river in iceland with a bridge over it and snow on the ground

Lying on the cold hard ground

I’m going through and rescuing some old drafts that got lost in the draft box, so hopefully for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting more frequently. Some of the details might be a bit out of date, though. Also, some of these posts might be a little bit silly and maybe not my best writing.

I like to lie on the ground. Almost all of the day almost all of my life, I would just rather be curled up in a ball. And I mean this in a positive way–I just really love lying down. I’m enjoying myself a lot when I am lying on the ground. Also, I really hate standing around (often talking) when you could be sitting–or even better just lying on the ground. I know eye contact is more important to a lot of people, so I guess that isn’t why people don’t have conversations lying on the ground all the time.

Maybe not everywhere I am, but a lot of places. Even if it is somewhere I am enjoying myself, I know that it would be more enjoyable if I could be lying on the ground. Except, there are reasons not to lie on the ground:

  1. A lot of time the ground is dirty or unsafe. Such as crossing the street.
  2. Sometimes I would get in the way of people
  3. It is not something you are supposed to do. For some reason, even sitting on the ground seems weird to some people.

So, I generally know I am not supposed to lie on the ground.

But when I get drunk, I care a lot less about this so I lie on the ground a lot.

And that is actually how I realized I always want to lie on the ground.

 

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Autistic People and Imagination

When they say autistic people don’t have imagination and don’t engage in imaginative play, what do they mean? I knew I had imagination, and that was one of the biggest things holding me back from thinking I could be autistic, because that was something always stated and listed and formalized. Autistic people don’t have imagination.

I never really was into playing school or house, like other kids were (why would you be a grown-up when you could be a HORSE?). But I would play all sorts of imaginative games with my cousins and my sister and myself.

I played Orphan Kittens. We played all sorts of games with our stuffed animals and model horses. Admittedly, we often wrote out the scripts before and they were usually similar patterns that happened… but that is a trait common to children. (You notice it when you babysit or have younger siblings or really just encounter things like that).

We played Lord of the Rings and went on quests where grapefruits or a pomegranate were palantir. There was a game where we were princesses that also involved horses and we would switch roles between them back and forth. We also played a lot of complicated games involving chickens and occasionally my cousin’s goat which we were all afraid of, but those were not always imaginative games–I don’t really remember the point of them, so they are a bit irrelevant.

In 4th grade, I made snail houses and fairy houses and for one brief moment, I was a trendsetter when everyone else in 4th grade also made “fairy friends”. (Although I was a bit upset that they treated it as a game, because I at least half–probably more–believed in it). I played games where the swings were the way to outer space and the only way back was to go down the slides. I was good at coming up with games and stories, so as long as everyone else was still young enough to play stories and pretend at lunch, I had company. They grew out of it earlier, so I switched to books.

And I lived in stories and books (and still do) despite the best efforts of literature analysis to beat that love out of me. And I still half-live in a world of stories, although I read much less than my high school minimum of a book a day. (I have a lot more reading to do of other materials than I did in high school.) (Also, I don’t like going new places myself which is why I haven’t been yet to the [non-campus] library even though I love libraries.)

Anyway, on any given day, I’m about 80% sure I’m autistic and I’ve had official professional people agree with me, so I just wanted to summarize this to say that autistic people can be creative too and that is a silly requirement to say they can’t.

hows and whys

I have to choose a lab and that is no fun because they don’t really tell
you the hows or the whats or the whys and whenever I go to try and talk to
people, they just ask be questions. When what I am asking for isn’t the
questions but the process. What is the process for choosing a rotation. For
choosing a lab to work in. I would like a protocol. I would like some
directions other than “find a lab”. How do we find one? Once we have
identified one that we think we would like to join, how do we go about it.

They say go and talk to the faculty, but they don’t say what to talk about.
So I go in and talk and end up just as confused at the end with no specific
progress.

When I ask how to choose a lab, how to join a lab, they do not tell me.
They ask me questions that lead down a different path. I want to know how
to contact people. I want to know the how about it.

Even if I get the strength and spend days and days making the words and
walking around outside the building to prep before going in with explictly
said words “I would like to join your lab” it does not work. It doesn’t
come out… the words don’t want to listen at all. So I just sort of go
there and nod and murmur along and agree to all the things and say
everything is doing great and run quickly quickly quickly through the
little bit of the script I can still remember. And we end up more confused.
Both of us.

Once I tried to write it down on a post-it note I brought in.

Sometimes they ask me questions I haven’t prepared for and I have no answer
for and I scramble for them in bits and pieces and try to make words out of
things that aren’t words.

