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Category Archives: Experiences of an Autistic

Autism: Candy Crush

I spent the entire morning, or just about, playing Candy Crush Saga on Facebook. They gave me unlimited lives for two hours, and at that moment it became absolutely essential that I distance myself from the person just behind me (who caught up while I was away at the lake both times.)

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I kept going and caught up with the only person on the board ahead of me. She passed me several months, or more likely, over a year ago.

When I passed her, I wanted to distance myself from her as well.

It becomes a compulsion. I just have to do it, and much as my mind is screaming to stop, I keep going. I am not competitive. Not at all. The thing is, though, that I don’t like seeing other people on the board with me. I don’t know how I managed in the beginning when the board was filled with people around me, but at some point I found my icon alone on the board, and felt like I could breathe again.

It irritates me to see other people there. I don’t know if it is the clutter of the board, or… More likely when people – or even icons – are around me, I feel watched. I can’t function well when I feel watched, and it always leaves me feeling anxious and irritated. It is like having someone in the kitchen when I am in there; I just can’t.

Only I am not competitive. It didn’t bother me after she had passed me far enough that her icon wasn’t on the board with me. It was only when it was there that I had to get past.

So I spent the morning playing Candy Crush on Facebook. It is such a waste of time, and most of the time, I don’t even enjoy playing. I keep telling myself that I will stop playing – someday. But there again is one of my fixations that I can’t seem to overcome.

I am on something like board 1900 (higher, really, but I don’t want to open it right now to check, or I likely won’t complete this post.) So I think, knowing me, is the only way I will give up the game is if either I complete it or it stops working on my computer.

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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Only A Dream

It was only a dream, though I longed to stay there. First my foster son came to me: beaten, fearful, longing for love. “Can he stay here?” the people standing behind him on the porch asked, “He can’t go back there.”

“Of course,” I replied, and took my son inside; still a child; still wanting to be with me; still wanting ‘this’ to be home. From wherever they were, the girls followed close behind.

I read the file belonging to the youngest. “Nguyana” was written at the top. I hadn’t the time to question it; there was so much to do.

I cleaned their rooms and set up their beds. The younger two were still in cribs. I prepared my birth son as best as I could for their homecoming.

I was in the baby’s room, watching the girls play. “I love you,” the preschooler told the baby with strong emotion. “She has grown,” I thought; feeling thankful that they were mine once more.

Their brother walked into the room. “They called her Gooyanna,” he told me, “We didn’t like it.” Well, they were only foster parents, it wasn’t a legal change. “We will call her (by her real name,)” I told him, and he was satisfied.

It was only a dream. It didn’t last long. My children came to me, but when I woke they were gone. I was sad, and longed to return.

They come to me in my dreams. Only my dreams. And I wish I could remain there with them. I awaken sad and broken for only when I am with them do I feel whole.

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Autism: Learning to Can Part 2

I have heard (and this is the reason I decided to go with the pressure canner to begin with) that once you start canning, it becomes addictive. I now know how true that was.

I canned the plums, and it took a long time. My back was sore, and I was very tired. There was the added bonus of, having this huge pot of boiling water that needed to be dumped, being able to take a bath (we have an extra wide bathtub and not enough water in our hot water tank to ever use it.) I needed that bath then with my back hurting so much. I really enjoyed that.

After that, my husband brought home a huge zucchini and some cucumbers. Of course, they needed to be pickled (especially since I am the only one in my house that eats them and the zucchini alone was over 4lbs.) Then, too, I also had a fresh head of cauliflower, some carrots, lots of onions, some garlic from the garden… They could be pickled, too! I made 12 pints of Italian flavoured zucchini pickles, and 12 pints of mixed pickles.

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And that is when my pressure canner came in. Of course, I had to try that out, too.

I must admit that I have been afraid of pressure canning. I mean, it seems everywhere you turn on the subject people are saying how dangerous it could be – but then… mostly it seemed the danger in the canning itself was involved in the older style of equipment (the new ones have safety features built in) and the rest is about not following directions.

I can follow directions… if they are written down, that is.

So I made white bean soup. White bean soup (very much like the chicken stew with rosemary I used to make in my pre-vegan days) is one of my favourite meals – but it makes way too much considering I am again the only one here who eats it; same with most of the food I eat. I made 10 pints. One didn’t fit in the canner – I guess my pint jars are the same width as wide-mouth would be or something; I could only fit 9. One jar didn’t seal – there was a new lid which was slightly bent. I meant to save that for something I would just refrigerate, but I unbent it, washed it, and couldn’t tell it apart from the others. The others all looked great!

So much fun!

Then a couple of days ago, having bought some dried black beans, I decided to can some more. I made black bean soup and vegetarian chili – 8 pints each (I forgot I could fit 9 in, but 8 was a good number and the jars were all just filled with the amount I had made in the slow cooker.)

