Tuesday, November 29, 2011


When I was a child I was watching an interview on TV.  I can't remember what show, or who it was being interviewed, other than it was a rock musician, but otherwise it's elusive.  One thing was said that really struck me and I have remembered it for the last 25 plus years.  The person being interviewed was talking about being a good person and how he comes to the conclusion of what constitutes good behavior, and generates good karma.

He said:
"What if everyone in the world acted like I am right now?  What kind of world would that be? What would society look like?  Would that be a world I'd like to live in?"

I thought that was such a powerful statement.  It was easy to understand and easy to apply.  I must've been about 8 when I heard it and understood exactly what he meant.  Sometimes, if I wanted to do something a little naughty as a child I'd think about what if everyone did that? Jumping on my bed... probably not a big deal if everyone in the world did that. (they may even have fun!) But, say I wanted to leave a mess in a public space, just me, just this once... It doesn't seem to be a big deal at that level of misplaced responsibility;ie someone else will clean it up.  But, if one is to think about what if everyone left a mess in Mcdonald's or the park?  What if everyone shirked their responsibility of what is fair and right, even in little issues?  That's very much how I sometimes decided what was important rules, and what was not that important.  It put things in perspective when it's easy to just tell yourself this or that won't hurt... no one will notice if I just....  Well, all those little actions (or inactions) add up accumulating into a bigger part of what makes our society.  We all have a responsibility to do the right thing all the time.  We all have to do our part, and step up to what's right.  We too often feel that we are small and don't can't make a difference.  That's not true.  Everyday, every choice you make, every word you use, every action you do, every time you choose to not do any of those things (because let's face it choosing to do nothing is still a choice) we make a difference, an effect on someone, or something somewhere.  How we use that power, or don't use that power is up to us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Thanksgiving Traditions

Today I'm thankful for:
* The food I cooked and ate.
*The kitchen I cooked it in.
*The family I cooked it for.
* The ability and skill to make nutritious and tasty meals for my family.
* The courage to finally make the holidays be about what my family needs and not worry about everyone else.
*The laughter that my family shared today.
*Beans, because today is his 8th Birthday. :)
*My husband and his unwavering love and support.
*CJ and all of her help around the house.
*Bubby, and his unique, authentic self.

As this Thanksgiving winds up and my 33rd birthday is right around the corner I feel that my life is opening to new and adventurous paths.  This is a time where I think that maturity of life sets in and we start to see things in a different light.  We begin to see life as more meanigful in less big ways.  We slow down just enough to see the past and and future from the vantage point of the present.  Love, marriage, children and the mortgage might have been had by now in our lives.  Some of those things might have been lost, too by now. At this point in life most of us have experienced some loss.

My kids are smack dab in the middle of being grown.  One foot out the door.  It was only 3 years ago I remember buying my daughter an easy bake oven and polly pockets for Christmas.  Now, she has a boyfriend, and goes to school dances. Soon, she'll be driving.  This gives me an idea of just how fast time moves at this time in life.  Time is precious and not to be wasted.  Looking back, I wasted too much of it worrying about this or that.  Trying to make others happy, or worrying over what others thought.  Each moment I let go into my obsessive worrying, my obsessive needs to be perfect, my over focusing on me in a negative way, is one in which I can never get back.  When I let anxiety take over and take me to the place in my thoughts where I dwell in negativity I lose time to be here in the present.  I miss moments of my kids growing up, or an opportunity to just be in the company of my husband or to think of a friend, because I was too preoccupied with me own thoughts.  There isn't much room or time left when we let negative emotions take up residence in our minds, using up the present moment.

So, today my family and I stayed home, as is our new tradition.  We ate what we wanted, on our own schedule. My boys had pizza and no one batted an eye.  It was the pace we liked and how we liked it.  It was our holiday and we made it our own.  No one to tell us otherwise, and it was the best Thanksgiving we've ever had.  I just wonder what took me so long to shake the negative influences of others and do what works for us?

