Friday, January 30, 2015

Here We Go With Empathy Again - Parenthood

So, the thought occurred to me as I'm still stuck thinking about Parenthood (and still crying about it this morning in the shower), Aspergers/ASD does NOT mean that you don't have feelings, or that you don't have empathy. 

Here I am, watching a bunch of fictional characters, and feeling so intensely the pain that they would all be feeling, and the sadness that they as characters would be feeling, and the sadness that the real people/actors would be feeling, and just sobbing my eyes out. 

I feel that Aspergers doesn't mean that I can't feel what others are feeling. I feel things so much more intensely than others! I mean, seriously SO INTENSE. People think nothing of kids movies most of the time, and most of the time they make me so devastated that I can't ever watch them again. 

However, it is true that I don't normally know what to do about those feelings in someone else, I don't normally know how someone wants me to react, or help. I tend to lean toward the position where I'd like to offer them a perfect solution, or fix the problem for them. So I suppose that would be socially "unacceptable" to do that, and not really react the way an NT person would. So what? That doesn't mean that I don't feel for people, or with people. It just means that I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

Anyway. So reaffirming. Aspies have emotions, and empathy, we just show it differently than you may expect or want us to. And most of us feel so much more intensely, we are usually willing to do just about anything to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the devastation, or sadness, or whatever. Which is why you might think that your Aspie friend would support you, but they almost go into hiding.

OH - and I just thought of this too - it seems we have a 6th sense about things too. You might be acting completely "normal", but I'll sense something is up and it will drive me crazy. I will think maybe you don't like me, or are mad at me, or just feel down right uncomfortable even when you think you aren't showing any signs of stress. They say Aspies can't read people, which might be true, but I can still feel it. It used to happen to me all the time in high school. Teachers didn't talk to us about what was going on, "politically", in the district, but every time I felt really uncomfortable, or sad for them, or the strong urge to do something nice for one or all of them, within days I would end up hearing something went on or something (pays to have a parent so involved in school... lol!)

So, there's that.

Review What You've Learned!

Today I saw a post that bothered me. A lot. It regarded a kid, with aspergers, having to write something akin to a book report. Remember those? Book reports? Yeah, those wonderful babies. You read a book and then they want you to write something about it. You know they've read the book, why do they need you to tell them about it? Or worse, why do they need 20+ of you to tell them about it? It seems so weird. It is a very strange thing to write a book report. Anyway, it seems he got into a place where he just rewrote the story. I don't have all the details, I don't know if the entire story was rewritten or just a part.

I remember these things. I probably did a lot of extras for extra credit. However, what I remember most about them was the fine balance between writing exactly what was written in the book, and yet be able to tell something about it. I don't remember if I ever got in trouble for writing exactly what the book said, or if we were told loud and clear up front that we shouldn't do that. When I think of doing book reports, I remember wanting to write exactly what the book said, more or less. This was a tough one! 

At some point I must have learned what the teachers wanted to hear, because I did well in school, including book reports. But I'm telling you the pull to write down pretty much exactly the book's contents was a struggle. I guess what I probably did was become an expert in synonyms. I pretty much wrote what the story said, in my own words. Which is the point right? Is that really the point of a book report? Wait, wait. Why are we doing this? I mean, I can see learning from what you read or something, but why do we have to retell the story? Anyway..

So I eventually learned what qualified. But I don't remember how I learned that. I also remembered that instead of just answering a question, I was supposed to repeat back the question in the answer. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" - "The chicken crossed the road because ...."
But being good at book reports was a fight against my own brain. I knew what I wanted to write, but I had to write what they wanted me to write. That was hard! I guess, in a way, I feel like I became good at pretending.

I think that this is common in girls with aspergers. Boys, however, seem to not want to "play the game" and they just are who they are. That means if the assignment is to do a book report and review what they've learned, they will write down, word for word, what the book says. That's not plagiarism, thats telling what happened. And copying word for word is telling what happened.

