Tag Archives: autism crowds

Autism: Give Me An Out

I woke up with such a bad headache (this has been happening a lot lately) that I didn’t think I should go to church, but it dulled as the morning went on – and really, I would rather go than not, even when I don’t feel like it.

When we get to church, we often say “hello” to a few people, get our sermon notes, and go to our seats. While my husband might stop to visit, that part of the church at that time very quickly puts me in sensory overload.

  • The fan running above me.
  • The doors opening and closing.
  • People all around me.
  • Open spaces.
  • Lots of voices.
  • Children running around.
  • Sights, smells, sounds… it is all just too much.

And when I have to stand in there – which is true of any such space (I hate being in warehouse stores for these reasons even more) – I quickly start going into meltdown mode.

Mostly my husband recognizes this and gives me an ‘out.’ He might stay, but I am able to comfortably excuse myself and go.

Perhaps on this occasion it slipped his mind how hard this was for me. Maybe he thought he would only talk for a moment, and it would be okay. Possibly it was because on this Sunday there were fewer people in the foyer when we got there.

Easter 2015

Whatever his reason, I found myself ‘trapped’ there in that foyer with no polite way I could find to excuse myself. We stopped to say “hello” to one couple, and he ended up staying to tell a long story about how his jaw was broken. To include me, I suppose, they kept looking at me while he told the story, and I couldn’t get away.

It wasn’t about his story, or about the couple we were talking to (or he was, anyway.) In that type of situation I am being bombarded by all sorts of sensory stimuli, and I can’t block it out. It was all I could do to try and hide how irritated I was getting.

Finally the story was over, and we started to walk away. I thought I might be okay, though I was still struggling. We only took a few steps, however, before he stopped to talk to someone we didn’t know.

She had just moved to town a few months ago, and was new to the church. My husband was trying to make her feel welcome. I know we are supposed to do that, and I saw the value in it as he was speaking, but… I was already doing pretty bad, and wasn’t able to handle any more.

I know that I didn’t do as good a job of hiding my irritation – and again, it wasn’t about what my husband was saying, or about the person he was talking to. I was feeling trapped and overwhelmed, and could find no polite way to escape.

So the irritation, I am sure, showed loud and clear. I was crossing my arms and hugging myself as I do when I feel that way. I was looking away, trying to block things out, shifting from one foot to another… I am sure it didn’t help her to feel welcome, but it certainly wasn’t my intention to come across that way.

Really, it was all I could do not to go into full meltdown, crying and running away, right then and there. Of course, she wouldn’t have known that. She wouldn’t have ‘known me from Adam,’ as they say (or should it be Eve???) and certainly wasn’t aware that I am Autistic. It isn’t like I have a neon sign on my forehead announcing that.

So instead of seeing that I was in sensory overload, and needed to get out of there, I am pretty sure that in her eyes, I just seemed rude.

Finally that conversation was over, and we went in to our seats – but I was crashing hard! My husband tried to talk to me about other things. He tried to hand me my sermon notes to read over. He tried. But I couldn’t. I was done. Like I said, it was all I could do not to cry and run away, and I was having such a hard time… I guess ‘regulating’ myself might be the right term.

Then the worship music came began, and the calm washed over me, and I was okay.

But I wish they understood how hard such things are for me and would always give me that ‘out’ I so need in these situations.


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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.)

Screenshot from 2017-10-03 11:26:17

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: People Watching

Last night my husband took me into town for a free music concert which happens every Wednesday throughout the summer. It was unexpected, as it was only the second time we went down this year (the first time was while my mom was visiting, and wanted to go before she left.)


Since I wasn’t expecting it, I had prepared a large meal for my husband and son that night, and was holding off on my shower until just before bedtime as usual (when I am going out, I will have it in the afternoon.) As a result, I had 45 minutes after supper to have my shower and get all of the dishes done. For a while there, I was quite overwhelmed.

I did end up getting all of this done, and was only about 5 minutes later than I had hoped when I was ready to leave – but I also had a large wet spot on the clean shirt I had just put on, from doing the dishes. I can’t seem to wash dishes without some of the water getting on me. At least this was clean water – but it still made me quite self-conscious, and I didn’t really have time to pick out a new shirt.

Anyway the weather is still very hot and dry, and my shirt was dry by the time we got down there.

The band was… well, my husband described them as bluegrass. The music itself was fine, but I really didn’t like the lyrics. My husband thought they were ‘fun.’

