Fiat Lux!

“Let there be light!” (Or, in literal translation, the order, “Make light!”)

So, yes, this post is about sensory stuff. Specifically, visual sensory stuff, and living with people who aren’t as sensitive to light as I am.

Everyone needs light. We’re a diurnal species, meaning that we’re active in the daylight. There are very good reasons for that, involving the anatomical makeup of our eyes – namely, we (as a species) aren’t very good at seeing in the dark, and vision is our species’ primary sense.

More than that, we need a certain amount of sunlight to stay healthy. It helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, which helps with the absorption of calcium, and assists in preventing depression (or helping to mitigate it), to name just two benefits of sunlight.

Continue on for the sensory stuff….

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.)

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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

An Eye for An Eye: Round 2

Warning: Partial venting post ahead.

Well, it’s happened again. This time with my right eye, and there’s no pain in the optic nerve, but around the eye is… ow. So Not Fun.

At least with no pain in the optic nerve (which was the worst of the pain with the left eye), I can still function. Not as well as I’d like, but that happens whenever I have a headache, so….

Venting ahead…

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!

Let’s Talk About: Massage Therapy

So, another “Let’s Talk About” post. This one, because I know that some people don’t respond well to massage therapy, for a variety of reasons (some other autistics are touch-sensitive, my mother bruises easily when it comes to deep massage, etc.). Also, please note that I am talking about massage therapy done by a registered massage therapist, not simply massage applied by a masseur / masseuse. Registered massage therapists (RMT) are trained in physiology and are required to adhere to certain standards to maintain their status as “registered”.

Massage therapy is the assessment and treatment of the soft tissues of the body. Therapeutic massage is used to prevent dysfunction, to relieve pain, to restore or augment function and to promote health.

Massage therapy encompasses a wide range of different techniques which can affect the circulatory, musculoskeletal, nervous, and respiratory systems, and which form the basis of massage therapy treatment. Hydrotherapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, instruction in proper breathing, and assessment and correction of posture are also tools that massage therapists regularly employ in their treatment protocols.

–Newfoundland and Labrador Massage Therapists’ Association (http://www.nlmta.com/aboutmt.asp)

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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

Hyper-Tense? Medical Stuff

So, mentioned in the last post that I was going to the doctor this morning. I had an appointment to talk to her about my cholesterol (for which I had a blood test last week, finally), and I also wanted her to act as my referrer to Avalon Employment Inc., which helps people with developmental and intellectual disabilities find and handle work. (And considering some of my work requirements, I could use the help!) Not to mention, I also wanted to talk to her about what happened Wednesday and yesterday.

Please note that if you’re triggered by medical issues, you may not want to read the following. Read on

An Eye for An Eye

No, this is not about revenge. This is about eyes, and sensitivity to light, and headaches.

I’ve spent the last two days curled up in bed, eyes closed, trying to avoid every hint of light I could – which, really, means sleeping most of the time. Even now, I’m wearing sunglasses in my room which just has a desk lamp on, in order to try to avoid the stabbing pain behind my left eye, which I’ve been experiencing since sometime between going to sleep Tuesday night and waking up Wednesday morning. Continue reading

Fatigue

So, the post today is to talk about fatigue, which is kind of appropriate considering that I’ve been drowsing / sleeping all afternoon. *sighs*

I say “fatigue” instead of “tiredness” to distinguish between the two sorts. My dictionary on the computer has a section called The Right Word under some words, and here’s what it says about the various different terms used to indicated tiredness:

THE RIGHT WORD
Tired is what you are after you’ve cleaned the house, spent two hours reading a dull report, or trained for a marathon; it means that your strength and energy are diminished, without giving any indication of degree.
Weary, on the other hand, is how you feel after you’ve had to interrupt your dinner five or six times to answer the phone. It implies not only a depletion of energy but also the vexation that accompanies having to put up with something that is, or has become, disagreeable.
Exhausted means that you are totally drained of strength and energy, a condition that may even be irreversible (: exhausted by battling a terminal disease).
Fatigued is a more precise word than either tired or weary; it implies a loss of energy through strain, illness, or overwork to the point where rest or sleep is essential (: fatigued after working a 24-hour shift).
Tuckered is an informal word that comes close in meaning to fatigued or exhausted, but often carries the suggestion of loss of breath (: tuckered out after running up six flights of stairs).

