Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cheesy, inspiring personal journey update.... yup, one of those.

Fact: I need some self-esteem.

All these years of feeling inadequate have finally caught up with me... having a harder time reading people my entire life has left me feeling like a misfit, as if there's something wrong with me. It's left me without the confidence to properly experience what life has to offer.

I don't know what it is, but I think I'm finally getting there.

I think what's going on is I'm finally coming to terms with my flaws and will (eventually, hopefully) not let them stand in my way anymore.

I guess the lesson is, here, that if something's holding you back, then you need to discover the source of your insecurities and change what you will to eradicate that obstacle. On What Not to Wear (one of my favorite shows), it's often insecurity that manifests in unflattering decisions. In my case, it's insecurity which manifests itself through me hiding from life, out of fear... Like those women on the show, I can't be afraid anymore.

If you haven't seen What Not To Wear, it's on TLC, and it's far more than a mindless reality TV show. Contestants are actually taught to understand what's holding them back, and how they can improve their lives: It's about far more than just learning how to wear the right clothes. This show is great because it really allows us to see others gain confidence within themselves. Maybe we can all learn by example.

So, the lesson here?

1. Watch What Not To Wear.
2. Do what you can to eradicate your fears.

I'll let you guys know if I ever get there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I'm not strange, I'm just me"

I just came across this video, My Crazy Life, and it really made my day. The video focuses on the daily life of a 14-year-old boy, Reuben. who has Asperger's Syndrome, and his struggle to balance his quirks in a society filled with unwritten rules.

I can definitely relate to him - I've been through the same struggles growing up (and still experience them, come to think of it), and I really appreciate the outlook in which this video was based upon: that having Asperger's is a toss-up of wonderful traits and qualities that our society may seem as a little odd. In the documentary, Reuben is portrayed as an endearing, enthusiastic person whom I'm sure many would love to be friends with (myself included). It's also refreshing to see someone so excited to learn of his diagnosis, seeing it as an explanation for all of his quirky behavior. If mainstream culture can learn to view Asperger's and all other eccentricities in this light, then this would really help promote acceptance of those who would typically be pushed aside.

Here's Part One of Three:


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Social Conditioning?

For someone with Asperger's, I'm seen as a very social person. I don't necessarily socialize often, but when I'm at school or in class I'll greet people, ask them how everything is going, be nice to them and do my best to treat them with respect. I do this because, not only is it an unwritten rule in our society, but because I was bullied a lot in grade school and have vowed never to treat anybody the way I was treated.

Socializing is seen as a positive thing in our society. Why is that? Are we all putting on a facade to move past everybody else in pursuit of our own selfish gains? What tells us to do this? Is it our fathers and grandfathers working up in their respective professions? The money-obsessed individuals our society seems to be full of? The fact that the charming, charismatic guy who has no other skills will move further ahead than the quiet guy who is brilliant at what he does?

Why are we told to be nice to others? Furthermore, if somebody disrespects us why do we become upset?

I feel like I was trained to be this way at a very young age. As a child, I would hear, "Don't do x, do y and z instead, people prefer that."

I can understand restricting actions that initiate discomfort in the other person, such as pulling someone else's hair or kicking them. What I don't understand are the restriction of certain social behaviors, such as outspokenness, or saying things that unintentionally offend somebody.

Language is a thing that humans developed. We didn't develop pain, we came with nerve endings that send signals to our brain when we've been hurt. While physical impact can be painful, words aren't. Words may affect our emotions, but I feel as if this is a byproduct of social conditioning.We are trained when to feel happy and sad, or at least I was.

In the beginning, I didn't care whether a bully called me names. But as I grew up, I realized that the bully's actions hindered my peers' acceptance of me, and because I was taught that friendships and relationships are some of the most important things out there (also social conditioning), this made me upset. Due to a chain reaction of responses to my actions I wasn't fulfilling the requirements of human contact.

The question is: why are we this way?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines conditoning as:
Pronunciation: \-ˈdi-sh(ə-)niŋ\
Function: noun
Date: 1861

1 : the process of training to become physically fit by a regimen of exercise, diet, and rest; also : the resulting state of physical fitness
2 : a simple form of learning involving the formation, strengthening, or weakening of an association between a stimulus and a response

Note the second entry. We are conditioned to act a certain way in response to our society. We act the way we do in response to what we see, and what social rules have been laid out far before our existence.

This is why I feel like the majority of my behavior is artificial. How can we really be ourselves in a world that forces us to keep up with what is considered acceptable behavior?

I often wonder: if I weren't encouraged to act a certain way, if I didn't have the social experiences I had growing up, would I still be the same person? Are we really our true selves or has society shaped us into who we are today? Is it possible for a person to be their true self if they are being involuntarily molded into a pre-existing standard?

I need to hear your thoughts on this. How does this make you feel, what is your opinion? Speak to me!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Auties: Successful in the workplace?

I just came across this article: Thorkil Sonne: Recruit Autistics (thanks, computerlove at WrongPlanet!) and it really made my day. In the article, Sonne, who runs an IT company in Denmark, makes it a point to hire mostly people on the autism spectrum, because of their attention to detail, fantastic memory, and amazing concentration ability. This company is really working out well for him, because, as stated in the article, "Once on the job, the consultants stay focused beyond the point when most minds go numb. As a result, they make far fewer mistakes."

