#SensoryIssues: #Interoception – #Toileting

Disclaimer: As far as I’m aware, I had no issues with toilet training.

So, a few weeks ago, I saw a comment somewhere (I no longer remember where, but it may have been Twitter) that essentially claimed that the only reason autistics might have trouble with toileting issues is low intelligence (note I didn’t say “IQ”). This is my response.

As we know now, most – if not all – autistics have trouble with sensory issues; sensory issues that when unaccompanied by other elements are diagnosable (in North America) as Sensory Perception Disorder, or SPD. Those difficulties can be summed up in three parts: hypersensitivity (overly sensitive to stimuli); hyposensitivity (very not sensitive to stimuli); and sensory seeking (seeking out certain sensory stimuli). Note that sometimes hyposensitivity and sensory seeking end up focused on the same form of stimulus, and one seeks out that form of sensory stimulus because one is hyposensitive to it.

As we also know, there are more senses than just the commonly known five (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell); there’s: Click to continue reading

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

Nerves Like Exposed Live Wires

Have you ever felt like your nerves were exposed wires – live ones? Jittery, exposed to air, live wires? That might at any time make your muscles do strange things, like seize up? That feel as though there’s static electricity – or any kind of electricity, really, but static electricity gives the idea I’m going for in terms of strength – going along them?

I have. In fact, the reason this post is going up now is that’s how I’ve been feeling almost since I woke up this morning. Even after taking my Vitamin B complex (vitamin B is good for your neural network).

The first time I can remember feeling this way was in the fall/winter of 2012/3, when I was doing an internship with ILRC-NL (now Empower). One of my placements was at a hotel, and the first time I tried to work at the reception desk (as opposed to the “operator room”), there was a vacuum cleaner being used off to my left. My left upper arm immediately started feeling that way – as though the nerves were exposed to air and had electricity stronger than the normal neural communication shooting through it. Sensory Overload Warning!

It seems (for me) to happen when I’m stretched thin, or when I’m stressed and anticipating something that may not be terribly pleasant, or if there’s major unpleasant sensory input (like the vacuum cleaner mentioned above). (Today I suspect it falls under the “stretched thin” category – see my last post.) It’s usually strongest in my upper arms – and if it’s on one side only, usually that’s the left side, or the side that the sensory input that is unpleasant is situated. Both sides, or more than just my upper arm, and it’s most likely to be one of the first two situations.

So I was wondering. Does anyone else get this sensation? Is it something that happens occasionally, frequently, or all the time? Does anyone have suggestions for dealing with it other than “wait it out”? (Or “take a nap and see if that calms it down enough”?)

Would love to hear from others!

🙂 tagâûght

Let’s Talk About: #AnxietyAttacks


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

#BoycottToSiri: #ActuallyAutistic Writer Review of “To Siri With Love”

Disclaimer Trigger Warning: Mentions of eugenics, privacy invasion, emotional abuse, and other potentially triggering elements.

So, I’m not on Twitter very often. I follow a fair number of people for various reasons (writing and autism being the two main ones, but not the only ones), but that’s still a lot of reading that has to be done every day, so I tend to only go on occasionally, and mostly read my notifications.

As a result, I wasn’t on when the #BoycottToSiri movement first started. (I’d never even heard of the book – “To Siri, With Love” by Judith Newman – before.) The first I heard of it was a post by a friend of mine referencing the honestly disgraceful characterization of YouTube autistic advocate Amythest Schaber in the book.

(Hint: “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is a very negative term, used to refer to female characters who are only in things to appeal to the straight male audience. But even “gamine” would not have been an acceptable term to use. Amythest’s work has absolutely nothing to do with their appearance, and like I said above, it is disgraceful that not only did the author describe them that way, but also that the publisher (Harper Collins, BTW – I encourage everyone to express just how insulting and disgraceful this book is to them) allowed it.)

