Tag Archives: autism public places

Autism: Lost Week

I think the week was good. I mean, I remember that I had gone out to the show a couple of times with my husband, and that we really enjoyed what we had watched. From that moment until now, however, everything has become fuzzy.

It came on all of a sudden and unexpected. I was cleaning my dishwasher – on a Thursday even though it is not my cleaning day – when I started to cough. It came from my lungs, and from the beginning I struggled to get through more than a few seconds without coughing. Due to the sudden onset, and how it just wouldn’t let up, I assumed that it was caused by the disinfectant I had used in the dishwasher. It made sense. It was pretty powerful, and those things often leave me coughing – only not so long.

When my husband came home, he was coughing, too. He said he first noticed it around 3pm (mine was sometime between 2-2:30pm.) It came from his lungs, and wouldn’t let up for more than a few seconds at a time right from the beginning.


Even so we went out that night as planned. We went to see the dress rehearsal of “Stereotype High” at our local theatre. All evening long we were coughing every few minutes – but we couldn’t be sick. I mean, colds don’t start full on like that. They just don’t. So despite the coincidence that my husband and I began coughing at nearly the same time, and even though we were at separate parts of town when it began, we thought it was environmental rather than a virus. After all, aside from the cough, we didn’t feel sick.

I must say, I really enjoyed the play! Even though it was a comedy, and typically I don’t at all like comedies (the jokes, rather than making me laugh, often leave me feeling nauseous) I really liked this one. It was funny – like “Corner Gas” funny! I laughed a lot (and coughed a lot) and didn’t feel sick about it.

The next morning I felt sick, though. Very sick. So I emailed my friend who was supposed to come for a visit to warn her against coming, and then I fell asleep. Normally I don’t nap, but on that day I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

My husband came home from work early, and went straight to bed. From Friday afternoon until early Monday morning, we barely woke up to acknowledge another day passing. I fed my girls, and took them outside, and went to bed. Over and over.

All over achy, feverish, chilled, burning eyes, bad cough, no appetite… sick! So very sick.

And then only thought I remember having that entire weekend – despite the fact that my dog was scheduled to be spayed out of town that Monday – was a reminder of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” In the beginning, a few people went into public places with a cough, and pretty soon the whole world was dying. That weekend I was pretty sure I was dying (and if that were true, we likely spread it to a theatre full of people, which would quickly spread to the entire world) and I was pretty sure I didn’t care.

Well, here I am 8 days later, and it is the first time in 8 days that I can form enough of a thought to write my blog post. It is the first time in over a week that I have been able to keep my eyes open. And as my dog sits healing from her surgery on my lap, I wonder how we even got through that day.

I guess I really was sick after all. Sorry theatre people!



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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: Becoming a Hermit

I hate to leave home. Even when I go camping, I wish I was able to teleport to get there and back so that I could have my own kitchen, and bathroom, and be able to enjoy what I love about camping without having to truly leave home. Or perhaps I would appreciate making my home on a property that would also work for camping.

Summer 2015 011

I prefer shopping online, and learning online, pretty much doing everything from the comfort of my own home. I suppose that is why the idea of virtual reality appeals so much to me, for I still want the experiences, it is just… I don’t want to leave home to have them.

My first, and longest lasting job was running a daycare from my home. I appreciated that the work was brought to me, and felt terrified of any thought that I might ever have to work away from home.

This wasn’t always the case, however.

As a child, school gave me extreme anxiety – but ‘home’ was worse; especially when my dad was there. So I went to school (and wished I was invisible.) When school was out, I spent a lot of time exploring parks, forests, and waterfalls with my older brother.

I loved camping, and going for walks, and picnics, and visits with family. Amusements were, and continue to be (though I now live nowhere close to them) my favourite places to go, despite the crowds and noise.

When I was in cadets, that was where I wanted to be, and those were the people I wanted to be with. Anxious? Extremely. Yet I still preferred being there to being at home.

Even during my teen years, though I really struggled with school, and often ‘chose’ not to go (really, I couldn’t make myself some days, and some seasons) I still preferred to be on the school grounds, visiting with my friends, or even sitting alone, to being at home.