This seems like such a wonderful work model because it not only breaks conventions, but it opens up jobs for individuals previously thought to be "unhire-able". The only place where I would think a person with Autism may not be suitable for working is in a highly social environment, where office drama is bound to happen and charisma is necessary every step of the way. In the context of work, people should be judged not by their Type A personality (or lack thereof) or by their ability to follow social rules; they should be judged by their ability to work, and how well they work. Get what I'm saying?

Hopefully, as acceptance of autism continues to progress, more companies will start using a similar model. It will put away certain conventions and open up the door to new ones, possibly changing the standard of what the typical workplace environment will be. Isn't that exciting? Autism isn't an epidemic of sorts: we're real people who also need to make a living, and the fact that companies are starting to pay attention to this is wonderful on both our behalf and theirs. Let's keep it coming!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Won't be Walking.

So the Walk for Autism Research is coming up in my area soon. I'm not participating: here's why.

The walk is sponsored by Autism Speaks, an organization that is one of the main supporters of Autism reasearch. Here is a quote from their mission statement :

We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder.

Honestly, I'm glad a group like this exists. I am curious as to where Autism comes from; I'd like ANSWERS rather than mere speculations, though with time, I bet all we'll get is a strongly supported theory. That's all right. We already know there are truly no solid answers in science; we can live with this.

The part that really gets me is when they discuss wishing to "raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder."

Uh, WHAT? Public awareness is fine, just as long as it's in the right context and it displays the right information. What really bothers me is the portrayal of Autism as a disorder. I know you've heard this from me endlessly, but to be quite frank:

AUTISM IS NOT A DISORDER. Social conditioning and our society's take on what is "normal" blows our perceptions of Autism to extremes. Anyone who is slightly different, in the eyes of our society, has a disorder, or even worse, a disease.

I feel like the awareness of Autism is being blown to epidemic proportions. Here's a conversation I had at home the other day with my parents:

Dad: Apparently the number of kids diagnosed with Autism has gone up to 1 in every 98 kids.
Mom: That's awful!
Me: Well, at least they're getting better at diagnosing it...

I love my parents. They're wonderful people, and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Their views are just something I don't support. Yes, they agree with the whole "Autism Speaks is a Godsend" deal. Despite having done a lot of work in support of Autism in our area (they completely re-vamped my area's education system and helped it grow when I came along), I just don't agree with a lot of things they say about "curing" Autism.

Just because Autism differs from what the standard for "normal" or "typical" is in our society, apparently makes it a disorder! Well, maybe some peoples' brains work differently, ever thought about that? Maybe the kid who is a scientific genuis today but has no friends due to being "lost in space" will one day cure cancer. I know individuals on the Autism spectrum who are some of the most brilliant people I've ever met. I know individuals who are brilliant who don't have anything close to Autism. It's all how you see it.

In conclusion, I do have a form of Autism, but I'm a functioning member of society. I am capable of survival. This is why I don't want to participate in any Autism Awareness events; I want to be seen for who I am, and not as a part of some growing "epidemic". So sorry, I won't be joining you on "Walk for Autism" day. Autism Speaks can suck my dick.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kanye = Aspie?

So we all agree that Kanye is a dick... but here's a theory some have:

Though clearly a joke, it's a poorly done one, and one that's making us Aspies look bad. Though I do have Asperger's, I wouldn't stand up in the middle of an award speech to complain about why the other nominee deserved to win, which is contrary to what the link implies. It's inappropriate and embarrassing, and while Aspies may not understand some social conduct here and there, this comparison is inaccurate and irrelevant.

Furthermore, it's an embarrassment on our behalf to compare us to someone as impulsive as Kanye West... if he is on the spectrum, he only represents a small percentage of everyone on the spectrum, if even. Furthermore, this argument could probably be made for ANYONE, it's really the combination of traits which determines whether a diagnosis applies or not.

I've made false assumptions of others being Aspies. I'm sure many people do. It doesn't mean it's true. Whether someone has a diagnosis or not is irrelevant: our ACTIONS are what define us as individuals. There are many facets to a single person, and observing those combinations of traits help us to determine whether the person is a decent human being.

This is why diagnoses are irrelevant in the social realm of things. They only aid us in stereotyping others far more than we need to. Get what I'm saying?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Question for all of you out there.

I've been on a quest to combat my ever-present fatigue for a while, because I feel that it directly correlates with my ability to function socially (Also, who enjoys feeling like crap? You get what I'm saying.).

I'm aware that this may not be the case for everyone - some people have given up on socializing, or it is no longer a priority for them. Still, I'd like to ask this question to all of you reading:

Which situation would you prefer: being able to communicate effectively while feeling physically and mentally exhausted, or feeling physically and mentally alert while failing to communicate properly?

We all come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences, so please brieftly touch upon your personal experiences. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Answer me this

Why must we assume others live with the goal of wanting to hurt us for their own selfish gain?

Won't this belief only contribute to a life of misery and fear?

Is it unreasonable to still have faith in the good will of others?

Are those who possess blind hope a dying breed?