I know it is because there are multiple of us trying for the same lab and
there is so much that depends on it on funding and who to choose and what
to do but I do not know how to do it. I do not know the how.

And I’m terrified I’m too slow. I sort of already had one person tell me no
because I didn’t express interest and I don’t know how to show I can
express interest in a clear and obvious way. I know how to do it in the
ways my interest and happiness works. Although the lab I want to join was
the first, when I was less skilled at digging into the problems and hiding
in the data and building a home out of it. I’m afraid the other person or
people trying for this lab will win. Because they know the words and the
procedures and don’t seem to have to prep with words on a post-it note or
walk around and lie down in the grass afterwards to process and figure out.
And they know the words and the ways of people and all I have is the
long-ago memories of the brownies and blondies and other treats I brought
into lab in October November December.

Processing is not my strong point.
People is not my strong point.
Choosing is not my strong point.
Fighting is not my strong point.

Processing processing processing.

Why do I want to join your lab?

I know in the patterns. I know from the part of my brain that doesn’t think
in words. With the following of patterns. Where all the things come from
patterns. I can tell somehow. I know I was happy. I know I liked the work.
I don’t know the how the why the reasons, at least not in words. The part
of me that knows things like this doesn’t know in words, not always, and
there aren’t words or translations leftover.

But that’s not an adequate answer. That’s not a coherent explanation.
That’s not a convincing reason to choose me over someone else. If I can’t
articulate *why* I know, just that I know, it isn’t particularly helpful.

The hows and the whys and the words and the work and the reasons.

Running Away

A while ago, I ran away from home. True, I am an adult. An independently living adult. So you might not strictly call what I did running away. You could call it “taking a walk to clear my head.”

But it was really running away.

It was a panic, that resulted in a pretty much nonverbal me running out barefoot into the neighborhood. After about half an hour, I was able to talk myself into going back to my apartment for shoes, a coat, and my phone.

Shoes, coat, phone.
Shoes, coat, phone.
Shoes, coat, phone.

Then I was off again.

I know to walk if I am able to walk instead of run. I know the ways to walk so no one asks you questions or if you are lost or asks for directions. I know how to wander aimlessly while looking like I am walking purposely. Because walking purposely protects you from the people that would stop and ask you questions that I would be unable to answer. (Admittedly, now that I live in a city, I suppose I am less likely to run into random people I know, or just nice other people who ask if you are ok, but that was a threat in undergrad.)

I knew to walk east and north. Always walk east and north. (This is a purely safety reason, because the neighborhoods south or west are not as nice of neighborhoods.)

So I walked east and north, aimlessly but with purpose, to get away, to escape my mind.

Eventually, I had calmed down enough to sit down on some steps and send a help message.

“Ran away but went back for shoes and phone so ok walking campus now not safe (physically ok) but cant go back home again tried once help maybe”

And boyfriend called and talked me through, even when I wasn’t talking, and talked to me about little things about the week until I had words back and was able to walk back home past the motorcycle crash and the angry people and the police back to my apartment back to my room and be safe again. And he stayed and talked me through to safety.

And that is why I love him.

If he hadn’t called back, I’m sure I would have eventually calmed down enough to get my words back. I am not sure where I would have been able to go, or hide. I would have kept walking east and north, until I hit the lake. And kept walking. Not into the lake, but somewhere. Eventually the cold might have reminded me to go home, but I’ve walked for hours while it was snowing before because of similar panic. (I usually loop around a relatively small area, though. So I won’t walk one direction for hours, but I would walk the same paths around campus for hours in the snow.)

When things get to be completely overwhelming, I hide or run. Hiding usually comes first. If there is nowhere to hide, then I will run. I’ve been in a hallway before for a professor-networking-dinner-event, then the next thing I know I am literally halfway across campus, running. At a certain point, it becomes something out of my control. That is why it is good I spent my first adventures into living alone in undergrad on a campus without a lot of streets criss-crossing it.

I am afraid that one day I will panic and run out of lab in the middle of an experiment. Or run out of a meeting or run out of my (in the far indefinite future) thesis defense. Most of all, I am afraid I will run out into the street.

So I look for hiding places, for safe places, for places that I can go in a panic. Ways to hide instead of run. I’ve found several of them. There are quiet rooms full of rarely used equipment. There are the wells under the desk (although people could find me there, but it is a small space). There are always bathrooms.

