Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back on 2014

As I look back on the past year, I think of all I've accomplished. It definitely was a fulfilling year.

I finally got my official Asperger's diagnosis. I've met a lot of awesome friends all over the world by networking on various autism groups. I met one in person and we've become close friends. I'm featured in an autism calendar for the upcoming year. I feel I've raised awareness and helped people to learn a little bit.

I got a new job which I love. I've met more awesome peeps. I had lots of good times with family. I watched my cousin get married. I wait as she is expecting a baby. I enjoyed the holidays a lot this year.

I've learned a lot about myself. My strengths and my weaknesses. What it means to have my own special hardwiring. Where I'm at in life and that it's exactly where I'd like to be. That I need to just keep taking one day at a time and live it up!

2014 was a pretty good year overall. It's been a journey of self-discovery, and one of lots of fun times. Here's to a good 2015! :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve!

Well, it's Christmas Eve Eve! The holidays are almost here :D I can't wait. This is one of my favorite times of the year.

On Christmas Eve, we are going to go to mass and the have my grandma over for dinner: pot roast. Then I go in to work the overnight, and come home to present waiting for me :) After that, I'll crash, and then go to my grandma's for Christmas dinner and more presents....BUT, the best part will be spending the day with my family.

I look forward to our holiday traditions every year. There are always stories and good memories made. My grandma makes some of the best Christmas cookies ever! Just being there together, relaxing, eating and talking, is so peaceful and a lot of fun at the same time. There's never a year just the thought of that doesn't get me in the spirit!

Once Christmas is over, it's back to work I go. I'm not complaining, though, because working overnights allows me to have the day off to spend joining in the traditions! I'm glad the way things work out. What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Online Friends

In thinking of a good topic for a blog, (besides the holidays one which is coming up after these messages ;D) I decided that there's something I've really grown to love about Facebook: making online friends!

I was once "one of those people" who swore against adding anyone whom I didn't know in person, and then one day, something changed. Well, I can't pinpoint it directly, but over the past few years in learning I was on the spectrum, I started joining many autism groups on Facebook. Being a member turned into conversations. Several conversations then turned into actually adding people to my friends list, and maintaining regular contact! If I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone and never added anyone I didn't already know, I'd be missing out on a lot of awesome peeps! I would never have met the author of the blog that taught me I was autistic in the first place! You know who you are ;)

Through keeping in touch with several of my online pals, I've learned so much about myself and met some wonderful people. I now now that distance doesn't matter; one can still show someone they care through a friendly message or conversation! I've also met one of my Facebook friends in person, after all! We chatted in groups and added each other, and had a lot of conversations. We learned we had so much in common! I then found out that they had moved to my neck of the woods, and now we hang out and go to Aspie group together! You know who you are as well ;)

I just want to reflect and look at how much has changed since I've stepped into the realm of online friendship. It's helped me to come out of my shell, meet people from all over the globe, and get to know many personalities who are alike yet different from mine at the same time. It's helped me to become cultured and more open-minded. To all my online friends: thank you for being there and making it possible to get to know you! You're all amazing :D

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Delayed Emotional Adolescence....or None At All?

For the past 6 months or so, since my diagnosis opened my eyes to various facets of myself and led me on a path to self-discovery, my first thought was that it was then I was beginning the emotional/mental stages of adolescence, as I never went through such during my chronological adolescence. However, I'm beginning to wonder if that's what I would call it in the first place, as a lot of the key features of typical adolescence still aren't there. Questioning one's interests. Wanting to act older but not knowing how. Starting to develop more mature interests and wanting to leave childhood things behind. I haven't gone through any of that, and quite frankly, I'm glad! I'm very content with the person I am and am in no hurry to act "older."

See, my mind and my body have never really been in sync. I remember being 9 and still having the interests of about a 6-year-old. Then came middle school and high school, where the other girls suddenly thought a lot of the things I still liked were lame, and started to change. There was no way I could understand it, as it wasn't happening to me. I remember watching my friends start to worry about their appearances, becoming confused and wanting to act older all of a sudden, and becoming interested in boys. None of it made any sense to me. I couldn't rationalize it. Why was it that when I felt perfectly happy the way I was, others didn't seem happy with themselves anymore? They'd beat themselves up about their weight, and other things that just seemed unimportant to me. I remember feeling kind of sad for some of them who seemed unhappy, as well as kind of lost amongst them, all the while being glad that none of it was going on with me.

Today at 31, most of these things still have never occurred to me. I still have the same interests I had when I was a teenager. I'd rather play video games than worry about my appearance any day. I collect toys and stuffed animals. My idea of a good time is going to the movies and eating lots of candy. I've never questioned my likes and dislikes. They come natural to me, so why try to change them? As for the acting older part, I see many of my peers maturing and starting families. It still just doesn't appeal to me. I don't feel older, so I'm not going to act it. It wouldn't feel natural. I still like the same stuff the Sue everyone's known in school always liked, such as Sonic the Hedgehog! I like how Asperger's gives me a childlike view on life and allows me to appreciate the little things. It may make development go at a slower pace, but so what? It's MY pace and no one else's, and it can go at whatever rate is right for ME.

Maybe what I'm going through isn't an emotional adolescence after all, but rather just a period of learning more about myself, without the changing part. I can live with that :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Aspie Perseverance

Thanks to one of the gifts that Asperger's has given me, that is, perseverance, I saved my baby. My cell phone, that is :P I thought I had done irreversible damage to it, and felt so lost and helpless.

After flashing a corrupt ROM file which failed to install, I found myself stuck in a bootloop. To my fellow geeks, you know what this means: a soft brick. I thought the solution was simple; a matter of connecting my phone to my computer and transferring a different ROM file to flash....until my computer wouldn't recognize my phone. I tried installing several device drivers, none of which were to any avail. I felt ready to give up. I even brought my phone to T-Mobile where the associate couldn't revive it either.

I went home, depressed, and after frustration and tears, stumbled upon a YouTube video with a tutorial on how to push a zip file using sideload. I was sure I was on to something, however had to leave for work. This morning when I got home, I gave it a try. Unfortunately, when I typed "adb sideload <>" into the command prompt, I got a message saying "device not found." I was perplexed. What did I need to do in order to get the computer to see that the phone was indeed connected. After much searching, I found a driver called "Universal Naked Driver." With all other options exhausted, I figured why not give it a try at this point? Well, I did just that, and bingo! The screen now showed "Android ADB interface" as my device's name! I tried the command prompt again, only this time, the sideload started! Once I saw the CyanogenMod boot screen, a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. I DID IT!!! :)

This is one instance I have my Asperger's to thank for. If I didn't have the drive and determinstion, who knows if I ever would have gotten that phone up and running again? I went from feeling like a failure as a geek, to reclaiming my rightful title. Today was a great day :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

As this day begins, I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. I have an awesome and caring family, great friends, and a job I love. However, this year, Thanksgiving takes on a special meaning. This year I'm especially thankful for getting my Asperger's diagnosis and discovering some of the missing pieces that make up who I am.

I now know more about myself than ever before. Why I've always been fussy with tastes and textures. Why, despite trying to play with the other kids, something didn't always seem to click. Why I've always been a little "different," and not cared what anyone thought.

I know why jokes often go over my head. Why things take on a literal meaning before anything else. Why I sometimes don't get the point of what others are trying to say, and I can't seem to get mine across, either.

I also know that all of this has allowed me to be me. It fuels my passion for the things I love, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and the Android operating system. I can be myself without shame; others' opinions don't phase me. I have a natural gift for working with electronics. I have a child-like innocence and zest for life that I wouldn't trade for anything.

While I've always known these things about myself, I now have an official REASON for them. I consider it a gift; my own personal operating system. So this Thanksgiving, I'd like to say that I'm grateful to have found answers and gained introspect! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Well, it sure has been an interesting day. Buffalo, NY got clobbered with snow! There's probably close to 5 feet out there now, and it's not showing any signs of letting up anytime soon.

It started last night. My dad drove me into work, as he has a truck with 4WD. The snow was only up to about a foot at that time. I worked the overnight as I normally do, and it just kept dumping and dumping. Every few hours, I went to shovel the porch (or as much as I could with herniated discs!) and every time I went out, there was a nice new mound on the porch. By morning, it was up to my chest! I had to meet my assistant manager halfway in the front yard and then we both turned around and went back through the path I created, just so she could get to the house! At one point I fell to my knees and almost had a panic attack, because I didn't think I'd be able to get back up! I've never walked through such deep snow in my life!

I'm now still at work, as there's a travel ban, and my dad said our street has yet to be plowed. I spent the majority of the day snoozing on the couch in the basement, to recharge for tonight's overnight. That couch is comfy, and I slept like a baby :)

As if we hadn't gotten enough already, there's supposed to be another wave tomorrow morning! Yikes! Maybe tomorrow I'll finally get to go home. We shall see! This will sure make for an interesting story for many years to come :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Need to Vent

There's something that I need to blow off some steam about. Recently, in one of the autism groups I belong to on Facebook, particularly a support group for parents, I've seen some comments I find quite disturbing. Now, I joined this group to give parents the perspective of an autistic person in the hopes that they could use it to apply to life with their own children. However, as of late, I've seen it stated multiple times that someone HATES autism.

