Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Vaccinations, Autism, Heartbreak and Perspective

(These three people are Autism. We are Autistic. We are not a tragedy as The founder of Autism Speaks says we are.)

I have a mixed view on vaccinations. There are a few vaccinations I believe in and a few vaccinations I strongly do not believe in. It depends on the vaccine, reason and propaganda behind it...But I do know ONE thing surrounding some vaccination beliefs that really bothers me. (Unfortunately, I have been guilty in the past of using this as an argument against vaccines.)

Some People believe vaccinations cause Autism. Whether true or untrue this belief creates fear OF Autistics. When my kids and I were first diagnosed I was upset at the shots because I thought they helped contribute to our state...but NOW (even if that is true which I highly doubt) I thank God for WHO we ARE. I LIKE being who I am, I LIKE being Autistic. It has it's share of hardships but so does being "normal" and I guess it bothers me that people live in fear… of being like ME... or my precious, beautiful children.

I am fine with the myriad of reasons to vaccinate or not vaccinate. But the Autistic argument is heartbreaking because even if it could be true (I'm not saying it is true, I'm not saying it isn't) ...why are we fearing this? Why do we think this purity of spirit is such a horrid thing? Yes, there are mean and cruel Autistics...it's rare considering population stats compared to how many mean and cruel "normal" people there are...but it does happen. We are all human after all. Yet, we focus on that and hear about these people and worry. Or we hear about the non verbal Autistics or those lacking in body control and we immediately think their life is horrid or not worth living. But if I have learned anything by reading all the posts from this Autistic Flash Blog, including posts from non verbal Autistics, it is that they still have a BRILLIANT, worthwhile, intelligent inner world...and computers are allowing that to be brought out. We live in an age where Autism is contributing to BETTER our human condition. Read about all the famous people who had Autism...the quality of our lives would be drastically different without them.

Autism is looking at Life sideways.  Autism is the "normal" brain and the autistic brain complimenting each other and becoming BEST BUDS We are not hurt by Autism, we are hurt by how people treat Autism and expect us to fit into their mould. We don't need a cure for the way our brain works...we just need a more understanding world...and help for the physical problems that can SOMETIMES accompany our wiring. Like THIS MOM " I don't blame Autism. I blame sensory issues. I blame her need to be perfect and her dislike of being wrong. I blame her impatience. I blame the world for wanting her to fit in with everyone else, instead of accepting her for who she is. I blame other people's lack of understanding or compassion. I blame myself for forgetting to give her that 5 minute warning before we transition to something else." We don't want a cure because to cure us would be to exterminate who we are. "Keep your cures, we'll keep our brains." I happen to like the way my brain works on most days:) LOL.

Next time vaccinations are brought up, maybe reconsider using the Autistic argument to speak against vaccines? It feels to me that it only furthers discrimination...there are many other valid reasons not to vaccinate, but living in fear of a beautifully innocent people group maybe should not be one of them? You can decide. I trust your judgement.

Thank you for being a part of my advocacy. A part of making the world a more understanding place for my children and all of these beautiful people.

This is by Samantha and SO good for Aspergirls. I would highly recommend for any who wish to understand women and autism to listen while doing chores or watch during downtime:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Autism Flash Blog "What Autism Means to Me"

*This post is in response to THIS and part of the flash blog recently in action.*

Autism became a part of our family's vocabulary when my son was four, followed by my diagnosis and my daughter's. Autism means innocent ways of perceiving the world. My children expect the best from people and they trust with sweet innocence until that trust is broken. Autism means deep feelings of joy and deep feelings of pain. This intensity is never boring and each day is adventure. Autism takes the mundane and creates interest.

The hidden brain of an Autistic is full of wonder. We need these brains to make our world go round, just like we need Nuerotypical brains. Without Autism we would not have many of these famous people speculated to have Autism/ Asperger's:

Perhaps it would help to hear opinions of those closest to me:

From my six year old son (as told to me), "Autism means really good stuff to me. Like they can be very happy sometimes and fun like a child."

From my eight year old son (told to me),"I think sometimes we have a hard time and people need to make it easier but there are a lot of things that are good about it. I'm smart. I don't know for sure how other people think but I feel I am a bit different in both good and bad ways and I like who I am."

My ten year old daughter, "Autism makes my mother witty, and she can be like us sometimes. I like to take care of her and she takes care of me. We bring much joy. She's actually good at speaking to people and teaching people even though at times she can be socially awkward if she doesn't get the jokes. She has learned to laugh at herself and makes others laugh too. I want to be like her and feel so lucky that I share Autism with her. She is more fun than most adults."

Recently I had a thirtieth birthday and friends wrote in to me with tributes (my bestie arranged many of them.) I had 17 friends/family write beautiful words...Does this sound like a life unfulfilled as "Autism Speaks" suggests Autistics are? Does it sound like I am living without hope or that my children fear for their future like "Autism Speaks" says they should? Does it sound like I have been burdensome even though I may have different needs? I think the words speak for themselves (copied and pasted as sent);

"My first memory of you was when you showed up at our door when we had first moved to town- you seemed so fresh, young and eager; childlike, even though you had a baby (childlike in a good way) - and I appreciated that visit more than you know - it made me feel welcomed, it gave me hope that I could forge a community (of some sort) here in this community that didn't seem easy to find one's place and that friendliness gave me encouragement to share myself. And then I saw you do this with others and I noticed this was a rare gift of drawing people out and making them feel comfortable and included.
Another memory that is not specific, but I remember (maybe multiple times) is your laugh - you are not shy to show when you think something is funny, even if someone else doesn't see the humour - I like this ability to be yourself and to see humour in unexpected places.
I also remember many of your Book Studies - Your love of books, reading and interesting facts/points, your love of sharing and getting people together to discuss deeper issues.  You often open/ed your home, which is another rare gift, to others and make your home a place people can be comfortable in."-Lisa