There were a lot of people there, and I very much struggle in crowds. We did sit near the back, on a short ledge, with a garden behind us. We sat beside someone I went to school with for my building trades program at college a few years back. I didn’t talk much to her – I am not good with people – but I did enjoy visiting with her dog!

Most of my time there, at the music concert, was spent in ‘people watching.’

People really confuse me. This has been true my entire life – and I have spent just about my entire life, as I was last night, on the outside observing.

There were children dancing, and some adults too. Some people sat in place, tapping their feet to the music. Others were talking, visiting, hugging, laughing.

Some parents were playing with, laughing at, or dancing with their children.

People were… living.

Fully present in the moment, and (maybe it just appears that way to me, but) not even self-conscious about what they were doing, or how they were interacting, or how they were coming across to others, or…

The thing is, no matter how hard I try, I could never come across as being spontaneous, or… free. For no matter where I am, or what I am doing, every detail is being analyzed in my mind, and I am aware of… everything.

All I do is forced for it seems nothing comes naturally to me. And when I watch people – not just at the concert last night, or at church, or… but everywhere – I see that a lot of life for most people seems to be just that – natural. And maybe that is what people have been calling me on my entire life, while I believe that I am doing things the same as they are: they are natural, and for me, it is all forced.

So they don’t trust me for seeing that my responses are forced, they believe I have something to hide – when in truth the only thing I am trying to hide is that I don’t belong here. Not just in that place, or this city, or that church, or… but in the world.

Nothing is natural – except maybe, just maybe my interactions with dogs. Nothing is natural, and it makes me really sad – for I really do want to be free like them.


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Autism: Not What I Meant

Evenings are not the greatest time for me to visit at the best of times. Even on a good day, I am tired and crashing, and really looking forward to bed shortly after supper is over. On a harder day, I can barely even function, and speaking is nearly out of the question.

That day was a harder day. While I have very much been enjoying life recently, I am not used to so much activity. Part of it was about me – I had the appointment out of town, after all. It wasn’t like we would have gone if it weren’t for that.

Part of it was just another person’s normal. When you live less than a 5 minute walk from the grocery store, I guess you tend to go more often – and I admit, it is nice to have fresh fruit and vegetables more often, and not just on weekends (when I am less likely to enjoy them since the kitchen is more often in use.)

Some of it is due to having a visitor – we talk more, and walk more, and go more places just because we really don’t have all that long together. Besides, it is nice.

But it is also exhausting.

We have the vehicle, and so have been going with that type of ‘normal’ – frequent trips to the grocery store and such. Crowds wear me down, though – so though we might only spend 10 minutes or so in the store, and though I am pleased that we were able to go and get fresh foods, at the end of the trip I am tired.

And the walks? I think they are wonderful! It is calming to be out in nature, unlike the time spent in town. I love the smell, and the view, and enjoy the conversations (though my son is a lot quieter these days – perhaps he would talk more if I talked less, and maybe I would try it if I weren’t afraid of putting too much pressure on him to speak and having him stop coming altogether.)


As I said, I am enjoying these days very much – but it is well beyond what I am used to (though likely still a lot less than other people do in a typical week.) So I am happy, but so very exhausted.

That day was harder because it was the third day in a row of what I would consider extreme busyness. Tuesday we went to vote. Then we went to the grocery store for a few things, for a walk in the afternoon, and then to the movies (which I have done more in the past 5 months or so than I have likely in the last 5 years.) On Wednesday, we drove nearly an hour to a much busier city (population about 50,000 I think! – and yes, that is 50, not 500) It was so busy, and so tiring – but we did have a picnic in the park, which was nice.

Then on Thursday we went to the thrift store for bag sale, did a little more shopping (not that we’re buying much, but… potatoes, bananas, fresh vegetables… I don’t do errands like that, but it is ‘normal’ for some, and besides… I don’t have to drive!) and had another walk. Not so much, but I was crashing. I was crashing bad. I mean, I hadn’t even been able to catch up on writing my journal since being out Tuesday night. And I was so, so tired.

So when I did go out, and they asked if my mom was tiring me out (for I was obviously exhausted) and I said, “yes” – so they prayed and joked about trouble with mothers wearing us out, well… that is not what I meant.

But I was so tired, I couldn’t explain it well. I love having my mom here. And the fact that I was exhausted for life group this week doesn’t mean she is draining, or asking me to do too much, or… It is just that my normal is so much less than what other people expect, and I do get drained from it. Yet what they heard was not what I meant, and I really hope it doesn’t come back to her and leave her feeling bad.


