Monday, October 31, 2011

I had my work review today.

It was fine... I expected my boss to be a little tough since it's an internship, and a learning experience. So that's okay.

The thing I've noticed is that in every work related situation I've been told I need to improve my listening abilities. That was their main comment. If I'm working under a team of supervisors I need to be able to retain what is told to me or else it is frustrating to the person I am working with, and a waste of their time if I have to constantly ask questions. When we move into crunch time i have a feeling that someone is going to snap at me because of my inability to process what they are telling me.

My boss commented that I often get distracted when people are giving me directions, or I'll look around, or even look away. I don't do this intentionally, I just have trouble absorbing auditory information. I've been this way my entire life, and while people take it offensively, I simply explain that this is how my brain works and it is not meant to be rude. I've often thought that I wouldn't mind being deaf, as I can communicate visually far better than verbally. Unfortunately, this isn't the way the world works, so I must adapt.

I've found taking notes and drawing pictures to be helpful, but I sometimes forget to do this, and I often wonder if I am taking notes correctly, or if my notes are even reliable. I need to make this note-taking a habit. I feel like simply taking notes isn't enough though- and while yes, I am here to learn, I worry that this shortcoming will prevent me from holding down a job in the future. If I plan on financially supporting myself and living a stable life I must work through this. I just don't know how.

I would really like to work for this company once my internship is over, but I hope I don't alienate myself from every company like this in my area. I hope I am not making myself appear inept. I have skills, and I am working on learning more, but I feel like I am not taken seriously because I ask so many questions, because I want to do things correctly. While it's good that I have another year to learn these things, I worry I am working myself into a hole. I worry these experiences will simply make me realize I am unemployable. I don't want to be a hassle to anyone.

I know it will be okay if I really buckle down, but I have enough to worry about- I just want to progress from here. I don't know if I can handle too much stress right now. I just want things to go smoothly.

Other Aspies and visual types, what are some tricks to help you absorb and process information?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Update: Sensory Integration Disorder

I started my job three weeks ago. I'm working for a local theatre company, which is really cool. I'm on the production team as an intern. I love it, I get to work quietly all day with a small number of faces and it's not overwhelming at all. My boss thought it would be a good idea to put me on the wardrobe crew, but then realized it was too overwhelming for me, and that I would be better working behind the scenes. Typical aspie. It's cool though, I don't mind it. Realizing I can't work in an overwhelming environment is just one of the facets of discovering your personality and what you can do best, it's a part of life. I'm not upset. I'm just happy my boss was understanding and that I didn't have to pull out the "I have Asperger's" card. No, she doesn't know, but how is giving a label different from saying "I work well in quiet places" without the added misconceptions about a developmental difference?

I've been commuting into work every day by the train. It's an hour long train ride from where I live, since I'm living at home with my parents in the suburbs. Probably a good idea. The train is overwhelming, and it's long hours, but there are ways around it. I've been learning how to cope with sensory overload on the train- my iPod and earplugs are wonderful. I like having a snack with me as well.

Yesterday my neurologist diagnosed me with Sensory Integration Disorder- I'm tired all the time and cannot deal with loud noises. My family puts the TV too loud, they like to yell, fuzzy noises hurt me, and I get motion sickness very easily when in the car. I also went to Ikea a few weeks ago and had a meltdown. I don't like overwhelming settings. This is just the beginning...

Lately I've been avoiding loud places- I haven't gone to night clubs, or stayed out too long, as it's worse when I'm tired. I've essentially become a hermit. What will I do when there's another band I want to see? I'm usually able to push through concerts but I don't want to wear myself out since I'm suddenly becoming a lot more sensitive to these things.

My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to go on a swing, since I did that when I was a kid in OT, and it really helped a lot with the neurological connections in my brain. I tried that and found my body isn't built for childrens' swings (my hips are too wide). They're buying me a weighted blanket though, so hopefully that will help. I also got some new lightbulbs that are built to replicate daylight- my neurologist told me to turn them on in the morning so that I can properly wake up.

I've been doing my best to eat well and rest. I really do hope things get better. I'd like to actually have the energy to live and experience the world.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A conversation

Back at school, in my studio.

E: I remember I had to get ed services all through school for my learning disabilities.
B: Yeah, me too. I had to get help with my ADHD. I still have trouble concentrating sometimes in class.
Me: I do too. I had an ed plan for grade school, but it got terminated during my later years of high school. I probably should have kept it going, I'm sure I could have used a lot of help with it.
B: Do you also have ADHD? I feel like we're very similar.
Me: Well, not exactly. I had issues with paying attention and processing information.
B: So you're just Pink, then. (NOTE: PINK= filler for my real name)
Me: Hahaha yeah, I guess you could say that.

