It’s nearly a week since I left on the trip to visit family, last Thursday…

bare tree in water… and it’s several days since my return. I’m still feeling shaky from two meltdowns afterwards, in two consecutive days. Still feeling sick to my stomach, still feeling fragile, still easily pushed past the verge of tears over stuff that’s really nothing – or would normally not bother me at all.

I hate it when things get like this, and thankfully things haven’t been this bad in many years. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember this happening in recent memory. Well, I guess it’s par for the course, when you put someone in my situation into circumstances like the ones I was in for four days running, without realistically assessing how demanding it would be.

It’s been a long time since things got that bad. So, I’m out of practice.

Clearly.

I guess there is some good to be gotten from this – namely, that I’m forced to look at my limitations much more closely than I have in a long time. Only by pushing my limits, can I get a clear sense of where they are and how they affect me. Normally, in my well-managed life, I’m not exposed to the kinds of frenetic activity and high social demands, combined with dietary changes, schedule changes, and alterations to just about every aspect of my daily life that I count on for stability. I’ve worked hard to make it that way, and I can see (in comparison to how things were last week) that it has really been to my benefit over the past years.

On the other hand, it has definitely made it harder for me to adapt to these kind of conditions, which makes me wonder whether this current state of mind and body is a result of me just being deconditioned from constant change, or it’s me becoming more autistic over time. I’ve said a number of times, and I’ve also heard a number of other people say, that autistic traits can become more prominent as we age. I think the reasons for that are manifold – we have less interest in masking, aging erodes our resilience, we become more sensitive to things, we are less quick to respond to emerging conditions around us, and we also get used to having things a certain way. Those are just a few reasons I can think of. I imagine there are more.

In my case, I think it’s all of the above. And while I do wonder if that isn’t compromising my ability to just deal with things as they come, I have to say that it shows how much more considerate I am of myself than I used to be. I used to just push and push and push myself, no matter what, disregarding the pain I was in, disregarding the distress I was putting myself through, treating it all like some sort of cognitive behavioral Boot Camp that I was sure would refine me into a more acceptable sort of character. I’ve literally described situations like the past week as “character building” more times than I can count, and I supposed to some extent, it’s true. But more than that, it’s instructive.

It shows me that I really can’t fool around with his autism business. It’s serious, it has an impact, and it can severely compromise me if I don’t manage it properly. It is disabling, when I don’t handle it well. That’s not to say that I consider myself disabled – at least not permanently.

But I am compromised. I am impaired. And that’s because I did not get the accommodation I needed when it was most critical. I did not get consideration. I did not get patience. I did not get any of the things I really need just to get by under challenging circumstances. Instead, I got swept up in the neurotypical assumptions about what I should be capable of, that I should have no problem with doing, as well being embroiled in everybody else’s idea of A Good Time.

Note to self and the world – other people’s idea of fun does not match mine. And my idea of fun is pretty much unrecognizable to others.

So, there we have it. I’m still in a diminished state, still pissed off over the whole experience, still struggling to keep it together and present some semblance of reliable stability to the people who pay me to be reliable and stable. I know more about myself now than I did this time last week, I have more information, more data, more inputs to assimilate into my understanding of who I am and how I work. And one of the big data points is a hearty distaste for anything and everything that isn’t 100% in agreement with me.

As much as I do believe in meeting people halfway, I also believe in taking care of myself. More now than ever. And taking care of myself pretty much means extracting myself in practice from the ways of the neurotypical world, and making my own way in my own autistic sphere. The difference between how things are when I am halfway in their world, and halfway in mine, and how I am when I am 100% in my world, as dramatic.

The difference is like night and day.

And I’m just so tired of not having that hundred percent. I’m just so tired of accommodating everybody else except myself. I’m just so tired of having to expend the effort – and for what? A paycheck, sure. I’ll make concessions for that. But as for my family life and my personal life, in that I need to be 100% true to myself.

Everybody else is free to do as I wish. All I ask is that I give myself that same consideration.

And so I shall.

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Armed to the Teeth – Coping strategies for dental procedures

Flashback from 2008, around the time when I first started this blog. I’ll be revisiting this and updating for the current situation — nearly 10 years on…

Aspie Under Your Radar

Armed to the Teeth

Coping strategies for dental procedures for highly sensitive individuals


Introduction

When it comes to health care, few aspects are as problematic for individuals with heightened physical sensitivities, especially those on the Autistic Spectrum and with Asperger’s Syndrome (“AS”). I, myself have had considerable sensory issues, from childhood into adulthood, and I’ve “been through the ringer” many times with the dentist. Fortunately, I’ve developed a number of coping strategies and mechanisms, and by trial-and-error, I’ve figured out how to visit the dentist successfully and persevere through even the most trying procedures.