Apparently being a good person is a crime, espescially in a time when apocalyptic wars are probably not too far ahead of us. We're in an age of survival of the fittest, and "fit" is synonymous with being a hardass.

What happened to "do unto others as you would like to have done to you"?
I don't see it. Maybe I'm just lost in time.

All I know is I don't want to live life in fear.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sound and Vision.

I love the way my eyes refocus when the lights are turned off, so that all I see are a kaleidoscope of colors.
I love exploring blind spots and visual distortions. 
I love closing my eyes into my pillow when I'm in bed and seeing floating neon shapes. 
I love looking at one color and seeing twelve within.
I love seeing rainbows be reflected into the most unexpected objects, such as a wine glass. 
I love seeing fabrics fold and drape, creating new dimension and telling new stories.
I love getting lost in fabric prints and paint textures. 
I love old photographs where the darkest colors are tinted blue and everything looks distorted. I wish we saw things this way. 
I love looking into static air and space, and seeing how the air even comes to life as a sort of visual fuzz. But maybe that's just me.

I would much rather be deaf than blind. I prefer staring into the sun over hearing a foghorn.

I love exploring my world through vision. I feel like a visual world can say far more than a verbal world ever could, and it's a beautiful thing. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I knew this was bound to come up. The dreaded roommate discussion.

I've had a long history of bad roommates. I remember taking a summer program with one girl who accused me of breaking her computer, stealing her food (both of which I didn't do), and  subsequently put a "DON'T TOUCH MY SHIT" sign on the refrigerator (what a mature way of dealing with things!), and whined about me to all her friends. I'm glad that summer ended when it did. 

A few years later, it was my first year of college, and I was stuck with the coldest girl I'd ever met. No matter my efforts to be friendly, she was very rude - she even made nasty comments to me regarding my religious upbringing, and got angry at me when I confronted her about her snoring. I wish I'd left that situation early on and moved out - though I probably wasn't the best roommate either, clearly we weren't a good fit, and if your home base isn't relaxing, then what is? It's stressful knowing that the one place where you're supposed to recuperate is designed to make your life a living hell. 

As much as I wanted to share a room with others, I soon learned that I couldn't - I'm the type of person who needs plenty of alone time to recover from everyday interactions. It also doesn't help knowing that my positive interactions are with people I hardly ever see, since I run out of things to say very quickly, and if I spend too much time with a person my awkwardness probably makes them very uncomfortable. In summary, if I don't get at least a few hours of alone time a day I become miserable and can hardly function. I'm the perfect candidate for a single, and that's okay. It means your belongings are in the exact same place as you left them, also that your roommate won't leave the TV on all night. It means you won't be sexiled from your room, either. 

Enter sophomore year. I opted for a single within an apartment-style suite, shared with three other girls. It was wonderful because we all had our personal space, but would see each other when we didn't want to be alone. The other girls were very easygoing, and if a concern came up we'd deal with it immediately, in an appropriate manner. We also took care of one another when something difficult came up. 

We weren't best friends, but then I learned that we didn't have to be. The only requirement for living with roommates is that you get along, and are able to tolerate each other's weird living habits. It was a very relaxing environment and I had no problem leaving my room. Though there were always people socializing in my living room, I could go lie down in my bedroom and relax by myself, and it would be okay. These are the way things ought to be. 

In summary, here's what I'd recommend: If you're out all the time, and use your room merely as a place to store clothes, then it shouldn't matter if you have a roommate. If you require a lot of alone time, then it may be more peaceful if you don't have to deal with fulfilling another person's needs. 

If you're worried about making friends your first year of college while having a single, then hear this: you're probably going to be living on a floor with a number of other students. It's perfectly appropriate to spontaneously knock on others' doors just to introduce yourself, and there will be plenty of events where you can get to know people and make new friends. Some of this should be built into orientation as well. It is exhausting, but if you don't retreat into your room for days at a time, I'm sure you'll be able to meet some people you like.  

Putting on a disguise

I've just been noticing this strange phenomenon within myself: I think I have some sort of facial blindness, except it pertains to just me. I often forget what I look like, and am surprised when others recognize me.

Whenever I go out in public, I'll put on a pair of sunglasses. Since they shield my eyes from the world, I feel like they create a barrier between me and everyone else. In a huge city it's kind of a relief: I can finally take a break from awkward glances at people I don't know, and nasty stares from others for looking like a complete oddball.

At the same time, this often perplexes me: I'm surprised when my peers actually recognize me. A person is identified by their eyes, eyebrows, and bridge of the nose. Even when I try to cover up my identifying features, I still stand out, and appear only as myself. I'll only appear to be myself unless I think up some better disguise, so I can give myself a break from the stress of socializing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Seeing as it's been a little while since I've posted, I've decided to discuss an issue that's been grating my mind lately. 

I'm now 20 years old, and the whole romantic world is something that is still completely foreign to me. Aside from the issue of intimacy (which I've discussed briefly here), I'm having a difficult time understanding the way in which relationships manifest themselves. So much happens when traveling from Point A, where you and the other person are mere acquaintances, to Point B, when something exclusive is going on - whether it be a relationship, friends with benefits, even something that neither of you will call a relationship but clearly displays an attraction to the other person alone, thereby displaying such exclusivity. A lot of signals are discreetly communicated, little body movements, eye contact, brain signals that are transferred into subtle twitches, signals which inform the individual whether they will make or break the night. 

