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Autism: Not A Great Chess Player

When I was a teenager, I had a friend who wanted to play chess with me. He taught me how to play, and I would look at the board, and know how each piece was supposed to be moved. I would play the game, and sometimes I would win.

For many years I would look at a chess board with longing, yet did not spend a lot of time playing with other people (or playing alone.) You see, while I could imagine myself thinking through the strategies, and playing the game well, the reality was quite different.

I don’t actually have a mind that can focus, or make logical decisions playing such a game as chess. I have a great mind for imagining, and so I am able to picture myself as a great chess player, very much focused and enjoying a game that I have a good chance of winning – but I have found over the years that isn’t actually who I am.

My mind is so great at imagining that I can frequently bring myself to believe that I would be really good at something, and/or would really enjoy doing something, and I can actually hold that belief until the time when I experience it for real only to fail. At that point, I wonder what went wrong. I was so sure that I would be good at it that it never crossed my mind that I wasn’t built for such things.

There are many things in my life that I can imagine myself to be good at:

  • parenting
  • playing the keyboard
  • crafts such as sewing, knitting, painting
  • gardening
  • farming
  • home renovations
  • woodworking

But the reality is that though I have had years of practice and even training in many of these areas, I am still not at all good at them. I suppose I just wasn’t built that way.

And the thing is, because I can imagine myself to be really good at these things that I feel I would love to do and be, I find it incredibly frustrating, and depressing, to be faced with the reality that this is not who I am.

In fact, the majority of who I have imagined myself to be throughout my life, has turned out to be things I am either not at all talented in, or dislike doing altogether. It leaves me unsure of who I am, or what I would like at all.

Four years ago I took a course in Residential Construction (a foundation course for carpentry apprenticeships.) I did really well in the theory side of the work, and well enough on the practical, that I completed the course top of my class (94% average in a class where nearly half of my classmates failed.) Because my entire immediate family (mom, dad, brothers) were really skilled in this area, I could very much imagine that I would be good in it as well. However, despite my high marks, I was not at all equipped to work in that environment. Under such stress, pressure, and exhausting work, my functioning level dropped to the point where I couldn’t do the work at all.

Had I done well, I would have been at Journeyman level at this point in my life, which I imagine would be a decent place to be.

It is the same with parenting. Throughout my childhood, while I couldn’t relate to any of the children around me, I did love children, and babies, and… I could imagine myself as a great parent with a lot of children. I loved dolls. I wanted children. I even took a 2 years Early Childhood Education course at college and graduated with Dean’s Honours.

I ran a daycare. I home schooled my son. I took and passed an adoption home study, and had three high needs children placed with me for adoption. And… I failed.

The truth was, I could imagine myself as a great parent, but most of the time I was overwhelmed. I could not relate to other parents. I could not relate to the social needs. I was overwhelmed by the behaviours. I was not relaxed. I was not calm. I didn’t even like the world enough to feel confident sending my children out into it.

My concern now is in knowing that my imagination is capable of seeing myself successful and enjoying many different things in life that in reality would not be good for me at all, how could I possibly decide what would truly be good for me?

I thought I could be a good chess player, but I am not. So who am I then?

ResCon

 

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Autism: My Dad

My dad was good at a lot of things. As I was lying in my bed yesterday afternoon, exhausted, and depressed, and overwhelmed by life, I was thinking of that. He was good at a lot of things. I am not really good at anything, and that fed my depression.

My dad was a good son. He was a good brother. He was a good friend. People liked him, and I think he genuinely liked people. He was the first one people often called for help. They would frequently drop in unexpectedly, and he would welcome them in. I remember at least two instances in my childhood where people were really struggling, and my dad invited them to come live with us; and they did.

Frequently my dad took people out for coffee, or just for drives, and he talked to them. My dad was very social, and was very easy to talk to. He was generous, and giving, and caring. He liked helping people. He liked being useful.