I have written this work in hopes of shedding some light on the ubiquitous and mysterious conundrum of ASI’s and their extreme difficulties with the dentist. The coming pages explore this issue through the lens of my own personal sensory and social experiences, as a 43 year-old woman on the Asperger’s end of the Autistic Spectrum…

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Simplifying my life

person jumping into focus

My 52nd birthday is coming in a couple of weeks. I never used to pay it any mind – in fact, I hated to pay any attention to it, at all. It was just another day to me. Just another reason for people to torture me with surprises and constantly bombard me with “well wishes” for a day that I never asked to be born on.

It sounds a little grim, but that’s my outlook usually is, around this time of year. I didn’t ask to be born into a world that cares nothing about me, that doesn’t know me, that doesn’t care about the same things I care about, that is so unbelievably cruel and stupid and has no problem being that way, day in and day out. Even the people who are supposed to be “helpers” are unbelievably cruel in their ignorant stupidity, their hubris and arrogance leading us all straight to hell.

Fck them. Fck the world that would just as soon see me dead. Fck the employers of the world who suck the life out of everyone they fool into working for them. Fck the people who fck everything up and don’t give a sht about it. And f*ck the people who want to cut those people a break, because they’re “just human”. Those dangerous jokers have made a mess of things, and they need to be held accountable, not given a pass because somebody either A) wants to humanize them to ease the existential burn, or B) hopes to join their ranks, someday.

Collusion. I’m so tired of collusion. Excuses.

Yep. This time of year is pretty dismal for me. Grim. Because yet another year has passed, and it’s all the same sh*t as last year, same old pains, same old suffering, same old dramas that suck the joy out of every breath. The pain never goes away completely. It just moves around. It’s boring in its predictable unpredictability.

And here I am… a little farther down the road, not feeling as though I’ve actually accomplished anything of objective value. Still working job that pays the bills and has some interesting aspects to it, but is pretty much a dead end and doesn’t lead anywhere I want to go.

On the other hand, I’ve had a pretty productive blogging year. I’m not sure why I have such a hard time assigning objective value to the things I create. In the past year, I’ve written a whole truckload of blog posts, and some of them have been pretty good according to others as well as my own estimation. Other posts, not so much, but output variability is the price you pay for greatness, I s’ppose 😉

Maybe the valuation part is because I’m not earning any money at this writing, for all the work I put into it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe that money is the only measure of value for things I write. But for all the effort I put into it, an “emotional paycheck” is not the only thing I want to get out of it. It’s at a point, where I need to do better than that. I need to do more. And the writing really needs to start supporting itself.

It’s like I’m a single parent and my writing is a 20-something just out of university who’s been hanging around the house, eating all the food, taking up space, adding to the laundry loads, and not making an effort to go out and get a job. It’s unsustainable. It really is.

So, what do I do about it? What indeed?

Well, I have a handful of options.

  • There’s my Patreon, of course. I started it, nearly a year ago, with the best of intentions. But I just haven’t kept up with it. I haven’t been able to square the need for free #ActuallyAutistic writing with “the money thing”. I really, truly believe that we need to make writing by autistic folks accessible to the wider world. Our voices, our stories, need to be out there. And not everyone has the money to regularly support writers — especially folks who are over-extended by their efforts to deal with autistic difficulties. We can be “underemployed”, underpaid, and generally short on cash, and we need to lower the barriers to sharing our stories.

At the same time, I also believe it’s critically important that we as an Autistic community place a larger value on our work. We shouldn’t just give it all away for free. Countless scholarly journals charge $35/paper, or hundreds of dollars for a years’s subscription, lots of them earning a whole lotta cash off studies of our existence. It’s the most blatant example of rank social and economic injustice. And funding is constantly going to research institutions that are locked onto the target of eradicating people like me from the planet.

We have to change how we move our money around. We have to change who gets money, and why. I’m willing (and eager) to devote my life — yes, my life — to the documentation and analysis of the Autistic experience, explaining a whole lot that baffles the world, especially with regard to women and girls on the spectrum. But I can’t do that, if I can’t pay my mortgage. I can’t do that, if I go hungry and can’t provide for myself and my partner and take care of the other people in my life who need taking care of.

That all beings said, I’m changing how I handle my posts on this blog. My new policy is to post here for free — for a week. And then move the posts over to Patreon, behind a modest paywall. A minimum of $1/month will get you access to all my posts. You can pay more, if it’s worth it to you. That’s always welcome! I’ll figure out some other pay level schemes to offer (including thematically grouped and lightly edited collections of posts, personal chat sessions with me — especially for researchers who would like to discuss aspects of autistic life with me, and other offerings I have yet to think of).

