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)

 

 

 

Fiction and Stories

Could You Be Neurotypical???

Just thought I’d create a list of some of the traits that people with neurotypicalism exhibit. It’s all satire so just have fun with it.
No one is sure what causes neurotypicalism. Doctors and scientists have long speculated on the cause of this dreaded condition. Some speculate it might be caused by vaccines, fluoride, or maybe their fathers wore too much cologne. While there is no cure for neurotypicalism, here is a list of 10 symptoms that might help you figure out if you or a loved one was born with this disorder.

1.) Extreme fear of silence

The neurotypical person will attempt by any means necessary to eradicate silence. It’s absolutely horrific to them. So realize, the next time an NT asks about the weather, it’s really a cry for help.

2.) Obsessed with doing things differently

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it” is not something an NT can accept. They constantly need new places to hang out, new foods to try, and new friends. Ask any NT about their day and it will be different from the day before.

3.) Eye Contact Issues

Many NT’s are incapable of conversation without seeing the other person’s eyes. This of course stems from fear that they will be attacked while talking about the weather. Not looking them in the eyes brings about fear, confusion, and sometimes anger.

4.) Constant need to be stylish

NTs will wear uncomfortable clothes and shoes in an effort to be stylish. They will then say something to the effect of, “these shoes were 300 dollars, I’m going to wear them no matter how bad they hurt.”

5.) NT’s are very fragile creatures

Without the strength that Autism gives us, NT’s spend much of their time asking for compliments and niceties. It’s been known that if an NT holds a door open and you forget to thank them for it, the NT will shrivel up and die. So try to say thank you.

6.) NT’s smell awful

They disguise this by wearing horrible overpowering perfumes and colognes. They will also stand as close to you as possible to make sure you know that they no longer stink.

7.) Deep Fear of Honesty

Warning: If an NT ever asks you for your honest opinion, turn around and run away. This is a trap they lay for truth tellers, step in and you may not step back out.

8.) Violent Creatures

Look at any game developed by an NT and you will find folks trying to hurt each other. Football, Baseball, wrestling, basketball, etc… Their deep need for violence also leads them take risks that no sane Autistic person would.

9.) Never Satisfied

NT’s will never be satisfied with a focused interest. They must have more cars, bigger houses, more friends. This collecting of meaningless trinkets only ends when the NT passes away.

10.) Unhealthy need to touch everything and move stuff

Know an NT long enough and they will touch everything you own, including you. They will take things off shelves and ask, Wouldn’t this look better here? Of course it wouldn’t but this won’t stop them from trying.
If you or a friend you know exhibit these traits, it could be Neurotypicalism. Consult with you yoga instructor or anyone you meet on the street. Neurotypicalism isn’t contagious but everyone will act like it is. Thank you for reading. A person with neurotypicalism can lead a fulfilling life, life is not over at diagnosis, it’s only a new beginning.

The Diary Of My Mind

Why Am I An Autistic Person?

So this post isn’t about my symptoms, it isn’t about my diagnosis, or what anyone thinks of me. What this post is about is how I choose to describe myself. I am not a person with Autism, I am an Autistic Person.

So this might piss some people off and I really don’t care. The post I wrote yesterday about discouragement was due to being banned from a Facebook group, one that had nothing to do with autism, because I had referred to myself as an Autistic person. The admin of the group stated that I was being offensive and using a type of hate speech against members of the autism community. Now I won’t mention the group or the name of the person who told me this but it really bothered me.

It is my personal opinion, but saying “person with Autism,” means that one day I might be a “person without autism.” This is of course never going to happen. Autism is a lot of what makes me who I am. I wouldn’t change it and I am “happy” to understand myself better now knowing exactly what makes me different. I’m no less of a person because I am autistic, I am however better understanding myself now. So if it hurts your feelings that I call myself an autistic person, piss off…

It also seems to me that when someone says, “person with autism,” they are adding a bit of shame to the term. I’ve heard people say, I don’t want my child limited by the label? Well, I’ve got two bachelors degrees and one day will complete my masters, I have an awesome job, and a pretty damn good life. If my life has been limited by my autism it had been in ways that don’t really matter much to me.

Now, if you want to call your son, your daughter, or yourself, a “person with autism,” that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t attempt to force something on you that you wouldn’t want. I simply expect the same respect in how I choose to label myself.