Autism diagnosis and Self Forgiveness

Late diagnosis of autism can be life changing

I read comments all the time from autism specialists and diagnosing doctors, comments made in discussions about autism especially among those who are not autistic. “what difference would it make?” “They have already lived their lives, they have already adjusted, they have made it this far” Even regarding oldest adults in nursing homes or in group living facilities of all sorts.

I want to point out that knowing about ourselves and understanding why we have had so many struggles, why things have hurt emotionally for so long, why our painful pasts were part of our every day lives and our wounds did not heal…. well, yes, that would be helpful to understand. Knowing the answer to all those painful “why” questions of the past can make a huge difference in finding a new self identity and finding one’s way forward in the future.

Finding my autism diagnosis was the most healing thing that could have happened.
Knowing autism was behind so many events of the past, painful struggles, embarrassing incidents, Social mishaps, missteps, mistaken ideas, bad decisions…( all the things that were blamed on my stupidity, my willfulness, my inept and thoughtless mind, my deliberate cruelty, my uncaring replies and defensive demeanor and so much more) were suddenly explained by that one word. Autism!

Autism explained my growing up family’s unhealthy behavior patterns, my missed diagnosis explained my own behavior, knowing about my autism suddenly showed me that everything I ever failed at was not actually “all my fault” as I had been blamed and trained to believe all my life. Autism was hidden deep within our family, with my mother, myself and maybe a couple of siblings as well all being autistic. Nobody had a clue!

Suddenly I could find ways to understand the painful past, to forgive everybody involved in those sad and painful struggles, and to finally find my way to better ways to live, find my way to better understanding of the past, find my way to adjustments I could make for myself to live a better life going forward.
No matter how old we are, knowing our diagnosis can make a world of difference in mental as well as physical health, in helping make life easier and less troublesome in a group home or a nursing home, or any other settings where autism sensitivities and sensory processing struggles come into every day life for the autistic individual as well as those providing care.
I have barely scratched the surface mentioning the multiple ways that diagnosis of autism can be beneficial for older adults. Add to that the lessened burden on mental health workers, social services programs of all sorts and to medical facilities and professionals.
Better choices in life from a position of self understanding gives the individual more autonomy, and the key to better mental and physical health along with a better outlook on life in general.
More studies need to be done with older adults. How do we live, how can we become more independent, how can we do self accommodation, how does knowing our diagnosis help us adjust to make our lives easier and better? How can we locate older adults with “hidden” autism?
As the Baby Boom generation ages there will be more autistic individuals entering care systems, more help needed on so many different facets/pages of ageing.

Diagnosis can be life changing. Diagnosis at even late stages of life can help lessen the coming burden for society as so many undiagnosed autistic individuals suddenly find new ways to live due to the insights that we gain in knowing we are autistic. What a relief.

My autism is a disability

There, I have said it.

I know it is a fashion to say autism is simply another (alternative neurology provided by nature)
and that it is not unnatural or that autism is a gift with super powers. I interacted this morning with other members of a forum and responded to a new member looking to learn better skills at social interactions. I tried for almost all my life to “fit in” and to interact successfully with others. Most of my efforts were in vain. No matter how hard I tried, I simply never got along with others, misunderstanding them, they misunderstanding me, etc.
Once I got my autism diagnosis and read the test results, along with some thinking, it became evident why I struggled. Here is the response I wrote. I thought I would share and might be useful to others beginning to sort their struggles and trying to find new ways to self accommodate and make lives easier around their autism troubles.

  • I thought I needed to learn manners, gain insights into others’ motives and etc,I tried so hard for years and constantly rejected. After learning my sensory processing was sooo slow and bad (25th percentile visual processing and 35th percentile audio processing)I finally realized it and had to accept the fact that I just was not(am not) equipped to do things with others “in real time”. Ever, no matter how hard I try.

    My autism truly is a disability to socialization.
    My processing simply does not work fast enough to have “real time” interactions in person, in chat, on the phone… I only pick up part of the cues because I simply can’t process things fast enough to have actual understanding of anything I see or hear in “real time”.