  • Another option is to publish selections of my work (in eBook and print book) format, and make it more widely available for a small charge on Amazon.com and other online outlets. That’s actually a pretty easy thing for me to do. I’ve been publishing, myself, for years. And I can offer the pieces at different prices and in different formats. This could work. I love to format documents and publish them out, and it’s my hope that others will get even more out of it, than they would on this site.
  • And then there’s simplifying my blogging. I have a bad habit of starting new things on a whim, thinking I can commit to them, and then realizing after a week that it’s never going to work. I’ve started more blogs over the years than I care to think of, and only two of them have stood the test of time. I’ve done it with Tip of My Aspergers (no, I’m not linking to it), and like so many other blogs I’ve started, it petered out, because the theme I was so passionate about, several months ago, has melded into the overall landscape of my life, no longer a distinct blog with its own presence. The posts I’ll move over here. And leave it at that. So I have fewer things to think about and process, when I sit down to WordPress each morning.

Focus is good. I need more of it. Too much on my head, too much that’s confusing, too much that demands my processing… well, that just drags me down, and then I end up staying in a persistent state of borderline meltdown for days on end. Sometimes weeks.

So, yeah, this is it. Time to channel that “F*ck You” attitude into something constructive, and see where that takes me. It’s no good, letting it “back up” on me and make me miserable. My birthday is coming. I can’t just let it arrive, without having done something substantive to move myself in the direction I need to go.

It’s gonna take me a while to move all my posts over to Patreon, as well as publish out the pieces I deem Amazon-worthy. But it’s a great direction for my energy.

Time to move. Time to make a move.

The deep connective thinking of the autistic mind.

Yes to this. All of it.

The other side

Photo on 29-05-2017 at 14.34

I began thinking about this post through a personal reflection on the contribution of deep connective thought to innovation within my own projects.  My focus (naturally) is this style of thinking within the autistic mind and how it might connect to mainstream culture, yet remain unrecognised as autistic in origin.

The obvious follow on from these musings is that there exists a parallel history to mainstream narratives, one of hidden talent and industry which has powered (and continues to power) just about every area of human endeavour.  If our net is cast wider to include the entire gamut of neurodivergent minds, we can arrive at the following statements.

Traces of neurodivergent brain activity form a powerful (yet unspoken) web around the globe and across the ages. This web in past and present times supports all areas of human thought. If we turn this round 180 degrees, it can be argued…

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Factoring in the Physical – what makes #autistic #Stoicism different

There’s much more to say about this. And I intend to. I’m coming to believe that much of the drama and contention around autism has its actual roots in western mainstream society’s (pathological) fear of the physical realities of life — especially those which resist the override of the mind.

According to our western you-can-do-it-if-you-try mythology, the right frame of mind, the right attitude, the right motivation, the right philosophy, can (and will) assert primacy over every single one of the uncomfortable physical realities that threaten our very existence. That existence can be social or individual, economic or biological. But in any case, no physiologically based challenge should — or can — resist the glorious primacy of our mentality.

But what if there’s more to that? What if the body is every bit as central to our thought-and-reality-creation process, as the mind? What if the body in fact overrides the mind at times? What if there are circumstances under which the mind simply CANNOT assert its primacy, because the body has the proverbial upper hand?

This question, I believe, lies at the heart of our current conflict about autism, Aspergers, neurodivergence.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. But I do think I’m right about this.

The Tip of My Asperger's

wires catching on fire on a bare floor It’s not enough to get your thoughts in order. The body also has a say.

So, I’m back from a four-day graduation celebration / reunion marathon with my in-laws. These are folks who speak quickly in accents I don’t immediately understand, which can be challenging — especially when I’m tired. The whole “shindig” took place in a major metropolitan area where the traffic is heavy and unpredictable. I almost got hit a couple of times by people who were driving faster than they were watching. That seemed to be the overriding theme of the whole long weekend. People moving too fast. Not paying attention. Endangering others with their excesses.

The airport arrival, rental car pick-up, a crowded and loud graduation, four group meals, and the rental car / airport return were one extended experience in general melee. Chaos. Unrecognized patterns. A way of life that’s diametrically opposed to my own, with…

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A “Sample Sensory Diet” of Common Sense

a picture of a number of cherry picker lifts in a storage yard

Some years ago, I found this:

A Sample Sensory Diet

The following guidelines represent a kind of sensory diet for one particular child. Keep in mind that every child has a different regulatory and sensory profile, and that these activities are not appropriate or useful for every child. You should get guidance from an occupational therapist or other individual who is experienced with sensory integration.