It is true that for all of those years, eating, and especially bathrooms were a huge issue for me – but then, they were at home as well. There really was no safe place for such things for me. Such issues only became worse with time.

I finished high school through correspondence, which was a much better option for me, but I still wanted to be at the school when I did the work – just not in the classroom, and sometimes not even in the building.

When my son was born, and we were still living with his birth father, I would walk for six hours a day, every day just to get out of the house. I suppose the reason for that was more that my son’s father was on a different schedule than us, and wanted us to be quiet while he slept during the day – an impossible thing with an infant at home. Still, I enjoyed that time out walking with my son.

Shortly after my son turned one, I started babysitting my six month old cousin. Suddenly it was too hard to get out of the house, and we spent most of our time at home – and I felt trapped. That only lasted through the summer, and after that I took my son to playgroup, playgrounds, children’s museums… anything to get out for parts of the day.

I think it was my first attempt at college (for which I did really well – though again was extremely anxious) that being home all the time became most appealing to me. I was in my early 20’s at the time, and shortly after graduating, I opened my home daycare.

In the years since, I have become more and more of a hermit – or perhaps I just became too exhausted with the anxiety and judgment, and failure, and… that happened whenever I left the house.

Though I do go to church, and I have gone to college again, and I have had jobs away from home, it has never become any easier. The older I get, the more my entire being screams to be home whenever I go away, and I guess that over time I have just become too exhausted to keep fighting it.

After all, I like being home.


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Autism: At The Hockey Game

On Saturday evening, my husband invited me to a hockey game… okay, he didn’t exactly invite me… first he asked if our son would like to go. Our son likes computers, and video games, and movies, and… nowhere in his list of ‘likes’ are sports of any kind. “You can ask him,” I suggested. Of course he said, “No.” Leaving the house, being with people, watching sports… that is not our son.

Then my husband called up his friend, who was busy with family, seeing as this was Thanksgiving weekend (Canada.) So I said, “I’ll go.”

Surprised, he responded, “you will?”

“Sure, if you can’t find someone else to go.” I suggested another friend, but he lives too far out of town now.

“No, you can come,” he said.

So, when he got home from work on Saturday, I was ready to go. We had our supper, and I brushed my teeth – because leaving the house without brushing my teeth would leave me thinking of nothing else all night long. So gross. And we went out in the pouring rain.

It was raining, hard! I waited behind the van as he put up his hood (I didn’t have one) and then we walked together through the rain to the hockey arena. The parking lot was packed, and there were people everywhere. We thought a lot of people must have decided to bring their family to the game for Thanksgiving – and were later surprised to learn there were only a little over 1,000 people there. Maybe something was going on at the college or community centre, which both share a parking lot with the hockey arena.

We found our seats, but there were some kids in them, that my husband had to ask to move. We were right above the… okay, I am not a hockey fan, not really a sports fan, so I don’t know the terms and I am thinking I am wrong… the dugout? For the home team. They just moved to the other end.

Going to a live game is quite different than watching it on TV. It is like when I was a teen, and would go to the Ti-Cat (Canadian Football) games with friends. I enjoyed them, though I never watched football at any other times, and I enjoyed this.

It isn’t the first time I have been to one of their games, but it has been a while. I don’t understand the rules of hockey, but understood enough to know that when our team (in… was it purple and white? Or maybe black and white? Should be purple, like on their bus… anyway) got the puck in the other team’s net (they were in green, I remember that), it was a goal, and that was good.

They were great skaters, so that was fun to watch, and right away in the beginning of the first period, our team scored three goals! That was exciting. The other team didn’t score any goals all of the first period. In the second, I think they got two – and we didn’t get any… hard to remember – but our team won 6:3 or 6:4 or something.

Okay, so not a huge hockey fan. I watched the game, and found it very exciting – more, though, was that I enjoyed spending that time with my husband doing something he enjoyed. I can say for a fact that I never love him more than when we are doing something together – even something more to his taste than mine.

Easter 2016

So although I was out in public, in a crowd, in a noisy place, watching a sports game, and pretty much doing a whole list of things that aren’t my thing, I still had a most enjoyable night out.


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