Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Of the many things in life I have to be thankful for, one that will always stand out is my autism diagnosis.

Imagine that you've spent your entire life being a little different from the rest. You try to click with others at a young age, but something just doesn't gel. You spend your teen years watching everyone else suddenly change and become interested in different things from you, and you can't wrap your head around it. You spend your 20s learning about yourself, yet there is still a missing piece.

Then you stumble upon autism. Not for the first time, as you've heard of it, and you THINK you know what it means. Then you are reintroduced  to the concept after several years, but this time it has a whole new meaning for you. It describes so many of the things you've experienced throughout your life. It sounds like YOU.

You then do a lot of research, only to find that the more you delve into the topic, the more of yourself you see in it all. After a few years, you schedule that fateful appointment. You're almost positive you're autistic, but there's still that tiny glimmer of a doubt: what if it isn't autism, after all? You've incorporated it as part of your identity by this point.

Next come the appointments. The questionnaires. The interview with the psychologist. Finally, the day arrives. The day that decides whether or not everything you've learned about yourself is on point. You brace yourself for the answer. Are you autistic, or not? Your psychologist reviews the information, and finally...alas! He tells you that you present as someone on the autism spectrum!

You feel a sense of validation. Your suspicions have been confirmed. Everything you've come to know as a part of who you are HAS indeed been a part of you all along. Congratulations! You're autistic and now you have an explanation for your differences and own unique operating system.

Two years ago, this moment that I will never forget happened. For that I will be forever thankful.

Friday, November 4, 2016

One of the Best Weeks Ever

Well, it's been a heck of a week. I don't remember the last time I was this busy, yet had so much fun! I'm very grateful to have reached my dream of being a part of the organization I have wanted to for so long!

Today I had my driving test, which consisted of pulling into 3 parking spots. Easy peasy. Then I attended a training on the data entry system the agency utilizes. I am already pretty familiar with it, as I use it at my relief position already.

Then came the best part of the day: I got to meet the kids I'll be working with! They were super nice, and most of them were really bubbly! There were about 6 in the after school program today, and are middle school age, save for one who is about 7. They seem like a happy and fun bunch :) The other staff were very welcoming, too.

I really feel at home where I'm at. It's great to be working with a community of people with whom I am a member of. It's a wonderful feeling being both on the spectrum myself as well as knowing I'm helping others like me. It's like I can see things from both perspectives, and it's really cool! I look forward to being a member of the team!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Jobber!

Well, after much perseverance, I scored a job at my local autism agency! Yes, the one I attend Aspie group at :) I had a great feeling about it when I went through both of my interviews, and on the day after my second day interview, I got the call!

Today started training, which was fantastic. I really, REALLY love the philosophy of this agency, which is that autism is something to be celebrated rather than cured. If you know me, you know that this is HUGE in my book. The agency focuses on embracing people for who they were meant to be, and allowing their many gifts to shine. We had two trainers, one of them being the head of the training department. Remember that Asperger's presentation I did last summer? He was the one with whom I presented!

The training started with some fun exercises. Everyone was asked to introduce themselves and state their favorite food (mine being pizza, of course). We also broke down into groups and discussed what led us to seek a career in the field. I explained to the other two people in my circle how I first became interested in pursuing a position with people who have developmental disabilities. I mentioned that my best friend moved into a group home when she was 19, and that after hanging out at her house and getting a sense of the staff's duties, I learned it was something I'd love to do myself! I then went on to discuss how I've been in said field for 12 years now, and after learning I'm on the spectrum myself, I really have a passion for working with others on the spectrum.

We broke for dinner, and I went to the restaurant across the street from the office, which has great hot dogs and fries! Another girl from training happened to have the same idea, so we sat together. We had a nice chat. Once we got back, we did a really fun exercise in which we had to try to solve a word search while the lights in the room were flashing and kind of loud music was playing. To add to the challenge, the puzzle was in Dutch! I managed to find 3 words. The purpose of the exercise was to give us an example of what sensory overload feels like. This was even a good learning experience for me, because although I am autistic, sensory overload isn't something I really experience. I now will have this to keep in mind if a person with whom I am working is experiencing an overload. We also watched a film by Carly Fleischmann titled "Carla's Cafe" in which she gives a firsthand account of what life is like for her.

