Putting out Fires

Can I stop living life on “stampede” mode?

This has been on my mind for a long while, but I have struggled with how to present the idea so that it makes sense to others. The metaphorical idea behind the phrase “putting out fires” is supposed to give one an impression of somebody running from urgent crisis to urgent crisis without cease.

I believe the anxiety level in my life from childhood on caused me to live my life like this. I was so ill equipped to sort what was important from what was not, and so poorly understood what things in life were truly significant as opposed to what things were “just small details” with less importance.
I had nobody to explain these things, it was just “understood” by others in a way that was never clear to me for most of my life.

I learned early in my childhood to be hyper-vigilant in responding to demands and requests of others, and was very fearful to ignore or refuse these demands, commands, requests, directives, etc. regardless of who was making them. This was probably mostly due to my autism and my continual misunderstanding of the world, other people, and my place among all of it.
I was constantly fearful of displeasing any person, of doing the wrong thing, of being punished for making mistakes of any kind.

I believe I went from urgent situation to urgent situation “trying to prevent disaster” every day of my life in one way or another. Anxiety was always with me, to the point of pounding pulse, chest pains, shaking uncontrollably, losing my breath, having a huge ‘startle’ reflex, and many other anxiety responses for most of my life.

Looking back, I rarely spent time in wondering why this was so, or questioning anything about my life. I was too caught up in pleasing parents and siblings, employers, spouse, making sure my children and pets/ livestock etc were cared for, while juggling jobs and attempting to follow my intense interests surrounding animal welfare and horses in particular. I had no idea that my experience was any different from other people’s. Nobody knew!

Dysfunctional relationships with family and co workers kept me from sorting specifics, when I tried to understand why things happened certain ways, I was always told it was all my fault but I never understood how that was so.
I was perpetually bullied, intimidated, mocked, scorned, used, abused, punished, shamed, at home, at school, at church, in other social groups, and in individual interactions with others, and never understood why. I tell people I lived my life in fear, and this is so. I was afraid of everything, and afraid I would not be able to deal with any situation or make the right decision, do the right thing. Experience had proved over and over how inept, thoughtless, careless, etc I was, and every misjudged act, deed, expression, or interaction proved over and over the justification for my need to worry and to fear.

It was not until I was retired and my kids were grown and moved to homes of their own that I had enough time to do a bit of reflection and trying to sort out the “why” questions of my life.
I finally had time to do research on the internet, I finally had time to spend thinking about so many painful things from the past.

I was not able to sort it out on my own. I had to learn more about autism once I suspected it could be present in my life. Finding out about my autism gave me the tools and the understanding to see things in a different perspective and to understand what had happened all those years when I did not know I was autistic ( and neither did anybody else).

I was treated for anxiety and depression most of my adult life. Suicidal attempts and suicidal thinking mostly left me after I learned healthier and more self assertive behavior through counseling, but I still did not have the perspective I needed to understand how I affected others in my autistic ways. I spent all my time trying not to anger others, to do the right things to try to please them, and always falling far short of whatever was needed to keep anger and discord, punishment and bullying at bay.
I suspect that many others who never knew of their autism had similar experiences. Probably many others can’t even imagine what I am referring to here.

Autism and life experiences vary with each person’s neurology and circumstances in our lives.

I wonder how I can reach others who feel as if they are living life “putting out fires” and to help them find the tools they need to start living lives for themselves and not simply to avoid the displeasure or anger of others?

No ideas. I blog, hoping it sounds familiar and helps somebody take a step or two toward self understanding and self forgiveness. This is just one more attempt at sorting autistic experiences of the past and hoping to make enough sense to help others find themselves too.

Have you experienced the feeling of living your life simply “putting out fires”? Have you lived your life in fear?

Random Questions

Thinking about some of the issues surrounding diagnosis.






There are no answers to these questions. If you have perfect understanding, that is great, I am not looking for explanations or justifications, examples or lectures. I am not trying to anger or cause resentment or to shame or blame or otherwise cast shade or darkness on any sector, site, person, or persons, groups, etc.


So much of our understanding of autism seems to be “work in progress”.
I have been reading blogs and participating in forums and getting good input from discussions but of course there are questions in my mind. Autism needs details, asks questions to understand.

