Recommendation: E is for Empathy by Unstrange Mind

Heh. Remember when I said in the last post not too expect too many recommendations this month, despite the posting volume on Autistic-oriented blogs? Well… there was another wonderful post put up today that really needs signal boosting.

Unstrange Mind is doing a series this April for the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge (check the following post for the link if you’re curious), and she’s hitting things hard, the way they need. And today’s post (well, all these posts she’s writing, but today’s happened to strike me) is about something that is a huge problem in trying to gain acceptance for autistics. The Empathy Question.

Please, read through the post E is for Empathy – it highlights a number of problems with the idea that autistics have no empathy (talk to my mother, or my best friends; they’ll dismiss that idea immediately). It even mentions a new study that brings to light some problems with the “well-known” Sally-Ann Test, a study that I hadn’t heard about before.

Not to mention the ludicrous treatise she mentions that says something about since autistics have no empathy, we have no sense of community. *cough, cough* Um, what do you think my blogroll list is?

Anyway, she also provides links to another blog post about empathy, that in turn provides links to more. Please, take a look at them, and absorb the message we’re trying to send.

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.

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:

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

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

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.

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….

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….

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…