Lastly, we were given information about the different autistic traits, and talked about the fact that many people believe that vaccines cause autism. The head of the training department even told us that it has been proven that vaccines indeed do NOT cause autism, and described Dr. Andrew Wakefield (who made up the false claim) as a "bad man." I agreed wholeheartedly! :) He then stated that at this organization, they don't focus on what causes autism, which I also was very happy to hear. They instead focus on the individual themselves. I interjected with a few pieces of information and the fact I feel that everyone is born to be who they are for a reason. To make things a little interesting, we even had a fire drill! It was a good thing today happened to be a beautiful day.

I can't wait to go to training again tomorrow and Friday. I've always known that this is an agency with whom I've wanted to work, but I know feel that it's a definite that I'm in the right place! :)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

What's everyone doing for Halloween? Well, to start the day off on a not-so-great note, my grandma and I went for blood work, which isn't at all an issue in itself...however, add to that the fact that after cleaning out the whole back of my car, my paper order was nowhere to be found. Thus, I wasn't able to get my blood work today. I'll have to call my doctor and have them fax the order over, as I have no clue where in the universe my order is. It's probably wherever my birth certificate is hiding. Gotta love having executive functioning deficits!

I'm now getting my PPD for my new job read, which I meant do do yesterday but totally forgot about until I glanced at my arm late last night. Luckily, I have until 11am today! After that, my grandma and I are going to enjoy a wonderful breakfast at Cracker Barrel :) I haven't been there in ages!

Next is a trip to Aldi, which I wasn't counting on, but it is what it is. Anyone who knows me knows how much I loathe grocery shopping, especially when I already have a million and one things to do. Then I'll squeeze a shower in the mix somewhere, and go to pick up and cash my check from my other relief job.

Last but not least, the fun will start! My BFF and I are going to grab dinner at Denny's, and then see Boo! A Madea Halloween! Afterwards, we will imbibe on plenty of candy and other munchies. It will be a fun time! :D

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Dog Days of Summer

It's hard to believe that this summer has been flying by so fast! It has been a fulfilling and fun one, though. I've made sure to make the most of it, as always :)

I've gotten to the pool, albeit only a couple times. This is due to my heel, which continues to give me pain and prevents me from doing a whole lot. I found out a couple months ago that I most likely have torn ligaments with bursitis underneath. I go to see the orthopedic surgeon in October. Wish me luck!

My family has taken our boat out a good number of times. I've been to the Niagara River and Canandaigua. Cruising on the boat has always been a sort of therapy for me. There's something about plugging my headphones in, and the wind blowing against my face, complete with the occasional splash, that I find extremely calming.

I attended an Asperger's presentation by Rudy Simone last weekend. She was amazing, and gave a very clear glimpse into life as an Aspie. My parents really enjoyed it as well.  I made a couple new friends, too!

One of said friends co-facilitates an Aspie group in Rochester called Square Pegs. I attended last Thursday, and it was well worth the hour and a half drive! We met at a restaurant called Lindburgers, which was amazing. I made some more new friends. Everyone was impressed that I came all the way from Buffalo!

Next Saturday will be the Rochester (yes, we like it there a lot) Clothesline Festival, which will have art vendors and musical performances. I will be working my other job next Sunday. The following weekend, my family is going away to lake Oneida for a long weekend! We will be taking the boat :)

It's safe to say that this summer was a good one. How has everyone else's been this year?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flap Away the Frustration!

One thing that I've learned in my research that is a hallmark autistic trait is hand flapping. It's actually been something I never realized I did gave much of a thought to doing...until recently.

After giving it some thought, I recalled that sometimes, while super SUPER stressed, I actually do flap my hands. It is a sort of outlet. It's almost as if the stress builds up, and flapping "releases" it.

