My Message to the 4th Graders

This is a post I’ve been wanting to type up for over a year now.  In 2015, I was working with an autistic boy for the third year in a row.  I was a TSS (therapeutic support staff), which meant I spent a lot of time with him both at his school and his house, working on behavioral interventions and doing lots of documentation. (For a little more detail about my job as a TSS, see the post “Crisis of Faith.”)  He had a LOT of hours.  Over those three years I not only got to know him and his family and nurses well, but I came to know and love a lot of his classmates.

His classmates were, for the most part, awesome.  This was a kid who would have super-scary aggressive meltdowns, but after it was over his classmates would still invite him to play at recess or help him follow instructions in the classroom.

Friends on a field trip

Friends on a field trip

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In the middle of those years, I had another client, up at the middle school.  In his classroom, there was a boy I’ll call “Hunter.” On my very first day, I suspected that Hunter was on the spectrum, too.  (My gay sister has excellent gaydar. . . do we have an accepted made-up word yet for autism-radar?)  Hunter was the kind of kid who had a lot of trouble socially, and unlike my little client at the elementary school, it wasn’t obvious to his peers that he was struggling.  They just sensed Hunter was different, and got annoyed when he’d be bossy or a “know it all,” and socially ostracized him.  It was difficult for me to watch, especially since I was still in that first year of my self-diagnosis, and I was reflecting so much on my own childhood.

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Back to that first client’s class.  I had seen first sparks of middle-school-girl drama forming as these fourth graders headed towards adolescence.  I had seen how the older students were treating one another.  I had watched these little kids be so considerate of my client and the other “different” kids in their classroom, and felt the hope it gave me for the future.  I didn’t want them to lose that.

So, I did something that is entirely out of character for me, and volunteered myself for public speaking.  I must have been inspired by the guidance counselor’s weekly lessons that were supposed to teach the kids emotional intelligence skills (identifying and handling their emotions, showing empathy, stopping bullying, etc.).  She was occasionally busy and couldn’t come do the lesson, which meant the classroom teacher lost that hour of prep time she had been depending on.  One of those days, I suggested I could teach the kids about autism.  Mrs. C loved that idea, so I let the ideas run repeatedly through my head and wrote my main points out on note cards.  I kept those cards in my bag, and the next time the guidance counselor cancelled, I was ready.  Or, as ready as I ever am to talk in front of people.

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It’s been a long time since that day, so I won’t be able to remember it word-for-word, or remember the excellent comments that Mrs. C and the students shared during our discussion.  I wish I had taken notes on those, because the kids really interacted with me.  But here is what I’ve reconstructed from those note cards.

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At my house, we have a Wii, and we have a PlayStation 3.  If I put my MarioKart disc in the PlayStation, will it work?

“No!”

So, my PlayStation is broken?  Or the disc is broken?

“No.”

[I explained that the two game systems have different operating systems.  I tried also making the Windows/Mac comparison that I originally saw explaining this idea, but they weren’t as familiar with computer systems.]

A lot of you have seen me wear earplugs in the cafeteria.  Why do I do that?

“Because it’s too loud.”

But wait. . . if it’s “too loud,” why isn’t everyone wearing earplugs?

[discussion]

So, do you mean we each have our own “too loud”?  We can experience the same thing in different ways?

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In my psychology classes, we were warned that sometimes you learn about something and start diagnosing all of the people around you with that thing – don’t do that!

[I projected the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ASD on the board, and tried to give a quick 4th-grade-level explanation of each section, with examples]

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Where does autism come from?

I know that you guys have been learning about “traits” in your science class.

We know that autism can be inherited.  It runs in my family.

Our environment is also going to play a part in how people with autism develop, how bad some behaviors are, how they learn to cope.

Just like every kid.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Some of you are awesome at basketball, but not soccer.  Some of you are bad at memorizing multiplication facts, but awesome at geometry.  Some of you are awesome at understanding what others are feeling, and being kind when they need it.

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“Different operating system” does not equal “broken.”

That’s what I want you guys to understand about autism.

It doesn’t mean he’s sick.  It doesn’t mean she’s stupid.  It doesn’t mean he’s broken.

He or she has a different operating system than most people.  The way they experience the world can be different, and so they may react differently.

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You guys have been learning about empathy, and how it’s so important.

When you have a different operating system, it makes it harder to understand how another person is thinking and feeling.  Because if you were in their situation, you would not be thinking and feeling that way.