Somebody (somebodies, it is a popular concept, this one) said that autism needs to be taken out of the DSM as a psychological condition, because it is developmental and neurological.
This raises one question. Autism is diagnosed almost solely through behavioral clues, through our struggles and our attempts to adapt and to overcome the neurology we are given.
We do have struggles and they are not “normal” in that only 2.5 percent of us ( according to the CDC) of the total population have this neurology. It is rare and unusual, Autism is not the “average” experience of the general population of humans.
There is no neurological or developmental standard test, nor is there any physical exam, blood test, brain scan, genetic DNA tests that confirms “yes, you are autistic”. So how would that work if we “de-pathologized” Autism? Our struggles would still remain, our adaptations would still be needed, as would support and understanding…. I don’t see how wiping out “autism” as a pathology in the DSM would change anything. It is as if by denying our struggles, we deny our own existence or our disabilities. Yet there are many demands for special care and accommodations. Have our cake and eat it too? It simply does not compute in my mind. Until science can come up with accurate and complete diagnosis through testing of some sort ( blood, dna, forms with questions answered only specific ways) I do not see how we can remove Autism and attempts to define it from the DSM. Where would we go for diagnosis? If we were not diagnosed, would we be able to get the help so many autistic people need? All these are rhetorical questions. None of the thinking going on in my head regarding the declaration that Autism needs to be de-pathologized makes any sense as alternatives. Unreasonable expectations on some hopeful people’s parts maybe. Still thinking, no answers.

Is there a “right” way to be autistic? Do I have to meet others’ expectations even in the ‘way’ I am autistic?

Do I have to use the right words, think the right thoughts, behave in certain ways or march in lock step with others, rejecting all you don’t agree with until I am autistic enough in your (or anybody else’s, your groups, your family, your clinic, your forum, your institute, your research results, your organizations definitions or explanations,) your legalistic application of which words or phrases are “correct” to describe autism before I am autistic enough, before I am considered autistic at all, before I am autistic enough, before I am worthy to be heard or seen, before I and my thoughts and behavior meet your definition of how I “should be”???
I am not here to meet your expectations except on your playground, your own page, group, forum, blog, etc. etc.

Not going to play that game then. I am going to take my autistic self and go someplace where I can learn about autism using the words and resources I choose, go to groups which might be forbidden as undesirable, wrong thinking, wrong anything, to learn if they know something I might not know, and to see if I might learn something from them regardless of “person first” language, calling autistic people “they” and “them”, naming types of functioning, describing levels of function, or doing other “unacceptable” forms of thinking, learning, or teaching about autism.

Can we afford to completely discount others attempting to help and to understand autism just because they do not use the same words or have the same ideas?

Some ideas will be unacceptable to me, and some will be scientifically proven to be incorrect, documentation is always appreciated. Speculation is not the same as concrete facts.
Today’s “facts” are not necessarily the truth, only our current understanding of it, based on faulty studies and insufficient scope or input of unreliable nature unknowingly incorporated therein.

I have said before and will say it again. I think that it is up to an individual to decide for him or herself/ themselves, which pronouns and descriptions to use, which terms make the most sense and are the most useful in the personal context as we try to sort autism in all its ranges and descriptions.

Of course we have to agree on basic vocabulary to exchange ideas, but is it really reason to reject any group, site, person, web page, forum, because they do not “do autism” in the “right way”. ???

Why not simply take what you can and use what seems right for you, and leave the rest.
That is OK. Personal opinion and ways of doing things will vary. Leave the rest for anybody else to use if they choose. Don’t waste energy trying to correct them, shut them down, shut them up, or chastise, shame, or destroy them. The more varied the input, the better the insights from many more ways of understanding. My 2 cents. Your opinions may be different.





Losing my mind

Alzheimer’s, ,dementia, Parkinsonism, “old timer’s” diseases and autism


I am running out of time. Sometimes it feels very urgent to get my goals accomplished now, before the inevitable struggles with old age catch up to a point where I am overwhelmed.
There seems to be extra urgency for me because my family has a history of dementia/ Alzheimer’s/hardening of the arteries, loss of mental ability among its women.
I did a lot of family history study when my children were small. I noticed a pattern then of suicides among young women up until age 30, and of men over 50 in one family branch. I also learned that women of that same family group were often sent to sheltered care type institutions because they were not able to be cared for at home due to mental deterioration/ loss of function.