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Autism: Freedom For Now

We had this vehicle that was sitting in our driveway for many months, not being used. It wasn’t our vehicle, but we had agreed to store it for family.  Since no one was using it, my husband asked if it would be okay for us to get it insured during the time that my mom was here – and the owners agreed.

Suddenly I have a vehicle – not that one, for it is a standard. I can drive standard, but… I am anxious enough driving an automatic. With the standard, there is so much more to think about, and so many more issues that could arise.

For example (and I guess this is the worst one) when I have to stop on a hill in the standard, I am painfully aware of how close other vehicles stop behind. When the light changes, and it is time to go, I not only have to think about the lights and the traffic in front of me – but there is the brake, and the clutch, and the gas, and the gears, and… the vehicle that will roll backwards before it moves forward.

It is all too much – like city driving (which I don’t do – at least not in or near the city I learned to drive in.)

So my husband will take the standard car to work, and I will have the use of our automatic van during my visit with my mom.

Only he didn’t just get insurance for the 2 months while my mom is here, but for six months!

It feels really strange.

I haven’t had free access to a vehicle for a long time. In fact, in our first 9 or 10 years of marriage (even after I got a job outside of my home, and with different shifts from my husband) we only had the one vehicle.

When I was going to school, and had to travel to and from the job site frequently (we were building a house) my husband decided it was best to get a second vehicle for convenience. But when I stopped working, well… there really wasn’t enough reason to justify the expense of a second vehicle, so the extra went to the wrecker (we only ever buy well used vehicles) and we were back down to one.

It made sense. It did make sense.

If I needed to get anywhere, I would have to drive down to work with my husband, and pick him up at the end of the day, in addition to doing my own thing. Sometimes I did, but… driving into town and back once causes me severe anxiety (just being in town without driving causes me strong anxiety.) By the time I got home, I was nearly always crashing – and going out again was really a very difficult thing for me. So I didn’t do it often, and have spent most of these years at home.

Then I qualified for door to door bus service – only I had a bad experience with that, and was afraid to try again.

Instead I have been home. I like to be home, but with no accessible way to leave home, I have felt trapped and isolated.


And now, suddenly, I have a vehicle again. I drove into town today to pick up a few things for my mom’s visit – and town was busy! I don’t know why it was so busy on a regular Monday not altogether close to tourist season, but it was.

I arrived home worn out and exhausted, and very anxious about having to go out again to pick my husband up at the end of the day… but then, I don’t have to, do I?

It feels strange, but I am grateful for the sudden freedom that having a second vehicle allows. Perhaps not worth the expense long term, but it is really nice for now.


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Autism: Struggles With Peopling

On Christmas day this year, my husband and I were invited to sing Christmas carols for a church service in the retirement home where his sister-in-law works. This is something that my husband does a couple of Sundays every month (though in different retirement homes) but not really something that I do. I like to sing, but I am not really good at it (I struggle with auditory processing, which seems to be getting worse as I age, and though my hearing is good I don’t ‘hear’ well in groups – which means I can’t hear myself to ensure I have the correct tune.)

Easter 2016

Thankfully my cold, which had already lasted for two weeks, seemed to be over. My throat was raw from coughing so much for so long, but I felt okay. This was good as the sign on the door said anyone having cold or flu symptoms was not allowed in – it made sense.

So I walked in with my husband, feeling very conspicuous, as I always do when walking in front of people. I was carrying my husband’s guitar for him, as he had books and other things to bring in as well. My sister-in-law wished me a Merry Christmas, gave me a hug, and asked how my new dog was doing. Then I followed my husband into the room.

I held his guitar for a while until he directed me to where I could put it down, and then I just stood there, not knowing what to do, as he got organized. After several minutes of standing awkwardly, I said to him, “I don’t know what I am doing,” so he told me I could sit in one of the chairs in front of us. “We’ll be front row people,” he said. So I sat.

My husband’s brother, and two of his adult nieces came in after that. They all wished me a Merry Christmas, and asked about my dogs. (At least they know where my interests lie! I probably wouldn’t have been able to talk about anything else.)

The room was full of seniors. Like babies, seniors don’t cause me the same level of anxiety. After a point in people’s lives, many people seem to lose that… maybe demanding, judgmental, competitive nature (or whatever it is that causes me to fear even people I have never met) and become almost harmless once more. I am still very anxious if I have to interact with them, it is just that being near to them isn’t as hard.