Maybe if we phrase the word differently. "Tell me the story, in your own words" might help. Or even changing the entire viewpoint of the question. "What did we learn in the story" might be a better way to get out of us what you're really asking. I mean, it really is a vague, confusing question. What on earth are you trying to get at by asking us to tell you what happened anyway? I mean, if you don't want us to copy word for word what the book says, don't ask us to tell you the story. Especially when we KNOW you know the story. Why are you asking us a stupid question like "what happened" when you KNOW what happened.

It completely defies logic. I don't blame the kid, I would likely have done much the same thing. My son has the same problem. Aspergers means that you know a lot about things, and you might be very eloquent in it, but at the same time, once you have your mind set on a certain way a story goes, its very difficult to twist the phrases any other way. Aspergers means being pretty direct, we say what we mean and we mean what we say (though often not like people take it!).

Anyway. This has been sitting as a draft for a long time, so I finally sat down and finished it and I'd like to knwo what you think. Do you know someone or are you someone who has a hard time changing the words in a story to write things like book reports? 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Parenthood Farewell

Well, that's it! Parenthood (the show) is over.

The only reason I got into this show was because of Max. Max has changed my life. When the show started, I was not diagnosed yet. I wasn't even sure if I wanted or needed to be. It wasn't really on my radar. The more I watched, the more of myself I saw, the more I talked to people (many of which didn't believe me), the more I realized that I had to find out for sure, for myself, so that I could stop saying that I thought I could relate, so that I could find out if I actually did relate! So, I did, I am, and I do!

My son was just officially diagnosed yesterday. I've known since birth, but it became more and more apparent that I don't have the actual tools or skills to help him with his ASD any more than I have the tools or skills to help myself with my own. As an adult, there aren't exactly resources available, but it is more obvious to me every day how much I need some of the things that ASD kids are getting. For one, my emotional regulation is not good. But I digress...

I was/am devastated. I loved the show, I loved how they were so real, I loved how it wasn't about death, or murder, or killing, or vampires or witches, or other spiritual stuff. This was a show about "real people", a "real family". I say that in quotes because we all know it isn't real, but it feels like stories that could be. It is relatable, and covered a wide range of topics and stories. Of course the one I was most interested in was Max's. 

The thing that I find especially ironic right now is that just as we start our "official" journey with our son is when the show is ending. The show started with Max kicking off his journey, and its ending with us kicking off ours.

I do have the show to thank for being able to even consider being diagnosed, and doing the same for my son. I don't know if I would have even had discussions about it if it hadn't been for the show, and I might not be sitting here with all the answers to my childhood issues, and adult issues, and the answers to what will help my son. I might be in a totally different place with all of this. I don't know how I could keep going on not knowing about this part of me that affects everything else, so I guess I might have eventually been diagnosed anyway, but I know that the show and the discusions that came from that are a huge part of why.

I also realized tonight that I have a hard time with this stuff.
I have always had a hard time with movies. I'm the girl who won't watch Dumbo or Lady and the Tramp, (and I won't be showing them to my kids either), among other movies, and other reasons, because I cannot handle the emotional turmoil that they cause in my heart, my mind and my body. I could not stop crying. I had made a prediction early on in the season, and I couldn't have been more right. Still, it made for a rather devastating ending to the show, while bittersweet, then filled with clips from the future and whatnot... I can still feel myself torn up about this.

And that's just what I'm getting at. I can't do this kind of thing anymore. Years ago I distanced myself from suspenseful shows, scary shows, and shows where people were constantly being murdered and whatever. I can't take the emotional turmoil. Parenthood was the complete opposite of that kind of thing, but still, when it ends, I find myself just as emotionally distraught, and feeling just as sick over it. I don't like that feeling. I really honestly can't take this kind of thing.

I literally felt depression. I know most people don't feel depression hit them overnight, or in minutes. I know most people don't really realize they are falling into it until they are already there. But I literally felt the way I did when I had the mirena, but it happened in the span of about 5 minutes. Just all of a sudden - BOOM - it hit me like a ton of bricks. Whether it was just from the whole emotions of the episode in question here, or if it was the fact that its over and its almost like someone died (oh wait....), and the parallels between what happened in the episode and what has happened to our family in real life this past fall, or if it is the change in routine - that I won't be having Parenthood as a part of my routine anymore - it all hit me like a ton of bricks.