In this particular example, the child would become disorganized on a regular basis. Although this has meant different things at different times, this child shows disorganization primarily by:

  • being extremely silly and unresponsive
  • laughing uncontrollably
  • losing control of his body–getting extremely limp and/or clumsy
  • becoming either hyper- or hypo-sensitive to pain and other physical stimuli
  • getting aggressive–pinching or spitting, usually in a taunting, almost maniacal way
  • humming and clicking while wandering around aimlessly

Engaging this child in sensory activities on a frequent, regular basis seemed to help him to remain engaged, focused, and in control more often. When this child does get disorganized, these activities help him to find himself again.

Great resources for sensory integration information:

Kranowitz, Carol Stock. The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. 1998. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.

Ayres, A. Jean, PhD. Sensory Integration and the Child. Western Psychological Services: Los Angeles, 1979.


At the critical times during the day, plan on activating the child with these activities.

NOTE: Spin the child at every activation phase. Spin him in the swing 10 complete revolutions each direction, with a 20-30 second pause in between. Spin firmly and quickly. Do not repeat.

Warning: For some children, spinning is not useful, and can be overstimulating and dangerous. Before engaging in any of these activities (and spinning in particular), please consult a professional who has a solid understanding of sensory integration principles.

Chase Games

  • Tag
  • Follow-the-Leader
  • Obstacle Courses
  • Red Light/Green Light
  • Running Races

Exercise Games

  • Simon Says
  • Obstacle Course
  • “If You’re Happy & You Know It”

Incorporate:

Jumping Jacks
Stretching
Situps and Pullups
Tumbling/Head Stands
Balance Beam
Standing on one leg
Wheelbarrow

Swinging/Bouncing

  • Inside swings
  • Trampoline
  • Hang-bar
  • Tire Swing
  • Outside swings
  • Outside trolley
  • Exercise ball

Squeezables

  • Nerf balls
  • Gak, floam, flubber, silly putty
  • Play catch with any ball

Incorporate those activities plus others listed in the box below into as many of your games as possible. Be sure to work in a sensory activity at least every half hour.

EVERY HALF HOUR AND ANYTIME

Other Sensory Stimulation

Everything on the other list plus:

  • Smelling Scents Game
  • Rubbing/Brushing (brush firmly and consistently–avoid stomach)
  • Rolling Up In Blanket
  • Crawling through a “caterpillar” (long tube of stretchy fabric)
  • Dragging/Sliding Around Room
  • Silly Walks (e.g., crab walk)
  • Ball and Bat
  • Imitating Songs
  • Hand Games
  • Stilts/Roller Skates
  • Jump Rope

CALMING ACTIVITIES

8:30AM Bath, Brushing, Deep Pressure

3:15PM Child’s choice (e.g., biking)

6:30PM Supper, Bath, Deep Pressure, Free Play, Stories, Bed

Now, a bunch of things come to mind, when I read this.

The first is, Why is this considered a “sensory diet” that needs to be specifically detailed to parents? I thought that’s just how kids were/are supposed to occupy themselves when they’re kids!

I mean, seriously – why is this a plan of action that is called out as something special, something artificial? Why is this something that is seen as out of the ordinary? When I was a kid, this is just what we did — we played plenty of “Chase Games” like tag, follow-the-leader, obstacle courses, red light/green light, and running races. And we played plenty of “Exercise Games” like Simon Says, creating and running through obstacle courses, and singing “If You’re Happy & You Know It”. And we didn’t need a trained expert to “instruct” us how to do it.

Am I the only one who thinks that this “professionalized” approach is a bit silly? For people who are too busy to tend to their children and are eager to plop them down in front of the television or the DVD player or the computer, it might be necessary to detail exactly why kids need to play games like this, but it’s a sad, sad commentary on modern American life, when parents and adults need to be explicitly told to create conditions in which their kids can play tag, follow-the-leader, and red light/green light.

I really think there’s something in kids that instinctively knows what they/we need, in order to mature and grow up strong. When I was a kid, we instinctively did jumping jacks, stretching, situps and pullups, tumbling/head stands, balance beam, standing on one leg, and wheelbarrow. We didn’t need “guidance from an occupational therapist or other individual who is experienced with sensory integration.” We just did it. We ran around and played. We raced each other and tested our physical limits and worked our tumbling and balancing into the course of our play. We skipped rope. We climbed, we jumped, we did all sorts of things that kids apparently don’t do anymore, unless they’re specifically ordered to do so by trained professionals or parents who have been coached by experts.

How did we get to this place? How did the domain of child’s play become the exclusive domain of qualified and certified professionals? I have no doubt that the work authors who describe in detail (for overwhelmed adult minds) the tangible benefits of kids just being kids has made a contribution to the developmental health and well-being of lots of challenged kids. But what the hell is up with parents, that they need to be explicitly told that their kids need to play at, physically and socially, in order to develop properly?

