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! :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Time For An Update!!!

It has been far too long since I've posted an update!

Looking back, the last major event I had posted about was my new position as a Teacher Aide. Unfortunately, due to financial reasons, I had to give it up. I absolutely loved it, and it was such an honor to work with the kids! I ended up going back to my overnight position at DePaul, and that's been going wonderfully. I also continue to pick up relief shifts at Aspire on Sundays and work Wednesday afternoons at Autism Services.

Despite my having to leave the school as a full-time staff, I do have some good news! Starting this school year, I'm going to be joining the team again as a sub! I can be called to be either a Teacher Aide or Teacher for the day! This position will take place on any Mondays they need me to fill in. It's great to be able to say that I'll be back.

So, I'll be a 4-job girl again soon! A busy bee, as always. Just one more thing before I go: I'm a member of a social network called My Autism Team, which is designed for parents of autistics. I belong in order to provide a firsthand autistic experience, and have been posting a series of entries dedicated to the positives of autism. Here's one I wrote today!

Persistence

Many autistics are driven to complete whatever task they are focused on. This could be one of a number of things: their homework, current project at work, the video game they are presently playing, or just about any task at hand.

Once I get started on something, I like to finish before moving on to anything else. The main reason for this is that if I try to take on multiple projects at once, the ones I'm working on go out the window and forgotten once I pick up the next one. I like to be able to focus on just one thing at a time, and stay in the zone.

For example, if I'm working on something on the computer, let's say, a post like this, I like to be able to sort of shut everything else out and zone in on the current task. This way, I can devote all my energy to it, and ensure that I'm completing a quality piece. I can then go back and edit where needed. Without any external distractions, I can guarantee I can get the job done to my fullest potential.

The best part of knowing I put forth all of my efforts? Taking a step back and looking at the finished product. It's a great, accomplished feeling!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The New Gig and Other Adventures

My new job is going great! After a day of signing initial paperwork and working on training modules, I was assigned to a classroom of 6th grade boys. They definitely have their moments, as is to be expected, however I really enjoy working with them and I feel driven to bring out their potential.

The one thing that helped me to establish a connection with the boys right away is my love of video games! Their eyes widened as I told them about some of my favorites. I was impressed by the fact that a few of them were familiar with some of the games from before their time, such as early Sonic (of course) and Spyro the Dragon as well as Crash Bandicoot. The teacher told me that she was glad to see that I had this in common with them, as she didn't know anything about video games, herself.

This has also been an interesting week, because only my second week into my new position, we had not one, but TWO snow days in a row! Even in Buffalo, that's a rare occasion. I've been relaxing and doing what I'm about to get into next, which is upgrade my Galaxy S7 Edge to Nougat!

I discovered yesterday that a Nougat ROM with root had been developed for my device. Happy day! :) It was finally time to flash the new stock system image, and then reroot. Using Odin, I flashed the image. Today, I flashed the engineered boot .tar file which then enabled me to flash Superuser over adb (Android Debugging Bridge). For those of you who aren't geeks, this all basically means that I plugged my phone into my computer and worked some magic by typing in commands ;) Voila...my phone was rooted! I then downloaded the ROM and flashed it using Flashfire. I must say I'm absolutely LOVING it! It runs smoother than it did on Marshmallow, and is debloated, so it doesn't have many of the unnecessary system apps.

Tomorrow, it's back to work for me. After a couple days of relaxation, and a new operating system, I'll be all refreshed and ready to go! I'm looking forward to seeing the kids again and hearing about their snow days. Then I'm off again on Friday as it's a float day, lol! :P I'm also picking up an overnight back at the group home later that night, and I'll get to see my peeps after having been away for a couple weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing them, too :) I can mark this down as a great week!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A New Journey

As I think about what's to come, I have feelings of excitement. I'm about to begin a new journey. Tomorrow I start my position as a Teacher's Aide.

Reflecting on the past two years at the group home, I can say they have been great. I've gotten to meet a group of awesome peeps, both the residents and the staff. I'm thankful that I'm able to stay as on-call status so I don't have to leave for good, and I can still see everyone! I've already picked up a couple shifts for the month.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I'll be ready to embark on my new adventure. I can't wait to meet the kids I'll be working with! I don't know what the age group will be just yet, as I had indicated I am open to working with any age based on my experience. I am also looking forward to meeting my coworkers. You can probably tell that meeting new people has always been an exciting part of entering a new workplace for me.