I have a problem with this. People are comparing autism to a disease, such as cancer, which it is not. They claim that it "robs" their child of who they "could have been," it causes their child to "miss out on things" and so on. The thing is autism is a way of being. It is a facet of who a person is, and should be accepted as part of the whole. That's not to say is doesn't make things difficult at times; it does, but LIFE is difficult sometimes. Don't put the blame on autism. They make arguments such as "well, I'll never see my child go to prom or play soccer." Well, what if the child doesn't WANT to do those things, anyway? I never went to prom, and I have no regrets. What did I "miss out on?" A lot of money spent and a night of boredom. I rest my case. That, and maybe their child WILL be able to do those things, after all! Let them be who THEY are, not who you want them to be.

Yet parents are telling me that my view is wrong, and fighting tooth and nail to defend their stance that autism is something deserving of hate. I'm told I'm wrong for accepting who I am an embracing it. That I must be "high functioning" to be able to have such a conversation. How am I wrong for encouraging people not to hate a part of their child, and to try to convince them to reframe their thinking? I tell them things such as "a child who is nonverbal has other methods of communicating, and perhaps they can show you love in ways you never thought possible." I get beaten down and told that I'm "telling people how to feel," yet they seem to think it's fine and dandy to tell an autistic person that they have a right to hate something that it a part of that autistic person's identity. Pretty backwards, huh? I just don't get it. No, THEY don't get it.

To sum it all up, hate is a very strong word. Hate that your child has struggles. Hate that the world isn't accepting of them. Hate that others are so narrow-minded as to not be willing to understand them, but don't hate autism. No one asks to have it, but for those who have been dealt it, they and all parts of them are just as deserving of love as the next person. You wouldn't say you hate your child's blue eyes or freckles, would you? Autism is a trait, and in many ways, a gift. It deserves to be embraced. I don't "have" autism; I am autistic, just as I'm blue-eyed, Polish, a sister, an animal lover, and so on. I wouldn't be me without it :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Aspie Social Group!

For the second time, I went to a social group for people on the spectrum last Thursday. I'm really liking this group, as it's a lot of fun! I've already made some friends and enjoy talking to the awesome peeps there.

The group consists of 15-20 people, and is coordinated by a facilitator. We typically just chat and share what is going on in our lives, whether it be what's new at work, if we've done anything exciting lately, or have made any achievements. I also brought a friend this week, who really enjoyed it! Of course, a gathering would not be complete without pizza! Wherever they order it from is REALLY good :)

I'm really glad to have found a group like this. It's a good feeling to be united with like-minded people and to have made friends with whom I can relate to. I can't wait till next month's meeting!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thoughts at 4:16am

Today was a day full of anxiety. Actually, it really started to surface yesterday. I think it's because I started thinking about everything I need to do over the next few days.

Today was busy. I ran errands with my grandma, all the while thinking "omg, I gotta get this stuff done" before having to be at work at 11pm. Then there's the thought that after tonight's overnight shift, I leave in the morning and then come back at 3pm to work until 11pm. Then, I work 3-11pm on Friday and Saturday, too. It's just so much!

The weird thing is, I get more anxious about the fact I know I have to do things than I am when I'm actually doing them. Sure enough, once I got to work tonight, the anxiety started to lift. This happens without a doubt, every time.

I think this is both an Aspie thing and an anxiety thing. Aspie being because we tend to have difficulty prioritizing and organizing. With a lot of things, I tend to procrastinate or get overwhelmed. That's where anxiety comes in to play its part. Once overwhelmed, I become anxious, and rather than face the task at hand, I want to run from it.

On days like today where I had to do what I needed to do, I just have to roll with it. Some things, we can plan and order, however others, we have to go along with as they come. Either way, I need to tell myself that it's nothing to worry about! It's not always easy, but reassuring myself always helps :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My life at the moment

Life has been good these days. I have to say I've been truly happy. I'm loving my new job. I feel like I'm getting a better handle on my health. I still have time to do the things I enjoy.

Working in a group home has always been my niche. What I love about the overnights is that they're so relaxing, and that when people wake up in the middle of the night, the conversations we have. I feel so appreciated there. My coworkers are amazing. I also notice that I don't seem to be having the struggles I had at my last job, like trying to put more on my plate than I can handle, or not quite knowing how to handle some situations. I'm more able to capitalize on my strengths, which is something I always strive for.

I feel healthier. I've been making it a point to go on the treadmill every day I can, and so far, I've only been missing a day here and there! My legs feel stronger already. I don't feel tired all the time anymore. I'm also drinking lots of water, and definitely notice a difference.

Another thing I like about working overnights is the fact that I still have the rest of the day to myself. I can still hang with my brother and my friends, go out for dinner or to the mall, and don't have to be to work until 11pm. Then I work, come home and sleep until the afternoon, and have the rest of the day to do as I please! I also have more energy at night than I do all day, so it works for me!

I'm determined to keep my life going in the right direction. As long as I keep doing what I've been doing, it will only get better!  :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Working the overnight!

Well, my supervisor just texted me to ask if I could do the overnight. I gladly obliged! I've always been a night owl. I usually have more energy at night than I do all day!

I've been this way for as log as I can remember. Even when I was little, I always wanted to stay up late. By high school, I was usually up until about midnight most of the time. These days, I've been hitting the hay between 11 and 12, only as of recent because my weight has me feeling really lethargic. Up until a few months ago, it was more like 2 or 3am!

I plan on changing that back. Now that I get to sleep in most days with my new schedule, I'd like to get back into the routine of staying up late, so I can enjoy more of my free time. I sleep until 10 or 11am anyway, either way, so if I stay up until 2 or so that will give me a few more hours to get things done and just enjoy myself. It will also allow me to use more energy, and maybe I'll want to exercise during those times.

I've also started walking on the treadmill, and after three days straight, I already notice that my knees feel stronger! :) I hope to get back into my typical sleep pattern plus feel more energized. I'm going to capitalize on my free time while getting this weight under control! :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wow, it's been a month!

I just realized it's been a month since my last post. Boy, does time fly! A lot has happened since my last post. I got a new job! I'm now working in a group home for people with mental illness.

Basically, I decided that Supported Housing was not my niche. I really enjoyed all of the residents and my coworkers, however it was getting to be a lot to handle. I truly do miss it, and plan to keep in touch with everyone!

Having done the group home thing before, I knew it was something I could manage. I think I've found my niche! Again, the residents and coworkers are awesome. I'm really enjoying it so far!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Settling into my own skin

Since diagnosis, I have identified different stages I've gone through:

1) The discovery stage: I now had a diagnosis, knew what was my identity, and where I stood. This was when I told the world my story and began my journey. Time to shout out that I'm an Aspie and proud!

2) Advocacy: Now that I was a newly diagnosed Aspie, I felt my point was to share as much of my own experiences and information as I could on the topic. After all, I want to help others like me, as well as others who may be questioning whether they're on the spectrum.

3) Proving Myself: This is kind of a continuation of the second stage. I had already spent a lot of time advocating, but I felt that I needed to keep on the subject. To raise as much awareness as possible. To show others what life on the spectrum is like, and how I work with my challenges and talents.

4) Settling into my own skin: I now realize that I've made my point, and helped others to learn a lot! It's at this point where I remember, "hey, I'm still the same ME I was before diagnosis." I've always been the same person; I just know through my journey that in addition to being a Sonic fanatic, animal lover, daughter, sister, and crazy goofball, I also happen to be autistic. It is very much a part of my identity, but not all there is to me. I can still post the cute animal pics and random goofy statuses I always have on Facebook! :)

This has been an exciting and insightful journey. I'm still learning more about myself every day, but I feel like I now have a balance, and know my niche. I have many parts to my identity. The most important thing is that they are all ME!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fun times ahead!

Today I'm going to a store called Vidler's 5 & 10. It's a really kewl, historical place. I've always been captivated by all the neat little things they have to offer. I think I was 12 the last time I was there!

I always take time to appreciate the little things in life, whether it be a toad hopping across my yard, or a nifty little toy as I browse stores like these. The slightest things grasp my attention and it's only a matter of time before I'm hooked, and I'm in my own little universe. The rest of the world around me seems so far away and I often have to snap back into reality!

No matter how busy life gets, always remember to stop and smell the roses. Life is short. The years fly by with increasing velocity. If you can make tiny memories such as these, you'll always have moments of pure happiness to look back on :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On the inside looking out

It's been several months since my diagnosis, much of which I've been on a great journey. I've learned a lot about myself, and am still learning. I am realizing, however, that as much as I'm enjoying the ride, I need to look outside myself.

Yes, I've been talking a lot about my journey here and on Facebook. I've been wondering if I've been talking a little too much about autism, yet I'm tired of apologizing for myself and compromising what I feel is important at this stage of my life. As much as I worry about bothering others, it's also time I stand up and say what I feel. If I want to keep making autism posts, I'm going to.