This happened earlier today. I felt kind of cranky and on edge, but for no apparent reason. I felt as if I could just slam down or hit something, but instead, I flapped my hands in front of me. It helped! I immediately felt a little calmer. After heating up my pizza, I tried to pick it up when it was still too hot, sort of burning my finger. "Ouch!" I exclaimed and then started flapping again, as I tried to cool off my finger. It worked! I felt better and enjoyed my diet Dr. Pepper.

Now that I'm more conscious of this, and especially the fact that it works, I'll report to flapping away the next time I feel like punching something. It also helps to let out a "grrrr!" or an "eeeee!" As strange as it sounds, and probably looks, give it a try next time you feel compelled to break something. It just might work for you, too! :)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Learning You're On The Spectrum

At some point in every autistic's journey, okay, maybe not those who were diagnosed from a very young age, but rather those who flew under the radar for a long time, we have certain "light bulb" moments that lead us to presume we're on the spectrum. Maybe it's the fact we've always been a little bit "different." Perhaps we have become more aware of social struggles as time goes on. Whatever the case, I'd like to talk about my personal experience.

I didn't first hear of Asperger's until I was 22 and in my second to last year of college, when I'd learned of student's kids who had it. Other than the fact it sounded an awful lot like "asparagus" to me, I didn't give it much thought. I knew it was a form of autism, but that was about all I knew. I had the common misconception that it meant one was "in their own world" as that's what I had been fed by the world.

Fast forward about 4 years. I was working as a Supported Housing Specialist for the same agency I currently work for. I had always known I was different, but had attributed it to the fact that I was diagnosed with ADHD at 25. Something still seemed to set me apart from others, though. My literal thinking. The fact I couldn't read between the lines. I had this genuineness and innocence about me. Jokes often went right over my head.

I don't recall how it happened, but I somehow stumbled upon a blog by a girl with Asperger's. As I read her story, I had that "light bulb" moment and thought, "wow, I could have written this!" The author talked about her sensory experiences. I had always had sensory sensitivities for as long as I could remember. She talked about other things which I could totally relate to as well.

Taking what I now knew, I began to research Asperger's. After taking online quizzes, and looking at lists of female traits, I was convinced that I too, was an Aspie! I spent the next 5 years involved in the community and made several friends in Facebook communities. Though nothing was set in stone, I learned that it was okay to self-identify until I got the answers I was looking for.

When it finally became official, on March 19, 2014, the first thing I felt appropriate to do was to share my story with the world! The pieces of the puzzle finally fit together, hence the name of my blog, "The Pieces Fit!" I had validation. My suspicions were confirmed.

Whether you have been suspecting for a long time that something is a little different about you, or you learn something later on that gives you an "aha!" moment, we all take different paths down the road to self-discovery. It truly is one of the most rewarding experiences one can live!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Traits, Traits, Traits.

You may wonder, what exactly is it that makes one autistic? The answer is, there are several traits which place one on the spectrum! Here, I'll outline the traits, or features, which I attribute to autism.

- Literal thinking: I interpret what people say word for word, in black and white.
- Not reading between the lines: I take what people say at face value and don't pick up on "hidden" messages.
- Genuineness: I am who I am, and don't know how to be any other way.
- Naivety: I am overly trusting and look for the good in others.
- Sensory sensitivities: I have strong aversions to certain tastes and textures.
- Logical thinking: I think about things in a methodological way.
- Misinterpretation: I sometimes take what others tell me the wrong way, and vice versa.
- Using humor: jokes often go over my head, and people tend to think I'm serious when trying to crack a joke.
- Youthfulness: I'm younger than most of my peers developmentally and mentally.
- Innocence: I have always had a sense of this, as I look at the world through rose-colored glasses.
- Attention to detail: I notice the little things; I stop and smell the roses.
- Gift for gadgets: I can figure out how things work just by taking them into my own hands.
- Zest for life: I live each day to the fullest and have fun every moment I can!