The next step of my journey will be working towards my certification to become a Behavior Technician. I will be completing a 40-hour online course. I plan to begin chipping away at it early on, and to complete it in a timely manner. I feel driven to work to my fullest potential!

I can't believe this day is finally almost here. A new chapter awaits!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Throughout my life, you have done so much for me. So much to support me, so much to help me, and so much to push me to be the best version of myself. For this, I thank you.

When I struggled with learning how to do things as a young child, you were always there to show me how. Whenever I've come across a problem, you've always given me the best advice on how to tackle it. Whenever I need to be kept in check, you're there to wake me up.

Looking back as an undiagnosed autistic, there are a couple things I wish you would have done differently. I wish the fact that I'm developmentally young for my age would have been embraced in my earlier years. I was asked to act in a way that didn't come naturally to me. I wish you would have realized that I wasn't like, and didn't have to be just like, my peers. That everyone develops at their own rate, and that that's ok.

I wish you'd have understood the fact that I take a little longer to process things. That rather than becoming angry or impatient with me, you'd have given me the time I needed to process instructions. That you'd have clarified them for me when I needed it.

Now let's get back to what I feel you've done RIGHT. The above items are the only two things that really stand out that I would have liked for you to have handled differently. There are a lot of things I have you to thank for!

Once I first suspected I was autistic, you had your reservations at first. You thought that there was nothing "wrong" with me (when, after all, autism isn't a defect at all, but rather a different operating system). However, you were willing to LISTEN. The more I researched, the more I saw traits in myself, and the more I educated you an autism and how it related to me, you began to understand.

Finally, when the time came to complete questionnaires for my assessment, you were there. You completed them to the best of your knowledge, about what I was like early on as well as in the present. After having submitted them to my psychologist and going through a series of interview-style appointments, I had my answer! I was indeed autistic. You helped me find the answers I so desperately sought.

While I may have been a bit misunderstood in my early life, you still stuck by my side. You may have not known why I was a little different from my peers, yet you still encouraged me to succeed. To this day, you always help me when I need it. You now realize that I'm taking life at my own pace, and you let me live it on my terms - not society's. You no longer push me to act differently from how I feel - you let me be ME. When I'm confused or misunderstand instructions, you no longer become frustrated with me, but rather recognize that I just need a little time to process.

What you might not realize is that these things are HUGE to me. I can't express enough how thankful I am that you've taken the time to understand me. I can be myself and not feel like I'm doing anything wrong. I can be true to myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Love,

Sue :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Answer to a Question on Quora

I stumbled upon a the following question on Quora:

What are the biggest regrets that people with ADD/ADHD have?

I like the way my response turned out, so I'd like to share it! :)

My only real regret is the fact that I didn't start receiving help earlier. That said, I have faith that everything happens for a reason, and if that means not getting a diagnosis until I was 25, well, then that was exactly when it was meant to happen.

I often wonder what life would have been like had a been diagnosed in, say, preschool when my traits were first VERY obvious. I should add now that I'm also diagnosed with autism (Level I or formerly known as Asperger’s), OCD and anxiety. The latter two diagnoses also came at 25, and the autism one not until I was 31.

Now, although I endured some struggles, I managed to come out pretty successful. I have a Bachelor's in Social Work and three jobs in human services. I don't yet live on my own, however it doesn't bother me that I'm not yet ready. One thing at a time. Besides, this just gives me more time to work, make money, and take life at my own pace.
Had I been diagnosed earlier on, where would that leave me? Sure, I may have had an easier time with things, and known more about myself earlier on, however what if I just became another statistic? Another kid thrown into the special education program which is still in need of great reform today? I was in all mainstream classes, and demonstrated that I could handle them, given there were no diagnoses yet in sight. Had I been slapped with a label from the get go, perhaps my abilities would have been overshadowed by them (note: I don't like to look at my diagnoses as “labels” but rather “titles” as they have given me many answers at the times of diagnosis. However, in some cases, they are seen as only labels and people look for what they limit, rather than enable, in a person.) I've seen friends of mine go through the special education system. Friends who have outstanding levels of intellect and could easily have gotten a degree, however were set back because they were not awarded the same diploma as their peers. I feel that the system has failed them.

To reiterate my answer to the question, I feel that if there are any regrets I had, this may be the only one, but at the same time, I feel very fortunate to have gotten as far as I have. That combined with what I know know about myself, I now use to help others in similar situations :)