[reblog] my best self

I have been giving myself permission to acknowledge my needs and care for myself in ways that met those needs

This is why the ‘label’ is important because it gives everyone a contextual framework for acceptance, understanding and growth.

Today marks the day I went to see my GP and ask for a referral for a diagnosis. She asked me some questions so she can write a ‘case for funding by the NHS’ and if that gets approved, I go on the waiting list to get my diagnosis. It could go straight through or it could take a year. People say “there’s no rush, you may as well wait” but I have spent the summer deciding if this is something I really want to pursue… And it is. I kind of don’t want to wait any longer. I’ve always been into my personal development and this is like the holy grail for that! I don’t really want to wait to know how to be my best self…

Michelle Sutton

It’s about a year since I got comfortable with saying I’m autistic. Shortly after I publicly “came out” I was asked why I would identify as disabled or allow a label like autism to be applied to me. I didn’t quite know what to say at the time, except to tell the person that labels aren’t negative and that I found it helpful in understanding myself. A year later, though, I have a more detailed answer. 

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[reblog] Gaslighting

“I was trained to believe that other people saw the world in the right way, so I could rely on other people to tell me what was real, I couldn’t rely on myself.

I always compare myself to others and people tell me a shouldn’t but this post explains why. So often I’ve also been told that I’m “overcomplicating” something or “being too sensitive” so I have totally come to mistrust myself and my reactions to things because I’ve constantly been told I “should’ve said” this or that.

I like that this author highlights the paradox that in all of these situations the neurotypicals lack the ‘theory of mind’ that us neurodiverse seem to lack too.

Time to start trusting myself and creating or rediscovering Who I Am.

Autism and expectations

Being an undiagnosed autistic has many challenges.

When you compare your reactions to things with other people’s, you feel like you’re getting it wrong. When other people take things in their stride, and your brain feels like it’s expanding inside your skull to the point you can’t think, then you feel like you’re overreacting.

And then there’s the gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a useful term, named after an old film where Ingrid Bergman is psychologically abused. Her abuser tells her that her memories are false, he questions her experience of her environment, he denies that things she remembers happening, have happened.

The result is that she ends up questioning her own perception of reality. She doubts her own memory. She doubts her sanity. She cannot trust that what she thinks is her lived experience is true.

Being an undiagnosed autistic can feel like the whole world is gaslighting you. From being…

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Things that never bore me

Anagrams

Wordplay, puns puns puns and especially anything involving whatever-this-is-called, like:
mythtaken

Coining words

Etymology

Patterns in/with words.
I used to challenge myself to complete tasks like “how many words can I think up that end in ‘ii’?” or “what palindromes can I think of in 2 minutes?” or “how many words can I make out of [insert word here]” or “which words have all 5 vowels in?” or “which words have no vowels in?” – psst… I like euphoria because it has all 5 vowels in it; but I also like rhythm because it has none!

Onomatopoeia (all together now: “euphoria”… “rhythm”…)

Spoonerism

Finding words in car registrations

Acronyms, and making my own acronyms from sentences and sentences from acronyms.

Typography

Logos, especially logos that tell a story or have an optical illusion

Optical illusions (Magic Eye anyone?)

Seeing what’s revealed in ‘negative space

Seeing faces in objects:
box-face

Thinking Outside the Box

I read in Temple Grandin’s book (The Autistic Brain) this weekend that Aspies are good problem solvers because we don’t think ‘inside the box’, so to speak, like neurotypicals tend to do. In fact, it is believed that there is no box for the way that we think, which is why we can make connections between many seemingly unconnected pieces of information, which fuel our creative innovative-ness. This is backed up in neuroscience where fMRI neuroimaging scans of an autistic brain show many areas ‘lighting up’ in response to a particular task, whereas activity in the NT brain tends to be localised to fewer areas.

I shared this with my friend this weekend and it reminded him of a lateral thinking test he did at school when he was a teenager, where he was the only one who got it right. He gave it to me to do and said, “you literally have to think ‘outside the box’ to get it correct”. Naturally, he had me at ‘literally’.

It took me a couple of minutes, but I got it! So I want to share it with you also.

Grab a pen and paper and draw 9 dots as follows:

9dots

The rules are:

  1. You must connect ALL the dots with FOUR lines or less.
  2. You cannot take your pen off the paper.
  3. You cannot retrace the same line, so the next line starts where the last one ended.

Let me know how you get on in the comments but please don’t give it away for anyone 🙂

Does anyone know of any more tests like these?

Thinker Temple Soldier Spy (Part 1 of 2)

I’ve been watching talks by Dr. Temple Grandin on YouTube. I have watched her talk “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” on the Talks by Google channel twice now and I am fascinated by how much I am learning about myself. She explains everything so, so well.

At around 13 minutes she introduces her most important slide, the ‘different kinds of minds’ slide:
Temple-Grandin-Individual-specialist-brain-autism-spectrum

Temple Grandin said she is the first one:
a Photo Realistic-Visual Thinking-Object Visualiser.

I have been thinking about this a lot, what type of thinker am I?

What type of thinker are you?

And have you read any of Temple Grandin’s books?

Continue reading “Thinker Temple Soldier Spy (Part 1 of 2)”

Great Expectations

I am slowly making my way through the wonderful I Am Aspien Woman collection, created by Tania Marshall (@TaniaAMarshall)

I really admire everyone for taking part in this book, for having the courage to be so open about some really quite personal experiences, so that people like me who are new to this journey of self-discovery can feel safe reflecting on our own experiences within this new framework of neurodiverse understanding.

I say ‘slowly’, because every few pages I come across an experience/story that strikes such a chord with me, to the point that I cannot believe it’s not been written by me or someone who knows me. And this usually brings the waterworks as I feel such relief that there is a ‘thing’ to explain it all. And then – what feels like – every. single. memory from my own experiences related to that story appear in my mind’s eye, and I can’t keep up with them!

Take this story that I’ve highlighted, pictured:

I_am_Aspien_woman

“High expectations for [herself] and others”.
“Very hard on herself”.
“Doesn’t take criticism or feedback well, but the irony is she loves to dish it out to others” (my mum laughed out loud when I read this sentence to her).
“Plagued by negative thinking”.
“Too serious”.
“Described as ‘intense’ in everything she does”.
“Prone to burning out and ‘disappearing’ for a while”.

I have been told countless times that I have high expectations for myself and others. I suppose I have them for myself because I feel as though I am always catching up and learning something that I presume everyone else already knows (note to self: relate this to ‘theory of mind’ one day?) and I do not like to make mistakes, so I create systems and ways of operating in order to avoid errors as much as possible, in all aspects of my life. When I am on top of things it works, I feel good, and I like that. So that’s what I strive for, naturally.

In regards to others, I’ll admit it: I quite simply do not understand (for example) why some people have terrible attention to detail, for example, at work when one cannot spend an extra 10 seconds to re-read an email just written before hitting Send, so it is not sent with any mistakes to a customer (I’m not talking about spelling/grammar errors because I’ve had to come to realise over time that some people just do not remember the rules there or were never even taught in the first place or are dyslexic), or why some people do not want grow by learning more, doing more, being more, and challenging oneself. This has been particularly difficult for me to understand at work. However whilst I’m on that, in regards to work, on the whole I see my autistic traits that separate me there as an incredible gift, and a special ability that no one else has – not a disability at all. There will be plenty more reflection on work I’m sure!

I am aware that I can be very blunt sometimes (especially my parents) particularly if I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed in some way and I get defensive in heated discussions. It’s because I do not think before I speak. It simply doesn’t occur to me to do so in the moment. And hours sometimes days afterwards, I realise I was way too honest, and that what I said wasn’t necessary at all, and I feel so frustrated for not remembering to remember to just. be. nice. Why is it so hard?! But in the moment I don’t remember, and I can’t think or do anything else until I have fixed my environment to the best of my ability. An example off the top of my head is that I will tell people close to me that their breath smells (and offer mints/gum to others- a bit more socially acceptable), or tell them that they need to go take a shower after their jog because they’re making the room smell. Why does it have to be about me all the time, and on my terms?

 

One of the only things that doesn’t fit for me from all the reading I have done on women with Autism Spectrum Disorder experiences, and it’s this that makes me worry that I might not get my diagnosis – I was not a problem child. I am very lucky to be able to say I had a fantastic childhood with a very lovely, loving family, and some very good friends over the years. And the opportunity for a brilliant education, which I took (with one repeated year however). I was shy, naive and inherently good. I’ve always respected authority and ‘the rules’, perhaps too much… I enjoyed my schools. I wanted friends, sought out new experiences and I make friends with all kinds of people.

But there is a lot that I do not understand. And it was getting to the point where I am thinking “I am almost 30 and I still can’t get this – this is embarrassing” and that I need a PA for my personal life! And though I have adapted fairly well, it is really liberating to know now that I could not have really done any better!

I wish I had known about autism for women and girls. It’s my immediate family that have experienced the brunt of this my whole life, behind closed doors, at home, where I felt emotionally safe to attempt to express myself (terrible as I am at that). I wish my two younger siblings had support from this knowledge growing up too, though. I fear I was not the best older sister I could have been to them 😦

 

I am a 29 year old newly-realised Aspien Woman
& welcome to my blog.

– L.G.