Then a Facebook friend gently reminded me that there is more to life than autism awareness. At first, I became a little defensive, and said that this is very important to me, especially being recently diagnosed. My friend understood where I was coming from, and what they said resonated with me as well. Maybe it's not that I need to stop raising awareness and acceptance, but to look beyond myself and remember that there is a whole world put there!

You'll still see me posting about autism, but what I'd like to do differently is to not talk about myself and my journey all the time, but what YOU may want to know. That and I'll still keep mixing it up, adding my funny posts and adorable animal pics, cuz that's what I do :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The benefits to learning you're on the spectrum

Once I discovered I had Asperger's, it's like a light bulb went on in my head. I finally had a name to put to why I've always been different (and gladly so), have had certain challenges, and interpret the world the way I do. It was great to gain this insight into myself.

For the next 4 years, I researched everything I could find about Asperger's. I realized that I HAD to be on the spectrum; it just made so much sense! After several online tests, lists of traits, and personal accounts of other Aspies, I decided to get the answer I was looking for: an official diagnosis.

After a series of three interview-like appointments with the same psychologist who had diagnosed me with ADHD six years earlier, and questionnaires completed by my parents and myself, voila! It was determined I AM indeed on the spectrum! What a relief it was to finally confirm what I had been suspecting for so long.

Once I got this answer, I could put my questions to rest. I had that certainty I so longed for. This also meant that nothing had changed about me as a person; I had ALWAYS been an Aspie, it's just that now I knew this for sure! Then began the journey of self-discovery and learning more and more, which I'm in the process of at the moment. It's been a very rewarding journey, and I look forward to continuing to learn and help others along the way!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Functioning Labels

I'm sure you've heard the terms "high" or "low" functioning before. While people may use them only intending to describe the level one operates at, they can be very misleading and ableist. I'll do something here I've seen a few times:

Zoey, 31, received her Bachelor's in Social Work. She holds both a full-time and relief position working with people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Zoey has an active social life, spending time with her friends and family. She considers herself a mediator, as keeping the peace is a strength of hers.

Max, also 31, still lives with her parents who provide her with a lot of moral support. She struggles to manage money, having difficulty budgeting. Max feels that she is at a turning point in life, in a developmental stage similar to that of a teenager. She is not sure just what she wants out of life and is trying to find her path.

Now, looking at the two above stories, you'd probably assume that Zoey operates at a "high" functioning level and Max on a "low" functioning level. The truth is, if you haven't figured out already, Zoey and Max are both facets of me :) The point of this all is to prove that functioning labels are not always accurate, as one can be BOTH "high" and "low" functioning, in varying areas. Everyone is created unique, with their own strengths and weaknesses. One may excel in living independently and struggle with social relations, while another may still be getting their footing on independence, but be a social butterfly....sound familiar? ;) The next time you hear someone using functioning labels, remind yourself that there is a lot more to a person than meets the eye!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Work, work, work!

What a busy weekend! I worked my second job on Saturday and Sunday from 8a-4p. All in all, it was a good weekend :)

How are your jobs all going?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


In light of all the negativity I've been expressing over the past few days, I'd like to shed some positive light!

1) I make mistakes, yet I can learn from them. It doesn't have to happen a second time, and even if it does, I'm only human.
2) I'm conscientious. I take care to try to do things correctly with the best of intentions.
3) I enjoy helping people. While things can be stressful, at the end of the day, I'm happy to be making an impact on the lives of others!
4) Life is good. I have friends and a family who care about me very much, and support and understand me.
5) I have a unique operating system, and have been programmed with gifts that when harnessed, can bring great things to the world!
6) It's summer. That one's self-explanatory :)
7) I have things that I'm very passionate about, and put lots of effort into.
8) I love animals, and they love me back!
9) It's already Wednesday.
10) When I weigh the pros and cons life gives me, the pros always outweigh the cons.

There you have it, 10 things that make me happy today! Spread the joy :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#aspieproblems and crummy days

Everyone has those days they wish they could fast forward through. Add to that the Aspie caveats of literal thinking and not thinking of things that cone to others with seemingly no effort. It makes for one crazy day!

Yesterday, I had to do a move for work. The movers were supposed to show up at 11am. Well, it got to be almost 1pm, and there was no sign of them. I called the moving company, and they said that since they had tried to contact the person I was helping to confirm and couldn't reach them because their phone had already been turned off, they hadn't sent anyone over. I immediately felt that it was my fault, as it never dawned on me to give them the person's CELL number or my own number, when I had arranged the move two weeks earlier. It should have come to mind that their phone was going to be shut off, naturally because it was being switched to their new place. But do I think of things like that? Of course not.

The move ended up being pushed until the end of the day, only their truck broke down and my person had to wait until this morning. I felt so at fault, like such a failure. Why don't things just occur to me that seem to occur to everyone else? I was feeling really down about this. After venting to Facebook friends, my best friend, my parents and my brother, I felt a lot better. They reminded me not to set myself up for failure by beating myself up. They encouraged me to tell myself I can do it!

I must realize and take ownership of the the fact that things are going to be a little harder for me than many others. It's part of the way I'm hardwired. Rather than let it get me down, though, I need to use it to make myself stronger, and chalk instances like these up as learning experiences. I may not have thought to give the cell number this time, but I'll surely never forget next time! I also need to recognize where I need help and go about asking for it. With the right supports, I can do anything! I'm Aspie Strong :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Putting your foot in your mouth

A lot of times, I've found that I've said something with no ill intent, only to find out I've inadvertently offended someone. This has to be one of the worst feelings ever. I hate stepping on toes and bothering people.

Sometimes I'll comment with my opinion on things, unaware that I'm coming across in a judgemental manner. I know this happens often as an Aspie. I'll simply state how I feel about something, forgetting that it may actually pertain to someone listening to or reading the conversation.

I realize that I must take ownership of my opinions, and that I need to slow down and think about what I'm saying before I say it. I need to make it clear that how I feel are MY feelings, and add that others may disagree and that's ok. It will save people a lot of drama, and possible arguments! I'm learning more every day :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Could they be an Aspie?

Someone asked me a question earlier. They think someone they know may be on the spectrum, and asked me to describe the difference between someone with Asperger's and someone without (often referred to as NT, or allistic). That gave me the idea to write this blog!

In a nutshell, there are several traits that Aspies display that are not always present in non-Aspies. For example, we stim, from fidgeting to sometimes even rocking and flapping, and everything in between. We interpret the world very literally and may not be able to read between the lines. We are often honest and genuine, and forget that the rest of the world isn't always the same way towards us. We usually have sensory sensitivities ranging from very mild to extreme. There are plenty additional traits, but I figured I'd highlight a few of the common ones.

An Aspie isn't always easy to spot. Heck, I flew under the radar for almost 31 years, after all! We may appear as an NT to those around us, but once you get to know us, you start to notice differences, whether subtle or obvious.

My main purpose for writing this blog is with hope of educating people who are questioning whether or not someone they know is on the spectrum. Hopefully this answers some questions. I'm always willing to contribute my experiences, so if you have any questions, ask away! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014


We all know it. That urge to grab that candy bar. That really cool thing in the store that just calls our name to buy it. It's impulsivity, and some of us have it bad. With autism and ADHD, it can be an even trickier animal.

Food and money are my two biggest bears. I love to eat and love to buy. That wouldn't have anything to do with the fact I weigh 300lbs or live paycheck to paycheck, now, would it? It can be difficult for anyone. It's not an uncommon thing.

The thing is, I need to get better at it. I know that my brain's hardwiring makes it even more difficult to resist, but that's no excuse. It's simply a REASON I struggle, and something I need to get to know and learn to work with. I see something awesome, and my first reaction is, "ooh shiny!" and there goes ten bucks. That, or I'm bored and "let's go out to eat!" Boom. Another 20 bucks, and unnecessary calories. I need to find an alternative, that rubber band snapping at my wrist so to say, to stop me in my tracks. Ideas are appreciated! :)

Does anyone have any similar experiences?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stimmy toys!

I just picked up some fun, sensory toys at a really neat toy store in the area. I must say, they're very relaxing! I got "thinking putty," which is like Silly Putty but a little stronger. I love kneading it in my hands to help myself concentrate on what I'm working on. I also picked up a spiky pen, spiky ball, and another ball which is hollow and bumpy. The more I roll these in my hands, the calmer and more focused I feel. There are still a couple more things I want to get; one is called Bendeez, and is basically just a bendable stick you can fidget with in your hands. There's also Tangle hairy, which is similar to the Tangle I have, but imagine a fusion between Tangle and a Koosh Ball! :) What will they think of next?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Swimming is such a relaxing and awesome sensory experience. For as long as I can remember, I've loved being in the water. Once I'm in, it takes me a while to want to come back out!

I don't remember the first time I ever swam, but I remember taking swimming lessons when I was 3. I remember going off and doing whatever I wanted, regardless of what the rest of the class was doing. This is probably one of the first times my ADHD showed it's face, hah XD I just wanted to be one with the water; to do things on my own terms.