 Don't worry too much about me, I already know if this doesn't ease up, I will be running for the counselor! LOL But I think I will be fine. The Notebook killed me a little bit too, but I survived that just fine, eventually. 

Anyway, I don't know if this is common with people with Aspergers/ASD, or not. I know it's not real, but it feels real. They engage your real emotions, so it feels so real. It is almost like your mind is confused with your body, your body reacts like it's real and your mind knows it's not?

Either way, I don't want any more connections to any more shows! I just can't take the emotional stress. This is probably for the best anyway, as I can't stand the crap they are putting on tv anymore. Can't even watch a "good show" without having to see 26 ads for the worst shows you never wanted to hear about.

Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest tonight. I'm sure this isn't the last time I'll write about it, and I'm sure that I'm going to end up reading a ton of articles about the finale or whatever. But this strong of a connection to a tv show really shakes me, and I am not sure that I like it, and I don't want any more shows!! I've been so upset that it's going to be over, and now after it is, I'm relieved. They almost imprison you don't they? No more Parenthood, no more good Veggietales. This is getting interesting isn't it? 

So. I'm just a little overwhelmed tonight. A little overtired from the release of emotions from not only the show, but the week in general. May God make this a better future, without any more addicting tv shows!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Boy

Today we got the results of the testing the boy had. 

It's official! The boy has ASD!

I would like to go into a lot of detail, but I think that borders on being a little too open with his life. Which I'm torn about, but I really have to think about that. But he has all the classic ASD stuff going on, which is hard for me to picture, because he is my emotional boy, but he doesn't recognize his emotions very well, or the emotions of others. The way they put that is that he doesn't recognize others emotions, or ask about them, but what I see that is he doesn't really care what others think. Which can be a good thing too right? 

Definitely moving forward, we are going to find him somewhere to get some skills to be able to adjust easier, and help him with his intense emotions. I am sure that along with that, I will find just as much to help me as he will, though it likely will be a lot harder for me at my age! 

I'm really glad to be going through this with my son, especially at this age. I want to help him to be able to rein in the negative parts, like the intense anger, and encourage the good parts (which I think we do a pretty good job of, but helping that grow into other things too). So I'm excited! My brilliant boy will someday be something incredible.

I'm so grateful to God for this journey, and that I get to share it with our son. I'm grateful that these days there is actually ways to help reduce the negative stuff! I'm grateful that he has been given a gift, and that we will be able to see him bloom and turn into everything God intends for him to be! I know that ASD has been a gift for me, and though I may still not be exactly sure what my gift is, I'm excited to learn, and see the same for my son! :)

I just wanted to get some feelings out, and make a post, since I haven't in a while. I have been sort of stuck on topics, and a bit distracted with a toddler and homeschooling and winter blahs. But I will have to keep up with little bits here and there about how the boy is doing, and how I am doing. I'm really interested in knowing how I can learn and grow too!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


This article was one I couldn't pass up. I was asked once why I bothered getting diagnosed anyway. What difference would it make? It isn't like I need help - right? I'm not in school or anything, and I don't even work full time, I don't have any trouble with the work that I do (when I work). 

This link was exactly why. So many reasons, but knowing was part of the cure for me. One of my earlier posts was about that. (Read that here)

I had already been involved in a few groups or pages about women with autism spectrum. But I was having to say things like "I relate to everything you're saying, I think I have aspergers too, but I'm not diagnosed." 

Now tell me, what would YOU do? Wouldn't you want to get diagnosed? I mean, at that point, I thought I had it (pretty darn stinking sure actually), but no one had professionally told me "yes, thats it!", so I was left in the position of "well, you're no professional, so what if you're wrong?" 

It was DEVASTATING, every single time someone tried to downplay the struggles I was having, and had struggled with, every day of my life. People would downplay almost every single reason I thought I was an aspie. From the social stuff (you're just introverted - shy - everyone is a "little bit aspie") to the big stuff (but you make eye contact/have friends/have a husband/have kids). 