Point being? It doesn't matter what your diagnosis is. ADHD can mean two completely different things for two different people, as can Asperger's. I don't even really tell anyone anymore that I have Asperger's except when discussing my past with a close friend. I figure if I make jokes about being eccentric and spaced out then they'll probably get it. I don't need to make excuses for who I am - this shows shame (at least I think so). I just want to be treated as everybody else.

While a diagnosis can be helpful, it doesn't have to define you. You are not a condition; the condition is merely a facet of your many wonderful and unique traits. Uniqueness is something that should be celebrated. Plus, where's the feeling of pride in seeking sympathy?

Enjoy life. You deserve it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Anxiety + Voicemail: how I deal

Being a visual, socially anxious person, nothing makes me more tense than the need to check voice mail. Having my mom tell me, "Pink, did you get my message?" is WAY too stressful for me, almost as stressful as listening to voicemail itself.

Voicemail freaks me out because there is virtually no control behind it. You log into it through your phone, listen to painful beeping noises, and have no control over when the messages are shouted into your ear. The voice commands are stressful too, I hate having to wait to listen for which number to press. Furthermore, if a message is particularly sinister-sounding, it will give me a mini panic attack. Traditional voice mail removes all free will, and leaves you vulnerable to potential abuse being shouted at your ear.

Of course, I know most of the time it will not be abuse, but my ears need a break. This is why I'm so terrible at listening to voicemail. I tell everyone to text me because text messages are something I can handle - they're visual, silent, and can be opened at the viewer's discretion. Furthermore, text doesn't seem to pack as much of a punch as speech. Letters are just lines on a screen with meaning applied; speech, on the other hand, is created with sound waves resonating from an individual's vocal cords, with varying degrees of intensity. Text can also be intense, but the intensity can be controlled, while the intensity of another person's speech is out of your control.

As you can tell, the anxiety really gets to me here. I already spend more time around people than I can emotionally handle, having to put on a friendly face all day. I can deal, but just barely. This overstimulation causes me to retreat into my room 2/3 of the time (yes, I did the math there), attempting to recover from the long day. I can only handle so much unexpected stress. What to do?

Well, I can't take the voice out of voicemail, so I did something to gain a little control: I got YouMail. Youmail is a program which replaces your default voice mailbox on your phone. Not only does it have more storage space than a traditional voicemail system, but you can view your messages in an inbox-like setting online. It tells you who called when, and you can play the message as a clip at your own will. You can also organize and delete messages much like e-mail. How cool is that?!

In addition, I also set it up so it will text me when I get a voicemail, telling me who called and when. This removes another stressor from voice mail: I never know when people call and am always confused. This feature helps eliminate that issue. I also have an app to check it on my iPod touch when there's wireless - the messages show up in a visual setting there. It's way awesome, and while this doesn't alleviate all my anxiety, it's definitely a relief.

Of course, there are other features (personalized greetings, blocking callers, sharing messages online) but I don't care much about those. The only thing I care about is the fact that YouMail helps me feel more in control of a communication tool that NT's take for granted, and expect everyone else to take for granted as well.

As you can tell, I'm absolutely ecstatic about this program. While free speech-to-text would be ideal, I'm not paying shit for that. So this is the next best thing, right?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today I started knitting a hat. I've got about two inches done thus far.

The part I've done has two colors, arranged in a mathematical sequence. I've designed it so that it can gradually transition from one color to the next, in a gradient. I think it's some variation of the fibonacci sequence. Here's how the transitional part goes:

knit 1 row
knit 7 stitches, knit 1 stitch -repeat for entire row
knit 3 stitches, knit 1 stitch - repeat
knit 1, knit 1 - repeat

(repeat in inverse order to transition to the other color)

I love knitting because it allows me to appear as a normal girl, yet it gives me free license to be a complete nerd. And let's face it, I'm in the arts - I don't get to be mathematical that often. Though I'm an aspie, and aspies are expected to be math-obsessed literal thinkers, I don't get to salivate over mathematical sequences often.

I'm so excited, that this is what I'd expect an orgasm to be like had I not been born asexual. This is like crack to me. This must be like the high Snooki gets from being punched - no exaggeration whatsoever.

I swear, I'm not putting down this hat until it's done. Mathematical sequences and all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kickboxing = Death Sentence

Today I tried kickboxing. My friend encouraged me to join her, since it's an exercise class that she loves... Let's just say I lack the coordination for it. It's too fast for me, and mid-air punching to the sound of a dude belching over Lady Gaga songs isn't my cup of tea.

