Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chapter 1

How I Know I Have Aspergers
I am a self-diagnosed Aspie. I figured this out about 4-5 years ago when I had my Eldest tested because he was having a lot of issues at school. He was diagnosed after a day of testing with a neuropsychologist. And everything that the doctor said about him, rang true for me.I had difficulty with eye contact, making small talk, finding and keeping friends, speaking in front of more than one person, avoiding large groups, oversensitivity to light, sound and touch in addition to taking things literal and not getting jokes or being able to read peoples facial expressions.I preferred to spend large amounts of time by myself and even simple tasks such as going to the grocery store or the dentist, were quite stressful. I was agoraphobic and had days were it was tough to leave the house. I dislike phone conversations as I am never sure when it is my turn to talk and I can't see if what I am saying is getting through.

I felt weird and different and not at all comfortable in my own skin. I felt like I was an outsider and everyone else spoke the same language and was playing the same game but I couldn't figure out their rules no matter how many hours I spent observing and trying. I had always felt like an alien. And when the doctor was explaining my sons condition, little bells and whistles started going off in my head and it was as if I was watching a tabletop with a hundred puzzle pieces on it and the pieces just started flowing together, one after another, after another. She wasn't talking about my Eldest (ok, she was but)she was talking about me!!!
And granted, there was the traditional delay in processing...it took me 3-4 days for my brain to wrap itself around this whole new theory, but I found myself and a label that would work. Everything Made Sense!!! And that had never happened before.
So I started reading about Aspergers and the more I read, the more intrigued I became.
Once identified I could see all the little, oddish traits...always wearing sunglasses,long-sleeves and long-pants, avoiding shopping malls, crowds, being in groups of people, arranging things in patterns,always searching for the patterns, unusual speech and writing habits, always thinking people were mad at me, not understanding jokes, preferring large amounts of silence and solitude instead of hanging out, food can't touch on the plate.....confirmation was quite evident everywhere I looked. So the title fit. I have Aspergers. My son has Aspergers. And looking at my father and grandfather, they also, are Aspies. And I can only guess that my great-grandmother, Grace Berry Cavanaugh, had Aspergers due to the stories of her anti-social behaviour and lack of warmth and ability to show affection.
I am one of ten children and the only one with full-blown Aspergers, although I can see it in much less degrees in two siblings. And I look a lot like my fathers side of the family. I have two sons, one with Aspergers and the other is neuro-typical. So I definitely believe that it is genetic.
*
Inside My World
Sometimes people say the same thing over and over and fail to ever really explain what they mean. Frequently, I have been known to say "that I live in my own little world". I think that deserves an explanation. Lets' go there....
I live largely within a world of thought, memories, possibilities and emotations. It’s like living in a very large room that is filled with loops, streams, fragments and spheres. At times, it seems very crowded and different shapes vie for my attention. Frequently one of these small floating arenas engulf me and I become engrossed, almost trapped and have a hard time escaping whatever thought or memory has captured my attention. Each shape contains either large or small bits of information. Mostly, I sit back, within myself and am analyzing.
Often, I am sure it appears, that my eyes have glazed over and it appears that "no one is home". At those times I am all inside...sometimes pondering, sometimes escaping whatever reality is outside of me and taking place.
Various things, such as "what was that conversation about yesterday", "Can I remember it word for word?", "What was meant by thus and such", "Did I convey what I needed to?", "When I said thus was I heard?" pertain to previous, mostly recent, conversations. Often, hours or days later, I find things that I missed in the conversation…sometimes very important things.
I have very little interest and awareness of the world outside of myself. I have a very narrow lens and rarely notice things, people, situations, words or ideas, that do not pertain directly to me. I have no interest in false gods, celebrities, current television programming, popular culture, the latest novel, gossip of any kind, predicting the future or where I want to be five years from now, who is dating who, what the most popular song was in 1952, the latest diet or exercise craze, fads of any kind, and hypothetical what ifs.
The majority of my waking life is consumed with how to get through it, my home, my castle, my friends and my family and keeping myself functional. That takes up about 98% of my every day. Seriously, I wish it were only some bad joke but the vast majority of my day is actively engaged in basic functionality.