My most memorable moment in the pool was when I was 9. I was on my first vacation ever, in Vero Beach, Florida. I remember the pool at the townhouses we were staying at, and that the deep end was 6 feet. I was determined to swim in the deep end. I started at the shallow end, and swam like a frog, kicking my legs and pushing forward with my arms. I was doing it! I was really swimming! I kept on until I got to the other end of the pool. I swam the deep end! It was quite easy, too.

I'm a natural-born swimmer. I float without any effort. Give me a pool, and I'm happy. I'll never forget that day in Florida :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Having a Great Day!

I'm having a productive, good day at work. I've finally helped secure an apartment for someone who I've been helping search! Making all the calls to do so and covering all bases isn't always easy, especially when your mind processes things the autistic way :P First, I called the landlord to see which apartment my person will be getting. It ended up being the one they wanted! Next, I had to call back and get the address for the check to be mailed to, as well as the fax number. I then had to call to find out when my person could sign the lease, as the landlord can't complete a landlord statement before that happens. I then had to rearrange the order of the lease signing and trip to Social Services to apply for the movers. I had to go back and forth a few times between my person and the landlord, rather than just knowing everything I should ask beforehand. My mind works backwards and in reverse steps like that a lot. I don't always know ahead of time what I need to ask, until after the fact. That's something I'm working on improving at. What I should do next time is first make a list of things I need to ask the landlord: what is the mailing address? When will the check be sent out? When can the tenant sign the lease?....etc. This way I don't have to drive people crazy calling them back and forth lol! So albeit my method of madness, everything is set and my person will be ready to move at the beginning of August! It feels good to have gotten that out of the way. I still need work, but it takes baby steps. I think I shall call the next step in my journey of self-improvement "covering all bases before going for the home stretch." :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


While most kids go through this stage somewhere in their teens, I think I'm just entering it now at 31. I'm starting to really learn who I am. This has been a year of growth so far. I got my Asperger's diagnosis, and now I'm learning g a few things that I can tweak to better myself. I need not apologize for my opinions or for every little time I think I've stepped on people's toes. I need not to jump to conclusions, but rather hear people out first.

Blogging and reading others' experiences have been helping me to lean more about myself as well. I'm learning that it's ok to need and ask for help. I may try to be the one who fixes everything and helps everyone with their problems, but at the end of the day, I need help, too!

I really like that I'm able to let out my thoughts here and appreciate all the feedback I've gotten. The more I hear others' stories, the better! I'm finding that I discover more and more people having similar experiences to mine every day. Thank you for helping me to find myself :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Working With People

I love working with people. At my full-time job, I work as a Supported Housing specialist for people with a mental health diagnosis. I meet with them once per month or as often as needed, to address any housing concerns they may have, or for the occasional ride to an appointment. I work with a bunch of awesome people, whom I have learned a lot from. I enjoy meeting with them and like the fact that every day is different; sometimes I have visits, other times office work.

My relief job is at a supervised apartment for people with developmental disabilities. I've been there for 8 years now, and consider everyone there to be family. We do a lot of fun outings, and I help people work towards their goals. Again, I work with a lot of awesome peeps, and have been very fortunate to meet them.

I can tell this field is definitely my niche, and I've learned a lot about myself through working in it. I probably never would have discovered I have my own mental health struggles had I never gotten involved in this line of work, and I now realize why I establish a rapport so easily with people in the mental health and developmental disabilities communities: I'm a member of both as well! I hope to continue to help these communities throughout my life :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yes, it is possible to be an Aspie and a social butterfly at the same time!

There's this misconception going around that just because one is on the spectrum, that must mean that they are antisocial or have difficulty socializing. This is not always true!

Take me for example. I never stop talking. After a recent family gathering, my parents told me I worked the crowd, talking to everyone there. This is how I've always been. I'm not shy, I love meeting new people and I'll talk forever. I do tend to talk a lot about things I like, but I'll also listen. I was at a friend's house for a movie night last night, with a total of 5 other people. I had a blast! I hadn't seen her since high school, though we talk on Facebook all the time. It was so good to see her, as well as other good friends and a couple new peeps! We all talked about hilarious things and I felt right at home. Socializing itself isn't an issue for me.

It's moreso the nonverbal communication that I struggle with. I can't read between the lines, so I have a hard time discerning whether or not someone is trying to take advantage of me. I'm oblivious to hidden motives. I interpret things so literally, it's uncanny. As for body language, I'm not really sure how well I pick up on it or express it myself. I'd have to take an outside look or receive input from others around me to know. I can't always tell when I'm offending or annoying others, so I assume the worst and constantly worry about this. I seek reassurance that I'm not, which probably in turn DOES annoy the person haha! I have this thing where I have to make sure the other person understands what I'm trying to say, and will repeat it and reword it until I'm absolutely sure they "get it."

So, there you have it. It's possible to be an Aspie, yet still be outgoing and love interacting with people! Everyone is different, and there are some who have a varying experience from mine, however I think I've debunked the myth that this is always the case. Do any other of you fellow Aspies have a similar experience?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Autism is Pervasive/One of Many Parts to a Whole

A good friend reminded me of the importance of not letting autism define me, but rather to not lose sight of everything that makes me who I am. After much contemplation, I've come to a conclusion on how I feel about this.

I am more than autism, is a pervasive aspect of who I am which defines me in many ways. On the other hand, it is one of many parts to a whole. Not only am I autistic, but I am also an animal lover, friend, sister, daughter, Sonic fanatic, geek...the list goes on.

The thing is, autism greatly shapes me into who I am. It's because I'm autistic that I am ME. It is the reason I have no shame in my game. It's why I am content with who I am regardless of what everyone else is doing. It makes me unique, complete with my own operating system. Perhaps it's why I love video games so much and could care less about things like my appearance.

I'm the same person I was before receiving a diagnosis. I've always been everything that makes me up, including autistic. I'm just now aware of this. I've gotten answers to why I've always been a little "different," and quite frankly, I'm proud of who I am!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Learning more and more every day

As I look back on the last two and a half months since my diagnosis, I realize I'm learning more and more about myself. I think the most significant thing is that my parents seem to have a better understanding of me.

For one, my dad always used to seem to be in a rush for me to grow up. I tried to convince him for years that the things my peers were interested in and doing did not come naturally to me; I was still at a developmentally younger age. After these years of stating and restating my point, and finally getting an Asperger's diagnosis, he seems to get that this is the way I am, and that it's ok! I most likely will never be interested in things typical of my peers. I've acted young for my age as long as I can remember.

My parents have more patience with me. They now realize that I don't forget to put things away on purpose. I don't intentionally misunderstand their directions. They know that my brain processes information differently. I'm thankful that they've allowed me to educate them on autism and what it means, and that they're willing to learn!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Let It Go!

Now that the overly cliché title of a song from a certain frigid movie has gotten everyone's attention, I'd like to chat about letting things go. As a spectrumite with comorbid OCD, it's not an easy task do so when something is bothering me! This used to happen to me while in school A LOT. To the point where I'd worry about seemingly trivial things for a week at a time.

Take something as simple as a friend doing something out of character. Something they always said they wouldn't be caught dead doing, such as wearing a type of clothing they previously wouldn't have, or becoming interested in something they never cared for. One day, they come to school, wearing said clothing. Now, clothes are superficial, and really don't matter. However, it's the principle of the situation. All of a sudden your friend is acting different in even a subtle way. You jump to conclusions and worry that they're going to totally change on you, and obsess about it for the rest of that week. You try to do your homework, and thoughts keep hindering you. You sit in class, and find your mind drifting to that situation. You can't help but try to analyze it, to make sense of it. It doesn't seem rational to you. This causes you distress. Finally, after either time to process it has passed, or something reassures you that everything is going to be okay, you can let it go. It just isn't always easy. It might take you asking said friend a million questions to get that little switch in your mind to flip that lets you know everything is going to be ok. In the process, you may drive people crazy! I'm pretty sure I've done my share of that :)

The main thing is figuring out what you can do to be able to let go of your worries. Whether time or reassurance is your method of operation, find out what is, become familiar with it, and just do it! You will save yourself LOTS of stress and wasted time. It took me a long time to be able to move on from my worries, and I still get stuck on thoughts from time to time, but I've gotten a lot better at it. Does anyone else find themselves stuck in this rut?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What I've been up to...

Well, if I want to keep this thing going, I actually have to write, right? :P What have I been up to since I last posted? Let's see...I had SCIP and CPR training for my relief job last week. What's SCIP, you ask? It stands for strategies for crisis intervention and prevention, and it utilizes both proactive crisis prevention methods and physical restraints for when a crisis escalates. It was exhausting, but it's over with now! It's nothing I haven't taken before; I've been in the developmental disabilities field for 10 years (yikes, already?).

My full-time job in mental health is going well. All my peeps are doing well, and things have been pretty low key. I helped one of them clip her cat's claws yesterday after we got back from the grocery store. Once his claws were clipped, he proceeded to investigate the shopping bags and give them a good licking!