I wish that I could say definitively that one day I will grow out of the running. That I will be able to just stop it. That I will be able to manage things so that they are in control and so that it never happens. I’m afraid one day I might be watching my (potential far-distant) children and get so overwhelmed I run away, leaving them who knows where. I don’t think I will. I tend to prefer to hide, if at all possible. I want to be able to manage myself better, to know when I am close to overwhelming, to know when I can push myself and when I need to stop. I think I’m generally getting better. But these full-out-panic-don’t-remember-runnings didn’t happen all that frequently to begin with. (Possibly because usually I can hide.)

#AutismPositivity2014

I wanted to participate in the Autism Positivity Flash Blog this year, but of course, I figured out that it was happening when I started to see the earliest posts head up. So it may be a bit short. Or a bit list-like. But I like lists. So that is all good.

I am autistic. Of course, I find it difficult to separate what is awesome about me because of being autistic. And what is awesome about me because of just being me. They aren’t separate things, necessarily. So what follows will be a few things that I think about when I think about autism:

  • When I think about autism, I think about moving. I think about happiness. I get extremely, jumpy, flappy, excited over things like daffodils and GFP. Or the beautiful collie I saw walking the other day. I think about how lovely it is to fully express happiness, to have it bubble up through my whole body. When I am happy, it is obvious. I have never seen any point in hiding happy. When I am happy, I share it with the world.
  • When I think about autism, I think about brains. My brain is autistic and it can do amazing things. I mean, brains are pretty amazing to begin with. They do everything. Right now I am thinking about how the my brain is telling my hands to move to type these words which also means that my brain is responsible for me thinking about me thinking and on and on and on in an incredible loop.
  • When I think about autism, I think about the Amazing Autistic Community I have found and the amazing new friends I have made.
End of Story–but not really… the list goes on and on and on and on and on and will keep going, even if I don’t add on to it here. (But if you want to see more Expressions of PosAutivity, CLICK HERE!)

Just another reminder that autistic children grow into autistic adults

I’ve been seeing so many posts today about autistic children, so so so so many. And that is just from the brief facebook browsing breaks I have been taking when I am supposed to be designing primers at work. I (mostly) have not been actively seeking it out. And sure, children are adorable, and you can put up really cute pictures of them which you can’t really do for adults, but the story is incomplete. (Not to say that autistic children are not important and wonderful, as well.) Autistic children grow into autistic adults.

sleepwakehope 1 in 88 people. Autistic children grow into autistic adults.  TOM WILLIAMS. I thought their lifespans were significantly shorter. Labrynithia. Autistic people have normal lifespans. You may be thinking of something like Down Syndrome, that is associated with serious health concerns. Autism is (mostly) just associated with neurological differences. Nine to five workday. And even for people with Down syndroe, that has (and is) changing for the better. In 1929, most people with Down syndrome lived to be 9., maybe 10 years old 18 years later it jumped to 12-15 years old. Today, 44% will live to be 60.
This is from the comments on a NPR article Jump In Autism Cases May Not Mean It’s More Prevalent.
Admittedly, I should really know better than to read the comment sections of things like this (AND EVEN
MORE TO I SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO COMMENT WITHOUT TRIPLE CHECKING THE
NUMBER), but actually it wasn’t as bad as it could have been (and people didn’t even fuss about
 the number-typo).

And then I happened onto the NPR comments for this article and decided that maybe I will take an optimistic view that people honestly just don’t know that it is possible for autistic children to grow up (if you count lack of knowledge as the optimistic view). For people who don’t think about autism much, maybe it isn’t too much assumption that people with autism have significantly shorter lifespans. After all, it is compared to cancer and life threatening diseases so frequently. It is painted as a horrible horrible thing that tears families apart and it is full of doom and gloom and ominous signs. Maybe it makes sense then that people don’t realize that autistic children grow into autistic adults.

But they do.
Regularly and frequently.

And I think the world needs another quick reminder that autistic children grow into autistic adults. (And mostly, I want to tell everyone who posted something about autistic children today (well, I suppose they mostly posted about children with autism, technically) that autistic children grow into autistic adults. But I am not brave enough to do that, to publicly link my name with autism yet, with any sort of phrase or words where people who know me vaguely might hear and notice. I am not yet comfortable or confident enough in this new identity to tell people I know.

So I am going to tell the anonymous world of the internet, through a method not attached to my real name.

Autistic children grow into autistic adults.
Autistic children grow into autistic adults.
Autistic children grow into autistic adults.
Autistic children grow into autistic adults.

And here is just a brief smattering of some of the lovely autistic adults (well, blogs by autistic adults) that are out here on the internet. It is largely incomplete. I know there are so so so many more people that I have missed (and if you would like to be added to the list, or feel I have missed someone who should be on the list, just comment or email me and I can add you). (Or if you would like to be taken of the list, I can do that, too.)

