Systems are gonna save my a$$ today

interlocking cubes
Oh, my heavens, do I feel terrible today!

I had a really busy weekend, starting with an autism conference where Temple Grandin was the keynote speaker, and there were three workshops (and lunch and coffee and water and snacks). It was great hearing Dr. Grandin speak in person, and I really appreciated a lot that she had to say — especially about the importance of getting autistic kids working when they’re young, say at 11 years of age.

I know I was always “worked” as a kid — in my family, you pitched in and did your part with the gardening, weeding, yard work, and so forth. And that translated to doing yardwork for neighbors and doing a paper route when I was 12. I have worked since I was 12, really, holding down a long series of part-time jobs when I was in school, and then seamlessly transferring to full-time work after I left (er, dropped out after 4 interminable, traumatic years of) college.

It was just done that way, when I was growing up. You just worked. Everybody worked. It was non-negotiable. So, hearing parents now talk about how their kids aren’t able to get jobs… I just don’t know how that happens.

Anyway, after that, I went to a workshop talking about research done on the “invisible generation” of autistic folks — late-diagnosed individuals over the age of 50, who have spent their/our lives pretty confused and confounded and often disadvantaged because of dealing with that whole autistic business in a world that frankly just doesn’t give a sh*t about understanding us, let alone accommodating our “variations”. I almost broke down in tears a couple of times when the researchers were presenting their findings. I was in a room full of people, of course, so I didn’t. But I came close. Especially when they were reading the commentary.

The overarching thought that came out of that session was:

Nobody understands just how brutal life has been to some of us.

Nor do they really get just how strong we truly are.

Or how fortunate they are, that so many of us have learned to overcome what they’ve thrown at us.

It’s their loss that they don’t know… but we’re the ones who pay the price.

Sheesh. People really suck, sometimes.

Well, anyway, after that, it was time for lunch, and surprisingly, we were all herded into a large room with two long tables full of sandwiches for us to choose from. I prefer gluten-free, and I’d marked that on my registration form, but apparently, they didn’t accommodate that. The way the form was presented, it looked like I’d have a choice of specific lunches. But everybody was all just thrown together — three mini-sandwich options, a bag of chips, and a cookie.


For someone who’s trying to avoid gluten and processed sugar and processed foods, in general, it wasn’t a peak experience.

After that, my experience got a little worse. I attended a workshop on employment, and the speaker was a “transition specialist” for autistic folks in high school (and college?). She was all about the Disability of Autism, deficits in Theory of Mind (if you read this blog much, you probably know what I think of that), and pointing out “inexplicable” responses by young autistic adults to her directions.

I found it a little insulting, to be honest. Fortunately/unfortunately, my processing speed was slower after that lunch (plus, I was really tired from working full-time for the four days prior), so my outrage wasn’t very well-defined or articulate. I considered approaching her afterwards and introducing myself as an autistic woman who’s been fully employed since 1988, but there was a line. And she had a really bad cold. I wasn’t taking any chances getting sick from her, especially since she seemed pretty set in her ideas and there probably wasn’t any chance I’d make a difference in that moment.

Maybe I’ll send her an email.

Or not.

The last session I attended was “Understanding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation as it Overlaps with Autism: A Strengths Based Approach”, but it turned out to be about being trans and autistic and what kinds of issues autistic trans folks face everyday. In terms of being awareness-raising and informative, I give it an A+. The problem is, it wasn’t what the program said it was about, and by the end of the day, I literally couldn’t switch gears and adjust to the disconnect between my expectations and the reality of the situation. So, I felt like there was a void left that I really regretted.

It surprised me a little that the autistic folks who were presenting would change up the structure and nature of their talk. They’re clearly on a different part of the spectrum than I, when it comes to that stuff. If I were doing the talk, I’d hew to the line so literally… But that’s me.

Saturday was full. Yeah. Then I had to do some chores at home and go out and pick up supper. I got in bed early and slept like a rock for nearly 10 hours, which was a rare treat.

Sunday was a jam-packed sprint, as I tried to catch up on everything I’d not been able to do the day before. Getting my job-search stuff together. Coordinating other projects I’m working on. A whole lot of yard work. Plus, taking down old Christmas lights and putting up new ones. Getting the ornaments out… heck, just finding where the ornaments were, to begin with… Getting the outside tree situated…

We’ve had our Christmas tree outside every year, since a few years ago, because of sensory sensitivities. Ironically, it’s my partner, not me, who’s sensitive to the smell of the tree. She can’t handle it. And I get it. So, I set up the tree on the deck, where we can see it from the kitchen while we’re cooking and washing up. It’s nice there. I string lights on it, and it makes a nice colorful glow in the dark.

