An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspie In Iowa: Trumpets and Screeching

Tonight we went to my daughters middle school band concert which included a choir and string orchestra performance. I’m under the weather as well so it was bound to be an interesting experience.

First off, being a middle school concert it wasn’t quite as bad as an elementary school concert. There was little to no screeching from the children who sang but it still wasn’t a great musical experience. The band was amazing, really surprised by just how good they were and I was very proud of my daughters performance. She played her trumpet great and it reminded me of when I was a young kid playing the trombone in the same type of concert. I loved playing the trombone and unfortunately due to a bad decision on my part in my early 20’s I no longer have my instrument.

School concerts are hard on me because there is so much about them that I do not enjoy. Having to sit uncomfortably for over an hour, very close to other people I don’t know, who smell funny….seriously it might sound weird but people that I don’t know smell strange to me. I think it is a heightened sense of smell that comes from my Autism. Anyway I hate going to these concerts but I know that my children love having me there and so I go…I’m exhausted afterwards but I go.

So now I’m sitting watching Star Trek and trying to decompress from the social activity that I just put myself through. Star Trek has the ability to almost instantly calm me regardless of the situation. It’s always been that way for as long as I can remember.

Does anyone else experience this with their focused interests? I think it’s healthy that I put myself through these situations from time to time but afterwards I feel as if I ran a marathon. Is that just me or do some of my readers have the same experiences?

General Information

New Articles On The Way

So I’ve been writing again which is good and I hope you’ve enjoyed the newest articles from myself, Jennifer, and all the others who have submitted entries. I’ve had some new ideas that I will explore over the coming weeks.

1.) BS News report

This is a satirical take on the news of the week from my own unique point of view.

2.) The return of A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

3.) Deep Thoughts

Subjects may include science, medicine, paradoxes, riddles, basically anything that gets me thinking.

Anyway, keep on the lookout for these new articles as well as other posts in the future.

Thank you so much to everyone who has read so far, I appreciate you all.

Side note: What would you like to see more of in this blog. Any suggestions and help will be greatly appreciated.

Matt

An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspies Guide To The Holidays

A few weeks back I wrote a few tips from the atheist side of things and I thought that I might come back to this topic from another important aspect of my life, Autism. The holidays are both wonderful and horrifying to many of us on the spectrum. We love to give, to receive, to spend time with family but at the same time all of these things can cause us a lot of stress and anxiety. So without further ado, here are some tips for Aspies during the holidays.

door

1.) Know your exits

With the holidays come social gatherings and in any social gathering it is important to know your exits. If things get a bit to stressful, or you find yourself headed towards an overload head towards that exit. An exit isn’t meant to imply you are leaving but that you are heading off for a moment to regroup. If it’s warm enough I will step outside for a few minutes and if I can’t do that I’ll head to the bathroom. Anything that you can do to get yourself back under control can be very helpful.

gross.jpg

2.) You don’t have to eat that

Another thing that comes with the holidays is food, some of which is probably fairly disgusting to you. Forcing yourself to eat things that you don’t like can add a layer of stress to the holidays that I don’t believe a neurotypical could understand. Eat what you like, pass on what you don’t. If someone offers you something that looks unappealing, thank them for the offer but pass on their offer. If the need arises, and it might, you can always pretend to have a food allergy which prevents you from eating whatever is being offered.

bad gift

3.) Remember people don’t like the truth when it comes to gift giving.

If you get something that you don’t like…the answer is not to say you don’t like it…no matter how correct that answer might seem to be. Just smile and thank the person for the gift and then if it is something you truly hate you can always attempt to sell it or take it back after the holidays. A person giving you a gift is more about the idea that they thought of you than about what is actually given, at least that is what I am told…however I’ve had people give me gifts that were so foreign to who I am that it almost offended me that they would give me that type of gift….even so the best option is to pretend you like it and move on.

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4.) Steer Clear of Truth Serum

If one thing leads me to make inappropriate comments it is alcohol. If I’ve had a few then I am likely to tell people exactly what I think of them and so during the holidays I avoid any type of drinking. You probably know yourself fairly well and maybe one or two will help calm your nerves and allow you to enjoy the festivities more fully. However, know your limits.

