unico_love: (Unico)
I found out something interesting when my mother was visiting -- apparently I started drawing (not just scribbling, but focusing for long periods of time and drawing) at 15 months old. I am guessing that is an "autistic thing." A lot of autistics start doing things early/late. Art is one of my biggest talents. Great news is that my mother's boyfriend may be able to have me sponsored through his rotary club to take art classes at the Dupage Art League! That would add more structure to my life and I could improve my art. I also could enter their art shows again. I feel like, knowing I was basically doing art before I was speaking, that I am meant to do art. That is what I was doing when I didn't fear judgment, when I didn't worry about messing up or not living up to someone's standards. Art is my calling.
unico_love: (Cat mask)
Michael and I have some differences in how we've felt about our past in relation to other people. We are about equally extroverted -- just more extroverted in different ways. Sometimes Michael feels like he always has to have outside social contact in-person (he says this is because he didn't have it as a child/teenager). I often don't need as much contact as him. Sometimes he will be more talkative than me, but sometimes that's the other way around. I am more trusting about people and open up easier than Michael (at least, for the most part). I often talk on behalf of both of us.

Michael also has a history of deep loneliness due to lack of friends and not being able to relate to people. I intensely miss people I'm already close to, but I don't usually feel "lonely" in and of itself. In fact, I'm not really sure what it's like to feel lonely other than missing concrete people who already exist in my life. And I'm pretty good at dealing with long-distance relationships or seeing each other less than most couples. I also often lacked friends and never had a boyfriend/girlfriend until college, but that didn't bother me. I resented my father for the fact that he was so dangerous and controlling so I couldn't really have a social life, but I didn't mind being by myself with few friends. My autism also made it hard to find friends I related to closely. Still, Michael was depressed in his youth and, despite the abuse I faced, I was not. I loved immersing myself in Sailor Moon. That was good enough for me. And I don't think I'm lying to myself or anything -- I just don't tend to get lonely. I was a mostly happy child when I wasn't being abused or overloaded. Until my first depressive episode at age 19 I was probably happier than the average person (and I know I was at age 18 when I was hypomanic).
unico_love: (childlike empress)
"Unfortunately, because people on the spectrum experience and express empathy differently than neurotypical people, they have traditionally been viewed as lacking empathy and feelings for others. Recent research has not supported this idea, however. Researchers have divided empathy into cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Cognitive empathy happens when you think about another person's feelings without necessarily feeling anything yourself. "The relatives of the deceased are sad," but you don't necessarily feel sad yourself. Through a purely intellectual exercise you have arrived at a correct answer. Emotional empathy happens when you not only correctly identify the other person's feeling but also feel some of the same emotion yourself. In the funeral example, you would be experiencing emotional empathy if you said to yourself, "I feel sad when I think about how sad these people are." Your sadness is coming not from the fact that you lost someone (you did not know the deceased) but from your empathy for the people who did lose someone.

Interestingly, some recent research has revealed that on tests of cognitive empathy people with ASDs tend to score lower (show less cognitive empathy) than neurotypicals. However, on tests of emotional empathy, people with ASDs scored higher, indicating that people on the spectrum actually feel more intense emotion in the face of the troubles or distress of another person(s). Some people on the spectrum report, in fact, that they get very anxious when someone else is in distress because they believe it is their responsibility to alleviate the other person's pain by fixing the problem. The pressure they put on themselves can get overwhelming if they don't know what to do to help."
-pg. 69, Living Well on the Spectrum, by Valerie Gaus