My husband talked a little, and then played his guitar and sang. His brother and nieces stood up at the front and sang as well (his sister-in-law was working, and had to be with the residents.) I stayed in my seat to sing, for that is where I was told to go. I am not sure if he meant that I should stay there the whole time, or if I was supposed to get up to sing with the rest of them – but there I was directed, and there I stayed.

After several songs, my husband’s brother spoke of the birth of Jesus, and how there would be no Easter without Christmas. When he was finished, we sang again. Up to that point, I was doing okay.

And then we were supposed to visit.

My husband and his family went off and ‘mingled.’ They are good at that sort of thing, but it meant I was left alone where I was sitting, trying to force myself to get up as well. A man sitting two seats over from me with his wife came over to me and started talking. He had lots to say, and used questions to get me talking, and still I felt very awkward.

He knew my husband from the thrift store where my husband works, and asked me if I was involved in the community. “A little,” I said, thinking of church and life group. Not much really.

“You must have children at home,” he said.

“Well, I have a son. He is twenty,” I replied.

Twenty!!!” he said in shock. “How is it you have a twenty year old? What is your secret to staying so young?”

My husband is twenty-four years older than me, and his brother and sister-in-law are only a few years younger than him. I understood the question, but didn’t know how to answer without sharing my entire life story.

“I don’t know,” I said awkwardly.

He kept trying to keep the conversation going, but I am horrible with that. Thankfully that is when my husband came back, and started to talk to the man. But, as tends to happen to me, at that moment I started coughing uncontrollably. I just could not stop. That was something that used to happen to me every time I was called to talk in grade school, and even something that happened a lot when I was working front desk at the motel… I feel really anxious and awkward about talking, and start coughing uncontrollably.

As I was coughing, I worried that they would think I had gone in there sick. It might have been aggravated by the raw throat I had as a leftover from my cold, but mostly I think it was just the fact that I had been required to visit. Too much talking mixed with too much anxiety. It doesn’t do well for me.

Since I couldn’t stop coughing, my husband decided it was time for us to leave – and I did; coughing all the way.


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Autism: Trip to the Theater

My husband got off work at 4pm so that we could attempt to go see Mary Poppins at the local theater. Except for the “pay what you can” Thursday shows, which don’t have advance ticket sales, they were sold out for all 12 of their showings (including the free dress rehearsal night.)

Easter 2016

He got home angry at 4:30pm because the van wouldn’t start, and he had to get jump-started. Plus he had to wait through two trains. Very unusually, he was upset, and I was still feeling okay. He showered, we ate, and got ready, and were at the theater for 5:20pm.

Although the theater didn’t open to sales until 6pm, we were still numbers 96 and 97 in line (the tickets were numbered, and given in order.) Although we were allowed to stay in the theater at that point, though the show didn’t start for an hour, it was really crowded in there. We ended up waiting in the lobby of the movie theater across the street as it was warm, and nearly empty.

When we went back at 6:30, the lobby was extremely crowded and I was quite overwhelmed. My husband went over to a wall, and I backed into a corner, hiding behind him to block out the people. We were called in to find seats according to our ticket numbers (first 1-20, then 21-40 and so on.) It was miserable waiting, but they got through it quickly. We got our seats in the second row from the front, on the end of the right side (facing the stage) right where I wanted to be.

My words can’t do the play justice. It was… amazing! Magical – truly (tables that broke and went back together. Dishes that seemed like they would fall, but didn’t. Cakes that decorated themselves. Toys that came to life.) It was like a large city, professional production on a small town stage. Fabulous!

Behind us sat one of the actors from another play we saw there: I Had A Job I Liked… Once. That one had a very small cast, and he was one of the two main ones, and it was a highly serious, and very sad play. My husband talked to him at intermission, and I awkwardly said several times how it was one of my favourite plays ever (which it was, but I also loved Little Shop of Horrors, and Man of La Mancha – which was done at the highschool, and I was loving Mary Poppins. There have been so many good ones.)

Then he told us that some people walked out from his play because the sexual assault theme was too much for them. Then the whole play came back to me… I stand by what I said, but… awkward. (By the way, this isn’t a fame thing. He is just a kid from town who was in one play I know of. This was about talking to people. I am as awkward with everyone, including my 17 year old foster son when we see him around town, though he lived with us three years as a child, and was in my daycare for two years as a toddler, and we tried to adopt him.)

People are hard. Crowds make me cringe. Leaving home was stressful. But that play? Wonderful!

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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Autism: Out in Public


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Autism: Stressed at the Movies

Though I had few plans for the day (basically have a slightly earlier supper and go to the movies) I was extremely anxious the entire day. This happens sometimes; I get anxious… really anxious, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it. I wanted to go to this movie especially: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The anxiety, however, didn’t make it an easy thing for this.