I've been chilling and playing my video games as usual, and staying active on all my Aspie groups on Facebook. I'm glad spring is finally here! :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Wow, this month flew by FAST. I can't believe it's already the last day of Autism Awareness month! It's actually kind of sad....*tear* Anyway, moving on :) I feel that I've succeeded in my goal for the month: to raise awareness and teach people some things they might not have known about the spectrum! I've successfully written a blog each day.  I've had people coming to me with questions and for advice about either themselves or others in their life. I feel nothing but awesome about this. I did it! I'm so blessed and thankful for everyone that hit that like button or left a comment.  You've all shown me that this truly is my passion. I'm glad to have helped anyone I have, and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of it. I want to leave you all with this: my message box is ALWAYS open if you need ANYTHING. Feel free to stop by anytime! I'm also going to keep this blog running, so feel free to drop by if you're interested in some more anecdotes or stories about my experience :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Aspie moments

I'd like to take things on a humorous note today and talk about what I call "Aspie moments." You know, those times when my response to something is so literal it's uncanny! Here goes:

- A conversation between a girl and myself at 13:

Girl: my friend stabbed me in the back.

Me: what did she stab you with?

- My coworker describing a situation in which his daughter was misbehaving at home:

Coworker: I'm going to call my wife to see what the temperature is like in the house.

Me: *about to ask what the temperature in the house has at all to do with her behavior*.....*dawns on me that he is referring to her behavior*......oh, I see what you mean now.

- Another coworker and myself talking about a cat recuse organization:

Me: Ten Lives Club actually has cat houses for them to run free in rather than cages.

Coworker: house

Me: *crickets chirp*

Coworker: you do know what a cat house is, right?


- Me at 4 or so when my grandpa was opening his presents:

Grandpa: *sarcastically before opening present* I wonder what this is?

Me: *knowing what's inside - car wash certificates* it's a book of car washes!

Lol....there's plenty more, but I don't want this to go on for hours! I've had many a moment like these with family, friends and coworkers. My brother calls me Sheldon a lot hehe :) Hope you enjoyed, and feel free to share your own!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Self Discovery

My journey since diagnosis has been one of self discovery. I've always known who I am, however I've learned so much more about myself! Ten years ago, I had never even heard the word "Asperger's" much less knew it had anything to do with me. I knew I was a little different, didn't fit society's norms, and was perfectly ok with it.

Once I learned I was on the spectrum and later diagnosed last month, I've dedicated myself to spreading the word. I now realize that there's a reason for all of my differences. It's really pretty cool. It's like I have a different t operating system than the majority; I'm an Android in a world of iPhones :) Can you tell I'm an Android fiend?

I've learned just how wide the spectrum is, and what autism once meant to me has taken on a totally new meaning. I once had the impression that it meant someone who was in their own world, shut off from the rest. I now realize that this isn't true. I realize that it means something much different. It means talents. It sometimes means challenges, but strength to overcome them. It means me.

I hope to continue to keep learning more and more about myself, how I can work around my challenges and capitalize on my strengths. I'm becoming aware of these things and enjoy reading more about them. Through it all, the best part is when I know I've helped someone else. It feels great to know I'm making a difference!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Newly diagnosed. Who to tell?

I've been seeing this question raised in a lot of the Asperger's groups I belong to on Facebook. Who did you tell when you were first diagnosed? Have you told your supervisor? How do you feel about telling others?

To answer those questions, I didn't hesitate to tell just about everyone I know. As an advocate, I think awareness is imperative. So many of us fall under the radar, and I want people to see that we all don't fit a specific stereotype. I want to show them the many different appearances autism can have. It can be your coworker. Your friend. Your family member. It can present itself in a plethora of ways.

Just as I did with my ADHD diagnosis, I told my supervisor right away as well. I feel that it is important for them to know, especially if you're having struggles. That there is a reason for them, and that you're trying your hardest to work around them. In turn, my supervisor has been helping me to come up with methods to work around my shortcomings, and to hopefully overcome some of them. She has been a godsend!

I felt no reservations on coming forth with my diagnosis. After all, it's just one of many facets that make me who I am. Why hide or be ashamed of it? I want people to see the real me, and I want to be the most genuine person I can be.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1 in 68, or really?

There have been countless news stories as of late, spouting off that "autism is on the rise! Studies have shown that its prevalence is now 1 in 68 children." It's almost as if it's being looked at as an epidemic, like something that needs to be "solved." Personally, I think this is bogus.

The real fact of the matter is that prevalence isn't increasing, but rather awareness. Back 30 years ago, when I was just coming into the world, autism wasn't something that was well-known as of yet, much less diagnosed. Today, there are so many effective tests and evaluations to screen for autism spectrum disorders. The scope of the diagnosis has also widended. Back in the day, autism was thought to be something that only impacted one profoundly. Today, it is known that this isn't always the case, and that the spectrum encompasses a wide range of traits. It is only natural that more kids are being diagnosed today.

What about all of the now adults who would have been diagnosed under today's standards years ago? They exist, and existed as children on the spectrum before the spectrum was really recognized. There are several people who are living undiagnosed because of this. Heck, take me, for example. I didn't even learn of Asperger's until I was 22, and wouldn't be diagnosed until almost 9 years later. It is actually estimated that the prevalence may be even higher than 1 in 68, and is difficult to pinpoint given all of these facts.

The way the media shines a light on autism isn't always the brightest, unfortunately. You take groups like Autism Speaks who treat it as a horrible tragedy to be eradicated, when in actuality, it is something that contributes to the diversity of humanity that should be accepted and embraced. Look at all of the people on the spectrum who have contributed great discoveries to the world. Einstein and Temple Grandin wouldn't be who they are if they weren't on the spectrum, so why is that something that needs to be looked at as a defect? It is not a disease, but a part of neurodiveristy.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Autism misconceptions

When you think of autism, what comes to mind? Rainman? People with savant talents? The media has an impact on how people perieve autism. Some know better and know what it truly means. Unfortunately, it seems like there are masses who only know what they've seen on TV.

Common Misconceptions

1) We are all like Rainman.
-this couldn't be further from the truth. While the character was based on a few of the stereotypical characteristics, he is just that: ONE character. Fictitious, and one person. While some of us may know baseball statistics such as he did, or prefer to watch a show religiously every day, it's not all we do, and not all of us do that. I personally couldn't care less about baseball or its statistics. Now Sonic the Hedgehog, that's a different story :)

2) People with autism are nonverbal.
-this is true in some cases, but not all! In fact, the majority of us do use spoken language. For those who do not, a lot of people assume that they are unable to communicate or are lacking in intelligence. This is totally not the case! There are writers and advocates who do not speak, however carry out powerful messages. Just Google Carly Fleischman.

3) We do not look people in the eye.
-this has to be my pet peeve. I had a psychiatrist tell me that I didn't remind her of an "Asperger patient" because I looked her in the eye. Really? Needless to say, I changed doctors. There are plenty of us who do not struggle with eye contact. Some do, some don't it varies from person to person.

4) We lack empathy.
-it has actually been said that people with autism do not lack empathy, but rather feel it intensely and have difficulty expressing it. I don't experience difficulty in this area. While I can't always see things the way others see them, and can't imagine being anyone else, I can look at things from other people's shoes and try to imagine what they're going through. That's why I'm in the Social Work Field :)

5) We're shy.
-while some people on the spectrum are more reserved, others are social butterflies! I love people! I have difficulty with more of the hidden social aspects, like not being able to read between the lines, literal thinking and not picking up on hidden motives. In my case, it has nothing to do with not wanting to socialize, but rather my genuineness as assumption that everyone else is also genuine.

There are many more misconceptions, bit I'll end it here as this is getting long. What are some you have heard?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Making a difference

I just have to say I'm blown away by the number and quality of responses to my blog. I truly see that I'm making an impact! To those of you who have come to me with questions either about yourself or a family member, thank you! You have helped me to fulfill my purpose of spreading awareness and using my own experiences to make a difference in the lives of others. This is the direction I want to go in. This is a cause I feel very dedicated to. As always, shoot me a message if you have any questions or need advice :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Synesthesia...what the heck is that?

Do you associate letters with colors? Has the letter A always been yellow in your mind? Do sounds trigger a certain taste? If so, you experience a phenomenon known as synesthesia.

It's said that this occurs because of crosswiring in the brain. Different senses become connected to one another, so when one is triggered, another is simultaneously. It's really interesting!

For me, letters and numbers have always triggered a specific color in my mind. It's been that way as long as I can remember. Days of the week and months trigger a color as well. January is dark purple in my mind, for example.

This tends to be more common among us spectrumites. I've talked to others who have similar experiences. The brain sure is a fascinating thing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


We all get that song stuck on our head. You know, the one you just heard an hour ago, yet has been playing over in your mind ever since. I'm not sure if this is more common to those of us on the spectrum or not, but nevertheless it makes for an interesting topic!

See, at any given moment, I have a song playing in my head. It can be one I heard recently, or one that randomly pops into my head. For as long as I can remember, I've had this personal radio in my brain. It's as if I have background music playing to whatever is going on.

This could be because spectrumites crave sensory input, and those with ADHD do as well. I need something going on in addition to whatever I'm doing as it helps me to better focus. Techno music is soothing to me because of its repetitive, rhythmic beat. It's a natural stimulant.