"I love talking to you and getting your perspective on different things and I think you're fun and easy to be around and I'm always worried that I'm making you uncomfortable with my eye contact and things like that haha! Do you remember any of the memories? You called me once and invited me to one of your book studies and I don't think I've ever spoken to you before. It really blessed me. To be invited to your gathering without even knowing me.  One of the biggest ways i feel loved is by Being understood and you give me that gift. Also you are similar to me in ways that make me feel not alone. You often give words to the way i am feeling when i cant put it into words.  "- Christine 

"I remember when I brought my son to an adult-oriented meeting, and how he fit in with your kids playing with them in their room, and that meant a lot to me, to enjoy adult conversation and still know that my son was enjoying a special play time, as well. You balance that well!
Thanks for all those memories of good times."- Miriam

"I hope you have a FANTASTIC day. I love you and miss you very much and I wanted to say that you inspire me a lot. I wish I could be more like you - you're so caring and genuine and graceful :) love, Atlanta" 

So many moments soo many memories.. yet I dont have one that just stands out.. I remember almost 9 years ago when we met we went through the whole book group era. Where you introduced me to a few different books and lots of different ladies from this town. That was cool. Than we moved on to the introduction of old musicals into my life. Until I met you the closet thing I had watched to an old musical was Grease. Because of you I can say "hey I watched that movie holiday Inn, singing in the rain, hello dolly". What fantastic movies.... although they wouldn't have been the same without you..
Than we moved on to internet research, medical conditions, food health, no plastic toys, vaccination info.. and I still remember sitting with the computer at night trying to find more info and knowing that the next morning I would probably have more info in my inbox sent from you.. that was really fun. We both could probably have passed for medical personal during those years.
Also through the phase of younger children deciphering between what was normal and what was not and reading books to try and get answers and learning different techniques at parenting...
Oh and than the shopping, online shopping or real shopping...soooo much fun.. I loved doing pier one with you that day we had a big city trip, it was before christmas and the store was beautiful.
A lot of these phases have come and gone.. and while some will still be ahead of us.. at the end of the day, chatting on the phone has been a big thing for us... I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't have this because at the end of the day if I have spilled all my thoughts to you my quality of life is much better as is yours too I hope..
Anyways happy happy 30th...
Love sara" INTJ Bestie

"Yes, you're incredibly adorable. ;) And gorgeous. Are you really turning 30? Aside from the fact that you have three kids, I feel like you look like you're in your early 20's. Your voice is so full of youth and life too. I love it. Thank you for your support during my diagnosis and helping me discover Autism. So much love to you, my dear, wonderful, Aspie friend!- Rachel"

"Just a little note to say happy birthday, lady! Welcome to what everyone says is supposed to be an awesome decade :) I love you so much and wish I could be home to spoil you. You are such a wonderful, faithful friend and there's no one I trust as much as you. 
So much love. I miss you!
Keren x"

"You are so unique and precious."
Love, Cindy

I have Autism, and it's not how "Autism Speaks" portrays it. There is an array of gifts within the Autism community. We have our issues but so do "normal" people. Treat us with dignity and compassion because we will give much back in our own way.

From my mother:
"I can hardly believe one of my children is turning 30 today. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. I admire her for her perseverance into researching being an Aspie/Autistic, both for herself and her children, and her zeal for passing on that knowledge to others to offer support and encouragement. She is highly valued by those who know and love her. She has such a tender loving heart and is an inspiration to many, especially in the blog world. I love her sense of humour, her sensitivity and her tenacity. She is highly intelligent and creative. I am and always have been very proud of who she is. Happy birthday dear daughter."

Many people would say that I am not Autistic from this list of tributes, but I meet all the diagnostic criteria and I am Autistic. My mother did not know I was Autistic as a child but always said I was quirky, different and blunt. She trained me to follow social rules and forge friendships. I have been in therapy for 9 years to learn coping strategies for anxiety and meltdowns. Autism is more than a part of me. It enriches my life, yet at the same time, sometimes my day to day life is hard and I need support. But I think that is from the world I have to fit into and not because of the way my brain works. 

From my Neurotypical husband Philip;
"My wife is who she is... irreplaceable, sexy, funny, quirky, autistic, positive, never boring, passionate, strong willed, sensitive, joyous, intelligent, spunky, fun, deep, artistic, creative and perceptive. She is who she is with all these characteristics of her soul and mind. I would not attempt to change how she handles life or perceives the world as she teaches me so much. She is my partner and we balance each other out in our thought processes of life. Is it easy to live with her always? No. Is it easy to live with me always? No. We are who we are and each of us has our own set of gifts and strengths from the way our brains work. I love that our children also enrich my life with their intensity and differences. They challenge me to grow, to speak out truth, to think upon sensory needs and to make the world a better place."

Not everyone likes me. I am often described as "cold" or "too much" or many other unflattering names. I have to be very careful whom I choose to be friends with but luckily I live in the community I grew up in and have the benefit of support and care. Some despise me and some adore me. I tend to bring out extremes and that is ok. Autism means ME and I am valuable to the world, like every other person out there with any difference, belief or persona.