WTF?

The next thing that comes to mind is, Holy smokes, the top part really describes me to a “t” when I was a kid. I wonder if my parents knew/noticed any of this stuff.

It’s really interesting to think back about how I was when I was growing up — really hyper and hard to control, and sensitive on top of it. And when I look at the list of issues kids can have:

  • being extremely silly and unresponsive – CHECK
  • laughing uncontrollably – CHECK
  • losing control of his/her body–getting extremely limp and/or clumsy – CHECK
  • becoming either hyper- or hypo-sensitive to pain and other physical stimuli – CHECK
  • getting aggressive–pinching or spitting, usually in a taunting, almost maniacal way – CHECK
  • humming and clicking while wandering around aimlessly – ??? could very well be

All of this stuff just fits me so well, except for maybe the last one, which I don’t really recall. Not that it would have been unlike me. I was an “unusual” child, to say the least, and I probably would have considered wandering around aimlessly while humming to myself to be quite a useful and productive use of time – no joke.

When I look at the list of Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms over at http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html, I’m really struck by how well a lot of them fit me, and how well they fit my mother. Whoah. This puts Mom’s behavior in a whole new light.

The problem when I was growing up was that she was on the opposite end of the spectrum than I — she was hypo-sensitive and sensation-seeking (like the proverbial bull in a china shop, always loud and high-contact and rough and not very good at figuring out physical boundaries, etc., etc.), while I on the other hand was hyper-sensitive and I had really bad reactions to touch and being pushed and pulled and treated like some rag doll.

It’s so wild to think about this, now — it really puts things in perspective. And it makes me a lot less angry with her.

It puts my whole family into perspective, in fact. My siblings had issues. I had issues. We all had issues.

And my parents made sure we grew up in an environment where we had a “rich sensory diet”. But I’m not sure they were consciously aware of all this. I don’t think my mother really understood the nature and the impact of her behavior — she still doesn’t, from what I can tell. My dad did things, too, that tied in with “sensory richness”, like building a hanging bar for us kids to play on, and always encouraging (and pushing) me to test my physical balance limits, like with my skateboard.

Mom and Dad did appear to do things instinctively to address my issues, such as spinning me around and making sure I was always physically active and encouraging me to do lots of things that developed my balance and coordination. I was a dorky kid, with a lot of problems balancing, and I have distinct memories of my parents — especially my mother — going to great lengths to get me to participate in activities that would help me develop those. But I’m not sure they consciously chose or planned to do these things. It wasn’t like they had a formula for making sure we kids developed adequate proprioceptive and vestibular viability. It wasn’t like they consulted with experts about how best to address my sensory processing dysfunction.

At least, I don’t think so. It could be that they did talk to child psychologists and what-not, and they just hid their methods from me (which wasn’t hard to do, when I was an innocent and all-but-clueless kid). Mom did have a copy of “Dr. Spock” around, and she consulted it a lot, but so much of what my parents did, other parents in our area did for their kids, as well. It was just how things were done in the world I grew up in.

This part of my post dovetails nicely with the first part — that is, what is up with parents today, and why do they need to have these things explicitly told to them?

This really, really puzzles me. Is it because there has been so much emphasis put on “professionalization” in the past 50 years (since the USA rose to a position of global domination and the parallel veritable explosion of higher education and proliferation of specialists), that we as a society are invested in our experts? Is it because we as a society have put so many of our eggs in the basket of developing “professional expertise” that we’re now obligated to dip into the pool of professional knowledge, in order to do anything, anymore? Have we become so enamored of our “advancement” that we’ve made it all but impossible to live our lives? I smell the scent of another extended blog post, for another time… but the burning question with regard to this issue within the context of this post, is, are parents so dependent on professionals for guidance, that they are afraid to just parent? And are they so distanced from the varieties of life (sitting in their homogenized cubicles in their standards-driven office environments), that they fear even the slightest deviation from “normality”, as it’s defined by the qualified professionals of the day?

Seriously, when I look at the organizations dedicated to stamping out the “autism epidemic,” I’m struck by the corporate backgrounds of these individuals. How many of the folks sitting on the boards and doing the research have actually experienced what it’s like to be outside the acceptable range of “normal” behavior and human experience? Where’s the diversity? I wonder. The unfamiliar makes people afraid. Fear makes people do rash things. Fear makes people start and/or send money to organizations and initiatives that promise to relieve their fear.

I think one of the big reasons that my own parents could create situations where I was active and had the chance to develop coordination and balance, was that they themselves have sensory processing issues, themselves and they grew up in an environment where sensory issues and autistic spectrum behaviors and tendencies were/are actually a “regular” part of life.