Summer 2015 011

It was great that my husband was able to get off early. He usually doesn’t get home until 6pm despite getting off work at 5:30 with a 7 minute drive home, but he was home at 5:15. The movie started at 6:30, and supper was ready at 5:45. Plenty of time for him to shower, eat, and be ready to go for 6pm I thought. Yet he is a slow eater, made slower by the book he reads as he eats…

At 6:04 my son and I were at the door putting our shoes on, after having brushed teeth and all else to prepare to go. My husband was just getting up to put the leftovers for his lunch away. We went out to the van to find that the back seat was not installed properly (they remove, and we usually don’t all go places together.) Apparently it was loose the last time all three of us went out together, but my son didn’t say anything. Danger!

I was working on that, but it was really dark in the back of the van, even with the interior lights on. I couldn’t seem to get it in right, and the time was ticking by. It was 6:13 before all was set and we could leave for the theater.

As usual, I was stressed about being late. Sure, we would have gotten down there by 6:30, but we still had tickets to buy, and I am particular about where I am able to sit. At the movies, it means near the back of the theater, where there is quite a height difference between one row and the next. Everywhere else I tend to choose the very front.

Knowing I was stressed out about timing, my husband drove faster than usual – but the road from our house to the theater is full of twists and turns, all of which he took too fast, which added quite bad motion sickness to my strong anxiety and stress levels.

We got our tickets fast enough – only because for whatever reason people were confused that night and lined up all in one line leaving the other empty. Even so, when we got into the theater, there were no back seats available, and we had to sit in the older section closer to the screen.

We walked past a few people to get to our seats, even though I had indicated to my husband that I would sit on the end three seats one row down – but he was already going through, and I couldn’t get his attention. Walking past the people, I bumped into one – and of course started beating myself up over my clumsiness. Not a great way emotionally to enjoy what we had gone there for.

Sitting in the seat, I looked up at the advertisements on the screen, and was overcome by dizziness. The screen was too big from that spot. Then, a couple of advertisements in, the sound suddenly seemed to double. It hurt my ears, bad, and I covered them with my hands.

“Do you need earplugs?” my husband asked me.

“I am really hoping this was a mistake, and they will turn it down,” I replied.

The sound remained at that level for the rest of the advertisements, and the first couple of trailers, but it did (thankfully) work itself out. By that point, I was in really bad sensory overload, and was heading fast toward a meltdown.

The movie started, and the first couple of minutes had a lot of motion, and a lot of changing scenes. I was feeling really sick, and had to make a tunnel out of my hands to block out some of it. I didn’t want to miss the movie, and taking off my 3-D glasses (on a side note, I get less dizziness from the new 3-D than I used to from the 2-D movies) didn’t help as it made the picture really fuzzy.

Anyway, things slowed down after that, and I very, very much enjoyed watching that movie. There are times, however, when I strongly wish this sensory aspect of Autism were removed from me. Until then, we will have to ensure that we get to the theater on time, in the future, to get the good seats.


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Autism: A Blizzard in my Head

Sitting in the passenger seat, driving down the highway, with my trembling dog on my lap. There was no thought to what I would do with the day – only that one moment in time. Take her in, hand her to the vet, walk away. It would be untrue to say that my thoughts were racing, as not one could take hold long enough for me to acknowledge it – such was the extent of my anxiety. I tried to remind myself that it would be okay, that so many dogs have this surgery and are fine, that it was best for her, but none of these thoughts would register. Take her in, hand her to the vet, walk away.

They handed me a questionnaire. Just a bit of information on my dog, and her recent health. The parts which I knew I could fill in, but the ones requiring a choice? No way! “Do you want to pay $40 more for an iv during surgery?” I don’t know! Why didn’t you ask me this before I brought her in? How am I supposed to answer this?

“What do I say?” I asked her. “No. She doesn’t need it.” Okay. Am I signing my dog’s life away? Why can’t I think? Why don’t I know what to do?

So I gave her the form, and handed her my dog (As if she isn’t one of the most important things in my life right now. As if I didn’t care at all.) and walked out.

“Where would you like to go?” my husband asked me. Not a thought. Not a thought but six hours! Six hours until I can pick her up. Until that day, I hadn’t been separated from her so long since she was given to me. Six hours – it seemed like forever… and would she be okay? “I don’t know,” I replied, “I can’t think today.”

