The Drawing Board

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 22

Day 22.  Talk about autism parents.  How do you feel about this section of the community?  Do you feel as if they speak over you?  Do you find the term ‘autism parent’ rude or offensive?

I believe that autism parents have one of the hardest jobs in the world, parenting is difficult when your child conforms to all the stereotypical children that you find in parenting books. But when your child is autistic, neurotypical parenting books are not that helpful.

Neurotypical children have tantrums, but autistic children can have meltdowns over the littlest things. If autism parents can adapt and learn to help their children through these meltdowns then my “imaginary” hat goes off to them.

I don’t feel as if autism parents speak over me. Although his could be due to me not really having much communication with them.

I don’t find the term “autism parents” rude or offensive. Its a label that enables a group of people to come together, share stories, and learn to grow as parents and do their best to raise their autistic children in the best way possible.

 

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 21

I apologise that there has been such a huge gap in between Day 20 and Day 21. But my life has been a little mental since the last time I’ve posted on here. I know that it was only meant to be a thing done in April, but seeing as I started, I should probably finish the series.

Day 21.  Talk about co-morbid conditions.  Do you have any other disorders commonly related to autism?  Were you misdiagnosed as something else first?

Co-morbid? That’s not an attractive word. I think I was one of the lucky ones who wasn’t misdiagnosed as a child. Or I don’t believe I have any of the conditions that are commonly referred to as co-morbid conditions of autism/aspergers.

What I do have is some conditions that are made worse for me because of my autism.

I have hayfever, which is pretty much being allergic to the outdoors. This makes my natural anxiety of being outdoors even worse in the summer. I find it very hard to fit in and act in a neurotypically acceptable fashion when my entire face itches. When the pollen count is high, my public face goes right out the window. It literally leaks outta me. I stim more when the pollen is high, and just touching my skin can send me into a meltdown.

I also suffer from Insomnia. This makes it very difficult for me to sleep. Sometimes I’ll go whole days with only a few hours kip in my system. This is where my grip on reality can start getting shaken, I just walk around in a daze not really awake or not really asleep. I hear things that haven’t been said, I see things that aren’t really there, and the ringing in my ears becomes a constant loud hum. The louder the ringing becomes the harder it becomes for me to sleep, and it becomes a vicious circle.

 

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 20 : Communication

Day 20.  Talk about communication.  Are you verbal? Nonverbal? Partially verbal?  How do you usually communicate?

I am verbal. I am able to communicate with people verbally. That doesn’t mean I always like it.

I dislike small talk, how are you? how is everything? I hate these questions because if you answer them literally nobody ever wants to know the answer.

If you answer with the answers people want “I’m fine/good/okay … Everything is fine/good/okay” you are lying 90% of the time.

I would much prefer a deep conversation than this mind numbing back and forth between people who don’t really seem to care how the other person is feeling.

I can do face to face conversation, I can text, one thing that I really don’t like though is conversing over the phone.

If people ring me, I will usually let it ring through and text if I don’t think it’s an emergency. I always struggle on finding my cue to speak when it comes to speaking over the phone. This results in me talking over people, or awkwardly long silences when I don’t know or realise that it is my time to speak.

I would much rather listen to someone, be spoken at, rather than speaking to someone. I have no problem with listening to people. I find this easier than talking actually, I haven’t got to use my filter so much when someone is talking to me. I just got to try and give back the proper responses. As if you give the wrong response to what someone is saying, they can get angry, upset or annoyed.

I prefer texts as it enables me to think about what my response will be, if I write a reply and it seems like it may insult, offend or upset the person I’m speaking to, I can just delete it. I cannot do this in a face to face conversation. You can say no offence, but if you need to say no offence, the chances are you’ve already offended someone. Saying no offence afterwards does not help the situation.

So yes, whilst I can communicate verbally, sometimes being non-verbal would be a nice change. (I am not trying to make light of the struggles faced by non-verbal autistics here). I am just saying that if I didn’t speak I would probably offend a lot less people.

 

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 19

Day 19.  Talk about your struggles and strengths.  What things are difficult for you because you are autistic?  What are the positives of being autistic?  Do you have a special skill or talent?

I’ve spoken about a lot of my struggles over the last 18 posts.

I struggle to maintain friendships, I struggle with time management, I struggle with everyday sights/sounds/smells, I struggle to be the boyfriend that I’m needed to be, I struggle to be the parent that I’m supposed to be, I struggle to sleep decent hours, I struggle with change, I struggle with getting my god damn thoughts out on paper.

But there are positives.