    Ever.

    I Can’t rely on my vision and hearing to give me information, I am constantly misled through misinterpretation, mistaken ideas, mistaken thoughts and judgements surrounding what I see or hear.

    I truly can’t believe my eyes, I truly can’t believe what I think I hear.
    That truly is a disability!

    I have the same struggles with videos, movies, lectures, concerts, presentations… anything in motion and in “real time”.That leaves me with mistaken perceptions about almost everything.
    No wonder I have been overwhelmed and confused most of my life.

    My autism is not a gift but a true handicap. I can’t pretend to be normal.I simply can’t interact in “normal” social ways. I am not equipped to handle it.

    I am fortunate to be able to read and write!
    I think I developed those abilities like a muscle, since I relied on them for so much of my life.

    I read to have true understanding of my world and I write to communicate at my best.

    That seems to be my only sensory processing function that works “normally”.

    My neurological testing gave me “gifted” scores for reading and writing.
    ( Most of my other scores were miserable) It is because I exercised that part of my abilities and relied on them the most.
    These forums “are” my social life.

    I finally have had to accept that no matter how hard I try, I simply will never be able to do ‘social things” in real life or real time (video/streaming etc too).

    I have begun to use the internet and forums as a way to interact satisfactorily with others. My primary interest to begin with is learning and reading factual autism content.
    Everything is now about autism since my diagnosis.
    What a relief to finally understand my long and miserable life, and how wonderful to learn everything I failed at all those years was not actually “all my fault”.

    How wonderful to find I am not alone but that I have many autistic brothers and sisters “out there”!!!

    I belong to several autism forums and I write a blog about being late diagnosed with autism, and adjusting to my new understanding of self.

    I love information sharing.
    I love knowing there are others like me who truly do understand and who accept me as I am.
    The internet is an absolute gift to people like me.
    Hope you find answers. Best wishes.

Autism and predators

DON”T BE A VICTIM

Everybody wants your money
or your time, your services, your free labor, your affection,
use of your home, car, OK you get it.
How do you keep yourself safe in the sea of sharks that our world has become?

Because it is difficult for many autistic individuals to figure out other people’s motives, and because so many of us are genuine, truthful, direct and trusting, anxious to make friends and to interact with others, it is easy for us to become targets for others’ gain.

Many people in the world are all too ready to take advantage of us.

Autism forums are full of reports of those of us who have become victims perhaps many times, without our realizing, at first, or maybe only very much later, what had happened.

I had my share of experiences with misplaced trust and too generous of a nature. I wanted desperately to interact with others, to be thought of as “good”, to do anything I could for the other person to “prove” how good, kind, caring and worthy of attention/affection I was.

In school I gave others money or my lunch, I did other peoples’ homework, I did research papers for my first(now ex) husband, took his tests, worked to pay his tuition and our rent while he went to school and to drinking/drug parties after and used my car both before and after we were married. I forgave him for ‘forgetting” to pick me up after a midnight shift and having to walk home over and over and over, and over.

I would have done anything to keep him from getting angry, or in any way being even the least bit unhappy with me.


I was used for sex, I was used for a place to stay, I was used as an unsuspecting driver of somebody who perpetrated breaking and entry while I waited patiently in my car for them to get back from “having to see somebody about a job”. I gave a car to somebody who “needed it to take care of their family”.
I gave money to people who were hungry, allowed them to stay at my apartment, bought them clothing, food, did their laundry, cooked for them, had sex with them, took care of their pets and their children, unknowingly gave information about friends on vacation and etc which led to those people being robbed. I was used, abused, and eagerly participated in this because I so badly wanted to be cared about/ loved, cherished by anybody.. anybody who would have me, at any cost to myself. I did it over and over for much of my life. Have you done this too?

I was trained to be a people pleasing victim. I was trained in very early childhood to never refuse to do anything I was told to do, to “respect my elders” and to worry if somebody told me I made them angry, hurt, sad, or “made them do that to me” .