I definitely mean “fatigued”, though not in the exact sense used in the definition above. I mean fatigued as in a long-term condition (that isn’t “exhaustion” as per the definition above).

Go on, more to read….

Let’s Talk About: Imagination and Modes of Thought

So, for Musings of an Aspie‘s Take a Test Tuesday on Feb. 12/13, she took the Two-Factor Imagination Scale (TFIS) Test, which looked at “spontaneous” vs. “controlled” imagination.

Spontaneous imagination is defined as effortless, surprising and instantaneous. For example, you’re washing the dishes and suddenly have a great new idea for a drawing. It feels like your idea literally “came out of nowhere.”
Controlled imagination is defined as a process that is consciously initiated, guided and terminated. For example, you’re washing the dishes and consciously decide to think about how to resolve a conflict with your roommate. You intentionally stay on task, brainstorming ideas and refining until you have an answer, at which time you stop thinking about it.

From Musing’s entry re the TFIS test.

In the comments section, Mados, Musings, and I (mostly Mados and Musings, I just contributed once and read the convo in fascination) ended up getting into a conversation about different modes of thought and types of imagination (which are heavily linked, I believe, thus this post covering both), which provided the inspiration for this post. I actually meant to get this done a week and a half ago, but… yeah.

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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.

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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.

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Sensory Overload Fun (Not!)

So, had my weekly work placement at the Career Work Centre (NL Advanced Education and Skills Job Seekers’ Centre) today. And I spent the entire day feeling like my nerves were being dipped in an acid bath. Or, to put it another way, as though each sound above a certain threshold rubbed sandpaper roughly across my nerves. (Particularly in my upper arms – they seem to be the ones reacting most.)

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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….

Work Conditions

Okay, I’ve been under a fair bit of stress lately, some of it from sensory overloads and the like at my work placements, and some of it from financial and personal stuff at home. As a result, I’ve been really short on spoons lately (thanks to Unstrange Mind, who linked to the explanation, which I’ve passed on to all my colleagues!), and feeling the fatigue. And my internship ends the end of March, and that means that I need to find a new job.

But things have changed since I last held down a job I could tolerate for longer than a couple of weeks without constant meltdowns. I have a lot more awareness of my needs now, and of what overloads me, and I have a stronger, better support system as well (my fellow bloggers as well as my local Aspie friend – my online writing Aspie friend I’ve had since before I was at that long-term job – and my parents have a lot more awareness as well). Read 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….

Asperger’s Diagnosis, Official and Non-

So, here it is, the post where I talk about how I felt concerning my Aspie diagnosis.

Official diagnosis? Relief.

Now, at least some of this was because, well, I’d actually sought that diagnosis. I’d made a point of going to the people who helped a friend of mine get his diagnosis, looking for one. It gave me the ability to access information and resources (including the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan: Gov’t of Canada initiatives to help Canadians with disabilities that result in “severe and prolonged impairment of physical or mental functions” – which, quite frankly, ASD does).

Unfortunately, I’m still looking for some of those necessary supports…. Read further on my chatty opinions and thoughts….

ASD Behaviours and Traits

Warning: Very long post!

Once again, I seem to be writing something other than I meant to because of a response I started writing to one of The Third Glance‘s posts. This one is on my own ASD behaviours as a child and teen – what I know of them, at least. I have vague memories of my childhood, somewhat better ones of my adolescence, but most of what I remember is generic things that repeated, and specific events that stood out in my memory for some reason or another (some good, some bad). I may easily miss some – I’m still learning what is “normal” for ASD and what might have been something else, but these are the ones that my mother and I remember (or I experienced). Not in any particular order, except that of how they occurred to me while writing. Read on for the details

Making Decisions and Prioritization

(Before I get into the details of the post, if you haven’t read it already – or if you read it before Jan. 09/13 – I would greatly appreciate you reading all the way through my First Post. Then feel free to come back. Thank you.)

Originally, this post was going to be about my diagnosis, and how it felt to finally have that official medical validation that said, “Yes, I have Asperger’s. Yes, I am on the autistic spectrum.”

But then I read The Third Glance’s article about how she survived jury duty, and in my response, I found myself explaining about why I wouldn’t make a good candidate for jury duty. I don’t have as much trouble processing audial/verbal input as she does, though I know I’d end up exhausted at the end of each day. No, my reason was both much more and much less complex, in some ways.

I can’t make decisions. Continue on to find out what I mean…