Autism is a Delay, Not a Stop

So, the ASNL this semester (spring) has arranged for a yoga for autistics… practice? workshop? whatever…. Four weeks, Sunday mornings. There are a total of five of us there, and like in Social Club, I’m the oldest (although with yoga, our instructor is older than I am). And during this morning’s session (our third), I noticed something interesting.

One of the others there, who is less than half my age… is a lot like I was when I was her age. A lot like I was, at least in social elements (well, from what I’ve been able to tell during the three hours I’ve spent with her so far). Things get blurted out when she thinks of them, no matter how “inappropriate” it may be at the time. She shares details with near strangers that you might think more appropriate to just share with friends. (I mentioned those two items to Mom, and she was nodding and going, “Oh, yes, I remember you being like that”….)

And there is no better way that I can think of to know that I have changed, than to realize that there’s someone else who is like I was, and am not (at least partly) anymore. (I have more restraint about blurting things out, and a bit more restraint about sharing things… although not as much of the latter, witness the very existence of this blog!)

It’s also proof, in living colour, of the “Autism is a Delay, Not a Stop” matter. I’ve changed. I have more awareness now of social appropriateness. I have more impulse control. But I used to be just like her.

We grow, and learn, and change. We just do it at a different rate than allistics/neurotypicals.

Please, parents, specialists, everyone… remember that. Simply being autistic does not mean that we will always behave/act/react the same way as we do now.

‘Later,

🙂 tagÂûght

[tagÂûght] Acceptance, Love, and Self-care: #AutismPositivity2015

It’s early morning April 30th as I’m starting to write this post, which is highly ironic, as I should be sleeping right now. Unfortunately, houses in St. John’s don’t seem to have soundproofing, and the housemate whose bedroom is next to mine is talking on the phone.

But aside from that, this topic is more than just a positive one, it’s a pertinent one for me this year. (And likely to be a long post, with many examples.)

Read on for the actual positivity!

Let’s Talk About: The Meanings of “Obsession”

So, at Social Club (at the Autism Society for NL; it’s basically a small group getting together for social activities – playing games, doing art, etc.) this past weekend, we had a new person there. And that person mentioned that xe was obsessed with one particular topic (I can no longer remember what it was, that wasn’t the important thing), “like with OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

On my post about Hyper-Focus vs. Lack of Focus, Unstrange Mind called me on using the term “special interest” for interests that we have and like to focus on – a term that I used to replace the term “obsession”, which tends to carry a negative connotation. She suggested using the term “passion”, which I thought was a very good idea, and have since cleaned up my vocabulary that way. 🙂

Anyway, getting back to the topic of the post, I was rather disturbed by the way that person was using the term “obsession” to define a particular area of interest, because at one point, my mother suggested I might be OCD, and I asked my psychologist about the matter. And what he said was something of an eye-opener.

Read on for more details….

Let’s Talk About: Scripting

So, at about 3am this morning when I was trying to go back to sleep (after being woken by the plow backing up in the lot behind our house – why doesn’t St. John’s believe in soundproofing houses?!), I remembered where I meant to take yesterday’s post on brooding. Scripting!

(Note that in this case, I’m really talking about a specific subdivision of scripting: putting together something in your own words, rather than either copying someone else’s – still a valid form of communication – or repeating a set of words and actions over and over, to either deal with something or because it’s a comfortable routine, for whatever reason, or any other reason that one might do that. There are bound to be other reasons out there. :))

Click for more rambling….

Thinking, Overthinking, and Brooding

Hi, everyone. First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t been putting stuff up lately – truth to tell, I’ve been more interested in reading other people’s posts and thinking about them than writing my own for the last few months. (As a result, there may be a flurry of recommended posts coming up soon.) But I was thinking yesterday about a situation I’m in, and decided that the results of that would likely make a good post.

Click to read on.

Recommendation: Interrupting and Correcting

Okay, the post I’m recommending is not actually called “Interrupting and Correcting”; it’s a series of 3 posts about the AS (read that as Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum) need to be Right. But… reading through it? My first thought was, Mom, this is why I have such a hard time controlling my urge to step in with a correction when I know you’ve made a mistake.