This is a great song for all those who feel Divergent from the culture:
This is by Samantha and SO good for Aspergirls. I would highly recommend for any who wish to understand women and autism to listen while doing chores or watch during downtime:

The Injustice of Autism Speaks

"Autism speaks" has continually misrepresented Autism. The organization claiming to be "for autism" spreads knowledge through biased individuals and misrepresents Autism with fear mongering. This breeds hate instead of acceptance. Check out these links for more information: http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/11/autism-speaks-and-representation.html http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/11/an-unholy-alliance-autism-speaks-and.html
  http://thisisautismflashblog.blogspot.ca/2013/11/about.html http://musingsofanaspie.com/2013/11/15/invisible/
"Last Monday, Autism Speaks told the world that autism is:

 . . . living in despair

 . . . fear of the future

 . . .exhausted, broken parents

. . . lost, helpless, burdensome children

. . .  a national emergency" (taken from this is autism blog found here: http://thisisautismflashblog.blogspot.ca/2013/11/about.html )

How ridiculous. This is NOT autism. Autism is my child perceiving the world around him with accurate intensity, my eldest empathetically sensing needs before they are met, and my childlike innocence that mixes with my life. If you are interested in social justice make a change. Don't support Autism Speaks.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Party Song List (Family Friendly and for Those who Love a mix of Campy, Broadway, Classic and Rock)

Music is my obsession and I LOVE making playlists for people. My friend requested a playlist for Halloween and I thought my final compilation would be fun to put out there. Looking for ideas for my own playlist, I did not find a lot of good mixes that included all genres. I also wanted a mix that was fairly family friendly. Of course there are excellent songs that I left out (some of which include selections from Dracula, Buffy, Fantasia, Hitchcock movies, songs from the 1920/30s, ect.) but here is a starter list for anyone looking for an array of fairly family friendly Halloween Songs. *NOTE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE SHOWS THAT COME WITH SOME OF THESE SONGS. I have not even seen some of them as I am not a fan of horror but I know the songs.* It's in no particular "importance" order but I did mix it up to sound optimal:
  1. 1. Imperial March- Darth Vader's Theme
  2. 2  Thriller- Michael Jackson
  3. 3  Somebody's Watching Me -Rockwell
  4. 4  Bewitched- Steve Lawrence
  5. 5  Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead- Ella Fitzgerald
  6. 6  Crazy Train- Ozzy Osbourne
  7. 7  Time Warp- Rocky Horror Picture Show ( Glee Version is the only one I am ok with)
    8  Monster Mash- Bobby Boris Pickett
  8. 9  X-Files (The movie, main theme)
  9. 10  The Phantom Of The Opera- Andrew Loyd Webber
  10. 11  Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen
  11. 12  Jaws Theme ( The City of Prague Philharmonic)
  12. 13  Ghostbusters- Ray Parker Jr.
  13. 14  Witchcraft (Digitally Remastered)- Frank Sinatra
  14. 15  The Wizard and I- Broadway's Wicked
  15. 16  Something Bad- Broadway's Wicked
  16. 17  Hedwig's Theme (Harry Potter)
  17. 18  Double Trouble (Harry Potter- Prisoner of Azkaban)- John Williams
  18. 19  I Put a Spell On You (feat. Johnny Depp) Shane MacGowen
  19. 20  Enter Sandman- Metallica
  20. 21  Storytime- Nightwish
  21. 22  Highway to Hell- AC/DC
  22. 23  (Ghost) Riders In the Sky- Johnny Cash
  23. 24  Love Potion Number 9- The Clovers
  24. 25  Magic- (Pilot)
  25. 26  The Adams Family Theme
  26. 27  There's a Light (Over At the Frankstien House) - Rocky Horror Picture Show (Glee version)
  27. 28  Science Fiction Double Feature - Rocky Horror Picture show ( Glee version)
  28. 29  Werewolves of London- Warren Zevon
  29. 30  Edward Scissorhands - Main Title
    31 In the Dark of the Night Anastasia (Music from Anastasia) Jim Cummings

  1. 32  Un monstre à Paris (Monster In Paris)
  2. 33  Defying Gravity- Broadway's Wicked
  3. 34  My Freeze Ray- Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog (Neil Patrick Harris)
  4. 35  My Eyes- Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog (Neil Patrick Harris)
  5. 36  Last Ride Of The Day- Nightwish
  6. 37  City of Love (Edited Version)- Peresephone's Bees
  7. 38  Witchy Woman- Kristen Chenoweth
  8. 39  Monster (iTunes Session)- Skillet
  9. 40  Scaretale- Nightwish ( this may be a little too creepy for kids)
  10. 41  Ghost River (Nightwish)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Young Marriage and Glee (Love, Love, Love)

I love September when I can indulge in my regular shows...Glee being one. This is going to be a serious post, sort of, but first a disclaimer... I used to be embarrassed about the fact that I like Glee but C'mon- it's brilliant sometimes. I'm a music junkie, so yes, the originals are often better. But thanks to Glee, teens actually know who the classics are! I would rather watch clever re- enactments of my favourite songs and have controversial subjects brought up in irreverent ways at times than watch Zombies pull guts out. It's just how I roll. Each to their own. On Glee the poignant can be randomly mixed with the profane (Sue Sylvester) but sometimes there are words that would not be found anywhere else on TV BUT Glee. (Spoiler Alert for those of my audience that are actually interested in the show. I don't think I will spoil much though, because from my demographic, I'm guessing mostly none of you watch it:)

The writers did a beautiful job in this conversation with Kurt and Burt Hummel:

"I really love Blaine. He makes me feel so safe and connected and so loved and I don't think I will find anyone else who is gonna make me feel like that, but we are both so young."