Words are mutable things of varying caliber, degrees and with a plethora of meaning depending on context, stress, the particular speaker and the spirit in which they are said....very complex. I can easily spend days analyzing a five-minute conversation....easily. For I do want to understand and comprehend...it just doesn't come easy.
I have to spend so much effort figuring out the words, that it leaves little time for glances and
observations regarding facial expressions and body language. I am simply too focused on the words. And, yes, most people speak at a normal rate of speed that is far too fast for this Aspie. Either my word processing program is running too slow or I am actively engaged in trying to remember everything that I need to say and searching for pauses in the chat.
I can spend hours planning a five minute conversation for, say, the next day. I have to figure out my points, what is important and put it in a presentable cohesive, easy-to-understand manner.Lost in thought...yeah, I am frequently there but it has purpose.

So say that I live in this very large room with floaters. I stand in the middle. There must be a door here somewhere for a connection to the outside. Sure, there is one over there on the right. One small doorway that opens to a very narrow, steep, twisty-turny hallway that is about a mile long. (Yeah, I am usually pretty hard to reach.) Every now and then someone ventures down the hall and knocks at my door...Most of the time I simple do not hear the knock. The depths, focus can prevent that. Sometimes I do and ignore it. I think, most often, people arrive at the door, sense the...depth and treacherousness of the hallway and fear actually knocking. Can't say that I blame them...it is a most unusual stride to the door.
When I venture out...my view of the world outside of myself, outside of my physical home...To be honest, it’s a war zone...a chaotic, ever-changing, daunting and somewhat dangerous place full of unpredictability, unspoken expectations, unwritten rules and a constantly changing landscape of mountains and pitfalls. I constantly seek safe zones and safe people. When that doesn't work, I resort to using pre-approved patterns and manners of walking, behaviors and mental games to get me from point a to point b. Stepping outside is sensory overload, pure and simple. It’s an assault of the senses, a mental maze and all systems up and running, a time of high alert. The highest variable is people."Who will I run into?" "What will I say?" "What will they ask?" subject matter, mood, will I be able to read them?
Some days I avoid most people..other days I seek them out.It just depends.
Mostly, I find that life is a wicked game of survival…figuring out the bare minimum of what needs doing outside and staying mostly in. Venturing out requires a great deal of pre-planning and effort.Little things are big things for the Aspie. As an example, one of my current dilemmas is something so small, so simple, so not-an-issue for the neuro-typical that I hesitate to mention as I am sure it will induce ridicule and absurdity on some level. I can't find a pair of socks to buy that doesn't feel like sandpaper on my feet. I had a dozen pair of the most perfect of socks, all cotton, black, medium weight and they fit and felt just right. Well, I went and wore them all out, getting holes in the heels and had to start pitching them in the garbage. When I was down to one or two pair, I went to the local store where I had purchased them to stock up. Lo and behold, they no longer exist. While they carry the same brand, they have introduced Lycra and form-fitting alterations that pinch and do not feel right. I spent that day going to every store in town in the simple and futile attempt to locate a damn pair of socks that I could wear with ease. They no longer exist. My search continues....Yeah, I want so much from life...a damn pair of socks...and nowhere to be found.
The everyday task of cooking a meal is a complex endeavour. First off, I have to figure out what everyone wants and is willing to eat. Then its off to the dreaded grocery store. Otherwise known as Sensory Overload and mingling with the natives. Being in the kitchen, cooking a meal is a multi-step event that needs careful planning. I frequently talk to myself to help keep me on task and remembering what the next thing is to do. There are also three separate timers that help guide me and keep me from burning and overcooking. More than once, our smoke alarm has signaled "dinner ready". The average meal probably takes me twice as long to cook and is just another stressful event to try and muddle through.

I like my world inside, mostly due to its low-stress and somewhat predictable nature. I don't have to perform and pretend to be normal. The sometimes overwhelming stress of outside reality will literally throw me into my space so deeply and with great fervor, that it’s like being locked into a closet. It gets dark and I can't find the door handle to get out even if I wanted to. The predictability, the patterns I create are so that I can actually have moments, yeah maybe a moment or two where I don't have to actively think. Because the majority of my life, my everyday life, is spent in the thinking process. This is so not a normal, neuro-typical existence....it is so much more work. Some day, I hope to convey that in a depth, meaning and way that doesn't sound so self-pitying and depressing because it is an important point. You have no idea the sheer amount of work, effort and stress that is required for this Aspie to get through an average day. It truly is impossible to fathom. I have great admiration for those Aspies who can actually hold down and maintain a job, even a part-time one. Their lives must be even more complex and chaotic than mine.

