Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Frustrated by Ignorance (& Pre-Marital Counselling)

Why am I crying right now?

My fiance just called me.  He'd been called to "pre-marital counselling detention" (as I called it), but more specifically, our pastor had asked to have a private meeting with him.  We've both been speculating for a few days over what would be discussed in this meeting.  We had a lot of ideas.  But we were totally wrong.

He wanted to talk about my Asperger's.

I wasn't even there (he specifically asked my fiance to meet him privately) to discuss my brain.

I haven't gotten the whole story yet, but I'm upset about that.  I'm upset because, frankly, I don't know if he would know that I was Autistic if my fiance and I had not disclosed it to him, a long time ago.  He's strangely preoccupied with my brain though and at our other pre-marital counselling meeting, he asked about it a lot.  I don't mind when people ask questions about my brain, but I'm not keen on people asking questions about my brain from people who don't know what they're talking about.

My fiance knows a lot about me and a bit about autism, but he's not the expert.  If anyone's the expert, it's ME.

What did the pastor ask about?  Well, he just mentioned to my fiance that marriage spiced with Asperger's will have its own unique challenges and life might be hard for us.  But isn't life hard for everybody?

He said that - since I apparently give less facial information than neurotypical people - I might in some way hinder my children's development.  WHAT?  My fiance and I really look forward to having kids, so this definitely peeved me.  I don't want to hear this man's backward explanation of my brain and how he thinks I'll somehow screw up my children because I apparently don't have an expressive face!  That is absurd and judgmental and makes me feel really bad about myself.

He also suggested that we visit a medical doctor (as a couple) to talk about Asperger's.  As if I've never visited a doctor about my brain before.  As if I've never seen a neurologist.  As if I haven't had years of cognitive behavior therapy.  As if I haven't seen all the specialists in pediatric autism Toronto, Ontario (at SickKids, CAMH, Geneva... I've seen them all).  As if I haven't read books and befriended other Autistic kids and been in special education and gone to extracurricular programs with other Autistic people.  I KNOW HOW AUTISM WORKS.  And even more than that, I'd like to say that I'm the most knowledgeable person about my own brain.

I fully think it would be great if my fiance had a better understanding of autism, but I think it's more important that he understands me, and I'd like to think that when he looks at me he sees more than a diagnosis I received at nine years of age.  I can't go back and "fix" my brain or change it in some way so I don't have this condition.  This is how I was built and I'm OK with that.  I actually like my brain and don't see it as a liability.  But when people like this pastor treat it like it's some sort of huge problem and obstacle that we have to overcome, it makes me feel really inadequate, like autism is a bad thing.

Autism is not a bad thing.

Autism is not a punishment.  Not for me and certainly not for my fiance.  Autism is a small portion of my life and an even smaller portion of his life.

When my fiance mentioned that the pastor said he should find a support group for other people married to Autistic individuals, I thought that was a good idea, but I retorted back that I want a support group for Autistic people married to neurotypicals, because even though I know I can be annoying sometimes, neurotypical people can definitely be an annoyance to me.

I am smart enough to see ignorance when it is near me, and frankly this small town I currently live in is full of it.  I'm really frustrated that this man is so preoccupied with my brain chemistry that he can't see through that and to all of my good qualities.

All I want to do is be happy in my marriage.  Isn't that what everybody wants, whether they're Autistic or neurotypical?

Next time, I really hope he asks me about my brain instead of asking my fiance, and next time I hope he gets to know me before expressing his concerns about how an Autistic person could possibly exist independently in the world.

Me, My Fiance, and My Autism: Part 1

My fiance is the love of my life.  I adore him for many reasons, and sometimes the cardinal reason I love him is that he puts up with my "crazy."

Note: I started this post with the intention that it would be a positive picture of my relationship and the small part of it that is my neurochemistry, but every time he and I argue about something, it all seems to come back to the fact that we don't think in the same way, and that is what causes our conflicts.  I love my fiance so much and want our relationship to be perfect.  I will do anything to make our relationship successful.  And yet sometimes I feel so unequipped because my brain doesn't work the same way his does.  Sometimes I just need reassurance that we can be happy and successful, fifty years from now, even though our neurons behave in different ways.  So this will be "Part 1" in a series about Me, My Fiance, and My Autism.

I knew that, in order for any romantic relationship to work, I would need to be upfront and honest about my autism.  I had been in disastrous relationships before that were unhealthy and unproductive and downright unpleasant, and I knew that for a relationship to work, I would need to be completely honest about who I am and what I need.  My first breakup was really hard on me (even though the guy was completely wrong for me, but of course I couldn't see that then) and I definitely didn't want to go through another miserable breakup again.

When I first met my fiance, we talked a lot.  We used to talk on the phone, actually, and I remember telling him in one of our earliest conversations that I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was young.  I was surprised when he just sort of brushed over it and didn't make it into a big deal.  For so long, I had been ashamed of my autism, so the fact that my partner was okay with it made me feel much more confident to be myself and not to try to hide my real personality from him.

I think this is going to be a pretty long series about Me, My Fiance, and My Autism.  I will try to discuss conflict, how we make our relationship work, how we support each other, how we respond to what is important with the other person...  If you're particularly interested in any of the above, please let me know -- I haven't started writing any of them and they're all up in my head somewhere, but that's it for the moment.

Also: I would love to answer questions about my relationship and my autism.  If anyone has anything they would like to ask, please go ahead!  

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Baby Names Based on Astrology

I don't have children yet, and when I do, I will doubt that I will name them based on their astrological sign.

I don't know much about astrology, but I do know a lot about names.

Here's a a quick review of the astrological signs and some info about them, if you don't know this stuff.  I got this chart from this website.

ElementPersonality Traits
Aries: The Ram, Mar. 21-April 19Marsfireconfident, independent, bold
Taurus: The Bull, Apr. 20-May 20Venusearthstubborn, determined, devoted
Gemini: The Twins, May 21-June 21Mercuryairintelligent, ambitious
Cancer: The Crab, June 22-July 22Moonwatersensitive, moody, sympathetic
Leo: The Lion, July 23-Aug. 22Sunfiregenerous, enthusiastic, temperamental
Virgo: The Virgin, Aug. 23-Sept. 22Mercuryearthcalm, intellectual
Libra: The Scales, Sept. 23-Oct. 23Venusairorderly, just, sympathetic
Scorpio: The Scorpion, Oct. 24-Nov. 21Marswaterphilosophical, loyal, strong-willed
Sagittarius: The Archer, Nov. 22-Dec. 21Jupiterfireimaginative, practical
Capricorn: The Goat, Dec. 22-Jan. 19Saturnearthloyal, ambitious, blunt
Aquarius: The Water Carrier, Jan. 20-Feb. 18Uranusairgiving, idealistic, creative
Pisces: The Fish, Feb. 19-Mar. 20Neptunewatersensitive, timid, sympathetic

One of my favorite things about this chart is that it gives you some ideas to consider if you want to choose a name that is significant to the zodiac.  For example, you can use a name that reflects the element of the sign (eg. "Terra" is an earth name, so it would be appropriate for an earth sign).  You can also use the personality traits or planets to derive names of significance; maybe pick a name with a meaning that reflects the personality traits of specific astrological signs.  

This page also offers some suggested beginnings for names that would "bring luck" to kids born during this time.  

Aries: A, L, Ch names

Taurus: I, U, E, O, Wa, We, Wi, Wo names

Gemini: A, H, Gh, Ka, Ke, Ko names

Cancer: Da, De, Do, He, Hi, Ho, Hu names

Leo: Ma, Me, Mo, Ta, Te, To names

Virgo: Pa, Pe, Po, Sh, Ta, Th names

Libra: Ra, Re, Ro, Ta, Te, To names

Scorpio: Na, Ne, No, To, Ya, Ye, Yu names

Sagittarius: Bh, Dh, Ph, Ta, Ye, Yo names

Capricorn: Bh, Ga, Ge, Ja, Je, Kh names

Aquarius: Da, Ge, Go, Sa, Se, So names

Pisces: Ch, De, Jh, Th, Ya names

I like names.  I like the freedom of names that's reigned in by the pattern of it all.  I like name guidelines, but I also like the ability to choose that names allow.  This is kind of a useless post.  I guess it's just kind of a "for your information" kind of situation.  I like names.  I guess that's it.  I have an obsession with names.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Significance of Me

I am very happy.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and I do feel like I have been blessed in so many ways.

Images like this make me remember how insignificant I am, but then I think that, out of all the people in all the places, out of all the lifeforms wherever they are, isn't is pretty remarkable that I am me?

Now. Here. This. is an amazing musical that played at the Vineyard Theatre in New York.  If you like musical theatre - which I do, and many of my friends do - this is one you need to check out.  Heck, if you like musical theatre, you've already heard the whole OCR for this a thousand times.  But if you want to contemplate your existence through the magic of song, you need to listen to this.  

There is a song in Now. Here. This. that discusses how incredibly lucky we are, to be who we are, where we are, and how so many things had to go right in the universe in order for us to be here today.  That makes me feel enormously significant.  That makes me feel like I need to do more with the life I've been given.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I have a personal belief I am here for a reason.  It's hard to remember that sometimes.  I get frustrated a lot.  I have to do a lot of things that I don't like to do.  There are many things that are difficult for me, and there are many times when I need to begrudgingly ask for help.  But at the end of the day, I've been giving this remarkable chance at this amazing thing called life.  

And for that I am grateful.  

Monday, 14 April 2014

I'm Not Always Clueless

This is kind of an important post.

Well, for me it's an important post.

For me, it's an important concept.

I was diagnosed with autism when I was 9 years old.  I have been Autistic my whole life.  I was Autistic yesterday, I am Autistic today, and I will be Autistic tomorrow.  That is not a difficult thing for most people to understand.

Being Autistic has challenges.  People understand that.

Sometimes, I don't understand everything that's said to me, or everything that happens around me.  Sometimes I need a bit of extra help.  People understand this.  

And that's lovely.  Most of the time.

There are a lot of people who know I am Autistic and then think I need everything to be explained to me.  I get really upset because of this, sometimes.  Especially when I know what has happened, and then someone tries to explain it to me, and explains it completely differently than the way I see it in my head.  Especially when they tell me I'm wrong and they're right because my brain works differently, so obviously

I'm not saying I'm always right.  I know I make mistakes.  And I know I sometimes do need help.

But when I need help, I will ask.  Please understand this.  Please know that I will ask for help when I need it.

I don't like it when people treat me like I am oblivious to everything around me.  I fully admit that I miss a lot of things and sometimes need things explained to me further, but I don't like it when people treat me like I don't know anything about what is going on around me.

It's a difficult balance and it's something I still don't know how to articulate, but I don't like it when people assume they know more than me, just because I'm Autistic.  Even if it's about a social situation and even though we all know I'm not the best at social situations, I still don't want other people to assume they know better or need to teach me.

*end of rant*

Sunday, 13 April 2014

100 Unique Names

I recently posted this about my name obsession.  I love names.  I have Asperger's Syndrome and, characteristic of Asperger's Syndrome, I make lists and I have strange passions.  My first passion was names.  Making lists of names has been my passion since before kindergarten.

I collected a bunch of "new" names recently into a list of over a thousand names, and thought I'd pick out 50 of the top female and male names that really stand out to me from that list.  I posted a handful of each here, but of course a handful of names is never enough for me.


If you like this list, there are a thousand others where this one came from.  I think in this one, I'm trying to hilight "weird" names, names that are different from my traditional style.  In this list, I've included names that are abnormal to me.  In this list, I've included names I rarely hear.  I've included surnames.  I've included unique spellings that I like.  I've included a lot of one-syllable names.  I've included a lot of Biblical and historically-inspired names.  

Does anyone know of a good site where I can have access to loads of unique names -- names like these -- so that I can further broaden my knowledge?

What are your favorite names from this list?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Recent Name List With Some New Interesting Names

This is ten pages of a name list I started a few days ago.

This is the Microsoft Word transcription of the list.  On Excel, it's 214 columns with rows filled out to L.  Does that mean anything to you?  Probably not.  But to me, that's something.  To me, that's kind of important.

I really like name lists.  From this list, a selection of some of my favorite names are:

For girls: Grejsa, Cerelia, Clarity, Phillida, Ellenore, Thandie, Bijou, Tonli, Hestia, Ceridwen, Maevis, Jerusalem, Aurora, Keturah, Keziah, Merrilla, Sonet, Linnea, Lyneth, Delynne, Modest, Honor, Kindell, Catteryn, Halo, Mabry, Ebba, Matielen, Dagny, Evoleth, Tashlyn, Zamyrah, Isis, Clover, and Ambriel

For boys: Adeben, Norrick, Jethrowe, Bowie, Cai, Draco, Helio, Beacon, Aldo, Hirem, Chadwick, Reeser, Garvin, Finnegan, Piers, Gilbert, Cannon, Devyros, Gabor, Kendrew, Vanden, Reiller, Farrow, Truman, Mathan, Tannyn, Courage, Jethrow, Zyaire, Brecken, Kable, Traegar, and Clifton

Of course, those are some kind of random names - some weird ones, some wonderful ones, some made-up ones, and some very old ones.  I love each one of those names for very different reasons, but I adore them all because of the way they sound.  I don't think I, myself, would use any of these names for a child, but they're nice to think about.  They're nice-sounding names.

I like names.

Have I mentioned that yet?

Friday, 11 April 2014

How To Study For Exams

I actually enjoy tests.  Sure, I find them stressful -- sometimes really stressful -- but I usually do well and I do enjoy how satisfying it feels to show my knowledge and succeed in something.  It feels really good to get a good mark -- even a decent mark -- and be proud of something I've accomplished.

Read the textbook.
This is a hard one for a lot of people, including me, but it's really important to read the textbook for your course if you're going to do ensure your success on the exam.  Here's the thing: someone decided that the textbook would be a good idea.  While it's clearly important to focus on what's been said during the class and going over your notes is absolutely effective, the textbook will give you more insight and it will probably help you.  Seriously.  Try it.

Do practice questions.
You don't even need to "do" them.  Just look at them.  Think about them.

Write it out.
Making notes is really effective when you want to get the information to stick in your head.  One of my favorite studying techniques is to write out all the pertinent information that I really want to make sure I remember when test time comes around.  Writing things out helps you have everything in your own words and makes you think about what you're learning so it's more apt to stay with you.  Also, it's a lot more effective to physically write things out than to type, since your brain responds well to the motor memory of having physically used your hands to write.

Flashcards are really usefully memory aids, if you like quizzing yourself and have to memorize a lot for your test.  I love cue cards personally, but there are also a lot of great online flashcards that you can customize to your course material.

Talk it out with a friend.
This is one of my favorite techniques when I'm feeling like I know the material but need help to solidify it.  Talking with a friend not only helps you because you get time to practice explaining the concepts, but also exposes you to new ideas that might enhance your knowledge.

Look back at old tests.
Don't underestimate this one.  Seriously.  No matter how well you did on your previous tests, it's been a while, and it's a good idea to look at them and make sure you remember how to answer those types of question.

An Influx of Spirituality

Lately, I have found myself getting more spiritual.  I "converted" to Christianity when I was a teenager; I was raised in a rather atheistic home and found the church when I was at an age and stage in my life where I really struggled to belong.  Living for God made me less lonely in a lonely world, I suppose.  That's how I see it, at least, when I look back on those times.  I had few friends and little want for friends, but I needed a purpose, and God's love was that purpose.  

It still is, today.  

My religious convictions come in waves.  One day, I am full of love for Jesus and thankful for the life He has constructed for me.  Other days, I have more questions.  Still other days, I have more earthly things to think about, and those immediate issues always seem so pressing.  

I think I know the kind of person I want to be, and I think my religion is going to be an important part of that.  
It's funny - there are so many Autistic individuals I know who absolutely reject religion, and honestly I feel like one of the few who is drawn to it.  Weird.  That's a deep and complicated idea that we won't delve into now, but I assume there is a reason for it.  

I like having a plan and it's comforting to think that God has a plan for me, even when the rest of the world seems completely opposed to giving me firm details.  

I'm still trying to figure myself out, obviously.  More on that later.