Sunday, April 8, 2018

An Autism Talk

I had an amazing experience today. I gave an Autism talk at an autism awareness event!

I traveled to Randolph, NY with a dear friend who invited me to give the talk. She's the Superintendent of the school I was working for last year. I received a call from her last month, saying that someone had asked her if she knew of an autistic adult and advocate, who would be willing to speak at an event. She said that she thought of me right away!  So we met halfway, as Randolph is a good almost 2 hours from me in Lancaster. Once we met up, she drove the test of the way to a beautiful church, where the event was to be held.

Once there, I was introduced to the facilitator of the event, who has an autistic son. She was very welcoming! I was introduced to the pastor of the church, as well as a couple of members of the school board. We ate a delicious lunch of pulled pork, egg salad, fruit salad, ambrosia, chips, and a dessert bake (not sure what it was called, lol). The Superintendent had made most of the food, which we all enjoyed!

The first speaker was a therapist who works with the facilitator of the event's son. She talked about the therapy, as well as the traits of autism. Then, the facilitator and her husband talked about the story of their son and his diagnosis. More parents spoke and shared their stories, which were different from each other, but stories that showed how much getting a diagnosis helped make things better for their child. Next, the Superintendent and I were asked to come up. She talked a little bit about her sons who are autistic, and how the identity has been a positive one for them. She went into how support is very important for an autistic person. Then came my turn.

I started by talking about how I had always been a little different. How I did pretty much whatever I wanted to do in preschool, while the rest of the class was doing as they were told. I talked about how school went relatively well and I graduated with a Bachelor's in Social Work. I stated that it wasn't until I was 26 and had already been working in the field that I discovered I may be autistic. I mentioned the blog that started it all, as well as research, and finally, my diagnosis. I wrapped it up by describing my special interests, and the importance of identity-first language.

My speech was well-received! It was completely off the cuff, and came from the heart. I was approached by parents who told me my story gave them hope. People told me that they thought it was awesome that I came to share my story. It was truly an honor to be invited, and I thanked everyone for having me. I met some amazing people with whom I will be keeping in touch! I must say, in the words of Ice Cube, it was a good day :)

Monday, April 2, 2018

World Autism Acceptance Month Day 2

Happy World Autism Acceptance Day! :D

For the second day of Autism Acceptance month, I'd like to talk about some of the things I love about being autistic.

My favorite aspect is my unwavering sense of youth, paired with my childlike sense of wonder. I've always felt younger than my age, and at 35, am just a big kid! :P I cherish things I find fun in. I notice and appreciate the little things that many people gloss over. It doesn't take much to fascinate me.

I also enjoy the fact that I am passionate about the things I love. Take Sonic the Hedgehog and the Android OS, for example. If you know me, these are two topics you probably associate with me very well, lol ;) When I truly enjoy something, I'm all in. Such is why I've become very proficient in working with electronics. I love the problem-solving aspect of it, too. There's just something about that feeling you get when you realize you've fixed something!

Autistics are also a very genuine group of people. I am who I am, and there's no faking it. I wouldn't know how to be someone else if I tried. It's rewarding when you find others who are the same way; there's no guesswork involved. The world needs more people who are true to themselves, and are exactly who they claim to be! It would make for a much more peaceful society.

These are just a few of the traits which I've elaborated on, and that I like about myself. Since autism shapes who I am as an individual, these traits are also character traits of mine! I wouldn't be me if I had been created any other way, and I'll take it! :)

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Very Happy Aspieversary

Yesterday was my Aspieversary, so naturally I wanted to do something special to celebrate! What better than a trip to Rochester, NY with my best friend?

We decided to hit the road at 3pm, so that we'd be ready and hungry for a delicious dinner at The Distillery. This restaurant has about 4 locations in Rochester, and I decided we'd go to the same location I had taken my mom to for her birthday, as I was familiar with that location. Our dinner was spectacular, as I knew it would be. My best friend had chicken fingers, complete with their savory bleu cheese. I opted for chicken parmesan, which is what I had last time, and I knew I couldn't go wrong with (notice the autistic pattern of sticking with what I'm familiar with? 😉) For dessert, I had an incredible chocolate lava cake!

Once we were stuffed, we headed to this neat little shop a couple miles away called Archimage. They are known for New Age type things like crystals and jewelry, as well as gifts and vintage toys. I found a poison ring, which has a little compartment that opens up. These fascinate me, and I have a few of them. This one was amethyst, and I couldn't resist it. I also stumbled upon a silver frog charm, one of those tubes with water and sparkles in it that trickle downwards when you flip it over, and a structure made of metal rings that you can flex into various shapes. My best friend really enjoyed the store as well. We both plan to go back there soon!

Next was the regular trip to the Marketplace Mall. We looked around at a few stores, and decided we had made our day complete. We headed back home, and stopped at Five Below on the way back to my best friend's house. That's one fun store! We had a blast looking at all the interesting trinkets and gadgets.

One exciting thing that happened was a phone call I received during our little excursion. I was invited to speak at an autism event!  It will be taking place in a few weeks, and I can't wait :) I will be talking about my experience as an autistic adult and advocate: something I really love to do!

I must say, this was an Aspieversary for the books. My best friend and I enjoyed ourselves, and made the day just as special as I'd hoped for!

Monday, March 12, 2018

My 4th Aspieversary is Almost Here!

Wow...does time ever fly! I can't believe that in less than a week will mark FOUR YEARS since my autism diagnosis! Life in general has had its ups and downs since then, but as of right now, it's going pretty well.