So much goes on behind flirting that I have yet to learn. For years I thought that you'd gussy yourself up, smile at a boy, and BAM! You'd have yourself a boyfriend. Unfortunately, you hardly ever get anything merely by wanting it - you must put in an effort and send out the correct signals to the other person involved, and if those signals are well-received, then perhaps something lovely will spring to life. 

I'm learning that the right things must be said as well so the other person doesn't get turned off, and it all must be done in a timely manner before the guy you're interested in gets bored and moves on. I'm learning all of this the hard way, after all this time. It's been one of the hardest and most stressful things I've ever had to make myself aware of. We'll just say this past semester's been extremely difficult, haha.

I've also come to realize, though that the rules of appropriate flirting are something that everyone must learn. From what I've observed, they're generally acquired sometime around mid-adolescence, but there isn't really a time limit on when they can be learnt. I've been stressed out since a lot of my friends currently have boyfriends (not that this is a competition or anything), but I've noticed that even more of my friends are experiencing the same problems as I am. The nervous blushing that taints middle-schoolers' cheeks  when they see their crush walk down the hallway happens to students in college as well, causing us to stumble our words and make our brains rush through a premeditated list of insecurities regarding our foolishness for even trying. 

Where do nerves end? Confidence. As long as we are confident in our abilities to interact with others, with time, we will meet someone whom we are compatible with. This confidence may take years to acquire, but I have faith that with practice and self-esteem, anyone can get there. I'm not there yet, but hopefully I'll be able to build my confidence up. 

It's a difficult journey, but by paying attention to the right rules, I think it can be done. This applies to any goal you may be working towards, not even a relationship. Failure will happen as well, it's inevitable, but we must learn from our mistakes so we can grow. Hopefully I'll get there, as will everyone else out there. Self-confidence is one of the best things anyone can have, and something that everyone deserves. 

I don't know where I'm going with this. Sorry if I ramble a bit! Let's just get out there and work on it. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Journal Excerpt 2/26/08

"...It would be so much easier if you could have ear plugs for your sense of touch. They obviously wouldn't go in your ears, but if you could somehow adjust how you physically feel when you are being touched then it would make life a whole lot easier. I would take advantage of such an opportunity in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately, such an idea is impossible. It is up to me alone to control such things. I hope it gets easier over time."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Last week.

In class, my teacher was reviewing some of our work, when she called me up and told me:

- "Pink, it's really amazing. When I demonstrate these techniques you appear very distracted - "
- "Yeah, I know, I space out a lot."
- "Yes, you do! But you know what's really amazing? In class you seem like you're in your own little world, but then you go home and do an excellent job on everything. I don't know how you do it."
- (to my own surprise) "...I guess it just happens..."

It's odd; I was never even aware of such a thing. I am very easily distracted, but I can follow directions exactly, and I remember very minute details I didn't even realize I was paying attention to at the time. 

I guess having a brain wired like this isn't such a bad thing. 


I originally began this blog to help people step into the mind of someone with Asperger's Syndrome. I've been trying to promote neurodiversity, love, compassion, appreciation and self-respect. I've been trying to get out the message that everybody has a unique mind, and the Autism spectrum is just one tiny slice of the possible distinctions between every single mind out there. For those of you reading this, who are taking in my message, thank you.

However, I really shouldn't be keeping a blog in the first place. I'm just a random young woman who happens to fit into the specific diagnostic criteria for a condition that some people happen to have. I look exactly like every other 20 year old girl on the street, with the same interests and a similar mindset; I'm yet another pawn in the ever-changing army of pop culture, abiding to modern trends in order to not stand out like a sore thumb. I have no clue how my ideas could possibly be that different from anyone else's. Though I'm technically an adult, I still feel like I have a lot of growing up to do, and I have not seen nearly enough of life yet to be preaching ideas which I can hardly grasp myself.

I will still write in here, but I think I'm going to change my focus. I'm going to talk more about my daily interactions and things I'm learning instead of this one-sided preachy bullshit. Because brainwashing is what we're trying to fight, right? Conformity is both a best friend and an enemy, so I want to figure out ways to both embrace it while still remaining the same unique, brilliant individuals with savant-like grasps on subjects the rest of society is unable to focus on.

I'll admit it: my contact with fellow Aspies and Auties is fairly limited, but those I have met are very talented writers, artists, mathematicians, philosophers and thinkers. I'm still amazed by the ambition and devotion these friends of mine place into their field of work, and have no doubt that it will lead them to great happiness and fulfillment, no matter their unique path in getting there.

As my peers and I grow up (imagine the thought), we will learn new things, and maybe uncover something implausibly fantastic. But until then, we need to figure out what life really is.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An Update

I just wanted to take a quick second to update you guys (or whomever actually reads this blog) with how I'm doing. 