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

Monday, November 14, 2011

Overcoming The Urge To Debate

The other day my husband and I were talking to each other about ways we have come to understand each other better and build a stronger marriage by that understanding.  I said something about understanding that when he gets upset a ton of super emotional nonsense comes barreling out.  His strong emotions become fact and he doesn't make sense.  He just starts ranting and can even be insulting, and way exaggerative about everything.  He said that I like to argue about everything, debating to the last detail even when it's unimportant.  It went something like this:

Him: I have realized that you like to argue.
Me: I do not.
Him: Yes, you do. You like to debate everything. It's part of who you are and I know not to take that personally anymore,
Me: When?  When do I debate about meaningless issues?  Name a time...
Him: (he just looks at me)
Me:  Awwww ok.....yeah.  I'm doing that right now aren't I?  Oops. Guess, I can be a bit pedantic about some things.

This is something that's deeply ingrained in who I am.  It's been my goal for awhile to learn to let things be sometimes without correcting, or demanding proof of other people's assertions.  It's an odd thing with me... I can be very warm and empathetic, but at the same time very much the opposite when the situation is different.  When I see something wrong, a fact that is being twisted, or distorted, or worse even, an opinion being touted as a fact I *have* to correct it.  My inner drive switches and feelings are no longer relevant to me at that time.  To me in this moment, it is not personal, it's about virtue.  Old conservatives with their rhetoric about Obama, guns, and illegals will make my blood pressure rise in mere seconds.  Don't be opening your mouth around me like you know something when you have no facts to back it up.  Make that speech of yours hateful and derogatory and it's on.  I will let you know just how much you thought you knew and will not allow ad hominem or off topic rants.  In other words, if I choose to take up a debate you best bet I know what I'm talking about, or I wouldn't have opened my mouth to begin with.  I don't debate subjects that I don't know the facts about.

Anyway, this is a habit that I know can be considered off putting to many, and it's time consuming, as well as emotionally consuming.  I can and will get very upset if the other party can't see my POV, especially when I have provided proper proof.  Why would one want to go on believing something false? (I think there's a lot of reasons humans lie to themselves to feel better, but that's another post!) This is something I have set out to change about myself the last 6  months.  Maybe, not completely obliterate, but take it down a notch or two.  I have realized that I have done that quite well in this pursuit this morning.

I saw someone misinformed about a certain issue and make a broad prejudice statement about the whole issue based on a sliver of information.  He does this often on line.  I almost had my whole arguement laid out inside my head ready to deliver through my finger tips when I realized this would likely take all day of back and forth debating.  I decided that I didn't have time for that, and he's just probably going to think what he wants anyway.  Then, I thought about it for a minute and I realized that I have not been so easily baited into debates lately at all.  The other day my father in law started in Obama, Walmart and guns on my....  I did correct him a few times, but I mostly kept it to myself.  He was getting emotional and trying to present a factual argument to someone that's in an emotional mindset is futile, so I directed him to the points we agree on, instead of disagree on and we remained civil.  Sometimes, I feel it's more important to make a person feel heard, and find common ground rather than correcting them.  Perhaps, when less threatened they'll be more open to your side.

In any event, this was a social skill that I have been working on for many years that I think I finally have a good grasp on! Yay me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Need Help!-Why it's sometimes hard for people on the spectrum to ask for assistance.

I thought that I might write a small follow up to the issue that I talked about in my last entry because I did think about it, and despite me thinking that it was something that wasn't informational, I realized that it could be.

In the entry Things You Wish Adults Knew When You Were A Child there are several comments about being bullied, emotional, or otherwise feeling a bit out of sorts and not having a clue as to how to go about expressing it.  One of them is mine.  I guess that's the whole point to my last entry.  I almost never actually say to anyone 'Hey, I'm struggling here, ' or 'help'.  As I said, it simply doesn't occur to me to do so, or I just can't figure it out. When I do finally get out that I'm having trouble as I did on my FB post (I literally said 'I'm falling apart') that's almost an S.O.S. for me.

For one, it's hard to explain my emotions.  I have to figure out what I am feeling, label it, and then figure out how to appropriately express that to another human.  There's a term called Alexithymia that applies to most people on the spectrum. It's basically the difficulty of processing and describing emotions.  I have worked very hard on this, and am able to some degree feel my feelings as they come and label them. It took a couple decades of practice with emotion charts, and perseverance.  It wasn't easy.  It's hard to ask for help, if you can't even identify that you're feeling down, angry, whatnot.  Even physical sensations would not be processed correctly, and still isn't to some degree.  Sometimes, when I am sick I get upset easily and have lots of meltdowns, but don't always process the physical sensation of feeling ill.  I've had strep throat as an adult for a couple wks before I realized I was sick, but was super difficult to deal with during that time!  So, now I know that if I'm getting moody, I may need to check in to see if I am hurting, not feeling well, hungry, thirsty.. ect...