My dad liked spending time with people. We spent a lot of my childhood visiting with his friends and family, and camping as a large group with his extended family. He would go fishing with his brother and brother’s kids, and sometimes take us; when he didn’t, he always brought small gifts home with him to show he was thinking of us. He would take us and go to amusement parks with his sisters, our cousins, and his parents. He would take us to the drive in theatre (a lot!) or just rent movies and invite people over to watch at home.

My dad liked spending a lot of time with us. He would take us for walks along the creek, and on picnics, and for drives just to talk. When my dad was home and awake, he was almost always visiting. He even came with my older brother and I to nearly every cadet meet we had. He would bring donuts he got free from Tim Horton’s because, of course, he was friends with all the workers there. Even my fellow cadets (I’d like to say friends, but since I didn’t talk, I guess I wasn’t much of that to them) liked him.

My dad liked to sing. He had a great voice, and when we were on our drives, he would put in a tape and sing along. He would encourage us to sing too, even though my younger brother and I did not have good singing voices; he never criticized us for it. I still love the songs that he used to sing.

My dad was a hard worker. Though he worked in a steel factory, in a physically demanding job (and though he was injured before I could remember, and had a bad leg as a result), and though it was shift work which changed week to week, he never complained about having to go to work. He worked full time, and was the sole income provider for our family for a long time. Even so, when he wasn’t working or sleeping, he was visiting with, and helping people.

My dad was good at woodwork. He finished our basement in the house we moved to when I was four, and put a lot of detail into it. He built us a nice toy box/bench, a corner cabinet, a desk… He kept our homes in good condition. He even whittled animals and things from wood, and they were really nice. He was just good at it.

My dad was good at a lot of things, but the brokenness in him… I guess that is why people didn’t believe me when I did speak – for my father was good at a lot of things, but the deepest seeds of evil he pretty much reserved for me.

My dad was good at a lot of things. I am not really good at anything. Maybe that is why I am depressed. Maybe.

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Autism: What Am I Good For Anyway?

Lately I have been struggling a lot with low confidence and overwhelming depression. I have spent days… weeks even, trying to ‘see’ anything, anything that I might be good at, and coming up empty. With that, the tears flow, and the depression grows. I have no real gifts. I have no real talents. What is it I am doing here, anyway?

So as I do, I prayed. I prayed that God would reveal to me through my thoughts and writing anything that I might be good at; to answer the question: “What am I good for anyway.”

What follows is what came of that prayer. As I read it, I knew it to be true, for I do know myself – yet it is not a boast. For one of my biggest issues is that I compare myself to others, and always come up short. Other people can, I can’t – hence a lifetime filled with depression and low confidence.

The response: (By the way, I don’t hear these things, I just allow the thoughts to come.)

There are things you are good at though you do not see them. That you don’t make money for these things, and that others don’t acknowledge that these things have value, does not mean they are not worth anything, or that they aren’t gifts from God.

  • You are good with dogs.
  • You are good with cats.
  • You are good with rabbits.
  • You have a heart for animals.
  • You have a heart for the broken and hurting, stronger than most people have.
  • You have a desire to do good.
  • You have a desire to bring honour and glory to God.
  • You care deeply for your son.
  • You feel responsible towards your mother and her circumstances.
  • You are quick to forgive.
  • You are understanding of the struggles of others to do good.
  • You sincerely want other people to turn to God and be saved, even people who hurt you.
  • You cry for the lost.
  • You cry for the broken.
  • You want real peace, and real love in the world – not the fake stuff you see around you.
  • You know that you are broken, and are not deceived that you are a ‘good’ person.
  • You realize that all that is good in your life comes from God.
  • You realize that to have anything in life, it must come from God.
  • You desire a relationship with God.
  • You want to do something worthwhile with your life for the sake of others more than for yourself, as alone you would be okay where you are.
  • Your mind is able to create entire worlds, and fantasies that take you far from the pain that overtakes you.
  • When you are interested in something, you will research for hours to understand it better.
  • Though you have no talent for these things, you still want to garden, and create, and grow.