(Some) Blogs by Autistic Adults

Some random updates

It’s time for a Friday night update on my life. Why? Because I am still testing the hypothesis that blogging makes me happy. So far it has been another fairly good set of weeks, but it is sort of difficult to tell if this is because of the blogging or the talking to people or what, because I don’t really want to do the sort of controlled experiments necessary where I try weeks without any of the coping mechanisms to use as a control, so I am really trying to go with the methods where I throw all the new coping techniques or correlations up at once and try to maintain all of them if at all possible. But mostly right now I am working on the blogging regularly part. So I’m going to give an update on my life in list form, because list-format makes sense and is good.

The good:

(1) Told my roommate I was autistic. Mostly happened in passing in a conversation we were having about how we were good at teaching. That was fairly uneventful. Pretty much she asked, “really” to see if it was a figure of speech or not and I said “yup. for reals.” and then we continued our conversation.

(2) Also finally told my roommate about how I prefer text-based communication a lot of the time. So that if I am seeming quiet or non-communicative (because she said she was worried that I don’t talk enough) that she should try g-chatting me or something. Because I looovvvee g-chat. I am very talkative and friendly through g-chat almost always, even when I am non communicative verbally. And that also went well, I think.

Yes, I will go play with animals all break.

(3) When this lease is up in August, I am moving. And I am getting a pet. Hopefully a dog (I just need to work out a few details about Christmas, but boyfriend and family live in Chicago, so hopefully they can watch it) so I can go on walks and cuddle and because I love dogs, but if not, at least something adorable and furry and lovely.

(4) It’s spring break so I am going home to California! And I am going to go see these beauties. And also the sun. And warmth.

(5) It’s also finally starting to get warm here again. I can go outside without my parka. (Still wearing a coat, but not my giant, knee-length puffy coat!) Spring is coming. And spring means daffodils and tulips, which are my favorite flowers.

The bad:

(1) My computer is dying, so that is no good. It decided to quit on me all night yesterday which is of course just what you want the day before the end-of-rotation presentation. So that presentation went not-all-that-great, as I hadn’t been able to practice it, but I didn’t actually cry during the presentation, and I bribed everyone with brownies that I made the night before, since I had a lot of time since I couldn’t work on my presentation with a nonfunctional computer… It hasn’t made funny noises since my presentation, though, so maybe it has decided to improve. I know they have limited life spans, and this one is 5 years old, almost, but I don’t want to have to replace it. Also computers are expensive.

Why yes, this happens every time I try to
put my curtains up or take them down.

(2) My curtains hate me. I swear that they have a conspiracy designed to drive me into a non-functional state of rage. (That hasn’t actually happened, but that is just because I am smarter than my curtains. It’s close, because they are pretty tricky, but I think I am winning just slightly.) So my curtains actually spend a lot of time on the floor.

I think they technically aren’t curtains, but are shades or something like that, but that is probably a mostly-irrelevant piece of data.

Also, they are luckily close to my bed, so I can climb on my bed and the window to put them up every night when I go to sleep. But it is still super frustrating and also I am climbing on windowsills while sleepy a lot, which is not the best idea.

(3) I’m 23 now, so I’m technically too old to be on my parents car insurance anymore, so I am going to have to either stop having a car (which I could do. I don’t really need a car, but it is nice having one) or pay for car insurance myself soon once the insurance company realizes that I am too old. And that adds even more costs onto having a car I don’t really need but that makes my life a lot easier to the point where I am almost not sure I can justify it.

(4) I have to do taxes soon… or have boyfriend do taxes soon, at least, and this year I have to pay taxes instead of getting a refund, because my graduate school stipend won’t take the taxes out directly like most jobs (and they also only pay us 4x a year, which is stressful because you have to manage money well throughout those three months because you don’t get paid all that frequently.) So I am going to have to write big checks to the government, and that is no fun.

The neither-good-nor-bad, but just things that have been happening:

(1) 2048 is the best and worst game ever. I want to play it all the time. But I discovered it during finals/presentation week.

(2) I am not tired because I took a 4 hour nap today (which was good). But now it is 1:30 and I am still awake (which is bad). But tomorrow is a Saturday so it doesn’t matter too much.
~~~

I’m getting through pretty well right now, overall. The goods outweigh the bads, generally, at this time. (Admittedly, at this moment, my computer has also decided that it is going to function and has been for a while, so that is a big plus. Probably currently the biggest factor in my happiness is my computer’s inconsistent behavior.)

Well, that’s all that’s really happening here.