I will be 70 this year. Most women who needed care were lost by their mid 70’s, many earlier than that. I may be lucky and avoid that seemingly genetic “thing”.

Health care is much better than in previous generations, as is knowledge of nutrition, self care, and many other contributing factors. Medications for heart and blood pressure problems, and stroke prevention and to help many other common conditons may also play a part in prevention.

I am wary though!
Each time I can’t recall a fact, each time I misplace my keys or forget why I walked into a room, I wonder if I am experiencing signs of mental deterioration.
Never mind that I have been a bit of a “scatterbrain” all my life. That seems to have taken on a new significance now I am getting older.

I understand now that my mother was autistic, and I saw that some of her diagnosis of dementia came from the way she behaved as an autistic. Many of her neurological struggles existed from childhood.
Studies have shown that in some people, Autism mimics stroke injuries in the prefrontal part of the brain. I wonder today how much of my mother’s autistic characteristics were assumed to be brain damage due to stroke. She had tremors which for years were not understood, being diagnosed differently by each specialist she saw. Some said “essential tremor”
some said “parkinson disease” Some said stroke damage… maybe the actual diagnosis is not important, the result was that she was put on strong drugs to control the parkinsons, some of which almost killed her, some of which seem to have had worse side effects than the tremors alone. I was not able to care for her at home. She was not capable of supported living housing, she ended up spending the last years of her life in a mental care/dementia unit of a nursing home.
The emotional pain, constant grief, and worry was continual. I carry tremendous guilt and feelings of failure over my mother’s situation.

I am fearful as well.
I worry I will end up in an institution like my mother.

I worry about being a burden to those I love. I think about what I can do now to try to avoid those things. Self care has never been more important. A long life of bad habits has slowly been changed to healthier behavior. I don’t have any idea if it will do any good, but doing healthier things will at least not harm me.

Does your family have a pattern of health issues ? Do most family members die of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, or other health issues? Are you looking into what things you can do right now to help yourself live a healthier life with better chances of staying independent or needing less care?

I urge you to look into ways you can change your health now, for a better future as you age.
You will be buying time with those you love, helping yourself be independent as you age, and improving your health and well being if you make self care part of your plans for the future, no matter how much time you might have left. ( we never know, do we, in spite of clues from the past?)

Make sure right now your loved ones know what you would like in case of sudden need for care, and make sure that those you care about are cherished, enjoyed, and loved for whatever time we have left, and what ever the future brings.


Autistic voice

speech. speaking, vocal expression as autistic features



One of the things that the Dr ( psychologist autism specialist) who gave me my diagnosis talked about when he was summarizing and discussing my autism was that my manner of speech was a significant clue to his diagnosis. I have been spending a bit of time learning about autism and speech. These are more clues to use if you are still wondering if you might be autistic.

Depending on studies and opinions, it is believed that from 25 to 50 percent of autistic people never speak. The percentage seems to have come down recently, probably due to better intervention and earlier attention to struggles. Science is getting better at identifying and bringing problems with speech to the attention of those who can help. Great news!

Many adults who missed autisim diagnosis still have speech struggles, from being completely non verbal to problems with pronouncing words, using them, and voice tone, tempo, expression, volume/loudness, and more.

Those of us( autistic folk) who are gifted with the ability to speak can sometimes be spotted by the way we express ourselves. Most of us have heard about “little professor” ways of speaking as being a clue to autism, for example.

Here are some common presentations of autistic speech.

Pedantic speech : Overly formal, using complex vocabulary, situation-inappropriate because of its formality or details, when simple language would do. This is sometimes referred to as “stilted speech” it is considered stiff, detailed and overly complex .

Didatic speech is speech that is like that of a teacher or lecturer… “telling, explaining, giving detailed information in a superior or pompous way. ” Didatic speech is part of pedantic speech.

Abnormal prosody of speech: Pompous, legalistic, formal, philosophical, quaint… are all forms of prosody : it has to do with intonation, stress of syllables or inflection/ expression of speaking rather than the formation of the words itself.