"Well, your mom and I met when we were 22 and I asked her to marry me 6 months in.We were just kids... It was really hard at first... You go into it with all of these fantasies of what your life together is gonna be like. Nothing but Laughing, dancing around in your underwear, cooking pasta, sex, a lot of sex. It's hard being married though. It's hard enough being in your twenties."

"Do you wish you waited?"

"Not for one second more. I wish I would have met her ten years earlier. I didn't know then I was only gonna get so much time with her. That she was gonna leave us so soon. I would take 50 more years of late night fights about me working late, or the gas bill, or her letting the milk go bad for just ten more minutes, with her, her next to me... we only get a few days when it comes down to it Kurt, you know that better than anyone..."

Those lines are similar to my own story. I don't regret one single minute of the tears, pain and all. I LOVE that I KNEW at 17 that I was going to marry the one that made me feel safe, protected and loved. We are happy eleven years, two miscarriages and three children in, and even if we break up in the future (God forbid) or something goes massively wrong, we had our moments. We had the fights over fuel/water bills and working late, but we also had the precious time. And that TIME meant the world.

The show has a point...Twenties are hard regardless. Some of us are destined to do it alone, others need someone with us. It makes it harder and easier in different ways. We do what is what we feel we need to do. TV, heck,the world! does not support teen marriage or early marriage (let alone a double minority of young, gay marriage.)

Marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE, on circumstances, on support, on personality, on communication and dedication. Thank you GLEE for once again fighting for the underdog. Finally, I got to see my life choices promoted in a positive way. I'm sure something will go wrong on the show and young marriage won't happen. Already critics are critiquing, but it was beautifully done and I am grateful. My husband and I, we started young. We just knew when we met near the end of grade twelve in separate schools that we should travel together through the rest of life. Because of that bravery we bought some extra time and we got to fall in love, over and over again, through some extreme life changes. Choosing each other at 17, despite the grief almost everyone gave us, was worth the battle. In this life and into the next, we hope to keep rekindling that kindred love.

Marriage sucks sometimes. I don't want to say it was/is all beautiful. Sometimes I want to throttle him, but of course, I refrain, and listen to Pink sing about my feeling instead. As Pink aptly croons, "Sometimes I hate every stupid word you say, sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face. There's no one quite like you. You push all my buttons down but I know that life would suck without you. At the same time I wanna hug you, I wanna wrap my hands around your neck, your an asshole but I love you, and you make me so mad I ask myself, why I'm still here, where could I go? You're the only love I've ever known but I hate you I really hate you so it must be true love. Nothing else can break my heart like true love."
That about sums it up in both the beautifully eloquent and the profane...True love. My husband and I have a passionate relationship...sometimes a little boring too...but it's ours and we are together...making the suffering that is inevitable in every decade, both a little worse and a little better.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Adjustments, Non Conformity and the Mentality of the Simple Life

We have made a little haven out of our home. We are all Introverts and on the Autism scale (minus my husband.) Years ago I decided homeschooling was the best option for our family. Not only did it minimize sensory overload, but it enabled us to proceed with life in our own way. We are able to have more boundaries, less conformity, and embrace our Autism and Introversion as gifts. It's beautiful...and it was hard work to get to this point.

When we dropped out of church several years ago, we often would cave into other's expectations, belief systems or we simply missed our old routine and would find ourselves back in the building for about two years on and off. Yet, it never felt quite right. Finally, we stuck to our decision and stayed out. It took another three years to not wonder if we were proceeding with the right choice when Sunday came along. Now we LOVE it. Beliefs aside, having that family time, the morning of rest, the full day to pause or relax, is the highlight of our week. Feeling nature, the comforts of home, and the quiet atmosphere is it's own form of awe, worship and belonging.

The same process happened with homeschooling too. My kids were out, back in for a year, out, and back in for three weeks, before we finally went into "permanent." Transitions are tough and dealing with a new adjustment...even if it is better for the individual or family, can often feel "wrong." That feeling is often just the brain adjusting, a new habit being formed, and the angst that comes with new patterns. I hated homeschooling the first year. I needed to change facilitators to one who suited our laid back family, and find our groove. I needed support from my family and supportive reading materials. I had to fight for all these things. But now, I do not have to "fight." The pattern is now a natural part of our living.

Our children are protected but well socialized. They are surrounded by those who love them, those who understand, and the comforts of a house that suits their specific interests. It's a Hobbit Hole in many ways. With tended gardens, comfortable blankets, low lights, classic stuffies, magical books, and not many interruptions.

I am well aware of the fact that children need adventures and that their adulthood will be fraught with different environments. But for now, they need their haven. Their simple life. They learn quietly with guitar, yoga, voice, dance, karate, swimming ect. But even the way we choose to do most of these things is unconventional. We find family who want them to learn for learning sake. We find dance teachers who believe it is about the love, the rhythm, the way the body moves, instead of about competition, exams and being the best. We find flexible programs that are not rigid in practice. While discipline is important, it is instead learned through tending gardens, plants and living things that require constant time and attention. They have a balance of magical playtime, reading, working, chores, friend time (only 2-3 good friends are needed in life) integrated school and learning about themselves. They see their differences as gifts and struggles. My youngest asked his aunt, out of the blue, if she had Autism. Trying not to smile she replied, "I don't think so buddy..." He pauses, "Well do you have OCD?" she replied, "I'm not too sure." Quietly he ponders, "Well do you have ADD?" "No." "Well, what about Aspergers?" When she still answered no to that he said with exasperation, "Well what ARE you?!! I am lucky. I have ADD at least. Why don't you have anything to explain you? Who ARE you?" We laughed.  I was so relieved when she was smart enough NOT to say, "I'm just normal." With wisdom not often found in a twenty year old she replied, "I might have one of those. Everybody has something unique that they are. You are lucky to know how your brain works and why you behave certain ways. Even people who do not know about brain wirings deal with other things in life."

