Au-Some Afterthoughts 2020

Official Evaluation Countdown

Posted on Updated on

Oh MY Gosh my friends! you will not believe this. I was able to locate someone nearby (a professional psychology with a PhD and all) who was willing to properly evaluated me on wether or not I am autistic. And it is happening THIS FRIDAY!! By the time you read this, it will be two days away from me getting this done. And while I would love to give away the details– I am respecting this person’s practice because I would not want a flood of people come to her for something offered to me individually. But truly-I think I almost cried knowing this might actually be happening.

So I wanted to talk a little about what’s been going through my mind as I prepare for this:

First, I am completely nervous. like “What if its not true?” “what if i’m a liar at al this?” feverous. I pride myself on trying to live the most honest and direct life, because to me its confusing when people start lying. I don’t know what’s real, what to expect and can tear me up emotionally. So I am trying to control my nerves as I wait to meet/talk with this person over video conferencing again…

Second, I have been spending a great deal of time trying to remember everything I have already reviewed with my therapist (MFT) who doesn’t think I am but thinks I’m “neurologically different.” However, I brought up some very common terminology that is used in autistic communities and she didn’t know it (or at least let me know that she did) which makes me think she doesn’t know how to read an adult female autistic as well as the ADHD (which she can test in.) Also, luckily she has already written a lot of this down already in the letter to my psychologist (the second one who actually read the letter) and so remember that wasn’t as hard. However, its the really early stuff that I am not sure on. So i’ve been mentally sitting and trying to remember what I can and writing it down.

Third, I am an emotional wreck this week. I cannot regulate myself well because of transitioning thru SO MANY things and frankly I just want to be left alone for an evening by myself. But its almost impossible because my whole family is here as well. This is why i used to hang at Starbucks or Coffee Bean by myself. To hid away unknown. I even did it at Disneyland. I will figure out a way. Even if I sit in a closet one night. I will make it through this.

Anyways– any adult autistics have any insight? Anything that would help me prepare? Or anyone that has known me for a long time like to comment? Insight is always helpful on these things.

Worship and Being Autistic

Posted on Updated on

Wow-Yesterday was Easter. Until this year, arguably one of the most heavily packed church seasons. A day that typically, any autistic would be super nervous about since 1) there is an overload of sensory stimulants from increased volume of people, food (honestly things that smell horrible) and energies; 2) it is hard to read people on what their doing because it is a holiday and neurotypical people like to communicate differently on these type of days and 3) did I mention the sensory stuff? Did I? OK-just checking.

As my previous blog discussed, my son colored in my Bible. And part of our discussion came up about what we worship. We determined that while the Bible is sacred and holy, we do not worship it, the paper that it is on or the people who wrote it. We are called to worship God. And it got me thinking– what would worship look like from an autistic point of view? I actually have been thinking this a lot–when I got to church, trying to wonder if what we’re communicating would translate to someone who communicates differently. It’s not something a lot of people think about normally– let alone in church.

Well, first is how we define worship. It is adoration to God. I would argue it does not need to be proper. It does need to be set apart. Something of praise and singing (maybe) and thanksgiving. Hey-King David danced naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant in worship of God (yep-look it up and NO, I do not recommend this at all in public.) But other than that-it really doesn’t have any guidelines. Prayer is part of worship. Singing definitely. Reading of the Word and a message for sure. And even communion is part of worship-gathering together to eat at God’s Table. when you break it down-it truly is fantastic. I love worship. probably my favorite thing to do. But that’s because I’m musically talented.

For an autistic though–any one of those things could be a trigger or a sensory overload or the opposite where its a hyper focus and they (**cough me cough**) cannot stop. (As a side note: I would have no problem living in a sanctuary or church. It’s always beautiful in my mind. Maybe i have all those overnight sleepovers at church to thank as a kid, who knows.) So I think as Christians we need to thinks/see/live worship differently. Just as we are experiencing now. Maybe for an autistic, it is a prayer room. Where one spends time in silence to God. Or maybe its a blank canvas with all types of markers and crayons. Or drums set up perfectly in line to bang against for a good 20 minutes. Or to just be silent. Talking is not necessary for worship. Or maybe its turning off the lights. Or using a favorite smell (oils are good for this) for incense to focus your mind and senses on God.