Perhaps this is because I'd never done it before, but it was too fast - I spent half the time watching the instructor and standing there like some idiot. Plus, the moves come up too fast, and I have NO CLUE what I am supposed to expect. Granted, we did end up doing some yoga moves at the end, but the bouncing techno prevented me from truly relaxing.

My neurologist first encouraged me to start exercising again to ease my headaches and exhaustion, because he said I wouldn't feel any better unless I try it. I'm pretty content doing yoga or some sort of meditative exercise, like running, because it can be done more or less at your own pace. While this isn't the case with yoga, it is so slow that I have no trouble keeping up. It also helps me with my anxiety.

Kickboxing, on the other hand, is like asking for a panic attack. My brain gets overloaded so easily that the hyperactive remixes of radio songs aren't exactly helping me. I'll admit that it was a good workout, but I don't think I'll be going back. It's too much for me, and I'm just not cut out for it.

Aspies, what do you like to do for exercise?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Good Things About Being Socially Awkward: Fewer Unwanted Interactions

One thing I don't like is how other people have been brainwashed by society. Granted, one of the main keys to a successful life is companionship. It may not be in the same form for everybody, and it is important to be respectful of this fact, but the relationships with the people we care about bring significance to our lives- Aspie or not.

The frustrating thing is, however, how people assume you are unhappy if you are not in a romantic relationship. I constantly have people question why I am not in a relationship. My response to them is always the same: I don't know why I'm not, but I don't need to be in one to be happy. I love my job, I love my family and friends, I graduated at the top of my class, and I have a lot to look forward to. I don't need a significant other to validate my existence.

One thing that I'm beginning to realize though, is that I may be asexual. I'm trying to grapple with this fact, and realize whether I'm actually asexual or if I just have an aversion to sexually-intended interactions. I tried telling this to a friend, and she immediately responded with, "no, you're not asexual". But I think I am. I don't crave sex, I just crave affection and companionship. I still have crushes, and I may be sexually active someday, but it won't be the end of the world if I'm not.

Because of this, and the fact that I've only had one boyfriend (I don't even know if it counts), I am very awkward around the opposite sex. I never know what to say, and at first I find it stressful, but then realize that it may be a blessing in disguise. Plus, it's not my fault if a guy only wants one thing, right? Once I realize his intentions, I immediately become cold. It's like a switch that turns off in my head. If I see a guy glancing at my chest, staring at me too much and smiling excessively, or using a bad pick-up line, I become uncomfortable and distance myself. I look down, close myself off, and begin responding with short, flat sentences. This is like a reflex that I have no control over. In a few minutes the guy gets the message and backs off.

Some people may be frustrated by this, but I feel like it's a blessing in disguise. Granted, it's made me extremely uncomfortable around men, but I feel lucky. I don't need to worry about birth control. As of now, it is also impossible for me to get knocked up or contract an STD. I say "as of now" because, who knows? I may want sex in the future, I just don't right now. But let me tell you, it's such a load off. I used to know a girl who would have a panic attack every week about how she thought she was pregnant. I also know people who have had children far too early in life that were "mistakes". I may be jumping ahead of myself here, but it's nice to not have to worry about that happening to me.

Also, being socially awkward will help protect me against unwanted sexual situations. Granted, if a person wants to rape then they will, but in my case some of the interactions leading up to that point are virtually nonexistent. Of course, protecting yourself and being educated are extremely important, I'm not lessening the significance of this. I'm just stating that awkwardness can serve as a barrier from unwanted interactions, which can be a wonderful thing.

I know some people will tell me that I'm missing out on a lot by not dating, but let me tell you, I just don't care. I don't feel like I'm missing out on much. Does that mean that I will never be sexually active? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not closed off to the idea in the future, but I just don't want it right now. Do I question my intentions constantly? Absolutely. Nothing is definite, things can change. All I know is that as far as I can tell, my standoffishness protects me from unwanted situations. At least, it has thus far, and this is something that I am very fortunate for.

So, regardless of what people tell you, it is okay to be awkward! It can even be a good thing. Embrace it! However, as an extra method of protection it is important to be educated. Here are some links that are useful:

S0, read up, and be aware of interactions. Respect yourselves, do your best to understand what you need, and if something unfortunate does happen, then don't be afraid to talk about it. And if you get in an unwanted interaction, then don't be afraid to move into awkward mode. Hell, if you really don't want to talk, then just throw 'em the face!

Ridiculous, but same idea. Enjoy, and love yourselves!

Powered by WebRing.