This is so true for me! I used to think I couldn't be autistic because I always felt so much emotional empathy. I do lack cognitive empathy often, though. Just seeing someone upset upsets me. And I always feel like I have to fix other people's problems so they can be happy. I don't doubt some autistics have trouble with both types of empathy (cognitive and emotional), but I think I've met more with extreme emotional empathy than lack of it.
unico_love: (sailor moon beauty)
Today went pretty well. First I went with Michael to his therapy appointment and sat in the waiting room. He discussed with his therapist how he has all these connecting conditions and how they would make sense as just autism/Asperger Syndrome (Sensory Integration Disorder, OCD, ADHD, social issues, Auditory Processing Disorder, etc.) Then we had half-priced milk shakes at Steak n' Shake. Then we went to a church friend's house to watch the first two Star Wars movies (chronologically) on blu-ray. I read most of The Time Traveler's Wife while the movies were playing. I've seen them in theater. Sunday after church we will finish the second and watch the third. I was a bit anxious earlier in the first movie, but by the time we had pizza for dinner I was calmer and it was easy to stay still and read. I didn't even need Klonopin. Now it's time for me to take my medications and go to bed.
unico_love: (Strange Beauty)
Results of Michael's psych assessment today: Michael does have ADD/ADHD, but he does not have OCD -- He is on the Autism Spectrum. This explains a lot. He will give me more information when he gets home and tomorrow he has a psychiatrist appointment with his old psychiatrist, who also works with autistic people (good fortune).
unico_love: (childlike empress)
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-05-11/a-radical-new-autism-theory/#

I can't even watch court shows or nature shows or even game shows because I feel intense fear and shame and sadness on behalf of the people/animals involved.
unico_love: (Unico)
I found out about LiveJournal in autumn of 2001 when a friend from college showed me hers and wanted me to start my own. However, I was new to the internet and didn't "get it." I couldn't think of what I would write about (hah! How things have changed...). Eventually I started my LiveJournal in spring of 2004 after a bad break up when I was very lonely and had just been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (later changed to just "autism"). I wanted to join the asperger community and I was already reading the journals of some autistics (like [profile] moggymania). It gave me a social outlet when I was extremely isolated. I had never used internet forums, either, though I did use instant messengers by this point.

365 Day Meme )
unico_love: (Unico)
I'm putting this under a cut because I've been posting a lot here today. It's about our church meeting where a small group of people meet and talk about the church and fill out our pledge form for how much money we intend to donate June 2011-May 2012. They are called "cottage meetings."
About the Cottage Meeting )
unico_love: (childlike empress)
I'm really agitated right now. I tried to be assertive and talked to others about a concern and it just backfired. It's so stressful... I might need to take a Klonopin.

April and Phil were supposed to go with Michael and me to the 11:15am UU service, but they backed out. We first needed my mother's boyfriend to put air in the car's tires (unexpectedly) and took a wrong turn, but got to the church on-time. The sermon was supposed to be about pluralism and nihilism, involving quotes from Moby Dick, but it was changed last-minute to be about the shooting in Arizona and the death of a couple church members very recently. Apparently the boy who did the shooting had some violent acts on his record that would have prevented him from being able to buy a gun at a gun shop in Illinois (where I live), but not in Arizona. My father was a lunatic and owned tons of guns hidden everywhere and I don't like them much. I don't think anyone with violence on their record (other than self-defense) should be allowed to own a gun. Unfortunately, my eyes kind of glazed over the readings from Moby Dick because words often get lost on me when they are spoken as opposed to written. There were some other really sad things, like this woman whose dog just died:( I almost started crying. Though another woman had good news that her son was getting a service dog.

After the sermon we talked to people and everyone was very nice. I had to explain to one woman I couldn't work due to my autism and she said it must not affect me very severe socially:P It's true my autism affects me worse in other areas and I know a lot of autistics who are less disabled than me in all other areas except socially. I know a lot of non-autistics worse than me socially. Michael's response to this woman was "it depends" and "she's come a long way." But really, even in college I could put on a social mask, even when I had trouble understanding spoken words and small talk was meaningless to me. Ritalin LA also helps. Sometimes I seem normal and sometimes people mistake me for being socially retarded. We talked to the woman who is leading the UU membership classes and she has a nephew with Asperger's Syndrome. That came up when Michael was talking about his OCD and how he may have to leave the classroom (for the first UU membership class) due to gum chewing. Fortunately he managed okay just sitting in the back of the room. The class was interesting, though felt a little long to me. The next class is supposedly more interactive. They provided us with a big lunch -- sandwiches, carrot sticks, apple slices, cheese sticks, potato chips, and brownies. Some people also got food from the potluck going on in the main room. The youth group in the sanctuary next to us was having a class on sexuality. They have a class like that starting with first grade and going up through the end of high school (but not for every single grade).