What are some of your favorite smells?

If you see me at a seafood restaurant, I’m going to look disgusted and unhappy.  You might not be able to figure out why – because to you, the place smells awesome and you can’t wait to eat.  But I hate the smell of seafood.

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In my kitchen at home, my mom has always had a little sign by our kitchen sink.  I see it every day.  It says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle.”

I’ve been so impressed with you guys and the other kids in this grade who I’ve gotten to observe and know these three years.  You do so much to be kind and include other kids.  That is really special.  Not all kids are like that.  And I don’t want you to lose that.

Stay kind.

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When I was growing up, I had a really hard time reading other people, and they had a hard time understanding what I was thinking.  I’d feel happy but wouldn’t look it.  I didn’t make a lot of eye contact.  I was obsessed with dinosaurs, Ghostbusters, and Ninja Turtles.  I couldn’t color until all 96 crayons were in meticulous rainbow order.  Before I could read, my mom had to read my favorite TV show’s episode title when it came on the screen, or my day would be ruined.  She was really happy when I learned how to read!  I wore my socks inside-out because the seam bothered me, and I hated most clothing.  Some of these things got in the way of relationships, and made school hard.

Sound familiar?

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I’m 30.

I still wear some of my socks inside out.  I’m a lot better at understanding what other people are feeling.  I still like things to be organized.  I still have a hard time making new friends.

One reason I wanted to talk to you guys about this is that one day you will be 30.  You’ll meet people who have different operating systems.  Be kind.  Give them a chance.  They might make your life more interesting.

Cards I gave the class on my last day as a TSS.

Cards I gave the class on my last day as a TSS.

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Misunderstandings

I recently had a phone conversation with a new acquaintance, who pulled the “You think you’re autistic?  I don’t see it” line.  I laughed and said, “You don’t know me well enough yet,” instead of saying, “Wow, I’ve spent nearly 30 years pretending and practicing to be normal – glad I was able to fool you – on the phone – for a single hour!  How dare you – you who say you haven’t even talked with an autistic person before – try to tell me who and what I am, as though you – who don’t know me AT ALL – know me better than I know myself?”  It was the first time I’ve had to deal with that kind of dismissive attitude, but then again it was also the first time I have explained my self-diagnosis to someone who hasn’t actually known me for a while.

(here are “20 Things Not to Say to a Person with Aspergers“)

     Then the drama struck when we were later texting instead of talking, and I was confused by something he said, and responded in a way that he found hurtful.  I couldn’t even tell which of my comments could be taken as hurtful, so I had to ask what it was I said.  After the conversation, I was feeling really upset over yet again failing at human interaction, but at the same time I was pleased to see growth in my self-awareness and ability to express it.  I think reading other Aspies’ writings and working on my own has helped with that.

Here were some of my shared thoughts:

  • I don’t know how to take things when I don’t know someone well.  It can be especially hard when texting.
  • When I don’t know what to say, I don’t say anything.  Sometimes it’s hard to figure out my thoughts and put them into words, too.  Especially when I don’t know what the person I’m talking to is thinking, so I don’t know what I should even be responding to.
  • Like you, I pull away from pain.  And that includes pain unintentionally inflicted on others.  It reminds me how often I misunderstand and am misunderstood.  And if I’m gonna hurt people, I’d rather just sit alone with my cat.
  • And it takes me time to get to know someone and know how to interpret all they say and do.  Until then, interactions can be confusing and frustrating for me.
  • I’m not saying I’m never understood, I’m just saying that understanding others and being understood is a frequent struggle for me.

Today I stumbled upon this post by Cynthia Kim at Musings of an Aspie, “The Seductive Illusion of Normal.”  This passage really fit how I’m feeling today:

I don’t live in a vacuum. I say and do stuff. People around me are affected by it. Even though they know I struggle with certain things–they know this logically. That doesn’t prevent them from being affected by my words or actions or lack of words or actions.

This is when the wish to be normal sneaks up and grabs me.

I’m using normal and not neurotypical here for a reason. Normal is an illusion and I know it’s the illusion that I’m wishing for at these times. I’m not wishing for a different neurology so much as a fantasy version of life.

It’s easy to be seduced by the idea that being normal would solve everything, that it would make the lives of the people around me easier. But, of course it wouldn’t. We’d have some other problems instead, because life is like that.

