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Tag Archives: autism interests

Autism: What Could I Be?

It was early in the visit, I think, and it took me a long time to try to figure out which words I should use. The words are always important, for I have found that if I choose wrong, or say it in the wrong way, or… people seem to think I am attacking them.

Not that my mom responds in that way, but enough people do that it has become a major concern every time I want to ask or say anything of any importance to me.

Was I good at anything as a child?

What was I good at when I was young?

Was there ever anything I was especially good at?

Who was I as a child?

Was there anything you thought I could be when I was a child?

Was I always this broken?

If I had the experience, do you think there is anything I could do?

Did you think I had potential to be anything when I was young? Or something? Or more than this?

Did you see anything I might have missed?

I don’t even know how it came out when I did ask her, for all the time I spent thinking about it. I do know that I was really anxious, and my heart was pounding, and my mind was trying to build walls and block things out, and my hands were shaking.

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I do know it wasn’t easy for me to ask. What if she thought I thought that she didn’t do enough to encourage me when I was young? That certainly wasn’t what I was trying to express. I just… wanted to know if there was maybe something I had missed.

Something I could be. Something I could do. Anything I might be able to succeed at – for this string of failures that has been my life since at least my teens (though the feeling was there long before that) has devastated my confidence until I am blinded in fear from trying again.

I was glad to have my mom there. For years sometimes, between visits, she is not there – and some things are hard to ask on the phone, or even in emails. This was one of them.

Was there anything I was especially interested in?

“Writing,” she said. “You were always writing.”

“You never wanted to play sports, or work in teams, or do things with other people. You just always had paper and pens, and I don’t even know what you were writing most of the time. You just loved to write.”

Well… there you have it. What I am, I’ve always been. There is nothing I love to do more than write.

 

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Autism: Detailed Uninteresting Conversations

One afternoon as I was working outside in my garden (both an enjoyable experience, and an uncomfortable one, since my garden is in the front of my house, near the street) some neighbours were walking by. They had their dog with them – a small Chihuahua – and my girls were racing her along the fence line; they love to do that!

July 13 008

Though I have discouraged it before (my girls become defensive, and might nip) they brought their dog up to the fence, to see if they might be okay to visit this time. They were not! I really wish people would stop coming right up to the fence. Sure my girls are cute, and it is fun to watch them running the length of the yard (likely to ensure no one comes in,) but they are not good visitors – and it seems they likely will not get over this, though I really try to discourage the behaviour.

Well, they did move their dog away (I wish my girls would visit with her – Gryff, my Pomeranian, loved to visit with her) and the husband asked me if we were having trouble with our vehicles.

At the time, we had two vehicles in our driveway – our 18 year old van, and an uninsured vehicle belonging to my SIL. Both had their hoods up, as my husband was charging the batteries.

“Is (your husband) having trouble with his vehicles,” the man asked. I tried to explain – “the car has been sitting idle all winter, and the van… well, the lights flash as if they are possessed.”

But my explanation wasn’t enough for him, and he kept trying to pull details out of me:

  • do they flash all the time?
  • Which lights flash?
  • If the headlights are turned off, do they still flash?
  • If the lights in the cab are switched off, do they still flash?

On and on he went, and as he spoke – though I realize in his own way he was trying to help – I became increasingly agitated.

A lot of that had to do with him trying to pull from me, and to share so many details verbally. I have a lot of trouble following conversations to begin with. Though I try to listen, my brain can’t seem to hold on to so much detail, and it becomes exhausting when I am forced to try. I am very much a visual person, and much more capable of following what is being ‘said’ if the words are written down. (Pictures are even better.)

Above that, this was not something I was interested in. The lights flashing? That has been an issue for at least 6 years. We have taken it to the mechanic, and I even asked my auto teacher when I was in the trades program at college. No one has given us an answer – and really, since it is my husband who looks after the vehicles, I have no desire to start worrying about that. (I have enough anxiety.)

Part of it was that he was trying to show his knowledge. People seem to do that. But again, I don’t care! It is a vehicle, and I have absolutely no interest in vehicles (unless they are undetectable, self-driving, flying cars that run off solar power, air, or water.) I won’t remember a thing he said (mainly because it was spoken, and not something I saw) and it felt like he was trying to make me feel stupid as he asked so many detailed questions about – again – something I don’t care about enough to pay much attention.

It flashes. That is enough.

So once more, an enjoyable afternoon spent in my garden turned difficult because… people! I wish we had bought a house with the large, sunny yard in the back.

 

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Autism: If Only

I watched a movie the other night.

It was an Adam Sandler movie, which was listed on Netflix. Typically, I don’t like Adam Sandler movies. I have nothing against him, it is just that comedy is not my thing. Mostly I don’t get it. I know it is supposed to be funny, but it just leaves me feeling nauseous. It isn’t him – it is comedy in general that I struggle with.

I do have a sense of humour. I do laugh when I find things funny. It is just… I don’t find most things funny that other people seem to. I have a different humour, I guess. Anyway, I tend to choose sad movies most of the time.

