Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Decorations with Bubby

This is one of my posts that really have no real moral, or thoughtful point to it.  Just a post to be chatty and not so serious, because honestly who wants to be serious ALL the time? Not me.

Here this last week my son, Bubby has been nagging about doing fall decorations.  I know what you're thinking.. wow what a little interior decorator in the the making... No, not quite.  He's not the creative type, really. No, it's more about the calendar change.  He's obsessed with calendars and dates.  He checks the calendar in our kitchen several times a day.  We often joke that he can feel it when I write something on the calendar at school.  He seems to have a sixth sense in knowing that sort of thing.  He checks and rechecks everyday for any changes in routine and schedules. He memorizes every little appointment and holiday.  He wants to know everyone's birthday when he meets them.  Then, he'll want to know your family memebers birthdays, and possibly anniversaries.  He's always full of questions about your stats (another obsession). 

So, when he saw that the first day of fall came and went, he asked about the fall decorations (all 3 of them lol).  He has asked everyday since, even though everyday I tell him I do it on the first of October.  I have my routine, too and refuse to budge from the comfort of my own schedule, which is fall decorations come out on October 1st-31st since they are Halloween decorations.  All of them were also given to me, as I'm not the type to think about seasonal (or much of any other for that matter) decorations.  Since he's so fixated on fall decorations I thought it would be nice to google some fall crafts that he could easily do that we could hang up. I thought that might be a fun thing to do this weekend.

Then it will be time for more holidays, which he's already asked about.  The other day he asked 'what kind of Christmas activities do we have planned?' lol

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ugggg..Depression (again)

This is one of those posts that I'm not sure if  I ought to write.  It's personal. It's about how I feel and not so much applicable to the reader as it's not informational to them.  I feel more effective as a blogger when I write more impersonal posts, but sometimes, what's on my mind first and foremost is my own life and my own feelings about it.  This week has been one of those weeks.

I am noticing depression easing itself back into my life, clouding my view, and making everything blah.  I think there's a lot that is contributing to this, but if I were more centered and mindful it would not effect me as much.  I don't want to be back where I was last winter.  That was one of the worst times in my life emotionally.  When I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome I was also diagnosed with Dysthymic Disorder .  I thought that it wasn't really that much of an issue and just a part of having AS.  I'm still unsure how valid a separate diagnosis for my mood is, but I can't deny that I have some major issues with depression.  I have felt better these last 4 months.  So, so much better.  I don't want to go back to the way I had lived my life these last 20 some years.  I now know that the dull melancholy that had accompanied my thoughts for as long as I could remember didn't have to be there. That I can have a much more positive outlook that can have much more positive consequences.  I felt comfortable and okay with myself for the first time ever that I could remember.  Here this last week or so I have been feeling all of that fade away.  I have been feeling less than a person this week and that is a state of mind that I don't miss.  I feel as if I have failed at everything I have ever tried to do, and if I keep on this track of thinking suicide will look like a good option again.  I don't want to go back to that dark place again.  I need to get a plan of action going.  So, this week I am going to not give into my tiredness.  I am going to exercise, like I have been.  I am going to try to be in control of what I can and let the rest be, including other people's opinion and reactions to me.  I'm not going to give in like I have most of my life. I'm going to meditate and keep on with what I know is a good direction, even if in this moment nothing feels good.  I can't go back to being so down that nothing seems motivating.  I hope this time I can turn things around.  Undoing 20+ years of conditioning isn't easy, but can be done. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Different Perspectives: Hugs

Sometimes while I am poking around on the internet I read things written by parents and spouses of autistics.  I am convinced that there is a major communication meltdown between NTs (neurotypicals-meaning someone without a neurological difference such as autism) and those with ASD.  I do think that there are times where people are just being selfish and uncaring on both sides, but I do feel that most of the time it's more about people getting their feelings hurt and reacting from a place of pain.  We don't always make our best judgements or behave at our best when coming from that place.

So, I thought I'd try to offer up a few of the most commonly read ones and an explanation for what might be going on for both sides in an effort to bridge the gap a bit,  Obviously, I am only one person with one point of view, so I may be off the mark a little bit, or a lot for how these situations may have been or will be experienced in your life.

I think that I will make this a series with one example being cited a a time.  Kind of like those relationship articles where they have He said She said and then the counselor's turn to moderate and discuss the issue.