I don't know exactly what they were trying to do. Were they trying to convince me that I didn't because they thought I felt bad about it or was afraid of the diagnosis? I just don't understand why someone would try to talk someone OUT of something they know makes them who they are. 

I mean, no one does that to GLTB people! Quite the opposite, we encourage them and support them and wave their flag loud and strong, and we bring bricks down on anyone who dares to talk them out of it! Even when people have chosen to change and not be GLTB (yes, it IS possible - because "with God, all things are possible - Matthew 19:26. ALL THINGS. not "all things, except if you're gay.) But I digress...

So I finally came to the point where I had to find out, for sure. I'd taken all the online quizzes. I had read the entire The Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome. I knew as much as could be after that, right? But still, I had people trying to talk me out of it. I've even had people after my diagnosis trying to downplay it, as if I don't know anything about it, or as if it went away, or isn't as bad as it used to be. Sure, I'm not like most male aspies who seem more obvious than females. There is a difference between males and females and most of the information out there is on males, probably because its easier to study the ones that seem obvious!
But whether inner or outer, the symptoms lead to the same diagnosis. And I am happy about that! I am happy that the criteria for diagnosis is strong enough to see through the facade of what is seen and what is not seen. 

Anyway, Aspergers was the only thing that explained my entire life to me. All the weird things, all the frustrations, all the tears, all the obsessions, everything could be tied up in one neat Aspergers bow. And I like it that way. I'm okay with who I am. I'm a little less hard on myself, when I think about what I should do sometimes, and what I am actually capable of doing. I give myself a break when I'm under stress because I know that it isn't that I'm being lazy, but that I really need to give myself a break! I also know what happens if I don't, and why. Having an explanation is not an excuse to behave badly, as so many have also assumed about me, but it is a perfect and specific explanation for why I might do or feel certain things. That black and white thinking that you might hate about me? It is common and normal in almost all ASD. That I care more about the truth than peoples feelings that ticks you off? Again, common and normal for almost all ASD. It isn't an excuse, its the reason I do it, and normally, I don't even know I'm doing it. 

I have improved greatly where those things are concerned. Instead of engaging in every single contrary argument I encounter, I have learned that I can walk away. On Facebook, for example, I used to have my worst fights with people. They would accuse me of something that I never intended to imply, and I would spend days and days responding, trying to explain what I really meant, and that I didn't mean it the way they took it, until either I would feel so bullied I would delete the post and my own thoughts or the other person blocked/unfriended me.
Now, I know better. I know why I feel so black and white on issues, and I know that it is possible to walk away, and it is better for everyone. I know that it is possible to unfollow posts, and just not respond anymore. Without my diagnosis, I'm just the annoying, obsessive, mean, controlling, judgemental jerk everyone thinks I am. With it, I know that my brain just works differently, for a reason, and that there is nothing wrong with how I think. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of or comparing things to a perfect world. There is nothing wrong with seeing black and white in an area where everyone else sees gray. And I am a lot less hard on myself, I don't beat myself up over every argument anymore, and I don't have to condemn myself for not being "as nice as _____".

Anyway, I really appreciated Musings' thoughts and I'm really glad that she wrote this post. It is perfect. So if you're on the fence, thinking you might be ASD, I promise you that things are better on the OTHER side of the diagnosis! If you don't want to, fine, but (in true black and white fashion) I know that it would be better if you knew, with a diagnosis.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Boy

Well, we are well into the testing with B. He is doing fine, cooperating and its really fun to watch. Sister was too distracting in the first session so I had to leave the room, but this week hubby was with so I got to sit in the whole time with him. I had to do some paperwork anyway. One more week then that big bad 2 week wait for the "results". I'm fairly certain, looking at the paperwork I had to do and answering for B, that I have known the outcome all along, again.

The biggest thing we want from all of this is just to be able to work with him better. Like I told her yesterday, help him to work through some of his frustration and anger and the fact that its 0-60 in 2 seconds... and since he is just like me where that is concerned, if I can learn something along the way too, BONUS. 

Testing is fun!