Category Archives: Inappropriate Affect

Misunderstandings

So many misunderstandings.

People read too much into meaningless things.

If I don’t look at you when you speak

you assume I’m not listening.

When my body language

doesn’t do what you’d expect

or when I laugh in the wrong moment.

If I say something using the wrong tone

you may think I’m rude.

If I cannot speak

I must be hiding something.

Over and over,

we confuse each other.

When I take something you say literally,

or my brain skips hearing words as you say them.

Sometimes I need time to process.

If I don’t get it

we’ll both stay confused.

Sometimes I can’t explain myself.

Please trust me.

Sometimes I process things on a delay.

Maybe we can talk about it another day – maybe not.

I’m not ignoring you or trying to

leave you hanging.

If I look confused, I probably am.

Give me time to figure things out on my own.

Don’t treat me like a child.

It’s only

a misunderstanding.

A poem about Autism and misunderstandings. Being Autistic sometimes feels like nobody understands you. Other times you know instantly that some misunderstanding has occurred.

Why I’ll Always be Anonymously Autistic – The Unicorn Theory

Sometimes Aspies are caught off by my blog’s title. People ask me if I am Anonymously Autistic because I am ashamed of my Autism. My long time readers know me better than than that, but some of you are new. Welcome, please allow me to explain.

I started this blog anonymously because I love my privacy, not out of a shame for my Autism.

In fact, I quickly realized that I needed to share so others could see Autism from my perspective. Some days suck, but over all I love my life and would never want to be “normal” or Neurotypical.

I generally keep to myself with personal things. Speaking about matters of the heart has never been easy for me, so I don’t. This blog became a place where I do something completely out of character – share my feelings.

For me, it is easier if the people around me don’t know my feelings or else they may ask me about them and I would be forced into unwanted conversations. I enjoy talking about my passions and other matters, but my feelings and emotions have always been sacred to me in a way.

The more I write the more confident I get in speaking about Autism. Most of my problems come from when ever I share. I hide my emotions and keep things to myself. People don’t get to know me and don’t see my Autism.

Always calm and composed (because I always run away and hide before I fall apart). It looks like I’ve got it in control. Nobody ever sees me struggle.

People say these things in the nicest ways, they have NO idea how much their words hurt or how wrong they are.

“You’re not really Autistic right? It’s a misdiagnosis?”

“Asperger’s? You are too nice you definitely don’t have that! I can’t believe it.”

“Are you sure? Have you gotten a second opinion?”

“You are NOT Autistic.”

“There is nothing wrong with you. I think you are great!”

“We’re all a little different.”

Or when you ask for accommodations for sensory troubles.

“Everyone likes natural light. Its not fair to give you special treatment.”

“I know you said you wanted to meet in a quiet space, but I think you will love this bar.”

“It’s not that bad. Look everyone else is having fun.”

“I think you can do it, if you try harder.”

“Don’t make excuses.”

Worse is when they say nothing at all. When you say something they give you a look. Doubt. I recognize it now that I’ve seen it over and over again.

The face people make when they think you are telling them a decelerate lie.  It is a look that stops me cold in my tracks and is the reason I’ve stopped mentioning my Autism in face to face conversations laity.

I have a theory that if people saw a unicorn in a field of horses they would mistake it for a white horse, because they do not believe unicorns exist.

I am feeling a bit like that unicorn. People can’t see me because they don’t know that Aspies like me are out there.

A unicorn, something that challenges their beliefs. I am right in their faces and they can’t even see me.

 

#InvisibleAutism #ActuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic

Tired of Passing – Washing Away The Alter Ego

For most of my life I’ve always been two people.

As we get ready for 2017 here is my new years resolution / goal. I want to be more authentic. I want to be more true and compassionate for myself.

I feel like it started in elementary school as some sort of survival mechanism – there was the “home me” and the “school me”. My mother would often remark how other people’s parents (and other adults) often said I was perfectly behaved while under their care. My mother complained that should be able to act polite at home too.

This character was all an act, working hard to behave in a way that others would expect. Often bullied, I was desperately trying to be like everyone else.