I believe there are MANY varied ways to live out the simple life. It can be done within schools and churches too. For us, it could not. But for other personalities, it can. It's mostly in mentality. To live parallel culturally instead of counter culturally or in the current mono culture which values economics and competition (See my library and click on the book MonoCulture by F.S. Michaels.) Living simply is not just the current concept of home grown foods and moving to a farm. That can be what it needs to be for some, but living simply can be done in many ways. It can even be done with "stuff." Our house has what it needs and what comforts us. We have a rule; "Whatever is lovely or needed belongs in the house- whatever does not bring maximum comfort, joy or basic need goes out." Stuff does not imply conforming...but it can. It all depends on the mentality. Which is why reading books similar to Monoculture or The Magical Child or Freakonomics...or anything that thinks outside the current box, is crucial to the journey. Check out this link too: http://unschoolery.com/hackschooling

Our family is living in optimal freedom and peace. Of course we have our share of struggles. We can suffer depression, financial strain, living month to month, discrimination and relational issues from time to time. It's not a utopia. But more often or not, I look around, and am filled with gratitude. It suits us RIGHT NOW. I can not worry about the future, but I need to fight what is filled with the best mixture of peace and freedom NOW.

I hope each of you finds your version of the simple life. Enjoy the song. It's our Autumn bliss:)
* A suggested book on this and his coinciding blog is: 
  • Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World- Ben Hewitt

Song Choices: Another Brick in the Wall- Pink Floyd, Simple Life- Steve Tyrell

American Idiot- Green Day

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Consequences of Growing an Aspie "Up to Reality"

Once I believed the world could get better.
I believed in freedom.
Pretending was a noble thing to do.
Dreaming had no limits.
I trusted everyone.
I believed in safety.
I thought everyone had my best interests at heart.
I thought I could do almost anything.
I thought differences made us better not worse.
I celebrated life and looked forward to the good times.
I thought I was a princess.
I lived with magic surrounding me all the time.
I thought justice could be carried out with mercy.
I thought religion would bring out the best and not the worst.
Once I believed that good won.
Once when I was little.

As I grew up, I became a little more aware but I STILL believed. Through post partum depression, some family not understanding, and through feeling isolated and without purpose... I was STILL naive. I still believed the best could happen. I still thought if you put yourself out there enough, if you explained through emails and sent links, and if you tried and tried and tried, that the world would still be that magical place of good and people would see you were innately good. That is the life of an Aspie until something very drastic happens. Our innocence and naiveté keep us in the beautiful parts of childhood.

Last night I came across an ad in Kijiji. It was an adult that posted, "I am looking for a job, any job that I can do with my dog. He's only three months but he can do anything and so can I. We will work hard but I want a job with him." And my heart dropped to the floor because I KNEW what kind of responses that would get...and I knew he was probably an Aspie. He sounded naive and trusting and that he believed others would see his noble intents and understand he needed his dog with him to succeed. My heart broke at all the nasty things people would email, just for fun, about what he could do with his dog...and my heart broke because that is how I slowly learned that people do not look out for our best interests. I would not even know what most people would say to that except I had similar things said to me over the course of my life. I was called a psychopath, a crazy, a snot, too needy, too dramatic...because I was myself with the heart of a child in a grown up body. Other grown ups do not like that.

I did not think twice before I put myself out there. I always thought that beauty happened everywhere and people would respond the same way I did...with trust, kindness and compassion.
I have "grown up" to reality lately. Maybe this growth has happened because I am almost thirty. Perhaps it is partly age? Maybe it is because with more self awareness through counselling I have learned the real intentions of how the world sees an Aspie (which has been both good for coping and tough for my soul.) Or maybe it is because I have had too many people tell me what I should and should not be doing, saying, believing, being, raising my kids that I decided to conform a bit at times? After awhile the constraints of society start to drum into the most bohemian mind. I have learned through Sociology about the injustices of the world and it grew me up a bit. But I do not like the 'concept of Being' that promotes "just like the rest of them." I can't pretend that conformity really makes humanity happy. In the last two years, I have become less "Aspie" in the sense of how I perceive the world and I mourn the loss of that sweet innocence.

One of Autism's greatest gifts is to give youth, belief and trust in varied circumstances. Maybe our culture need to stop trying to "fix" this part of the gift by "growing" Aspies up (?)...because it kills a part of us. A friend wrote a post about the dangers of ABA therapy in Aspies. Please check it out HERE.

I mourn my own precious belief in humanity. I still have bits of that Aspie naiveté. The very fact that I am putting this out into the void proves I still believe. But I struggle more with depression now then I did before, due to the unnatural way my brain has been trained to look at the world. I was trained in some regards to just think like an NT. When I am clearly NOT an NT.

The Broadway musical Wicked is important to me because Elphaba believed in the best and she was misunderstood as evil. If you read the synopsis (of the Broadway version NOT the book)...it's a similar life to an Aspergirl in many ways. Defying gravity seems to be what Aspies have to do in an NT world.

Neurotypical therapists and helpers often say that the Aspie world is unrealistic or hard to live in. But it is OUR reality and it comes with some benefits. Is imagination, creativity, blind belief and innocence not worth more that fitting in? The heart of a child can be a beautiful thing.