Over these past four years, I've learned a lot about who I am, as well as how to be a better version of myself. While I've discovered which parts of myself I choose to embrace, there have also been a few segments in which I saw a need for improvement, and have thus made changes. For example, my grammar police tendencies. While grammatical errors still stick out like a sore thumb to me, I've learned not to be as blunt about them. I've stumbled across Facebook posts from years back and in hindsight, I realize I could be a real jerk! I now recognize that even though it pains me to see the English language being butchered, it also does more harm than good to hurt someone's feelings over it. I don't know everyone's story; perhaps they have a learning disability which makes it difficult for them to spell or put sentences together. I wouldn't want people to judge me for my disabilities, so why would I want to do the same? Perhaps they didn't receive a quality education. The list goes on. All I know is that if I bite my tongue and just treat the other person with kindness, I feel a lot better!

While this is something I feel I've been getting better at for many years now, I feel I'm continuing to be more open-minded. In the past, I used to be rather cynical and rigid in my thoughts. I had a really hard time seeing things from another person's point of view. Working in human services has helped me to change that a great deal, as I've met many different people from all walks of life, and in a position such as mine, you can't exactly make judgements or give your opinions on how people choose to live. You have to take an objective point of view. It's more helpful. These days, I have friends from all different backgrounds, and who all have various beliefs. In the past, some things were hard for me to wrap my head around, but today, I'm just able to let them go and am willing to accept and respect people for who they are. After all, we can't ALL be exactly the same! I want people to accept me for my unique self, so I must do so in return.

One thing that continues to be a work in progress is the fact that I tend to state my opinions where I know they'll stir the pot. For example: autism parent groups. I'll see something I disagree with, such as a parent talking about wanting a cure, and I immediately get up on my soapbox and start proclaiming why they're wrong. I know where I stand, however I need to learn to express my opinions without coming across so harshly. This only starts arguments, and leads to anger and frustration of both parties. There are ways to word things so that they are productive, and I need to learn to think before I type and use more effective methods of getting my point across. If I want to teach others about autism acceptance, I need to use kindness and educate, rather than throw my thoughts at them!

I'm always working on learning new things and being my best self. Autism shapes who I am, and has given me many meaningful connections over the past several years. In order to be an advocate, I need to be someone who others can learn from...and why not spread kindness at the same time? As I continue to travel the journey called life, I hope to make an impact and leave the world a little bit better where my footprints lie :)

Friday, December 22, 2017

It's Almost Christmas!

It's almost Christmas! You could say it's Christmas Eve Eve Eve! Refer to my posts over the past few years and you'll get it ;)

While this Christmas is definitely going to be different, I have a feeling it's going to be a good one. To make a long story short, we won't be spending it at my grandma's house like we have done every other year of my life. See, my grandma is in a rehab facility right now, as she had an operation the day before Thanksgiving. She's making strides, but it's going to be a long road to recovery. We're taking one day at a time.

Life has been going pretty well! I'll have Christmas night off, as well as Thursday of this coming week. It'll give me a chance to recharge, as I've been burning the candle at both ends. I've been working like the busy bee that I am, as well as trying to cram as much fun as I can into the mix :)

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :)

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Day In The Life Of Autistic Me!

To me (an autistic), the world looks very vibrant. I notice the little things that many others may gloss over.

Look at that shiny thing over there! It's captivating :) What's that I smell? Mmmm, fresh-baked pizza from the pizzeria down the street. I reach out to feel every fabric I pass in the clothing store....feels SO good.

I'm now at Best Buy. I walk up to the JBL Pulse 3 speaker I want more than anything, and watch the array of lighting effects eminating from it. I then press the demo button and am pounded with the soothing sounds of booming bass.

I go to TGI Friday's for unlimited appetizers, complete with a Dr. Pepper and my FAVORITE dessert in the whole wide world: a Brownie Obsession. A warm, fudgy brownie, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and finished off with caramel, hot fudge, and nuts. I take a bite. It's delectable.

This is a day in my life :) I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

What I've Been Up To

A busy bee I continue to be... ;) So "what's new?" you may ask. Well, this, that, and the other thing. No, really...

I've been continuing to work all my jobs, and that has kept me busy enough! This summer was pretty fun, albeit not being one of the warmest. The family and I managed to get out on my brother's new-to-him pontoon boat several times, and that was a blast! We went to Lake Chautauqua for a little day trip, as well as Port Dalhousie at the end of August, and then Lake Oneida at the end of September, for a weekend apiece. 

October has brought with it lovely weather! I think it's been warmer than June was. It's going to be 78 today! Nothing like being treated to summer in late October :)

A little over a week ago, my best friend and I had the pleasure of attending a film event at the Museum of disABILITY history, featuring DJ "Deej" Savarese, an autistic college graduate. He and his mom were there, and it was an awesome opportunity meeting them both! I also felt like I knew the whole room; a few of the Kenmore Crew were there, as well as a Facebook friend and her family, and good friends of my cousin!

Last night, my grandma had my mom's birthday dinner at her house. We gorged ourselves on a delicious pot roast dinner, which my dad prepared and brought over, complete with all the vegetables. My cousin brought a curry dish that she made, which was also delectable. It was a blast playing with my baby cousins, Alana and Gavin! They're really fun kids :)

Well, I'm going to relax for now, as I work from 2-10. Hope everyone has a great day! :)