Anyway. Long story (very long story) short, I was poking around to get some information to send to people about this today, and ran into the Storify of a chapter-by-chapter review of To Siri by autistic adult and parent (and writer) @KaelanRhy. I checked with her, and she gave me permission to post that Storify here.

Continue to read for link and description

Deep Pressure Needed!

So, it’s around midnight here, and for the last half hour I’ve had both my weighted lap pillow and my laptop on my lap. My legs feel like they’re going to jump out of my skin – not sure what the best comparison is, maybe like little jolts of electricity running down the nerves in my legs, only constant rather than intermittent? – because I desperately need deep pressure.

(I’m debating showing up at my parents’ house tomorrow with my lap pillow and grabbing Mew – who is the biggest and heaviest of the cats we have between us – and forcing him to stay on my lap for more than twenty minutes at a time.)

Read on for more about deep pressure with respect to me, and a bit in general

Recommendation: Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew

Ellen Notbohm, the mother of two children, one of whom is on the spectrum, has a number of books out about children on the spectrum, acting as the voice for her son. One of them, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, is now in the ASNL Barbara Hopkins Library. As I was early to Social Club today, I noticed it and decided to read it to see whether I agreed with what was in the book.

My personal answer? It’s excellent. There are some minor things that I disagree with (noted below), but the vast majority of it (and every one of the “Ten Things”) involves points that I am in full agreement with. It’s also both well-written and quite respectful of autistics. (Including the fact that although she uses “child with autism” throughout, she both explains why she prefers not to use the term “autistic”, and also that a number of children, when they grow up, prefer to be referred to as “autistic” rather than “adult with autism”.)

Click for my specific thoughts

Doctor’s Appointments

I went to the doctor’s (general practitioner/GP) to get some referrals this afternoon, and while I was there, I was texting with a friend I made during the CAPP meeting. One of the things we discussed was doctor’s appointments, and something my dad came up with to ensure that he dealt with everything he needed to when he went to the doctor. It’s worked for me too, since he told me about it, and based on our discussion, I thought I’d share it here. It’s simple, but sometimes it’s the simple things one never thinks about.

For an explanation, read on….

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.

Continue reading

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!

Guest Post: My Sister

My middle sister put up a post on Facebook last night about her visit (with her children) this summer, and my reactions. I asked her (a few minutes ago as I’m writing this) if I could post it here, and she said “Sure!” I thought it might be nice to pass on how she has seen some things. 🙂 Included are the pictures she used to show this.

Click to read the post

Autism, Depression, and the Difference

I was just (less than an hour ago, as I write this) reading the most recent post Unstrange Mind put up on her blog, entitled I have a depressing, socially-isolating disease. In it she explains about how celiac and Non-24 (see her post for details) affect her in ways that are depressing, socially isolating, and very much not good for her overall health; in contrast to autism, which is not something isolated from her “self” and has a number of things about it which make her happy.

That post got me thinking, and it reminded me of a question that I think I remember my father asking me at one point, about the effects of autism vs. the effects of depression, and why I considered them to be different (the context being about how “curing” autism would make me a completely different person). I think I now have an answer.

To read my thoughts, go on.

Open Letter to ASNL: About LIUB

The following is a letter that I will be sending to the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador concerning the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. At the bottom of the post is a link to the PDF version.

Dear Mr. Crocker and Members of the Board,

Once again this April, St. John’s/Newfoundland has tried to demonstrate and/or encourage “autism awareness” (or “autism acceptance”, as most autistics prefer) by “Lighting It Up Blue” on Cabot Tower and the Confederation Buildings. And I really have to protest.

Continue to read letter

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: Splines Theory by Luna Lindsey

So, I was taking a look at my stats (yay, people are interested in my analysis of the problems with the SD article!), and I noticed a referring link from www.lunalindsey.com. I went, okay, I haven’t seen this before… so I clicked on the link.

