Atypical

Not your average label


I have been reading about autistic people with previous diagnoses to getting a diagnosis as autistic.

I attend discussions and online forums on various web pages every day, and also am moderator or admin for a couple as well.
I read over and over about people with diagnoses – but they are “atypical” in presentation of the labels/ diagnoses they have been given.
I am reading recent studies looking at how many older autistic adults have previous diagnoses before learning about their autism.

So many people tell of diagnosis of many sorts, but say they have unusual presentation of symptoms for that diagnosis.

Almost all diagnoses are mentioned in these discussions. Schizophrenia with unusual presentation, Bipolar, Borderline, OCD, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD….all with non- typical behaviors, etc. you get the idea.

I just want to call to your attention that when Doctors don’t know where to put your diagnosis if they don’t know about autism, they may put diagnosis in the closest category of things they are familiar with, saying your presentation is unusual but matches most closely with… ____________. whatever the diagnosis they give you besides autism.

If you have such a diagnosis and you are still trying to find out if you are autistic, especially if you have been getting therapies, or medications, without standard response, this might be a strong clue that your actual diagnosis might be autism.
Misdiagnosis is very common because autism is not well understood among the majority of professionals today.
We may not respond to standard therapies for our “atypical” diagnosis, finding them not useful, not understandable, difficult and unhelpful, frustrating and more.

We may have been told our case is “intractable”. (nothing they try has helped).

We will not respond in expected ways to medications, either.
After all, it could be that the treatment we are getting is not for our “actual” diagnosis.


If you find yourself in such a position, it is perfectly OK to question that diagnosis. It is perfectly OK to say treatment is not helping and ask to try something else or to look at other options, even ask if diagnosis could be “something else” .

Sometimes people do have multiple diagnoses, and treatment will possibly be more complex. Knowing about ones autism as well as any other diagnosis can only help to shed light on struggles and offer new and helpful ways of living our lives.

If you have not had success being treated for your “atypical” diagnosis, you might want to look again at Autism being the answer.

Knowing we are autistic opens a world of self understanding and helps us find useful accommodations to make our lives better.

Diagnosis of Autism can be life changing, even as an older adult. The difference between my life ” before and after” diagnosis is immeasurable.

Autism Awareness

April is autism awareness month!

But every day is autism awareness for some of us. Many are acutely aware of our struggles daily.

I spend most of my time trying to either gain/learn information or to share information about autism, especially in older adults. I repeat my encouragement to share any information on these pages, to reprint or post any of my comments freely. I don’t claim copyright, use them in any way you can to promote awareness and understanding of autism. Just don’t claim my words as your own.
Please share.

Every day should be autism awareness day.

Over 5 million autistic adults in the USA may not be aware of their diagnosis because nobody “was” aware of autism during the times we grew up.



Evolution of the autism blog

My own personal blog is changing as I change

I woke up with thoughts and insights about how much my life has changed as my understanding of autism has changed and grown.
I have grown too, and it seems to me that had I known of my autism years ago I might have gained much benefit. Today’s understanding of autism has been most helpful, but of course a diagnosis until very recently would not have had the same sort of information to help me make the most of my world.

I have gone from simple wonder and gratitude and curiosity. I began sharing what I was learning as I went along, actively seeking new ways to try to reach out to individuals and groups to explain and inform about adult autism.
I began to try to show how diagnosis can benefit older adults especially, even those near the end of life, like me.

I continue to look for new information, scanning published reports and following blogs.

I participate in several adult autism support groups, and one for mixed age autistic folks as well.

I am learning that most published information from bloggers and those sorts of popup magazine like pages which have autism information meant as a 2 minute read are rarely accurate when they quote recent studies.

I am learning that blog writers often “get it wrong” too, when they use studies as reference in comments. One recent blogger claimed that studies proved people did not want to live in the same neighborhood as autistic folks, but when I looked up the study, that was a misinterpretation of what the study results claimed.

I encourage everybody to do their own research for better understanding. Don’t take somebody else’s word for it, go to the source whenever possible and see for yourself if what you are looking at agrees with what somebody else claims it does.

One huge difficulty is that so little research is being done on older autistic adults. There is very little information to glean from if we use studies as our source.
Many studies have confirmation bias, and are poorly designed, or are statistically invalid because of the very few numbers of autistic people involved in forming the group to study.
One “wild card” would skew everything on the study and all information would be suspect.
There are lots of preliminary investigations regarding autism in mice. I tend to be very skeptical of these studies because of the huge differences between mice and ( ahem) men.
If they can breed autistic mice, doesn’t that confirm that autism is indeed genetic??? (rhetorical sideline)
I have questions about the idea of autism being created in mice to begin with. Those things may be of benefit in 2055 or 2099, or they may be discarded, but anything gained is definitely not useful to me as an old lady who is fairly certain I have far fewer years of life ahead of me. Your thoughts and ideas may differ, and that is OK too. Autism in mice does not seem to apply to my own life and it seems unlikely that it will. I do not follow these studies because they will not apply to anything useful in my generation.

I am gaining confidence in my abilities, understanding my disabilities (some might say differences or weaknesses or “struggles” to stay within the politically correct center).