And people ask, I kid you not and this is rather novel...People ask how they can help an Aspie. (And I would like to take these requests, mold them into solid form, like small statuettes and set them upon the mantel because they are priceless) So I am going to answer...You keep knocking. And if the door doesn't open, you try again. You don't give up. You make your voice and your physical presence known and available. You listen. You hear. You do not embarrass or make fun of. You do not put the spotlight on. You allow the Aspie to be themselves with subtle guidance through the murky waters. You understand or are willing to try and understand that the world is a very scary, overwhelming place and that even simple, mundane tasks require great effort and thought. You realize that your own speech (that which you say when talking to an Aspie), is frequently like trying to decipher a foreign language.
You talk slower and listen harder. You are aware that the Aspie speaks in a language all their own and try and learn it. You can somewhat grasp the reality that a person with Aspergers needs lots of downtime and opportunities to process information. Please don't always expect an immediate answer.. Be patient. Be kind. It’s really that simple.
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Growing Up Aspie
Thinking back upon my childhood, trying to find the main mood feelings...I always felt oddish, like I was different but I didn't know in what way. Perpetual confusion would probably summarize it best. It was as if something was always wrong but I was completely clueless as to what that something was.Starting school at the tender age of five was my very first experience with pure, paralyzing terror. The only world I had ever known, to that point, was the very isolated one of my parents home where no one was ever allowed in and the children were fearfully taught to stay in and secretive.
At that age, the physical and sexual abuse had yet to start so this ginormous event, this separating and venturing outside this backward little world, leaving mother and siblings, my bestest of buds who tolerated and cared for me was profoundly traumatic. I recall the steps to the school like it was yesterday. I was soaked in fear at what they were telling me would transpire. My mother, sensing my fears, kept repeating soothing and reassuring words, probably to keep me from bolting more than anything else. Yeah, I had that habit way back then also, bolting, running off when I became afraid or felt like a trapped animal being led to slaughter.Those first few months of schooling are full of vivid memories that I would care to forget, so great was the pain. I remember subtle elation when hearing about this whole summer break thingy. I may have even smiled, always a rarity, as if I had to put on a mask, disingenuous as it may be.
Then I found out the awful truth, that this matter of school, angst and separation was going to continue in a few more months...and then, for a large number of years. I found it heartbreaking, to say the least. So I made the most of summers and tried spending every day outside, mostly hiding out in the woods or playing on the swings at the playground.
I can't say that I smiled much or showed emotion with any kind of regularity. It could be said that I kept very much to myself. I was a good girl and did what I was told. Taking care of my younger siblings, making almost daily trips to the little grocery store for milk and bread and doing my chores as best I could filled my days. I have a very hard time remembering happiness. The most noticeable times were when mother brought home another new baby. Their were ten of us kids in all, so a new one arrived every couple of years or so.
Somewhere in those early grade school years, things got really ugly. My father lost his job and became quite violent. He was angry all the time and with great ease took his wrath out on the nearest child or my mother. Physical abuse became the norm with objects, projectiles flying through the air without warning. Punishment for such infractions as teasing and failing to complete a chore became harsher and harsher. At first, standing in a corner would suffice but it quickly moved into hitting children with whatever object was handy, grabbing and pulling someone by their hair, or just plain smacking.That was the daytime stuff anyway. At night the punishment took on a completely different form.
I lived in a state of perpetual confusion. I didn't understand that which was going on in my parents’ house as wrong, per se, because I had nothing to compare it to. I was only allowed to go into the homes of two neighbors and that being quite sporadic. So, I really did not know how other people lived. I just figured, the hitting was part of life and that it happened to everyone. Food became quite sparse and inconsistent. Meals were these little melees of whatever could be found in the cupboard and thrown together. We had a couple serious spells where there was very,very little to eat. Think Mother Hubbard and completely bare cupboards. I think it was at that time that I figured out how to turn off and fear hunger. What an empty, hollow, unnurtuing feeling that is.