I learned that day that pressure canning two batches in one day was too much for me. My head hurt from the amount of concentration I had to keep. My back hurt, and my girls were stressed out since I wasn’t able to sit with them until after 7pm that night. Yet looking at those 16 jars, and hearing the pings (I have learned to love that sound!) of jars sealing was incredibly satisfying.

Course, here I am two days later, aching to do more canning. I suppose it isn’t really worth the time. 16 jars worth maybe about $11 after factoring the cost of the food for a whole days work – when an eight hour shift would have paid quite a bit over $100 if I could have kept working, yet… this calms me and brings value to my life, where working caused me panic, stress, burn out, and an overwhelming feeling that whatever I did didn’t matter.

There is more to life than money, and I think… I think I really like canning.

Oh – and in response to my mother’s question when I spoke to her the other day, “how does it taste?” Better than I could have imagined! Really, there is no comparison to store bought canned vegetarian soups.

 

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Autism: Learning to Can Part 1

It started out with plums. Lots of plums. Our tree was full this year and… I had to start somewhere, so – plums!

The pressure canner I ordered back in August never came in. I waited and waited, and then went camping – but my son was still home and he watched for it. It was in Edmonton, and was supposed to arrive here the next day, but never came.

Did someone steal it? Ugh people!

It isn’t like we live in a poor neighbourhood. We likely live in one of (if not the) oldest and least expensive homes in our area. We are surrounded by doctors, teachers, nurses, business owners… We may not have much, but the people around us do – so if it got here and they stole it??? I don’t understand that.

Perhaps it never made it this far – but then… it was fed ex that had it (I think; might have been Purolator.) Did one of their workers take it?

So I got back from vacation and was stressed out to find it had not come in. I emailed Amazon about it, and they said they would send another. Then I learned of ‘my baby,’ and everything else dimmed in comparison. I struggled for many days and then one day woke up deciding this was the day I would harvest plums and try canning for the first time.

I guess when most other people learn such things they turn to people who know what they are doing and learn from them. That isn’t me. Working with other people presses on my heart and mind that I am not good enough. I don’t belong. They may not be thinking the same thing; I will allow for that. When I am with other people, however, I get attacked – in my head, in my heart, all around me – and I just can’t.

Though I am sure most other people don’t understand this level of anxiety or isolation, I am sure that if they experienced anything similar – like perhaps they received an electric shock every time they got something right, they would be afraid to keep going, too. Not that I get shocked – but it is like that. I get attacked through thoughts and feelings. It makes it so hard to function that when other people are around, I really can’t function. Not won’t. Can’t. I drop things, I spill things, I make mistakes. I can’t think for the shouting in my head (that I am working so hard to silence) telling me how stupid I am to think I belong there, or could do… anything.

So I don’t. Other people work, and serve, and do things with other people – and when I am there, I sit, or I try to hide in a corner and become invisible.

It has to be this way, it seems, for I am not strong enough to silence the attacks – and the attacks always come.

This means that if I want to learn anything, really, I have to learn alone. I seek out ideas, research, study, spend an inordinate amount of time fixated on the subject, and then one day I will just try.

Well, knowing I was interested in canning, my husband brought a huge water bath canner home from the thrift store where he works. I mean, it was huge! It took up two burners on the stove. I had all these plums, so that is where I started. Over a couple of days I made 24 jars of canned plums (and got at least that amount again in fresh plums, some of which we brought to my husband’s work and gave away.

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Autism: Carrying On

I was feeling better today. Partly I convinced myself that my ‘baby’ would be okay. Also I admitted that it made sense for her foster parents to adopt her, and even to move away – though it did make me really sad that they didn’t adopt my other two in that case. I know they were more of a challenge, but they longed for a home and stability, too.

I suppose the wording in this is confusing for those who don’t know of my history. The ‘baby’ I speak of here was the youngest of three foster children placed with me a little over a decade ago for the purpose of adoption. With domestic adoption, finalization doesn’t come right away. It typically takes 6 months to a year for the paperwork to be put through, and because we had a sibling group of three, they extended that time.

In short, we had the children with us for a total of 35 months. In the end the children were moved, and we had no way of fighting to keep them since they were legally not our children. We did want them. Did want to keep them. Did try to fight for them. Did fail.

That failure is the main trauma in my PTSD, though I had the condition before as a result of childhood abuse.

The foster parents had the children before they were placed with us, during the three months they were taken the first time (we fought and got them back) and from 6 weeks after they were taken the last time. They had the baby straight from the hospital at birth until she was placed with us at just over a year old. We liked them; they were good Christian people – and much, much better with social skills than I could ever possibly be.

In the days since reading updates about her, I have slowly been able to admit to myself that this is possibly a good place for my baby. They are giving her the experiences that I would want her to have – and they actually know how to do these things in order to teach her.