As I grew older, hitting puberty, I got to be that age where I thought I knew everything. Still undiagnosed, I assumed everyone around me put up the same chameleon act that I did.

Living my life more and more in the shoes of the chameleon and spending less time being authentic was damaging to my mental health. Eventually I began to loose track of who I really was. I was longing for authenticity but which person was the real me?

“School Me” became “Work Me” and now there is the “Me” who writes blogs and the me who takes care of her family. So many versions of myself – and I want to be the best one.

Chameleon Woman – blending in where ever she goes. Laity blending in has been difficult, as I push myself towards my mental limits. Certain Aspie traits have become more obvious.

I don’t want to live my life in shame.

Slowly I’m letting my alter ego go, learning her lessons as I wash her away. I want to lead an authentic life, no more fallacies, and pretending to enjoy things I hate.

It’s time to be real. It’s time for honesty. Moving forward with authenticity – embracing all my strengths and weaknesses.

 

I Live By The Rules – My Own Rules (Autism and Social Rules)

I live and learn by rules.

Social situations are unnatural to me and simple social skills that “normal people” learned naturally were completely lost on me growing up. The way I learned social skills was a bit different and required a lot of trials and errors.

Every time I had a social blunder I made a rule, to try and not duplicate the same mistake again. Sometimes the rules I make are not quite perfect so I have to tweak and change them.

Below are 10 of my  own social rules:

  1. Say hi to people when they look at you.
  2. Smile at people when they look at you and look friendly. (My resting natural face is serious and can be off-putting.)
  3. If a next step is needed compliment something about the person in front of you or add a quick comment about the weather.
  4. Act friendly in public – smile and laugh when people tell jokes. (I forget that laughing on the inside doesn’t count when you have a blank flat face.)
  5. Don’t bring up your special interests unless someone else asks or is on that topic.
  6. Be careful NOT to talk too much. (I limit myself to one or two sentences at a time to give people time to talk.
  7. Wait until you hear a LONG pause before talking unless someone asked you a question. (I NEVER know when it is my tern to talk – the pauses sound like eternities and I still end up interrupting even when I don’t mean to.)
  8. If somebody turns their body away from you let them leave and don’t keep talking. (I also have a hard time ending conversations.)
  9. Let the other people talk and practice listening.
  10. Try to remember what you friends have going on in their lives. Remember to bring theses things into conversation if timing is appropriate. For example – if your friend tells you they have a sick loved one – don’t forget to ask them how that person is doing the next time you see them.

Autistic Confessions – Hyper Focus

Where did the time go?

I have no idea. I was hyper-focused on a task and the rest of the world melted away for the past 6 hours. I literally forgot to eat. I REALLY have to pee and my ass is killing me from sitting cross legged in this chair all day.

Did you hear me?

No, sorry I was really focused on what I was doing.

But I’m right next to you and it’s quiet in here. 

I know, I’m sorry I was really focused on what I was doing. I don’t mean to tune the world out, but the world is a constant bombardment to the senses. Hyper focus makes all that met away. I am getting things done, which is amazing and all the noise stops.

Autistic Confessions – My Own Feelings Are a Mystery to Me (If I Don’t Write)

Believe it or not I suffer from alexithymia. I have taught myself to check in and figure out how I feel but I don’t do it naturally or automatically.

Before I started writing I never knew how I felt. I had feelings, but to me I was good or bad on a sliding scale. Most of the time, unless I check in or are on one extreme or the other I don’t know how I feel.

Mindfulness has been very helpful to me, constantly scanning my body and reminding myself to pay attention and be in touch with what is happening inside. Awareness was only half the battle for me.

Being aware of my feelings and putting things into words are two very separate skills.

I’ve been writing for years. As a child I wrote rich fiction, always imaging myself as the main character, playing out social situations through my stories.

The older I get the more I crave facts than fiction. My wiring has also changed. Personal journalism has always been helpful to me.

I don’t think that my thoughts naturally flow into words unless I am writing, so when I have a lot on my mind I write often. Sometimes I write things in my head, over and over again.

