Sunday, April 7, 2019

Autism Awareness Month

This month is April, and April is Autism Awareness Month. I haven't been posting in a while but thought it would be best to post again for Autism Awareness Month. For this post I wanted to talk about my view of Autism. I know there can be a stigma attached to it for some people and that there is a certan idea about it from people. It is classified as a Disorder, and in fact the D in ASD stands for Disorder. There has even been talk about it being a disease, a disease that people hope can be a cure. Autism is not a disease, it is not a disorder and the D in ASD should not stand for any of those things. The D really should just stand for Difference which is really all that it is, a difference. A different way of viewing the world, a different et of likes and dislikes, even a different set of skills. I have even heard Autism be viewed as a Super Power, which I like as many people have used what they are passionate about and great at to lead successful lives.

I used to buy in to the idea that Autism was a disorder, and that something was wrong with me because I had it. I even got mad as to why I had it and be ashamed of it. However, starting in high school, I learned to see it as a difference, not a disorder, thanks to some Autism conferences that I went to. I started viewing my Autism in a more positive light and realizing that it isn't a bad thing that I have this and it is not something I should be ashamed of. Now I realize that my Autism is part of who I am, it is part of what makes me me. I managed to complete graduate school and get a Masters degree while having it, and I have lived the last 9 months independently, working and paying bills while having it. It hasn't hindered me or stopped me. Additionally, the story of my successes has been used to inspire hope into others who have children on the Autism Spectrum. I have Autism, and it is nothing for me to be ashamed of, and it has not stopped me at all.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


For this post I am going to go in a different direction. Here, I want to talk about happiness and what I believe real happiness is. I believe this definitely has a lot to do with Autism as it is an emotion experienced by people with Autism just like everyone else. Additionally, people on the Autism spectrum just like everyone else have a certain list of what makes them happy, such as a certain interst, and unhappy such as a denied access to that interest or sensorily unfriendly situations. This is also something that I have wanted to talk about and have reflected on. Often times people rely on the external to find happiness such as a nice job or a nice car or house. Often times pleasant things and situations lead to happiness while unpleasant situations lead to unhappiness. If someone was to ask you "What makes you happy", they would probably expect you to say something external such as money, or friends, or a favorite activity. All those answers are incorrect.

The truth is that what really makes you happy is you yourself, you and only you can make you happy. Real happiness comes from within. It is a feeling that arises internally, it is a response that we have to outside stimuli. It is true that we are naturally inclined to react positively to certain stimuli and our brains are hardwired to react negatively to pain, mostly we choose how to react to certain situations. We have the ability to choose to react more positvely to situations such as not having something we desire, not getting a promotion/getting advancement, or getting stuck in traffic. We can choose to see things more positvely as well as be content when we lack something that we want. We can choose to feel positively about ourselves regardless of our current situation. Person A can have fame, fortune and all the material things in the world while Person B doesn't have any possessions of his own yet Person B could still be happier than Person A. Certainly it is much easier to feel happier in some situations than in others and people are more likely to feel happy in some situations than others, but that doesn't mean happiness and other positive feelings are not our choice or something we can't control. It is something we can control as it comes from us internally.

Overall, to me, happiness is an internal feeling that we choose to feel.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A New Year

Hello again readers. It has been a little bit since I last posted. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a turn into a new year has passed since I last posted about winter weather, more of which is still to come for the next 2-3 months (Spring can't come soon enough). Anyway though, I did not repost to talk about winter weather again. I am here to talk about a new year and a change that I would like to make for this upcoming year, a change though that is very difficult for anyone but especially for someone on the spectrum like me. The change I would like to make is to be calmer and more content. This change includes remaining calm and being content with the present situation, even if it is an aversive/unpleasant situation. This change stems from the simple yet often forgotten notion that happiness is something internal that can from within, not an external thing controlled by present situation. It is the overlooked idea that one can still feel contentment internally and not put themselves into a negative emotional state even in unfavorable circumstances.