In a nutshell, that's the majority of the traits which make up my own unique autistic experience! What are some of your traits?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What's It Like To Be Autistic?

A lot of people might ask, "what's it like to be autistic?" Well, I'll tell you about it! :)

While most people see the big picture, I take it in bit by bit, detail by detail. If I look at a picture of the beach, for example, the sparkling water might catch my attention first. Maybe it's the dog running after the frisbee its owner just threw. Perhaps it's the grainy sand. I notice the little things, and appreciate them.

I take things very literally. When I was 13, a girl told me that her friend stabbed her in the back. My response: "what did she stab you with?" Figures of speech, unless I've become familiar with them, will often mean to me how they sound word for word.

I'm honest to a fault, and often assume everyone else is the same way. While this is usually a good thing, it has gotten me taken advantage of. I've learned how to be more careful so that I don't run into the same problem in the future. I take things at face value, and am transparently, unapologetically me.

I have my special interests: Sonic the Hedgehog and Android. I've been a die-hard Sonic fan since I was 9, and my interest hasn't wavered over the past 24 years. You can often find me rooting my newest devices and flashing the latest ROMs. I'm a flashaholic (for those of you scratching your head, that means someone who likes to install the latest operating system, in excess) XD

So there you have it: a little glimpse into what it's like to see the world through autistic eyes. I wouldn't want to be any other way, as I wouldn't be me! Autism is ausome :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy Autism Acceptance Month!

April 1st has come around once again! Yes, it's that day where we try to pull one over on our family and friends for some laughs, but that's not what I'm talking about. It's the start of another Autism Acceptance month!

Even though it's often referred to as "Autism Awareness" month, I'd like to start calling it "Acceptance" instead. Why is this? Well, we already have plenty of awareness, and while we could definitely still use some more on that note, I like to focus on the fact that even more importantly than awareness, us autistics need acceptance.

It's one thing to recognize that someone is autistic, whether it be the child having a meltdown at the grocery store, or the person who is socially a little uncomfortable. It's another thing to offer to lend a hand, or to include someone! Autism acceptance begins when the world celebrates autistics for the people we are.

When autistics are accepted, we feel like we're part of a team. We don't feel alienated, or like we don't belong, but rather like we can still be ourselves with no shame in our game. We have a sense of belonging; that we are appreciated. Isn't that what every human being wants?

My method of celebrating Autism Acceptance month is to write blogs like this one, to shout out about how the world can accept our neurodiversity! I wish to advocate and educate others on how they can show their friends on the spectrum that they appreciate them. What will you do to raise Autism Acceptance?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Two Whole Years?

Here it is, 11:37pm, March 29th, 2016. Less than a half hour left until my birthday. Exactly two years since I started this blog, since I shared my story with the world. A lot has happened since then, yet at the same time, it feels like just yesterday!

I remember when I decided to start this blog. I wanted to share my autism diagnosis with the world, and I thought "what a better way to do this than to start a blog?" I decided on the name "The Pieces Fit" because the day I was diagnosed, it was like a puzzle was finally solved as I got the answers I had so desperately sought. Everything made sense now!

In these past two years, I have had a full life. I have had multiple opportunities to share my story and advocate, and I've also had a lot of fun along the way! I got to know a wonderful group of people at the house I currently work at, and I strengthened my bond with those whom I've been working with at my relief job. This year marked 10 years since I started at Aspire of WNY!

As I look forward to my birthday, I think of what the year ahead has to offer. What advocacy opportunities may lie ahead. I'll keep on keepin' on being a voice for that autism community. I'll also enjoy each day. I gotta have fun! :)

Friday, March 18, 2016

It's That Day Again...Two Years Later! :)

Here it is! It's once again March 19th. My two-year Aspieversary. Where has the time gone?

I know everyone has heard my diagnosis story, so this time I'll switch things up a bit. I'll talk about life as an Aspie!

