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! :)