After that last rush, I made us some late brunch, and then we watched football all evening. Our interests in t.v. have really diverged over the past years, and football or other sports are about the only things we can watch together without annoying one of us. It works.

So, anyway… systems.

That’s what I was going to write about.

As a result of all that excitement over the weekend, I’m pretty much shot, today. Fried. Shaky and hypersensitive. All my sensory stuff is whacked out, and while my eyesight and hearing is ever so keen, and my tactile defensiveness is really up there, I still feel like I’m floating in an electric bubble, with all my movements feeling like they’re 2 seconds behind my impulses. My body is numb and tingling, as it gets sometimes when I’ve been whacked out on adrenaline too long.  And I’m having a hell of a time typing. It feels surreal. (did I say that before?) like I’m enveloped in a thick blanket of goo that’s slowing me down, but amplifying my every sensation at the same time.

Not that I can accommodate my own limitations today. I have to get my car inspected. Its sticker is 4 days overdue, and I can’t afford the ticket. I have to get my work done, which involves a lot of data analysis and thinking really hard. I have to change my doctor’s appointment to early in the morning so I can get my blood glucose tested while fasting, so I can get a discount on my health insurance. And I have to prepare for a presentation I’m doing tonight. It’s gonna be a long day, and not being able to type is a real problem.

But I have my systems to keep me going, keep me on track, and make sure I’m getting everything done. I have my email, my calendar, my reminders, and my checklists. I have my to-do priorities, and I have my pace pretty well figured out. All I have to do now, is follow my own plan. If I can do that, I’ll be fine.

Put myself on autopilot, keep myself hydrated, keep going, and hope for the best.

Thank heavens for my systems.


6 thoughts on “Systems are gonna save my a$$ today

  1. Wow! What an interesting post, girl! Omg I can relate to a lot of this, especially the working part. I’ve pretty much never not worked. I started “working” in the family business, helping my mom sort money, when I was 2. I was working the counter by 9, training in teenagers and adults by 12 (I looked 18), working the kitchen and running machines (a senior position) by 15, and by 21, I was the senior manager of one of the trailers, book-ended by doing the accounting/VP work, working right alongside my dad, who was Da Boss Man lol 😂😂. After that, I worked construction, waitressing, and then massage therapy until doing what I do now 💜💜. Fun stuff though! 😁. Yet another parallel lol 😉😉

    I wish I could have attended the conference with you! Wow! I know some people really hate on Temple Grandin, but dude–I like her! She’s turned her condition into a set of assets, and she’s successful! And she tells it like it is, which I also appreciate. What’s not to like? 😊. I can’t stand when people misrepresent lecture topics!! Gah lol. I’ve had that happen to me, too, and it’s aggravating! So are people like that one speaker you described, who’s set in her ways. Ugh 🙄💞💞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the college transitions program I went to we had a course called Theory of Mind. The woman who led the program was kind of a bitch. I wonder if it’s the same one in this blog. There have been changes in the economy and changes in attitudes towards youth working in general over the years. Honestly these days I’d expect a lot of people to accuse parents of being abusive if they forced their children to work at age 11.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      That could be, about the speaker. She was “a piece of work”, as they say. I think the thing about kids not working regular jobs has to do with them being put to work, earning good grades so they can get into college. They’re “deferred professionals”, actually. Funny, how our world works. But I still see some kids working jobs, so it’s not completely lost. Anyway, I think it’s a parental attitude that’s changed, less than the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt like crap yesterday, too. I really need an extra weekend after weekends like that. And I definitely have some notes for them about the conference when they send out the review survey (today, I think? ), although overall I’m glad I went. Just haven’t had the processing time to write about it yet.

    At least yesterday I didn’t have to go out anywhere. Unfortunately, though, work has been throwing me a lot of changes, so routines haven’t been as available as usual…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Ugh. Lack of routine… 😦

      I’m thinking about the notes I’ll give them. Overall, it felt like they are headed in the right direction, but they still haven’t gotten free of the outdated stuff that drags us down and keeps us from making real progress. We might just have to have our own conference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah. I didn’t run into problem speakers like yours (well, we only had that one session NOT in common), but there were several logistical issues that definitely made things harder. Like lunch, like bathroom lines, like how cramped everything was. Some of that was just how the venue was set up, but they should be considerations when you pick a venue.

        I do wish there were an autistic-led conference in the area. I would put spoons into that.

        Liked by 1 person

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