Many autistic people use abnormal prosody. This is what the Doctor spotted in me. I use all my words, I don’t simplify in speaking with others or in different situations. I have abnormal prosody, my speech is pedantic.

I don’t do it meaning to be pompous, I had always looked at my style of speech as “information sharing”. I love to meet others with information to share, but I have learned not many other people do!
Now I know it is inappropriate to speak in this way and I am trying to change to less formal and less information sharing ways, but a 67 year habit is showing itself as difficult to change. (work in progress) .
Have you ever been called a “know it all”??
If your nickname is something to do with encyclopedia, professor, teacher, books, etc, you might have a form of pedantic speech too.

Pitch/ tone/ volume… how loud, how soft, we speak, or if we are variable in these qualities of speech. We may speak too loudly, too softly, or vary the volume from loud to soft without taking our surroundings or our social situation, etc into account. We may not be aware of this!
Have you been told to shush, hush, or speak up at different times?

Then there is the question of “pragmatics”. Intent, usage of words in context or if they are used “creatively” as metaphors, the use of words in traditional ways allows better “pragmatics” or ability to express ones ideas.
If words are mixed, substituted, changed in form, some loss of intent to the hearer or receiver of the speech is possible.
I know many autistic people who use words in non traditional ways to express themselves.
It can be confusing or amusing to others.
Have you been teased because of your word usage, or told that you make no sense?

The more we have self understanding, the better we are able to make adjustments to help ourselves get the most out of life. Diagnosis is the path to self understanding. Diagnosis can be life changing!


Hidden Autism?

find clues here: YOU MIGHT BE AUTISTIC IF :

Interacting with others is usually difficult, uncomfortable, upsetting, or not satisfactory in other ways. ( diagnostic criteria 1 -social struggles)

Signs include being estranged from family, lack of friends, multiple marriages or relationships that end in distress, constant fighting or misunderstandings with others including: trouble with people in school, church, relatives, workplaces, encounters on the street or in public places, difficulty with situations such as doctors offices, emergency treatment/hospital/clinical settings, difficulty in encounters with those who work with the public (police, teachers, store clerks, restaurant servers,or workers who come to your home ( such as plumbers, lawn care, house cleaners, etc etc etc).

You may have been bullied, abused,/ and-or neglected as a child, you may still be bullied or in an abusive relationship.

You may prefer to keep away from others because your “people” experiences have not been so good. Sound familiar? Keep reading.

YOU MIGHT BE AUTISTIC IF: You struggle with communication.( diagnostic criteria 2)
You might find it difficult to express yourself either spoken words or in writing, using ASL, texting, or on the phone.

You might have troubles with speech , including stuttering or stammering, freezing up when you think about speaking or are suddenly called on to speak.

You may not recognize your own emotions until they overwhelm you and you end up “falling apart,”
“blowing up” “freezing up” or “breaking down”, or “having rages” .

You might be dyslexic, hyperlexic, or be unusually talkative or withdrawn. You might prefer to read and write to communicate.

You might have difficulty using your facial features and body language, or others have told you that you have strange body language or gestures and expressions.

You may find it difficult to understand the facial expressions and body language of others.
You might have frequent misunderstandings and have trouble following directions.

You might have been accused of being over friendly or being cold, or of behaving inappropriately.
You may not recognize “personal space” of others.

Social chit chat is frustrating, boring, annoying or causes anxiety.

Having long two- sided conversations with exchange of information or ideas, or sharing of emotions is mostly unknown or you may never have experienced this.

You tend to avoid interacting with others because of these difficulties.

YOU MIGHT BE AUTISTIC IF : you have rigid thinking and or repetitive behaviors ( diagnostic criteria 3)

You might have a regular routine around many parts of your life, and you hate to have those routines disrupted or suddenly change.

You hate surprises (good or bad)

You expect certain behavior from others and are surprised, disappointed, angry, or dismayed if they do not behave the way you expect.

You have strong beliefs about right and wrong, what is good and what is bad, and you rarely change those beliefs.

You may have intense interests in details surrounding a specific subject or subjects. It is not unusual for these interests to change over a period of time, but whatever those interests are, they will be very specific and demanding detail and will be absorbing and of almost driven/ obsessive proportions.