When I get to the page the concept erupts revealing pieces of myself that I wasn’t even aware of. I surprise myself every day.

 

Asperger’s Intimidating Face? | You Are Not Alone – YANA: Aspie Vlog

I spend a great deal of my energy making sure my face looks happy when I am around “normal people”. My resting face looks cold and uninviting.

Before I started faking it people used to always ask if I was “alright” or “had a problem”. It took me a while to figure out that it was my face throwing people off. Eventually I made a social rule for myself – “Smile when people look at you.”

I don’t smile for myself, I smile to make others feel more comfortable so people do not have the urge to comfort me becase I never want to be comforted. I am very good at comforting myself when something is wrong.

All these little social things. So many thing to concentration on. Neurotypical people do all of these social things consciously but for me I have to make effort just to appear human because my version of human does not match society’s expectations.

People know me for being warm, happy, and positive. Maybe it is because I make so much effort to be that way in order to blend in and catch less criticism from my “normal” coworkers and peers.

My social receivers and senders are broken and do not function on their own. I don’t send or take in any non-verbal signals without great effort and concentration. No wonder Aspies suffer from social fatigue and burnout. Being social is a LOT of work.

YANA: Aspie Vlog has a great video talking about her experience with wondering about what Neurotypicals think of her characteristic “blank” Aspie face. I can take no credit for this great video. Please subscribe to the YANA: Aspie Vlog channel on YouTube for more great content.

Autism is Full of Misunderstandings

Autism is marked by impaired communication abilities so it would make since that Autistic people often feel confused and misunderstood.

I don’t pick up on subtle social cues and hints. If you don’t tell me something directly, I’ll miss it. If something is implied I might not catch it.

Your annoyed face may not be registered in my brain – so if I am ticking you off I probably won’t know until you blow up in my face. If that happens I am completely caught off guard and have no clue what I did wrong.

I sometimes process things on a delay. I think it’s because of the amount of information I am able to take in at one time. There is so much to process that my brain saves some information for later and I may not process it for seconds, minutes, or days. This makes for inefficient conversations.

I have alexithymia and inappropriate affect so my face may not always be appropriate for the situation or conversation. Sometimes I laugh when people give be bad news. Apparently you should NOT laugh when someone tells you their mother has just passed away.

People often misunderstand my intentions. When I am too quiet people think I am hiding things and when I talk too much I am “selfishly” dominating a conversation. I don’t mean to do either of these things though.

When I am quiet it is because I lack confidence. I am painfully aware that I have trouble with timing in conversations. Sometimes it is easier for me not to talk so people don’t think I am rude.

When I am relaxed and with friends I tend to talk too much and over everyone. All my observations are from my point of view because I can’t take other people’s perspectives easily which makes me sound self centered.

Conversations are like a chess game where I can’t remember the rules. People think I don’t care to talk or to listen but really I just don’t know when I should talk because unfortunately – Autism is full of misunderstandings.

 

Am I Ready for an Autism Diagnosis?

One of the most common emails I get from readers revolves around one question. People reach out to me asking, “should I get my child diagnosed?” or “should I get diagnosed?”

Unfortunately I can not answer that question.

The decision to seek out an Autism diagnosis is a very personal one and you must search inside yourself and look at your own personal circumstances to decide if getting diagnosed is right for you.

Just because you are not ready to get diagnosed today does not mean you will not be ready to get diagnosed in the future.

I am diagnosed because getting a diagnosis eventually was right for me, but when I first discovered my Autism I was not ready to be diagnosed right away.

At first I was in denial and did not understand Autism. I was not ready to talk to a psychologist because I was still lying to myself that my symptoms were non existent or that there was some other explanation for them. Autism seemed so final I was not ready to accept it.

When I started to think about diagnosis I quickly realized that there was a very limited pool of doctors who were qualified or even had experience with adult women. None of the adult Autism doctors I found took insurance. If you do not live in or near a big city you may be taking a long drive to see a doctor.