Knowing my strengths and weaknesses has helped me fashion a better life. I am able to make informed choices, understanding better how much energy, patience, determination, and focus it might take to embark on anything new or different. I am much more self forgiving as I recognize my problems with communication and socialization are due to my neurology and my hidden inability to understand most anything that happens in “real time”. I can allow myself to set my own boundaries and choose my own activities without feeling guilty because I do not do what “everybody else” does.

I am scheduled to do an interview for a newspaper about raising awareness of older autistic adults and the need for diagnosis. (April is autism awareness month)
I am worried about the interview, which will be face to face, and I am preparing an information sheet with facts to give the reporter, because I do not trust that I will be able to present information well in person. Anxiety will be very high and I know I do not make a good impression in person because of my awkward presentation, my slowness in understanding and my tendency to stampede in conversation when I am anxious. Years of conversational failures with strangers is not a basis to proceed from with confidence.
That is OK. If I can deliver the message that my life and my own self awareness was a far worse struggle until I knew about my autism and began to understand my past and my neurology, then I have done what I aim to do.

I am spending much more time on support groups interacting with other older adults, trying to encourage and share information that might be helpful to them as they look for diagnosis or come home with that diagnosis in hand and wonder “what is next?”
I think I am fairly well informed about autism and that I have a basic understanding of how it works in different people depending on the development or lack thereof in each of our nervous systems.
Now my work needs to focus on getting the word out.
We need more professionals who understand autism, who can diagnose autism, who can provide support in counseling and guidance in helping autistic adults to ease their struggles. This goes back to making people aware that adult autism exists, that autistic adults with hidden diagnoses are more likely to be suicidal, homeless, jobless, be low income, need health care, and statistically more likely to need help with struggles of substance abuse, mental illness, or to need assistance to access help for any of these challenges.

Please feel free to share the “you might be autistic” information at the top of the page. copy, paste, print, give to others to promote awareness of autism in adults.
Please share any information, comments, insights or words here with my permission as long as you do not use them as your own.
Please continue to help raising awareness of the great need for the growing populations of the elderly which will peak at the end of this century.
Send a note to your own local newspaper or magazines, professional newsletters, groups and pages.

There will be so much need for care and insights of all older people.
Knowing of our own autism diagnosis may help so many to have fewer struggles and to live better as we age.
Knowing autistic kids do grow up to be adults will help autistic children today have better lives as they mature.

Please join me in finding ways to bring attention to this need. There are over 5 million adults with autism over the age of 21 in the USA today. CDC and Census information statistics provided this information. ( you can do the math for yourself)

How many of us know we are autistic? I imagine that less than 1/4 of us know about our autism. You won’t find that statistic anywhere. People born before 1980 were very unlikely to be diagnosed with autism, since there was no standard diagnostic criteria at the time. Nobody began to look closely at children with autism until the 1990s.
Today’s understanding of autism is vastly different than it was in the 1990s.
When were you born?

How do I do this?

“This” is almost any thing in life you wish to accomplish.

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
(definition is quoted from developing child Harvard. edu. website )


The forums I attend are full of questions asking how to do things.

How do I stop masking?

How do I get organized?

How do I gain independence?

How do I get a job?

How do I ask somebody to go out with me?

How do I find friends?

How do I redecorate this room?

How do I assemble a wardrobe?

I think I recognize something in common for all of these questions.
In every case, the project in question is complex, needing development of separate skills or taking separate steps, but the person looking at it can not figure out how to proceed.

Executive function insight is what is missing.

How do we know what we need to know, when we don’t know it? I have had miserable experiences attempting numerous projects without having a clue as to what was needed or how to proceed.
My entire childhood and you adulthood was scattered with embarrassment, shame, guilt, and frustration because I could not figure out how to do things that others seemed to know how to do naturally, and I did not have the support of others to help me understand.
I learned I was inept at many things, and it has been such a relief to understand I was not just plain stupid, but that my neurology was working against me in many cases, and that I should have had information and instruction before proceeding. In effect, most of my life has been spent learning “what not to do”.

This is another instance where my diagnosis and my understanding of my world through knowing about my own autism has been such a relief!

I had to learn how to break anything I attempted down into tiny steps to be taken.


I had to develop the ability to decide which steps came first and how to learn the skills needed for even the smallest project.

As I got older, (middle school, when I could finally access the local library on my own- back in the days before computers) I was able to consult books to get information about how to do so many things, books with photos, line drawings, maps, charts and other useful tools which helped my understanding.
I find I still learn best today by taking step by step printed and illustrated information through reading information, and then putting those steps together to understand how to proceed.

My inability to understand any unknown or never encountered project has remained the same. I will always need to understand things completely before I feel brave enough to attempt doing what is asked of me or is needed.

There are so many “how to” references for most life skills, both written and video/audio, and the internet is a wonderful tool for these things.
But many autistics are not readers and many do not learn well from videos, podcasts or lectures.
If you are somebody who needs a coach and must
“do it yourself” to know and understand, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help, taking lessons, finding a coach or a mentor to help, etc.

If a person wants to learn new skills of any sort, that information is available. We may need to ask for help to find the information we need.

We first must reach out and ask “how do I do this?”
If you know somebody who is autistic, this question is not just random thinking out loud, it is a question which needs a definite and specific answer with as much detail as you can provide.

Parents, spouses, caretakers, are you listening?



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?

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!


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!