I've always had constant fatigue and headaches, and my doctor has been trying to figure out what the cause is. We've ruled out anemia, sinus problems, diabetes, kidney and liver problems, thyroid problems... basically any physical problem. I even found out that it's not lyme disease, which I had previously been tested positive for and subsequently had to take a slew of antibiotics for a few weeks afterwards (it's okay; a false diagnosis is common with lyme disease.). Kind of a pain in the ass, you know?

Well, after my doctor's appointment today, we've concluded that it's most likely something related to my ever-present anxiety. I've always known I've been an anxious person, but I never knew my nerves could drain me of my energy and overwhelm me to that extent. It's all starting to make sense now. Feeling that much tension all the time can be exhausting. I guess I am being completely overloaded with emotions and am in response draining myself. I'm glad it's being figured out now.

If you're feeling tired or fatigued, you shouldn't just learn to accept it - I'd check your symptoms and see if something could actually be wrong. Don't worry about getting treatment for anything either - that's the first step. Hopefully, now that I'm on the right path, I should begin to feel better soon! Nobody should constantly feel like crap - let's do something about it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Way of the Aspie

Asperger's seems to be an issue of adaptation. We have trouble adjusting to new things, learning new social rules. We can't handle surprises or spur-of-the-moment things. Apart from seeing the world differently, I think a great deal of our awkwardness comes from discomfort in unfamiliar situations. 

You know what? That's okay. If we stick to the familiar, or work to decode the unknown, then we will be okay. This is the main thing that we have to deal with, and we will have to deal with it constantly, but it's good to know that things do get easier.

What's actually important.

Today I ran into a classmate, and we spent a few hours talking - about everything. Oddly enough, it wasn't awkward at all. I usually have a hard time holding conversations with people, but she was so easy to talk to, not to mention a really interesting person. I love learning new things about people because they're so interesting to begin with, and when you try to hide those interesting points to give off a certain impression, you are, in a way, cheating yourself out of the connections and experiences you could be having. At least, that's how I feel. 

Moments like these are what help me remember that social standards don't really apply. Don't get me wrong; they do in the sense of showing you're engaged in conversation and by not offending the other person, but you really shouldn't be trying to appear flawless. You don't need to be molded into the perfect human being to get by - if you meet individuals whom you really connect with, then those friendships turn into something special. Those friendships may be limited in quantity, but it shouldn't matter how many friends you have anyway. 

Also, socializing seems so superficial. I'm referring to large parties, clubs, and anywhere cliques may roam. These instances are more for show than anything, and they completely demolish the concept behind having friends in the first place.  

There is no wrong way to go about making friends, unless it involves hurting somebody. And if you have just one friend, as long as that relationship makes you happy, then that is what really  matters.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Please pardon my philosophical tangents.

I've always thought of humanity as being in a transitional stage - the people we aren't now, we will one day become. Just like cultural trends, people also change.

For once, I'm questioning this, because in the short, insignificant amount of time I've been alive, I don't think I've really witnessed enough evidence to find the above statement true.

If somebody is frustruating me, a friend will often say something along the lines of "give it time, he/she will come around." The question though, is, will they? Does the average person really transform that much? I feel like I've transformed more than most, because I've had to acommodate for my own limitations, but do most other people experience the same thing? 

Or, and I know this is sad: do people continue to go about their ways, blind to how they are affecting those around them, potentially hurting many loved ones along the way while only acknowledging their own needs?

What I think I'm trying to ask here is, what are the limitations of change?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Reading Body Language: Cosmo

I know this may sound a bit cliche, but the Cosmopolitan website is the best thing that ever happened to me. A large portion of the articles (endless number, by the way!) are targeted at reading body language and the rules of appropriate conversation in various situations, which is great for anybody who needs a little help in those areas. It presents a lot of those rules which are common sense to most people, but I think it could help Aspies as well - even those who don't fit into the magazine's demographic.

Though it is biased towards western culture, the rules aren't too specific, so I'm sure many people can get something out of these articles.

I thought I'd point it out here, because since a friend pointed it out to me, I've been picking up on so many new social cues that I had previously been blind to. There's still so much more to learn, but this is a nice start. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Social Experience

Since I feel like grade school is far enough in the past, I think now is an appropriate time to reflect upon my experience socializing in an NT world. I've gotten decent at it over the years, to the point where I can hold healthy friendships, but there's still a lot to be learned.

Before kindergarten, I don't remember much - I've been told I was the type of child who would play in the corner by herself. I could draw basic human anatomy (five fingers on each hand, two eyes in the right place, etc - none of it was very good in general, but for a toddler I guess I was a pretty good artist!) before I could even speak - my parents sent me to an occupational therapist when I was around two or three. The words came out eventually, but I still wasn't using them, at least not correctly. I did learn eventually but it took years. I'd sit in the corner with my Barbies, not uttering a peep - even when I had friends over. 

I remember I enjoyed very directed activities, like dress-up and make believe games. I spent so much time in fantasy worlds that it detatched me from my surroundings - I would be perfectly content with sitting under a table, lost in my thoughts without a care in the world. In kindergarten my parents would let me have playdates with other girls, but even then my mind would go elsewhere - until first grade.

The next year, I met two of my best friends, whom I have remained close with to this day. We'll call the girl Caroline, and she was nearly as quirky and silly as me. We became friends with a boy, Kevin, and would all go on adventures together in the playground - on the swingset, mostly. We created a fantasy world for just the three of us, and we even had an initiation process for entering this world. Now, I knew we were oddballs, but we didn't care at all what other people thought. 