Because as my mother would (correctly) tell you – that’s a major problem I still have. I can get by in social situations, for the most part. I learned early on that politeness and “shyness” are a good combo – and I do seem to give off the general vibe of “asexual” when meeting new people. (Or, at least, if people do flirt with me, I don’t notice, and don’t respond – I tend to draw in on myself when meeting new people as well….) But say something that I know is incorrect… and I have to almost bite down on my tongue (literally) to keep myself from making a correction. And still, about half the time, I don’t manage to stop it.

Now, I didn’t get the same type of bullying that the author of this post got – I was more inclined to be bullied because I was smart, and because I was a very tall, clumsy girl, in elementary school, and in high school, I was with people as smart as I was, so there wasn’t that kind of “that person has the answers” dynamic going on. But… being smart got me the respect of the teachers. And therefore their approval. And that mattered, because one thing I was shown in elementary school is that there are good adults out there who will do their best to protect you from bullies. And adults are more likely to believe you when you don’t feel well or can’t do something if they respect you. (Not always, but enough so that my analytical side could come to that conclusion.)

So, from Snakedancing’s blog, I give you:

Please note that the topic above is really the main topic of only the first post. The other two go into strategies to help deal with the need to be right.

🙂 tagAught

(P.S. My planned post following up on Modes of Thought will be out – either tomorrow or later today, depending on whether you subscribe to the “day changes over at midnight” theory or the “day changes over after you fall asleep” theory. If the latter, it will be out tomorrow – this is what I say; if the former, it will be out later today – which is what the website says.)

For Emma: Words and Voices

Most of you reading this blog probably know Ariane and her daughter Emma, if only in reference to their blog, Emma’s Hope Book. (If you don’t, click on the link. Really. Ariane is a great resource for parents who are having difficulties dealing with their autistic children, and is a great proponent of presuming competence because of her own experiences.) Recently (as in the last half year, maybe somewhat more), Emma’s been contributing directly to the posts on the blog. One of the most recent posts was about the body-mind disconnect that Emma experiences; her brain knows what she wants to communicate or do, and her mouth (and/or body) will do something completely different.

Poetry, yay!

Push, Push, Push… Until We Push Back

So, I had this interesting dream last night, one that I thought brought up some issues important enough to discuss. So, despite the lack of statement in the title, this is actually a “Let’s Talk About It” post. As usual, I will welcome any commentary.

To explain the dream, we’ll have to go back to yesterday (plus a bit of back story), because I think something that happened then was what triggered it. (Note: Seriously rambling post because of it, but there are a few other points in there aside from the main one, so….)

Read about yesterday, and then the dream….

NL Voluntary Autism Registry

According to the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador website and VOCM (the community radio station), the ASNL and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are going to be cooperating on creating a voluntary autism registry. Why?

Communication #2: Stories & Music

Okay, this wasn’t originally planned for the next post. In fact, this wasn’t originally planned to be a post at all. But my dad listens to CBC classics, and something that was said on the program early this afternoon caught my attention. Combined with the whole idea of AAC, not just speech, as valid means of communication, I started thinking about this post.

Stories are a very ancient means of communication. They have been used for the three great ‘E’s – to explain, to educate, and to entertain.

Read on, read on….

Motor Coordination and Autism

I recently re-read a post by Musings of an Aspie: Is there a Link Between ASD Motor Skill Deficits and Social Communication Difficulties? which she posted a year ago. She started out intending to look at ASD and dyspraxia – which is a developmental disorder that seems to involve problems with motor coordination… and sensory issues, and executive order functions. In fact, apparently autism and dyspraxia have so much of an overlap that people can be frequently misdiagnosed with one when they really have the other, or they tend to often end up as co-morbid (co-occuring) diagnoses.

Why is this interesting for me?

Communication #1: Introduction-What is it?