You have certain rituals or processes you must do in order to accomplish certain tasks. Being asked to change these suddenly makes you uncomfortable, upset, angry, or distressed and worried.
As an example, I brush my teeth after I eat anything. since I snack constantly, I brush my teeth a lot when I am home. When we travel, I am often unable to brush after meals or snacks and I find that distressing. Other examples would be the order in which you do any task, the tools you might use or need to work or to perform the task, time of day you must do things, etc. If your rituals or processes are changed or interrupted it is difficult to proceed without upset.

You may tend to isolate yourself or resist other activities or interactions if they interfere with the structure of your rituals and routines, or if you are not given time to prepare for them properly.
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If you relate to these things, and more importantly relate to 2 or more behaviors from any of these 3 sections, you may be autistic.
The sections I just described are sometimes called the diagnostic TRIAD of autism… having behaviors from all 3 sections are points used to diagnose autism.
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I add my own criteria here: ( and many diagnostic persons also take note)
YOU MIGHT BE AUTISTIC IF :
You have sensory struggles. This can include not only trouble with any or all of the “usual” 5 senses but also difficulties in interoception and proprioception. These have to do with regulating your emotions and knowing where your body is in relations to the rest of the world.
You may struggle with perception of light, taste, touch/feel, smells, sounds, knowing and expressing your emotions, and being coordinated/clumsy, having trouble while in motion or watching others in motion, listening and understanding, fears related to going too fast, fear of falling, fear of being touched, sudden noises, being overwhelmed by a smell, hating certain foods due to their taste or texture, trouble wearing clothing because of seams, texture of fabrics, sticky labels, etc. The range of sensory struggles is so big I can not include enough examples. But if you think about how you use your senses and what your most difficult struggles are, you may find that many relate to unusual sensory processing.

You might have a personal history of job loss, unemployment, being bullied, abused, “set up”, scammed, used or victimized. You may have a personal history that includes experience with substance abuse, involvement with law enforcement/ justice system, multiple diagnoses of genetic and or neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders, depression, anxiety, or other mental and/ or physical illness, homelessness, poverty, and may have recieved therapy or treatment which was not successful or resulted in non typical ways of responding to treatments for named diagnoses.
These things are documented to be significantly higher in the autistic population.

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One of the difficult things about diagnosis of autism is that it does not have just one way of showing itself, because it is due to differences in neurology, each person will be different, and each of us will have different life experiences, all of which help to hide our struggles and make them difficult to define. The things listed here are necessarily general descriptions and it is up to us to sort out which details of our own lives apply to the descriptions of the way we struggle. Although autism is physically uneven development of our neurology, diagnosis depends on general behavioral guidelines and autism’s effects on our lives are mostly behavioral.

I continue to address older adults who think they may be autistic and to encourage them to consider diagnosis, search out information, to ask for help.
You are not alone.
Knowing my diagnosis has made all the difference to me even at the end stages of my long and struggling life. Finally I can make sense of it all. What a relief!





Summary “so far”

This blog is already almost 2 years old!

2020 was one of the most confusing years yet.
Covid19 and its fallout have changed everything forever. Lots of us are scrambling in so many ways just to get from day to day. We know we are not alone in this.

Sorting my autism and finding ways to compensate or accommodate my neurological struggles has continued to be helpful.
Old painful memories are seen in a new understanding and finally put to rest. New ways are being learned, how to do things differently to make my every day life easier. I am having more insight and understanding of others and seeing how my own autism has worked and is still working in my life.
Self forgiveness and healing of old emotional wounds is in there too.

My goals to find and reach local undiagnosed autistic elders has failed miserably.
In our area there are few medical resources, let alone psychologists or therapists. My search for diagnosis showed me how few there were. I guess that is understandable because our area is so rural and such low population. Covid 19 set in, about the time I began my “awareness campaign”.
I began to contact local agencies, places that serve the elderly, the mentally ill, the homeless, the needy, medical/psychological groups, the local newspaper, substance abuse recovery, shelters for homeless or abused folks… I do not do well on the phone, so I generated an “autistic elders” email and began emailing these groups. I probably sent out 50 carefully worded emails. I got not even one response.

I wondered if there was anybody in these offices to sort emails. My email name might have backfired and never been opened due to the name and people’s thinking I was spamming to ask for donations. I hope to contact radio and tv stations next.

