Tag Archives: childhood

Autistic People Pretending to be Normal – Anonymously Autistic

There is something that is known among adults in the online Autism communities – society expects Autistic people to blend in. We live in a world where being different is not always welcomed.

People don’t understand Autism and naturally fear what they do not understand. I can not blame or grudge these people. They are acting on instinct by excluding what is not the same.

Many introverts can relate to this struggle as society tends to dote on extroverted and social people.

If you read definitions of the words introvert online and in books you will find the qualities described in a negative and often pathological way most of the time. “Reclusive, self-centered, loner.”

The definitions of the word extrovert are almost always more positive.  “Social butterfly, energetic, group-minded.”

What is an introverted, socially awkward Aspie to do?

Passing – an Autistic person who is trying to blend in and pass off as neurotypical.

Many Autistic adults, especially those who are not diagnosed until later in life, have grown up with a sense of shame for their “autistic-ness”. Early on we learn that kids will be mean and tease us if we flap our hands or act too strange.

Fear of bullies is often the first thing that causes us to turn inward. Autistic children are often bullied, mental and physical abuse from our peers is common and due to our language and communication difficulties we often do not tell adults.

We may not really understand what is being done to us and feel as if our peers are unpredictable, irrational, and dangerous.

We learn to blend in – blend in or be beat down. Our vicious peers teach us that our quirks will not be tolerated. Teachers tell us “quiet hands, sit still, you cannot wear sunglasses, or hats in the classroom”.

As children many of us are sick or uncomfortable but learn to suffer in silence.

It is hard for us to explain the unpleasant sensations in our bodies. My eyes burned from light so I told my mother I had a head ache. I took a lot of baby aspirin for no reason when I was little.

Once I remember telling a school nurse that I feel like I will throw up in the next hour if I don’t go home. She looked at me like I was crazy and told me that it was impossible for me to know that. She made me go back to class where I later threw up.

She did not understand that I was trying to tell her that I was getting close to the point of sensory overload and when I get to that overload I start throwing up. I was undiagnosed.

To her I was a child trying to get out of class. This happened to me several times a week and the school nurse insisted to my mother that I was somehow making myself sick to miss school.

People told me and my family that I was lying or making things up. Nobody understood, believed, or wanted to help me. I was dismissed.

Speaking up was not helpful and sometimes when I did people looked at me like I was crazy, so eventually I stopped.

With no other options I began to pretend to be normal but blending in has it’s dangers. If people spend enough time with me, they figure out that I am “unique”. In professional settings it takes all of my concentration to hold my “autistic-ness” in.

The offensive “compliment” – “You hide your Autism well” has been given to me in the past and ever since I have been greatly disturbed.

Why should I have to hide my Autism? Is it something that I should be ashamed of? I love who I am and would never want to change that even if I could. Hiding… in the closet as if there is something wrong with the way I was born.

Passing is not even good for your mental health. It teaches us to have shame in who we are. It gives a message that we are not good enough.

Passing takes up so much of an Autistic person’s limited social energy that we go home and have sensory meltdowns the minute we can be alone. When I was a child – and even now with work – I could hold things together through the school day but would come home and fall apart.

If an Autistic person is focusing on passing they are tense, working brain muscles that are not very strong, and are not relaxed. Imagine if you were tense and wound up for 8 to 10 hours straight. How would you feel when you got home?

Eventually this can lead to a total implosion, breakdown, or possibly – when we are having extreme difficulties keeping up with everyone’s expectations of us – a diagnosis.

I have to write everything down because my working memory is not great – but my long term memory is forever. I need to be alone. I need to stim. I need to wear hats and sunglasses indoors.

I need to avoid bright lights like Gizmo from Gremlins (and sometimes may exclaim “Bright lights!” in a Gizmo voice the instant a bright light stings my eyes and brain).

Even my humor is not understood or appreciated by most people. Not wanting to be thought of as a “childish” I often keep my fun comments to myself so people never get to know the real fun and silly me.

The modern social world is not built for us – but we are expected to fit into it like a puzzle piece. I am not a puzzle. I am a human, an Aspie. I’m not like you and shouldn’t have to be.

Trying to fake it is detrimental to my health and I can’t do it anymore.

#anonymouslyautistic #shecantbeautistic #actuallyautistic

Autistic Confessions – I Wanted to Wear a Leash

When I was a small girl, no older than 6, I begged my mother to get me a leash  (because I sometimes had an overpowering urge to run). She assumed, and told everyone, that I wanted to be a dog. She still tells the story incorrectly and I have never corrected her.

Woof.

Pokemon Go Gets My Son With Autism to Play Outside

More good things from my news feed. More positive stories about Autism and Pokemon Go. Today I came across a post by Elizabeth W. Barnes contributor to The Mighty. Once again – I can NOT take credit for this post – please do check out the full article via the link below. 🙂

The boy who fantasized about his whole summer being in front of his computer was voluntarily outside walking around.

I set up the game so it can’t access things I don’t want it to, and I walk with him to make sure he does not trip or injure himself while playing.

We have seen others out and about on the hunt in our otherwise sleepy neighborhood — kids with their tell-tale phones in hand, stopping to look around them, looking at the phones, and then moving on.

We stop, say hi, share our experiences, and then continue the hunt.

He commented regularly how it would be more fun if he were hunting dinosaurs instead of Pokemon, but he also showed clear signs of enjoying himself. His being willing to leave the house was a huge sign, and to me a big deal.

Please check out the original post by Elizabeth here.