A question that involves a lot of different areas of study. Behaviourists; biologists – both human-focused and zoologists; anthropologists; linguists; even archaeologists and paleontologists. And it’s something very important to the Autistic community, and to the broader autism community (incorporating allistic parents, allies, etc.), because of the difficulties with speech that come with “classical” (aka Kanner’s) autism, and the difficulties all autistics have, to one extent or another, understanding body language and social behaviour.

This question just happened to occur to me as I was driving back from my new residence to my parents’ house (where I now live only on the weekends, so that Imber and I aren’t separated for long – I need my puddy-tat!), having forgotten some stuff that I meant to bring over yesterday evening. (Heck, there’s still some stuff I forgot, but it wasn’t as important as what I did fetch, so I wasn’t going back.) And the question won’t leave me alone, so I thought I’d better start writing.

(And as I started writing this post out – not that I’m finishing it tonight – I realized that it really needs to be a series of posts. So, this is #1 – just what is communication, anyway?)

Okay, a lot of thoughts and such follow. Read on!

Recommendations: DSM-5 ASD Criteria Analysis

Note: This post will be regularly updated (and stickied) until all linked posts are completed, at which point this note will be removed. UPDATED: Oct. 30/12 @ 20:50 NDT.

Additional Note: Due to the fact that I’m not sure when it will be updated again, I’m removing the “sticky” until further notice.

And we’re back again with Unstrange Mind, who is doing all of us the favour of going through the DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria, and analysing it in terms of what it means both for those who are already diagnosed (even though we’re grandfathered in), and those who will be looking for a diagnosis. (Note: Frankly, based on her analysis and just what the criteria says, I fit even better in the ASD diagnosis than I did in Asperger’s! I may have said that before, but it bears repeating.)

Her analysis is not yet finished, but (as mentioned in the top note), I will continue to update as it progresses. However, I thought it was important enough that I want to start getting it out now.

Here we go:

More to follow as they are posted. This is a highly recommended set of posts, and I encourage everyone who has any interest in ASD and what the criteria is to read them.

Behaviour is Communication; Violence is Behaviour

There have been a lot of discussions around my blog “circle” about Kelli and Issy, and what violence from autistics actually means, and what are some ways to deal with it (both from the autistic and the parent point-of-view). In fact, as I believe I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are some specific posts on other blogs about the subject I want to recommend. I also want to talk about my own experience (minor) with violence in myself, as requested by Ariane in her post in Emma’s Hope Book on Tuesday (see below, it’s one of the ones I’m recommending you read).

Continue on to see more of what I’m talking about with the title.

Update and Sensory Breaks

A lot has been happening in the autistic world lately, most of which I’ve found out from other blogs on my links page (check them out, those who are new here!). There’s what happened to Issy – I think that Ariane (from Emma’s Hope Book) and especially Love Explosions (from Love Explosions), and their commenters, have said things more eloquently than I can manage. Please, take a look at their blogs, and at what they’ve written about the situation; it’s really, really important. There are certain of their posts that I’m going to recommend specifically a bit later on, but… just read, please.

But that isn’t the main point of this post – just something I think is really important for everyone involved in the autism world – whether autistic, autism parent, or autism friend – to read through and think seriously about.

The main point of this post is what’s been happening with me lately, and what happened yesterday, and what it made me think about.

Read on to find out about my summer, and what it has to do with sensory breaks.

Let’s Talk About: Hyper-Focus vs Lack of Focus

Okay. First of all, this was not originally the next post I was going to write. I have an unfinished post about driving as stimming (which I’ve been meaning to finish and post for about three to four months now – mea culpa), and there are some other issues that I want to explore as well. But I went out for coffee with my local friend tonight, and we got to talking about some of the things we experience. One of them was the element of focus, and it ended up being (pun not intended) the focus of our conversation. And I thought it might be interesting to open up the dialogue to others as well.

I have two different “focus” modes: What I call hyper-focus, or concentrating so hard on one thing that everything else (including calls to come and eat dinner) gets blocked out; and lack of focus, where I’m lost and can’t decide what needs doing or what has priority. And a lot of things I’ve read about other autistics say the same thing. Especially if it involves one of our special interests (definitely hyper-focus), or if it’s something we’re not at all interested in (lack of focus).