The sexual abuse started when I was about seven. So, my days were spent trying to escape the poverty and the nights were spent unsuccessfully trying to escape my father. I lived in constant fear, always trying to find a way to escape. Forever searching for something I couldn't quite grasp, safety and security. Damn, I felt so completely and utterly trapped. I lived hell, I kid you not. I lived hell.
I sought employment as soon as my age permitted and married the first guy that came along, who happened to be twice my age. I was soo willing to do anything, anything, to get out of my parents house.I managed to hold down jobs, for the most part, as a nurses’ aide working in nursing homes and private homes. I needed a paycheck as my husband had great difficulty finding and keeping a job. We moved and ran from bill and rent collectors, borrowed whenever we could and lived paycheck to paycheck.
I don't recommend living in poverty to anyone. It’s a...pardon my French, mind fuck. Ones whole mentality becomes rearranged to finding and securing money and sources of food. Poverty of house and mind is extremely demoralizing and degrading. It’s hard to have any self-esteem at all when you are begging for a meal or a ride. In my twenties, I just figured I had some sort of mental illness going on as by this time I had glimpsed the outside world and was very much aware of how my thinking and feelings were radically different from everyone elses. I sought therapy and was told I was bipolar with a smidgen of schizo affective disorder thrown in. I had my share of medication trials and errors. Nothing worked for long, go figure...I wasn't mentally ill, I had Aspergers but back in the 90's no one could recognize it.
My days continued to be filled with fear and trying to survive. I was unable to fit in anywhere and continued to wonder why I was so different. I pretty much attributed all my anxiety and troubles with the whole growing up abused theory and that worked, making sense in my head.It wasn't until many years later, in my late thirties when I had my Eldest son tested at a local clinic that it finally dawned on me that I had Aspergers. Funny, not really but typical...it took me about two years of little bits of research and pondering here and there for me to finally grasp the full meaning of the phrase, "I Have Aspergers”.
*
2 of 10...My Borg Name
So I am 2 of 10, otherwise known as Who? I am the second oldest of ten children, five girls and five boys. Being from a large family had both advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you look at it. It was easy to blend in, get lost, or be pretty invisible. My older brother was extremely outgoing, the homecoming king, talented musician, too many friends to count, etc…and I was the quiet one. It was like day and night.
I was a very good student, did what was asked of me, rarely got into any trouble (ok, so that one day when I skipped school and had the vice principal chasing me through backyards and over fences Was the one anomalous incident). Kevin and I did our fair share of taking care of our younger siblings, which was actually quite enjoyable, for the most part.
I loved never being alone and always having someone to be with and drag around. When I got my drivers license, I got a kick out of taking a handful of them there younguns and going to the museum and zoo.
When I was 16, I had my first job and quickly found that work was my salvation. I started working in a local nursing home because my class had taken a field trip there and I knew the layout. I had No Idea what the actual work involved...Not a friggin Clue. Wow, I had to wash people? Feed them? And I actually was very, very good at this. When I first started I would come home, go to my room and cry. I did not know that places like this existed where older people went to live and had no family, no one to visit, where their very existence relied upon the kindness and character of strangers. I spent the first few months simply following lead aides around, observing and doing exactly what I was told. And I made Friends!
As my bestest friend, Betsy, told me later...you were so quiet...I think it was three months before you even spoke. This was quite true. Having a friend and being around other people my age was beneficial and I thrived on it. I worked as many hours as possible and actually started becoming my own person, independent with a cash flow and places to go.
Being a nurses’ aide worked really well for this Aspie...I was able to observe to learn the ropes; there was always someone I could go to for with any question and I was one of many so I didn't stand out. Plus, there was always work to be done so I didn't have to sit and socialize.