 

New 360 Virtual Reality Video Attempts to Help NT People Experience Sensory Overload

I saw the original video (without the 360 VR) a few months back. However this new 360 VR video takes another stab at offering an Aspie experience to neurotypical people. Once again I can NOT take credit or this video.  This video belongs to The National Autistic Society.

Are Girls with Autism Being Overlooked?

Are Girls with Autism Being Overlooked? – Yes I think they are.

Another article that I cannot take credit for but worth sharing.

While she was growing up, Fiona Pettit O’Leary sensed that she was not the same as her peers. She explains that living her day-to-day life was exhausting because “there was an ever-present feeling of disconnection.” Along the way, she experienced anxiety, depression, anorexia, and suicidality—making an attempt on her life at age 18. It wasn’t until she was married with kids on the spectrum, however, that she began looking into autism more. Only then did the light click on: she had Asperger’s. A formal diagnosis confirmed this.

Is autism truly as male-dominated as we’ve thought, or have girls with autism been slipping through the cracks?

Please check out full article here on TheAutismSite.com blog.

Resources for Families

A special thanks to Elena with Caring4OurKids and
Patricia Sarmiento with publichealthcorps.org for sharing the following useful links.

Autism Resources for Families
Sesame Street Autism Resources for Parents
Reduce the Noise: Help Loved Ones with Sensory Overload Enjoy Shopping
CDC Autism Links and Resources
Operation Autism for Military Families
Academic Accommodation Resources
Temple Grandin’s Teaching Tips
Organization for Autism Research Guide for Military Families
Estate Planning for Parents of Kids with Autism

What is Autism?

After the Autism Diagnosis: Staying Connected as a Couple

The Guide to Securing Life-long Accommodations for Adult Children with Special Needs

When an Autism Diagnosis Comes in Adulthood

Creating a Sensory-Friendly Home for Your Autistic Child

The Guide to Buying Used Accessible Vehicles

Supporting Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Coping with Grief and Loss through Death or Divorce

The Invisibility of Black Autism — Discover

More from my news feed. I’ve written openly about the invisibility of Autism in females, but women and girls are not the only Aspies being missed.

Steve Silberman, the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, explores the challenges faced by autistic people of color in gaining access to proper health care.

via The Invisibility of Black Autism — Discover

As the Anxiety Kicks In

The anxiety rushes over me like a title wave. Every sound and movement around me sends my heart racing. I feel a strong urge to get away, far away – what am I running from?

I try to shake it off, searching for something to distract myself with. After all, I know that I’m in no actual danger. The crazy is all in my head.

People around me do not seem to notice that I’ve gone someplace else, drifting far away into my mind. I’m still and quiet, keeping my silent torment all to myself.

If they knew what was happening to me they’d stare or try to help. More than anything I want to be alone. Trying to talk or interact only makes things worse.

Keeping my breaths slow and relaxed takes nearly all of my focus. The rest of my energy is used up trying to  anchor myself to the ground, fighting a strong urge to run.

Where would I go if could run? To a dark quiet room without any people – anywhere with a locking door and soothing lighting.

I like the dark. When I was a child the sun outside and florescent light bulbs in commercial buildings hurt my eyes. They still do. Being undiagnosed, I was often chastised for my whining. Apparently normal people didn’t have the same complaints that I did.

Reading and writing are relaxing and help to ease my anxiety (that’s why I’m writing now, because I know I will feel better by the time I’m finished).

Writing is one of my lifetime special interests.  I’ve had many interests over the years. When I am doing my current “thing” I am happy and all my troubles melt away.

Sometimes, when the anxiety and darkness are really bad, all I can do is my favorite thing. I cling to it, like a person grasping onto a life preserver beside a sinking ship.  It keeps me afloat, distracts me from what is uncomfortable, and gives me focus on something good.

My ability to hold things in came from a mother who was not very understanding when I tried to explain my feelings. She couldn’t relate to my struggles and always told me to toughen up, deal with it, and stop complaining. So that’s what I did.

I learned to keep my feeling to myself, learned to blend in with a crowd, learned to be tough.

As a teenager my inability to express myself would often leave me exploding like a violent volcano. I knew I could not act that way at school or in front of my parents, so I kept it in. Sometimes I felt so angry that all I wanted to do was throw or break something but I held back, at least until I was alone – most of the time.

The older I get the less and less of a volcano I seem to become. Now my eruptions have shifted to implosions. I fold into myself, running away, sometimes crying or hiding in my bed. I don’t yell, scream, or hit things – not any more.

Shutting down is far less destructive when you are trying to stay Anonymously Autistic as the anxiety kicks in.

“The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida: A Reconsideration of Autism, Empathy, and “Mind-Blindness” — Voices in Bioethics

I actually just read this over the weekend. It was very good.

by Sara M. Bergstresser• The field of bioethics has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of how the medical and social assumptions that accompany diagnostic categories impact the people who have been diagnosed. In particular, autism has recently been characterized as being defined by an inherent lack of empathy and as a state […]

via “The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida: A Reconsideration of Autism, Empathy, and “Mind-Blindness” — Voices in Bioethics

Hannah Riedel – Growing Up With/Without an Autism Diagnosis

Please check out Hannah Riedel on YouTube. This is her video and I do not own the rights to it. I am simply sharing because she is amazing.

I often find myself wondering about how things could have been different if my Autism had been caught when I was a child.

When I first found out I went through a depression, but after the truth set in I became empowered and strong. I had a true “Ahh-haa” moment and all the mysteries of my life life were illuminated. Suddenly all the “short comings” and strange things that I was hiding from the world became normal, within my group of super humans.