 

5.) If you are unsure about what to get someone ask

Sure, I might think getting Star Trek stuff for Christmas is the ideal gift. However, this might not be the case for others around you. If you are unsure then the best option is to ask. One of the big problems that I have faced in life is how neurotypical people seem to pick up on what other people like and are easily able to get them something that they might enjoy. I’ve never been very good at picking out gifts for people and before I started asking I had several awkward experiences…Note…it is never ok to buy a loved one a vacuum for Christmas…you live and you learn…

santa

6.) Look for others who might also be on the spectrum

I have a cousin who is also on the spectrum. At thanksgiving he was sitting all by himself and not talking to anyone. I noticed this and asked him what his interests were. At first he didn’t say much but the second we got onto the topic of “Star Wars” he was as happy as could be. His mother told me after the dinner that it was the happiest she has seen him in a long time and that he had told her that he had never enjoyed a holiday gathering more than that day. Life is confusing, being on the spectrum can suck at times, and so sticking together and having a good time is important.

7.) Have Fun!

Try to have fun. Get through the holidays and then unwind with your favorite activity, tv show, or movie series. One of the best parts about the holidays is that they only come once per year. Try not to stress too much about them and yet at the same time realize that the holidays are stressful for everyone. Love your family, enjoy your friends, but always keep your mental well-being in mind.

Have a safe and happy holidays!

The Diary Of My Mind

Why I Can’t Write.

My brain is on a senseless shuffle
I see no end in sight
life is an endless boiling bubble
emotions are my plight…

I honestly cannot tell you how I feel at the moment, which doesn’t equate well to a decent blog. I’ve been in shut down mode for the past two weeks. All I have done is played a video game and sat quietly allowing my brain to be in complete down time. This is what I do when my brain gets too much information for it to handle. Many people enjoy music, reading, a productive hobby that produces something, for me it’s video games.

At one point in my life I didn’t understand why I played video games so damn much, yet today I get it. When I am in a game I don’t have to worry about the outside world. I am one with the game. In a way, it is almost a spiritual experience, if you wanted to use those words. I’ve meditated in the past and that feeling of complete quiet and content emptiness is the same that I can get after a two-hour gaming session.

So that’s what I’ve done for the last two weeks. I start the day with the intent to write but as the hours go by and the bullshit builds up I end up in the same state where I was the day before. Why? The reason is I honestly don’t know how I should feel at the moment.

I’m still grasping my official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, what that means to me and what my next steps are? Having that diagnosis was a liberating experience and yet as the last few weeks have gone by I have had more and more trouble using the old coping mechanisms that I learned throughout life. Three times in the last week I have gone mute, not just quiet but physically incapable of talking for a period of time. This honestly has not happened to me in years.

On top of that my grandmother is still slowly dying in hospice. Her mind has now gone completely and she spends her waking moments crying for her mother to come and rescue her. She hasn’t eaten a thing in two days and the nurses say she has somehow forgotten how to drink liquid. It won’t be long now but I know that she is in agony. I love my grandmother and hate seeing her in this much pain. I only hope her pain will soon be over.

On top of that my grandfather is still an asshole. He has done nothing but make matters worse. Constantly saying he is going to get her out of hospice care as soon as he can and how much of a burden she has caused him when it comes to the bills. It’s all a lie and only meant to make people feel sorry for him. He loves control and this is just one more way that he believes he can maintain control over her life at least for a short time more.

Speaking of that, I have no idea how to reconcile the good memories I have of my grandfather with the new image of him that I have today. I spent summers at my grandparents and loved fishing, early mornings with my grandfather. We spent hours on the bank fishing for bass, crappie, catfish and carp; my grandfather had a special dough bait recipe that he has made for years which was magical when it comes to carp and catfish.

He also taught me how to haggle at garage sales and taught me a lot of what I needed to know when I was early in the ministry. Hell, I wouldn’t even have been a minister if it hadn’t been for my grandfather. I spent a huge portion of my life trying to make him proud which I think I did but now all of that time spent sickens me. I cannot believe that I held him in such high regards for so long after what I know and have witnessed the last couple of years.