I started asking to work on holidays and weekends which freed me from the family get-together obligations where Kevin and whoever was the youngest child at the time, received the most attention. No, "why aren't you more like your brother?" queries for me at work. It was Heaven.The nursing home was the setting were I met my first best friend out of the schooling realm, my first boyfriend (gosh, he was so adorable) and unfortunately, my first husband.The first 16 years of my life were spent in the Collective, while my adult life began in the world of Springbrook Manor.Oh, and why is the second part of my Borg name Who? Long story, but at a point I hopped in a little red spaceship and blasted off to a distant, far away planet, assumed a different name, relinquished all my family and began life anew and anonymous...Now they call me Who? And I really am...someone my family does not know...
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Many Challenges…the earliest years
I obviously didn't sign up for the easy life of peaches and cream. I think I accidentally signed up for the heavy hardship program...yeah, just try and break me. I prevailed....but it wasn't easy.
I was born with a couple congenital conditions. The first one, which was obvious at birth was my "windswept", bilaterally crooked feet. They both dramatically splayed to the right. My mother recently remarked that it was one of the worst cases the pediatrician had ever seen. Thanks Mom...note heavy sarcasm. So, tootswift, I started wearing a feet brace which amounted to a metal bar with high ankle shoes affixed and the shoes had little increments engraved so that the degree of angle could be set and adjusted to get my feet to a more appropriate position. Yeah, mom has said it was very upsetting for her to deal with...wondering if I'd ever be able to walk straight.
Instead of crawling with hands and knees like most, I was forced to kinda pull myself around with my arms dragging my lower body along with me. I had intermittent breaks at times, they weren't constant but they were definitely an extension of my body. I never liked it, the brace, as my legs and feet felt like they were being constantly twisted and torqued. Mostly, I didn't feel like moving at all.
Anyway, after x number of months, my feet were looking better so the brace needn't go on anymore. I tried doing that walking thingy and boom! Whammy number two, it was discovered I had a hip abnormality called hip dysplasia which basically means some type of abnormality at the hip that prevented my hips from working properly and the femur bone would "fall out" of it's appropriate socket. I could not walk and this dysplasia thingy was yet another physically painful, disruptive cause for concern. It's possible wearing the braces exasperated this condition, or my hips were deformed from the getgo...not really sure. All I really knew was my body once again, didn't work at my whim, and there was a certain amount of pain involved...that's putting it mildly. Pain, hmmm, that's one of those things they really did not acknowledge in children back in the sixties. There was an enormous amount of pain involved when one stands up and the entire leg falls out of place...lots of muscles involved.
The solution, the prescription for the hip dysplasia was the wearing of hip braces which consisted of pillows and belts that put continuos pressure on the hips...in a sense holding them and training them into place. After starting with the hip braces, I very slowly and much behind scheduled, started walking albeit with an odd gait. After a number of months my hips and legs were as normal as they were going to be.
Off and on throughout my preteen years, every now and then I could feel my right hip on the verge of dislocating....a very unsettling feeling. For years, I foolishly entertained the idea of turning my self into a runner, but in thinking about it, that goal is probably well out of reach and I should be damn happy that I can walk.
Confined, constrained and in constant pain....hmmm, that could easily summarize my earliest years.
*
Being Young and Autistic
When you think about it, it was extremely easy and comforting to escape into my own little world when the outside one was constantly painful. My body hurt all the time and simple, basic movements required great exertion. Retreating seemed like a very viable and worthwhile option. At a couple years of age, it was also very easy.
I remember people, like my mother, talking to me and it was so startling and loud, even in her mom baby voice, that it was akin to someone walking up to me and honking a horn. Voices jarred me from my painless little world and were quite upsetting. All the way to kindergarten, I recall adult speak as being loud, intrusive noise. Now my older brother, my constant companion, he I could tolerate and listen to. He was my height and talked in a very amusing way. I was clueless as to what he was saying, but I was always heartily amused.
My brother recently sent me an old photo from 1963 when I was 6 months old. The black and white shows me in a stroller with my brother leaning over talking to me and my hands are firmly clasped over my ears. According to the date on the photo, I was six months. Six months old and already proficient at covering my ears...one of my favorite, signature postures. Autism starts early. Looking back, it's getting easier to see all the signs.