I wish I had photos of this–but after I traveled to Munich, Germany, I was part of running a 24-7 prayer room for a week in the downtown area of my school town. We were allowed in a location that was going out for lease. We were able to build it up a little and maintained a small bed/sleeping area for the overnight security and managed to keep people praying for an entire week. And while it did not last long ( there are 24-7 prayer rooms going on around the world actually)– I felt that it was more of a 24-7 prayer/worship room from the way we ran it. We have a bible reading corner with different types of Bibles, a map of the world where you could pin things to pray for those around the world. We had a news source area if you were motivated to prayer for certain situations. And we did have worship a couple times, including communion for those who wanted to participate. (if you want to see what is being done, here’s the group: https://www.24-7prayer.com . Or read the book “Red Moon Rising”-dang the imagery is great)

Then second-what do we worship. Well, that’s easy (you’d think). We worship God. But sometimes during the week, in other realms, we don’t really worship him. We worship the green coffee god, or the money god, or the “i need to fit in or be popular’ god. Worship should be God focused. If you get lost about it, pray. Seek out healthy places of worship. For a while, I couldn’t focused so I listed to a christian radio station. now-don’t get me started I feel the Christian Rock scene is complete outdated and needs a revamp and redefinition-but-I did it to help keep me focused on God. And it helped. I don’t worship my Bible. But having its pages to interact and explore with helped me reopen myself to worship. Circling back around to the original comments–My son getting involved in the only way he knew as an autistic 3year old kid was a little worship together as a family. Sometimes I hope he comes out of childhood remembering.

If you’re autistic and Christian-let me hear your ideas for worship? Anything you’d like that doesn’t happen at your church? Anything you love about your services?

Autistic and Holy Good Friday 2020

Posted on Updated on

Today is Good Friday. We are at the “high-low” of Easter Holy Week. The week that sorta feels a lot like this COVID-19 quarantining this year. Up and down emotions, confusion, darkness and solitutde. So I thought after a major discussion happened on my facebook post about my child coloring my bible (romans 8 to be exact-one of my undergrad professors would be proud), I thought I would look into what “holy” translates to someone who is autistic.

First–let’s look at holy in the Bible itself. The word “holy” is used all throughout the Bible and is comes from the root word meaning “dedicated” or separated ( Click here to see Strong’s connections) In Genesis, humans are, from the beginning, holy, for we are definitely separated from the rest of creation (humans get two creation stories — that’s a whole other toipc–and created in God’s own image (actually–holy means to come from God.) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the entire tribes of Israel are considered holy for they are separated from the rest of humanity to be the image and reflection of God. Holiness and holy action is discussed throughout Exodus as Israel leaves Egypt and wanders the desert. David is a holy king, appointed by God to be different, to be sacred, to be set apart. By the time Jesus comes, we are all called to be holy. Even in Romans (chapter 12) Paul calls Christians to be holy sacrifices. Yeah, we could spend hours upon hours studying what this term looks like in the Bible-but I also have ADHD. So I’m moving on.

So what does this mean for an autistic? And what does this have to do with my son coloring in my Bible?

First-if we, as holy already in the eyes of God, are called to act holy, then autistics are already holy in their nature. They are already set apart. Now-I am NOT saying that others are not. But autistic people typically struggle with being different then others. Being pushed aside, set apart and not for positive reasons. Actually- Neurodivergent in its nature meanings being differently wired. And as an autistic, my different-ness is actually something I can related to in being “set apart for God.” That’s a blessing truly. It’s comforting to know I can related to being different because, well, I already am. Since I was a child (and maybe I have my parents to thank for taking me to church for many years), I never thought me being different as a bad thing.

More like the orange sprinkle in a bag of mixed colors. And I was just being myself (my true self) and that was the only thing that mattered. I pushed what may have been misunderstanding and confusion into “well, I am just going to be me.” I still tried doing the right thing. I truly took to heart “what if God knew this”… which terrified me some times but it was never pushed in our house or church really… and I work hard to still have a relationship with God to make sure I am reflecting what “holy” looks like thru autistic female adult mothering eyes/actions.

Second-being holy does NOT have to deal with communication or socialization. It can be a physical sense of being set apart (wow- social distancing can be holiness in a way!) or it can be a mental separation-for some actions are revealed differently only thru your intentions. So, if I don’t know how to communicate. Or figure out how someone does something– its okay. That’s what not makes me holy. Actually, biblically speaking, its your relationship with God (which can be reflected in how you interact with other people–but not by their judgment, by God’s alone) that does more to reflect your holiness. If you reflect God, then you try to act like God and the judgement of you, your actions and your heart are left up to God. So-my son-who I know is 1) already holy in his human nature and 2) a child innocent of doing things intentionally so his mental actions are not yet fully formed and 3) does not know how to read/write/communicate that well –MAY consider coloring in my bible with pink crayons that I gave him as a gift of holiness and definitely is a gift of a adorable memory he will give me for years. It will help me to remember how one Sunday morning, due to quarantine rules and worshiping from home, my child interacted with me in service in the only way he knows how–by coloring in Romans 8.

Of Course-Being Good Friday-don’t forget that holiness does have hope in it. If we, as Christians, are called to be holy, then we are called to be the reflection of the Holy Spirit-a gift that was given by the One God who defines holiness. I know it is dark and bleak. But I hope that the holiness we reflect and we see around the world will win out the day. I know it did thousands of years ago. And I truly believe it will now.

So go be Holy. It’s easier anyways. And await the excitement that is coming Sunday!