It is a simple idea, yet putting it into actual practice can be quite the challenge, especially for someone on the Autism Specturm such as me with my propensity for anxiety  and my high-strung demeanor. Often times, my brain tends to switch to anxious/upset mode almost instantly in reacting to negative stimuli making it tough to maintain my goal. This has made remaining calm and content often a struggle for me. Multiple times, I have found myself reacting to negative stimuli by getting upset/anxious and have had to remind myself to calm down and try and be content. Often times it is part of my high-wired active brain that seems unable to be slowed down sometimes. Knowing how active my brain is sometimes deflecting my brain onto something positive can help me calm down, even thinking about calming down can help. It goes back to the idea that sometimes the best way to stop a negative thought or behavior is not by eliminating that negative thought/behavior, but by replacing it with a more positive thought/behavior. This new change will be a challenge, and it will take some time as it will be going up against decades of how my brain has worked in the past, but it is worth trying and will be rewarding if I am successful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter Weather

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is less than a month away which also means it it getting colder and winter will officially begin. Of course the hazardous part of the winter season already started before Thanksgiving, snow/ice. Having more snow and ice used to be a good thing when I was a kid as it was usually a ticket towards a day off from school, that was of course before I had to drive in it and had to worry about paying. Now of course as an adult on the spectrum living on my own, the winter season provides it's own set of challenges. Wintry weather is an unpredictable force that can derail plans at any time and can make traveling a dangerous task. It can make going to work a difficult venture or prevent me from going to work altogether, all this at a moment's notice without any rhyme or reason.

This can cause all sorts of issues for someone like me on the Autism Spectrum. It relates to subjects of previous posts. It relates to the steady stream of stressors (ironically) since there is the constant threat of winter weather derailing any plans I may have otherwise had, including whether or not I will be able to work and earn more money. It also relates to The Order of Things as such a constant threat to disrupt any plans that I may have, the constant threat might as well be part of the Order of Things in of itself. It is the unpredictability that can make winter hair-raising and as snowfall from the previous winter streched into Spring and almost into April, the next few months are going to be difficult as my weekly routine will serve to receive a multitude of disruptions in the coming months for an unspecified amount of time.

When thinking about the weather, it is important to understand and prepare mentally for the winter weather. Preparing mentally for sudden changes can always help reduce the emotional response to a change in a plan. It also helps to have a suitable backup plan in case there is a weather related derailment in plans. It also helps to remember that the weather cannot be controlled and that it is better to see it as a naturally occuring event that happens rather than something to stress over. As December approaches, all that any of us can do is hope for the mildest winter, but prepare for the severest winter

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Rolling Snowball

Hello again readers and if you are reading this thank you for reading this post and any previous posts. Right now the leaves are falling off the trees and it's getting colder. Wearing longer sleeves is becoming more and more of a necessity. This of course means that snow is in the immediate future, the white stuff that everyone loves until they have to drive in it. In the spirit of dropping temperatures and the impending series of snowstorms that is coming, I would like to talk about rolling snowballs. You might ask what does a rolling snowball have to do with adult life, to which I will reply it is a metaphor for anxiety and perseveration. Once I get anxious about something, it is hard for me to let go of it, until topic of anxiety is addressed and gets better. Decrease in anxiety has primarily been outcome-based rather than coping-based, and it is like that for others as well. It is like a rolling snowball, once the snowball of worry gets rolling, it is hard to stop without an external force. Usually the best way to stop a rolling snowball of anxiety is for another person to use redirection or a reminder to calm down, which can make living independently/alone especially challenging since there is no other person, no external force to stop the snowball.

One thing I think can be helpful when living alone is to talk with a go-to person/someone you trust. It can be a parent over the phone or someone else. They can usually talk things out and put your mind to ease and also redirect you from your worries. Additionally, putting your worry in a more positive frame of reference can be helpful. This can reduce your penchant for worry by taking a more positive frame of mind. Finally, distracting yourself is another great way to reduce your worry. By distract yourself I mean entertain yourself, whether it is by watching something funny or going out and doing what you want to do. This can distract you from your worries and add some much needed enjoyment. Overall though it can be difficult taking your mind off worry and it is easy for someone on the Spectrum to get stuck and perseverate

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Difficulties of Moving Hours Away