I can now more easily label, say anger when it is occurring.  I can't always tell you why it's there, and am frequently left feeling upset, and not knowing why.  I have somewhat given up on always tracing back the reasons to my upset feelings.  I find it more important that I deal with my feelings in a healthy way, and proficiently, rather than worrying about where or why they are there. I'm still working on doing this steadily.  Not there yet, by far.

The criteria for Asperger's lists:
(C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(D) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

I'd go so far as to say it's not lack of sharing enjoyment that is near as much the problem as is lack of sharing duress.  Either I simply can't due to lack of words, or ability, or it doesn't occur to me do so, literally.  In the same way my family complains that they never ever have heard me say 'I want' or 'I'd like to have' X (signaling them what I might like to receive for Christmas and birthdays) I don't think about sharing what I feel or what I need.  When I do, it may be understated with emotion to the point that an NT would think it was a minor issue.  I was told by the clinician that diagnosed me that my face almost never shows any emotion, at all.  So, as I am telling someone how terribly sad, and depressed I am the flat affect of my face my not convey just how serious I am.  Even on the internet, I may not have the ability to fully express the amount of pain or suffering I am in or how much I'd like some assistance.  When I do, I feel so awkward and so embarrassed that it's likely I will delete it quickly.  Here, not as much, because it's an anonymous blog. I feel very vulnerable and almost ashamed of expressing emotion.  Writing by far is waaay easier than speaking, though.

So, I thought that perhaps my issue I had a couple days ago might be of some use to parents and loved ones of those on the spectrum if explained fully as to what happened.  Why it's hard for us to say we need help, and what the best method is to assist us in telling you ie; writing texting, ect...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Contribution To Autistics Speaking Day

Like many people on the spectrum, I wanted to write a blog entry on Autistics Speaking Day which is today.  I had forgotten about it until today and have no preconceived topic of relevance to really drive a powerful post home.  I know many are writing some heavy powerful, well thought out pieces about what being autistic means to them, and more specifically what it feel like to them to be talked about and around like the original November 1st day Communication Shutdown.  I think that perhaps I'll go another route....

I am overjoyed to see this day so prominently displayed across social networks, blogs, and newspapers.  It was not long ago something like this would never have been thought possible.  You simply didn't talk about your differences in front of others if you were on the spectrum, and parents of ASD kids had little support.  When I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome last year the clinician told me that I should tell people that I have AS that I am in regular contact with.  My first response to that was that she was crazy! I'd never get taken seriously again!  Then she explained to me that my communication differences can look like snubbery, inattention, aloofness, ect.... and that I'd get more compassion from others if I told them.  I tried it.  One of the hardest was my verbal son's IEP team.  They had been running circles around me not wanting to give him the proper supports he needed for his anxiety and other differences.  I finally one day in a meeting got all my courage up and shot down their proposals by telling them they did NOT in fact know better than me about what he needs, because I am also on the spectrum.  There was no comeback to that.... It was silent.  But, they heard me, and despite my fears of being further disregarded, I was listened to.  I began to do the same with my nonverbal son's one on on therapists.  I made my beefs with ABA, and other tactics clear.  I explained to them the reasons why some of us do what we do.  They never knew.  It wasn't that they didn't care (well some didn't but they don't work for him anymore due to that attitude) they just didn't know.  They wanted to know, and were happy to hear.  I spoke, and I was listened to. This was a novel experience, indeed.

I actually felt empowered by other's acceptance, and felt more confident.  I began this blog, and to advocate further for my boys.  I didn't take the attitude from the school 'well, that's just how we do things' because I felt empowered to finally stand up and voice my opinion.  There wasn't that long ago that this day wouldn't have happened.  The cloud of shame and secrecy has began to dissipate around the world over disabilities.  It isn't perfect, or utopia, as so many are still oppressed, and trodden, forgotten about, but it is a start.  I think that while things could be improved we have made enough room in today's society to make those changes, to be heard.  In my opinion, there is not a better time in history to be autistic.