I don't know how I'm going to get there on days when Michael isn't around, but I signed up for the free yoga classes. It's only 5 classes. I don't know if I can get my mother to take me at least to the first class... She only has one well-behaved car right now and she drives my brother to and from work. Hopefully she can take me if my brother isn't working then or will get off later than my class ends. It's rather frustrating to me because my brother doesn't even have to pay for anything other than beer or cigarettes, so his job doesn't seem that important to me and I'm sure arrangements could be made...

I also singed up for this:
Building Your Own Theology

During this class, we will examine varieties of religious experience, ethics, ultimate reality, and the meaning and purpose of life. Participants are invited develop their personal credo statements: the fundamental religious beliefs, values and convictions that inform and direct the living of your life. Preparation: Short readings will be assigned each week in preparation for the next class. Prior to the first class, participants may receive the reading as a hard copy or via e-mail.

***

Hopefully Michael will join that class with me so I will have transportation. Though my brother usually doesn't work Sundays, and especially not early. I would need to be dropped off at the church before 11:15pm and picked up at 4pm. I really want to take these classes...
unico_love: (Delight)
I was feeling a bit depressed and anxious when I woke up this morning, but I pushed it aside and took a shower/got dressed and then went over to my mother's house. I talked to my mother and brother for awhile and then felt a lot better. I just think I need more interpersonal contact. I find it difficult and overwhelming to meet new people (it's much easier online), but I like having close friends and spending time with people. Even when I want to do independent activities like art or reading I like to be in the same room as people I like. It's very rare that I prefer to be completely alone. I do get overloaded at social events with a lot of people (especially if I don't know them well) and I am an introvert, but I'm not as introverted as some people I know.

Going by Jung's personality typology, I am Introverted Intuition dominant with Extroverted Feeling secondary. I definitely do relate to people most through my feeling faculty. Emotions, personal issues, values, evaluations of things from a personal perspective/likes and dislikes are what I like to talk about and the angle on which I tend to focus. I'm not as in to exchanging less emotion-ridden factual information the way a lot of autistics do, though I can monologue about my special interests and foci if given the opportunity. I have an intense interest in people and relationships and spend a lot of time thinking about them. I also think a lot about my own self and trying to understand myself, which is more introverted. My special interests like fairy tales and archetypes I try to apply to myself and relationships. I think it will be good for me once Michael lives here all the time.
unico_love: (Amalthea)
It was ironic I wrote before I left about how much I hated changes in plans or travel. I prepared myself to go to a bunch of unfamiliar suburbs so Dan and Michael could go looking for the toys they collect. I went with because I wanted to eat at Rally's/Checkers, which I used to get all the time when we visited my grandmother in Florida. There are no locations anywhere near where I live. It's about 45 minutes from where Michael lives and Michael lives 45 minutes from me. I did pretty well traveling and going to the stores and then looked forward to the food. I really liked the food. There is no inside part to Rally's -- just a drive thru and pick up window and a parking lot. We parked while we ate. Then the car wouldn't start. No one would help us. Eventually someone who worked in the fast food place agreed to help jump start the car. It was taking too long, so they left. Michael called his father to come down and help. He arrived an hour later. Then we spent a long time trying to jump the car again. Finally, finally the car started and didn't die! I had taken 2 Klonopins during this time and was really depressed and getting ritualistic and superstitious. I just had to get out of there. I was in a totally unfamiliar place, stranded. I tried to read, but it was difficult to focus. I also worried I would have to use the bathroom and there was no bathroom there. We just got back home. It's true I could have reacted a lot worse than I did and had some kind of meltdown, but I didn't. Though I also didn't remain very optimistic or pleasant. I'm going to bed soon.
unico_love: (Delight)
Last night I retook the AQ (Autistic Quotient) test that has been going around on Facebook, but it was actually formed by Simon Baron-Cohen to try and detect autism. I've heard of people actually being given this evaluation when getting diagnosed with autism/Asperger's Syndrome, though I myself was never given it. I used to score like 46 on it, but this time only scored 42 on it (out of 50, with 15 being average for a non-autistic female and 17 being average for a non-autistic male). Michael helped me figure out how to answer the questions. I try to be self-aware, but sometimes I'm not aware of how strong certain traits come across. For one thing, I did have to answer this time that I'm more interested in people than things. As far back as I can remember I have gotten super attached to people and obsessed with them in a way that I think other autistics get with their special interests. When my father was alive and at his peak craziness (when I was 12-17 -- he died before I turned 18) I couldn't spend much time with people and couldn't afford close friends, so then I was mostly more interested in things than people. The main interest was Sailor Moon. I think being forbidden to be around people made me get super interested in them and wanting friends after my father died. So I do think I'm more interested in people than things now, in many ways, but it's not in the casual wanting to party or being crazy about the opposite sex or anything like that. I really analyze relationships and interactions and it's really rather neurotic.