My sense of security and familiarity was so not helped by my parents moving us four times before I was five. My older brother, myself and a younger brother were all born in Lincoln, Nebraska as my father was in the service. When I was around three, we moved back to Michigan and lived on a street called Wedgewood. I remember Wedgewood for two specific things. One, we had two very cool wagon wheels as front yard decorations. For some reason, I was quite fascinated by them, their roundness and spokes. The second thing that comes to mind is running with a glass fishbowl, dropping it, stepping on the glass, howling and having my mom dig and clean out my foot. Laying there, tears streaming down, I can still remember the sound of the ice cream truck melody approaching like it was happening as I write.
My mother asking me if I'd like some ice cream and me, wiping my tears and sitting up, waiting for that Popsicle. I don't think we lived on Wedgewood very long. Shortly, we moved to Saginaw where two younger sisters were born. I remember mom and dad coming home in that yellow station wagon and presenting us with Joy, my first sister.
Saginaw was pretty interesting. The house was child heaven as it had a big staircase and a huge bay window that looked onto railroad tracks that ran right next to the house, or so it seemed when I was four and five. I have to chuckle, for punishment we would be banished from watching the trains from the bay window. Brothers and I would be devastating with such harsh discipline.
I started kindergarten, in Saginaw, although it is mostly a big confusing blur. The only snippet I can recall is seeing my classroom with these darn mats on the floor, two teachers and we were supposed to nap on these mats. Yeah,right, like I would close my eyes with all these scary strangers present. I think not.
After a few weeks at that school, parents moved again to the house in Grand Rapids where I spent the remainder of my school years. To this day, my parents live there. When I left Grand Rapids, oh those twenty some years ago.....I vowed to never, ever again set foot in that hell of a house...and I have not. Too many very bad memories. I refuse to be trapped in that nightmare ever again.

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Loneliness
On loneliness...my Aspie son thinks that the lack of friends is a fair trade-off for marked intelligence. I don't necessarily share that view.
Being alone in a room full of people, stranded on a deserted island, cast onto the open sea in a boat without oars, standing at a podium in an empty auditorium, straddling the precipice of depressions abysmal abyss, silent screams in the dead of night...I know of loneliness.
How often I thought God had spat me into the wrong universe. And He forgot to give me the universal translator. Forgive my repetition, but the closest analogy is to find yourself in a foreign land where you don't speak the language and can't find a dictionary...You don't know how you got there...and cannot even formulate a plan to get to?...to get to? Where?
Or being separated by a pane of glass from everyone around you, always an onlooker, always one step removed...the painful part? You see them interacting with ease and try as you might, there is no way you can ever reach them. Or figure out how they do it.
Oh and they seemed so comfortable with themselves and in their own skin. They knew who they were, what they wanted, had goals and the means to reach them......the pain and sometimes, such loathing. I wanted to be like that.
I was truly fortunate to have so many siblings. I always had someone to talk to, to do things with. I often think the main reason I had children was because I wanted someone to always be with and who would accept me just as I am. Childhood friendships seemed to form and dissolve like the seasons. High school was a little easier because I had aunts who would buy the beer and I was a pretty good sidekick. I deeply appreciate those high school friends...more than words can ever say. Every relationship is a push me- pull me. Protecting my privacy...oh, I am a master builder of walls, and wanting a confidant, someone to hang with and share my inner tumultuous workings. It’s a struggle fraught with consternation.
I made great strides when my eldest was born because it gave me a common denominator to talk about with other people. I joined the universal group of motherhood and immediately my world expanded. It thrust me out of my shell and there was always something to talk about or a question to be asked or an antic to share.
When my second son was born I joined an even more elite group…mothers of children with disabilities and that..and that really challenged me at first. And I wasn't sure I would be a member in good standing. But I rose to the challenge. And these mothers, these mothers are a very special, exceptionally strong breed apart. And I couldn't be more happy to be a member. My youngest has drawn out such hidden, untapped strengths that I never knew I had. I am so grateful for both of my boys. And a prouder mother could never be found.
There is less loneliness in my life these days, much, much less. But it is easy to reminiscence and feel that lostness. The times when I just wanted a kind word to justify my existence. A smile that said "you are accepted here". Or a even a nod of the head that said, "you're ok".No one knows me. Does anyone ever really know another person? I have the ability to form friendships and keep them. I have realized their great value in my life and actively work to keep in touch and up-to-date.