"My son/daughter/husband/wife doesn't respond to my affection." or "He/She runs away from my hugs and kisses"
I show my love with physical affection and when you reject that, it feels like you are rejecting ME.  I feel hurt and alone without frequent physical touch as a part of my daily routine . (especially for spouses)  As a parent, I feel helpless when you cry and I can't comfort you.  I may even feel like a bad parent.  I sometimes feel ignored and unloved by your lack of reciprocation of physical affection. I feel abandoned and uncared for.

What the person on the spectrum might be thinking:
Hugs can feel suffocating and scary. I  may not be able to read nonverbal cues well enough to know when, or how long a hug might occur, thus making physical contact seem unpredictable.  Light touch is often aggravating.  Deep pressure may work better than light brushes. (they make my skin crawl just thinking about it) One of my sons enjoy being squished up in a blanket.  This might be a good alternative to hugs.  Trust is important and trying to force physical contact in one way to be sure I will not trust you.  Let me cue you when I am ready and be gentle.  Provoking anxiety will only make me  feel more distrustful and leery.  I can show my affection in other ways, like doing things for you to show I think of you and care.  Please, look for alternative ways I might be showing my love, like remembering to do a chore for you that you dislike, or making something for you.  Some children that are on the severe end of the spectrum like to carry around objects from the people they love most.  This can be shoes, clothes, jewelry, or other personal items that have your scent on them and remind them of you.  This is their way of being close to you.  For my spouse, I like to show affection, but only but only when he listens to my sensory issues and doesn't do the things I dislike.  Clean shaven, no light brushes on my skin, no stinky breath, ect.. Respecting my space and my being results in more hugs and kisses for him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How Rules Can Help With The Big Picture

The last few posts I have written about scheduling, and changing habits and becoming more productive as well as trying to give up being so obsessive.  Probably more of this blog is about that than not! :)  I don't know about other ladies with Asperger's or other differences and how they might be similar.  I just know about myself and these things have been a struggle for me for many years.  I used to spend several hours a day cleaning my house and it was spotless without question.  Then my boys came along and I had to choose between tending to them and letting them be themselves or having a home with nothing out of place.  I chose them and had to let my house fall far below my standards of clean.  I let it go physically, but mentally I knew I had to be a failure.  I thought that my house was by far substandard,and I was not a good mother, wife or person.  I felt that everyone else noticed these things and thought less of me, too.  Now, thanks to learning some really good meditating techniques and combining them with Mindfulness I know that my self worth is not dependent on such trivial things as how clean my house is.  I am not my house, I am not my clutter and I am not all these other judgements that I put upon myself.

Getting from that rigid of thinking and self flagellation to more balanced thinking was not easy, nor overnight.  I used many of the techniques that I have already listed in previous posts.  I am still a very rigid thinker and that's not likely to change.  No amount of meditation and mindfulness is going to be able to change how my mind works to that degree.  My brain, works on rules.  Everything has a rule.  I am not over-exaggerating. There is not much I don't do that I have not thought through, decided on how to best carry out every little detail to increase functionality and efficiency.  These rules become a ritual and I don't care much for these being changed unless I have lots of time to think about it first and acclimate.  The order in which I load the dishwasher to the order in which the towels are put away, to the order in which I watch TV programs on my DVR all have rules.  Those rules all serve a purpose to me and for me.  They make sense in my world and they make me happy when carried out.  They make me equally unhappy when they are not.  Even though I get overwhelmed in the wake of the hurricane like mess my husband leaves everywhere I think his chronic disorganization was okay with me, because I could control my environment.  I could control my world. I make the schedule (because he can't) I decide where things go, and what bills get paid.  He can't (or greatly struggles) do these things, leaving the door open for me to be in a relationship that is almost like being alone. 

So, rules have been my way of getting things done, even with mindfulness.  If I have a rule, I can cope. My brain has something to latch onto.  I have lost weight by making rules about how much to eat and when.  I make rules about exercise, when and how.  When cleaning to give myself more flexibility and be more productive I bring a timer.  I have tried several different methods, but this one has worked the best.  I alternate half the house every other day by cleaning 5 rooms a day.  I clean each room for 5 minutes and when the timer dings I stop.  I have to move on to the next room.  Otherwise, I'd be so overwhelmed with details that I'd be in one corner of the house all day doing things that most people reserve for spring cleaning.  You'd be amazed at what you can get done in 5 minutes, especially if you move quickly, because you know you only have 5 minutes!  I do one room a day for 20 minutes, so that some bigger cleaning like mopping and such can also get done.  That's only 45 minutes a day, but it seems to do the job.  I don't always get to it daily, but I try.  Without my timer, and without my rules of time I'd be stuck on details either not moving due to feeling too overwhelmed by the totality of it all, or I'd get too involved and get next to nothing done in the way of the big picture.  Keeping the big picture in mind is a difficult thing for me to do. Feeling like I have some structure helps me to move ahead towards my goals.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Organization Tips for Autism and ADHD

In my previous post I talked about some of my issues with getting organized.  I have some tips, as wells as the rough diagram of my to-do list I've been using for awhile.