To make matters even worse, I have just learned that I have severe sleep apnea. On Wednesday i went to the hospital for a split sleep study. For someone to be considered to have severe apnea they must have 30 or more apnea episodes, periods of the brain waking up for 10 second or more, in an hour. I had 67 apnea episodes. The person conducting the sleep study then hooked me up to a CPAP machine and I was out like a light. The two hours I was connected to the machine were the two best hours of sleep I can honestly remember. I woke up without a headache, something that never happens, and had more energy throughout the day than I have had in a long time.

Anyway, so now I am waiting to speak with my doctor and get my CPAP ordered. The person at the sleep study said that a CPAP wouldn’t just help me but was incredibly important for my long-term health. This has me a bit freaked out but to be honest the worst part is that knowing I can wake up without a headache has made my last few morning headaches ten times worse.

So anyway, I’m mad, I’m confused, I’m not sleeping well and I wish I could make sense of life. I’m hoping to get back into writing soon but the time for that, outside of this article, just hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe soon, but not at the moment. Thank you for bearing with me and your continued support.

Matt

The Diary Of My Mind

My Name Isn’t Sam, Though I Am Atypical

So today I had the pleasure of seeing someone who assumes they understand autism because they watched the TV Show, “Atypical” on Netflix.

Now if you have been reading my blog for any period of time you will know that I actually enjoyed the show even though I thought it had a lot of flaws. My main issue with the show was that it would give people the idea that they knew more about autism than they actually do. Well my assumption came true today.

I’m honestly not upset with this person because I think if I were in the same situation I would think the same thing. I’ve watched shows on the Middle Ages and felt like I knew more about the Middle Ages. I watch documentaries on paleontology and believe I understand more about paleontology. So why wouldn’t a person believe they know more about autism by watching a show based around an Autistic character?

However, at the same time, the inner workings of my mind are much more specific than anything you could gather from this show. While I do connect with some of the situations on the show, I am definitely not the clueless and inept character portrayed in the show. I am not Sam anymore than I am a Sheldon or a Rainman. My mind is my own and no one else’s mind works exactly like it.

Autism is a spectrum disorder and the actor portraying Sam is portraying a single solitary person on the spectrum. He is no more indicative of the whole than James Brown would be indicative of the whole of music.  You could not say you understand all of music by listening to a single song. This is the same with Autism.

Over the last several months I have made friends with many folks on the Spectrum. Some are verbal, others are not. Some can write beautifully and eloquently, others in short snippets. Some speak in poetry, others in an incredibly academic way.  Some are interested in romance and love while others never give those things a second thought. Some have loud and violent meltdowns, others meltdown almost entirely in their minds. I have never met a single autistic person who I could point to and say this person is exactly what Autism is and looks like.

It’s sad really. I wish the show did a better job at portraying a strong character with ASD. However, it once again portrays the main character in a comedic fashion. Sam is little more than Sheldon with less physics knowledge, he’s Rainman with better communication skills. He is a shell of compressed stereotypes that won’t lead you to a better knowledge of autism than you had from the very start.

If you want to understand autism, speak with someone on the spectrum. I think you will find that most of us are open about it. You will find that what bothers many of us the most is that we are constantly told what autistic people should be and how we should act or think. Many of us have spent a large period of our lives attempting to fit into society and then we find out that we are autistic, only to be told that there is a new mold that we must attempt to fit into. Well it doesn’t work that way and it never will work that way.

I am not Sam. I am just me.

The Diary Of My Mind

Shut Downs and Emotional Turning Off

Since I was a child, I’ve experienced what is commonly called a shut down. Basically this means I stop talking, get completely quiet and I look completely emotionless. Behind the scenes, in my mind, there is a lot going on. I am generally trying to work through something that requires my complete and total focus.

Things that might cause a shut down

  1. Stress
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness
  4. Problem solving
  5. Being Insulted

The fifth one there is actually a big one. If I’m insulted I almost instantly shut down. Now shut does can lead to a few results. With the other four, I can generally get over them fairly easy with some coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years. Number one is a bit hard to deal with but removing myself from the situation, even for a few minutes, seems to work fairly well.

Number five though is another story.

When I am insulted my mind rushes and I am faced with several choices,

  • Vacate, it’s not worth getting worked up over.
  • Emotional outburst, often ending with their feelings hurt worse than mine ever were.
  • Turning my emotions completely off.