I do not believe all grown ups should stay stuck in youth or any stage for that matter, but those with Aspergers already have different wiring...so why can't we embrace that? Why can't some grown ups still have that naiveté and blind belief in good? It can be positive for our world, for a few adults to hold on to that precious gift. From my childhood there was a verse that said come to God with the heart of a child...and that those who are like little children will see god. I saw God everywhere...and I saw the kingdom of heaven on earth in little ways. Until people made it their mission for me to view life practically, to fit in, and to respond to God in a specific way. My views slowly changed and I did not see God in people much anymore.

I now see beauty in the earth, I feel an inspired presence around, but it is getting tougher to believe in the good I did when I was little. I do not believe my perceptions would have changed without the bullying, therapy and forced perceptions that were put on me. I mourn that loss and I hope my children will hold on to their natural traits more than I did. I believe doses of reality and growing through events of life are important, but so is staying fresh and loving in approaches to life.

I found this song after this post and it really suits it. 

This is by Samantha and SO good for Aspergirls. I would highly recommend for any who wish to understand women and autism to listen while doing chores or watch during downtime:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Asperger's Conundrum- Feeling Younger while getting Older

Talking on the phone to a fellow Aspie I was hit with a sudden realization. I NEED to have this validation sometimes. I NEED to know I am not alone in my strange ways of perception. "Do you ever feel like you are getting younger as you age? At seven I related to the adults but now past my early twenties I am once again relating to the teenagers."

Yes! I was often referred to as the 'professor' or 'guide' to my peers throughout school. From grade one to twelve, I had a sense of maturity and wisdom around me. I knew my favourite subjects with intellectual superiority. I asked profound questions and found unique answers. I was not into peer pressure on most days and I happened to be popular enough (sometimes by association, sometimes because I was sweet) to get by. Overall, those years were a grand success because I knew what I wanted and what I loved. But then I entered adulthood. The place where spiritual intelligence does not matter as much as physical capability. The place where I am expected to know how to shop at a grocery store or drive myself into a new city without a meltdown. Adulthood, I am finding, expects all the little physical menial tasks I find incredibly hard, to be the "norm." If I can't remember to have lunch with three little ones, I have failed. These "simple" daily tasks are enormous accomplishments to me. At the end of the day I am exhausted...just from "normal" living.

My sister is nine years younger than me. I helped take care of her growing up. I taught her all she needed to know about every genre of music. I made sure her education was well rounded, fed her snacks and let her hang out with my friends and I. She adored me and looked up to me. At about age seventeen for her, I found myself weeping to my husband. I sensed a change. She suddenly did not want to watch the movies we used to view together. Her social life changed as she became who she needed to be. Independence meant everything to her...and even though I was twenty six with three little children...I had never quite been at the point of full independence. I had lived on my own with three close friends while attending college for a year before marriage, but I still liked dancing to Abba at sleepovers. In every sense but the spiritual and intellectual areas of expertise, I had not "grown up" according to the world's standards.

At my current age of thirty, my little sister  STILL drives me to the city. My sister takes my children and I to the Health Unit to get shots. My children will obey my sister at bedtime more than they will me...and she will be firmer and more capable at following through on most days. I have other gifts. My children are understood and I have helped them overcome many of their own issues by introducing cognitive therapy into their lives, but I can't seem to manage any executive functioning skills like driving, meal time or events that require massive amounts of socialization.

Feeling like I was being surpassed in many areas happened with my younger cousins too. They passed eighteen or nineteen and suddenly it seemed over. Up until that point my house was the place to be. They had tons of sleepovers, we chatted for hours about life, and they looked for my advice on everything. But they grew up and I grieved. Pre diagnosis- I wondered if this would happen with my youngest son. I thought he would surpass me at a certain age and I would never quite catch up. I have to admit that I was relieved when he was diagnosed with ADD and a slew of other issues...It meant he still can relate to our spectrum family. In fact, I suspect he is on the Spectrum too but more social. You can have an extroverted Autistic and I think he may fit into that rare subtype.

My sad mental image of feeling younger while getting older is something akin to the Tale of Benjamin Button (which I could  not watch because it hit too close to home in my mental capacities.) It's an odd concept to grasp. Michael Jackson was speculated to have had Asperger's Syndrome. After his death I went through a brief obsession with the artist and read anything I could find on him. I observed his gestures, his interviews, his friend's words about him and I do think he had A.S.D. I can relate on so many levels. I think I understand why the media tortured him. He was misunderstood. He could be very awkward yet so talented. Most of all, I think the law suits against him having younger boys over for sleepovers were taken the wrong way. I really believe he was just an Aspie who could relate to his younger peers and wanted to have INNOCENT fun. (I could be wrong but this is how I choose to interpret it all.)

I can relate to enjoying innocent fun. Luckily, I am not in the spot light and I grew up in a community that has known me from birth. All who know me, know I would never commit any sort of crime. I did have my sister and her friends over for many sleepovers. I would rent whatever movies they loved
(Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen or whatever) and purely enjoy being that age. Perhaps this was more acceptable because of gender? Unfortunately, this is an area where boys suffer more scrutiny.

I needed the outlet of expression to be youthful in my mindsets. I needed to giggle over frivolous silliness and dance to my favourite music. 'Adults' are not comfortable (for the most part) expressing this inner joy in such a way. 'NT Adults' define maturity as stifling emotion and acting proper in the correct channels of appropriate behaviour.

I love having my children around. My children at their young ages allow me to once again live in that youthful mindset. I can watch their cartoons with them if I want. I can turn up Michael Jackson and they will yell with delight and try to moonwalk. It's fun and I love that they are not thinking about appropriate appearances. They are simply thinking of LIVING purely in the moment.