First, let's talk a little bit about why someone might have issues with being organized.  Executive Functioning is a term that is defined by the ability to organize information and stimuli, while regulating one's own emotions, and thoughts, as well as prioritizing what needs attention. That's a very basic definition, anyway.  Executive functioning is impaired/different in people with neurological disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.  In my family, all 5 of us have an issue with one of these two conditions.  While the reasons why I struggle to be organized differs from my husband's the results often look the same.  The only difference is that I can figure a way out of it, where I honestly don't think he'll ever have the skills, as well as he really doesn't care if things are messy, disorganized and off schedule.  I care a great deal.  My basic to do list is divided in 4 quarters:

DAILY TASKS :                          

  In the upper hand corner here I have my  daily tasks.  These things generally need done everyday, like dishes, laundry, exercise ect... If you find you don't have to do the task that day, then cross it out. These are your basic tasks. These are in the Have To Do category.      


 On the right side I have things I Need  done that aren't daily activities.Such as,  important phone calls, errands, appointments.  Also, other things that are weekly like washing sheets.


  On the lower left hand side is where I put tasks and projects that are more long term, so that I still have them in my  mind and can plan on moving them to my Need list.  I also put stuff that I want to get  done, but may not have a chance. I try to resist  the urge to clutter up the Need area with things that aren't urgent. Prioritizing is key. If I can just get my daily tasks and Need tasks done, then I feel  I've accomplished enough.


On the lower right hand side is where I put daily reminders, and messages. I even keep phone messages here. This reduces clutter by using one sheet of paper for everything.  At the end of the day, I put any important info or phone messages in my notebook, or wherever it may need to go.  The list goes in the trash.                                                                                               

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Resurfacing Of Old Habits

Ive done a lot of writing here in this new blog about changing my negative habits into more positive actions.  Things like that are hard to start, hard to keep going and even more difficult to keep at it long term.  I'm finding myself slip sliding back into some of the old habits that I had let go of.

Before I started this blog I spent a lot of time on internet forums, and most particularly in in 2 groups that I started on a social networking site that were very active.  It is no surprise that I ran into lots of people that had very different opinions than the ones I had, even the group that was for autistic people only.  We didn't always hold the same viewpoints on issues.  The thing was, is that I would get upset and worked up when someone said something that I found to be inconsistent with how I perceived the world.  To me, it felt like they were invalidating me, as a person by telling me that what I know and how I feel was wrong.  After embarking on my journey of Mindfulness and meditation  this feeling faded to almost nothing.  I gained self awareness and in turn awareness of how others can see the same thing as I do and come away with a different interpretation of it. I saw shades of gray where there weren't any before.  I also saw how much time I spent thinking about and being involved in negative patterns.  I realized that this only contributed to me depression and if I were to ever feel positive, I had to stop looking for what was wrong and search for what was right.  My husband called this 'looking for what or who is slighting Quiet C.' thinking.  Now, don't get me wrong, growing up in a world that is not made for someone on the spectrum had it's challenges. I plan on doing a blog entry about that, to help parents understand why their kids fight so much with their siblings and pull the 'not fair!' card so often.  In short, the world isn't fair to us, and everyday it IS a struggle to be in it, as the odds are often stacked against us.  But, I carried this attitude with me like 100 pound bags of heavy emotional baggage.  It was always there weighing me down.  It was negative and attracting negative things and people.  I felt emotionally worked up all the time.  I engaged in endless debates with others, instead of using my time to promote something that would make my life better, or even someone else's.  I wanted to correct ignorance.  I knew that if I showed them enough evidence that other's would have to see it my way.  It was just a waste of time. Hours spent typing, all while growing more irritable about the injustices of the world.  I didn't realize that the more I focused on that the worse I'd feel.  I took other people's opinions way too seriously, and I'm starting to see myself do that again.

I have spent much of the last 4 days in a hot debate with others about a subject that we're never going to agree on, and that is not positive.  I have sacrificed my very precious little time that I have outside of caring for my kids arguing.  Housework has gone undone, and exercise has been cut in half.  This is not the person I want to be, or filling the goals that I have for myself.  I want to be someone who stands up for what I think in a positive way, not finding drama in everyone else's opinion and making it be about me personally.  I want to raise positive aspects of autism, with things like using this blog and some other presentations I've put together and helped with.