The third choice there is, I believe, a holdover from all the bullying that I went through as a child. My mind developed a defense system where I can completely turn my emotions off towards a person or a group. If this happens, that person is more or less dead to me.  Eventually I have to deal with the pain of this type of shut down but that can be months or even years into the future. 

I’ve had friends who were fairly close to me, one day they said something that really bothered me, or did something to me in an insulting or mean fashion. I turn off the emotions and then I don’t care if I ever see that person again. Maybe years down the road I’ll remember them but rarely do I feel bad for a friendship ending in this fashion.

For example: My ex used to scream and throw things at me. Usually this would lead to me having a meltdown lasting several days. Eventually, this occurred so frequently that I simply shut off my emotional response to her. We stopped talking and eventually got divorced. A shut down helped lead me away from an abusive relationship. 

People might find my shut downs odd but they have helped me in numerous ways throughout life. The peace that can be found in a completely emotionless experience is therapeutic in a way. Helps me sort or what needs sorting. 

Do you experience anything along these lines? I wonder how prevalent this is as a coping mechanism. Let me know in the comments below,

Eat Me

Eat Me #2: Stores, Stress, Sleep Issues and Storms

For last weeks article, click here.

1.)Stores

I absolutely hate going grocery shopping or any kind of shopping in particular. If I could, I would do all of my shopping on-line. Unfortunately once a week we need to go to the store for food and other items. Jen wasn’t feeling well today, so my daughter and I went to the store on our own. This trip would be even more awkward because our daughter needed a new bra and wasn’t thrilled to be going bra shopping with dad.

So we make our way to the store and it was about three times busier than usual. Already not good but we head on in. We head straight to the section with the girls bras and it is awkward… My daughter picked out one and went to try it on. While she did that I sat there looking at my shoes. Why are the dressing rooms at Wal-Mart always situated directly next to the lingerie? Very Annoying.

Anyway, she found one and we moved on to our other items on the list. Recently, the store we go to updated their entire floor plan, which means nothing is where I remember it being. Being someone who is adverse to chance, this makes shopping even more stressful. I’d go to where I think something should be and then realize I was in the wrong area. It might not seem that bad to most people but to me it is a nightmare.

Lastly, it seemed like everything on our list had someone standing directly in front of it. So I would patiently wait for the person to move on, yet more often than not it seemed like the people were statues just standing there. This drove me absolutely up the wall, I didn’t want to be rude but several times I had to ask people to move so that i could get the item that we came for. Anyway, it’s over, but shopping can definitely Eat ME!

2.)Stress

Today wasn’t as bad as the rest of the week as far as work goes, but the entire week as a whole has been awful. One stressful situation after another. I work in a high stress career, accounting, but generally things don’t hit you left and right. This week though was really bad.

On top of this, many of my old coping mechanisms seem to be working less since my diagnosis. I know that this is psychosomatic but it is very bothersome. The fact that my stimming and quiet moments don’t seem to be working at calming me down has made the days seem to last forever and the stress simply compound. At the moment the only thing that seems to have a calming effect on me is my writing and Star Trek. I’ll go more into Star Trek in a later post, but I’ll only say that the show has an effect on me that almost nothing else does. I’ve watched all of the shows and seasons multiple times but find new things to love each time I watch them.

Anyway, the stress has led me to have some severe stomach issues and headaches. It has been bright and sunny all week which has led to my sensory issues being even worse. As I’ve said many times, I love my brain and I hate my brain, this week I’ve been more along the lines of hating my brain. I’m just glad it’s over and this week can eat me.

3.) Sleep Issues

So I finally got on Ambien which has helped me get to sleep and stay asleep, yet I am no more rested. The doctor and Jennifer believe that I have sleep apnea. So on the 20th of this month i have to go in and do a sleep study. Basically that means that I will go to the hospital, have a bunch of electrodes attached to my body, and be forced to sleep like that so that the specialist can judge whether or not I have Apnea.

In all honesty, I probably do have Apnea but the thought of the test is awful to me, the idea of having a CPAP machine is awful to me, and the whole thing is just plain awful to me. I’ll go through with it and do as the doctors say, but it is not going to be easy on me. I am incredibly stressed about this, How is it that I can’t even sleep right? Anyway, my sleep issues can EAT ME!