I had to get therapy to learn that other people’s feelings were not my responsibility!
I learned that I did not make people angry, they chose to become angry over something I did or did not do.
I did not make other people sad, they chose to become sad over something I said or did.
I did not hurt people’s feelings, they chose to become offended at what I said or did.
What a change of mindset to learn I could make choices too!
I could choose not to drive somebody somewhere for any reason, I could choose not to have sex with somebody if I didn’t feel like it. ( and I never even considered how I felt about any of this, I was only interested in how the other person felt, and to keep them from getting angry.

I could choose not to cook a meal, clean the house, work 2 jobs, do other people’s work … I never knew I had that option, stupid as it sounds now all these years later. I had to have an outsider explain it to me, I simply could not see I had options, I could not think of other ways to handle any life situation regarding other people than the one that I had been trained to (abuse and trauma played their parts in that childhood training too)

My autistic rigidity kept me to the ways I had been trained to respond to others and I never questioned my automatic responses to others’ demands. I needed an outsider to point out the mistaken ideas I had and the alternatives I could choose.
I learned how to recognize when I was being manipulated and intimidated, and I had to learn how to recognize my own buried emotions. I had no idea of when I was angry, because I suppressed and denied it for so long, instead I was sad, impossibly sad, almost all of the time. I had to learn how to get angry, how to figure out what I wanted instead of wondering only what anybody else wanted of me.

When I learned to say NO I learned a very good defense mechanism to be able to avoid being used and abused, victimized. It is never too late to learn how to say no. It is a skill anybody can learn and practice, and you get better at it as you go along!


I also learned the skill of asking a few questions when presented with “opportunities” pleas for funds or assistance, pleas to answer somebody else’s needs of any sort, pressure to give, give, give, serve , serve, serve. Usually these requests come with a “honeymoon” stage.

Online or in person, users will smother you with attention, compliments, seeming words or acts of loving kindness and caring.
Internet scammers will approach you as a potential romantic partner. You are so fascinating, so good looking, so funny, wise, thoughtful, generous!!! They can not wait to interact with you, get angry when you don’t respond to them, want to know all about you.

Then they begin to want things. Money for paying taxes, for a missed payment for rent, for a medical procedure, for tuition for school, for tickets to travel from their home to come see you. Sometimes they do show up, but often there is a sudden emergency and the money is gone, could you send more?

There are plenty of versions of this in real life, with the person doing the scamming “working” several other individuals at the same time , without each victim knowing.
Such a scammer will tell you “its not your business” or” I have to work away from home,” they will not be willing to spend time with your friends or family, will never introduce you to their friends and family, will not want to go places or do things outside of your home.
Don’t be so anxious to be loved that you negate your self worth.
If the individual truly finds you valuable they will not ask these things of you, spend time trying to shame and upset you, threaten to remove their love or attention, etc.
Do your homework. Look into their claimed identity, look into their past, look into their circumstances.
If they do not share information about themselves willingly, and information that you can verify, don’t be fooled. You are worthy of real love and caring, you are worthy of a real relationship, you are worthy of being a true participant in other’s lives, not just a “support system” or a wayside stop.

Not only are individuals out to use you and profit through you, but there are so many online scams to take your money. Among them will be false cures and therapies, false programs with no scientific basis, no actually proven diets, supplements, tools such as lenses, physical “touch” adjustments, various techniques for “re patterning” the brain to make it work better.
Take a look at the very long list of “pseudoscience” listed under Wiki or other pages. Know as much as you can about anything another person proposes you invest in!! not only does this apply to Autism but also seek out scams involving banking, trading, finances, lost or found property, family members introuble, and so much more.

Regularly look for information about the most current scams being played on others… these folks are clever and some of the scams are very difficult to spot.

Research any new autism related or other medicine. Medical scams apply to all fields , wherever there are people desperate for relief be it through a supplement, treatment, claim, cure, or “therapy”, etc .
Search thoroughly and understand if there is actual science behind these claims.
Beware of claims without links to backup studies which have been duplicated repeatedly and which have been published and peer reviewed. “correlation is not the same as causation”. Is a good idea to keep in mind. “who benefits”? is another.