There were two movies of his that I liked though: One was ‘Bedtime Stories,’ and this one – “The Cobbler” was the other.

I enjoyed the movie very much, but… okay. My favourite movies I tend to like because I like the story, and the people, and the place, and they make me cry, and… basically I like everything about the movie. A lot of movies I like, however, it may be just one detail that I like about the show.

There are several shows I have liked because I liked the house it was shot in. Houses are a big one for me, and I love Victorians. In fact, I watch a lot of Paranormal shows because they are based in Victorian houses (apparently they are often thought to be haunted?!?) I love the houses, so while I may have some idea of what is going on in the movie, my focus is completely on the house.

“Did you like the movie?”

“Absolutely! I would love to live in that house!” (Forget the fact that it was haunted, or that someone was murdered there, or… I might not be able to sleep after, but… “What a great house!”)

A lot of things I watch are for ideas. Futuristic films, or Sci-Fi, or even post apocalyptic movies (those are some of my favourites!) Time travel, or fallout shelters, or sunflower farms… there is a lot of variety to what I watch because mostly I am in it for the details.

sunflower-garden

That was the case with this movie. The first few times I saw it advertised on Netflix, I ignored it. Adam Sandler = comedy = not something I would like. But then I was going through the recently added section, and without seeing the picture, I read the description of the movie: (something like: A cobbler is able to become his clients by wearing their shoes.) Perfect!

So I put the movie on, and for the idea I really enjoyed it. Fourth generation cobbler – what a thought! Imagine a world where we were raised knowing, and being trained, for the exact occupation we would spend our lives doing.

Maybe most people like the excitement of choosing their own careers, picking their own direction, being responsible for their own future… I don’t know. For me, however, I found a lot of peace in that idea. How wonderful it might have been to know exactly who I was, and where I was expected to go, and what I was expected to do, from childhood.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have succeeded there, either – but I imagine I would have been far less anxious about where I was supposed to be going, had I known at 5 what was expected of me. Now I am 40, and I still don’t know what I am supposed to be doing… if only.

 

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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: Completely Fixated

My eyes are burning, my stomach hurts, and I am so, so tired. I will myself to overcome, but for whatever reason, I have been stuck in this pattern for a long time. Weeks even. And while this latest medication did seem to help me overcome my depression for a few days after starting – and I felt really good during those days – it didn’t last, and the anxiety was still really bad. That, and the nausea, and the burning eyes, and itchy skin, have brought me to the decision that I must not continue on this medicine, either. But I don’t see my psychiatrist for more than a week, and the side effects remain.

Much as I have been trying to seek out other activities, I have been completely fixated on houses and floor plans for the last week, at least. It makes it very difficult to write about anything else, and I must apologize if my posts are getting repetitive. That is my mind. It is always stuck on something, and while sometimes I can move to other things after a few hours, there are other times where these fixations of mine last for months, and I just need to ride them out.

It is an interesting fixation, and I learn a lot during them, but I feel like I should be doing more with my life than sitting, dreaming, and researching on things that will likely never come to pass.

Today I have been researching cob houses, straw bale houses, and earth ships. I find the more sustainable options, and the idea of being able to build them with my own hands, thrilling… yet I wonder if I ever could. My energy is so low that I can hardly move. There must be a solution for that, but the anti-depressants only seem to make this struggle worse.

Every once in a while, however, I do have bursts of energy – and they often come when I feel inspired by ideas or projects, so it is perhaps possible that I would be able to work on such projects to completion – especially if the project wasn’t too large to begin with, and could be added to in time.

I like the idea of living in a small house. A small area to clean, and maintain, and heat… with enough room, of course, for each of us to have our own space, and not get in each other’s way. I love the thought that cob houses are said to be easy enough for even beginner builders to build – and I took Residential Construction, and built a house once, so I should be able to do that.

It excites me to think of living in an environmentally sustainable home that is inexpensive to build, well insulated, made to last, and built to my own specifications. Okay, perhaps excite is too strong of a word for a day such as this, when my brain is in a fog, and I am struggling to stay awake – but the fixation is strong, and I know that on a good day, I would feel the excitement that comes with that fixation.

These types of homes have been built in British Columbia in the past. I wonder if it would be difficult to get building permits for this style, since it is not traditional. I wonder if it would be difficult to get a mortgage – or if one would even be needed, since these homes are said to be incredibly cheap to build – something like $10/square foot if a person builds it themselves.

I don’t know why I have such a strong desire to do these things. My husband is content to go to work, and be able to afford what he needs. My son is content to be on the computer all day. I likely have less energy than either of them, yet I feel this strong call to build my own house, grow my own food, and live off my own land… and though even the planning leaves me feeling exhausted, still I cannot shake the desire.

Perhaps if I just started small – moved to the land, and built a small home to add to; start my garden with sunflowers, pumpkins, and potatoes, which I know I can grow; learn to keep a fire going… and then build from there, rather than starting with my elaborate plans and burning out before I got started, perhaps I could learn to live the life I crave.

 

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