4.) Storms

I swear if I see another religious person blaming the severe weather that we have been experiencing nationwide to the wrath of god I will spit. Whether that is the hurricanes, wildfires, or extreme droughts, these folks are completely willing to blame it all on an invisible man, instead of calling it what it actually is, the effects of climate change.

Some people will say they don’t deny that climate change is real only that they don’t believe it is actually caused by man. Well the science is in, it is due to us, grow up or get used to these severe weather patterns.  To continue denying this fact is to leave our children and grandchildren with a worse world to clean up, if they are even able to survive on this planet by that point.

What makes this worse currently is I have two kids that live in Florida. They aren’t expecting to get the full brunt of the storm where they are at but it is still concerning to me. I hope they will stay safe and things remain calm for them throughout the next week. Seeing folks act as if god is doing this because he is pissed off about something, or that this is actually some insidious plot by the government, is incredibly annoying to me.

Science deniers, whether they be religious or conspiracy theorists are doing the world an incredible disservice. It absolutely sickens me that a huge chunk of the American population falls into these two categories. If you do fall into one of these categories, EAT ME!

 

Fiction and Stories

Super Tim Meets The Silent Avenger (An ASD Children’s Story)

The Super Tim series are based around my own experiences as a child, those of my nephews and several friends with children on the Autism Spectrum. I hope you enjoy them.


Tim didn’t much care for school. It wasn’t the lessons or the teacher but he never could quite understand the other kids in his class. Maggie still picked on him and this bugged Tim a great deal. His friend George was nice, but had some tendencies that really bothered Tim. The worst of which Tim found when his mother had George stay over for the night.

It seemed like George had to touch absolutely everything. This was especially bad when they were in Tim’s room. Tim had everything in his room laid out in a very specific way and could tell if anything had been moved. After George had spent the night Tim spent the next week fixing all of the stuff that George had moved. Still George had been the first friend Tim had made and so he decided as long as he kept George out of his room, they’d be ok.

One day at school, Maggie was in a really bad mood. All the way to school she kept yelling at Tim and making fun of him. Even when George spoke up, Maggie didn’t stop. It seemed like nothing was going to stop her that day. Before class started, Maggie had taken Tim’s headphones and had passed them back and forth with another child, Joe. They had laughed and continued this until Miss Marble walked in and put a stop to it.

Class started with Miss Marble saying that a new kid named Sam would be joining the class that day. She wanted everyone to welcome him and make him feel at home. His parents worked at the nearby Air Force Base as mechanics and she said that he had moved three times in the last two years. When Sam entered the class, he sat down in the back row and didn’t make a peep. The one thing that Tim couldn’t get out of his mind was just how big the new kid was. He was huge and reminded Tim of the professional wrestlers that Tim’s dad watched on TV sometimes. “Better steer clear of him,” Sam thought, “I bet he makes Maggie look like nothing.”

Class was interesting. Miss Marble was teaching the class about fossils and had brought in a ton of examples that she had collected on a recent vacation. Tim marveled at every example that was passed around the room. Miss marble even brought in a piece of dinosaur coprolite. When she asked if anyone knew what it was Tim shot his hand in the air.

“Yes, Tim?” Miss Marble said.

“It’s dinosaur poop!” Tim said

“That’s right.” Miss marble responded. Part of the class laughed while the other let out a loud, “Ewwwwwww!”

At recess, Tim sat feeling the wind on his skin. He wondered if Dinosaurs had enjoyed feeling the wind too. He imagined that they had not since they had to spend way too much time trying to find something to eat or keep from being eaten. His mind continued to wander and he failed to notice that Maggie was standing right behind him. A big shove and seconds later Tim felt himself falling to the ground.

Hitting the ground, Tim scraped his knee and hands. His lip began to quiver and his brain began to get stormy.

“Are you going to cry?” Maggie asked “Look everybody, he’s going to cry!”

Just then something covered both Maggie and Tim in a great shadow. They both looked up to see the huge shape of a large boy standing above them. It was the new kid, Sam. He let out a grumble and stepped between Maggie and Tim. He then reached down and helped Tim stand back up.

“What are you doing, don’t you know he’s a weirdo?” Maggie said.