And still it’s there, born out of frustration and insecurity, of a sense of never quite being good enough or right enough or just plain enough.

Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue. Mine has never been especially good. I seesaw between overconfidence and underconfidence, with no idea where the sweet spot in-between lies. Does anyone truly know this? I’m not sure.

 

Recently I also read “The Isolation of Aspergers.”  Even though I don’t fully identify with most of her words, I do share many of those feelings.  There’s a lot of loneliness.

Crisis of Faith

For the last several months I’ve been experiencing a deep crisis of faith.  Not my Christian faith, but rather my faith in what I do as a TSS.  For those of you unfamiliar with the TSS position, it stands for Therapeutic Support Staff.  Most of the children served by my agency (and all the kids that I have worked with) are on the autism spectrum, though there are other diagnoses/issues that can cause a recommendation for services.  Here’s how it works: after an intake evaluation, a child may get a BSC, who is a master’s level clinician.  The BSC consults with the caregivers and school (if relevant) and develops a treatment plan full of objectives and interventions.  Then the TSS, a bachelor’s level therapist, implements the interventions (while teaching caregivers/teachers to use them) and collects data and documentation (the bane of my existence).

Some tools of the trade - computer for documentation, a variety of ear protection, visuals, fidget toys, a pencil for writing a flexible visual schedule, highlighter to color in a smiley chart.

Some tools of the trade – computer for documentation, a variety of ear protection, visuals, fidget toys, a pencil for writing a flexible visual schedule, highlighter to color in a smiley chart.

I worked for another agency for a year and nine months before reaching burnout point and moving home, and I have worked for this agency just as long.  I’ve always been really good at my job – at least, especially good at the working-with-the-kids part, because I *get* them and can tell what’s going on with them before most other adults in their lives.  I always figured it was because I have empathy for autistic kids because of my cousins, and because I’m a highly sensitive person myself, and because I’ve studied a lot about autism.  But last summer when I realized I have Asperger’s, I started to not only empathize with and understand the kids but also identify with them.  And in many ways that has made my job much harder.  One day I exclaimed in frustration, “I feel like I’m disguised, helping those adults to oppress my people!”  My mom chuckled, but it’s a real feeling.

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A big component in the development of my Crisis of Faith was reading a few blog posts as I was exploring my own self-diagnosis.

 

[Warning – this post is going to involve a lot of “recommended reading.”  I’ll try to summarize the key idea of each link I post, but they are all worth reading.]
One of the first was “Quiet Hands.”  As I read this post, my heart sank.  How many times have I, following the leads of the adults in charge at school, tried to suppress my clients’ stims?  Sure, I’ve suggested things like fidget toys as alternatives; and sure, most of my main client’s hand movements are accompanied by disruptive sound effects (think Angry Birds; that’s the game he’s usually playing in his head while stimming with his hands).  But I’ve also used this visual:

Which brings me to the next blog, which I think is actually where I saw the previous link.  “On Failing Kindergarten,” by Alyssa on Yes, That Too. I spent all last year, and most of this one, watching the staff in autism support rooms trying to make kids follow these rules.  I’ve felt frustrated with them making a kid sit with his feet on the floor in front of him, when the kid is trying to sit on his foot or sit cross-legged in the chair- like I do.  I’m so uncomfortable with conflict and speaking up. . . if I’m in a situation where I don’t think my advice will be heeded I am unlikely to offer it.  But I’ve tried to muster courage to be a sort of advocate when I can.  In that specific example I did finally say, “I have trouble sitting on these hard chairs; have you tried one of those squishy things they can sit on?”  (I’ve seen them at the school.)  The teacher shrugged it off with a, “We’ve tried everything” (not true) and resumed firmly demanding he sit “right” in the chair, threatening him with the weighted lap pad instead of offering it as a good thing.

Situations like that are difficult, because I am a guest in these classrooms and it is not my place to tell the teachers what they’re doing wrong. . . I’m there to explain interventions that work for my client and model them.   And like I said, I am uncomfortable.  I’m too afraid to say things that will cause discord or bad feelings, since I have to be around these people every day.  I was yelled at once at work while trying to implement an intervention and nearly cried; I was terrified of seeing the person again.  Although I tried to act normally around them I was also very wary.  So I have the internal conflict of watching treatment I strongly disagree with but being afraid of trying to change it.