I was able to present a “webinar” through the local college which drew only 3 interested new people but at least as many supporting me through friendship. It was not recorded or saved for the internet. I am learning what works. I may take out classified ads in the local paper or on the radio. I have very few funds available for advertising, being a retired person with no income.

I am steadily gaining followers here, which is very gratifying since I am not attempting to self promote. So glad you found me and are here with me! I am grateful for all your messages of support and your interest, and hope you will share when possible, and hope that insights I have written have helped. If you have read some of the blog, you know nothing I have said is in copyright and that I want you to share freely anything I have said that helps!
Just don’t use my words as your own, OK?
Knowing each of us is different in so many ways, I do realize there will be “if’s, ands, and Yeah-buts” regarding any suggestions or thoughts I post here. I find that interesting too!

I have no idea what the future will bring. It is difficult to figure out what one person can do to make a difference for others. “think globally, act locally” was something I took to heart.
I can not change the world, but I can keep trying to find others in my own area and offer insights and suggestions to help the unsuspecting, curious, newly diagnosed older adults right here where I live. I know what a difference finding out about my autism has made in my life. I want others to experience that too!
As always, I will keep you posted.
Thanks so very much for your interest and your support. ❤ I am truly grateful!
Sending best wishes for a better 2021. Stay safe, self care always first! ❤

Autsim Overwhelm

Autistic burnout, shutdown, meltdown, and other distressing things



It can’t be avoided, these are stressful times. Life always throws something extra at you. All times for mankind were stressful times: war, famine, floods, invasions, pestilence, plagues,revolutions, and other traumatic and negative things have always been with us. ( as human kind)

What is new, is that today we are getting information about it all, all over the world, almost as soon as it happens. Until recent generations, news was not spread nearly as quickly, and there were far fewer people in the world. The advent of electricity and the way humans have been able to use it has changed everything. We have changed from a species which mostly worked and lived from sunrise to sunset to a species which works continually, and at the speed of electricity (or light!)

I don’t think our minds and neurology, let alone our bodies are equipped to deal with these changes.

Forward to today, where we are constantly presented with images of horror, terror, distress, anger, fear, and anxiety showing and reporting on things we have absolutely no control over.

Media of all sorts presents these things, sights and sounds, in as upsetting and emotionally provocative a way as possible, since those in charge of making the $$ money $$ have found such distressing things sell the news better than word of health, healing,beauty, safety, caring and informative non-distress-causing reports.

I am still attending forums and reading blogs, and I find so many autistic people are so distressed, angry, unhappy, anxious and fearful. This applies not only to the autistic communities I attend on line. One only has to look at today’s headlines or watch a news report. News will inevitably tell you that things are horrible, frightening, and about to get worse. $$news$$ will be happy to tell you all the ways you are about to suffer and how others in far away places are suffering or about to suffer as well. It will show you how many people hate you, tell you why, tell you every mean and horrible act that one person or group has done to another.
$$$ are there in every report you buy into $$$ and they keep escalating the horrors so they can sell more advertising and make more money. Don’t buy into it!

I have never had a “filter” for images, and never been able to tell myself “its over now, they are not suffering” or to separate myself and my own emotional experiences with those of others, remaining aloof and unaffected. Each horrifying image, report, sound (such as distress, grieving, painful crying or fearful screaming) Stays in my head and repeats itself with nowhere or no way to remove it or soothe it. I put this down to my neurology and my inability to process visual and audio input in the way most people seem to do. But such anguish and distress seems to be everywhere these days, not just in the autistic community.

Have you noticed? Did you ever ask yourself why?

I learned a long time ago that I simply can not listen to the news, watch it, or see photos or read reports of painful and distressing traumas, fear causing “what if” events, nor can I assimilate the huge deliberately pain-distress-fear-anxiety-anger-causing, emotionally provocative input of so many web sites, newspapers, or other printed matter.

I have learned that to survive emotionally and remain functional, I must be very careful of the “input” I get every day. Add to this inability to process upsetting things, the daily load of worries over things like jobs, health, family, demands of your “out of the home” commitments such as volunteering or participating in community events, and you will understand why it is so very difficult to maintain a steady attitude and a feeling of stability. I suspect this is true for all humans in varying degrees. How would I know for sure, though?

