I was already of the opinion that Autism Speaks is a problematic group. Their message is so dire, bleak, that it seemed pretty clear to me: they are doing more harm than good.
Two questions this time around. One from a parent…and one from a lady diagnosed with Aspergers who wants to know how anyone could feel good about life on the spectrum.
Thoughtful questions. My non-expert, answery type things: in effect.
Growing up, August was traditionally the month that I was knocked flat with school anxiety. The last few weeks of summer, I was reliably a train wreck of fear and frayed nerves.
Today, in my late 30’s, I still feel echos of that as August sets in. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been out of school for a long time now; July gives up and some animal part of my brain tells me to hide, to run…from nothing specific or real, just the predatory talons of memory. (I’ve written before, in this post, about my teen habit of avoiding peers by literally climbing walls and hiding above ceiling tiles. I did that.)
This is part 5 of an ongoing series that examines the interplay between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers and depression. Other posts have offered a breakdown of how to both detect and distinguish co-morbid conditions like depression (part 2 in particular, which focuses on how depression can “hide” behind autistic traits; all other links can be found below). This time around, I wanted to take a different approach and offer impressions that are more subjective in nature.
Part 6 will conclude this series with a look at coping strategies.
I started drinking alcohol in college. One of my friends, he had a frat guy roommate and these parties would spring up around us on a regular basis. My friend and I, we’d be sitting there at his place watching old VHS bootlegs of Doctor Who. Then we’d hear cars pull in to the driveway. We’d hop up, frantic, immediately switch the television to ESPN, try to mask our nerdiness. Humans would proceed to file in. Frat guys, sorority girls, dozens of them. And that was it for the rest of the night, just drinking, drinking.
I was encouraged to make“people-sketches” as a way of connecting my thoughts and experiences together. This all came about when I was asked to consider whether any other members of my family are on the autism spectrum; it then developed into a broader thought experiment: words as sense of the world; words as connection to others. As for the family/spectrum question, “I don’t know” is the honest answer. I’m never comfortable retroactively applying concepts like that. For me, memory resists the intrusion of labels, making “sketches” a preferable alternative.
Memories; no particular order. Thought experiment: in progress.
On the Invisible Strings Facebook page, I’ve poked fun at the numerous studies finding all sorts of different “causes” for autism. (Click here for a recent example.) It’s left-handed moms! No, it’s curly-headed dads! It’s, um…ladybugs? The downside to all of this info-clutter and misinformation: snake oil salesmen have been able to run wild. I’ve seen more phony cures lately than I can count. In all of the confusion and junk science, frauds have lept into the fray to make money off of vulnerable families.
So…I made a little video: “How to be an Autism Snake Oil Salesman.” This includes the 4 traits to look for when identifying medical frauds.
It’s odd that we change. Years pass, memories of different selves accrue. I think the mind can have a difficult time reconciling those different selves with their varied, contradictory shapes.
I remember having a much stronger sensory awareness when I was a kid. My nose would haunt me, for example. I would smell something unpleasant, and a sense of unease would settle over me for days. I’d grow moody about it, troubled. Sometimes, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I would lash out at others well after the triggering scent.
7:30a.m., this morning…
I walk into the grocery store. I immediately forget why I’m there. I look around, confused. I check my pockets…and find a list. Relief.
During trips to the grocery store, I always have trouble organizing in my head the most efficient route for procuring the items I need. I tend to wander about somewhat aimlessly, grabbing items once I realize I need them…it’s a slow, meandering process. And it can get tiresome, having to push a cart through the peripatetic circuit that I travel.
Here’s the method I’ve developed for dealing with this issue:
In a recent video, I discussed small talk and why it can be so confusing for people on the autism spectrum. There are a lot of processing issues involved, as well as a minefield of social consequences (you can click here for the full discussion). So, even though it is a seemingly simple exchange for most people, small talk can actually become a serious barrier for folks on the spectrum.
One commenter had a question relating to this topic; I thought I would share that here, along with my response.