So....what earworm is stuck in you head right now?

Monday, April 21, 2014


People on the spectrum want what every human desires: to be accepted and included. While we may not care what others think of us, and don't necessarily want to "fit in" by trying to be like others per se, we want them to take us just as we are and show us we're worthy of their acceptance.

People are often afraid of what's different. They see someone who isn't like them, and rather than get to know the person, they avoid or ignore them. Sometimes people are so insecure with themselves, that the only way they feel better about themselves is to make others feel like less than them. It's really unfortunate.

The next time you're in lunch at school, or on break at work and are passing by that table where the kid or coworker who is a little unique is sitting, stop and sit with them. Talk to them. What seems "weird" at first might be a different take on the world that makes more sense than the majority of minds. Open your heart and step out of your comfort zone. Just listen. Show them that you're interested in what they have to say. You might otherwise be passing up the chance to get to know an awesome person!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Some people have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and nothing else. More commonly, there are other diagnoses that co-occur, hence the term "comorbid." Take Asperger's and add ADHD and OCD to the mix, and you've got me :P

There are a lot of overlapping traits amongst these three diagnoses, and I think that's why they commonly come in a package set. The ability to hyperfocus on things that interest us yet the difficulty focusing in things we need to be focusing on at the moment. The repetitive habits and regimented behaviors. The difficulty with executive functioning. These types of things co-ocurr often.

Right now I think my biggest bear is the ADHD characteristics. Executive functioning has never been my forte. I am easily sidetracked and have to push myself to stay on task. Adderall has been a great help, especially at work! My OCD is a lot more at bay than it was in early college. I was going through full-blown rituals at that time; not a fun experience. I'm thankful that I've gotten it more under control. I still have repetitive habits, but that's because the Aspie in me also comes into play. I like things to be a certain way. I'm fussy about textures. I tap on things or fidget as a stim, usually in certain orders.

Once again, would I change myself? Absolutely not. There are just as many gifts as struggles living with this collection of diagnoses. While anxiety runs high at times, I usually am able to get a handle on it with medications and calming myself with a good video game. On that note, Happy Easter to all! :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kind of to go with what I wrote yesterday...

I don't want to beat a dead horse...maybe I technically won't be as this is more of a continuation of yesterdays post about not "looking" autistic. This has just been on my mind for a few days and I want to stress that just because one may appear neurotypical does not necessarily mean they are, and that both their struggles and gifts are still valid.

From my own experience, I may appear as your average human being upon first meeting me and talking to me. It's when you get to know me a little better that some of my differences start to show their face. For example, starting a job. During the beginning stages as an employee, I'm going through the learning phase and will naturally need a few pointers. It's when I've been at that job for several years and am still struggling to figure out a method that will work for me in order to keep on top of things and do my best, and still need reminders about things, that one may start to notice that something's up. Thankfully I have a lot of help in this area and have been making strides!

I think that upon first meeting me, since I'm such an open book, that perhaps I come off as a little "odd." After knowing a person longer, though, they'll know that I take things literally. That I don't read between the lines. That I don't seen to be caught up in what everyone else is doing. That's totally ok with me!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that don't base your ideas of a person on what you see after your first interaction with them. This applies to everyone, whether on the spectrum or not. Just because someone looks as if they are perfectly capable of something, don't judge them when you learn they have struggles with it. A lot of the characteristics of autism are invisible to the outside observer. Never downplay them, as well as our many gifts! I think it's because I'm on the spectrum that I embrace my individuality and have the genuineness I do, and I wouldn't trade that for anything :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

But you don't look autistic...

This is an argument people have heard time and time again. When a lot of people hear the word "autistic," the many stereotypes that have been fed to them by society come to mind. They think of Rain Main. They think we are all savants. They have an image in their mind that in many cases, couldn't be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is, autism is a spectrum. It may manifest itself in that one may need assistance in many areas of their life. It may present itself in that one may appear typical to the outside observer. Then you have everything in between.

The think to remember is, just because someone doesn't appear to fit those skewed stereotypes doesn't necessarily mean they can't be on the spectrum. Yes, some people may be balancing on the line between on the spectrum and off, but nevertheless, they may still be living on it. Never downplay their struggles OR strengths, just because you can't see them on the outside. Oftentimes, these are things you may not have any idea about until you get to know a person!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


A lot of people on the autism spectrum may show behavior that is recognizable to others around them. Some flap. Others rub their hands together. Some squeal with delight at things that excite them. For some people, it may be more discreet, such as wiggling their legs while sitting or fiddling with their fingers. These behaviors are what as known as stimming, or seeking sensory input.

For whatever reason, those of us on the spectrum crave sensory stimulation of some kind. This seems to ease tension or release pent up energy. If we can't let the energy out, it causes frustration, which can turn into a meltdown for some.

For me, stimming probably looks like nothing more than fidgeting to the outise observer. I do the leg wiggling, and I sometimes fixate on my fingers and tap them on things. Sometimes I stretch my muscles. In my experience, it's the combination of ADHD and Asperger's that plays a part in all of this. I stim because I have pent up energy, and also because I can't sit still for very long. It helps me to concentrate.

As you see, this is one of the ways the wide autism spectrum manifests itself. The next time you see someone doing any of these things, remind yourself that they're doing so to calm themselves and that it's okay! As humans, we all have things that help us to keep our cool in any kind of situation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Executive functioning

Getting ready to leave for work. Remembering to grab everything when walking out the door. I've got my bag, my lunch, my phone...oh, wait! *runs back to grab my keys* These types of tasks are referred to as executive functions. They can be very daunting for one on the spectrum, especially when you throw ADHD into the mix!

Let's face it: in this day and age everyone and everything is moving so fast, it's hard not to miss a step. For those of us with executive functioning difficulties, however, this is ten times harder. You're trying to keep on top of things in the midst of already racing thoughts, and there are distractions all around you. Let's say you're walking into a room to grab a pen, an important paper and an envelope. You grab the pen. On your way to picking up the paper, something on TV catches your attention. As you're walking to get the envelope, what you had seen on TV reminds you of something else, which is now in the front of your mind. You might find yourself standing there, wondering what it was you were doing in the first place! This happens several times a day for someone on the spectrum.

I try my hardest to come up with little shortcuts and methods to work around my difficulties. At work, I have a chart with all the names of the people on my caseload,
and columns next to them for each important task I need to complete for their chart that month. I have a plastic mailbox that hangs in my cubicle to sort my papers because otherwise, it's out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes we need these accommodations, and believe me, they help! At home, I try to keep my mail sorted, but this is still something I've yet to master. I'm taking it one step at a time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

At work on the spectrum

Being on the spectrum poses both gifts and challenges in the workplace. For some, interpersonal skills aren't one's forte, but they may excel in independent work with computers or research. Others may be social butterflies, however struggle with the more invisible social aspects, or the executive functioning related tasks.

I fall into the latter of the two examples. I have a natural talent for establishing a rapport with others, especially in the mental health and developmental disabilities fields. I find that people in both fields are very genuine, accepting people who aren't quick to judge, and something just clicks right away in my interactions with them. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that I fit into both categories, could it? ;) I see this as a strong skill.

On the flip side, I miss things that most people notice. I need things pointed out to me that most people don't. I'm constantly developing methods to make sure I cover all ground without missing a step. I don't always pick up on the hidden social cues due to my literal thinking and not being abke to read between the lines. I find myself puzzled at times when my coworkers are joking with me, and others don't always recognize when I'm trying to make a joke. It's important to have a supervisor who is willing to help you anywhere you need it! For this, I'm very thankful.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to ALWAYS try your best, and ask for help when you need it. It never hurts. Some people need a little more than others. Put forth the effort, and you will go far!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aspie benefits

There are many benefits to being on the spectrum. While it does pose its challenges, there are many reasons I'm glad I wasn't born any differently. I'd like to make a list:

1) to quote a great song by The Dramatics, what you see is what you get. I'm honest, loyal and tell it like it is. I keep it real!
2) I have a song playing through my head at any given moment. It's like I have my own personal radio inside my head. Music keeps me going.
3) I don't care what others think of me. I have no concept of self-consciousness, and no shame in my game.
4) I take things as they are. I don't see gray areas or read between the lines. I'm accepting of people just as they are.
5) I'm unique. I'm not afraid to be a forever child. I like wearing a lot of bright colors. I like seeing the world from a different perspective.
6) I have a childlike innocence. I see the world through rose-colored glasses. I appreciate the little things.
7) I notice details. I can point out things that others may miss. This helps me to remember the most random things!
8) I have a zest for life as I experience it. The things I love, I'm very passionate about. You'll definitely know if I'm intrigued by something.
9) I want people around me to be happy. I like to be a mediator. I try to keep the peace
10) Most of all, I just like being me. I'm happy with the person I am, and wouldn't want to be any other way.

There you have it! 10 reasons why being an Aspie rocks! :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who cares what they think?

I've never been one to care what others think. So my clothes may not match. My hair might be a little messy. I possibly come off as "weird." So what? I've always wondered why so many people care so much about these things. They're trivial to me.