I notice things that other people may not notice, I notice solutions to problems that other people haven’t thought of. I notice a literal and logical solution to a problem when no one is thinking literal or logically.

I say things that need to be said. Mostly because my filter isn’t working but I say them things anyway. I don’t think about who it may offend or hurt, I say those things cause they need to be said.

When I got friends, I’m a good friend. I will do anything I can to help someone. Even if they may not deserve it.

I can draw, I can draw good. I have an eye for detail and I can call upon images from memory and draw them.

I can pour a lot of time and effort into things due to my obsessive nature, If I got a job I will work my arse off to do that job.

I come up with ideas, creative ideas, outside of the box ideas. I don’t know where the ideas come from but I come up with them.

I can take pain, both emotional and physical, my body doesn’t always feel it. But sometimes it just goes on auto pilot. My feet are blistered and bleeding … Keep walking. My mum has just had a stroke … Be strong when everyone else falls to shit. I may have dislocated my shoulder last Saturday … When is my next wrestling match.

The positives and negatives of autism usually go hand in hand, I don’t have superpowers or special abilities I just have traits that help me in ways, whereas others hinder me.

Autism is my sunlight and my kryptonite.

 

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 18

Day 18.  Talk about functioning labels.  What is your opinion about functioning labels?  Where are you on the spectrum?  If you don’t like functioning labels how would you describe your functioning ability?

 

Functioning labels are a great idea. The problem is you can’t label autistics simply into groups of low-functioning and high functioning groups.

I am classed as being high functioning when it comes to my placement on the autistic spectrum.

This means that I can pretty much hide in plain sight around neurotypicals, they may think that I’m a bit odd, rude or annoying at times but other than that it is pretty much unnoticeable.

But I’m high functioning because I can mostly communicate my needs, wants, how I feel. I’m capable of looking after myself, and I don’t need round the clock assistance.

I just come across as someone who is a little socially inept or a bit quirky.

At least this is me on my good days. On my bad days my autism is fully recognisable. These are the days that I don’t leave the house. The days where I close up shop. Shut all the curtains, snuggle under a heavy blanket, and avoid social interaction.

The only people who see these days are my immediate family, these are the days I cancel plans, skip classes, and make up all manners of excuses to not leave the house. I feel bard, I don’t really need to go to uni today, can someone else get the kids for me from school?

These are days that I ask my partner does she really need to go to work, I just want to spend these days in bed.

These are days when my functioning ability is low, even the most simple of sentences could cause me confusion and annoyance. I snap at people for no or very little reason. I’ll forget to eat, drink, sleep is the one thing I want but on those days even that seems to avoid me.

But I’m high functioning so on these days what does that make me?

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 17

Day 17.  Talk about empathy.  Many people think autistics do not have empathy.  What’s your experience with empathy?  Are you hyper empathic or not empathic at all?

Empathy, empathy is always a difficult one.

“The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”.

There is the old myth that autistics cannot empathise, I don’t believe this is true. I believe that we find it hard to empathise when we don’t understand the feelings and situation that the other person is going through.

My experience with empathy is a complex one. I have enough of a hard time understanding and sharing my own feelings. Trying to share and understand the feelings of others is extremely difficult for me.

This is usually the biggest cause of arguments between me and other people.

If I have been in the same situation as you, or feel the same way as you do about something, I can empathise with you.

I find it very difficult to put myself in somebody else’s shoes if I haven’t worn those shoes before.

But if I have experienced something, I do empathise, I empathise a lot.

If I begin sharing people’s emotions I find it hard to then turn my empathy off. I get upset when they are upset, I find it hard to stop feeling their emotions.

Nobody likes being near me at funerals because I get overwhelmed by the emotion and it doesn’t matter how close I was to the deceased I literally feel the grief of every person in that room. This results in me breaking down. I’m not the same for a few days after.

But it works in other ways too. Like last weekend when I was involved in a wrestling show. I felt every bit of excitement from the crowd. It was an awesome feeling and that excitement and joy stayed with me for days afterwards.

So I either empathise too much or not enough. No middle ground …

Now let’s try something, autistics find it hard to empathise with non-autistics so I ask you…

Do you understand how I feel?

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 16

Day 16.  Talk about treatment.  Have you been through any therapies?  What ones did you like?  Which ones didn’t you like?  Do you think autistic people need therapy for their autism?

I had therapy in order to diagnose me but that’s it.