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Here is an example of what it’s like to *see* what the people in charge do not see when an autistic student is acting out.  Her writing powerfully conveys the feeling of heartbreak and helplessness I often feel in such situations. – “What I Saw” by AutisticChick

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Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa
On Failing Kindergarten

I’ve only read a few of Matt Walsh’s posts and I don’t agree with everything he says. But I really liked most of what he says in, “Help, doc, I’m bored by boring things. I think I’ve got the ADHD!”  I agree that medication is over-prescribed, but I think he’s a little too strongly anti-meds (for an example of a family who dramatically benefits from meds, check out the BBC documentary Living with ADHD).
Here’s the main point of this post summed up in two quotes:

What if — this is a big IF — what if people are all, like, different?

Hold on.

Don’t stop reading yet. Seriously, think about it. What if there ISN’T actually some preordained mold of behavior and thought in which we’re all supposed to fit? What if it’s OK for some people to be a certain way, while others are another way, and still others are an entirely different way? What if some people are active, and some people aren’t; some people are creative, and some people aren’t; some people have a lot of energy, and some people don’t; some people are daydreamers, and some people aren’t? What if — again, HUGE if — but what if we tried to find a place for the unique qualities of all men and women, rather than attempting to chemically eradicate entire personality types simply because they don’t gel with our artificial societal constructs?

What if we stopped trying to make our kids “normal,” and instead encouraged them to be exceptional?

and:

Could it be that our kids are distracted because they’re surrounded by distractions? Could they be overstimulated because they’re surrounded by stimulation? Could they have trouble paying attention in school because school is tedious and boring?

I really loved that second quote.

I also read one of his rants about public schooling and homeschooling; again, I don’t agree with everything he says, but he made points that resonated and further weakened my already shaky faith in the public school system.  And let me tell you, I have had the privilege of working with some amazingly wonderful educators.  Ever since I was a child I have had respect and affection for good teachers, and it continues to this day.  From what I’ve seen, the school I mostly work in right now is a great school, at least by the standards of the schools I have seen or attended.  However. . . more and more I’m seeing how it really doesn’t work for everyone.  I see kids falling through the cracks, because even the best teachers are only human and have too much on their plates (crowded classes, heavy workloads, lack of parental involvement, etc).  I cannot emphasize enough how much I respect most of these teachers; I honestly cannot think of a single negative thing to say about my client’s second grade teacher, for example.  But when I’m sitting there trying to get this kid to stop his noisy stimming while the class is taking turns reading, I have to wonder, “Why are we here?”  He pretty much never gets anything out of the lessons in the gen-ed classroom; he learns and works much better one-on-one.  Most of our time in the gen-ed room is spent trying to keep him quiet and on task; if he doesn’t have a specific task in front of him like a worksheet it’s rough.  So why is he there?  To try to learn how to sit still and quiet and listen to group instruction?  That leads to the next question – Why?  Does he really need those skills?  I mean, what kind of additional education is he going to seek in the future, and what kind of job?  When I think about it, most jobs don’t involve the kind of “skills” he’s supposed to be learning in school.  I am all for him spending time with the gen-ed kids, not only for his benefit but for theirs.  We didn’t have any kids like him in my class growing up.  In fact, I have so little exposure to individuals who have labels like ID that when I first started going to a Life Skills classroom with another client I felt VERY uncomfortable around those kids, much to my shame.  But the kids in my younger client’s class – they accept him.  They are willing to help and prompt him and pester him for high-fives.  I’ve seen bright and social young boys give up doing something “normal” with their friends at recess to interact with my client and help him practice things like tossing and kicking a ball – and this without any adults suggesting they do so.  In those moments I feel hope for the future.

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So, what are the next steps?  Well, my first personal step is switching gears and going back to college to study Information Sciences and Technology.  After we discovered my place on the spectrum, my mom encouraged me to look at career fields that would be a better fit for someone with Asperger’s.  I start classes next month and will continue working as a TSS part-time for as long as I can manage doing both.  Another step has been slowly “coming out” at work.  I didn’t make a big formal announcement, but if I’m chatting with someone about a student’s specific behavior I will say something like, “I can really understand why he has a hard time with the noise in the cafeteria.  I started wearing earplugs in there!  I’ve come to realize that if there had been more awareness when I was a kid I would have been diagnosed, myself.  Loud noises like that are overstimulating to me and make me feel really anxious.  Do you think he’d tolerate some kind of ear protection for in there?”  I don’t make a big deal about it, but I want them to know I’m giving advice not just as a trained TSS but as an autistic person.  An also-autistic person speaking for and defending the rights of these autistic kids who don’t yet know how to speak up for themselves.  Which leads me to a third step – promoting true “Autism awareness” by encouraging autistics to raise their voices and NTs to start listening.