Also, if my baby is sick and dying – as they posts hinted towards – I… it isn’t that I wouldn’t want to be there for her (I ache to have her with me constantly) but… I would blame myself for her illness (I take on the blame of everything even when I couldn’t possibly have caused it) and that would destroy me many times over as losing her has done, and would do again.

Then there is the (questionable) gift that I have of altering reality in my mind. After the shock that lasted for several days I have partially been able to separated ‘her’ baby from ‘my’ baby – so it is hers that is sick, and mine is the same girl I remember in my mind.

Perhaps this isn’t great for my sanity – but in truth, life isn’t good for my sanity. This at least allows me to carry on.

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Autism: A Heavy Cross to Bear

My heart has been hurting all day, and the tears continue to flow. We went to the petting zoo and fed the animals again, as part of my husband’s birthday celebration. While it still felt natural to be there talking with and feeding the animals, it did not remove the pain.

I still haven’t been able to talk with my husband about ‘our’ daughter… I just can’t. He knows I am upset, but not why. Likely he thinks it is him and so is afraid to ask.

Instead I immersed myself into the life of Sims, building a new family; us really, with our kids, created much the same as we were when the children were first placed with us. The resemblance – especially for all the children, is remarkably strong to who they were then.

I only moved them in. I haven’t started playing yet. It got late, and I think I am afraid of them ageing – or worse, having the kids taken by the social workers (this happened playing Sims before when I couldn’t get the children to do their schoolwork – it was very traumatic for me and took me many days to recover.)

My ‘cross’ is a very difficult one to carry. Here is another trauma, which I must experience on my own for in ‘their’ eyes I haven’t the right to be told. If ‘my baby’ dies, will I be told that?

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Autism: Gone Camping

We were packed and on the road by 8:20am. The weather was almost cold, and the skies were blue! (if you have been following about our summer, it is the worst year on record for wildfires throughout the Canadian province of BC, and our skies have been so thick with smoke we haven’t been able to see the lake or the mountains around our home most days.) On the drive, we saw many eagles sitting on trees, or gliding through the air.

My husband stopped at McDonald’s and got us Vanilla Chai Frappes (so delicious, though I am not supposed to have dairy – but it was worth it!) We were up at the lake, and unpacked by lunch time. It was probably the best day for travelling.

We got the truck camper this time. I requested a camper… my back, my husband’s knees, fears over the dogs and wildlife… packing things in, setting things up, worrying about weather… overwhelming. Other times I have been up I have noticed that the people we have been there with go expecting to use the campers or the dome; even the young people. And we are expected to use a tent. I don’t know why that is.

So I asked my husband to ask for a camper, and we were given the truck camper for the week.

I can’t sleep in a narrow bed – I toss and turn, and have to spread out. If I can’t, I don’t sleep. It is as simple as that. So I got the ‘high’ bed, and my husband took the lower one (he stays still through the night, and often chooses a couch to sleep on… oh – having my ‘girls’ meant it wouldn’t have been good for us to be in the same bed, plus… we both sleep better when we have separate beds.)

I worried because the bed is so high, but brought different sized suitcases and bins that could make a bit of a ladder for my girls. They even have steps to get to my bed and my chair, there is no way they would be able to get onto that bed by themselves, and jumping down would have been dangerous.

As it turned out, we didn’t need the steps. Our niece and her husband have two young children, and had left a bed rail in the camper. (They weren’t up that week.) It was perfect, and there was only one moment through the whole week when I worried about my girls being up so high – Clara decided in the night she had to go to the bathroom, and was running around the bed trying to find a way down (she had a bathroom pad at home, but there was no room for it in the camper – besides, she doesn’t often use it during the summer.) Anyway, I took her outside, she did what she needed to, and we went back to bed; all good.

The bed was very comfortable. It had three windows on each side, and the girls and I really enjoyed spending time there (when we could; it would get hot during the day.) The girls liked being right there with me – which is normal at home, but when we are outside while camping, they are in their pen, or on a leash, or in their crate… and don’t get so much time to come so close to me. They loved being able to look out the window on the three sides, and spent a lot of time watching the birds and squirrels and such through them.

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One thing I really liked about being up at the lake this time was that we had people around us the first night, and the last two nights – but in between, even the neighbours weren’t around. Though I did enjoy my time visiting, I really liked the quiet while my husband and I were up there alone. Plus, without anyone around to chase or bark at, I was able to let my girls run around on the property off leash (while I could watch them, of course) and so didn’t feel bad about the time they did have to spend in their pen.

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I really hope we can get the camper during future trips. I think that my husband and I are both past the tent camping stage.

PS – the campers were all old ones that the owners gave, or practically gave for use up at the lake. They are not new campers and most don’t actually belong to anyone – so… Well, maybe we should ask around if anyone has an old camper that we could have so that we would always have one when we go up there, too (especially now that my husband is reducing his days at work and will have three day weekends from October on – so it is more likely we will go up often.)

 

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