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Category Archives: Experiences of an Autistic

Autism: One Thing In Several Things Out

Though I really want to, I haven’t been able to keep up.

One thing in, several things out.

It is always that way.

Even when the ‘thing in’ is a good thing – such as now, with my mom visiting. Still I can’t keep up, no matter how hard I try.

It isn’t even like I haven’t got the time. Most afternoons I can expect at least a couple of hours when she is reading her book, or playing her games (Facebook games – so addicting, so frustrating!) And even when we are visiting, I could be writing, too. But I don’t.

I want to, but I don’t.

Coming up with ideas of what to write? Also not an issue. I have the ideas. I have enough thoughts going through my head to have the posts written, and then some. There really doesn’t seem to be any reason why I am struggling so much to do these things. I just am. Struggling.

The visit is going well. I am less anxious, and so much more content than I have been… ever, really.

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Everything is good. Everything. Yet still I struggling to juggle the routine.

And at the end of the week, with my anxiety strong with the knowledge that I am ‘behind’ (meaning only two weeks ahead of schedule rather than the three I prefer) I sit down, and rush to get out those posts and ‘catch up.’ I assure myself that I will be able to keep up next week. After all, the ideas – even the whole posts many times – are already there in my head.

I just need to sit down and write.

And I love to write. I do.

Yet each week the days seem to fly by, and I get behind. So fast.

Even now as I write, I am being pulled away from the computer – for my mom is in the kitchen doing the dishes for the second time today. It should have been my turn. So I know that for the next several days, I will rush to get to the kitchen before she does so that I can do the dishes, and not feel bad that she got there faster again.

One thing in, several things out.

Still, I am determined to keep up with this blog somehow.

But I wonder how in the world other people do it. How do they keep up with everything, when I have so little that must be done, and still can’t do it. And once more I come face to face with the idea that this world is too much for me. Too fast. Too busy. Too demanding. Too hard. Too much… too much… too much.

 

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Autism: Through the Storm 2

The storm, though bringing a lot of wind, didn’t seem any worse than others we had been through.  We don’t live in a very windy city, but a few times a year storms like this come.

Since in our area it is very rare to have the power go out for even two hours, I was surprised to wake up to find it still out. Large trees had fallen across the power lines on both sides of Lakeshore (the street above us that takes us to town) we were told. In fact, to get to work, my husband nearly gave up trying to find detours he could get through with all the trees down.

The power was out from about 10:15pm until 3:10pm the next day – nearly 17 hours! Thankfully (as far as I have heard) no people or animals were harmed by the storm. Fences, garages, vehicles, even some houses weren’t so lucky. There were trees down and debris everywhere! The lakefront trail that we walk along had three trees fallen across it in the short section that we can reach before the trail is flooded (as it does every summer.) Three – and all of them seemingly healthy trees, and that not mentioning the numerous ones that fell beside rather than on the trail.

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A few days later we found that at least two other trails were closed due to danger – we found the one when my mom and I tried to take my girls for a walk. It had red police tape saying, “Danger” all across the entrance. I guess some loose trees haven’t fallen yet.

During the time when we didn’t have any power, I was surprised by the difference in the concerns each of us had.

My dog, Molly, was scared of a pine cone that landed in our yard, which hadn’t been there before (they were scattered all over the yard of our neighbour across the hedge, though.) True to her, after running from it, she decided the best thing to do would be to try and eat it. Funny girl.

My husband worried about how much damage there was to clean up when he got to work. Tarps everywhere! And then was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to get to work at all since there were trees across the main road in both directions.

When she got up, my mom was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to have her morning cappuccino. We solved that issue with the use of a camping kettle, and the side burner on our barbecue (since my husband always deals with things made on the barbecue – and I have little interest in learning – I was glad to find out that she knew how to work it.)

My son was worried that his routine would be broken for the first time in nearly 17 months, as he has been doing his German, pixel art, and word building every morning since January of 2016.

And me? I was okay with not having a computer, or a hot drink, or being able to get to town, or even the debris all over my lawn. I felt that I would be fine if I never had those things again.

Yet my concern was that the power would not return in time to save the food in my fridge and freezer. Food… it is always food. I guess when someone has such an issue with something, it does tend to become their main concern. And as the hours ticked by, I became more and more determined to find ways to store my food which were not dependent on electricity.

For thousands of years people lived without the use of fridges and freezers – yet one storm… one power outage, and so much could have been lost.

 

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Autism: Through the Storm 1

The weather warning came in a couple of days ahead of schedule, as I remember it. It was no surprise when the wind hit, and it wasn’t the first time we watched from the (hopeful) safety of our home as the cedar hedge beside us nearly bent in half with the gusts.

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It was frightening. I will give it that. Yet we don’t live in tornado or hurricane country. It could have been so much worse.

Though I watched the maple tree in our front yard, concerned that it might come through the house, I wasn’t that worried. We have had such storms before, and it held up just fine.

I held off a little while before shutting down my computer, hoping that we wouldn’t get a power surge and fry it before I could shut it down – but then, a power surge would likely fry the computer whether it was turned on or not.

There was time to get through my bedtime routine (take care of my ‘girls’ – brush their teeth, feed them, take them out – write my journal, watch some Netflix, read on my tablet…) when the power went out. “No big deal,” I thought. It was expected, after all.

I turned off my tablet, plugged it in (out of habit, obviously it wouldn’t be charging) and tried to sleep. Tried.