These are things that God has given to you. So you write about them, and you dream about them, and you do not get paid to do these things – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t what you are meant to be doing. God provides for you. You are to do what God lays on your heart to do – even if that is ‘just’ to adopt and love your pets. God can use you where you are.

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Autism: Searching For Talent

This morning I took a 485 question job quiz, hoping to get some idea of what it is I could do. Everyone has to be good at something, right? When I read the free report at the end, however, even their suggested careers were in the “low” category for compatible matches with who I am. Top of that list was motel clerk – which is the job I had last before being put on disability for the severe anxiety I experienced trying to do that job.

I answered all of the questions honestly. I don’t know what went wrong. Perhaps it is my extreme discomfort working with, meeting with, or talking to other people. Maybe it is the fact that I am very emotional, prone to tears, and can’t handle criticism in any degree. Could it be that my vivid imagination is not matched with any creative talent? Or perhaps that while I both see and feel other people’s pain deeply, I am neither able to respond well or help them in any meaningful way.

Whatever the failure of this test, and the multitude I have taken over the years, I am no closer to finding ‘my place’ in this world than when I began. I simply cannot see what I am good at.

Following this test, I went through a list of quizzes to find my ‘hidden talent.’ Though the questions seemed somewhat ridiculous, I was hoping for an “aha” moment that left me with the thought that “I could do that.” Instead the answers all revolved around creativity – painting and knitting (neither of which I am good at.)

Casting aside the knowledge that I have no talent in creative areas save for my imagination (which for the life of me I cannot extract from my mind in any practical way) a creative job, open to criticism, would leave me severely incapacitated for the shear panic such a job would bring. I would be paralyzed. This is possibly the reason I have never been able to get further in creative pursuits: to improve, you must accept criticism of your work, and I can’t. I do know when my work doesn’t meet expectations, but all I hear from the words that should help is, “failure.” I shut down. I just can’t.

On the opposite end are jobs that require precision, accuracy, detail. While I would find comfort in knowing exactly what was expected of me at all moments, my brain is often… scattered, imprecise, unfocused. I know I would make mistakes, and I would always fear them. I beat myself up over mistakes since I am such a perfectionist, and feel shame over them for years after. Such a job, again, would not be suitable due to my anxiety issues.

Taking their idea of motel clerk, at least I have some experience in that. The thing is, though, that I am very awkward. Not at all good at small talk, or dealing with comments or requests outside of the script I wrote for myself in order to do the job, there are limited options to the places where I would get hired in this area. Namely the places where a motel clerk was also required to be a breakfast attendant, housekeeper, pool attendant, and laundry worker all on the same shift. I didn’t have the energy to keep it up, and it quickly burnt me out. Besides, working with the public is not the best position for one easily scared or hurt.

I did enjoy doing the laundry on that job, and even the housekeeping for the rooms where people had checked out without leaving too much of a mess – but with my back pain, feet and legs prone to severe pain, and low energy, it was not something I could keep up long term (or even continue on the demanding pace required in such places.)

While I love spending time with my pets, and they all like me, most jobs involving animals are not real options for me. Pet sitting is out (though I have done and enjoyed it in the past) because I have too many animals in my home to bring others around, and am not at all comfortable in other people’s houses. Kennel attendants, much like motel clerks, require too much interaction with the public, and too much energy in cleaning the kennels. I am not good at training animals, and not at all able to take biology in order to be a vet or assistant (in fact, I failed grade 9 science not being able to go into the room after the biology students due to the strong smell of formaldehyde.

Then there is the fact that I like plants, and trees, and all growing things. But I have never been one of those people who could keep things growing (some things, okay – like my accidental sunflower garden, or the avocado trees that have been growing in my living room from grocery store seeds, but mostly no.) Add to that the energy and physical issues, and the fact that I have bad allergies throughout the growing season, and I really don’t know how I could use that interest for good.

