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Posts Tagged ‘Aspergers’

The girl behind the mask is small and delicate.
Delicately navigating the day to day
Daylight comes and she settles in
Into the dark recesses of her mind.
Mindful that she looks normal
Normal people don’t know
Know what it’s like to feel like an alien.
Alienated by many for her strangeness
Strangely she cares
Careful not to offend anyone
Does anybody care?
Care to help rather than point?
Pointless to explain.
Explaining is exhausting
Exhaustion sends her deeper
Deep into the dark, safe places in her mind.

Do you know someone with Asperger’s? They are beautiful, creative, very smart people. They have quirky habits and don’t always understand things right away, but they feel very deeply and just need someone to reach out to help and guide them. I was that little girl once. I still am, but with the help of great friends I’ve got the world fooled. They think I’m normal and I am so glad I’m not.

photo: jjroyce @glogster.com

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I am really fed up with neurotypicals, aka NTs, aka “normal people” announcing how they’re working on the cure for autism – how a gluten-free diet will make your symptoms go away – and how traditional therapy actually works.  Really, people.  Really?

Hey, if you’re on board with all that stuff then good for you…  We all like to be in our safe zones even if people think it’s stupid. Image

Listen.  This isn’t to Yuk your Yum but I’m just going to share some of my own thoughts and feelings on the subject so forgive me if this sounds defensive.  I really want to be informative and helpful to someone else, who, like me, is kind of assimilated but definitely not cured.

Society, as a whole, is chock full of lemmings who blindly follow along because they want to fit in and belong to something greater than themselves.  “Society” is defined as an aggregate of people living in a more or less ordered community.  Let’s expand a little more.  Community includes your workplace, home, neighborhood.  Community can also be defined as your social status, your interest groups, your state, and even your country.  Community can even be as broad as “people of the free world” as opposed to “people under the tyrannical rule of a ruthless dictator.”  The idea of community is bringing together people with shared…something. 

THE CURE

Phew!  Okay.  So for me to fit into your community a few things had to happen.  I needed to learn what made you happy enough to include me in your little group.  

  • Thou shalt not throw tantrums in public.  
  • Thou shalt not scratch an itch in mixed company.  
  • Thou shalt stay silent until someone asks your opinion – and then thou shalt not always tell the truth because it might be cruel or insensitive.  
  • Thou shalt dress appropriately for the occasion.
  • Thou cannot be a stinky bastard so washing and grooming is important. 
  • Thou shalt learn social cues (when they smile, you smile – when they frown, you pretend empathy – when they are upset, ask them if they want a hug).

See?  I can play along and I’ve got everybody (except for my friends and family) completely fooled.  Does that mean I’m cured?  Hell, no.  It is completely exhausting venturing out into your world!  

Quick example:  When I worked in retail I had to be pleasant to everyone and smile all the time.  Imagine telling yourself to raise the corners of your mouth, show off your dimple (that took practice in the mirror), show a little teeth (but not too much), and crinkle eyes just enough to make a “genuine” smile.  Sometimes my face would freeze like that because I forgot to tell my face to relax when no one was looking.  My customers have no idea how mechanical I must be to greet them – and sometimes it really is a genuine smile.

Essentially – the CURE is having an autistic person learn behavior, coping mechanisms, and physical and social mannerisms so that you aren’t uncomfortable around the weird kid.

DIETS

Don’t you love marketing?  

EAT GLUTEN-FREE AND YOU WILL BE CURED OF AUTISM!  YAY!  

Except it’s not true!  At least not for me.  I like what I like: tastes and textures.  All in all I consider myself an adventurous eater.  I’ll try anything once.  So unless the food directly affects my neurotransmitters, changes my genetic makeup, or mutates the autism out of me, my diet only nourishes my body and either keeps me healthy or makes me fat.  Let the Celiacs worry about the gluten.  And that’s all I have to say about that!

TRADITIONAL THERAPY

I’ve been to a few therapists – for myself and with my son.  Tell me:  how is a one-on-one 45 minute session in an office going to help a person who has no social skill, doesn’t like to talk to strangers, is uncomfortable expressing themselves, hates talking about their screw ups, and doesn’t want to relive the hows and whys of being teased?  HOW?

Traditional therapy simply does not work.  You want to help your autistic kid?  Get a social advocate and life coach!  Nothing makes me more anxious than the unknown.  I absolutely HATE firsts.  I learn by example, trial and error, and I am perfectly happy to live vicariously through others.  

A life coach can lovingly (and patiently) explain something as simple as how to properly answer the phone, the importance of hygiene, explaining why sweatpants is not appropriate for a job interview.  Take them to the mall and observe people.  Watch the mannerisms and social interactions from a distance.  

As a child I abhorred going to the mall but it was bearable because my sister and I played games.  Based on what people were wearing we had to make up a story about them; based on their animation (talking with their hands) we made up dialogue.  Doing this took me out of my tunnel vision and forced me to look around and use my imagination.  If I was getting overstimulated I went to the bathroom or the nearest changing room and tried something on.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

Aspies are creatures of habit but we don’t get comfortable until we’ve tackled “the firsts” and realize it didn’t kill us.  With that being said – and it is just my opinion – unless you live it don’t assume we need to be cured.  We want to be accepted but we need to feel safe first – so take your “cures”, diets and traditional therapies; take your condescension and comfortable superiority and kindly SHOVE IT.

 

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ASD

An example of the very literal child

~ Never take comprehension for granted
and never make them feel the fool.
~ It’s very hard to live one’s life
when you already feel like a tool.

 

This is only a tiny excerpt of what I had originally posted on April 12, 2014.  To read the entire article, kindly follow the link.

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