With the outside world, however, I couldn't socialize at all. I got fixated with doing a lot of strange Aspie-like behavior, like repeatedly making weird animal noises, and the other children would tease me. It didn't really affect me though - as long as I had my friends and our fantasy world everything was good. I do remember being embarassed for being the only person in the class who had an aide, but that wasn't so bad at the time. 

In third grade, I finally became aware of little social nuances here and there that signified popularity - the clothes, the toys, the flashy sneakers, the gel pens that came in 40 different colors and you weren't cool unless you had every single one. Every girl in my class that was well-liked had all of these things and more, and it was around this time when I began to notice that I wasn't like them. I then realized there was something beyond material possessions that these girls had that I didn't, and though I couldn't place my finger on it, I wanted desperately to be like them. 

At the beginning of middle school I moved to a new town. This place wasn't so bad - I was still strange, but I had a good number of friends, a few of which I've stayed close with over the years, and even though I made a lot of social faux pas, I think it was around this time where I began to take notice of what behavior did and didn't get me into trouble. I developed my own unique sense of style and enjoyed video games, ice skating and art activities. I was OBSESSED with Pokemon as well, but then again, so was everybody else, so my eccentricities were masked by a universal fad. I was extremely immature and socially behind, but I didn't appear that different from my peers - that is, until high school.

Before high school I moved again, this time to a small town where the kids there were drastically different from me - my eccentricities stood out a lot more in this new, strange town. I didn't know how to initiate friendships in a normal sense and became an outcast. I couldn't hold a conversation with anybody because my insecurities took over, and the condescending attitude my classmates responded with made my self-esteem plummet even further; I couldn't win. The harder I tried to make friends, the more this reputation stuck. Despite what these kids claimed, I knew I was worth it and tried to change everything that made me different. I openly rebelled against any special education services that I was required to take and kept to myself, while still paying attention to how the other girls acted and presented themselves. I was at my worst during this time - my vulnerability was at its highest during these four years.

I tried to distract myself from this reality - I became heavily involved in extracurricular activities and my schoolwork; I desperately wanted to prove that I was intelligent, contrary to what my peers believed. Though they weren't exemplary, I ended up getting decent grades and surprised some people when I got into a few higher-level classes. My ed plan was terminated around my junior year of high school, and though I realize I probably could have still used some help from them, it was nice to know that I, who had been initially diagnosed with pretty low-functioning Asperger's, had surpassed what was expected of me. 

During this time, I made some friends in different towns, which was nice. I experienced plenty of social mishaps, but by this point I was able to learn from my experiences and benefit from them.

College has come a lot easier - the experience I gained in high school has helped me loads. I'm also fortunate to go to a relaxed school where my peers are accepting of uniqueness. I still experience a barrier in a lot of my relationships, apart from my closest friends, but it is still nice to bask in a pleasant atmosphere filled with smiling faces. Though I'm still socially behind in some ways, I'm finally okay with this - I'll get there with time.  Life will offer endless experiences to gain something from, and I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to see how things move along.

So, if you pay attention to other people around you and get some input from a more objective source, then I think it's possible to learn how to be more socially adept. I know my instance has been more personal, but I'm hoping somebody out there is able to connect with my experience!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The direction of society.

I had a really odd experience a few days ago, where a friend tried to get me to join a cult.

I know it's a bit harsh to call it a cult (apart from the fact that it actually is one), but this organization works just like Scientology: it's a self-help program geared towards "helping you realize your full potential in life" and whatnot. You pay $500 or so for a weekend-long retreat where inspirational (common sense, really) messages are drilled into your head.

One of my good friends is buying all of this bullshit. He's a good kid with good values, but he's sucking it all in for some reason - he's already been to a few introductory meetings and is signed up for the retreat in a few weeks. I'm scared he won't be the same.

He tried to get me to go to one of the meetings recently, but after some research I was afraid of what would happen to me. Being free-spirited and having the capacity to make my own opinions on things is one of my favorite traits about myself, and yes, the most Aspie-like thing about myself that's remained after years of adjusting to the real world. At the same time, I'm impressionable, extremely gullible, and I always fear that something is wrong with me that I MUST fix. At various times I've thought I've had high blood pressure, ADD, or various personality disorders, while I'm really just hypersensitive to my own faults and will expand their severity in my own mind. I'm a hypochondriac who will go to great lengths to try to fix myself when I probably just have little issues that everybody has to deal with. I don't like having my faults, even imaginary ones, exposed, and then being told I need to fix them (as you can imagine, social skills training didn't sit well with me, haha).

I can't understand why anybody would subject themselves to brainwashing, furthermore PAY to be brainwashed. Freedom of expression is one of the greatest things humanity has to offer, and when you water that down, then there's very little left to appreciate. If we can't be fully ourselves then what do we do?! 

Furthermore, I feel like Aspies are susceptible to being brainwashed. We are outsiders who must conform to a given set of social rules so we don't stand out so much. We have to learn proper motor skills, learn to withstand wearing uncomfortable fabrics, and put up with small talk and appropriate conversation, among many other things. 