As I am approaching thirty I am finding that I am LESS capable than before (regarding everyday experiences.) I can learn. I can act (oh boy can I act), and I can mimic my way through the routine...but I know inside it should be easier than it is. Sensory Overload (see http://musingsofanaspie.com/?s=sensory+overload ) and Executive Functioning (see http://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/01/07/executive-function-primer-part-1/ ) issues are the main reason why these every day moments are tough. Lack of fine motor skills is another. I am a horrid driver and I do not think practically. I think logically but logic is actually not always practical. With this logic comes the youthful obsessions and wonder of my interests. It makes an interesting paradox.

POST EDIT: To hear about the consequences of what happens when we try to "grow" our Aspie friends/ children up to reality please read this:

This song was made for the show Adam (showcasing a bit of hollywoodized Asperger's Syndrome) but it really does hit home for a lot of Aspies:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The She in Ezer Kenegdo- God breathed Womanhood

Disclaimer; * I realize men can apply this in their own way but I am writing strictly from the perspective of myself...which happens to be in the gender of a specific womanhood. Nor am I writing for all women as there are many expressions with many wonderful ways to be. I think woman hood is varied and diverse. This is just a piece of prose of what it meant to me as a person being freed from a religious perspective that thought women were "weaker". It has been a decade of seeing equality for what it really is and I wanted to celebrate that! I added religious references because of the way I grew up. I long to rise up and become the love. *

There are moments of self love. Moments when the She  in Self rises up to claim her prize. When She becomes the smile of capability, the laugh of confidence, and the twinkle of inspiration. There are moments when the mirror holds a price, and moments when the mirror holds a promise. She is both beauty and beast, famine and feast, and SHE can also turn a day into heaven or hell.

Inside every woman is the capability to BE SHE. To choose. To overcome. To try again. To endure. To
laugh carelessly and love avidly.
 Inside there is the steady heartbeat of the age old cry of Ezer Kenegdo.(Link) The name God gave to each She meaning power, strength, to rescue and to save. The equal counterpart to manhood. The different strength of steel. The She in every woman.

She is responsible for how her world is seen. She has to be an advocate for herself. She has been given grace so that grace can be given. She is part of the reason the world survives. Needing to absorb both laughter and tears, she embraces the pain as part of the beauty. But She will not do what is needed if She is bogged down by the world's interpretations of herself. She needs to rise up and become herself. The love that cannot hope to last requires endurance, stamina and determination. Inside herself is the beginning of change. Beneath the outer layers of whatever insecurity is grappled with, there needs to be a strong belief that SHE can and SHe will. That beauty is more than just a pretty face. That looks are not about pounds or skin, but about real flesh softening with compassion and wrinkling with stubborn wisdom.

There is a raw beauty formed from the dust of the earth, the borrowed rib of a man, and the breath of God. Equality is in the breath, counterpart in the rib, and awareness in the dust. Through the cries of a mother a daughter is born. From the strength of a woman, new life can breathe once again. The ancient ancestry of womanhood is ingrained deep within. The future of her depends on these remembrances.

She first needs to believe in herself. She first needs to forget about expectations and rise up to be the Ezer Kenegdo of life. She needs to embrace both beauty and beast to become the ancient and the present. Where there is passion there is also the placid. Where there is belief there is also doubt. Where there is stubborn determination there is also gentle giving. Where there is strong empathy there is also a fight for justice. Where there is self awareness there is balance. Where there is strength there is a need for God. Where there is weakness there is a need for her counterpart. Where there is raucous laughter there is silent weeping. It is all in She if she so chooses. May each woman rise up to take and be and grow. Breathe Life.

For musical inspiration, the beautiful Idina Menzel singing "No Day But Today."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Explaining/ Disclosing Aspergers/ Being on the Autism Scale

UPDATE 2016: I wrote this post originally before 2012 and added this to my public space at the time. My view points have expanded a bit since then and I believe I have grown in what I feel being autistic is...I no longer use aspergers as much as I do autistic though I interchange them a lot. I still use the term aspie. To me these titles evolve in the learning process and also depending on time. I would also highly recommend some of my more recent posts on Autism.

(My 8 year old- at the time- daughter took this picture of me and I think she did such a good job.)

“When I try to explain my condition to people I feel like they either think I'm making up excuses for myself or look on me as a freak or as some kind of nut case. Sometimes I feel that by telling them I have ASD I'm alienating myself, but then, if I don't tell them I will probably mess up at some stage and they will think I'm strange anyway so I figure its (sic) better to tell them on the whole, especially if I intend to try and pursue any type of friendship. But then at times I feel quite fine about myself, I feel like it's the rest of humanity that has the problem, not me. Sometimes I too, look on myself as a freak and a nut case. But then, I'm sure I'm not, because they always say that if you are nuts you don't know it, and I'm sure I am, so I guess I'm not..... Make sense?”- Richard Rowe -Taken from: http://laughinghelps2.blogspot.ca/)

When I found out I had Asperger's Syndrome my close friend from elementary school onward looked at me quietly for a second and said simply, "That makes sense." (We both had studied Asperger's in our College Years of Early Childhood Education years ago, so she knew what I was referring to.) I had also facilitated a women's group over the last two years prior/ during the assessment time and when I explained what Asperger's was to the six ladies I regularly met with... reactions varied. One of the newest members replied, "I can see that about you. Sometimes you are very odd- it makes me laugh, while other times you are intelligent beyond my expectations." (Thank you I think?:) Another, whom I had known closely for seven years was a bit put out. She kept trying to talk me out of my diagnosis - which can be rather insulting. She would say comments like,"Well, that could be anybody." or "Are you sure you are not looking for something?" or "Why do we need labels to be who we are?" Ironically, she has a personality similar to mine. The rest of the gals fell into reactions somewhere in the middle. I am happy to report that more than a year after that explanation not much has changed. I am the same person that I was to them before. Except now when I have sensory overload I can explain it and they do not think I am crazy...or I do not feel as guilty for not being "normal."

