An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspie In Iowa: ASMR Freaks Me Out!

So tonight I watched a few ASMR videos on YouTube. I don’t really want to go into what these are so I’ll leave the explanation here. I’ll also post a couple of example videos so that you have a good idea what these are.

and…

Now what you are supposed to get from these videos is a pleasurable tingling sensation in your spine that makes you feel tranquil. These videos are immensely popular and I have seen numerous testimonials speaking of their usefulness. Well….that was not my experience at all.

Let me tell you, I get a tingling sensation….well tingling isn’t really the proper word for it, I feel like someone is trying to rip my spine out of my back and beat me over the head with it. The feeling that I get from these videos is about the worst feeling that anyone could get without setting yourself on fire.  We watched a video of a woman clicking her fingernails on various items and I literally had tears in my eyes and wanted to run from the room.

At first I would think that this has to do with my autism but my wife who is also an aspie gets the pleasurable response that everyone else raves about. A quick google search found other autistic blogs and websites proclaiming the positives of ASMR and so I’m guessing it’s more or less just me. No real big deal, I’m used to being the odd man out.

I think though that perhaps this does have a lot to do with my aversion to touch and since these videos supposedly stimulate the same nerves that respond to light touch then it is no wonder why I had such a bad reaction to them. I would rather be stabbed than to have someone lightly touch me, I don’t want to sound hyperbolic but to be lightly touched feels, to me, like I am being violated in some horrific fashion.

I guess it only makes sense because I like strong touches. I also like strong sounds, preferring a bit louder than normal speech over any type of whisper. Whispering drives me absolutely insane and makes me sick to my stomach when I hear it. Perhaps this is due to the deceptive nature that whispering is meant to convey much of the time and the amount of times in my past that I knew, or at least assumed, that people were whispering about me.

Anyway, I’d like to send this on over to you folks, my readers. Does ASMR elicit the feel good pleasurable sensation in your mind or are you as turned off as I am by this invasion of obnoxious noise upon your mind? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

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

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

A few things about me…

  1. I hate driving. Driving is something that I do to get to work, doctor appointments, and the store, but I hate it. Driving causes me a great deal of anxiety, there is just too much going on around me to be calm. In the back of my mind I am always fearful of getting into a wreck or breaking down on the side of the road.
  2. I hate brushing my teeth. Just the feeling of the bristles going through my mouth gives me the chills. I do brush my teet but wouldn’t if I could get away with not doing it…
  3. I hate Velcro. Just the thought of the sound made when someone pulls apart velcro freaks me out. This was bad when I was a kid who couldn’t tie his own shoes until he was 8. 
  4. I hate having anything on the back of my hands or neck. This is especially true with sticky or oily substances. It freaks me out and I instantly have to stop whatever I am doing and go wash up. 
  5. I hate sunny days. The light is too bright and it gives me an awful headache. So when everyone else is happy about the clear sky, I’m trying to figure out how to work underground for the day.
  6. I love thunderstorms. Nothing on earth is better than listening to a loud thunderstorm as I drift off to sleep. I even slept through a tornado that tore through our backyard once. Storms calm me down incredibly well.
  7. I love anything to do with history, especially the Pre-WWI. I love learning about the napolianic wars, the Vikings, the mayans and aztecs, etc…I also hold a very special place in my heart for pre-history as well.
  8. I love Star Trek. With Spock being my favorite character of all time. I associate a lot with Spock and remember wishing as a child that the vulcans would return and take me home with them. Everyone around me seemed to exist in such an illogical fashion that the vulcans were the only ones possible of being my true family.
  9. I love zombie films. This is my absolute favorite genre of film and I’ve seen about 90% of the zombie films in existence, The original dawn of the dead is my absolute favorite. I think part of my love for these films stems from the idea that the whole world was out to get me as a child. So in my mind, zombies are society and the survivors are those who dare love outside of societies rules. Anyway, I love this genre of movie!
  10. I love Oscar Wilde plays. He does such a great job of pointing out the absurdities of “normal” life and makes fun of it all. I wonder if Wilde was an aspergian? It would explain a whole lot.
  11. I have a love/hate relationship with music. Sometimes I love music and it can calm me, other times it does nothing but overwhelm me and I can’t stand it.
  12. I have a love/hate relationship with friendships. I want friends but I can’t stand having them. Friends are exhausting to me. Always wanting to invite me places, ask me for stuff, and pop in with little warning. This kind of stuff drives me crazy and I really don’t think there is an answer to this issue.
  13. I have a love/hate relationship with deodorant. I wear it, but at the same time I am highly sensitive to fragrance. I’ve actually had my armpits crack and bleed due to using the wrong deoderant. Even now I am likely to forget it at least once per week. It’s annoying!
  14. I have a love/hate relationship with politics. I am absolutely excellent at picking out winners and losers in political campaigns. I knew Donald Trump would win the day he announced. I’ve never supported him but I took a lot of flak and was insulted pretty bad by those on the right who said it was a joke and that there wasn’t a chance he’d win the election, let alone be the nominee. Still waiting on those apologies guys…
  15. I have a love/hate relationship with Ketchup. I love ketchup on French fries, and that’s it. I hate the taste of ketchup in anything else. Just seeing someone dip something in ketchup, outside of French fries, makes me physically ill. It’s weird, but that’s me.

Thank you for reading this post. I love reading and responding to your comments so please, do so below. 😎

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,