The lack of focus element definitely seems to be linked to problems with executive function, and it’s quite possible that the hyper-focus is as well.

Read on to find out what I think and how I deal!

#SensoryIssues: Interoception & Psychosomatism

Musings posted on her blog on July 3rd a post about “interoception”, which she defined as:

describes our sensitivity to sensations that originate in our bodies

Her post concentrates on the issues surrounding the muting of interoceptive signals that is quite often a “Thing” for autistics, and the problems that can result from that (such as a serious infection, in her case, which could have been caught weeks ago if she had been aware of the sensation); and on the issues of alexithymia, which often mean confusing emotional states with interoceptive information.

In my response to one of the comments on that post, I linked the concept of interoception to the concept of psychosomatic symptoms; and this post is to explore that concept further.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About: Bullying

This next post was originally going to be my long-delayed one about Stims. But this morning, Dad and I went out to brunch (Mom’s down in Halifax with my sister’s family, helping out with the new baby, for several weeks), and on our way back, the CBC Radio Sunday Edition had a section on bullying. Specifically, about how one should respond to bullying, and whether at times violence in response is warranted. It made me think. A lot. And I thought it was definitely worth a “Let’s Talk About” post.

For more on my thoughts:

General Update: May 29, 2013

First of all, my apologies to any friends who might have been worried about my long absence; the past month has been somewhat crazy for me.

Read all about it! Full update enclosed.

Meltdown of Frustration

Well, it’s happened. The meltdown (at least the first of them) that I figure I’ve been moving towards since December at the latest has finally expressed itself. And I’m pretty sure that at the moment, I am non-verbal – or maybe even soundless.

And every time I think the tears have stopped, they just start up again.

Continue to read on about my meltdown and what caused it

Partial #NonVerbal Autism: Camp NaNoWrimo April 2013 #2

Okay, didn’t expect to be doing a post on this, but it turns out that one of the main characters in my Camp NaNoWriMo novel (It Came From the Library, in case anyone forgot ;)) is autistic. In some ways, she’s a combo of one of my best friends and myself.

(In other ways not, but she’s sort of a homage to my best friend. Shh! Don’t tell her! *pauses* Whoops, she reads this. Oh well, she deserves it. She’s been my friend through thick and thin for over 10 years now, and the support she’s provided me has been truly invaluable. Even if we’ve never met in person, she deserves the appellation of “best friend”.)

The thing is, I want the character to be partially non-verbal. When she gets stressed, she can lose her words. But I don’t have this issue (not unless I’m so seriously stressed that I’m on the edge of a meltdown and about to go over, or I’m being forced to make a decision), so I don’t have as much information about it as I’d like. I have read a number of blog entries that mention it (Ballastexistenz, for one, and Unstrange Mind’s, to provide two examples of bloggers who have brought it up), but I’d like more info, if anyone’s willing to provide it. (Note: This is not a demand. I’m just hoping that some of you who have non-verbal periods would be willing to share info and thoughts with me. Questions are below, as well as details about the character.)

Continue reading

Recommendation: Wiring the Brain- The Genetics of Emergent Phenotypes

I mentioned this blog post in my post on “Autism Speaks: I Want to Say”, but I think it deserves its own post recommending it.

The Genetics of Emergent Phenotypes, on Wiring the Brain.

Continue for details, or just click the link above!

Recommendation: Musing’s Survey #1

Okay, Musing of an Aspie‘s “Take a Test Tuesday” has now changed over to “Take a Survey Tuesday”, at least for a month. I highly recommend them; the questions are asked by ASDers for other ASDers. The first one, now up, is about relationships – friendships, family, romantic.

So, what are you doing still over here? Pop over to her post and either fill out the survey on Survey Monkey, or answer in the comments!