There is this cherry tree (oh poor cherry tree) which I planted ten years ago in the worst place I could have chosen. To be fair, the tag said it was a dwarf – and it is most definitely not a dwarf. Even so it was a bad place for it as there is too much shade. It towers above our roof line, though we have cut it back, and is right against the corner of our carport.

All night long that three swayed back and forth in the strong wind making loud creaking, and deep moaning noises – it almost sounded like a really sad ghost movie or something (but couldn’t have been as there was no power.)

Above that, since my aquarium wasn’t running for white background noise (I have no fish, but keep the aquarium running in my room to help me sleep) every sound had Molly barking… and there were a lot of sounds.

Needless to say I woke up tired. Very tired.

 

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Autism: What Change May Come

It has been a cold, wet spring. I am not sure what to make of it as thoughts of ‘typical’ are replaced with an idea that things are changing and perhaps what once was will no longer be. I must prepare myself to accept what changes may come, for I know that flexibility is not natural for me – yet can be survived, perhaps even well, should I accept ahead of time that “all shall be well.”

All winter, for instance, we had our bird feeders hanging from the maple tree in the front yard, filled with seed – but the birds didn’t come. “Oh well,” I thought, “we can take the remaining seed up to the lake in the summer, and feed the squirrels and chipmunks.”

Then, a little over a week ago, the birds started coming. I have refilled the feeder twice since. True, it was meant to help them survive the winter, and there are many other things they could be eating now, but it sure is nice to watch them at a time when I am able to sit outside (even if I remain undercover, bundled in a sweater.)

It is a change, but I am okay.

There is another change that I am considering for this year. It is not so much the change itself that causes me to hesitate, but the ability (or rather inability) to express it well… the need, that is. The idea – and one vocalized as a suggestion from a friend, and confirmed as a… sensible choice from a relative – is that I not go up to “the lake” this year.

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The more I consider this, and the more I observe “my girls” growing calm and content in the safety of our yard, the more I come to believe this to be the most logical course for me to take. There are just too many things about that trip which cause me stress and anxiety:

  • food issues which have always lead to meltdown and humility there
  • eagles, osprey and other wildlife that actively seek to eat my girls
  • where I will sleep (tents are no longer suitable as I fear for safety for my girls)
  • how to stop my girls from barking and chasing neighbours, family, and their dogs
  • cows – yes, cows! Clara will chase them, which also becomes a danger, and they are free range up there
  • how to safely contain my girls when I go swimming, kayaking, or playing games with others up there
  • a more than 2 hour drive each way to get there in a vehicle without air conditioning (again, safety and food issues, and there is the motion sickness on top of that)

As I consider all of these things, and my anxiety grows, I return to the comment from my friend. “Wouldn’t it be better to stay home?”

Is it better to stay home? Pretty much always!

And the truth is, I live in a beautiful tourist town where my pastor frequently reminds us, “people save all year to come to a place like this.” And he is right!

My house is a short walk from the lake, and two beautiful nature trails. I live maybe a five minute drive from a really nice beach. I have a fully fenced yard, with many shade trees and bushes, a lawn swing and a freestanding hammock, lots of wildlife (though easier to keep my girls safe) right here in my own home.

My girls are happy here, and I am able to relax, so… why would I want to leave?

 

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Autism: Maybe I Heard Wrong

I suppose part of the issue comes for the fact that I don’t hear well in groups. Not at all. I try to hear what is being said. I try to pay attention. But if there is any sound at all other than the one person talking – say, quiet music in the background, or a couple of conversations going on at the same time, or… any sound – I miss most of what is being said.

The situation happened like this: there were a group of us sitting around in a circle. The question was, “how was your week?” and it was my husbands turn to answer.

Now another issue with paying attention to what is being said is that I am not at all an auditory learner. I am not even an auditory thinker (if that is a thing.) I think in pictures. So when people talk, I spend much of my time trying to convert their words into the pictures that I can understand, and then match it up with prior experiences so that I can remember what is being said.

It doesn’t always work.

It doesn’t often work.

In this particular moment, as I was trying to convert the words of my husband, other people were adding comments as well – and suddenly one of those comments was directed at me!

I didn’t even catch all the words, only something about me not counting on the insurance… and they all laughed.

Was it a joke?

Was it something they believed, which was hidden in a joke?

Since I didn’t hear what was said, I didn’t respond, and they moved on. They did, but I couldn’t. In my head I was going over the few words I heard, mixed in with the subject my husband had been talking about (his trip to the doctor) and I was once more hurt and defensive by the words that might have only been meant as a joke.

Only I never understand these types of jokes (if that is what it was – if not, it is even worse.)

It is like when my son was a baby, and his paternal grandmother bought a t-shirt saying something like, “baby for sale.” She thought it was cute and funny, but I was absolutely horrified.

“I would never!” I thought, and kept the pain and tears hidden inside with extreme effort.

Do they think I am with him for the insurance?

Maybe they do. Not them specifically, but many people have believed many bad things about me before that weren’t true. It hurts even more that I can’t defend myself, and when I try, they become even more sure of their original belief.

I am not with him for the insurance – yet if something happened to him, I would struggle a lot in so many ways (that they would likely never understand) and would depend on it, so they would likely believe it more, and it is so not true. But I can’t explain it. I haven’t the words.

Again, this isn’t about the people I was with in that room – but about a lifetime of past experience with things others have wrongly believed about me (and caused extensive damage in believing.)

So maybe it was a joke, and maybe I did hear it wrong – but it still hurt. And those jokes? No matter how hard I try, I am incapable of understanding them.

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