Autism Awareness Day 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Today is Autism Awareness Day.

And, coincidentally, also Children’s Book Day. I like that, since I love reading and I like many children’s books, still.

I actually feel like a child in many ways. Instinctively, I associate myself with children rather than adults, and emotionally, I’d guess my age at something between 9 and 17. I’m overwhelmed by the complexity of adult life, stubborn with complicated formalities and I have to struggle a lot to do things I deem meaningless – but which have to be done due to social or formal reasons.

I can be enthusiastic about toys, games, childish jokes and I absolutely love my plush doll collection.

But this is about autism awareness.

 

Since receiving my diagnosis, I’ve been feeling more relaxed and content. I know it doesn’t really change anything; I haven’t applied for any support or care, because my parents and my boyfriend currently provide all the support and care I need. But it did make a difference for me personally. It feels right.

Although I often challenge the diagnosis. I ask myself stupid questions like “wasn’t that a very un-autistic thought?” or “would someone with autism really have done/said/felt that?”. I know there’s no real comparison. Even with diagnosed Asperger’s sydrome, I’m not a sum of symptoms. And I do have very “normal” characteristics – but I also have very “autistic” traits. I just usually don’t notice that because no one in my immediate surrounding provides any triggers – they all accept me with my quirks and don’t expect me to be like any other 29-year-old.

When I do interact with someone close to my age, I am suddenly very aware of how different I seem to function. But that is my “awareness”. What about the others’? Autism spectrum disorders are invisible as far as physical traits are concerned. Sometimes I want to tell those outside-people: I’m not weird, I’m autistic and just because you don’t notice the challenges I overcome,  it doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of it.

But would that help? Do I WANT people to know? Will they then still see that I am more than a collection of symptoms?

 

I’m applying for graduate studies at a new university. I’m wondering if I should make them aware of my AS. I probably will as I DO have troubles with some types of examination, especially if it includes group work and participation in seminars.

Fourteenth Post

Monday, February 17th, 2014

In a discussion with my boyfriend about the perception of people around us, we developed a model we later called “Pinocchioisation Process”

We were walking hand in hand along a street in Berlin when a man walked past us saying something like “now, just hold on really tight.” I was rather confused because I couldn’t understand what he was talking about but my boyfriend Stefan said it was a derogatory comment about our holding hands as a couple and Stefan went on about how that man had seemed defensive, angry, lonely and self-conscious to him. To me, he was just a blank, “mannequin-like” being to which I attributed no emotions or background.

Together we explored my perception of the people around us and ended with the image that unknown people indeed do have a “mannequin”-image to me, except that I, of course, know them to be people, they move and talk and thus give glimpses of something like different motivations or intentions. But all in all they are blank puppets to me. Just when I get to know someone, they become more and more a person. I still don’t credit them with an inner life of their own, most times – not intuitively, at least – but they develop personalities, characteristics and meaning. In a way, it mimics the transformation from the wooden doll Pinocchio into a real boy, hence the name of the process.

I don’t know if that is typical for people with asperger’s syndrome – I don’t know anyone else. Is it?

What do you think?

Close-up Flowers 06

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

A few pictures of flowers in our garden.

I’m still not too familiar with using manual focus so sometimes it is a little off target. I still liked the pictures, though. Feel free to comment. :)

 

 

Thirteenth Post

Friday, July 5th, 2013

This one is on auditory sensitivity.

Sometimes I am not sure if my auditory cognition can be called “sensitive”; I do not feel overwhelmed in that sense, when I am outside or in a store or at a place with many people. I feel stressed and drained and I tire very quickly, loud sounds make me flinch and cover my ears but visual stimuli are not as bad. What makes me think that my hearing is overly sensitive is the fact that I seem to hear many things other cannot – or they hear but do not listen. When someone opens our front door, my family’s cars on the street, the cat scratching at the window, our washing machine’s warning signal from the basement, etc. We can even be watching a film and I still hear things like that. I tend to get caught up with details or small things I like to look at when there is a lot of visual input but I do not really feel overrun by it and it does not tax me as much as auditory input – I think, because I can decide to look at something or not but I cannot decide to hear something or not. Control is an important factor, I suppose. It is not entirely about loud sounds or many sounds at once but about anticipating these sounds or being able to control them.

In fact, I do not like silence – because it is never really silent. What most people call “silence” is in fact filled with annoying and distracting little sounds like breathing, chewing, traffic, moving and talking people outside, leaves, birds, etc. I like music, because it covers those sounds with something that makes sense, something controllable. I basically listen to music all the time – on my radio, mp3-player or just in my head.