I have many people that I care about and that care about me...and I am letting them in...slowly...on the secret that is me.
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Self-Restraint, Self Control
I didn't realize it, till last week, but I wake up in morning and put on two straitjackets. No, make that one straitjacket and a muzzle. From the get-go, I start monitoring and censuring my verbalizations and my erratic, unpredictable body movements. One would think and ponder why I would need to do this not only on the outside of my home amongst peoples, but also, most definitely within my own secure environment.
The first answer that springs to mind, I have kids. And kids mimic parents. If mom screams at spiders and dad throws chairs you will probably have a child who turns in to an adult who screams and throws chairs. Look it up. It happens...common knowledge. So, I didn't want my boys to "pick up" and imitate mommy and her ticky little dances and talking off the top of her head to herself. It just seemed very prudential, practical, neccessary.
Thus I have lived in a state of perpetual self-restraint and self-censorship. And it has pretty much felt like a cage with shades and blinds. I mean, how can i be happy and comfortable with who I am if I am so afraid to show my true self?
Another factor would be..hmmm, a bit tougher here...I..don't want to embarrass myself…to my self. I know what looks stupid and I didn't want to see my self behaving in ...hmmm, autistic, spastic ways. Yeah, I didn't want to embarrass myself.
How can one like oneself when the majority of existence is spent hiding and covering the mirrors?So, at home, my haven of safe, I was anything but free.
The whole going out in public, everyone can understand relatively easily. Public embarrassment, saying and blurting out the wrong things, ticky dances are simply not acceptable behaviors. I get that.
I went to an autism conference and from my own judgement the vast majority of peoples at this hotel were educators and peoples familiar with Aspergers and Autism. I felt really, really free. I mean, where else could I have left the straitjacket and muzzle at home and gone skipping down the hallways when I felt like it? Where else would I have felt comfortable, pilfering party favors, asking strangers for strange things and not feel at all self-conscious? Where else could I have asked complete strangers if I could touch their pretty shiny things? I don't get out much and there were Lots and Lots of pretty shinies.
I know of no other location where I could freely and out loud be Aspie. And I graciously and with humbled pride easily announced it to everyone I met. Never before, cupcake, never before. I found it incredibly freeing and liberating.
I have been known to laugh out loud, not often and it highly depends on the company and amount of alcohol I have ingested, but it can happen. However, I have never (except with my Partner) rip-roared laughed and chuckled, oh chortled in the presence of any one else ever. Omg, it was a riot. I just let it all hang out...I kid you not. And even more astounding, I wasn't embarrassed.
I really let myself go and I saw myself in brand new ways. And I didn't realize how much energy and effort I was putting into self-restraining every word and motion from the moment i got up in the morning until 2am when I went to bed at night.
You see, even home alone, I felt ashamed which is even a more appropriate term than embarrassed as it implies a certain degree of shame and self-loathing. In a strong way, I was denying who I truly was...my Aspergers, my Autism. I have been so self-conscious and hidden, even to me. There were just so many barriers, layer after layer of them that I had been incorporating over the many years.But then, I got to experience who i really am...and Honey there ain't any going back.
I refuse to go back into the dark, in the recesses of the closet, back into that cage-like, muffled existence. I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed at that which God made in such perfection. I simply will hide no more, especially from myself. I am allll good. I am Aspie.

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Impulsivity, Impulsive Behavior
Impulse: a force so communicated as to produce motion suddenly; a propensity or natural tendency other than rational One of the most disparaging issues in dealing with my Aspergers, is how much effort I have to put into "impulse control" on a daily basis. It truly is a bane of my existence (constant source of irritation and misery). The times when I have gotten myself into trouble have almost always had the mark of impulsivity and not thinking things through. The only car accident, I ever caused, was when I was 16 and decided that I would follow my friend home to her house and their was this mini chase thingy going on and well, I lost the race and ended up with the dent and ticket.