I see the world in bits and pieces, rather than the whole picture. As I walk through the park, a bird chirping catches my attention. The sun gleams into my eye and I feel its warmth. My focus then moves to the grass. How lush and green it is! I take a breath. The air smells of spring flowers. Though my senses process each experience separately, one at a time, they do so with such intensity that allows me to stop and appreciate each one. Of course, this also means sensory sensitivities, which can be irritating. Luckily, they don't overwhelm me to the point of overload.

My mind interprets things literally. If you use an idiom, my mind will take it one of two ways. If it's one I'm familiar with, such as the often used "it's raining cats and dogs," I know exactly that you simply means it's raining a LOT. On the flip side, when presented with a phrase that I've never heard before, my mind will take it at face value. At times like this, I need to ask for clarification. Jokes usually go the same way. I often pause for a moment, confused, before the punchline hits me after the fact, or once again, I need to ask what was meant. Reading between the lines is not something that I was programmed with. If you say one thing but mean another, chances are that I will take it for what I heard in English. This has led to my demise at times, and has made me vulnerable. I'm slowly learning how to spot a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I'm not an emotional person, per se, but I feel and recognize my emotions. When I'm upset, the world will know, as I show it. I'm sensitive and take things to heart. The kinds of meltdowns I DO experience are in response to feeling hurt or upset. I'll start crying, and I can't control it. What helps me during these times is reassurance. Once I have that, I'm able to let whatever it is go and move on. Anger is a feeling I don't experience that often, as I'm generally a happy person. When it comes to watching movies, I feel detached, in a sense, as I'm never moved to the point of tears. I can relate to and experience the emotions of the characters, however I can't say a movie has ever made me cry. I think it's because my mind realizes it's only a movie. I'm driven by logic.

I have no shame in my game. Who needs self-consciousness, anyway? I always saw it as something that was unnecessary. I'm not afraid to wear clothes that don't necessarily match, so long as they feel "just right." I have no reservations about proudly displaying my fanaticism for Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm unapologetically me, complete with a dash of eccentricity!
Since learning I'm an Aspie, I feel compelled to help others who are going through similar experiences. I want to help others who suspect they might be on the spectrum find answers, just like I did. I also want to show others that Asperger's brings with it many gifts and talents. I recently began the process of becoming a Compeer volunteer, and I asked to be connected with another young adult on the spectrum, so that I can be a mentor of a sort to someone else in a situation not unlike mine. I'm active in my Aspie group, and am always looking for opportunities to be an advocate in the community, such as the presentation I gave this past summer.

Life has been pretty good to me over the past two years, and my journey is still young. I'm positive that the world holds many opportunities for the future; opportunities to educate, advocate, connect, and learn. I'm going to continue to enjoy the ride! :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Dreaming away...

So I've had some interesting dreams over the past couple days. It's typical of me to have out of this world dreams, but these ones took the cake!

I dozed off on the couch on Sunday night as the Democratic debate was on. I dreamt that my brother and I were at an event, listening to Bernie Sanders himself speak! It was a pretty neat dream, actually :)

On Monday night, things got a little weird. I took a nap before work. I first dreamt that my brother was going to get vapor fluid (he doesn't even vape) and he was telling me that Raven-Symoné worked at the vape store! I told him I wanted to go with him next time to meet her, lol!  Then, I dreamt that I was late for work due to having a panic attack. In this dream, I was scrambling at the last minute, grabbing food to take with me. As I called my coworker to let them know I was going to be late, I felt myself getting more and more worked up. I then got to work and there was a resident there who was fictional rather than someone I actually work with, who was in need of psychiatric help (i actually work in a group home for people with mental health diagnoses). For whatever reason, I started telling her that I was out of Abilify and hadn't taken it in almost a week (which is really the case, lol). I don't know what happened next, but I woke up and it was REALLY 11pm: time to be at work! I really was running late now! I rushed out to the car, called my coworker to let them know I was on my way, and got there in about 10 minutes. Unlike my dream, everything at the house was running smoothly :)  I told them how I dreamt I was late and then it actually happened lol!