Having Asperger's often means we have enhanced abilities in other areas as well, and when we try to compensate for those areas in which we are lacking, aren't we losing something of our original talents? If a blind man suddenly gains back his vision, will his other senses start to deteriorate?

Though adjusting to NT society may mean good things in the long run, if we change too much, will we end up losing a bit of ourselves? 

This scares me. Please try to hold onto your skills and viewpoints which make you an individual. I don't want to see George Orwell's fantasy happen anytime soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sensory Issues

Inspired by a post written by a new blogger, A, I've decided to touch upon what the experience of Asperger's is for me. I rant and rave so much about the subject that a lot of you probably don't know where I'm coming from... Therefore, I'm going to discuss how many of the issues associated with Asperger's Syndrome affects me. Maybe someone will gain some insight on this, from their own experiences? I hope!

So, about sensory problems. I've had a ton of these growing up. I remember I used to hate tags on clothing, and will usually wear soft cottons. I don't like wearing wool - I have a wool sweater that itches mercilessly through any long-sleeve shirt I put underneath and, hence, never wear. I don't like stiff pants or dress pants - I usually only wear soft, broken in jeans or dresses. I ADORE sweatpants but I still try to look put-together if I wear them. I love the way dress pants look though, so maybe this will change. 

I remember violently protesting when my mom trained me to shower instead of taking a bath. I believe I was about six or seven, and the water getting in my face, shampoo falling in my eyes was too much to handle. I would scream my lungs off whenever she made me shower, and would refuse to for days at a time. I've since learned to shower everyday, but it is still an uncomfortable experience in ways. The water hitting me overhead is so overwhelming that my actions in the shower are usually dragged out... They're never longer than 20 minutes, but I'm still finding ways to adjust.

One big problem I've always had has to do with loud empty noises: I can't STAND them. These include things like the vacuum, which I have to operate myself to be able to tolerate, the sound of traffic outside, grasshoppers chirping in the summer while I'm trying to sleep (hence, I can't sleep with the window open), TV static, the microwave, even the soft fuzzy noise my computer is giving off right now.... you get what I'm saying. If the sound is directed in any way, like music or television, then it's fine (even live music is perfectly fine), but those sounds that aren't meant to be made really bother me. It just feels like giant obstructions are filling my ears and jumbling around my thoughts. If one of these sounds are going, I can't function, to put it bluntly. This is one of my biggest sensory problems.

Another problem I have extends into the social realm of things: I'm very tacitly sensitive, so I can't handle being tickled. Even the slightest of human contact gives off a tickle. I'm fine with hugs and all that, but if someone touches a certain part of my arm, or tries to pat my shoulder, I can't help but giggle a little, and I'll get furious at my friends if they intentionally try to tickle me.  I'm tickled even if somebody shifts around where my shirt lies on my back... Also, being intimate with someone is usually a pleasant experience (granted, if he's a good kisser), but in my brain, intimate touching reads as tickling, and it can get frustrating for the other person involved. It's obviously something I need to get used to, so I hope I'm able to over time.

Also, my own personal well-being can cause sensory problems. Headaches and exhaustion feel like the end of the world. If I've had five hours of sleep, it will feel like I haven't had any, and I'll need plenty of caffeine and vitamins in order to function. I guess my body shows more easily when I'm not at the peak of my health. I don't know how much this reaches into the realm of sensory issues but I thought it was relevant nonetheless, and I'm wondering if anyone else experiences the same thing?

On another note, I love heavy-feeling things. I enjoy wearing many layers of clothing and giant, thick blankets when I sleep. I've read that this has to do with Asperger's in that some of those who have it like to apply pressure in order to relax. Part of this is why weighted blankets are so successful for many people (you can read more about this here). If you're interested in buying a weighted blanket, then there are many places available online.

I hope this post has helped some people gain insight on either themselves or their loved ones. As always, please share your own sensory experiences, or anything you'd like to say at all. Peace!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Random Act of Kindness

Today I was doing some laundry, and after eyeing a nearby vending machine, I decided I wanted to get a bag of chips. I inserted my money and punched in the numbers for a bag of Lay's.

You can only imagine my frustration when the chips got stuck!

I started slamming the machine in fury with my palms - unfortunately, due to my nonexistant upper body strength, they remained stuck.

A random woman whom I had never seen before was walking past, saying nothing more than "it got stuck?" Ignoring my response, she tipped back the machine so the chips fell, and continued on her way. I barely had any time to thank her. 

Though it was a small action, I was reminded of how wonderful people can be. Such actions can really create a distinction between a potentially bad day and a very good one. I'm going to try doing more of these sorts of things  for others, and no matter how your brain functions, I think everybody could afford to bring a few smiles here and there. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things to learn

The ability to not let others bring us down
How to take charge of one's own life

My best friend once told me, "The one thing that changed my life was when I realized that it doesn't matter what others think of you. It took me a while, but understanding this is the best thing anybody can do for themselves."

This statement has to be the most important thing anyone's ever said to me, and years later I'm  trying to figure out if I've actually gotten there.

Life beats you over the head sometimes, and it seems to happen more easily to me than to others - I guess I'm just wired that way, able to handle less. 