So once again, though I started out with hope that this time some idea would shine forth as true, I am left once more thinking there is nothing I could do. Sad.

sunflower-garden

 
 

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Christmas 2016

Two days before Christmas, and the snow is really coming down. My two ‘babies’ are resting warm on my lap (no need for a weighted blanket these days, for two Chihuahua’s are just the perfect size for a substitute.) “It’s A Wonderful Life” is playing on my television, and my son is just heading out to shovel the driveway before my husband comes home. In the back of my mind is a small concern of accidents, loss, and change – this weather always brings that fear out in me.

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On account of the weather, my friend who was to visit this afternoon had to cancel. There is some disappointment, but above that is a relief that she is safe at home, for the roads are really bad right now.

The gifts are wrapped in bags we have recycled for years, and are sitting under the tree which is lit in red, with a glowing white angel on the top. I set a record this year, buying everything in one three hour shopping trip a few weeks ago. Not that I bought much, for though I love my family, I do not believe in going beyond my means to buy things they might appreciate, but do not need.

As usual I worry about these gifts that I bought; I am not good at choosing presents for people. It simply isn’t my thing. Will they like them? Are they enough? Are they too practical, or not practical enough? Gift giving is difficult, stressful work – yet I still hope deep down that they will be pleased.

When I was a child, I was always sick at Christmas; too much excitement, I guess. It was too bad, too, for every year we went to visit at my Aunt’s house, with all of my father’s family there. It was exactly where I wanted to be, yet due to feeling so sick, I was always put in a quiet room to rest, and had to miss out on most of the visiting.

These days I still like Christmas. I don’t often find myself sick as a result of the excitement anymore, but I am also not close enough to visit my family, either. I haven’t seen them at Christmas in 17 years, and it does make me sad. Still I have my son, my husband, my church… though my family doesn’t live here, I am not alone this Christmas, and I am hopeful that I will enjoy the day anyway.

My gifts were given to me early this year in the form of my son’s old gaming computer that he reformatted and set up for me a couple of weeks ago when my laptop died, and my second chihuahua – mother to my Clara, who was also given to me nearly two weeks ago – a blessing my husband allowed. I am very thankful for both.

Yet presents are not what makes a good Christmas. I do enjoy the visiting, and the Christmas services at church. I enjoy the games, and the puzzles that we do together as a family. For me, time spent is so much more important, and so much more appreciated, than the gifts that come… or don’t.

What I really hope for this year, as I enter the Christmas season, is that our gift to my mother of a return flight to come for a visit is accepted, and able to be used. It has been over two years since I last saw my mom, and I sure do miss her – but the 4000km between us often seems insurmountable, for none of us has much in terms of money.

As I finish this post, and enjoy the end of my movie, I want to take the time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas filled with love, and family, and all things good and hopeful.

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

 

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Autism: Feeling Slow

When people speak of Autism, one of the positives that are often spoken of include some savant skill, or some amazing ability to memorize incredible, detailed information on a specific subject. It is as if… “yes, you have all of these struggles, but then this gift kind of makes up for it.” Only I don’t have that gift, and am left with…

Even as I write this post the words won’t come out right. My son is gifted when it comes to computers, and understanding programming language (or even picking up languages in general.) My friend seems to be gifted in understanding English (grammar, vocabulary and such.) Even my husband, who is not Autistic, has a mind full of trivial facts about just about everything. When I am in their company, though they are some of my favourite people in the world, I feel quite… slow.

ResCon

It isn’t that I can’t memorize facts. When I had ‘my’ children, I could from memory explain everything there was to know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Focal Cortical Dysplasia, and Large Vestibular Aqueducts. Both when I was taking my Early Childhood Education and years later my Residential Construction programs at college, I also held a head full of knowledge on these subjects, and was top of my class in both courses.

And very much as is true of other people with Autism, I bored other people spewing off far too many facts, and even apparently overwhelmed the social workers involved by telling them too many details of what was happening with my children, and why. I do that.

Also very much like Autism, I participated too much when I was in my college courses (and not at all through grade school as I was selectively mute) in answering questions, asking questions, and sharing my experiences – so much that most of my classmates became annoyed with me; yet I could not stop. I had to know. I had to share.