These therapies included …

  • Drawing my feelings
  • Walking across a straight line on the floor
  • Looking at pictures of faces and trying to work out what emotion the face was conveying

 

After I was diagnosed I didn’t have any therapy. So I can’t really comment on therapies or which ones I liked/disliked.

I do believe that autistics need some kind of therapy to help them understand their autism to a greater extent.

The world is a hard place to live in, when you feel like everyone else has got an instruction manual on how to work in it. I have the instruction manual it is just not written in my language.

Any support, knowledge or understanding that could be given to an autistic would be beneficial.

Now if anyone has any support, knowledge or understanding please send it in my direction.

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 15

Day 15.  Talk about identity.  How do you identify?  Autistic?  Asperger’s?  Person with Autism?  What’s your take on person/identity first language?

 

I am not a person with autism. I don’t have autism. I am an autistic, I was diagnosed with aspergers so I primarily identify by calling myself an aspie. I like aspie, mostly because it is easier to spell than aspergers. But It is also because it takes away the idea of it being a syndrome, a disability. Calling myself an aspie makes it sound more like it is a part of me, rather than it being something that is wrong with me.

I didn’t really know what identity first language meant , so I went and had a look. It’s the belief that the disability is an important part of the person’s identity. I believe this to be true, I would not be the same person without autism. My entire self is created by me having this “disability”. That’s why it would be impossible to cure. No one would know who I was without it. I wouldn’t know who I was without it.

It is also nice to identify as an autistic, when it comes to meeting others with autism. Instantly you feel like you have a bond. I can imagine it would be similar to a vegan meeting another vegan, yay we both don’t eat meat, let’s bond. That’s how I feel when I meet someone else who is autistic, yay we are both socially awkward and blunt as fuck, lets be socially awkward and blunt as fuck together.

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 14

Day 14.  Talk about role models.  Who are your role models?  How have they influenced you?

I don’t really have role models.

I know people usually say God has influenced them, or celebrities have influenced them. But I can’t say I’ve ever been influenced by any of these people.

My biggest influences have been people in my family.

My father is like my anti-role model. He taught me how to not be a Dad. So I try my best every day to be nothing like him. I ain’t a violent sociopath, I see my kids regularly,  so I think I’m doing okay so far.

My grandfather taught me how important it is to stick up for the community you live in. My home town was planned to be demolished, he was one of the people who fought tooth and nail to get the site saved. Guess what? It’s still standing. So when it comes to community work he is the one who has influenced me most.

My step-dad taught me that just because a child isn’t yours, there is no reason you can’t be the dad they need. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but he taught me that anyone can be father, but if you stick around and put the effort in, that makes you a dad.

I’m sorry that my role models aren’t anyone exciting or famous. But these are the people that are most influential to me.

#30DaysofAutismAcceptance – Day 13

Day 13.  Talk about something funny.  Has anything humorous or ironic ever happened to you because you were autistic?

 

It wasn’t really funny at the time but now looking back on it I find it funny.

I was out shopping one day in Pontypridd, I was having a bad day so my hood was up, I was avoiding eye contact and my memory was not great.

My tattoos were all on full display I was in my comfy clothes, baggy hoody and baggy tracksuit.

My head was shaved at the time, and my eyes were wild due to every sound, sight and smell agitating me that day.

I had to go into Home Bargains, now I hate shops like this on a good day. Its disorganised, they move items around the shelves everyday so you can never find what you are looking for, the freezer area smells strange and there is always so many people there.

My partner had asked me to buy some stuff, I did not want to ring her and ask her to repeat what she had asked me to get, as I had literally just spoke to her before entering the shop, so I walked around the shop hoping it would trigger my memory and I would remember what I was looking for.

I was walking around for a good half an hour, then eventually I gave in and rang Liz to find out what she wanted me to get. She couldn’t remember either.

So I walked straight out of the shop relived to finally be leaving this overstimulating environment, but as I approached the door I was stopped by a man in a security uniform.

“Can you empty your pockets sir?” He asked me quietly

“Uh, sure” I empty my pockets “Why?”

“I don’t know where you put the stuff I saw you pick up earlier, but just to let you know I’ve seen you in here before, the cameras have caught you before, and don’t do it again” He said looking at me like I was some common scum.

I said “Okay” and walked out.

I have never shoplifted from that store, and I was not planning on stealing that day. That guy had mistaken my autistic traits as the traits of a hardened criminal.

I took no offence.

I understood that my autism can make me look shifty.

My partner on the other hand was deeply annoyed and told me that I should not have allowed myself to be spoken to in that manner.

I just found it funny that my social awkwardness had been mistaken for criminal cunning.