I had a doozy of a day yesterday on a page I admin/ moderate. In the same 12 hour period, there were questions about diet/supplements/ and the possible ties to autism, (there are none verified through science), posts about therapies using claims of breakthrough in stimulation of certain parts of the body to evoke cures of emotional dysregulation,( again, there is no scientific evidence that any of these works) and posts about books , a page set up to look like a blog, and selling books and programs meant as “therapy” using miracle claims from people who underwent the “therapy”/treatment/bought the books.

I call all this stuff “woo woo” and you should too.

Magical cures readily available, new radical discoveries revealed, do it at home and be cured…. does it even raise a question in your mind? It really ought to.

Don’t let predators feast on your hopes and your desires. Reason it out, think it out, do your homework. Don’t become a victim because you want so badly to believe what they are telling you.
I am here to ask you to be skeptical, do your homework on any new theory or cure presented for profit, thoroughly to see if it is backed up by actual science and tests performed and results published and peer reviewed. Be especially cautious if the results seem too good to be true. Usually that is the case.
I

Autism Warriors

The choice to make it all a fight

Something is happening that is becoming harder to ignore. I have always been a peaceful person, live and let live, agree to disagree if necessary, you go your way I go mine. I tell people I am a lover, not a fighter. The fight is being brought to my door more frequently lately, or it is being pushed on others. I see more hype and more anger and more frustration, more people being targeted for angry attacks. Maybe I am just getting old, but it all seems so destructive and not helpful.

Kind of vague and non-specific rambling so far, right? Let me try to explain. Instead of conversation about any topic, I am meeting more people in groups I participate in and host who are intent on destroying and shutting down anybody who says something they disagree with.

I am experiencing and hearing more from others who have encountered individuals who specifically go to pages and sites to post angry diatribes about how bad certain expressed ideas are, and “why don’t you do “this and this and this” instead of saying “this” .
You are harming autistics, you are damaging and hurting us, you are not supporting us if you don’t “this and this and this” (naming specific ways the host, the speaker, the selected ‘target’ of the attack is supposed to think, act, believe and to do .
I have left several groups because of this rage and focused furious attacks on members who should be allies. If one does not think exactly as the attacker, one is a pure enemy and must be destroyed. I think this is a great illustration of classic autistic “black and white thinking”
This seems to happen on all ends of the spectrum, from parents of autistic children to old people like me, to young and barely communicating individuals using forums for social purposes.

I know about trolls, those who roam the internet deliberately stirring things up and provoking confrontations for the sake of their own amusement, and sometimes in gangs, joining together and taking turns attacking or observing others do the attacks.

What is different here is that these same attacking individuals are posting about how they go about their ways, and report triumphantly that they had these confrontations with the evil parents of struggling children, the evil old person who uses the wrong words, the evil person who dares express an opinion or suggests the wrong idea or thinks differently than what they “should”. They seem to see themselves as heroes setting the world right and destroying the monsters. Too many role playing video games in their past? Who knows?

In my own mind, I have an idea how the world “should” be too. It does not include attacking or shutting people down, shouting them down, harassing or distressing them or deliberately provoking defensive arguments. Autistic people have been bullied enough in “real life”. Forums and groups need ( for some of us) safe places where we can discuss ideas and support each other in our daily struggles. Life is hard enough without finding ourselves in the midst of angry diatribes and being the focus of hatred because our thoughts are different. We already know we are different every day. We don’t need attackers within our forums as well. I wonder what places on the internet spawn such angry and self justified individuals. I wonder how so many are seemingly cheering each other on as if they were accomplishing a victory or banishing an enemy.

I believe all sides need to be presented so that others can understand what the arguments are about, can see what issues are at stake, and can learn for themselves so that decisions are not made on quick gut emotions but are also clearly thought out and decided on from actual information.
I guess it is just another facet of autistic communication struggles, this direct attack behavior thinking of oneself as a hero, but it is one that I have difficulty finding peace with.
I would rather educate and elucidate, validate and inform than spend time fighting and fleeing while trying to defend ideas and thoughts.