Anybody who says that autism is a “new” epidemic has never spent time with my family, my extended network of relatives, and the insular communities of faith in the neck of the woods where I grew up. Most, if not all, of my relatives (including third cousins twice removed, whom I actually did grow up around), as well as most of my friends and acquaintances and people I went to church with, could easily be placed somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum. Where I grew up, all you have to do is go buy a quart of milk at the local convenience store, to bump into people who — in private or unguarded moments — exhibit plenty of signs of “autistic spectrum-ish” behavior. I’m serious about this. We’re built differently, where I grew up. If you head into that neck o’ the woods (and I do mean woods), I can all but guarantee any aspiring student of the autistic spectrum will find a plethora of examples of folks all along the autistic spectrum and/or with significant sensory processing issues, who are “recovered” or at least sufficiently rehabilitated to function fully as mature adults in the big, bad world. (I won’t say where that neck of the woods is, for the sake of privacy and retaining the human dignity of possible targets of “autistic diagnosis”.)

Does this mean that the land where I grew up is chock full of behaviorally challenged individuals who need special intervention, just to get along in the world? Hell no. It just means that this so-called “autistic epidemic” might, to some extent, be a fabrication of people who have become so distanced from the flow of natural, organic life, that

A) they don’t realize that their kids actually need to run around and play, in order to grow up capable and strong and well-adjusted to the social and the physical world,

B) they can’t make a move without consulting with a trained professional expert, and

C) that the phenomenon we call “autism” may, in some cases, actually be an extreme and underdeveloped expression of what may be perfectly normal part of life — a part of life that certain folks know how to integrate into their daily lives, over the course of their constantly evolving life experience.

Now, I can sense that I’m drifting off-track with this post. And I may be courting a great deal of controversy (even wrath from the “autism epidemic” proponents). I’m finding more tangents, and my associational mind is going wild, here, and I’m sure I’m not being very diplomatic, so I’ll get myself back on track and speak to these issues more, later on. For now, let’s return to the “Sensory Diet” web page.

Under the Activities, I find even more “regular and normal” parts of my childhood experience:

Swinging/Bouncing

  • Inside swings — we had a front porch swing that we kids often sat and swung on. It wasn’t “therapy”, it was fun, and it was what we did on summer nights.
  • Trampoline — our town had one at town hall for us kids to jump on during summer vacation. I think they may have removed it, due to safety concerns, but it was one of the best parts of summer, to head over to town hall and jump on the trampoline, while the Bee Gees were playing on the radio.
  • Hang-bar — my dad installed one in our back yard, and we played on it constantly. It was just something that we had. I don’t think a doctor or expert told him to put one in. It was just seen as something that was an essential part of growing up.
  • Tire Swing — my grandparents had one of these, and when all the cousins would gather, we would all just achingly pine for our chance to get on that swing. It was one of my favorite parts of visiting my grandparents, and it was a really vital element in me keeping my cool, during visits. My grandparents’ house out in the country was full of strange and strong smells that my city nose didn’t recognize. It was easy for me to get sensorily overwhelmed, so I spent a lot of time on the tire swing.
  • Outside swings — see above. Also, I and my siblings and my best friends, loved to swing on the playground swingsets, long past the time when we were supposed to “grow out of them”. We’d head over to the park and sit in the swings and twirl and spin and do all sorts of things that “normal” people would probably consider aberrant. But we were by ourselves, and we didn’t get crap from anyone, because no one was watching us. And if they had been, we would have told them to “shove off!” anyway.
  • Outside trolley — ?? what’s this?
  • Exercise ball — This is a newfangled thing, so I can’t speak to its place in my childhood development.

Squeezables like nerf balls and silly putty were a really important part of my childhood experience. No trip to the pool was complete without a nerf ball to throw, flinging water in all directions. And nerf footballs were the only acceptable kinds of footballs to have. I remember many a game of football, with all us kids squishing and pressing and worrying the nerf football, till it started to literally fall apart in our hands. We loved our nerf footballs to death, picking absentmindedly at the surface, squeezing and pressing and throwing and catching.

We really played catch with any ball we could find. Soft squishy balls, hard softballs, tennis balls, baseballs… Run-down was a particular favorite, as we could play it in limited space and race back and forth between the bases, coordinating our motions and actions.

And we didn’t need to have trained experts show us how to do it, or tell our parents to allow us to do all this.

We just did it ourselves. Our parents expected it. And they created space and opportunity for us to do it.

This wasn’t all considered a “special sensory diet” — it was just the process of growing up. It was The Way Things Were Done.