😉 tagAught

Hyper-Awareness vs. Hypochondria

So, I had my monthly visit to my psychologist today, and we were talking about some of the posts I’ve made since my last visit (Feb. 15), including the hypochondria one. What she said was that she thinks it’s not hypochondria – which she considers to be a serious ailment where, to quote her, “you have a tic in your eye and think you’re going blind, or you have a pain in the back of your head and think you have a brain tumour” – but a hyper-awareness of physical sensations. She says that a number of the people on the spectrum that she’s dealt with (not all, but definitely most) have that hyper-awareness.

Continue for more exciting examples!

No: Guilty Feelings

A few weeks ago, Musings of an Aspie wrote a post about her “No” reflex, and how she needed to work on pushing her boundaries. A lot of us need to work on that, to avoid turning into recluses (or at least, that’s the worry my mother has constantly had for me, which may also be linked to my depression).

However, there is another side to things, and I had a dream last night which reminded me of it: Working on recognizing when we need to say “No”. Continue reading

Hypochondria: Medical Students Syndrome?

I had to go to the grocery store today, to pick up some things for dinner tonight along with my meds. By the time I got back home, I was shaking and in sensory overload. I spent about an hour curled up in my dark room, part of that sleeping, and when I got up, I felt better.

Talking to Mom later, while dinner was cooking, she mentioned what I have since found out is referred to as “medical students syndrome” – a problem encountered by medical students when they are studying certain diseases, they start to associate any problems they might have with that disease, and worry that they have it – because I didn’t used to have this extent of problems going to the grocery store. (Note that it doesn’t affect just medical students, but they’re the most-affected group.) It’s apparently a type of hypochondria. My father is also worried about me demonstrating this. (Quite honestly, I’m sick and tired of being accused of that. As a child, I had psychosomatic complaints, not hypochondria.) I think I need to write this out, and I’d like other opinions.

(Okay, experiencing crying jag here – a red flag, as my previous psychologist put it, that we’ve walked into a sensitive issue. Which being thought a hypochondriac is.)

The thing is, it could also be what I wrote about in my Coping Mechanisms post. It could be a lowered sensory threshold, whether because of the stress of the last several months, or some lingering issue caused by my incompatibility with Effexor. Or it could be that I am becoming more sensitive as I age.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk About: Insomnia

First of all, can I mention how glad I am to have found the online ASD community, someplace where I can tell people: “I can’t help it,” and be believed and understood. (Not to say my parents don’t believe me, but it’s really hard for them to understand some of this stuff, because of that Communication Chasm.)

So, this is going to be the first in a series of posts “Let’s Talk About”, which will look at some of the things I experience and invite people to join me in discussing them. And our first topic is insomnia, because it’s potentially linked to what happened to me yesterday (see Sensory Overload Fun (Not!)), and because I’ve been trying to deal with it lately.

Continue reading

Coping Mechanisms

Warning: Speculation post! No definite cognitive science here, I’m afraid!

Ah, coping mechanisms. Where would we be without them? Well, as a species, probably dead. Coping mechanisms are our ways of dealing with stressors in the environment.

So… I can’t remember whether I mentioned it on here or not, or maybe in a comment on another blog, but over the past several years (as in about 3-5 – essentially when I began accepting and understanding what it meant to be on the spectrum), I’ve become more (consciously?) aware of various sensory issues, emotional overloads, and needs. I’ve been noticing that I avoid eye contact a lot more than I (or my mom, in fact) thought I did, for example. Continue on….

Meltdowns and Control

Okay, not a long post. Hopefully. I have tasks I need to do before I can go to sleep, and boy, do I need sleep. But at the moment I’m a living example of how control of meltdowns can sometimes be detrimental, and I think I need to relay this while I’m in this state. Read on….

Cleaning Aids

Meant to do a different post originally, but this is what came up, for reasons you’ll read.

Yesterday, Dad and I were going to sort through some of the stuff in my room to try to get the area in front of my closet clear. (Well, he said that he’d pick the stuff up and my responsibility was to sort it into “Keep” and “Trash”.) However, my nerves were still jangled from what happened Wednesday afternoon (more later) so I asked him if we could do it today instead. He agreed. And onward to the cleaning process….