I am learning how to use the “block” or “ignore” button.

I wish I had the inner strength, the ability to think quickly, the emotional resources to try to help these individuals, but I begin to think it is not passionate beliefs or intense devotion to a cause that they are espousing as much as it is some sort of sport, much as when the dog discovers its first henhouse. How exciting!!!
There, I am showing my old age, but I never did pretend to be anything but an old lady with autism… or maybe you prefer I say “autistic old lady”.
I actually use either description of myself and I don’t have to pretend that part.
No answers, life keeps rolling on. Watching with interest.

Autism Crisis

Emergencies can happen any time!

As part of my passion to inform and support older autistic individuals I also participate in some online forums. These are for the most part closed to the public and are designed as support and advice for autistic individuals exclusively. As well, there are a few public autism forums where anybody seeking information and/or support can join in.

Something that seems to happen frequently is that individuals on these forums appear with very urgent requests,
PM me
, Message Me,
Help Help Help.
It is urgent and immediately concerning, heartbreaking to get such requests from others in far away situations and no be able to provide information or help in a crisis.
Many times those messages may not reach others or provide the immediate aid the distressed individual is seeking.
Forums are not crisis lines or emergency hotlines. They are not meant to deal with emergency or crisis situations.

Lack of response can be triggering and lead to even more upset.

I would like to suggest that everybody has emergencies, distressing things happening in their lives, emotional or physical crises at some point.

We all need to be prepared ahead of time to have resources available when these emergencies do happen.

There are all sorts of emergency hotlines and helplines available today.
We can summon an ambulance or a fire team, we can call suicide hotlines, domestic abuse hotlines, we can seek urgent help for financial support, housing, food, and much more.

It is not unreasonable to spend a little time compiling a list of local to you emergency numbers to keep in a place where these can be accessed quickly.
Police, Fire, Ambulance, help and service hotline numbers are easy to find today using the internet.
Please take the time to prepare for emergencies ahead of time.
Write a list of helpful emergency numbers before you need them and keep them handy where you can find them if the worst suddenly happens.
You never know when an emergency or crisis will happen.
Help yourself find support quickly before you need to make that call.

Autism in Motion

We all have proprioceptive struggles

Autism is being understood more and more as a neurological difference that causes our sensory input to give us different information than the way neurotypical individuals process such input. We are “wired differently” in our neurology from all of our senses, and each of us is different.

I went looking for more information about the way we move as compared to neurotypical individuals. Much has been made recently of “micro movements” that seem to be common in autistic individuals, and how these movements might interfere with NT intuitive interpretation of social interaction.
Instinctive rejection of differing neurology is done rapidly and unconsciously by others interacting with autistic individuals.
Much comment has been made regarding how this could possibly be the basis for autistic social struggles.

I have been reading about involuntary movements and also about autistic “gait”.

I wrote about this a bit in the early days of the blog. I had been surprised to discover just how odd my gait must appear to others.

Gait is being analyzed and understood today through the use of diagnostic tools unimaginable only a few years ago.

I am attaching a link to an older article that discusses gait analysis and diagnostic imaging of individuals with various neurological diagnoses.

Most fascinating to me was the included video showing these gait differences clearly. ( thank goodness it was a clear and slow moving image that I could actually process! )

I was astounded to see my own gait reflected in the image for autism in the video. I have always been clumsy and awkward and my mother constantly criticized my way of walking, forcing me to crawl on the floor moving my head from side to side (remember the “patterning” theory of development in the 1960s?) and walk for hours trying impossibly to balance a book on top of my head.
She hated my my posture, and my gait, even going so far as to take me to a podiatrist, wanting him to fix my funny way of walking.
I recognized even at the time that he thought she was causing my self conscious and timid, awkward movement to be worse through her constant criticism.
He ended up telling her I had an extra bone in my ankle and that I could not help the way I moved.

She left me alone after that, what a relief!