So much of the world puts countless amounts of effort into making sure they fit society's standards. Why? This makes absolutely no sense to me. What is it going to get you if your clothes matched today? Does it really make a difference? It's what you do in those clothes that counts. There are people who are dressed to impress yet their behavior reflects otherwise. On the flip side, there are people who wear clothes that look like they've seen better days, and rather than focusing on fashion, they're out there making a difference helping others. In the long run, is it going to matter ten years from now whether or not you were the best dressed at your high school reunion, or on Easter Sunday?

And this whole notion of being what society expects us to. Being insecure because one doesn't have what the Joneses have. Fearing that they may come off as eccentric, so feeling forced to mask who they really are. Who comes up with this stuff? It will forever puzzle me. Thank goodness I never seemed to get the memo on "fitting in." I consider it an Aspie blessing :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Special interests

Everyone has something that they absolutely love. That they call their "thing." On the spectrum, this is usually taken to an extreme. These are what are known as special interests.

When you like something so much that it's one of your main interests, leaving the many other possible hobbies and pastimes to the wayside, it may be considered a special interest. While most of us have things we really like, those of us on the spectrum may have an affinity for, say, computers at the exclusion of everything else. It is possible to have multiple special interests.

Mine are video games, the Android operating system, collecting charms and new songs sampling older ones. I've been drawn to video games for as long as I can remember. I'm a die-hard Sonic fan, to the point that was my nickname for several years, I have Sonic collectibles littering my room, and you can find me playing it several times a week. I'm always flashing my phone and testing the latest ROM, and people often look puzzled when I explain the different versions of Android based on the names of sweets. I'll hear a new song and can almost always come up with at least one older song I recognize in the background. I love the way charms sparkle and am especially attracted to those with moving parts.

The main thing is, when we on the spectrum like something, we really like it! We're very passionate about our interests and take them and run with them. I know that everyone will know I love Sonic just by talking to me for years to come :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Can you imagine?

It's often said that people on the spectrum have limited imaginations. While this is not always the case for everyone, I'm living proof of it. For as long as I can remember, since I was little, I've never had much of an imagination.

I was often bored when I was little, seeking out my parents for entertainment. I TRIED to play pretend. I TRIED playing with toys. It just seemed that I could never come up with anything interesting enough to keep myself occupied. What's the point of pretending an inanimate object is something else if it's not the real thing?

The thing is, I always have loved and always will love toys. What draws me to them isn't the actual playing with them, but rather the neat features some of them have, as well as collecting them. Popples always fascinated me because of their ability to roll into a ball. It's the technical things that captivate me.

Then there's video games. Finally, something that seemed to open a whole world, always engaging, and something I loved! To this day, video games have always been a therapeutic release for me. They're calming. You don't need to have an imagination while playing them as there is a whole universe created just for you to explore. This is my alternative to pretending. Thank goodness for video games :)

Has anyone else had a similar experience growing up?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ricotta cheese feels like fuzz in my mouth!

I know I discussed sensory sensitivities recently, but I feel food deserves its own post. Think of that food you can't stand. What is it about it? The actual taste? The feeling in your mouth? The smell? With heightened sensitivities, food can be an amazing thing, or an absolutely stomach-turning experience for someone on the spectrum.

The foods high on my fave list are pizza, chicken fingers, fries, and pizza logs. They're usually all I'll order when I go out to eat. The taste, texture, smell...EVERYTHING is just perfect. On nom nom! :)

Now on to the foods I think are absolutely nauseating. Ricotta chesse feels like fuzz in my mouth, and reminds me of baby spit-up, which is sickening. Roast beef tastes like soggy washcloths...the texture is just yuck! Sauerkraut tastes like sweaty socks, and smells rancid, probably because of the vinegar. Mayonnaise is something I won't go near with a 20-foot pole. It looks nasty, smells absolutely disgusting, and tastes terrible. You can see how vividly my senses perceive them!

So the next time you're out to eat with a friend, or want your kid to eat something and they're making a face at it, remember that they might be more sensitive to tastes, smells and textures than yourself. Or, if you notice yourself feeling this way about a certain food, let it be known that eating it would be an absolutely awful experience!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Disability or difference

Do any of you, on or off the spectrum, view autism as a disability or a difference? I personally see it as just coming with a different operating system than most.

Some people arugue that it's a tragedy. I disagree. Everyone on the spectrum is born with different talents. Just because one may not have the words to say what's on their mind, doesn't mean that they have nothing to say! The person sitting in the cubicle over there who is very shy and awkward? Maybe they are coming up with an innovate new computer program.

Granted, not everyone will grow up to be Einstein; I don't think too many of us will. That doesn't mean one won't grow up to accomplish great things, no matter what they are! Life as one person knows it is life as THEY know it, is of much value and is just as important as the next.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

But that shirt itches!

You're picking out an outfit for the day. You reach for a shirt. No, that one's too scratchy. On to the next. No, this one's a little too thick. Finally, you grab one that feels "just right." Soft enough, lightweight enough; COMFORTABLE. This is how us on the spectrum perceive things with our senses.

Any sense can be hyper- or hypo- sensitive. Take temperature, for example. You'll see me walking around in the middle of winter with no jacket. Why? It's because I seem to be hyposensetive to cold temperatures. I think nothing of walking around in 20 degree weather without a jecket so long as it's not for an extended period of time. On the flip-side, I can't hold a cup of hot cocoa for more than a minute until my hand feels like it's burning!

Some spectrumites are extra sensitive to lights and sounds as well. Me, not so much. This is a perfect example of how one person on the spectrum is vastly different from the next. This is just one area where my senses aren't tweaked in one direction or another. Some people can't be around bright lights or loud sounds without having a meltdown.

So, take a moment to think about this the next time you reach for a clothing item or hear a motorcycle cruising by. What you feel, see, smell, taste or hear is a totally different experience from someone else's, especially someone on the spectrum. It also means we are especially fond of some sensory things as well, such as that soft, fuzzy blanket or shiny necklace! :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

To educate, advocate, and spread acceptance

A lot of you have seen the seemingly endless autism posts of mine on Facebook. I know it may seem like I'm going overboard. The truth is that since it's Autism Awareness month, I'm trying my best to show everyone the awesomeness of us spectrumites. Being recently diagnosed, it's also something that's especially meaningful to me! I hope everyone's been enjoying what I have to share, and be prepared for many more throughout the month ;)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How was I supposed to know?

Sometimes people expect me to be psychic. "Why didn't you put that towel away?" I don't know...maybe because nobody asked me to and I didn't even realize anyone wanted me to! This can get aggravating at times.

Those of us on the spectrum need things spelled out to us explicitly. We don't always pick up on what seems to be the obvious for others. If you want me to do something, I ask that you simply ask me! I don't leave my dinner dish on the able or forget to push in my chair just to annoy you; it's just that sometimes I don't think of these things unless I'm told.

My advice to anyone who lives with someone on the spectrum is to let them know what it is expected of them. No one knows what someone else wants them to do unless they make it known to them. I try my hardest to live up to what is asked of me, but little reminders and direct instructions better allow me to do so :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why would I want to do that?

I've never been swayed by others' opinions of me, nor by what they were doing. I remember first learning of the concept of peer pressure in this class in 6th grade, and thinking "why would I do these things (drink, smoke, do drugs, etc.) just because other kids are?" It didn't make an ounce of sense to me. I've always been me, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I consider this to be one of my Aspie blessings. I've observed so many others getting hung up about fitting in and being cool. Having the latest clothes. Impressing their peers. Doing what the "cool" kids were doing. Then there was the fear that they didn't live up to their peers' standards, or the letdown when they weren't accepted.

I remember being on the outside looking in and and wondering why other kids were so preoccupied with these things if all they brought was misery. I guess it's a part of what those years are like for the typical adolescent, but having never experienced it, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. All I saw was my friends, who once were interested in the things I was still interested in, becoming consumed by this mass "epidemic" and I felt kind of left in the dust. Did they no longer have any interest in our friendship? Why were they suddenly changing? Are they still going to want to be by my side?

These thoughts fueled my OCD, leading me to constantly ask for their reassurance. I think this partly drove them to be annoyed. I didn't realize that at the time. I only saw everything changing around me, wishing that things could be the same. I didn't have any interest in my clothes other than that they were comfortable and not too girly. I could have cared less what boys thought of me. I wasn't interested. Why do other girls care if they look "fat?" Looks are superficial.

To this day, I'll never understand this whole ordeal. Having never gone through it myself, it makes no sense to me. All I know is that I've always been very happy staying true to myself, whether the others appreciated it or not. I was much happier playing video games and doing my thing than doing whatever it was everyone else was doing.  I wouldn't change for anyone :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

They would never...

You know how when you get to know someone, you become familiar with their personality traits and what to expect? You can say that this person always does this, or would never do that, and be confident in that you are right? Well, for those of us on the spectrum, this becomes a tricky area at times. We are usually honest and direct people who assume that the rest of the world is that way. We often fail to see outside ourselves and forget that others aren't always this way.