This being said, the last thing that comes to mind is, What is up with this web page, with the “scheduling” of these kinds of sensory diet activities? How contrived — and artificial — is that?

I mean, come on, people — You have seriously got to be kidding me, that you’d actually “work in a sensory activity at least every half hour” as though it’s some part of an official agenda. What’s wrong with just spontaneously allowing these things to happen? What’s wrong with just creating an environment where kids are allowed to do all this on their own, at their own pace, in their own ways? I firmly believe, from my own experience — and my own fully functional nature — that even the most impaired kids (if given half a chance) have the innate capacity to identify the activities and the pastimes that will strengthen their weak points.

They/we just have to be allowed to do so. Without being ridiculed. Without being pitied. Without being considered “abnormal” or “defective”. Without being bullied and tortured and treated like freaks.

Maybe I’m being overly negative-Aspie and insensitive to the needs of SPD/Autistic kids, but to me that having adults organize and participate in these sorts of activities with special needs kids seems a little dumb. Adults just don’t have the imaginative range or the endurance or the flexibility (in terms of time and attention) that kids have, and they’re (in my opinion) much too “temporally bound” — as in, too aware of time schedules and deadlines — to give kids the quality of attention and activity that they need.

Why not just turn off the television and unplug the DVD player and computer, and get the kids to play? Why not just “chase ’em outside” like my mom used to do all the time, and create places where they can indulge their every SPD-rehabilitory activity to their hearts’ content? Why not just gather a bunch of kids together and teach them to tolerate differences and recognize each others’ strengths? Teach them to let the kid who can’t hit the ball to save his life keep score and organize the league. Teach them to be patient and not tease and taunt just because one of the kids picks his nose or flaps his arms when he’s agitated.

Why not just let kids be kids — and teach them to let other kids be… other? Without sanction. Without punishment. Without shame and ridicule. That seems to be a more fitting solution, than contriving all these carefully scripted and scheduled and choreographed and adult-driven activities that are poor imitations of the “real thing.” And it might just train the emerging generation of NT folks to tolerate diversity and not be mean-spirited bastards to those of us whose worst, most heinous crime is making others nervous.

How about just not treating developing kids like we’re abnormal… simply because they’re still developing?

We are all works in progress, and the sooner we stop pathologizing diversity and learn to let each other just be (and give us ugly ducklings the time and the chance to become the swans we truly are), the better off the whole planet will be.

That’s just my opinion, but I don’t think I’m wrong.

By saying that “Girls mask autism better”…

By saying that "girls mask autism better," you are effectively passing the blame on to them for not being able to diagnose them. Stop it.
By saying that “girls mask autism better,” you are effectively passing the blame on to them for not being able to diagnose them. Stop it.

Oh. My. Lord. What a quick, strange trip it was.

telephone pole with lots of connections
I think all my connections have been maxed out, at least for now

So, I’m back home again.

Back from my marathon trip to a major metropolitan area to see my niece graduate.

Back from the constant onslaught of noise-noise-noise, busy hustle-bustle, and sensory overwhelm.

Back from the social overload… combined with an utter dearth of abstract, complex thought.

Back from an exclusively neurotypical world, populated by self-congratulatory buffoons who think their scent-filled, climate-controlled, germ-ridden, sexist world is the pinnacle of Western syphilisation. Woo fucking hoo. Like that massive, upscale outdoor mall crawling with cologne-soaked mainstream “fashion” afficionados is the crown jewel of their glorious empire. Good GOD, spare me.

Back from the brink of feeling like I was going to lose my mind, nearly every waking moment of the time.

I have a whole day off work to recover. I’ll need it. In fact, methinks I’ll need the whole month of June. That’s fine. I’ll just lay low, keep my activities to a bare minimum, and focus on getting enough sleep.

Hahahahaha! Who am I kidding? The whole point of being back home, is getting to “uncork” yet again, letting my mind and physical vehicle roam wild and free, without the mindless devotion to acquiring stuff and showing it off to everyone around me, like a rooster among mynah birds. Writing wildly, with more than a few minutes of uninterrupted thought at my disposal. Getting back to my daily routine of waking early, exercising, having my breakfast, writing for a few hours, going to work, just barely tolerating everything there, then coming home, having a nice dinner, watching a short t.v. show, and going to bed at a decent hour, so I can get up and do it all over again.

I didn’t get hardly any of that, since last Thursday, and it took its toll. Left me in a weeping zombie meltdown in Terminal D of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport… walking behind my partner with tears rolling down my face, as those oh-so-familiar internal voices kept prodding me to “Buck up“, “Get it together“, “Hold your shit!” All to no avail, because once the meltdown starts, the only way to get to the other side, is let it all just melt — withdraw to a protected corner (a bathroom stall), fall to pieces (weep uncontrollably), then wash off my face and get myself back into the swing of things by listening to some music and reading something moderately challenging.