Hello again readers, today I want to discuss the difficulties of moving hours away to live independently by yourself. Recently, I made a move 5 hours away from my hometown to live on my own for the first time, 5 hours away from family to an unfamiliar place. Prior to that, I relocated 4 hours from my hometown where I had previously lived my whole life to complete undergraduate work, before moving back home for grad school. There are numerous difficulties associated with moving hours away to a previously unexplored area, for anyone. Being on the spectrum can compound these difficulties. Here are three ways it can be difficult

1. Lack of familiarity: To someone like me with Autism, familiarity can be a great friend to someone on the spectrum. Familiarity breeds normalcy, order, and structure. In a new place, familiarity goes right out of the window, and you have to adjust to a new environment, a new routine, and pretty much a new everything. It is a learning period involving where everything is and how to get there and also what is available. It is an adjustment period, a process of trying to create a new order, a new sameness, a new familiarity

2. Unknown people: Fitting in to the lack of familiarity is a lack of familiar people. For someone with Autism, it is very difficult to enter a place where you do not know anybody. As someone on the spectrum, I can get comfortable talking to the various people I connect with and grow a comfort level with them. With those people gone, I find myself in the presence of new people I haven't met before. It is a challenge meeting new people as I do not have a comfort level with someone I just met, and as someone who has difficulty opening up, it can be difficult meeting new people and attempting to make connections.

3. Greater responsibility: You do not have to live 5 hours to have to make this adjustment. When transitioning from living with parental figures to living on your own, you take on more responsibilities. I had to make the full transition to being responsible for my own bills, cooking my own food, and running to the store to get what I need. It becomes difficult because it adds more stuff for me to do. It is a new routine that I have to adjust to

These are 3 general ways it can be difficult, 3 is not too big of a number, but they are 3 general reasons that cover a lot of ground and encompass a lot of the challenges one can expect to face. The good news however is that the more time you spend at a place, the more familiar you become with your new surroundings and status as an indepedent adult, and in time, a new familiarity develops. The biggest challenge is at the beginning where the adjustment period starts. Living in a new place becomes easier as the place you are living in becomes not as new

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Order of Things vs The Real World

Hello readers and the thing that I will talk about next is the Order of Things. To me, the Order of Things is the expectations about what is supposed to happen and at what point it is supposed to happen. The Order of Things can be appropriately described as a construct, a construct of what is supposed to be according to my autistic mind. Part of how I construct the world from my point of view is rules, rules that govern how I feel it should run. The Order of Things and the rules that make it up help bring a sense of predictability to my world. Predictability is important to me as predictability breeds a sense of comfort.

Unfortunately, there is a conflict between the Order of Things and the Real World. It is an unfortunate fact that the Real World is unpredictable and outside influences are not bound by the Order of Things. I try the best I can to find predictability anywhere I can and apply it to my Order of Things, but often times, even the closest thing to predictability has exceptions and unexpected curve balls/breaks from the norm, making even the most predictable of events not completely and 100% predictable. Weather is one example off the top of my head. There are expected patterns that we can gather from weather, but we all know weather doesn't follow these specifics patterns and can be quite the unpredictable force. We don't expect snow in April, but it has happened. We don't expect thunderstorms in November, but I have seen that occur. The weatherman can predict a giant snowstorm to occur tomorrow, only for tomorrow to arrive with green grass and black road. As someone who likes predictability and gets anxiety over lack of control and the fear of the unknown, it can make living in the real world difficult and give me even more anxiety.

So the question one would ask is, how is it that I adapt to the world around me? The main thing that I have learned is to expect the unexpected. Expect surprises, be alert that a monkey wrench may be thrown into my plans. Know that unpredictability is ironically one of the biggest certainties in this crazy world. I have learned through experience that the more I expect one thing to occur that doesn't end up happening, the more stress inducing the change can be and the more I have to adjust my mind to the changes, which itself can cause a lot of stress. Life's unpredictability can bring great challenges to an individual on the Autism Spectrum and the Order of Things

Autism Awareness Month

This month is April, and April is Autism Awareness Month. I haven't been posting in a while but thought it would be best to post again f...