The boy simply let out a growl and gave Maggie a look that chilled her to the bones.  She began to stammer and said that she was only kidding. She didn’t mean anything by it and that if Tim hadn’t been so clumsy he never would have fallen. This caused Sam to let out another growl and he pointed towards the school. Maggie soon ran in the exact direction that Sam had pointed, her lip quivering as she went.

Meanwhile, Tim had managed to pull himself together and patted the dust off his clothes. He looked at Sam who was still pointing at the school watching Maggie run in the other direction.

“Thank you.” Tim said

Sam looked back and smiled.

“Do you want to be friends? Tim asked.

Sam shook his head up and down. This was the beginning of a friendship that would rival all the greatest friendships in history. Tim and Sam were inseparable from that point on. George and Tim were still good friends but Sam was Tim’s best friend.

Sam didn’t say much, in fact he didn’t say anything at all. When Sam wanted something he would point at it. If he really wanted something he might grunt or make an excited noise. For the most part Sam liked to hum, whistle, and laugh. He could remember just about any song he heard and would hum the entire top 40 while he and Tim hung out.

The other thing that Tim liked about Sam was his ability to draw. Sam could draw absolutely anything with incredible talent. Soon the walls of Tim’s room were neatly covered in drawings of Dinosaurs that Sam had made for him. Whenever they hung out, Sam would hum and draw while Tim would show Sam everything that he knew about Dinosaurs and his other interests.

One day while they were sitting in Tim’s room, Tim’s mother brought in a load of laundry. On top of the clean clothes was his cape, freshly cleaned and folded. Sam let out an excited sound and pointed at the cape.

“Do you want to wear it?” Tim said.

Sam nodded yes.

“Ok, but there is something I need to show you first.” Tim told Sam.

Tim walked to his bed and grabbed the paper his mother had written. He unpinned it from the wall and took it over to Sam.

“I’ve never told anyone else this, but I have super powers.” Tim said.

Sam’s eyes got wide and he smiled.

“It’s true! Look!” He then showed Sam the list.

Tim’s Super Powers
1.) Super Hearing
2.) Super Sight
3.) Super Touch
4.) Super Memory
5.) Super Sweet

Sam pointed at the last one on the list and let out a laugh.

“I know, it’s such a mom thing isn’t it. I don’t like that one. Anyway, every superhero needs a sidekick, would you like to be my sidekick, Sam?”

Sam shook his head no.

“You’re right, you would never be a very good sidekick, you’re bigger and stronger than me. Would you like to be my partner?”

Sam nodded yes.

“Okay, you can be my partner but you need a super hero name.” Tim said

Sam watched intently as Tim handed him the cape. Sam then started naming off possible hero names for Sam.

“The Ninja?” Sam shook his head no.
“Dino Dude?” Sam rolled his eyes.
“The Whistler? Sam laughed but shook his head no.

“How about the Silent Avenger?” Tim asked. Sam immediately nodded yes.

Silent Avenger….I like that too! Super Tim and the Silent Avenger!” Tim said. “Can anything stop us?
Sam shook his head no.

Other Stories from the Super Tim series can be found below.

Super Tim Goes to School (An ASD Children’s Story)

Super Tim and the Lost Keys (An ASD Children’s Story)

 

 

 

An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspie In Iowa #2: Stimming and Eye Contact

For last weeks article, click here.

1.) Stimming

This weeks article will address stimming but not specifically what it is. If you are interested in finding out more you can find information on stimming here.

So as a brief synopsis of what Stimming is, it’s repetitive motions or sounds that folks on the spectrum do that can appear as odd or annoying to the outside world. However to people like myself, they are therapeutic, calming, they can also help us focus on and process the information that we are taking in.

When i was a child I would constantly tap on my desk, stand up and spin, rock back and forth as well as flap my hands. All of these things were considered distractions and incredibly frowned on when I was in school. I can remember several times when a teacher might say something along the lines of, “We will continue with the lesson once Matthew sits down and is quiet.” Not being able to continue the lesson meant that recess might be delayed or eliminated altogether. This led to mob justice in the form of my peers and even more bullying than I already experienced.

So through time I forced myself to stop stimming outside of wiggling my toes in my shoes. I would learn later in life that this wasn’t enough and I was actually causing myself a lot of mental harm by not calming and processing in the way that my mind wanted me to. Nothing was more apparent than my hands.