There's a lot wrong in this world and if you look for the bad things in it, you'll never be short on things to complain about, or get upset over.  I'm passionate and want to make a difference in the lives of others, and I know I can't do that if I spend everyday fuming over injustices.  I have to be the change I want to see in the world, so with that... I am back on track, hopefully.  I choose to use my energy to promote positive endeavors and ideas, instead of fighting against negative ones.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Use Your Words

There's this phenomenon that happens to me sometimes when I'm talking to someone.  It's a source of great frustration.  It occurs at different times. There's more than one type, but the end result it always non-communication. 

For example, I might have something that happened to me that I'm excited to talk about,or something I read. (Yes, I get super excited to share things I read about with others. :) ) I wait all day for my husband to come home so I can tell him.  He comes in and starts talking about his day.  He goes on and on... totally not following my script of what I envisioned.  I begin to try to reroute the words to fit the new criteria.  I can't.  The words get stuck.  They won't come out.  They swim around inside my head in circles not making sense.  I feel so frustrated that I want to cry, and sometimes I do.  I have to wait until later to tell him what I wanted to, because at that moment I am way too overwhelmed.

Another scenario is when I am in a group of people having a conversation.  My brain can't seem to process their words fast enough to keep up with the conversation.  I have words that I'd like to add to the conversation.  I have opinions that I can vaguely make out inside my head with fuzzy pictures and fluttering words.  I just can't get them out fast enough.  This also happens when I get overwhelmed by sensory or emotion. I feel like a computer running on too little RAM.   I can type, but feel overwhelmed with the prospect of verbalizing what I want to say.  Sometimes, I will repeat the same thing over and over.  Others, I will give a quick short answer that may not be my true thoughts, but rather what I think will get you to leave me alone, because my real explanation would take too many words and right at that moment, each word verbalized is painful. 

The frustration that this causes immense.  I have to wonder if this is how my nonverbal son feels all the time? Does he have these elaborate thoughts, or even simple wants and needs that he desperately wants to share with others, but can't?  When I get this way I find it so isolating.  I feel like I can't connect with others, because there is this wall of miscommunication between us.  Does he feel this way all the time?  Does he feel this way sometimes?  Does he feel lonely?  I know that I do at times when I can't share my thoughts.

So, when you ask an autistic child to 'use their words' as is so common, please, please remember that they're probably trying their best.  They're already frustrated about it and aren't not using their words just to be lazy or get out of putting in effort. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finding Option B

For as long as I could remember I have always felt that I had to hide my social inadequacies away.   The burning shame I felt when (and still do to be honest) when I stop and think about my social blunders and shortcoming is overwhelming.  I felt that I could not ever let anyone know that I don't know what I'm doing.  That I'm just following a script and hanging on for dear life to get through a conversation.  I think to some extent everyone who has anxiety, or is shy feels this way. I felt deep down inside that this social awkwardness meant that I was less than other people.  That I was defective.

By the time I got to be about 11 years old I noticed the social differences that I had.  I began trying to fix them as best I could. Sometimes, other girls might take me in and give me some pointers on how to be more cool.  I began to obsess.  My special interest during the years of 11-15 were all about trying to not be a freak. I made sure my appearance fit the bill. That was almost easy.  The small talk with peers and all that goes with it... not so easy.  I was never the type to talk too much, or be inappropriate.  Unlike some aspies, I just don;t talk at all in groups.  I rarely can keep up with the small talk that's swirling around me.  The topic changes and moves in a rhythm that I can't keep up with.I literally have nothing to say.  By the time I was 15 the toll had been taken and anxiety and depression set in.  I could no longer keep up in a world that was not made for me.  The mask slipped and I was there exposed as an alien to this world.  It was around this time that I began to collect Chinese dolls with their faces painted, as well as the masks.  I think it was a symbolic gesture of how I really felt.

The social issues didn't get any better as I grew older.  As an adult, I have had very few friends (not counting internet friends), and almost none that were what I'd call a good friend.  It seems to be much harder as an adult to socialize.  I have really no friends right now, and have not had any for probably 6 yrs.  The difference now is in how I view my social isolation.