The post is titled: Splines Theory: A Spoons Metaphor for Autism. In it, Ms. Lindsey looks at the spoons metaphor for dealing with energy resources with invisible disabilities, and some issues she has with it, and provides a new metaphor for exploring what’s going on that causes us to have energy drains and difficulty changing routines and such. (And a commenter adds another metaphor, for those who aren’t a comfortable with computer-oriented ones.)

It’s a rather interesting look at things, and resonates with me. Quite a bit. It makes sense – even more sense than the spoons metaphor (which is incorporated into the Splines Theory as a whole). I like it.

So I’m recommending this post. 😉

🙂 tagAught

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 #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!

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: Heat & Thermoregulation

It’s currently in the mid- to high-twenties (Celsius; mid-seventies to mid-eighties Fahrenheit) here in St. John’s, and I’m… miserable. Thoroughly enervated (which does not mean what it appears to in Harry Potter; it actually means drained of energy), and occasionally sick from the heat. I’m just lucky that my bedroom and “study” are down in the “sub”-basement of the house. (Well, not just lucky; my parents are well aware of the problems that I have with heat, so it was deliberately arranged this way.) But because Mom has trouble tolerating air-conditioning, there’s none in the house. Twenty minutes or so ago, Dad informed us that the kitchen was currently 4°C hotter than it was outside.

The problem? I’m allergic to heat, and I seem to also have problems with thermoregulation, which taking the Effexor last fall made worse.

Read on for details re how heat affects me

#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

#SensoryIssues: Pain

[Note: This post and the next one (#SensoryIssues: Interoception & Psychosomatism) are linked in theme, so they will be posted closely together.  Same day, at least.]

I don’t complain a lot about pain.

I’m sure some people (*cough* my family *cough*) will disagree, but… I don’t. Not when compared to what I actually feel, at least. I tend to feel a fair bit more pain than I talk about to people, partly because I don’t know how to say things, and partly because… well, see my hypochondria posts (links are below) for the details on how I feel about that.

Oh, if I have a nasty headache, or bad cramps, or I get a sensory “spike” (like when cutlery clashes together, or a child squeals in excitement, etc.)… then I complain. Or at least mention it.

Sometimes very obviously (aka covering my ears with my hands, holding my stomach), because I’m never sure how to convey the information and words don’t seem to be enough. I’m not always listened to (especially by my siblings; my parents are a lot more understanding, particularly lately, as we learn new stuff about the sensory sensitivities of autistics), so broad, sometimes exaggerated gestures have become my main effort to get across to people that I’m hurting. (Of course, this then results in people – *cough* my brother *cough* – telling me that there’s no need to do that, it’s not like it’s an issue. [Said after I covered my ears to try to deal with my niece’s excited squealing. I wasn’t trying to make her feel bad or anything; I just could not tolerate the pitch of her voice, and no one was listening to my requests to please be a bit quieter. </rant over>])

Continue on to read more re Pain Issues

#SensoryIssues: Taste vs Texture – Food Dislikes

So, I was having tomato sandwiches for lunch today (been a long time since I’ve had those, and I remembered how much I enjoy them) when it suddenly came to me that I didn’t really like tomato sandwiches on brown bread, that they tasted better with white bread. Now, this didn’t really make that much sense, because I find that I prefer the taste of brown bread to white bread; it’s more interesting.

So I was trying to puzzle this out, and after a minute or two, I realized that it wasn’t really the taste of brown bread tomato sandwiches I was objecting to; it was the texture! Revelation!

Read on for details

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.

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….

Services = IQ ≤ 70


My Mom is still working on making connections with Eastern Health, trying to get services for me so that I can live independently. I’m working (somewhat – I seriously need help with motivation, depression has me in its grasp) on getting Income Support and Employment Insurance. I’ve filled out the forms and stuff, now it’s mostly waiting.

But for Mom… she keeps running into the same old problem. “If she has an IQ of higher than 70, we can’t help her.”

Click for further venting and expressions of dissatisfaction