That was an understatement. My mind, often so loud with thought that I can barely hear anything else, now feels like a blizzard. All I can hear is the wind. All I can see is the snow. There is nothing else. “You make the decisions, I will just come along,” I told him. There was nothing else I could do. So he started driving around, and one more word registered. Nauseous. “Please find somewhere to go. When we drive around I get nauseous.” Please make a decision. I can’t.

Somehow he carried me through the day, and I was so thankful to have him there. What would I have done in that big, confusing city without him? Unable to think beyond the moment, how would I have gotten around? So thankful to have him, though I could not tell him so.

We walked through two (No Dog’s Allowed!) parks that I had taken Gryffindor to last year (I didn’t know.) Sadness mixed with the already strong anxiety, and didn’t help me to think. We went to one membership required store, where I remembered how stressed out I feel in large spaces (high roof, huge isles, people going in all directions…) We visited at one of his cousin’s homes.

Six hours. Six hours that threatened to never end. Six hours – the length of time Jesus hung on the cross. The amount of time I spent in labour with my son. The length of a regular school day. Six hours. And then it was done, and she was back in my arms again.

My beautiful, beautiful girl. I hope to never be apart from her for six hours again. Unreasonable, I know, but I can’t live life in that blizzard – and that is where I am without her. “Heal, my girl,” I think now as I watch her sleeping beside me. “You have no idea what you mean to me.”




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Autism: Missing the Fair

For years I have wanted to go, and it wasn’t an option. For one thing, I had no one to go with; my husband and son don’t like such things. For another, it was too expensive – something like $11-15 for something that I would only stay at for a couple of hours. Even if I could bring myself to spend the whole day (which I couldn’t, unless maybe they allowed me to bring my dog – which they don’t) that would still be too much to spend.

This year, however, they had a deal for the opening day. If we went in before 5pm, the cost would be $5. Much more reasonable. So I made the plan, and fully intended to go.


The fair opened at 10am, which meant I had an hour from the time I dropped my husband off at work, until I could go in. It still seemed like a good idea. After all, the reason it was so cheap on the Friday was because not a lot of people would go then (what with school and work and everything.) If the crowds weren’t so bad, I might be able to manage longer – besides, I really wanted to go.

During that hour before, I made plans to do some shopping. There was a sale on laundry detergent at Walmart, so I would go there to get that. Then the farm store had a sale on the dog food that my dog eats – well, more a free exchange than a sale. That food is super expensive ($17 for 2kg!) but if I had an empty bag of store brand dog food, I could exchange it for a free bag of this expensive food. Great deal!

The expensive stuff is the brand my dog was on when she was given to me. A large Ziploc bag of the kibble came with her – but we were running low. I have actually been making homemade food, and only giving her maybe 1/8 cup of the kibble each day (that is about all she would eat – she, of course, wants homemade.) Still, $17 for 2kg is a lot of money, so I would have to at least mix it with something else.

Well, we didn’t have another bag to exchange, but if I went to the grocery store and bought some, I could empty it into a container, and bring in the empty bag. I did research, and found a comparable brand with good reviews (plus $11.50 for 3kg is a bit better priced.) And I did that. In the hour before the fair, I went to the grocery store and bought one bag of dog food. I talked to the cashier a little (because I used to babysit her son when I first moved here.) Then I went to Walmart, because it has a traffic light coming out to help me turn on the highway. Then I went to the farm store, where I had to talk to the cashier in order to ask for the free exchange.

By that time, I had been away from home for more than an hour, and I was starting to feel it. My anxiety was high, but I still wanted to go to the fair. After all, it was a decent price, and when would I get another chance?

I parked at the back of the shopping centre, and walked up to the fairgrounds just behind. As I got close, there was a farmer’s market full of crafts and farm grown food. I walked through that (because I like to) and it was at that point I felt I really needed to be home. So I drove back to my husband’s work, where I dropped off the van, and then walked along the nature trail home (forgetting there was a warning of a cougar sighting on a nearby trail the day before – but that is another story.)

When I got home, I crashed, and actually slept for the afternoon (did I mention that I couldn’t sleep the night before for anxiety over having to talk to cashiers in the morning?) Normally I can’t nap during the day, but I slept deeply for 2.5 hours. When I woke up, I very much regretted not having gone to the fair.

After that, there was no option to go, as the price was once again too high. It makes me sad sometimes how much my anxiety interferes with life. But when my brother in law (who is staying with us for a few days) asked me the next morning to go to the parade, I picked up my dog, and went – and I enjoyed it very much!



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