For as long as I can remember my hands have shaken horribly. I’ve actually been checked for Parkinson’s in the past and it was one of the first things that people would point out and question when they met me. The more stressed I would become the worse my hands would shake. It was horribly annoying to me because as the shaking would worsen my ability to type would become nearly impossible, being an accountant, typing is something I have to be able to do.

When I began researching Autism, I came across an article dealing with stimming. It reminded me of all the things I did as a child to calm myself down. So I decided to  do a simple experiment. The next time I noticed the shaking in my hands begin to worsen, I got up from my desk at work, walked to the bathroom, locked the door and flapped them to my heart’s content. The result was immediate. The second I began flapping the shaking began to subside. After a few moments, my hands were as still as anyone else’s. Stimming fixed an issue that I had just lived with and had accepted as incurable for nearly 25 years. Now, anytime they begin to shake a bit, I stim and the shaking goes away.

Some of the other ways that I stim is through certain words. I really don’t know how this works so if someone in the comments could explain it, I would be greatly appreciative. Saying certain words or making certain sounds has a great calming effect on me. One such word is “panda.” I’m a large, 6 foot 2 inch man, with a beard, but if I get stressed and you get close to me, you might hear me repeating the word panda under my breath. I also sometimes get this feeling that I have to say a word or make a noise, when I explained it to my psychiatrist she thought I might be talking about tourettes but eventually that was not a part of my diagnosis.  One of the main noises that i make is a slight clicking noise in the back of my throat. I do this when I am really interested or focused on something.

Other ways I stim is through sensory information. When I am stressed, I love the feel of metal on my face. I have a metal stapler at work that I will press to my cheek if I am really stressed out. I also constantly crack my knuckles, run my fingers through my hair and tap on stuff. Each one of these things helps me in a certain way.

So to parents, please don’t force your children to not stim. If their stimming is something dangerous, such as self biting or hitting, or is interfering with their ability to focus on school work or anything like that, maybe suggest some alternate forms of stimming. Please don’t force them to stop stimming altogether. If they are like me and high enough functioning to do that, it can lead to even more issues with their mental health and even physical symptoms.

2.) Eye Contact

Eye Contact for me is incredibly difficult. I describe it as if I am having the noise of fingernails on chalkboard going through my brain when I am making eye contact. Over time I’ve learned to look at foreheads and teeth in an effort to avoid eye contact and this works for the most part.

However eye contact still bothers me and it’s more in the way that it is seen as normal for the rest of the world. Why is eye contact even seen as a good thing. Look at our primate cousins, eye contact is a sign of agression and something that you avoid unless you are attempting to challenge someone in the group for a higher position. Watch some chimpanzees or gorillas interact and one will be looking down while the more powerful one is standing over. They don’t like eye contact yet we do.

The second thing that makes this so strange is that we are taught not to stare from the earliest age. Staring is considered rude and invasive, but When in a conversation you are supposed to stare at the person directly in the eyes. How does that make any fucking sense?

Here’s the deal, if you are having a conversation with me and you force me to make eye contact, then I won’t be paying attention to anything that is coming out of your mouth. The only thought that will be running through my mind will be, “When is this going to be over, I’m uncomfortable, I want to look away, I hate this!” If you want me to do something correctly, allow me to look away while you speak. I will hear you far better, process what you are saying far better, and get the task done far better if I am just allowed to be myself.

Anyway, i hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Thank you for reading.

The Diary Of My Mind

Discouragement and Self-Doubt

Do you ever get discouraged writing your blog? I had a pretty major set back this week that I don’t want to go into but it really made me question if I should even keep writing anymore? I really enjoy writing but at the same time I constantly fight with self doubt. What do you do when these doubts hit you?

Personally when I have an issue I can’t get it off my mind. It constantly swims around poking it’s head up from time to time. In the past I would have simply given up, but part of this blog is about challenging myself to keep going. Part of growing up not knowing I was autistic, was being told by many people that I was simply dumb or lazy. Understanding myself has helped a lot with this but still these same old doubts pop up from time to time. As i said in another post, sometimes I love how my brain works, other times I hate it.

So what are some of the things that you do when you hit these walls?