Also Michael pointed out how I'm the opposite of spontaneous and can't handle change. Even going to a nearby store on a trip out without previous plans to go there makes me get very upset and anxious. Any change in route or routine tends to upset me. I like planning out my social activities and I don't like surprises in traveling or social situations. Surprises like I have more money than I thought I did or getting a more positive response to something than I anticipated are welcome, though:) Now Michael, Dan, and I are going to go out for awhile, but I took Ritalin which should help me deal with the unexpected and control my anxiety. I will bring a book to read, as I always do.
unico_love: (crystal ball)
From: http://www.tenthousandquestions.com/2010_03_01_archive.html
Think different
If you could upgrade your own brain like a computer, which would be a bigger help: more memory, or a faster thought processor? If you could add one premium package of software to gain a special skill, what might that software be called?


Since I often get racing thoughts I'm not sure if having a faster thought processor would be good... Though maybe I'd be able to drive if I could react quickly and I'd be able to confront people about things more immediately instead of letting a lot of time passing sometimes when someone is inappropriate. On the other hand, sometimes I jump and get really upset instead of thinking things through first. I used to have a great memory, but it's gone now (I think because of Zyprexa). So I will say more memory would be good so I wouldn't need to keep rechecking things and would remember the books I read and so on.

For a special skill I'd like to offset my sensitivity with a barrier that makes my moods and feelings not so easily influenced by the feelings and opinions of others. I would just happily ignore people who were unkind or rude. I could take the constructive criticism while not being upset by the insults or rudeness. I sometimes get a lot of anxiety over reading emails or talking with someone who is a bit judgmental or blunt. Though sometimes I'm blunt, so I don't get mad about people being blunt.
unico_love: (Cat mask)
I have a tendency to obsess and/or perseverate on people. It's thought I may have OCD partly because of my intense, negative obsession on certain people and certain social encounters. I do have other OCD tendencies, though. For awhile I doubted I had autism/Asperger's because I was so intensely focused on people, but it really started in college (though I had some long-term obsessions over individuals prior to that, I didn't really focus on my social situation as a whole or get really "into" friends in a normal way). I wanted to make friends and make people feel good just by being a nice person. I generally like people, so this wasn't an arduous task -- it just meant focusing in more on each person's situation, buying more gifts, offering help whenever possible, trying to always be emotionally supportive, etc. I figured I had a lot of emotional reciprocity, but in reality a lot of the people I hyperfocused on weren't as focused on me, so it wasn't so reciprocal. Sometimes this bothered me and sometimes it didn't. I was really focused on being as giving and kind as possible in college and my goal wasn't to make everyone like me so much as to be a good person. Though I loved it when people seemed to really like me. And I was heartbroken when people I'd been close to seemed to distance themselves from me. That still is really hard for me to cope with. I get very attached to people and the attachment only really disappears if the person was quite abusive and made me feel bad.

I regret the people I've hurt -- because despite my usually good intentions, sometimes I can be extremely verbally cruel. Usually it's always some verbal lashing out. Not rumors or cruelty in other manners, but verbal cruelty can do a lot of damage. I know it does to me. I am sorry to the people I blew off, thinking I didn't really do much wrong, because I was hyperfocused on helping/gaining the attention of another person at the time. I've been mean to a lot of friends at some time or another -- sometimes when I was focusing on another person and sometimes when I was focusing on them and became frustrated at things not going how I wanted. I'm so lucky I have such good friends that have, for the most part, forgiven me. I want to be less codependent and just be kind to people because I like doing so, without hoping for too much in return. I love close relationships so sometimes I hope for too much or ask for too much from someone. I need to develop more emotional independence. I think with that I would be kinder, too, because I wouldn't have those desperate emotions I sometimes get. I have April and Mireia and now even Maria (though Mireia and Maria are long-distance friends so I can't just get together with them or anything). Amber can't be close to me right now, but hopefully someday our relationship will return to normal. If it doesn't, I'm just going to have to find out a way to cope somehow. Though it is awfully painful to think of losing her after we spent years so close.