I work to control impulsivity on a number of fronts. One, through what I verbalize which is the easiest to control if I stay in my own home. Otherwise, if I know that I will be meeting with someone, I will rehearse a few different scenarios in an effort not to say something offensive. Anyone who unexpectedly walks up to me and starts talking really puts me on my game and I am trying to listen, figuring out when its my turn, watching lips move, working to figure out the motive of the conversation and what is my appropriate response...and they are fair game...I never know for sure how those sudden chats will turn out, but my censor is on, hard at work.

Two, I try and control my actions. I keep any and all tics in line and out-of-sight. I am a certified "hug whore" which means I like them and if I see someone whom I like very much, I will routinely run up and hug them without warning. Yes, I have caught people off guard at times and I'm always guessing whether or not it is appropriate. I have been known to startle others by reaching for a pretty, shiny necklace or bauble. I think I slightly scared my poor doctor the other day by doing that. Touching can be intrusive and I have to restrain myself often.
I have figured out that it is inappropriate and considered rude to throw my hands onto my ears when bothered by crowd noise or very loud places. I've trained myself to resist that impulse. Three, in my own thinking. I get on these impulsive obsessions and suddenly am buying all these items for a craft that never materializes past my fertile imagination. The impulses for these are especially strong and I continue to try and find ways to slow them down. It is very similar to intense, ravenous hunger and not easily managed. So, thinking needs to be kept in check because once I start down one road of thought...it can be quite depressing or disastrous, depending on where the road leads.Impulse control is a feature of my autism that is constantly on or working very hard. The only relief I find is being removed from the outside, the mainstream. Peace is me home alone or with family. And I like peace, a lot.(I did not realize that "impulsivity" was a neologism, a word I made up. Hmm, it seemed to make sense in my head)
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I Am and Always Have Been a Recluse
Recluse: a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society, often close to nature. Historically, the word refereed to a hermit totally isolated from the world. There are many potential reasons for becoming a recluse: a personal philosophy that rejects consumerism, a mystical religious outlook that involves becoming a hermit or anchorite, a survivalist may be practicing self-sufficiency; or a misanthrope who may be unable to tolerate human society. It can also be due to psychological reasons such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), apathy, an autism spectrum disorder or avoidant personality disorder.
As long as I can remember, I have been a recluse, recoiling and avoiding society. I don't think of it as a bad or negative in any way, shape or form. This is just who I am. Call it normal, call it strange, but I try and avoid pain in all its various forms. People tend to hurt most of all with words and how they are said but then let us add in the oversensitivity to sounds, sights and smells and you have one definite recluse.I only venture out when I have to. That would be for groceries or family orientated projects like taking my son to school or driving to visit my Eldest. Once I got through the compulsory hell known unaffectionately and with great disdain as school, I could start creating a world that was more along the lines of my dreams and inner yearnings. Yup, you guessed it, as pain-free as possible.
Work...aarrrggghhh, well, I did have to do that for awhile. I like to refer to it by another term..."slow and sure torture". Peoples really have no clue as to how hideously callous their behavior is, at times. And, honestly, they don't mean to be cruel but sometimes they are. I understand that I am the anomalous one. I fully "get" that I have an extremely low threshold for hurt, pain, bright lights and obnoxiously loud chatter...I do get that. So no one is wrong and everyone is right to pursue their own happiness.
It is a push-me, pull-me, no doubt. Of course I would enjoy the companionship of peoples that were kind, caring, soft and gentle but methinks they mostly exist within the vacuum of my imagination. To my own chagrin, I do not believe in magic or mythical, infallible beings. They simply do not exist. Thus, I subsist in a world that allows me the leastest amount of pain. Thus and so, I am alone and a recluse.Fortunate am I, that I have a Partner who understands and loves me. I am equally blessed with two of the most glorious of sons. So, in reality, I am not completely alone. I have close, comforting family dynamics.
Society and all its magnificent fallacies and trappings, the smoke, mirrors, hype and injustices are not to my liking and I avoid leaving my home and partaking in anything outside of my small inner circle. For the most part, if I remember how easily I get hurt and that magic is just a myth, I am relatively content. I cannot be something I am not. I cannot grow additional limbs or tolerances for things, events and peoples outside of my control and limitations. So it be.Neither can I be ashamed or deny my reclusivity. It just be me.Don't hate me because I am different or you don't understand. I simply am getting better at avoiding this whole pain thingy.

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