Autistic Admiration for Animals

Posted on Updated on

my dogs April and Scout in our old house at Christmas Time

Continuing my constant blogging on discovering my Au-some nature, I wanted to explore the exciting that autistics (and adhders too) appear to have a greater and deeper connection with animals. Especially since I saw my son really take to an online game within seconds of where you can care and feed an animal. He’s 3, has been very involved in caring for our pets (dogs and rabbits), and here he is having a virtual one (actually two–he won enough “tickets” to adopt a black little chick along with his grey kitten) of his own. Also, he has tried to learn communicating like our dog, which has been both amazing and adorable.

My love of animals started when I was little. I wish I could explain but I feel because I had a dog, I was connected to dogs as my family from day one. Or at least from my earliest memory. I have several pictures of our family dog “Lucky” (the black lab with the white spot) and me playing (or hiding from the mischeif we got into) and actually a few photos of me trying to interact with neighbors’ dogs. As I grew older, neighbors and friends asked me to pet sit for them, including watching little and big dogs, cats (i hate liter boxes with a passion) and even hamsters and birds. In high school, I adopted a large white rabbit from a neighbor because I wanted a pet and before I graduated, I managed to give him to a preschool to keep as a pet of their own. When I graduated college in 2005– I made it my sole goal (kinda probably a hyper focus really) to adopt a dog from the local shelter. My first dog, April, was the one I put down in February… living to be 14.5 years old. I also have adopted hamsters, another rabbit, rats (I adore rats) and another dog Scout (my kiddo’s best friend really.)

Having begun my interactions with autistic adults online, I have discovered I am not alone in my love for animals. I am part of a group where someone’s own beliefs follow the trail and path of wolves. I know SEVERAL autistic who love cats (don’t get me wrong, i probably act like a cat more than a dog but i just LOVE dogs.) Agony Autie (autism advocate) just adopted two rats and has worked up a whole beautiful caring system for them including different environments and places to learn to feel safe and cared for (did i mention i love rats!?). It’s beautiful. While I haven’t read anything by her, one of the more famous autistics ia Temple Grandin, who has several books on the deep connections humans and animals can form ( she works with horses and dogs specifically I believe.)

I wonder if if having a different type of brain allows for this inner connection with animals. As autistics, we are typically more aware of the nuances , the little things. So we notice when pets are off balance, when they are communicating something atypical of humans. And considering several of us love animals and can hyper focus on learning things about them, especially if we desire to care for them as our own, we take this on very seriously.

If you’re autistic, what animals do you love? Do you have pets? If you’re non-autistic, have you seen this too? Tell me in the comments!

Neurodivergent Worries

Posted on Updated on

I was originally going to postpone this post due to COVID-19 and the triggers anxiety discussions cause. But we only end the stigma by talking about it. Openly. And we all need support during these twilight zone times

As an autistic ADHD adult-my life is filled with fighting the ever-present feeling of anxiety. Whether it be fear from being left alone (yeah COVID-19 did NOT help) to general fear of my child running towards things or jumping off furniture. I constantly worry about what people think and how to deal with their reactions. It can keep me non-verbal some days. Or other days I struggle through pushing back the anxiety of living life.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is because Society doesn’t want to. We tell people to “get over it” or push it down. To ignore it and it will eventually go away. But true anxiety (versus basic nervousness) can be debilitating, brain blocking and some times what pushes an Autistic or ADHD person into shutdown mode. Its not worth it to push it away. Even more so with a global pandemic, we need to see anxiety, acknowledge it and even learn to use it in a positive way (someone mentioned this ins. Group chat today-i thought it both confusing and significant at the same time—typical of a mused afterthought.)

So here are windows into what goes thru my mind and what having anxiety looks like. The first window is my thought process. When I get to this anxious circle, the first thing I know is that I need help. My negative thoughts (I’ll leave details out for protection) typically give off this feeling of circling and circling and I cannot get out of the spiral it is spinning in my head. Typically I will slightly cry, freeze for a moment. Definitely do not ask me a question or ask me to remember things. The image below is pretty accurate to what it feels

The second window is the actual panic attack. For a while-I thought I had never had panic attacks. (yes-you can have anxiety and not have panic attacks.) But two specific attacks stick in my mind and they are very different. The first: I had an attack when attempting to drive a go-kart. And not just a simple go kart but one of the K1 racing places. I was already nervous doing something I didn’t want to. Add on i was not given proper time to digest how everything works and functions. So my brain went into pure shutdown mode and my nerves went into hyperdrive. Result: true panic attack.

The second event was a dentist appointment. Again, it was something I didn’t want to do and no explanation or time was given for me to digest how everything was going to work. the result was that I had to reschedule the procedure. What made this matter worse is the dentist didn’t do anything to help with my anxiety, just worked thru my procedure and i woke up from the surgery in a panic attack. Again-this is why society needs to talk about it. I refuse to go back to that dentist but it has now put me in a very scared situations even to go to a dentist.

So please feel free to talk about anxiety and how it affects your life. Please be kind in the comments. Also-not a doctor here-if you need help, call someone. I see a therapist-a great tool. I also must self-stimulate or regulate my feelings—another tool. You definitely need tools to help thru something like this.