Naturally, I'm terrified silly, though this reaction has become rather commonplace. 

The optimist in me is yelling to fight back and slaughter my inner fears cold. 

I have a bunch of numbers for doctors around my area, and I'm going to start making phone calls tomorrow. I'm not self-assured just yet, but I've finally realized I can't let my own thoughts destroy me. Now all I need is the help to actually accomplish this.

Anxiety can fucking suck it. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Understanding Relationships: Benefactors vs. Leeches

I am sitting here after yet another failed attempt at anything. Funny, huh?

It's becoming apparent to me that Aspies have a unique sense of humor all their own. Mine borders on the line of childish, crude silliness that isn't directed at anyone's expense, to be vaguely put. I don't like offending people, so I veer towards always being the nice one, always being humble, quiet (to avoid blurting out something inappropriate that may offend somebody), generally being too sweet. It's both a blessing and a curse - I hardly ever hurt anybody's feelings, but at the same time, I struggle to maintain a friendship that lasts longer than a few weeks - apart from my few true friends, of course. 

Basically, I get boring, so people move on. Good for the office, bad for the social world. 

Because of this, the people I become associated with often fall into two categories: the nurturing, and the harmful. The relationship I have with the first group comes from a cycle of support: we exchange advice, take care of one another when the other one is sick, do favors for each other, provide the necessary pick-me-up in the case of a break up - you get the idea. This is the more traditional type of a friendship where everyone is the benefactor, though in my case it isn't so humor-based (unless focused pop culture and television). My closest friends all fall into this category, and I'm grateful for that - without such wonderful people in my life I would have nothing.

I am just beginning to understand why I attract the second group - they are cruel, manipulative, superficially charming individuals who look to suck the life out of us because we appear weaker than they do; They have their way with you and then toss you aside. I'm thinking this occurs in my case because I appear so reserved, and unfortunately I can't work a whole room on my own, if you know what I'm saying - I need to respond to others, it's just the way I am. 

Socializing is a process of filtering through people and keeping those who help you, and distancing yourself from those who don't - simple as that. If this is the case, then why do we attract so many leeches?

I'm noticing that a lot of guys who express a romantic (or at least sexual) interest in me fall into the second category - they get distracted, or will be excessively rude if they suddenly decide that they aren't interested after all. Perhaps this is the hooking-up culture spitting me in the face, for it is exactly what I don't want. Who knows, if I were the life of the party, maybe I would be this way as well. Having been described as a "fun drunk" I do particularly well with socializing at parties, but after the booze wears off and the sun comes up I'm left with only my shyness and a lack of anything interesting to say - hence, my weak point. Gotta love college, right?

Why do we have to countlessly be victimized by those who are more charismatic, more power-hungry than we are? Certainly there has to be something better out there! Sure, I'm surrounded by a number of immature young men, but is this just a generational thing, or will they be this way forever?

Until then, I guess we just have to recognize who is best for us... it gets easier, right?

Monday, January 5, 2009

a tadpole amidst a sea of frogs.

I had a frighteningly eye-opening conversation with my dad a few days ago - a general summary of what he told me:

"You've made so much progress thus far, but I can't understand how you'll possibly survive in the work world. You forget appointments, you're disorganized, and you are stuck in these one-sided generalizations about work. The frustrating thing is, though that you refuse to acknowledge them and work on these issues. You're driving yourself into a deep hole, _______ - you're creating a handicap for yourself where you'll be incapable of working."

Now I'm not a religious person, but let me pray to God that none of this is true. I've had such big dreams for years, and if his words are entirely accurate, and I do nothing about this, then I will be incapable of accomplishing those big dreams. I've been pushing myself through school my entire life to get to where I'll be within 5-10 years, and if all of my efforts thus far turn out to be completely fruitless, then what am I to do?

I hate to admit it, but I do see some fact behind his words. He means well (even though the general statement above is a bit harsh) and he wants nothing but the best for me. Let's face it: I'm awful on the phone, I have difficulty schedueling appointments and calling back people (and furthermore, knowing when to do so), and I can't understand people's expectations unless they explicitly tell me what these expectations are. This may cause a number of problems with employers in the future, you know? 

Of course, I would ideally like to run my own business to not be beat down by a higher authority (this is what gets to me), but doing this even involves skills that I don't yet have. I'm taking my traits into consideration when doing this - and it really is possible - a solitary environment where I'm surrounded by my own creativity and a few close employees and business partners is really all I need.

Finding the success I will need to support myself, however, requires people and organizational skills I don't yet have. I really hope I get there. There's nothing wrong with recieving an SSI from the government but I would like to be able to say I've gotten this far on my own. I guess I'm stubborn in that sense, heh.

Maybe I will go to some of those Asperger's group meetings my dad keeps telling me about. I used to be terrified of them when I was younger, as it's taken me years to adjust to the idea of having Asperger's and standing out due to some of these traits. I'm still not completely adjusted now, but I think going to meetings like these will help me get there. I'm still young, so there's still time, right?

If I start now, hopefully I'll be okay. I would be interested in hearing about others' experiences with adjusting to the work world, if anyone reading this is interested in sharing. Ta-ta!
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