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Autism: Horrible Stinky Food

My husband made hamburgers for himself in the toaster for supper. I did notice he was going to do that, but he doesn’t like me to comment on these things, and… what was I supposed to do?

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On the nights that he cooks, I frequently have to wait until supper is finished for him and my son before I can start to make my own – and that in itself is very hard on my system. That isn’t his fault – I just can’t function well with anyone around, including my husband. I do okay with my son there, but my son has been there since he was a baby, and that is not true of anyone else in my life – which is maybe why my son is the only one who doesn’t have such an effect on me.

Oh – I guess I should mention that I am the only one in my house who doesn’t eat meat. I also have a lot… a LOT!!! of sensory issues around food, so what people typically eat (in Canada – but I imagine many foreign foods would be bad for me, too) is not only something I can’t eat, but something that causes me a lot of struggle when other people eat these foods around me.

Hamburgers are one of those foods.

If they are cooked on the barbeque, and the doors are closed, it isn’t so bad. The smell goes away pretty fast, and I can cover my nose while I wait.

Inside, however, is very different.

It stunk up the house so bad I couldn’t block it out with three layers of blankets. My husband, seeing my distress, sprayed room freshener (which made it worse) burned candles, and opened the windows. It still took more than 1.5 hours before I could take the blankets away from my nose.

Molly, (one of my Chihuahuas) stressed out by my struggle, barked at my husband (which she doesn’t do) until I brought her to me and calmed her down.

My functioning, reduced to nothing since I was unable to eat my supper due to my husband’s choice of his (and I begin crashing when my meals or snacks even are even a few minutes late – and this was getting close to 2 hours) left me unable to find food even when the smell had cleared, and my husband had cleaned the kitchen.

Knowing it was nearly time to get my girls ready for bed, and I had to do something, I walked into the kitchen – but I ended up rocking on the floor unable to think. Clara (one of my dogs) and Ditch (one of my cats) came to help comfort me.

I couldn’t deal with my needs, but they needed me, so I got up and got them through their bedtime routine.

I ended up eating a granola bar (which hurt my tongue) two pieces of dried mango, and the tea that my husband brought to me. It wasn’t nearly enough. Not nearly. But it was close to 10pm, and was too late for me to eat – besides, I still couldn’t think of food.

For me, it isn’t true that I “will eat when (I’m) hungry enough.” The truth is, the hungrier I am, the harder it is for me to eat. Even foods that usually work for me are rejected (in my thoughts as well as my mouth, throat, and stomach) when I am too hungry. Foods that are often okay for me frequently cause a very bad reaction if I eat them in those moments.

So I went to bed feeling hungry and weak. I woke up the next morning (having only made it through the night by medicating myself) feeling hungry, nauseous, and weak. In fact, though I did eat that day, it still took me until after I had eaten supper and dessert – a full 24 hours after the issue began – before my body was regulated and felt okay again.

It is really hard on both me and those who live with me when normal things that they do has such a bad effect on me – and what am I supposed to do with that?

 

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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: Successful Learning

When I was about 12 years old, my Sea Cadet corps offered a cooking course. At the same time, I was taking home economics through my elementary school. Cooking and baking was something that I really enjoyed doing, and I did achieve honours in school for this course.

While it was something I really enjoyed doing, and in cadets was with people I really wanted to be with, I still can’t say that I learned much in these environments.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I really struggle with the feeling of being watched. This was true of me then as much as it is now, though at twelve, I didn’t understand why. I not only had trouble being watched, but I have also always had trouble with food issues, as well as eating in front of people. All of these… handicaps, I suppose, for that is what they are… made learning in group situations next to impossible.

At this point in my life I only remember learning how to make french onion soup in cadets – mainly just how the onions burned my eyes as I was cutting them – and how to make chocolate Christmas suckers/pops in school. I am sure that I learned much more than that, and that my enthusiasm showed, for my mom bought me a large box of baking supplies that Christmas. She also put me in charge of cooking for my grandfather after my grandma had a heart attack the following summer.

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So I must have learned something. However, the stress of the environment carried on even into my memories of that time. I remember who I was with, but I hardly remember what I was supposed to be learning – and it isn’t even that I didn’t use those skills after.

Yet when I moved out on my own (at the too young age of seventeen – again related to stress) I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen, and couldn’t even call upon memories to help me out, for in this area they were completely blank. I remembered the people I very much wanted to be with (in cadets anyway. In my memories of school, they are just faded, fuzzy shapes of people that are hardly even there at all) and I even remembered the environment, but the skills are just gone.

This is true of so many things that I have done and learned that I begin to wonder if perhaps the place where I am learning has more impact than any other detail in whether I actually can learn well enough for it to make a difference.

It wasn’t until I was fully alone, in my own kitchen, with only my young son around that I was actually able to teach myself how to cook… and again, that is true of pretty much everything that I know.

It seems in order to learn, I have to be on my own, and I have to teach myself. So much for the school system…

I see that in this, though in little else, my Autistic son is very much the same as me.

 

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Autism: When I am Watched

“Didn’t your parents teach you to cut your meat?” they asked as I sat in front of them with a fork and knife in my hands.  I don’t remember, I thought.  Maybe not.  All I knew was that the knife felt awkward in my hands, squeaked across the plate, and wasn’t cutting very well.

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They must have taught me, though.  I was eighteen and living with my boyfriend’s parents.  A Hungarian/German family that loved cooking, and loved food.  Being a picky eater with extreme sensitivities to taste, texture, and type of food, plus a strong difficulty eating in front of other people (they always ate together at the table) made it very difficult for me to show them I appreciated what they were doing for me.

After all, I was very much starving before they allowed me to move in with them.  But there were foods I couldn’t eat (many I still can’t eat 20+ years later) and I really struggled to cut my meat.

Now that I know myself more, I can say with assurance that I likely could cut my food, and had been taught – I just couldn’t do it then, while I was at the table, with people so close, and myself being so aware of every movement that I wasn’t able to think, function, or even hold a knife.

Even now after many years of experience and over twelve years of marriage, I struggle to hold utensils when even my husband is close to me.  It isn’t like he is a stranger or anything, but that feeling of being watched seems to reduce me to struggle with even the basic of tasks.

It isn’t that I can’t, or that I won’t, or that I am seeking attention by pretending to be helpless – it is that in certain situations, my focus shifts to the point where I can’t think of anything else but my own awkwardness – which has the pleasant effect of causing the very thing I am trying to avoid… embarrassment.

Afterward I want to defend myself.  It isn’t like I can’t do these things – and I certainly don’t want people to think of me like that… yet in that moment, in that situation, truly I can’t.

I would like to say that I am getting better at this, but I still struggle with it most of the time.  It is the reason I need to work alone.  It is the reason that when we were trying to adopt our children, having the social workers watching everything caused me so much stress.  It is the reason I often fail when I am around other people.

I have even found that it isn’t just when someone is close enough to watch that this is a challenge for me.  It is also as difficult if I think someone might be listening/watching (such as neighbours outside, even if what I am doing is in).  It is even as strong of an issue if while I am doing… whatever… I so much as think of a situation when that might happen.

My functioning drops, and what I could have done well if I was alone, I can no longer seem to do at all – and that leaves me feeling inadequate and ashamed.

 

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