Let’s Talk About: #Neurodivergent ≠ Saint

Bit of a rant here, just warning you….

Disclaimer

Additional Disclaimer: I am not naming names; this may have been prompted by one incident, but I have no desire to start a flame war.

So, a friend recently sent me a link to a post by someone else that was written in response to a comment they’d left on a previous post. A calm, rational comment, that did disagree with some (though definitely not all) of the author’s viewpoint, but explained why they disagreed. The subsequent post (the one I was directed to) did a not-very-good job of “paraphrasing” certain elements of the comment (i.e. they were not direct quotes, they were the author putting their own spin on what was said), and seemed to feel that my friend was NT because they disagreed with the author.

Continue for more details and my reactions.

Let’s Talk About: Alyx, The “Robotic Emotion Teacher”

So, I’ve mentioned Neurodivergent Rebel’s Twitter sessions of #AskingAutistics before, in my post about grief and coping with it. On Saturday (the 13th), she posted about an article on Quartz Media, regarding a robot that the creators say can teach adult autistics to read emotion and facial expression nuances. According to the article, researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland created Alyx. It’s generated a fair amount of irritation among autistics on Twitter, for various reasons.

I’m going to quote from the article, and then give some of my counter-points (some of which I’ve already mentioned on Twitter, but are expanded here). Because honestly, this is not going to work the way the article claims it will. Here’s why (aside from the fact that already a number of autistics are vehemently opposed to it).

Read on, my dearies, read on….

Let’s Talk About: Emotions – Feeling Left Out

It looks like I’m going to be doing a series of rambles about emotion. This one, as per the title, is about feeling left out. I was thinking about other stuff yesterday, and a few memories came up that put me in mind of this particular emotion.

It’s a difficult feeling to quantify and to express, the sense of feeling left out of something. Particularly when you already have trouble with social cues and body language, and so can’t necessarily recognize that whatever you’re feeling left out of has nothing to do with you.

It’s also a very alienating and isolating emotion. Even thinking about talking about it makes me want to cry or melt down. Not exactly a pleasant topic, I’m afraid.

But it’s an important one. Particularly when the people around you don’t mean for you to get the impression that you’re being left out of things.

Read on for my rambles and thoughts on the matter.

Let’s Talk About: Emotions – #Grief

There’s a series on Twitter about how (we) autistics feel negative emotions right now, prompted by one of Neurodivergent Rebel’s Twitter #AskingAutistics polls. (Which I highly recommend, by the way.) And since there are things going on in my life right now that make this a fairly relevant topic for me, I decided to write a post on it. Or more specifically, write a current post on grief. I’ll probably write about others later, but this is the one relevant right now.

I’ve mentioned alexithymia – the inability to recognize/categorize one’s own emotions, and sometimes to have physical reactions to emotions instead of “feeling” them – before, both when speaking of imagination, and about psychosomatic issues. And there’s also the issue that autistics tend to emote in ways that are not recognized/understood by the neurotypical audience. All of this means that quite often, the neurotypical audience has no idea what we feel, or how deeply/intensely.

One thing I do know about grief, from previous experience, is that I process it very differently from most of my family. (I’m not sure about my dad – we haven’t really discussed that.) Of course, no one processes emotions in exactly identical fashion, whether from the neurotypical or the neurodiverse population… but my way is rather different from most others that I’ve heard of.

Read on for more about my processing and the questions to talk about

Let’s Talk About: Followup #AnxietyAttacks What Helps?

On Wednesday I posted about anxiety/panic attacks, and what happened to me on Monday. As one might guess, it’s been a topic of conversation among my family since then.

And what keeps coming up (understandably enough, especially considering that no one said anything or reacted to me on Monday) is the question: What can be done to help? What helps while the attack is happening, and what helps after it’s over?

Read on for details and Let’s Talk About questions

Let’s Talk About: #AnxietyAttacks

Disclaimer

So, I meant to get this up yesterday, but due to things around the topic, I spent yesterday trying to distract myself.

Anxiety (and depression) seem to go hand-in-hand with autism, and no one yet has been able to determine whether they are co-occuring conditions, or whether there’s something about the autistic brain wiring that lends itself to anxiety and depression, or perhaps they’re symptoms of trying to deal with a world not suited to us for years and years on end (which is what I suspect they are, personally, but I’m not a scientist). Could really be any one or any combo of those things.

Basic intro over with, let’s go on to what I want to talk about (and hear from others about) today: Anxiety attacks.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I tend to get anxiety attacks when medical issues are being discussed, and they present (for me) like hypoglycemic attacks: lightheadedness, cold sweats, dizziness, shakes, etc. I know one person who “whites out” when they have an anxiety/panic attack, and another who thought they were having a heart attack when they had their first (that they could remember) attack.

The reason this topic came up for me to write about was what happened to me this past Monday.

CW: Mention of dental procedures, not very detailed, but method of injecting freezing stated.

Read on for details and questions

Let’s Talk About: Modes of Thought: “Blind” Mind

Way back when, I wrote two posts on imagination and modes of thought. Well, my Dad tends to read the BBC, and when he sees an interesting article on there, he tends to share it with the family. Early this morning he found one that has a very definite link to what I was talking about in those two posts. It’s about the fact that there are some people who are unable to visualize anything; it’s called “aphantasia”.

This man had no idea his mind is ‘blind’ until last week

Read on for my thoughts

Let’s Talk About: Storybooks – Face-blindness vs. Bullies

And now that I’m back in St. John’s, I’m resuming the talk about storybooks! Specifically, this post is to look at the issue of face-blindness and bullying.

While I was in the CAPP meeting a week and a half ago, I brought this topic up over lunch, and got some great suggestions for how people who are face-blind can deal with “recognizing/identifying” bullies. I’m going to list them here. If anyone has other possibilities, ideas, suggestions, solutions, please let me know – I’d really like these Spectrum Storybooks to be as comprehensive as possible.

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Let’s Talk About: Storybooks! Post #1

So, here’s the thing. When I was at Social Club this afternoon, our facilitator mentioned that she’d been looking in the ASNL Library for resources – storybooks – to help some parents explain certain things to their children. Unfortunately, she wasn’t too happy with what she found – some she liked the wording but not the illustrations, some she liked the illustrations but not the wording, and some were “yuck”.

Because we’re a pretty creative group, she came up with the idea that maybe we could go ahead and write (and illustrate) some of these missing resources. We all loved the idea. So, one of the first things we have to do is research – and I’m turning to you. Autistic adults – what (of the subjects listed below) would you have wanted to read to help you as a kid? Autistic teens, what about you? Parents, can you ask your kids? Do you have any suggestions for wording? Are there any other subjects you think would be helpful? And if we’re satisfied with what we produce… would you like us to publish them?

Read on for details!

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….

Let’s Talk About: Modes of Thought – Followup

This post is a followup to Let’s Talk About: Imagination and Modes of Thought. Partially because while I wasn’t entirely wrong about my “mode of thought”, I wasn’t exactly correct about it either; and partially because there’s a new Tumblr blog out there called “Autistic Thinking” that I recently stumbled across. The aim of the Autistic Thinking blog is to: “[describe] the different and possibly unusual patterns of thought and perception experienced by autistic people of all types. It’s meant to show how diverse we actually are, compared to the simplified ideas other people have of us”, to quote the blog description. And reading it, I got inspired to write this post, because of my recent ruminations about how exactly I do think.

Want to read my thoughts on this? Go on! 🙂

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….

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!

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:

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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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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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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