However, with non close friends who have not known me for years it is both easier and tougher. Should I explain myself? Will it even help or will it hinder? It's situational. Breaking the news to the in- laws was my hubby's job. (Thank God.) We had a rocky start...to say the least. I suffered through many family gatherings misunderstood (this assessment includes all the extended family on that side that lived around us.) I was also yelled at and had fingers shaking in my face because they thought I was insensitive and destroying the family with my differences. They suffered through my stony silence or my unreadable facial expressions and fast speech...among clumsiness, awkward conversations and reluctance to join activities. It was not a great understanding for either side involved. In the last few years, since the year after my son's first diagnosis, I have felt a slow shift in perspective...for both myself and his parents. Last year I worked up the courage to ask his mother if she would like to read "Aspergirls" by Rudy Simone. She honoured me and read it. While on the phone, after finishing the book, she said to me, "I am so glad I read that book. Dad might read it too. It explains you so well. Everything makes sense now- why you hated playing board games like Taboo or Bowling. How you must have suffered through so many loud family gatherings ect. Thank you for attending them even though you must not have wanted to. At the beginning I though you were just sickly. Now, I know it's just Autism/Aspergers." I had to laugh. That's one way to put it. She went on to tell me how great I was for her son and mother to my children. I told her I appreciated her effort and I could relate to the way she tells stories dramatically and sometimes gets klutzy (an attribute I adore in her.) I think we are becoming friends. It's still awkward, but understanding is the key to any relationship. There is a lot of hurt to overcome for both of us...enough to cover almost eleven years...so I am not expecting immediate reconciliation but it is a glorious start. In this case it was better to explain.* 

With new friends, I find there is a time when the topic naturally comes up. Some people look confused, some judge, but most are fairly great about it. I also have a few friends who do not know that I have any Syndrome at all and I like it that way. I can just be "normal." Thus far they think I am quirky and funny....I get labels like Bohemian, Spiritual, Dramatic, Passionate, Opinionated, Funny, Ice Queen or Artsy. Labels that imply a difference but do not hit the source.  I enjoy that freedom too. It is a welcome break to not have everything sourced back to "Aspergers." 
Ultimately I am just me. 

However, I do not view Asperger's as a label but as an explanation. It was a welcome relief to hear that I fit in with other people- instead of wondering why I seemed to go against the grain of most of society. I was being labelled regardless, it was nice to have a title that threw me in with other people who could understand me. I am unique and although I may share some qualities with those on the Autism scale- I am my own person. NT's  (Neurotypicals/ normally wired people) don't like to be defined by their "normality," even though they share the commonality of not being on the Autism scale. Both scales have unique qualities. There are extreme benefits and extreme low points to Autism as well as to NT life. Aspies do not always want to be defined by their Syndrome. Yet, it is a key to their life. It's a mixture that requires a delicate balance of recognition and acceptance. I needed my diagnosis to enable me to be who I am without it. Make sense? 

Interestingly enough, none of my close friends (minus my bestie) read this blog. Many of them don't enjoy blogging anyway but I did not give this address out to many I know. If they happen upon it - great. However, I wanted to write without worrying about anyone taking offence or having to put a filter up about each experience. Occasionally, I want this blog to shed some light on Aspieness. I find that tough to do if those who love me are reading regularly. They are trying their best to see me as me and only those who crave greater understanding need to read more. I don't want it to be all about me and my quirks. Yet, I write these posts for those out there who need some perspective. For those who are LOOKING for more personal information on the Syndrome, want more understanding or some sort of support. The Aspie/Autistic community is so misunderstood...even by those who live with them. As an Aspie with several years of therapy, books and personal understanding/stories, I feel I can give a different picture. 

I have high empathy which is supposed to be reserved for NTs only. I think empathy in most Aspies is misunderstood. We are more in tune with subtleties of emotion than most know. We simply do not have the tools to express this appropriately at times. The plus side is that the tools can be learned. We have a facial chart for expressions of all kinds on our fridge. My son can point to what he is feeling. He will be more prepared for his future than I ever was because of our teaching. It can be taught. I come across as a paradox. Ice queen and drama queen are two separate labels yet I received them continually. I think it depended on what time you happen to experience me. If it was/is ice, I am usually uncomfortable or overwhelmed or hiding my true opinions. If it's drama I am usually comfortable and excited or irate. I bet many Aspies would differ on this. 

My relationships with NT's are rich and confusing. My hubby teaches me more than anyone and I am lucky that he possess high sensitivity, so he can understand a sliver of my world and interpret correctly on most days. He is my guiding light. I am his shinning star. He finds my quirks refreshing. I find his normality and humour interesting. It works...with a TON of communication, laughter, and information.

Breaking the news to friends and family depends on the relationship. Go with your gut or trust a confidante with discernment powers to hep figure out how to proceed. Most of all, keep the relationship before the issues. In most cases, it's worth it. I get by with a little help from my friends. They are actually the reason I survive so well in an NT world.

*To see posts (Not Autism related) on dealing with and adapting to different family systems (In Laws ect) click HERE.

This is by Samantha and SO good for Aspergirls. I would highly recommend for any who wish to understand women and autism to listen while doing chores or watch during downtime: