Saturday, November 30, 2013

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Last night, my husband and I watched the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. My mother had recommended I watch it, months ago. I think I'm glad I waited until I understood Autism better. My reaction to the character was so intense as I releated and as I understood autism. I cried as I recognized what I would do, like when Oskar said such an unkind thought to his mother outloud. It wasn't from malace that he said it. He meant it yes, but couldn't stop himself from saying a truth his heart was struggling with. Had I said it, I would have crawled away and hid under my bed, silently begging forgiveness but unable to accept it. I would have been outwardly paying a penance for the rest of my life. 

I loved the movie. I loved how recognizable, to my eyes, the similarities of his behavior was to my own childhood inner world. The tamborine was a brilliant tool to distract him and ground him back into reality when the sensory processing became too much. I wish I had made that scrapbook he put together. His obsessions were definitely more male based and I was wishing to see a feminine version of how it would play out (I think most autism testing is based on a male model which is often manifested differently in females). 

I'm hoping in the future that when schools are discussing neurological differences to their students, that they use this film as a way to help others understand and accept something that cannot be helped. That sometimes, the person is doing the very best they can with what tools they have been given and with what they have been taught. All I can hear is Oksar's plea at the end of the film to his mother that he was "trying so hard". His mother's acceptance of him whole-y is beautiful. 

Please, educate yourself on mild autism and watch the film. Your character perspective will vastly change and the film will be much more watchable than otherwise. The panning of the film by critics shows a lack of understanding for this nuerological challenge autistics go through on a daily bases. It's a beautiful, haunting film. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is Autism

In honor of Monday's this is Autism Flashblog http://thisisautismflashblog.blogspot.com/


How sad that Autism is so vilified by Autism Speaks. I have to say, as someone who is autistic, that I don't think autism is the death sentence they make it out to be. 

As a child I always knew I was different. My parents were highly protective of me and my siblings. No one was alowed to call us names or speak poorly of us, even if that person thought we couldn't hear what was being said. I remember my dad yanking me out of Brownies, of which I thought was boring, because some parents who were chatting together called the lot of us Gremlins. I adored my parents for their passionate support of us. They didn't want me to feel like I was less than God's child. They wanted me to know I had dignity within me that no one had the right to trample on. 

I was a sensitive child. I was honest and very giving. My parents had to ban me from giving my things away because I was so generous. I took to heart the Christian lesson of loving everyone and sharing what you had. Many took advantage of that generosity but again my parents did the best they could at protecting my welfare and my innocence. Today, I love making things for my friends. I still give away my  possessions to my friends but it's more tempered. 

I was both lonely and self-possessed as a child. Very independant of my peers. I took pride in rebelling from my peers rather than my parents as a teenager. I listened to classical rather than pop, on purpose. I refused to go to any of the dances after I went to one in sixth grade and found I was being made the butt of a joke. I could see that all the rules and discipling my parents put on me was because they loved me, cared for me, and only wanted the very best for me. Whereas, my peers would become not-my-friends at the drop of a hat. Abandoning me in my time of need and bullying me to get me to do what they wanted or making me into a joke. 

As a rule bound person, common in autistic individuals, I thrived under my parents tutelage to give me independance. They pushed me just the right amount to help me grow without driving me into my shell. My dad signed me up for my driver's license and drove me to my tests saying that he wasn't going to have me be like my grandmother who never learned. My mom pretended to be me and called to schedule me an appointment with an Army recruter. My parents knew I had an interest in it but that I would never make the call on my own, it was one of the best things for me that ever happened. My mom signed me up for college, though I had no idea what I wanted to do. My parents helped me with my verbage for my interview at the court for a job. Without that, I would never have gotten it.

From there, I was able to make more proactive steps in my independance. I bought cars, saved money, earned a degree, got a middle class job doing data entry (which I loved), bought a home and carried a mortgage, took martial arts and earned a black belt, got married, and had three children. I manage our household watching the boys, buying groceries, cleaning and organizing the home, and I'm hoping to dive into homeschooling when our oldest is ready for kindergarten. 

Would I want to be "cured" of autism? Not really. I like my solitude and introspective nature. I like not understanding jokes when it's obvious they are crude. I have enough friends to keep and I don't really want more. I love reverse engineering stuff to figure out how it goes together (crib in pieces with no instructions, awesome). 

What exactly are they going to cure me of? Generosity? Honesty? Brotherly Love? Patience? Map reading skills? Puzzle solving abilities?

Nah. They can keep their cure. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sandplay Therapy

Years and years ago, when I was about 10 years old, my parents brought me with them to their marriage therapy/counseling session due to lack of childcare. The therapist was a wonderful Christian counselor who made great strides in helping my parents learn to communicate with each other. My parents went from heated arguements (never in my prensence) that made me mentaly replay the audio at high speeds and loud volume, to calm discussions and occasional exasperated remarks that gave me no mental hiccups. 

As I wasn't to be listening to what was discussed in the therapy session the counselor took me to a private room filled with shelves of curious objects and in the very center of the room a table filled with sand. I was told I could make whatever design I wanted on the table with whatever objects were in the room. I was delighted. There was so much there. There were figurines, buildings, sticks, feathers, leaves, rocks, glass beads, and so much more. I set about imediately in creating something interesting. 

First, I placed a castle in the center of the table. Carefully, I smoothed out any sections where the bottom of the table showed so it was all sand. Then I placed objects somewhat randomly but equally spaced about the castle. The only thing I didn't want was for anything to touch anything else and that the table had to be balanced. If there were blue gems on one side of the castle, there had to be blue gems on the other side of the castle. Always in at least a four sided pattern but upwards of twelve points. The biggest thing was that I had no figurines on the table. Only inanimate objects. 

When my parents were finished, my dad came to get me with the therapist. I remember he made some sort of remark in that everything was very evenly spaced. It agitated me because the point was that nothing was touching. The therapist shushed him saying he wasn't supposed to say anything about what the table was. 

Years later my mother mentioned that the therapist had taken photos of my sand table. I hadn't realized that the table was to display the inner self and it was a diagnostic tool for the therapist. I have since always wondered what she thought of my table and what I did. Now that I'm positive I am autistic I really wonder what that table said about my 10 year old self. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ender's Game

My husband and I went to go see Ender's Game today. It was a very entertaining and well produced film. One of the best films I've seen in a long while, that wasn't 50 years old. 

I read the novel a few months ago with my friends who are part of a book club we formed over a year ago. When I read the story I was so sad for Ender. They used him to achieve the desired end result yet failed to consider the emotional turmoil and sorrow caused by destroying souls. I haven't read the remaining two books in the trilogy but I'm proud of Ender for pointing out the obvious, "It's not winning the game that counts but how you do it". 

No real strong language or sexual references. There is a lot of blowing things up and some bullying. How Ender dealt with the bullying can be understandable but I would strongly caution anyone who is impressionable that while self defense is fine going farther than that is not. 

It's a shame the following books won't be produced into film as well. I don't see that happening with certaing strongly influential groups black balling the author. Sad. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Watching TV

There is something interesting that I noticed when I watch TV or movies. Whenever there is an intense moment I start watching the edges of the screen to see if the camera is panning in. In almost all cases of films, yes, you can see exterior object dropping off the edges of the screen. 

This is highly distracting to me. It's sort of like when I noticed the sliding of the screen after they converted a movie from wide screen to a narrower aspect just to fit on the TV without the letterbox. I can't stand to watch those products because they make me feel motion sick. 

Back to the intensemoments on screen. I don't really like to be stressed out or overly emotional when watching movies. When sitting at home I have the refuge of my knitting or my tablet to distract my vision. It's probably the reason why I don't care to watch a movie in the theatre anymore (I can't get away). 

I wonder if other people do this (watching the edge of the screen or distraction during intense moments)?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Day of Sorrow

Today, my friend found out she was having a miscarriage. It's a very sad time for her and while I don't wish to take away her pain and tears (these are good things for our soul and ability to heal), I do want her to know that I am there to support her in whatever way she needs. 

I've experienced my own miscarriage with my very first baby. I was in a very sad mood for days. I mentally dared everyone to try and cheer me up so I could snap vengefully at them that I didn't have to. Few people other than my family and a few friends knew I was pregnant at the time. It was hard to tell them on a few days after saying we were expecting that we had lost the child. A few, I'm sorry's, were said, but that was all. It was the day before Valentine's day and the weekend. My husband let me rest and left me alone to think. The next day he took me to go mini golfing to work through a bit of what I was processing. I'm naturally competative and by the end of the rounds I felt like my brain wasn't so foggy. I don't think I laughed or smiled much, but it was nice to not have the pressure of a sit down dinner with candles and flowers. A movie would have been equally bad since I would have been trapped for two hours watching a film I might have liked but at the wrong time. I should have taken the week off work but back I went because I didn't know what to do with myself. It was lonely. 

Our current culture doesn't know what to do with people who lose someone. Early miscarriages and non-spousal deaths are looked on as light sorrows that should be gotten over as soon as possible. I remember watching the show The Secret Circle (cancelled after one season), and the callousness of the characters to the girlfriend who's boyfriend died only a few days earlier. People aren't respectful of others when they tell them to get over it. It used to be normal in enlightened cultures, that the person who suffered a loss be allowed to grieve for at least 1 year. 

If you know someone who has experienced a loss here are some things you can do for them:

1. If you know their religious affiliation, let them know you will pray for them. 
2. Let them know it is a sad time and that it's okay to be sad, especially if they need to cry. 
3. Offer to let them talk about it for as long as they need to. 
4. Let them kniw that if there is anything you can help with that you are there for them. 

Little else needs to be said. Make a simple gift. Give them a card. But please don't ask them to get over it. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

World War Z and Abortion

Last night my husband was indulging himself and watching World War Z for the first time. I knew it was a zombie film so I refrained from watching the screen and only listened as I knitted a gauge swatch with size 0 needles and some super fine wool yarn. Occassionally, I would glance up at the screen trying to time it so I wouldn't see any zombies. Unfortunately, I saw a few and I found the film depressing and horrifying at the same time. It's just plain creapy to see half chared bodies twitch and try to move. 

I gave up after a while and went to take a shower and get some sleep. My husband woke me up a bit with, "There's zombies" and "I saw a zombie". He was only releaving a little stress from watching the film and trying to make light of it at the same time while giving me the chance to wake enough to turn off the liturgical video I was watching/listening to as I dozed. 

A thought came to me this morning, as the baby kicked and rolled inside of me, that people who go through with abortions must feel like the growing child within is a zombie. A parasite that feeds off the mother and shoves her about the farther along she goes in pregnancy. It's like the zombie movies are a realization of the irrational fear of pregnancy. The film Alien was much the same way. 

If people have these images stored away in their memories and then they have pro-abortionists claiming that the child within is soulless and a parasite, how could that person not think back to those zombie movies?

Autistic parent to normal child

Something that is bothering me is that I can find next to no information or resources about how to be a parent when it's the parent who has autism. How do I properly interact with my children the way they need me too? 

I find that I don't make eye contact very often with my children and I wonder how to overcome that hurdle. I also get wiped out easily with social interaction, children are very social, and how do I muster the energy to play with them? I'm not great at direct play, I prefer parallel play, so how do I go about directly playing with my child? 

These thoughts ramble through my mind and I hope I can improve in these areas enough to have my boys be what they need to be as adults. I certainly have some pretty big blind spots. How do I know what I don't know?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello

My name is Cecilia Therese and I am autistic. I am what was once labeled an Asperger autistic but the medical community has retired that term. Now we all fall under Autism. 

Growing up, I never knew I was autistic. I knew I was different from my peers but not due to intelligence. I was always on the fringes of everything, looking in with loneliness, but not really wanting to interact with any of them. It is only in the past month and a half that I've questioned what I was and only in the past two weeks that I was sure of it. So many questions began to answer themselves and I began to feel more like I knew my place in the world than dreaming and wishing I was living in a different era. 