Here are things you can do to help yourself avoid overwhelm, shut down, melt down, anxiety and perpetual distress.

1. Consider controlling the “input” you are forcing yourself to deal with daily. Do we need up to the minute reports on the election, the hatred of one group for another, the horrible ravages of every tragedy occurring all over the globe, the sights and sounds of so much distress, fear, rage, etc?

Choose to visit a news website once a day instead, or to watch one tv broadcast, listen to one news report on the radio. Do you need to subject yourself and those around you to the constant battering of so much emotional (for the $$$ media company’s $$$ profit!)
You already know that distress and emotional turmoil are what is used to market today’s news. “if it bleeds it leads”… the more upsetting the news, the more likely somebody is to tune in, buy the paper, etc etc… “$$$gotcha$$$” Do you need to experience every one of these painful reports repeatedly? Why?

2. Consider whether you need to attend every holiday party, or even one.
Decide: If anybody in your household needs to attend every class, group meeting, visit or activity the season offers.

3. Do you need the media blasting away in the background all the time? Can you substitute music or nature sounds, silence or something like a “white noise” machine instead?

4. Are you playing over- stimulating games with loads of disturbing graphics that create a sense of urgency ( especially meant for video-gamers). Can you substitute others, watch a documentary, nature videos, take a break to take a walk or a hot bath or to prepare a “real” complete sit-down meal or to do a hand’s on craft, artwork or something that involves all of your concentration without the perpetual demand to process distress? You can be activating your fight/flight anxiety response over and over instead of finding peaceful and interesting things to fill your time with.

5 If you are a reader, do you read nothing but upsetting, graphic, anxiety causing stories? Can you change to another topic, read non fiction, read blogs, studies, feature articles about other topics that interest you? If you have a ‘special interest’ or hobby, can you read about those instead, or at least substitute some of the input for things less likely to create feelings of stress or distress?

6. The human body evolved to be in motion. It is not natural for us to sit for most of the day in artificial light. Why not make motion of any sort at least part of your day? Your moods, anxiety level, and attitude may show improvement, let alone the health benefits.

7. Remember the old saying about “accept the things you can’t change, and change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference” .


I have almost completely cut out and shut out all of the things I have no control over. I check news once a day in print using a source that is not prone to graphic images. I am sure I will hear if doom is on the horizon, if there is some huge catastrophe I need to prepare to move my household or myself to safety for.

Otherwise, I let those who are in control of those things take care of it all.
My job is to care for myself and those I care about. I do this to the best of my ability.
I practice responsible behavior and “adulting”, do my civic duties, volunteer for things I think are important, donate to causes I believe in, but I deliberately turn my back on so much of the hate, horror, distress and fearful things reported in the media daily.


If you are constantly distressed, angry, fearful, or overwhelmed, perhaps you can find ways to reduce the input that feeds those feelings. It is something to think about.


Self accommodations

New ways to do old things for the Holidays

Many people today are having to adapt to new ways of celebrating old traditions due to Covid 19
restrictions. It might be a good time to think through establishing some new traditions of your own.

So many autistic people struggle with holiday gatherings and activities because of sensory overload. Many of us will try to cooperate with family agendas because of tradition, social pressure/guilt, or a thousand other reasons, even though such gatherings and activities are very hard on us. I am here to tell you that you can celebrate without all of the stressful bits by establishing new traditions of your own.

Sensory overload is especially tough in groups at parties and places like crowded malls or stores, noise levels reach preposterous heights, flashing lights and sparkly things are even more common than “ever day” experiences.

Due to Covid restrictions, these experiences may be less this year as crowd sizes and gatherings are limited, etc. Why not establish new ways while everything is changing anyways?
For me, family gatherings were always distressing and stressful. Noise and chaos of so many stimulated adults and children all in one home or at a restaurant/ etc was so overwhelming. I was anxious to the point of feeling ill and it took me years to connect the distress it caused with the physical illness I almost always had at these gatherings, even getting ill before hand.

Instead I taught myself to seek out smaller gatherings, one relative or friend at a time in my home or meeting in a quiet place for a quiet activity together. There never seems to be enough time to visit at the large gatherings anyways.
Why not send cards or make phone calls or emails/ messages to individuals who are dear to your heart and make plans to meet or interact with only a few at a time instead?
Or stay home and wish everybody the best from afar?