Recently I read about the quietest room on earth, where it is so quiet that most people cannot stand the silence more than a few minutes. I would very much like to be in one, some time. Although it will, of course, not be totally silent, either. I will still hear my own heartbeat, breathing, etc. – which can be annoying as it is, already. That is why I do not like earplugs. They just replace outside noise with inside noise… Sometimes my body’s sounds keep me from falling asleep but I cannot very well switch them off. I lie awake and listen to the change of my heartbeat when I breathe slower or faster. Sometimes it skips a beat which is especially uncomfortable.

To me, “silence” is actually best described with white noise because it drowns everything else – even my thoughts. That feels very nice, sometimes. I now have a room with a bed directly under the roof of our house and when it is raining, the rain on the window sounds like white noise. I love that. I wish it would always be raining when I have to fall asleep.

 

Twelfth Post

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

[I think I have never written the word "twelfth" before, it looks really funny.]

 

Another post about friendship – inspired by several long discussions with my best friend and my boyfriend.

To me, friendship is an affectionate and cognitive non-physical bond with people that came to mean very much to me. The difference to what most people mean by friendship is, that frequent contact, especially face-to-face, is not a necessity for me. In that way it differs from love which has a far stronger physical factor and thus requires if not necessarily proximity, at least immediate and personal contact.

I think both relationship types are influenced by my … immediacy … concerning the perception of other people.

First, people lose some of their substance when they are not in immediate contact with me; they become “disembodied” in a way. This also entails that they lose “momentum” – I would not ask a friend I have not seen for a while what happened in their life because I lack the intuitive recognition that they HAVE a life outside the time when we are in contact. Of course I cognitively recognise that they do not freeze in time as soon as I close the door but it is still difficult to transfer that to an intuitive, affectionate curiosity. To me, they are somewhat like porcelain figures on a shelf as long as they are not in actual contact with me; I can look at them, draw happiness from their existence and affectionately clean the dust away once in a while. I enjoy the time whenever I do have contact with my friends but it is not actually necessary very often. As long as I know they care that can be totally fine with me. And I do care about them very deeply, but it is rather difficult to explain how you can care about someone and not feel a compulsion to contact them frequently to take part in their life.

With love, on the other hand, this entails that each period of separation is a new “chapter” for me; a new situation in which I have to find a confirmation that my loved one and the bond between us has not changed and can be applied equally to this new day as to the last one.

I once read an example of a girl with Asperger’s who did not adhere to the instruction to raise her hand before speaking in class because when the picture was taken to illustrate what she should do, she wore a red shirt but on the next day she wore a blue one. She did not transfer the generality of the instruction to hold true no matter if she looked exactly like the picture or not. I never applied this example to myself because I CAN understand instructions separate from the situation or myself; however, I think that is still the same underlying problem with emotional situations. I do not generalise people or relationships. If someone says “I love you” on one day, with a red shirt, so to speak, I do not generalise that to the next, blue shirt day – emotionally, that is. When we see each other again, in a way, I am exploring my feelings and my loved one anew each day (and I do not think that is something negative, really, as long as it does not lead to irritation in the other).

I think I do not really need this confirmation with my friends because friendship is a more intellectual relationship. It is, to me, more easily grasped than love; more easily tied to common interests, similarities in character and activities. Love is difficult to define, especially why you love someone and even more why you are being loved by someone. Emotions are invisible and more often than not my own are quite enigmatic to me, not to mention those of someone else.

 

Eleventh Post

Monday, June 24th, 2013

This post is about the physical sensation of emotions. Or, more accurately, how I perceive emotions and how I know which emotion it is. I usually perceive the bodily changes first and then realise which emotion it is exactly – or not so exactly. Of course I cognitively recognise which emotion is or would be appropriate in most situations before feeling it, but often I do not “just feel” it; especially negative emotions are difficult to differentiate for me. Joy is easier, more immediate.

Sadness

I recognise sadness as a kind of pressure on my chest, difficulties breathing in, a painful sensation radiating from the bridge of my nose towards my eyes and forehead and an overall inhibition in gross motor functions.

Anger

It is a similar kind of pressure but more from the inside out and less restricting. My muscles feel tense and a kind of heat builds up in my head, my breathing becomes shallower.

Fear – a little more difficult

Faster heartbeat, similar restricting pressure on my upper body as in sadness just more from the spine outwards and less from the chest; a feeling of coldness along with a compulsion to twirl something in my hands or touch haptically interesting surfaces to calm myself. If I am really scared an additional need to curl up and cover my ears arises.