Because of this, people on the spectrum are easily taken advantage of. I was in a situation where I was friends with a girl who seemed like a really nice person when I met her in college, and years after. It wasn't until I knew her a little longer that the friendship slowly became anything but that. She began to con me into helping her with things, to the point I was eventually backed into a corner and it was either bite my tongue and help her, or tell her I couldn't and get cussed out. It was a catch-22. I was naive enough to give her a second chance after we had a falling out, and the same thing happened all over again. I learned a valuable lesson about not letting myself get taken advantage of in the future. It's helped me to keep my guard up, but I still have trouble recognizing when people aren't being truthful. It's part of the whole literal thinking and failure to read between the lines scheme of things.

I'm learning how to become stronger day by day, but I recognize that this is an area that needs work. I think a lot of spectrumites are in the same boat. Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

But you look like a teenager!

Yes, I do. I've always looked young for my age. And acted young for my age. Part of it is my neverending enjoyment of being a kid. Part of it is because I'm on the spectrum.

Spectrumites tend to look and act younger than they are. Of course, this doesn't always hold true, as one person is vastly different from the next. It seems to be a more common theme on the spectrum, though. Why this is, a lot of people are unsure. Is is the genetic components of autism? Are there other traits tied to it that cause a more youthful appearance? No one really knows at this point in science. As for the being mentally and emotionally younger part goes, that could be a multitude of things. Autism impacts one's development in many ways. It may manifest itself in that one may be more naïve due to interpreting others differently. A lot of times, one is not in sync with what their peers are into, and they may not have a desire to be on board with them. While other girls were talking makeup and boys, I was content playing video games and collecting toys. This has not changed, and I'm 31! :) There are many possibilities out there for why one may come across as if they've found the fountain of youth!

Personally, I'm thankful for this. Do I like being youthful because of autism, or do I like being youthful because I'll always be a big kid? I'd have to say it's probably a little of both. Whatever the case, I'll embrace it full-force and you can find me at Toys-R-Us! :D

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reading between the lines

This has to be one of the most difficult things for me to grasp as an Aspie. So many people have alterior motives and hidden messages, and if you interpret what is said word for word, you'll completely miss them. I take what I'm told at face value. I can't always recognize when someone is trying to pull one over on me. I've had "friendships" in which I've become a doormat because of my inability to recognize that there was more to the story than what I could see.

The important thing to remember when talking to someone on the spectrum is to be CONCRETE and DIRECT. Say what you mean. Don't use figures of speech they may not grasp and don't assume that they'll understand when you use a phrase with a double meaning. If the sky is blue, it's blue and nothing more. Don't try to tell them otherwise. Has anyone been in these types of situations?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Literal thinking

For those of us on the spectrum, what others say can be taken very, well...literally. Some of the idioms and figures of speech that most people say to others are said inferring that the other person knows it means something totally different. With Asperger's, that's often far from the truth. See, figures of speech I've heard before make sense because I've either figured out or have had explained to me (usually the latter of the two) what they mean. I still find myself stumbling across new sayings and wondering what on earth the person is talking about.

A couple weeks ago, a coworker was talking about how his daughter had been misbehaving, and was checking in with her mother to find out how she was acting that evening. He said that he was going to call her to find out what the temperature was like in the house. I started to ask "what does the temperature in the house have to do with anything..." and then after a moment, a light bulb went off. "Oh, you mean you want to know how her behavior is today, right?" I said. Duh. Well, not do duh when you take what others say word for word. This can make communication difficult at times, and sure makes for funny stories! The same coworker had used the phrase that someone was "a tempest in a teapot" about 5 years ago and I remember just standing there trying to decipher it as I had never heard it before XD

Does anyone else have any similar stories? I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Go shawty, it's MAH birfday!

I'm having a fantastic bday, and it's only going to get better. The best part so far is my brother coming home from his vacation! My mom, grandma and I are about to head to Erie, PA for some shopping and dinner at this incredible restaurant called O'Charley's. Life is good :D

Saturday, March 29, 2014

So it begins...

I've reached a "discovery" in my life as you'd call it, and I figured I'd start a blog to tell my story and perhaps share some interesting, funny and exciting experiences along the way. Here goes...

On Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. For those of you who look at this and think "huh, what the heck does that mean?" I'll make it simple. It's a part of the autism spectrum. No, it does not mean I'm like Rain Man or any of the stereotypical impressions you see about autism in the media. It simply means my brain is hardwired a little differently than most.

See, I was a little "different" from day one. It became apparent when I was in preschool that I wasn't quite like the other kids. While they would sit and follow the lesson and listen to the teacher, I'd be off doing whatever my heart led me to at the moment. I remember running around, playing in the playhouse, sitting on the slide....I was one rambunctious little kid! My teacher suggested my parents and I meet with a psychologist to look into my hyperactive behaviors. This ended up fruitless, as after a handful of appointments, the doctor lost touch with my parents. I was also a lot more well-behaved starting in about 1st grade after still continuing to "do what I wanted to do" as my kindergarten teacher reported, so no one really gave it any second thought.

The rest of elementary school went without incident, and I had no difficulty with my grades. Something still seemed just a bit different, tho. I'd try and joke with the other kids, yet there was something that just didn't click. I managed to have friends and acquaintances, however. I just felt like I wasn't always in on some of the things they were. One thing I went through was what I would later learn to be OCD, as I would deal with endless worrying on and off. I'll save this for another post so as not to make this any longer than it's already going to be.

Fast forward to middle school. It was then I started to get picked on for my interests, especially video games. Because you know, playing Sonic the Hedgehog at 12 is such an abrnomal thing to do...(insert sarcasm)...anyway, I again did very well in school, and was one of the kids the teachers appreciated. I was conscientious and eager to learn. I did begin to recognize, though, that it seemed difficult to remember the things I needed to bring home to complete my homework and I would get things mixed up. I learned of something called ADD, and thought right away, "that's me." Since I was doing well, though, everyone around me was convinced that nothing was wrong. I was a little unique. In 7th grade, I was the kid who sat at the lab table with the animals in my science class. Doing what the other kids did just didn't always appeal to me. I remember learning about peer pressure and why I should avoid it, all the time wondering "why would I want to do these things just because everyone else is, anyway?" There was just something about my place amongst my peers that was a little off, and this would continue to be more evident the older I got.

I'll move on to high school. What I observed was that more than ever, I was not concerned with being like the other kids or fitting in. It seemed like the other girls were suddenly preoccupied with how they looked, being "cool," self-consciousness, and what boys thought of them. I stood back, on the outside looking in, wondering "WHY?" Why is everyone suddenly changing? What happened to when things were simple? Why are they worrying about this stuff if it makes them miserable? A lot of this fueled my OCD as I took it to mean my friends weren't interested in the same things as I was anymore and were moving on without me. To this day, I still can't figure it out. I've never worried about my appearance. As long as the clothes FELT comfortable, what else mattered? So what if they're a little wrinkled? So they don't match. Big deal? My hair doesn't have to be perfect. Makeup? I wouldn't be caught dead in that stuff! You get the idea. I've always been more of a tomboy, anyway. I've also never been concerned with dating or being in a relationship. It's something I have absolutely no desire for. I continued to do well in class, and graduated high school in 2001.

Now on to my late teens/early 20s. College went relatively well, and I changed my major from Bio Ed to Social Work after my third year. It was the best decision I could have made. I did notice that I still struggled with what I recognized as ADD characteristics, but I managed to keep my GPA in the high range. I was still the kid who always sat in the front of the class and took care to do my best. I graduated with my Bachelor's in Social Work in 2006.

It was when I started working full-time that my difficulties became more apparent to me. I reached a point when after forgetting to do tasks and being confused time and time again, I finally investigated whether or not I had ADHD, as I later learned was the correct term for it. I went to get evaluated, and sure enough, I was right! I started medication and saw a difference right away. It has been very helpful and allowed me to stay "in the zone." I've been working in the mental health and developmental disabilities fields and absolutely love it! I've met a lot of people who are very accepting of me for who I am, and with whom I can relate to.

It was about 4 or 5 years ago when I stumbled upon a blog written by my now friend on Facebook, who has Asperger's and was writing about her experiences. Now, I had heard of the disorder when I was about 22, and all I knew was that it was a mild form of autism, and sure sounded a lot like asparagus to me! Upon reading my friend's blog, I started to realize "this sounds a lot like me. I understand this stuff." I connected with her and have been in contact with her ever since, and we share a LOT in common. Through talking to her and meeting others on the spectrum via Facebook groups and in person, as well as doing a lot of research, I concluded that I was most likely on the spectrum. I finally decided to investigate it, and went to the same psychologist who diagnosed me with ADHD just 6 years ago.
He determined that I am indeed on the spectrum, in the Asperger's range as I suspected! What a feeling of confirmation I had after learning that I was right! I'm pretty good at figuring myself out, eh? ;)

So this is where I'm at. I have the knowledge that I am where I thought I was after all. I have no shame in telling people about my discovery, and see it as a part of the person I am. I'm proud of who I am, and wouldn't want to be any other way! I wouldn't be me if I was :) Stay tuned for future posts! Catch ya on the flip side!