredibly stressful.  And now I don't want to be here.  I don't want to be by myself.  I am incredibly lonely, sitting in this huge apartment all by myself.  I wish there were other people around to talk to, but instead I've got nothing but the whir of my fan to keep me company.  I know my boyfriend would rather I stop calling him in tears saying I miss him, and I know my mother-in-law would rather I stop texting her and lamenting about how alone and depressed I feel.  I know this.  And yet, this is the place I am in today.

I am incredibly anxious about the lack of cleanliness of my new apartment, but I cannot bring myself to clean today.  No, today I can merely sit and think and wonder and fear.  Today, I miss my boyfriend too much.  Today, I cannot bring myself to do anything productive.



Today, I have eaten a muffin and some macaroni.  Today, I have drank a 591 mL bottle of Diet Coke.  I am essentially too depressed to eat or drink.

I cleaned one fridge last night at 3 AM and the other is half-cleaned now.  I have to do my dishes and clean the bathroom, as well as clean my entire bedroom top to bottom before I can start to unpack.  Yesterday, I cleaned the walls and a few surfaces before I made my bed.  Today, my bed is clean but that's about it.  I need to sterilize my desk, closet, drawers, and then I need to unpack.

I'm watching this documentary only because I want to watch something at least sort of educational and the sound from the proper television is too loud for my ears to handle right now.  I am having a really hard time dealing with all the new sensory experiences in this apartment; the sound of the upstairs neighbor walking around, the smells coming from the different parts of the living room and kitchen, the burnt out light bulb in the bathroom, and the itchy fabric on the couches.

I hope this gets easier.

I feel "bottom of my soul lonely" today.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Two Days is a Long Time

I love my boyfriend.
I love that he supports me.
I love that he is kind to me and respects me.

Before our first date, I told him that I was diagnosed with autism when I was nine years old.  I had never told anyone that so quickly -- it took me years to divulge my ASD to my high school friends (some I still haven't told) and it took months with my university friends.  I had never admitted my autism to any previous boyfriends.

My boyfriend is out of town right now.  He has been gone for two days and I miss him so much.  In the past nearly five months, the most I've gone without seeing him has been thirteen hours, so two days is an incredibly long time for me.

I'm moving soon.  I'm moving about one hour away from my boyfriend so I can do my third year of university.  This will be a big challenge for me because I will miss him so much.  We've managed when I've been in school before, but I'm scared about this year because we're so used to spending so much time together.  I really miss him and have missed him incredibly for two days.  Two days is a long time.

I really, really, really miss him.  I can't imagine missing him like this five days a week when I move back to school.  I'm anxious about that, and becoming more and more anxious as each day passes.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

My New Doctor

I met my new doctor a few days ago.

I finally have a general practitioner in the city I've lived for two years.  I'm excited about it.  I have had to go to tons of doctors here and I hate walk-in clinics because I don't like seeing a doctor I don't know.  It's uncomfortable for me to meet new people and especially to talk about myself to new people.  

My new doctor is very nice.  I was not sure how I would feel about her, but I'm really pleased with her.

 
I am very concerned about my health.  Sometimes, things that are health-related can really stress me out.  So I'm glad that my new doctor takes my concerns seriously and respects my fears.  I'm glad that she didn't dwell on the fact that I'm Autistic or that I sometimes experience debilitating anxiety.

I like my new doctor.  She just seems like the kind of person whose personality will mesh with mine perfectly.  And for that I am incredibly glad.  

Thursday, 15 August 2013

I Will Vaccinate My Children

I will vaccinate my children.  I will do this because I want my children to be healthy.  I will do this because I want my children to stay alive.



Vaccines don't cause autism, and yet there are so many people out there that have bought into this myth and that's incredibly frightening to me.  Suddenly, now many kids are getting these illnesses that were unheard of ten years ago.  Suddenly, kids who are immunosuppressed are at risk around the increasing number of their unvaccinated peers.

This is a great quotation from Johanna Holmes on this pro-vaccination website.

"Indeed, there are few choices in the field of parenting that have stronger, clearer-cut evidence in support of them. Other parenting decisions are burdened by conflicting recommendations and may vary in different communities with different traditions. There is no such conflict of professional opinion regarding the science of immunization. Every single major medical and public health organization worldwide stands in unanimous agreement regarding the science and value of routine immunization. In the case of such clear scientific consensus, ambivalence seems driven more by fear than by fact.
"To my fellow parents who choose mindfulness, I tell you that you are correct: the small choices that you make do matter. They matter a great deal, but perhaps not in the way that many in the mindful parenting community believe they do. A three-month delay on an immunization may feel safer, but this delay is not the difference between a developmental disorder and normal development. It may, however, be the difference between pertussis and no pertussis. Measles or no measles. Hib meningitis or no Hib meningitis. This we know."
Of course vaccines have risks.  Some people can't get certain vaccines due to allergies, for example.  Some vaccines can cause nasty side effects.  But I really hate it when people choose not to protect their children or themselves simply due to ignorance.  I hate it when people choose not to vaccinate out of fear.  Johanna Holmes even discusses this in her article; she says:

"Small choices, done and undone, make all the difference in the world. By all means, ask questions regarding immunization safety. Educate yourself, immerse yourself in the science, the evidence, the documented risks of immunizations and of the diseases themselves. You owe it to yourself and to your children to ask the hard questions."
Autism is not the end of the world.  Having an autistic child is not the end of the world.  But I will accept if that's frightening to some people.  I know the parents who choose not to vaccinate because they're afraid of autism have a very real fear, be it justified or not.  Not all parents want autistic kids, and that's fine, I guess.  But I'd argue that all parents want healthy kids.  So vaccinate your children. Keep your children healthy.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Labels

Over today and yesterday, I added "labels" to the blog.  It's pretty exciting to me because now even the blog is much more organized.  Or, at least, it feels a bit more organized.  I love search engines and tags and stuff like that, so having these labels is making my life a lot easier, because when I look at my blog I can see what I've talked about recently and organize my past posts easier.  I have over 80 posts and I can't remember them all off the top of my head, so labels are a useful tool.

I will figure out how to add some sort of search option and something so that you can click on a label and see everything under that label.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Merely by the Grace of God

This is a personal post.  This is not a post about autism, this is just about me.

Specifically, this is about my religion.



Like many people, I find strength in my religion.  My religion is Christianity.  And I love my God and I trust Him.  Or, at least, I try.  It's really hard to trust God sometimes.  It's really hard to hand my anxiety over to Him and give Him all my fears and frustrations and ask that He sort them out for me.  I know God's fingerprints are all over my life and His work is evident in all I have, but I still struggle with a lot of issues, and as much as I try, it's hard to let God take over my troubles.

I have various mental illnesses -- including anxiety, OCD, and depression -- as well as Sensory Processing Disorder and, of course, I have Asperger's Syndrome as well.  When I was a child -- pre-medication -- I was hard to deal with.  I was a difficult kid.  I had trouble communicating, I hated socializing, I had issues with touch, I had huge problems with lack of organization, I couldn't deal with plans, and I had extreme anxiety about things that were "unclean."

Now, on an ever-changing cocktail of drugs, I still struggle with these things, some days more than others.

A lot of my childhood was spent feeling miserable and useless because I couldn't handle a lot of things.  One of the ways I got through it was coming to faith, something I first found around the age of nine and then became more engrossed in as a young teenager.  It wasn't until I came to the realization that God made me special that I started to accept myself and believe I was worth more than some people tried to suggest.  When I discovered that God gave me autism and that was part of His plan for me, I began to see autism as something positive.

A long time ago, God gave me autism.  He gave me other challenges too, and He has consistently given me the tools and skills to overcome the things that stress me out.  He has given me the knowledge that I can throw to Him anything that stresses me and ask Him for help.  I know He loves me and wants to take care of me.  I know all these things.

So I pray and I pray and I pray.  I pray for Him to make me happy and calm and I pray for good and productive days.

And yet, it's so incredibly difficult for me to let go of control of my life and let God take over.  I know I will be happier if I let Him in, but it's still an incredible challenge for me.

It is merely by the grace of God that I am here today.  It is merely by the grace of God that I am the person I am today. 



But it's still so hard to trust God with my fears.  Especially when I'm having a difficult day like today.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Trust

It's hard to trust people sometimes.

That has nothing to do with being Autistic.  It's just about being a person.

I don't always know how to trust people.

And that has nothing to do with being Autistic.  It's just about being a person.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

My Favorite Names (Part 4)

For the fourth and final installment of this series -- or rather this list of names because I love making lists of names and maybe someone in internet-world will care -- I'm discussing the names ranked 900 to 1000 in the USA (the complete list is here).

These names are (obviously, they're ranked between 900 and 1000) rather unpopular in the USA but these are names I really like regardless of their popularity.

For male names, I like:

900 - Anders
903 - Thaddeus
904 - Brenton
906 - Clinton
928 - Cassius
929 - Truman
932 - Hugh
960 - Ross
969 - Turner
987 - Graeme
996 - Gilbert

For female names, I like:

906 - Azalea
908 - Ingrid
914 - Leona
922 - Dorothy
997 - Tess
999 - Jessa

And then, there are some names that aren't on the list but are awesome regardless.  These names are listed below.

For boys, I like:

Wallace
Laken
Kenton
Dashlyn

And for girls, I like:

Minerva
Kinsey
Prudence

OK, that's it for now...