Happiness

A warm sensation starting in my solar plexus radiating from the centre towards the sides and then into my extremities as a kind of flutter, but without actual tremors. Again pressure in my chest but not uncomfortable; just so it feels stretched, like filled up with something warm and light. And a similar fluttery, warm sensation at the base of the skull towards the face.

Apparently contempt is another basic emotion but I do not have a sensational pattern for that; I do not remember ever having felt strong contempt towards anyone or anything. It is similar with jealousy; I just do not feel that, I have no idea why.

All other emotions are – for me – constructed as combinations of the ones above. Love is happiness in multiple levels directed towards persons; short bursts of joy from specific thoughts, touch, gestures from and towards that person alongside a constant resonating happiness just from the existence of this bond – plus numerous cognitive components like interest, harmony, sense of belonging and protection, etc.

(Emotional) pain is sadness and fear – and maybe anger.

Envy is anger and fear – and maybe contempt?

Heartache might be happiness and sadness and it feels so strange because it overlaps emotionally but the physical sensations are different..? It starts in the solar plexus, like happiness, but instead of radiating outwards it is more clenching and tightening and the radiating sensation is inhibiting or paralysing. Also there is a dampening of sensual input followed by the painful sensation behind my forehead which always precedes tears.

I think emotions are, in a physical sense, like japanese sauces. They all have the same five or six ingredients but taste very different because of the proportions of the individual ingredients.

Stress

Stress is also different; it results in a similar compensation compulsion as fear and sadness but is more concentrated in my head and less of a bodily sensation. My thoughts feel foggy and slow but at the same time somewhat erratic and I feel the need to concentrate on simple things which channel and restrict my sensory input.

How do other people feel emotions? And how is it to just “feel” ..?

Tenth Post

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Bacon is like Banana with Buttercream – Food Issues

I don’t know if I’m extremely picky with food, I have no real comparisons. How do you determine if you not like more things than anyone else..?

But I seem to not like things that most people like and for different reasons. Texture is very important; at least as important as taste, if not more. The three things in the title are related, to me, because I dislike bananas because of their texture (the taste is okay), slimy and squishy, and I dislike butter – except in very small quantities – because it always feels it’s coating my gums with a greasy, slimy layer of fat. Bacon combines slimy, squishy texture with this fat-layer, so it’s even worse.

And I don’t combine sweet and savoury things. It’s just… wrong. It doesn’t belong together. I don’t put oranges in a green salad, apples with fish, pineapple on pizza, etc.; there are only a few things that are acceptable in some cases. I like carrot cake and avocado smoothies. Carrots are neutral, like pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

When I was little, I would always try one bite of everything on my plate – except if I didn’t know it – and rank them in taste, I then started with what I liked least and ate my way through to what I liked best. I wouldn’t mix things or eat them together. By now I do switch between the things on my plate but I still don’t like to mix them. Especially if they are not supposed to mix – salad dressing and pasta, for instance. And I’m still very sceptical about trying things I don’t know. If  I don’t like the smell I won’t.

I like Japanese food because they usually tend to leave most things their own taste and only enhance it with spices or sauces; generally they don’t use much fat either. And you have an extra bowl or plate for everything! Perfect.

Close Encounter of the Feline Kind

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

When I was walking home yesterday I noticed a large black cat sitting on a garden fence next to the road. As I like cats very much I walked up to it to see if it was interested in becoming acquainted.

It was and I petted it for a few minutes. It seemed a little restless, though. When I walked on it jumped down and accompanied me; it walked right next to me much like a ‘heel’ing dog. When I came to the gate of my garden it went right through and waited for me at the front door. I thought it might be just happy to be on dry ground but when I unlocked the front door it immediately pushed through the crack and ran up the steps to where my rooms are. Luckily my landlord was in his rooms below and did not see that. By that time I was curious what it would do so I opened the doors to my living room and bedroom.

For around ten minutes the cat inspected the two rooms thoroughly, rubbing against the corners of the furniture, walking around the sofa, looking under the bed, sniffing at everything. When it had gone through both rooms twice – with intermittent being petted and purring – it walked down the stairs and waited at the front door. I opened it, the cat looked at me and meowed and then it left.

That was rather peculiar.

If I was superstitious I would now feel better because maybe it was looking for evil energies but could not find any. As it is now, I feel better because, for ten minutes, I have had a cat.

Music 09

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Today’s music is

Untouched by The Veronicas

Because I haven’t listened to that in a long time and it is uplifting. And I like the lyrics.

Music 08

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Today’s song is

“Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd.

Because it’s perfect for a grey but not overly rainy Sunday, it’s melancholic but not really sad and – although I don’t really understand the lyrics – at least the title is something I can relate to at the moment.

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