I don’t believe for a minute I have any extra bones, I was so grateful to him for helping to free me of the continual harassment and criticism.

I digress.

When staying overnight with a sick friend at a hospital for a couple of days just a few years ago, I had to continually walk down a hallway which had a huge plate glass window at the end of it. When it was dark outside, this acted as a mirror to reflect my image as I walked toward it down that long hallway.
I could not help but observe my gait and was amazed to see how very odd it was! I tend to plant one leg and to swing the other leg around it in a sort of semi circle. One leg (my left) is almost straight in flight, moving forward without almost any deviation, and I weave my right leg around this one removing it from almost directly behind the left and swinging it in a sort of arc, placing it in front of the left, Sort of a weaving motion.

I was stunned. No wonder people look at me when I walk!!! How odd! I knew my gait was “off” but I had not realized how it looked to others. WOW.

That recognition was a couple of years ago.
Today I was searching online for articles on proprioception and gait, as well as micro motor motions.

I found this article from a few years ago. https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/autism-in-motion/


Please watch it and look at the part where the motion of the autistic individual is shown.
Is there really a recognizable autistic gait?
That autistic individual portrays the exact same gait that I recognized in myself just a few years ago.
How interesting!
Are you aware of your gait?

What does it look like?

I am going to continue to search for more information about autism and our bodies in motion.


Misophonia and Autism

When little sounds drive you wild!

Misophonia is a common sensory processing struggle. It happens to individuals outside the autism spectrum too. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-misophonia

Recent studies, as quoted above show misophonia is a sensory processing disorder and most likely neurological in nature. No wonder Autistic individuals seem to experience this struggle more frequently.

The drip drip drip of water from the tap into the sink, the mouth breathing or open mouthed chewing of somebody across the room from you, the tapping of a branch on the window, or the clicking or tapping from toes, a constantly barking dog, anything can be the focus of this deeply frustrating processing disorder.
we can become anxious, furious, and even outraged at the percieved intrusiveness of the triggering sound or sound. This is not helpful to having good relationships with others, from co workers, peers in social situations, to members of a family. Misophonia can be very upsetting not only to the sufferer but to those around them who can become the focus of the rage and frustration involved in a triggered event.
There are things that can be done to address misophonia and to help sufferers cope.

One can use “white noise machines”, a safe space where the sufferer can retreat to avoid the input that upsets us, headphones with music or soothing sounds, some attempts have been made to de-sensitize through longer and longer exposures to the upsetting sounds, and using Biofeedback might help in some cases.
Occupational Therapists may be able to help, depending on their specialties.
Misophonia is rare enough in the general public that many Family Doctors have never heard of it.
If you struggle, you may ask for a referral to a neuro psychologist or other specialists. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to find ways to help and to make self accommodations to protect yourself and those you care about from the effects of misophonia.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547634/




Autism and Abuse

Abuse is reported at a much higher rate for autistic individuals.
This is a trusted web site. I don’t post many links here but the info in this page is too important to not share. Self care always first. Learn the signs of being abused and what to do about it.

https://embrace-autism.com/unhealthy-relationships/


we need to know we are more vulnerable due to our neurology and we need to learn to recognize unhealthy relationships in order to keep ourselves safe.

Like other parts of every day living, learning our diagnosis can give us new perspective on old problems and help us sort and find better ways to live our lives. It is never too late for self care, never too late to learn new ways to survive and even thrive.

I left an abusive relationship 40 years ago after learning to be abused at home and being a victim for years.
Learning healthy self assertive behavior saved my life and my sanity.
I first had to recognize that I had been abused, and I had to learn how to take responsibility for my own life and my own “complicity” or compliance in allowing the abuse to happen.
I had to learn new healthy behavior, how to make better decisions.
Reaching out for help saved my life . You do not have to do this alone!

Please take care of yourself, you are worthy of happiness, comfort, being loved, finding peace and self understanding. ❤

Autism and Sorting Emotions

Do you know and understand your emotions?