 

 

 

Reflecting on “Aspergers Traits (Women, Females, Girls)”

"Reflection"

“Reflection”

This is one of the posts I read right after my self-diagnosis.  It is a post that still brings tears to my eyes when I read it again, because it accurately and eloquently describes so much of my life experiences and struggles.  It is one of the best pieces I’ve found in my process of reflecting on and re-framing my past.  I hope that you will take the time to read it – if you’re an Aspie, you may feel self-awareness and solidarity; if you are not, you may feel a new sense of understanding and empathy.  (Because despite all of the talk about autistics and empathy, I find most NTs lack empathy towards autistics!)

I could comment on every point she makes, but this is one that stands out to me as extremely validating; it describes one of the biggest social struggles I faced as a kid:

We aren’t narcissistic and controlling–we know we are not, but we come across that way. We bring the subject back to ourselves because that is how we make sense of our world, that is how we believe we connect. We use our grasp of the world as our foundation, our way of making sense of another. We share our feelings and understandings in order to reach out. We don’t mean to sound ego-centered or over zealous. It’s all we know. We can’t change how we see the world. But we do change what we say. We hold a lot inside.

Without further ado, here is the link:

Click here to read “Aspergers Traits (Women, Females, Girls)” on Everyday Aspergers

Inland

When it comes to interpreting art, I’m usually pretty black-and-white.  I am a firm believer in Truth, that there is absolute truth out there.  I hated having to interpret poems and stories in English class – I’d think, “I don’t know what the author meant by that.  I haven’t asked them.”  I’d get annoyed if a songwriter, when asked what a song was about, would say something like, “It can mean different things to different people.”  I understand what they’re saying, but it still vexes me.  Normally I want to know what a song is truly about, the true meaning behind the words, from the person who wrote it.  So it always surprises me when I come across a piece of art and can experience it meaning something personal to me, something different from what it meant to the artist.

Matt Odmark



Jars of Clay is my favorite band.  Fixation-level favorite.  Their music resonates with me, even when I don’t always “get” the lyrics – I still resonate with the “feel” of the songs.  I was listening to a few tracks from their latest record before the full album was released, and it was around that time that I realized I am an Aspie.  So while thoughts about my self-diagnosis were swirling through my head, this song was also swirling around in there.  And because I like finding patterns and connections, I recognized my journey in some of the lyrics.  I hope you’ll listen to the song before reading on:


They don’t believe in oceans, you, you were a sailor

Who burned your ship and walked on, far away you walked on

“It is a song about walking toward mystery and not being afraid to take risks,” Jars of Clay’s Dan Haseltine tells Rolling Stone. “The idea came from Homer’s Odyssey. In the story, Odysseus, a man who lived his life on the sea, is provoked, to take his oar and walk inland until he finds someone who doesn’t know what an oar is.”

This reminds me of what it feels like trying to enter the neurotypical world.  It’s a land where I have my oar and describe the sea (a very real object and a very real place I’ve experienced and know well) but they can’t comprehend what I’m talking about.  They may even think I’m making it up.

Yes, it's Gandalf.

Yes, it’s Gandalf.  He’s walking.  Not all who wander are lost…

 

There are no streets to walk on, no maps you can rely on

Faith and guts to guide you, wander ‘til you find you


Growing up undiagnosed, I didn’t have any maps or guides to help me navigate. Fortunately awareness and resources are increasing, but it still involves a lot of that “wander ’til you find you” stuff.


You keep turning inland where no man is an island

It’s where you’re supposed to be

I’m encouraged to make the effort to connect with others, instead of trying to be an island.  Even though it takes a lot of energy, in relationship and community is where I’m supposed to be.

My kitten Gandalf looks through an Inland vinyl. See, it all connects.

 


Afraid of your conviction, they said the land would change you

Steady your confession, your course make no corrections

When you are a stranger, hold your tongue and wager

That love will set you free, until it sets you free


It’s hard to feel like a stranger, but people will love us.  And the land will change us.  Hopefully we can change it for the better, as well.