Dreams are funny things, especially in my case. Sometimes I know they come from something that I was thinking about earlier that day, and other times, they seem to come out of nowhere. Either way, they sure make for interesting stories!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thinking about the past...

I just saw in my "On This Day" feed on Facebook that today marks two years since my autism journey began! It was then that I had my first part of my assessment. Boy, does time fly.

I still remember the morning of my appointment. To make the day interesting, I discovered that I somehow had gotten a flat tire between the previous day and the current one! Luckily, my appointment want for a few hours. I went to the nearby auto shop and was able to get it plugged. Then, it was off to the doctor's office!

It seems like yesterday I was meeting with my psychologist as he asked me questions. Why I would like to be assessed for Asperger's? What was life lie for me growing up? He also provided me with a couple questionnaires to turn in on my next appointment: two for me to fill out and one for my parents to complete.

I had come prepared; I had brought along a document I had typed, which explained all of the reasons why I had concluded I was on the spectrum. I explained to him how it all started with finding a blog by an Aspie and then doing research. I talked about how this really hit home for me. I told him about how I was always a little different, how I didn't seem to connect with the other kids in early elementary school, and how I wasn't into the same things that "typical" girls were in middle and high school.

He then asked me about my special interests, and of course, we got into talking about Sonic the Hedgehog. Funny moment: he said, "Sonic, that's the groundhog, right?" Lol XD! "Hedgehog," I replied, and then proceeded to show him my Sonic keychain and wallet.

Shortly after, it came time for the appointment to end. I was sent on my way, and told when my next appointment would be. I then checked my tire, which still looked intact, and headed home. I excitedly told my family about my appointment, and how I was anxious to find answers.

I was grateful to have finally begun my quest for the missing piece: the reasons why I did some of the things I did and why I had some of the hurdles I did. It was in part a search for my identity; what made me ME. While always happy with who I was, I wanted to learn more about myself. I guess it's my passion for analyzing everything that had driven that :) Looking back, I'm glad everything fell into place the way it did!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I can do this.

Well, I've reached a decision. With how lethargic I've been feeling, added to the fact that my parents have been on me about my weight (they NEED to be), I've decided to set a goal for myself: I'm going to lose 20 pounds by my birthday. This gives me two months and 4 days. I plan to cut out fast food for a while, as it has been the bulk of my intake for a long time now, and instead, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I'm going to do what I did the last time I lost weight before I fell off the horse: look at it as not a diet, but rather a lifestyle change. I need to go on the treadmill every day, and focus on eating the right foods. I can still have a treat here and there, and I'm not going to go overboard with counting calories or anything, but rather be MINDFUL of what I'm putting into my body. If I'm hungry, I'll reach for some carrots and dip rather than chips. I tried this a few years ago and it was really working for me. Follow-through has always been an issue for me, and it's something I need to push for and work on. I need to focus on ONE DAY AT A TIME, as small goals are far more tangible for me than long-term ones, which tend to overwhelm me and make me give up altogether. I can do this. I need to in order to maintain my health, while I still have youth on my side. I'm roughly 315lbs at the moment, so by March 30, I intend to be 295lbs. Wish me luck! :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yesterday was the know what that means! :)

It's Wednesday, January 20th, which only means one thing: yesterday was the 19th! Yes, my one year and 10 month Aspieversary! Two months and it will be TWO YEARS since my diagnosis. Boy, does time fly!

What have I been doing in the autism community lately? I've submitted a story to NAMI and answered a few questions for NPR. A few months ago, I did an interview via Skype, telling a little bit about my experiences. I still continue to be active in my Facebook groups and My Autism Team. It's so regarding to connect to other autistics and parents alike.

What do I hope to achieve this year? I'd like to maybe do some more videos and submit more pieces of writing to The Mighty. I'd like to take things a step up and be a more active advocate. I want this to be a meaningful year.

As I think about all I've learned about myself and autism itself in the past almost two years, I reflect with a sense of enrichment. I've come a long way. I've met many, many wonderful people in the autism community. I hope this year brings many good things to come! :)