Category Archives: Inappropriate Affect

What IS Autism – From An Autistic’s Perspective

A reader asked if I had a blog post that described what Autism is. I started to say that this entire blog gives great first hand information from Autistic people.

Our experience can not really be summed up in a one page post. There are a lot of things that make us different.

First I want to say that each and every Autistic person experiences the world in a very different way so what I state below may not be true for everyone. I am going to go over some generalizations that are true for me, also taking in mind what has been shared with my by my amazing readers.

We tend to struggle with spoken communication but many of us do VERY well behind a keyboard.  We can have tricky short-term / working memories but a LOT of us have long-term memories that are FOREVER. We need time to process and go over things but once we understand something it stays in our minds (or that is how it is for me). Time to organize and prepare thoughts is essential for me because of this.

Many of us have sensory sensitivities. Bright lighting can cause chronic migraines and other illnesses. I can hear everything which is unpleasant because I can’t tune individual things out. My hearing is essentially so sensitive that I can’t hear conversations in busy rooms. Not to mention the distraction of every small noise seeming VERY loud. Clothing can be itchy and irritating. Tags and socks are the worst and certain grooming activities can be extremely uncomfortable. Getting a mani-pedi is NOT relaxing for me. Even getting a massage is difficult because of another person touching me can make me want to jump up and run.

I have a hard time sitting still. Our bodies (and minds) crave constant motion. I am always playing with something rocking in my chair, humming or singing. This is called stimming. It is a regulatory behavior and helps with sensory input, relaxation, and focus. I also speak to myself out loud a lot. These things “normal people” don’t tend to accept but we REALLY need them to.

Many Autistic people have comorbid conditions – other illnesses with their Autism. Some examples are insomnia, epilepsy, IBS, OCD, anxiety, depression, migraines, apraxia, ataxia, sensory processing disorder, the list goes on. These, in my mind, are not Autism but rather Autism related conditions. They differ from person to person.

Autistic people can be extremely intelligent but learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities can also happen with Autism. Just like “normal people” our IQ’s are all over the place. People often assume Autistic people all have intellectual disabilities. I prefer to think of it as a difference. Also EVEN non-verbal (non-speaking) Autistic people can fall into the “high IQ” category. Never assume an Autistic person cant’ understand you.

I can speak but am not as good at it as most “normal people” but there are a lot of Autistic people who have apraxia of speech. This means they may have all the words and thoughts inside BUT the mouth pieces don’t move. For some reason the brain can’t tell the mouth and related parts how to work. Some children speak late and others never speak. I had no speech delay.

Dyslexia and Hyperlexia are also common in Autism. I am Hyperlexic.

Our brains tend to be spiky. We can be far above average in some pretty random areas, art, math, music, memorizing, writing, or not. At the same time our deficits in the areas that don’t develop as fully can be perplexing to the word’s general population.

For example – my conversational skills are so limited that I can NOT tell when my turn to talk is. My solution? Don’t talk. Before I stopped talking people kept calling me rude but I was doing my best. I never wanted to be rude. I’ve become more quiet and contemplative – more of an observer than I used to be. Actually this has been an improvement.

Autism is invisible. Unless I am stimming wildly in a chair or flapping my arms wildly you would not see my Autism – and these are things I do in private. Any time I try to share with someone that I am Autistic, a 34 year old woman who appears to have it together, I am dismissed.

I try to share mostly when I am looking for some understanding about an accommodation that I am about to ask for. I ask for little things – natural light, a quiet spot, to be able to take notes on a laptop.

Often people tell me I don’t “need” these things and that I am making excuses for myself. I just want to do my best. This is the hard part, when you ask for help and people say “nobody else will have that” or “it’s not fair to play favorites” even better “you already have it pretty good”.

Summing it up in a blog comment or post is impossible. Please dear readers, I ask that you provide your own experience in the comments so that the world may someday redefine wheat Autism is from OUR perspective.

 

With love,

Anonymously Autistic

“Anna”

 

#ActuallyAutistic #InvisibleAutism #AutismAwareness #SheCantBeAutistc #AnonymouslyAutistic

 

 

I’m at War With Myself – Parts of My Autism People Can’t See

Sometimes I feel as if I am constantly in a battle with myself. Fighting against irrational thoughts in my mind, and unpleasant sensations in my body.

Constant nagging in my mind – “You might have left the door unlocked.” When I know very well the door should be locked. “You forgot to water the dog.” Despite leaving them with a full bowl.

Social anxiety tells me I’m not good enough and I have to remind myself that I only feel that way when hanging around the wrong people or large groups.

It’s like my adrenal gland is extra jumpy. I feel the surge of chemicals flowing through my body, making my heart and mind race. It used to cause panic attacks, but now it happens so often that I’ve learned to recognize the feeling and breathe through it. The sensation is unpleasant and can also lead to sensory overload or meltdown if I don’t relax – so I ALWAYS relax.

My brain tells me the lights are too bright, so I squint all day until I have a headache and my head is throbbing. I can’t tune out the buzzing light bulbs and humming electronic noises coming from the walls – so I often wear headphones with soothing music.

I get dizzy when I stretch my arms high over my head – probably not related to Autism but really annoying because I am short. Just throwing it out there because my readers always surprise me with what we have in common.

The air outside is almost always either too hot or too cold because I cannot regulate body temperature well. I am only comfortable between about 75-90 degrees anything over or under that is really pushing it.

People’s voices stick better in my head then their faces. I often have a VERY hard time recognizing people especially out of context. It’s called face blindness and it can be a pain, especially in a corporate environment.

When I do socialize I prefer to stick to people I know, because I can’t read the faces of strangers unless someone laughing, crying, or making some other extremely obvious face. I study people I know so I can learn their faces better but still this takes a LOT of work on my part.

Sometimes I come off as rude. My body language and tone don’t always come out the way I want them to. Misunderstandings are a way of life for me. I’m used to this now and often don’t even bother trying to correct people because they don’t understand tone not matching feelings, etc.

I take things literally – but normally can figure things out if there are context clues.

Following spoken directions is difficult – but if you give me time to write down what you are saying so I can read it later (over and over) I can get things done. It’s not that I don’t understand, it’s that I understand in a different way.

My sort term memory is about half as good as most people. They say people can hold about 7 numbers in their working / short term memory – a phone number.  I’ve never been able to hold more than 3 numbers in my head at one time. If you say something to me when I am trying to hold those 3 numbers in my head the numbers will probably vanish.

Side note my long term memory is forever.

All of these invisible things. I am constantly battling myself, trying to fit into a world where people can’t imagine what you’re going thorough. When you try to tell them they look at you like you are crazy or dishonest – and honesty is important to me.

It hurts when you ask for help and nobody is willing to stick out their hand, so I keep these things to myself.

#ActuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #InvisibleAutism

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.