 

Follow your desire, leave it all, you’re leaving all

Just burn it in the fire

Of everything you once knew

And everyone that knew you

Remove the shoes you came on

Feel the earth you’re made from

Pack up all your questions

Just keep heading inland and come on home to me


I can dwell too much on the past, especially the hard parts.  I dwell on how others treated me, times I was misunderstood, times I misunderstood and hurt others, etc.  And while it’s important to consider the past and how it shapes us, at times we need to “leave it all behind” in a sense.  I also dwell on unanswered questions – it can be good to pack them up and keep moving forward.

One of my favorite shots of the band, from 2005.

One of my favorite shots of the band, from 2005.

 


I will always be here by your side

I will always stand next to you

Where your darkness hits the light

In the place where you stand against the tide

I will always stand next to you

I will always stand next to you

I will always be here by your side

I’m thankful for the people in my life who love and support me unconditionally, even when they don’t understand me.  I have been blessed.

And of course I’m thankful for the guys of Jars of Clay.

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I’m as close to the Spectrum as you can be without being diagnosable. . . or am I?

Hi.  My name is Schenley.  Here’s a little bit of information about me that is relevant to today’s topic of discussion.

I’m 29 years old.  I’ve been studying autism ever since my little cousins were diagnosed when I was in high school.  I got a BA in psychology. I discovered the Highly Sensitive Person website in college, and it really helped me re-frame my life experiences and develop better coping skills.  I’ve worked as a TSS with autistic kids for over 3 years.  I diagnosed my dad with Aspergers a few years ago, and I’ve long joked about our “autistic tendencies.”

On July 25, 2013, I was chatting with an Aspie guy, and with the topic of Aspergers on my mind I found a link I had shared with my mom months earlier. (I thought she’d be interested in reading about an AS/NT marriage where the woman was the Aspie.) I clicked the link and somehow ended up reading her post titled “When Being a Good Girl is Bad for You.”

Here are what my thoughts sounded like as I read it:

Huh.  I was a conscientious “good girl” too.

But. . . why wouldn’t your Nancy Drew mysteries be lined up in numerical order?  That just makes sense.  It’s how it should be.  All of my Animorph books were in order.  I organized my collections, too.  I remember having a case to sort all of my little colored erasers, and compulsively organizing Crayola boxes of 96 crayons into meticulous rainbow order.

photo by bookgrl

Everyone called me “shy,” too.

The section called “Aspies at Play” – this is where things got intense.

“God mode”  – Wow.  I know being bossy was my biggest social deficit as a kid, and I struggled for years to overcome it.  It was tough.

The difference between boys’ games and girls’ games – I always preferred things like playing video games with the guys (something I was good at) to role-playing with the girls.  Playing with children as an adult (as a nanny, babysitter, or TSS) I am still that way.  I thought it was just because I was a “tomboy” instead of a “girly girl,” but it’s more than that.

“isolation, bullying and depression” – words I know too well.

By the end of this blog post my perspective had changed.  I was not just “as close as you can get to the Spectrum without being diagnosable.”

Seeing this chart sealed the deal.  

I quickly showed it to people closest to me.  My mom is certain that if there had been more awareness, I would have been diagnosed as a kid.
Thus began my quest for more knowledge and self-understanding, reading blogs and books about women with Aspergers.  Reading the blogs, I’ve been going back-and-forth on the idea of starting my own blog.  Do I want to let people I know deeper inside my heart and head, or would I want to write anonymously?  Would I even be able to write honest, detailed posts without giving away my identity if someone who knows me read it?  Do I have anything worth saying?  Could it be therapeutic to write, anyway?  Do I really have the time to take on yet another project?

I’ve decided to give it a shot.  To start I’d like to revisit some of those posts from other women that really hit home and made me feel less alone, that helped me understand myself.  To reflect on those first, interspersing more independent writings as I go.  Baby steps.  Unlike my quilt patterns or photography, I have no agenda, no desire for recognition or monetary gain here.  It’s an experiment, and a less structured one than I’d normally like.  Baby steps 😉

And I’ve decided to not try to hide my identity as the author of this blog.  Most of my life as an undiagnosed Aspie has involved feeling invisible.  Feeling like I had to hide my true thoughts and feelings.  What good has that done me?  It’s time to be real.  I’ve always been an honest person- I’m an Aspie, after all – but too often I’ve held my tongue or stayed hidden.

So like she says in this video I watched recently – I’m coming out of the closet.