Seriously, the most draining part of the whole four days was that there was so little intellectual challenge. So little flow. So little opportunity to get off the domesticated leash. And there was precious little outlet for my energy. Getting out and really moving wasn’t part of the scheduled activities. Sitting in one loud, chaotic restaurant after another… that was on the docket.

It was like sitting through a72-hour demonstration of a trendy, high-priced, extremely LOUD blender, while being forced to do “quiet hands” and keep absolutely still. Anguish. Pure anguish. And it doesn’t help that my partner just doesn’t get why I need to actually get up and move (at a pace that’s very quick for her, but just moderately steady for me) on a regular basis. She says I make her “swirly”.

Huh.

If I don’t move — fast and vigorously — for at least an hour a day, everything falls apart. My bad, that I didn’t work that into my schedule, as there was a fitness center at the hotel where I could have worked out… as well as a pool where I could have swum. My bad. Then again, by the time we left, I was so overwhelmed with stupid work shit, it was all I could do, to meet the bare minimum of required activities.

Well, anyway, I’m done with that little descent into hell. I made the round trip, and my worst fears were realized, then absorbed, and now they’re turning into something useful. As in — a whole raft of lessons about being an autistic woman in a world which cares absolutely nothing about me, and wishes I would just go away.

Not gonna happen, that going away stuff.

Then again, maybe it is. Maybe I will just go away… From its interests, its agendas, its ways of doing things. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll remove myself from that parallel track I’ve been trying to negotiate with my life, lo these many years, quit even worrying about accommodating anyone, extending myself to anyone, making an effort for anyone who’s not going to return the favor.

I swear to God, I have wasted so much time and energy in trying to meet other people half-way, and what has it gotten me? Not a whole lot. Not a whole fucking hell of a lot. Except over-extension. Except one-sided interactions that leave others thinking that they have so much in common with me, when the truth is that I’ve suppressed my own ways and interests sufficiently to convince then that they don’t even exist. That I don’t even exist.

So, screw it.

I need to just keep busy living my life and doing a fantastic job of everything I decide to do. Never mind what the rest of the world is doing. Why should I be unhappy, just because others have no imagination, no insight, no empathy, no insight, no compassion, and no apparent interest in developing any of the above? Why should I be any less autistic, just because everyone else has chosen to be NT-centric, exclusive of any- and everything different from them?

I’m busy doing my own thing, in my own way. Now, more than ever. If others want to join me, then great. But if not, they’re seriously not worth my time. It’s not like I’m going to live forever. It’s not like I have a lot of time to waste.

So, never mind all those narrow, unimaginative people. Never mind their ridiculousness. The past four days have illustrated, loud and clear, what happens when I’m trapped in an exclusively neurotypical world that’s congratulating itself for destroying everything in sight and building a replacement that’s pathetically poorly made and, frankly, a piece of crap.

Never mind any of it. We all make our choices. I’ve got better things to do, and very different choices to make.

And so, I shall.

🙂

Change - picture of two dinosaur toys on a piece of fabric

Change

I ordered my own copy, and until it arrives, I’ll content myself with this.

Very nice. 🙂

Autism and expectations

I’m in the middle of reading Luke Beardon’s new book, “Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults” and I’ve paused to splurge this. I am frantically typing because I want to get back to it, but didn’t want to lose my train of thought.

I’m on the chapter about autistic resistance to change. Luke is sympathetically describing why, in a life of instability, we may need the small things to always be the same. It makes sense. It all makes sense. He does that. He’s one of those sense-makers. We need more of them.

It got me thinking about my routines, I have a lot of them. Every day I wake up about an hour before my alarm goes off, I have a coffee (always the same way), and one of those effervescent vitamin-energy-godawful-tasting things in a pint of water. That’s my breakfast.

You may say breakfast is the most important…

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man walking on path

Autism and the stress of a simple walk

I was going to go out for a walk, this morning. Then I thought about it. What all it would entail. I’m still inside, hours later.

askpergers

I have written a lot about sensory overload, and the impact this has on me and other autistic people, but there might be an idea that to get this overload I have to go somewhere busy, or noisy. This is not the case. In fact just the act of walking my dogs in the streets for fifteen minutes can be full of so much sensory and social stress that I become overloaded by the time I get back home. I would like to use this blog to explain how even something that sounds so small can be so full of stress. So let’s use the idea of walking the dogs as an example for now – the point being that I don’t have to go anywhere; I am not going shopping or to a meeting at the end of the walk, in fact I am just walking around and and…

View original post 1,619 more words