I discovered face-blindness, Prosopagnosia. I have a relatively mild case of it as I do recognize my own face in the mirror and my childhood photos. I have always had a loathing of going to a gathering of people, even my family ones, because I could never remember anyone's name. If they changed their hair or lost weight or gained weight, suddenly I would be at a loss as to how I even knew them. I hoped people near me would say the individual's name so I wouldn't look stupid at forgetting it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never remember. I even embarrassed myself by not recognizing my own father after not seeing him for 9 months. He had to wave at me to get my attention and he was right there in front of me. It makes me nervous I won't recognize my children or my husband someday. What if my children get lost at Disneyland and I have to try and find them? That makes me so fearful.

I discovered mind-blindness. It's an interesting reason why I have such a hard time reading people. I have no idea what their actions will be, what they are thinking, if they're mad at me, why they would be mad at me, what they want, or anything. The list goes on. I have been flattened a number of times by this very problem. In the military, I had no idea these certain girl's hated me (I really mean that they hated me). I blithely took them up on an offer to spar and they were out for blood. After getting knocked down I just stayed there on my knees waiting for the drill sergeants to call time while they laughed and the girl continued to beat me upside the head, over and over again. I wasn't going to fight back because I had no orientation and was likely to get knocked unconscious. My mistake. I avoided those girls and tried to stay as far away but still they tried their tricks on me the last evening we were together. 

As a child, I made no friends. My mother tells me that I would often go off to a corner of the room and play by myself, organizing everything. My school held me back in 1st grade because I wasn't socially mature. My grades were awful, although I was very smart. I could solve 3-D mind puzzles with ease and I loved certain types of math. My first solve was this great little box. 

Ever since then, I was fascinated with tangrams, origami, kirigami, and puzzle rings. As an adult, I picked up the skills of knitting, crochet and sewing. My favorite is what is considered the most difficult knitting project you could undertake, socks. I love the unique structure of a sock and changing it from a flat object into a 3 dimensional one. My only skill left untackled is cabling. I have yet to muster the energy and time to figure out how to cable. I have the supplies, so that is not an issue. 

I am a rule follower, unless someone I trust gives me a caveat. If my dad didn't teach me how to drive, I would likely be that person who never exceeds the speed limit ever, even to pass. I would make complete stops at the stop signs and never go through a yellow light. Thankfully, my dad gave me some pointers that helped me to not be so strict with myself. 

I'm pretty bad with the sensory processing. I cannot handle wool at all. I remember in the military that we had to wear our wool socks, they would check to see that we did. I always wore cotton socks under the wool ones to keep the wool from touching my skin. I wouldn't break out in hives or anything but it annoyed me so much I just couldn't handle it. It was all I would think about. The same goes for tags in my clothes. I've tried to leave tags in but then would be running around looking for scissors to cut the offending piece off. I am so glad the garment industry has started to print the labels directly onto the clothing. 

I don't like chit chat and find it tiresome. Usually, I keep my conversations limited to exchange of information. If it's meaningless jibber jabber, I don't care and I often can't hide that I feel that way. 

I'm passionate about nutrition, but only the Paleo/Primal/GAPS/LCHF world. Vegan? Absolutely, No. I tried it and had such bad neurological side effects and physical ailments (nail beds twisting and vertical splitting), I will never try it again, ever. Vegetarian? No. My diet is too strict to do well on it (allergy to all cereal grains). Low Fat? No, No, No. I like my fertility too much, and my brain. 

I love the Catholic Church. I especially have a love for the extraordinary form of the mass. I love the bells and smells. I love the silence. I love the priest not staring at me. I love the music. I love the Latin. I love the reverence. I love the dressing up and wearing a veil to hide me from the world. Such peace unfolds within me and I feel so renewed and passionate about my love for God. It is my safe harbor. I just wish that our local churches offered the extraordinary form. Sadly, they do not. The nearest one is 30 miles away and in the worse part of town you could go to. My husband has expressed too much concern for my safety for me to go. Sad. I contacted the parish but they told me that no one in my area has any interest in that particular form of the mass. My husband tells me that the best parishes are in the bad part of town and the most liberal are in the wealthy section. I am inclined to believe so. 

Right now, I'm not quite sure where this blog is going to go. I am planning for it to be about autism and about Catholicism. Welcome to my blog.