When I was younger I thought that I wanted to be a part of the crowd.  I thought that I must like what everyone else does, and that I just didn't know it. I thought that if I just tried harder I would be like them.  I thought there was no option B.  There was only be like them-option A.  When I couldn't self pity and anger set in deeper and deeper with every passing year.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed of my differences.  I felt angry at the extroverted ladies that seemed to be better than me in everything- of course this was not reality, but it was my thoughts at the time.  I felt that I'd never be anyone's favorite.  If they were given a choice of who to be with, I'd never be at the top of anyone's list.  I was destined to be the 'back up friend'. The back up friend is the person you call to hang out with last minute, because all of your other friends already had plans and you can't go out alone.  They are always your last choice, but you keep them around for convenience. Most typical people have back up friends to some extent or other, especially younger people.

Then I came upon option B.  If I couldn't change the situation, then I had to change the way I looked at it.  I began really listening to other ladies talk to each other when I was out in public. I noticed what they did and how they acted.  I realized that I'd be bored to death and not at all on the same wave-length as most of them.  Their conversations were not anything I'd like to talk about.  Their outings were not to places I like to frequent.  I could tell they shared to share and not really to get real feedback.  I could never do that.  I talk to share information, and never ever to connect with someone in some sort of empathetic bond of emotions.  I realized that the thing that I'd been chasing after all my life was something that I didn't want anyway.  It was not what I thought it would be, nor was it all there was. I realized that there was an option B, which was I could be happy and content doing my own thing by myself.  I have a husband who I actually do think I'm his Favorite!  I have a family to love and take care of and that's all I really need.  I am happier sitting alone in the park on my laptop or with a book than with a friend and that is okay. I am okay as I am without needing everyone else to validate my existence, or my experience. 

Friday, September 2, 2011


I awoke this morning with a dream stuck in my head that I knew meant something important. No, I don't mean in a psychic prediction sort of way.  I don't believe in that sort of stuff. I mean in a subconscious, psychological, symbolic sort of way.  

Dreams have long been of fascination to me.  I believe they contain a lot of stuff that we have going on behind the scenes.  Our thoughts and emotions are woven intricately into stories of faraway places, as well as the mundane. They represent the ideas, hopes dreams, as well as our deepest fears, and forgotten memories.  I have studied dream symbols and dictionaries, and kept dream journals for many years.  Not to brag, but I am quite good at deciphering the meaning of mine and other people's dreams and helping others to find direction with what their subconscious is telling them. 

In last night's dream I was at a place where they teach people to canoe.  All the participants were couples, so I was waiting my turn for instruction with my husband.  What was odd about this place was that typically one goes out to a lake for to canoe, but this was at an ocean.  I felt confused and and intimidated by going the task ahead of me.  I started searching for new clothes to wear and was trying on different outfits. (This is a common theme in my dream) The instructor told me that it wouldn't matter what I wore, because being in the canoe was all I had to worry about.  So, then I protested that I can't do it, because I can't swim.  She told me that no one ever falls out of the canoe.  The most important thing about learning to canoe is doing it.  She said she guaranteed 100% that I would not drown.  I awoke when my husband and I got in and began paddling away into the rushing waves.

According to dream dictionaries a canoe means that one is headed for peace and serenity, as well as emotional balance.  It's a sign of independence and emotional balance. It's also about being able to go on with determination.  I feel like this is symbolic of the place that I have come to emotionally through trials and hard work with my husband.  My journey through a harrowing depression has been hard, but I do feel that I have found a place of peace to rest in with my new found use of mindfulness and meditation. 

The changing of the clothes is also a telling reoccurring symbol for me. Clothing represents our public self in dreams.  It is who we try to be for the rest of the world. They are our image.  In my old dreams about clothes, I am usually changing into clothes for an important event where there will be lots of people, but none will work. They are always too small, mismatched, under dressy, or over dressy.  One shoe is lost, or doesn't fit.  In this dream, my clothes fit, but I was not sure which to wear.  This suggests that my image or role is changing, and I'm, trying to adapt to keep up.  The answer the teacher (my wise mind) gave me was spot on.  It doesn't matter how you show up to meet the challenge, just as long as you show up.  All of my anxiety over how I look and weather I measure up to others doesn't matter.I can feel inadequate, but I don't have to give in and sabotage my efforts with my feelings. I think the lesson is finally sinking in.

The ocean in my dream has much the same meaning as the canoe.  It's a symbol of refreshment and unhindered courage.  I am feeling empowered and positive. The waters were a bit rough in my dream, but I felt prepared. 

All in all, I feel this was a positive dream about equilibrium that I have recently found this last year.  I feel that it is a positive sign that the practice of mindfulness and compassion has begun to change my perspective for the better.  My anxiety is no long in the driver's seat and with that I have new purpose.