Getting an adult Autism diagnosis can be expensive. I’ve had people tell me they paid out of pocket $800-$5000 to get diagnosed. Because a lot of the Autism specialists are out of network, insurance companies will often leave you with the fees.

Before I started reading about Autism and talking to other Aspies I had a hard time describing the feelings and things that were going on inside my body. Reading about Autism was like unlocking a key that let me start talking (mostly typing) about what has been going on inside me my entire life.

I have alexithymia. It is part of my Autism that makes it hard to describe my Autism. I have had to teach myself to describe my feelings because if I don’t consciously ask myself how I feel – I don’t know.  Before I started asking myself this question I never would have been able to explain what I was feeling because people always told me how I was feeling growing up.

People told me the wrong things about my feeling sometimes and because of my alexithymia I believed them. Because of this some of my feelings and emotions got confused. I needed to untangle this mess before I could accurately talk to a psychologist about my Autism.

Once I had finally straightened all of those things out I felt like I was ready for an Autism diagnosis.

I journal a lot and that has helped me tremendously in life. People with alexithymia should write. It helps us work out our feelings.

I took a 10 page paper to my psychologist explaining my life story without using any of the Autism terminology. (Doctors seem to be put off by laypeople who sound too scientific. They think we are up to something when we use big words.)

The doctor tested me and I answered her questions honestly. I was extremely nervous the entire time – afraid she would come back with a wrong diagnosis.

After our first meeting I had time to think on her questions and sent her another five page paper further explaining things I could not express face to face.

The way she had asked about stimming had confused me and I had under expressed how much stimming I actually do. (I need questions asked the correct way or I get confused sometimes.)

If you can get your doctor’s email address or bring in typed papers I would STRONGLY recommend doing so. Because I take in information and do not process it right away, sometimes on the spot conversations are impossible. I made a point to mention this to my doctor.

Tell your doctor EVERYTHING that you have trouble with. Make a list.

Autistic burnout (sometimes called Autistic Regression) is a real thing. All of the sudden all of my childhood sensory symptoms were back and worse than ever. It seems like stress and change can have a huge impact on this.

In the end getting a diagnosis was right for me when I started having trouble coping with the real world.

My diagnosis protects me from liability if I ever have a meltdown in public or have sensory problems that cause confusion. It lets me ask for small accommodations at work – like sitting in a quiet spot with natural light.

Now that I am diagnosed I can ask for things – small things that were refused before – and people are supped to give them to me.

I won’t ask for much. I don’t want to take advantage or draw extra attention. More than anything I just want to be comfortable in a world that was not built for me.

 

 

Autistic Confessions – I Avoid People

I will do my best to only get on an empty elevator and will take the stairs if there are too many people around so I can enjoy a moment of quiet. I actually enjoy exercise so stairs are often a welcome escape.

When my doorbell rings, my first instinct is always to hide. Then I creep to the door looking for the peep hole. If the person outside is not friend or family nothing can get me to answer. I hate being interrupted by unannounced people at my home, but friends and family are always welcome – it is my sanctuary.

I will never leave the bathroom stall if there is someone else inside the restroom. I will listen and wait to leave the stall until after I am sure the room is totally empty.

When wandering in public I sometimes stare down at my phone, or feet. Sometimes I allow my inner child to surface and I let my eyes dart around wildly, taking in every color and texture before me.

When I indulge in this way, I assume I must look my most Autistic. Joy overflowing as I bounce around and wave my hands excitedly. I’ve been told there is a child like joy in me, despite being almost thirty… my husband brings it out in me. We laugh, we enjoy nature, we have fun on our own, blissful in our private world.

Social situations and encounters with strangers are draining to me. I don’t take any pleasure in small talk, smiles, or eye contact with people I don’t know. In fact – every time I make eye contact with someone I don’t know or trust my heart races as my adrenal gland fires off. It is an unpleasant sensation that I can tolerate but avoid when I can.

Its not that I don’t want to be friendly to other people or to push people away. I am conserving energy so that what I have left I can enjoy with the people I love.

So yes – Autistic Confession – I avoid people, because for me that is self care.