The thing is, though, when I move on from such fixations, I don’t retain all of the knowledge that I gained in that time. I remember some things, but the time spent – even when that time is years – becomes more like a dream that fades over time, and with it, my knowledge on the subject.

I have no real gifts. I would love to be able to sing, or play an instrument, or be gifted in drawing, painting, or some other artistic pursuit. I would love to have something that I was really good at. But I am not.

Last night my husband and I were at Life Group, and we watched a video on Origins. Basically it was scientists explaining how they spent years trying to prove theories that life on Earth happened by random chance, and many became Christians when they found that to have life start from nothing was impossible, and therefore life must be the result of intelligent design.

I have been reading The Case for Faith (Lee Strobel) which in parts talked about that very thing. It is something that interests me. Yet here I was in a room full of intelligent Christians, and all of them had much to say on the subject, yet I felt completely inadequate in speaking in that group. As the only Autistic individual in a group speaking on a subject that interests me very much, shouldn’t I have at least been able to keep up my part of the conversation? Surely I should have had something to say.

Nothing. Not one word. And once more I was feeling really slow, and as if I had nothing worthwhile to offer to the group. If only there was something I was good at…

 

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Autism: Not Gifted

“They are often gifted in areas such as: music, math, science, computers…” One thing that really… hurts me, when I am reading about Autism, and especially Aspergers, is how it is often written as a given that people on the spectrum are often gifted in some way. “All you have to do is give them the opportunity to develop their gift,” they say.

Only I am not gifted. I don’t have perfect pitch. I can’t pick up a new instrument (or even one I have been practicing at for a while for that matter) and just play. I don’t have a flawless, or even a great memory. I can do well on tests, and I do remember dates – but that is much more due to my obsessive nature rather than any gifting in the area of memory.

I was not great at learning – and in fact was one of the last to learn anything being taught all through grade school (and high school as well.) That might have had more to do with the fact that I was one of the youngest in my grade, and was too shy to ask for help, or work with other children – but I was not intellectually gifted.

I did very well in both of my college courses (Early Childhood Education, and Residential Construction) but again, that had more to do with my OCD and anxiety (I was terrified of failing, and so compulsively studied, and researched, and thought of nothing else while I was in school) than having any strengths to speak of.

My sensory issues always stood in the way of learning Science as I would have liked, and I absolutely do not have a photographic memory. The only time I can remember things is when I am interested, and fixate on those subjects for days or years at a time. Even then, when I move on to something else, I often forget what I once knew as well as any specialist.

Perhaps what I am good at is filling in paperwork. For all of my adult life, this has been the consistent feedback, “you are meticulous in your paperwork,” “I have never had anyone who was so thorough,” this from writing I.E.P.s for my son’s homeschooling, for the projects I was asked to do as part of my adoption home study, for writing up information on my the areas where my children struggled, for the paperwork I handed to my doctor and psychiatrist when I went in for assessments… but once more, this is because I am compulsive. I must write neatly, detailed, thoroughly. I can’t do any less. It is not a gift, as gifts are thought, but an obsession.

While I may have been top of my class for construction level math, I couldn’t use my knowledge on the job site, and that level of math isn’t exactly what would be called a savant.

Though I enjoy doing them, I am still at a basic (child) level for arts and crafts. I like to write, but again, am not gifted in this area. I really struggle with grammar, and get overwhelmed with information when trying to learn new skills.

As for computers, I was afraid of them until my son came along, and taught me (at the age of 3, with no prior knowledge) how to use them without breaking them. Even still, they seem to suck the energy out of me, and I cannot spend all day on one as he does. In fact, in high school, when I was forced to use computers, I had a horrible… it wasn’t a habit, it isn’t like I knew how it happened, it just happened… of wiping out every computer I came into contact with.

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I am not great with languages. I love animals, but as I have mentioned, my sensory issues precluded me from studying biology – and my emotional issues preclude me from working with animals as a living.