So many of us have been trained to comply, trained in obedience, trained to respond in only certain ways to certain demands by others.
Many autistic individuals on forums I attend have said they learned to disregard their feelings because they were told over and over that it didn’t matter, they must do what they were told from a very early age. “do it” nothing else was discussed or explained.

Regardless if the emotion was fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, their emotions were disregarded and told either verbally or by actions that what they felt was unimportant.

I internalized this to a great degree, since insisting on my own opinion led to punishment even before I could talk.

Resistance was futile, trying to give my opinion or have any influence on my own situation regardless of discomfort or upsetting circumstances, etc met only punishment, shaming, and other very unpleasant experiences.

So much easier to be compliant and to do whatever I was told, jump to it, make sure I was safe by appeasement no matter the personal cost to me. I will do anything you say, don’t be angry, don’t hurt me! That was the only way I lived for 40 years. Survival mode. I had no idea I had alternatives. I had to have it explained in detail that there were other options available. Rigid autistic thinking would not let me see this for myself.

I became depressed and anxious. I attempted suicide at age 30 and was sent to therapy.
I learned that I could not express emotions at all. I could not even find emotions to express.
3 therapists spent talk time asking me how I felt and all I could do was sit there and cry.
I said “I don’t know” repeatedly, or shook my head and remained mute. Miserable and discouraging. I had begged for therapy throughout childhood thinking it might help and when I finally got the opportunity, it seemed like it was yet another failure.

“Talk therapy” may not work with autistic individuals for this very reason. Discussion might need to be based on something else besides feelings. “what do you think happened” What seemed to be the problem? Why do you suppose they did or said that?? etc might work better for most of us. (what do you think?)

I finally found a therapist who could reach me and teach me by asking me to write and read.
I was able to write and revise letters to the person or thing that was upsetting me and through multiple revisions and reading back what I wrote, I was able to begin to sort my feelings.

I had to learn how to get angry and to sort that anger from sorrow. I had to learn to recognize frustration, I had to learn to sort all the feelings I had locked away. I had to recognize I was having these emotions and to sort out exactly what they were.
After 30 years, those emotions were locked up tight and it took lots of emotional homework and scary memory sorting to begin to understand even the most basic of my personal needs and wants.
I really had no other want except to appease other’s demands for so long, this was very, very difficult.

I wish I had found books on emotions back then, but I suspect there was little out there (I never looked!)
Today we have a wonderful tool called an emotion wheel. It actually names our emotions and helps us refine our understanding of our feelings. What a wonderful tool!
I found some good ones on the “therapysystems.co ” website,
You can find others all over the internet in a simple web search.
I know there are many children’s books explaining emotions today. Even Mr Rogers came after I was mostly grown. Since I never relied on TV It might not have done a thing for me anyway.
I can’t use video/tv etc, I rely on printed words.
Others will find video explanations useful, or podcasts.
We have so many resources to use to learn more about ourselves today. It is never too late to “find yourself” and have better self understanding.

It took a lifetime to find out I am autistic.

It is taking a lot of time to find the “holes” in my life experiences and to fix them.
Life has never been better.

If you have problems with outbursts or upsets but can’t define exactly why you are upset, if you cry easily, anger easily, or mostly feel not too much of anything, learning more about emotions may help you too.
I never understood “why” I was feeling upset and anxious, I never understood why I was fearful , overwhelmed, depressed. I still can not define anything that makes me “happy”. It is still a work in progress.
I would love to hear from others who find sorting emotions a struggle. What has helped sort emotions for you?