I suppose one quality I actually do like in myself is my lack of pretensions. I tend to mean exactly what I say, say things in whole so there are no misleading sentiments, and feeling like I know who I am and not having to prove anything to anyone. If I act like I like you, I like you, and if I don't like you, I ignore you or tell you why I don't like you. In college I still tried to like people who were inherently abusive and wouldn't stand up to them. I'd just feel bad for them. I still tend to feel bad when someone has problems, but I no longer put on a false smile to please them. I try to be very open about the kind of person I am and my strengths and weaknesses.
unico_love: (childlike empress)
If anyone's interested and doesn't know about it, there's a new autism site/forum specifically for women, though I've seen some men post, too, in some sections.

http://www.autismwomensnetwork.org/

I like it so far:-) Wrongplanet gets very annoying and the asd gestalt one often doesn't get much activity...
unico_love: (Unico)
I had a dream about someone last night whom I'd rather forget. I wish I could just have pleasant dreams instead of weird and disconcerting dreams, especially that remind me of things I shouldn't be thinking of. I'm glad that several good things have been happening for Michael lately. I'm glad that Amber seems more open to me now and we seem to be growing closer. And though I hate living alone, it shouldn't be that long before Michael moves in. I'm generally feeling pretty hopeful about my future.

I'm lucky to have all the friends I have. Some people have no friends. And I'm able to relate to my friends in at least one major way (usually a variety of ways) even though I'm a pretty unusual person. My major goals are learning how to be more independent (in terms of cleaning, cooking, taking care of my SSDI/Medicare stuff, making appointments, etc.) and to continue doing my creative work (though I'd like to pick up the speed on that a bit -- I've been a bit slower ever since I was depressed last autumn). I'm too attached to Michael for some reason, though. I used to do better on my own than I do now. It's probably just a lasting symptom from my anxiety and depression in the fall. I have some moments better than others. Despite our rough past, I'm usually getting along with my mother now. And she admits she has communication problems, too. I wish I could make up with everyone I've had bad situations with, but it's unfortunately not realistic now. I can only really think of two people (who are connected to each other) that I would like to make up with. A couple of boys I knew I didn't end up with on good circumstances, but I'm sure they're just fine without me and I wasn't mean to them (certainly I was nicer to them than they were to me).
unico_love: (Amalthea)
I have yet another problem with people. When a touchy subject comes up I often lash out. I get very narrow-minded and hyperfocused. I can sound over-analytical and nitpicky. Anything to make the world make sense again. Anything to be understood by others, even though that unfortunately means putting myself in a negative light. I just don't communicate like others and sometimes I sound more disliking of someone than I am. I get triggered on certain topics and react way too fast, I get racing thoughts, etc. I do really want to be a kind and compassionate person. I wish I didn't have these obsessions and sensitivities. I wish I could just get along with everyone. I feel so behind and alone sometimes. I wish my understanding of reality collided with other people's understanding of reality more often. I make rash decisions, but even when I put them off that just makes my volatility worse.
unico_love: (anguish)
http://www.canada.com/health/Autistic+people+better+problem+solving+than+autistics+Research/1708831/story.html

Now I'm going to take a shower... Not going to the grocery store -- too upset.
unico_love: (curious)
From [livejournal.com profile] fayanora

People on the autistic spectrum may have too much empathy instead of too little (this fits for me mostly!): http://www.thestar.com/article/633688
unico_love: (Pandora)
It's always been normal for me to obsess over a certain food and for awhile eat almost nothing but that food. Unfortunately right now one of those foods is pomegranate ice cream... I eat the pint in one sitting and then don't feel like eating the rest of the day. I'm also obsessed with my granola cereal and eating that for most of my meals. I know I should have more diversity, it's just most foods seem gross to me at any given time. Eventually I usually overkill on a type of food and switch my obsession to another food (sometimes I don't want to have the former food for a very long time).

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