I am not great at cleaning. Definitely not a decorator. While I love plants, I struggle to keep them alive – and the design part of gardening is beyond me.

So when I read that Autistic people are often gifted in some area, it just tells me once more that I am a failure. I am not gifted. Does that make me less?

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Gifts or Desires?

Between the exhaustion that has overtaken me, and the side effects from the medication that I am on (or perhaps something else, it is hard to tell at this point) I have had a pretty rough month. Add to that the strong anxiety that I always feel, and the hopelessness that clouds my mind during this time of weakness, and there seems to be little I can do. Little I will ever do again.

Unless I am truly sick, and won’t get better when I get off of these medications (which I am currently working towards) than something has to improve. The think is, I can’t see it at this time.

I design my houses (because the obsession will still not let go – and besides, what else will I do when standing makes me dizzy and nauseous?) and spend my hours on this, even though I am quite sure what I seek would make my family’s life harder, including my own, and that if we were to move, it would be better to live on a small property in town. I know this, and still spend nearly all of my time obsessing about the (impossible for me) lifestyle of a homesteader.

There is a struggle within me to find the place where I belong – and since I don’t feel it, I guess it can’t be here. But it is more likely that what I seek cannot be found in this life, and I must find a way to find calm in a world that I am not built for.

I have so much desire to be good at something, yet I have not found anything that I am especially gifted in, or have any real talent for. I am not one of those people, who though given some challenge, or disability in life, were also given a gift that might compensate for that.

Or perhaps all I desire has been taken from the gifts I admire in others, and has little to do with who I am. If everyone has some gift, how do I find mine?

Within my faith, it is said that when we give our lives over go God, the Holy Spirit comes and we are given spiritual gifts. So very frequently throughout my Christian life, I have taken a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. And always the answers are the same… My number one gift is Mercy. Okay, I can see that, as my level of empathy is incapacitating at times. But when I am afraid of people (as I always am), and am so awkward talking to them, and have no idea how to respond to their pain, how does that gift of Mercy help people?

My second gift on the list is Giving. That makes sense, also, for when people are hurting… and people always are, I want to give, and give, and give some more – and I can’t for the life of me understand how people who do have money can spend it on such unnecessary things (huge vacation properties, expensive vehicles, things…) when so many people in the world are starving. It makes no sense to me at all. Yet for all of that desire to give, I can’t bring myself past my anxiety and disability to make the money of my own to give away.

What good are gifts if I can’t use them, and have had little opportunity to test them to see if they are true?

So instead, I spend my time obsessing over abilities that I have never had – gardening, crafts, building, designing, creating… and do nothing to figure out who I was really supposed to be. And I wish someone would just tell me who I am, and who I am supposed to be. But I guess that is something I will have to figure out on my own.

 

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Autism: Christmas Celebrations

Once again it is snowing. We are supposed to get 5-10cm, my husband told me. But I am in my home, under a blanket, and quite comfortable. Let it snow!

It sure is pretty on the trees and mountains. I love to look out the window and see it, and to feel the freshness in the air as we take our dog for his walks. There is something just magical about this season – although if I had to drive, or go anywhere, I would more likely be anxious than thankful.

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But I am home, and the world looks beautiful from here.

We were blessed to have a white Christmas this year. We haven’t always been so lucky, but somehow it always feels more like Christmas after it has snowed.

My husband, son, and I stayed home this year. The entire day, I didn’t even go outside… but that is okay, I very much enjoyed myself just the same. It has been a rough year this year, and we didn’t have a lot of gifts under the tree – but what we did have was given with love, and was gratefully received.

It is easier on my son to stay home… even on Christmas. He becomes so overwhelmingly uncomfortable when we go places, that he usually just ends up sitting alone (trying to blend in with the furniture) and waiting for it to end. I can understand that. I get that way, too, and have experienced more than my share of social events feeling the same… but I like to do something different for Christmas – just to show that the day is different than any other.