Training me

Why some “skills training” never works

I was gratified to find this article in my mailbox recently. It is so difficult to explain sometimes

why telling me I have messed up, correcting me and scolding me, giving me “pointers” or refusing to listen to my explanations about the way I struggle to understand my world are not helpful. This article/blog makes a good start.



https://autisticscienceperson.com/2021/11/28/why-social-skills-training-does-not-help-autistic-people/?fbclid=IwAR3X5q-0JsAoDimXH7tkizE-7p7TjId4ybnGcNhU7sVQ1mth0sjJbKfK5io

I read books on “being popular”, books on “body language” , books on communication, empathy, social skills and manners, and was “taught”, “coached” “scolded” and punished for social blunders all of my life. I have tried so hard to fit in and to be aware of cues. This simply does not work for me (and for many other autistic individuals) because my “awareness” is broken. By the time my very poor visual and audio processing get through with any input, the subject under discussion has moved on and continues to progress, leaving me very far behind. I miss nuance, I miss tone, I miss subtle cues because my senses simply do not operate on a level where I can instantly and accurately interpret anything done “in real time”. I can not train my senses to pick up on cues in a timely manner, this will always be slow and inaccurate, and my understanding will always be impaired when doing things at normal speeds in “real life”. I have the same trouble watching video, movies, tv and with things like lectures, podcasts, and general conversations, especially in groups and in places where other things are going on around me, activities, background noises, other conversations, etc. No matter how many times you tell me to make eye contact, watch for body cues, listen for tone of voice or try to understand other cues which are obvious to those with normal (NT, neurotypical) sensory processing, I can not train my neurology to work faster, better, and more efficiently. For me, the best understanding of my world comes through reading the printed word and looking at charts, graphs, simple illustrations and images not in motion. Other senses are simply not reliable enough to use in every day interactions with others in a successful manner. Spending time over and over telling me I am doing it wrong will not fix it as much as I would like for that to happen. I desperately want to be able to interact successfully with others, and in quiet places with an understanding and patient other, I can many times do fairly well.
I am so frustrated with people who tell me “you can do it, you just have to try harder”. I can’t seem to explain to them that it is not a matter of teaching me what I ought to be doing, I know that full well after so many years of struggle and pain in unsuccessful interactions, even after all my study and my constant attempts to perform as expected. It has left me with a feeling of utter futility and perpetual frustration and some resentment too. I am capable of understanding how inadequate my neurology is, but all the wishing and trying in the world will not make me suddenly able to understand when my neurology is not adequate for performing the expected interaction, transaction, assignment, request, or task that I am asked to do.

It has left me with a feeling of complete futility and resignation, and I fully expect the blame and shame for my inadequate neurology to be placed on my simple ignorance, my willfulness, my lack of moral character and my stubborn refusal to cooperate out of spite, cruelty, haughtiness, pride or other assigned characteristics placed on my shoulders by neurotypical others who simply do not “get it”.

A few days ago somebody was telling me how I needed to get trained how to do a certain task involving making videos of others, and I tried to explain yet again that I didn’t think my visual and audio processing was adequate to the task.( I get motion sick among other things) I was ignored and told anybody could do it, denied that I had these struggles and that I simply was being recalcitrant and oppositional, I could do it if I would just try.

I guess in many ways our autism is very hidden. If we are good at faking it, we are then punished for the ways our neurology still can’t keep up with what is asked of us, judged as lazy, willful, ignorant, stubborn, and uncooperative, even accused of being passive aggressive when we fail at expected tasks .

I came home feeling like I was going to vomit, with a severe headache, neck and shoulder aches.
Once again I may have chosen the wrong group to volunteer for. I seem to be OK in very small groups, although I am exhausted after a meeting, but if I continue to come home not only physically and emotionally exhausted but also sick from the struggles of trying to “keep up” with what is happening in “real time” this is yet another failure at attempts to interact with others as a volunteer or to be useful in meaningful ways when interacting in “real time” with others.

You’d think I would have learned what doesn’t work after years of failed attempts, wouldn’t you?

It simply does not work to try to teach ourselves how to do things that are neurologically impossible for us. It simply does not work to tell me how I have failed in so many ways. I am painfully aware of this. I am made to feel the failure and the shame, It is not something I will get over by willpower and “training”. My neurology is what it is.

No matter how self aware we are, no matter how much we try, autism makes us different, autism is often a struggle, autsim is a core and essential part of who we are and who we must live. No amount of willpower or training will change my neurology.
Today is “autism awareness, autism acceptance, neurological diversity day” .