Its OK to put your health and sanity first, no excuses needed; say “I’m sorry I can’t make it this year” and wish them well.
I learned to tell them simply that I had other plans this year, no excuses about my sensory overload, my sense of upset and failure about it all, etc..
My life became more bearable when I learned this coping skill.

Its OK to say no. Its OK to visit with individuals or not to, its OK to change plans even if there are established “tradition”. It is OK to do what it takes to make your days Merry and Bright… instead nightmares of struggles using coping skills and failing.
I am here to give you permission to allow yourself a life of fewer struggles, less frustration, less sensory overload and better days. There are so many alternatives to the things that cause such intense struggles for you.

Shop online, use the mail to send gifts or cards, use the phone or email, you can show your love and still give yourself the gift on health and well being.

Covid restrictions may make this even easier for those of us who are worried about “bucking the system” of “established traditions”. Blame Covid if you need to, you can do this!

Short term memory

poor memory or sensory processing struggles?

Maybe these are the same thing?
All my life I have been accused of not paying attention, of not listening when I was spoken to, of not trying, of not caring to try. All of my life I thought I was just lazy and careless. I was told this from an early age by adults surrounding me, my parents and other family members, teachers, employers.
I was used to exasperated sighs, eye rolls, frustrated lectures and threats telling me to “shape up”, “try harder”, “pay attention”, “or else”. Sometimes “or else” was punishment, failing grades, dismissal from a job.
I cared desperately, I wanted to please and I struggled to pay attention, to try hard, to listen carefully, to do better, to do more, and in many ways I failed.

I took the labels to heart.
I was simply not meeting expectations, I was not doing well, I was supposed to do better, and in all those things according to the folks around me, I failed.

Imagine my surprise when my neurology was tested at age 68. I learned my sensory processing was not “normal”. I had very little ability to understand spoken words or to understand visual input such as demonstrations, videos, movies, tv, live conversations, or anything in motion, in “real time”.

In talking with several people online lately, they have told me how they struggle with poor memory. They have been told they have almost no memory, yet these are autistic people who communicate very well using printed words and who have great language skills, large vocabularies, and who can discuss all manner of issues in depth.
I have been thinking that they have been told they have poor memories because they were tested using one of the standard psychological tests in which the test administrator gives a series of words and asks to have them repeated by the subject, who is then told to remember those series because they will be asked about them later.
Later in the verbal tests, the test administrator then asks the subject to repeat the series of words given them. Transition from one test series to another is unexpected and performance is wanted immediately without hesitation.
I always fail those tests. They require me to process audio and visual input and retain it using only my ability (or lack thereof) with those two senses. And my ability to find and store information recieved through sight or hearing is very very poor.

Somewhere along the line I was lucky enough to learn that if I wrote down anything I wanted to remember, or if I read something, I had almost total recall.
Once I was old enough to be assigned reading classwork, I was able to keep up with class and to out perform almost all other class members where assigned reading was required.

Now I know why this is so. My neurology will not process spoken or visual experiences well. But my ability to understand the written word is unimpaired. If you have been told that you have a poor memory, try this. Write down anything you want to remember. If you can recall it later, then maybe you do not have a poor memory after all, you may have struggles with neurological processing of information you receive through audio or visual means.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have the gift of words. Some of us have other neurological processing issues making it a struggle to read or write, etc. I get it.
Keep looking for different ways to do the tasks required of you. Using only one sense or ability in one way might be almost impossible, but by changing modes of input and self expression, you might uncover a whole new way of doing things.
I learned through trial and error long before I learned of my autism that reading and writing were what I understood best. Until my autism diagnosis and neurological testing, I did not understand why that was so.

I hope I have perhaps opened insights into the many ways we can approach any given struggle in our lives. There is no one set way of accomplishing a task or a project, there are multiple ways that could be used to reach a goal. If one way is blocked due to our neurological setup, other ways can be looked for and new ways may be found. I wish my parents and teachers, employers and co- workers had understood this earlier in my life. I wish I had known. It might not be too late for you to apply these ideas to your own life or that of somebody you know, who struggles.