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I went to the candlelight service at our Church. As I missed church last Sunday (my husband was singing out of town, and I was too anxious to drive there and go alone) I was really looking forward to that service – and I was not disappointed. It was amazing! Just so well done, and I was near tears in thankfulness while listening to our Pastor speak. What a wonderful way to start the holiday!

Then on Christmas day, my family decided to take out a puzzle to celebrate the day. My son and I both love puzzles. I find it to be a relaxing way to socialize. I don’t have to talk much. I just have to be there – and even when I am severely anxious, puzzles are one way I can overcome my discomfort and participate.

For my son, I think it is an area where he feels competent. He has amazing spacial awareness. He always has. I bought him his first real puzzle at the age of 2 (he had just turned 2.) It was a 48 piece ‘Dudley the Dragon’ puzzle, which I purchase after his grandmother had told me that his birth dad was doing puzzles by that age.

We got home, and I opened it up for him. I went to do dishes, and was going to help him with the puzzle after – but when I came back out of the kitchen, I found him with his puzzle completed.

He has always been good with puzzles. So it was a really good way for the three of us to spend the day together, and I very much enjoyed myself – in spite of, or perhaps because of, the quiet of the day.

Thankfulness.

It is found in the little things: The quiet moments with family; the snow coming down on the trees; Hobbit puzzles, warm quilts, hot mugs of tea… What a great Christmas!

 

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Tea Cozys and Birthdays

My husband’s birthday is next Thursday, so obviously I can’t post this until then (it is currently Friday, August 28th). Because I am not working, I am also unable to bring myself to buy any extras – including birthday presents.

I wanted to get him a tea cozy for his gift, as his old one is warn, stained, and has holes. While I have made him gifts in the past, I am quite slow in sewing and knitting, and am not particularly good at it. I do very much enjoy sewing and knitting, it is just that I am not very good at following written instructions to learn how to become more advanced in these areas.

My husband works at the local thrift store. He does get paid a bit for this work, but is also given store credit each month to cover overtime that he often does. With that store credit, we buy a lot of our clothes, furniture, and other items that we might need. Once a month they have a three day “bag sale” where we are able to fill up a grocery bag full of items for the flat price of $2. They also sell a regular sized garbage bag full for $6, or a larger garbage bag for $8. When we had all of our children, we used to fill up large garbage bags full of clothes and some toys (I did have a lot of toys already from running my daycare) for them nearly every month. It was great.

We still mostly get clothes, books, and blankets during the bag sales, but I also go through their fabric scraps and pick out fabrics that I really like. I keep them in a large bin, and sometimes when I have the urge to sew, (almost always in the fall and winter) I go through the scraps and pick what I feel would look best with the project I have in mind.

That is what I did today. I decided to make a tea cozy instead of buying one. I made the design simple, as I am not really good at anything complex, and slightly copied the design of the one we already had. I took some beautiful fabric that I had found, and lined it with a waffle weave towel for insulation (I don’t have any batting, or anything like that, so had to be inventive. I did wash the fabric to shrink it before using, so I think it should be okay.)

While I did see some patterns I could have printed out from the Internet, I am better at just doing things from sight. I look at pictures for inspiration, but I have to visualize it in my mind before I can follow through, and it is easier for me to just go from my head to the project than to go from a plan, to my head, and back to the material – for some things, anyway.

Once I started, I completed the project pretty quickly. I think it took less than an hour, and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

My husband is the tea drinker in our family. Until we were married, I might have had tea only a few times a month during the colder seasons. I have learned to appreciate it since, however, and now if we have less than 2 big mugs a day, I miss it.

He has really enjoyed our old tea cozy that I bought him as a gift shortly after we were married (nearly 12 years ago.) I think he will also like the one that I made him today, and that he will appreciate it being homemade. I feel good about the gift I will be giving him this year, though it really didn’t cost me any money to make it.

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I am thankful that the man that I married isn’t materialistic, and that he is so supportive of my attempts to be creative. Today I am very thankful that I was able to do this small thing for him.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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