Categories
Autism Spectrum Community Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#SensoryAssault at the Avalon Mall

…And we’re not talking about the holiday shopping crowd or even the people smoking in places that are specifically marked as non-smoking (though I consider that a sensory assault and a health hazard as well).

As with all malls, there are a large number of stores in the Avalon Mall, and three (or four) have been problematic, sensory-wise, until about a few months ago (when some were added, see below). Bath and Body Works – in the section between CIBC and Scotiabank, and the escalators; Saje – second floor between the cinema and Lawtons; and The Body Shop – across from Saje, all have very distinct and strong smells coming from them, that can be rather aggravating for anyone with hypersensitive smell, or a sensitivity to particular types of fragrances. As you probably know from other posts on my blog, I’m both. Sephora, as a makeup store, can also have problematic smells at times.

There have also been complaints about the new restaurant/entertainment section, The Rec Room, in terms of the light and noise, but I haven’t yet gone into that section, so can’t say anything from my own experience yet.

But now there’s a (sort of) new store, set right in the open area where the Santa Claus is, next to Laura Secord (of all things!), called Lush.

Lush has a wonderful reputation in their home country of Great Britain for being environmentally aware and focused on products that are healthy as well as beautiful – I made a new friend through doing NaNoWriMo this year who just immigrated from England, and she uses their products exclusively. There were a number of articles about their opening the store in the Avalon Mall.

Unfortunately, walking anywhere near the Lush store is a nightmare – I used the term sensory assault for good reason.

Categories
Advocacy Autism Spectrum Difficulties Interview Life In General

VOCM: Morning Show Record

So, VOCM records its shows via SoundCloud, so here’s the recording of my portion of the Morning Show today! 🙂

Categories
Ableism Autism Spectrum Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#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:

Categories
Autism Spectrum Difficulties Emotions Grief Let's Talk About Neurodiversity Passions Sensory Related

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.

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Anxiety Autism Spectrum Difficulties Let's 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?

Categories
Autism Spectrum Difficulties Sensory Related

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!

Thanks,
🙂 tagâûght

Categories
Anxiety Autism Spectrum Difficulties Let's Talk About

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.

Categories
Autism Spectrum Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related Supports

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.)

Categories
Autism Spectrum Autism Understanding Childhood Communication Independent Living Meltdowns Recommendations Sensory Related Supports

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”.)

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Communication Difficulties Handy Tips Medical Supports

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.

Categories
Autism Spectrum Community Difficulties Family Guest Post

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.

Categories
Acceptance Autism Spectrum Autism Understanding Depression Difficulties Medical

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.

Categories
Acceptance Autism Autism Spectrum Awareness Difficulties Recommendations

Recommendation: Autism Awareness by Andraya

There are a lot of good posts going up for April that have nothing to do with Autism Speaks (at least, not directly), and I honestly wish I could recommend them all, but I’d probably overload my blog with posts if I did that. (Though don’t be surprised to see a few of them going up as rec posts over the next few months! Also, feel free to poke around my links page and check out the blogs I’ve got there, most of which I would be recommending from.)

This post on autism awareness by Andraya, of Asperger’s and Me, definitely needs to be signal boosted and pointed out to people, however. It points out something to people that helps explain part of why Autistics in general have no interest in being “cured” of our autism. Aside from the fact that it’s a huge part of who we are… most of what people/parents with autistic children who have extreme difficulties are looking at: Is Not Autism. Epilepsy, GI issues, Depression, Anxiety… they are not the same as autism. Yes, autistics may be more likely to have these issues than the general population, but as Andraya points out in this post, females are more likely to have depression and anxiety than the “general population”.

A very worthwhile post to read.

🙂 tagAught

Categories
Advocacy Autism Spectrum Behaviour Communication Community Difficulties Supports

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.

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Autism Spectrum Autism Understanding Community Creativity Difficulties Life In General Passions Recommendations Sensory Related

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

Categories
Autism Spectrum Autism Understanding Communication Difficulties Imagination Let's Talk About Life In General Neurology Sensory Related

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.

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Aspergers Autism Autism Spectrum Behaviour Bullying Childhood Communication Difficulties Let's Talk About

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….)

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Acceptance Autism Autism Spectrum Awareness Behaviour Communication Community Difficulties Govt Info Independent Living Life In General Sensory Issues Sensory Related Supports

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.

Categories
Acceptance Aspergers Autism Autism Spectrum AutismUpside Community Meltdowns

World Autism Day 2014

So… it’s April 2nd. World Autism Awareness Day. Everyone’s posting about it. Everyone has their own opinions on the differences between “Awareness” and “Acceptance”, and what that means for those of us on the spectrum and our allies.

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Autism Autism Spectrum Behaviour Cats Communication Difficulties Family

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?)

Categories
Autism Spectrum Behaviour Childhood Communication Difficulties Emotions Family Meltdowns Pain Recommendations Sensory Related

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).

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Autism Spectrum Behaviour Community Depression Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related

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.

Categories
Acceptance Aspergers Autism Autism Spectrum AutismUpside Behaviour Communication Difficulties Emotions Independent Living Let's Talk About Passions Sensory Related Supports

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.

Categories
Autism Spectrum Childhood Difficulties Pain Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#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.

Categories
Aspergers Autism Autism Spectrum Behaviour Communication Difficulties Emotions Headaches Medical Pain Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#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.

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Aspergers Autism Autism Spectrum Childhood Difficulties Headaches Pain Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#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>])

Categories
Autism Autism Spectrum Childhood Difficulties Sensory Issues Sensory Related

#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!

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Acceptance Autism Spectrum Behaviour Bullying Childhood Communication Community Difficulties Emotions Let's Talk About Supports

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.

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Behaviour Cats Community Depression Difficulties Family Life In General Sensory Related Writing

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.

Categories
Autism Spectrum Difficulties Headaches Independent Living Sensory Related

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.