Self acceptance

It’s amusing to me at least that to finally get some clarity on what I wanted out of life and what I’m capable of – the world had to go into meltdown. It took this drastic set of events that we are currently living through for me to realise there is nothing wrong with me at all. The problems have all been internalised from the expectations of others and experiences I thought I needed to fit in with the world at large.

It’s also autism acceptance day today April 2nd and for the rest of the month it’s campaigning for autism to be accepted in the wider world.

I am an autistic which means that I’m logical and systematic but it also means I’m incredible childlike as I still have that child like wonder you get on Christmas Day.

This is also responsible for my sense of humour which is literal and linguistic. Additionally it’s where my love of languages comes from. My accident broke my working memory so formulating new speech patterns has so far proved impossible and I haven’t been able to correct this as yet. I know because of neuroplasticity the brain can grow and develop but thus far it hasn’t achieved this goal. I live in hope if I spend more time connecting with people and having conversations that I will learn to communicate just like I did with English but that’s still a goal unrealised. I rely on verbal stimming a lot so I can sound very articulate one moment and descend into baby talk the next making me look incredibly foolish.

It’s taken me a very long time to reconcile the fact that at some points I can be very fact driven and robotic which comes from my autism and people abruptly stop listening and lose interest; but I can also be incredibly genial. I am a loving and caring person full of all the emotions that you would expect, far too many in fact. I can be feminine and girly as well as enjoying laddish pursuits.

I can see how Drag Queens feel the need to perform as well as Freddie Mercury in Queen and Elton John in Rocketman which I watched recently. I feel like this occasionally too despite the fact I can neither sing, dance or play a musical instrument. I’m not sure I can act either. This doesn’t stop me for volunteering for karaoke or dance rituals whenever I go abroad. Just bring earplugs with you 😉

I have a mix of masculine and feminine traits so I’m not ever going to fit into the traditional roles of what it means to be a man or a woman. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable but it’s really there own insecurities that I am revealing and that causes them to become defensive. They act out of fear and survival rather than rational logic. Irrationality and hormones are driving their actions so they make no sense and confusion is the result. This is where mental scarring occurs. This is pernicious as it’s invisible. They leave no trace and only come to the fore when you are triggered. Then you are in no state to act in a sensible manner so the cycle continues. Discovery and healing is what is required so you need to reach into yourself in a quiet time like now to see what skeletons are lurking in your mental wardrobe to clear them out for good!

To continue on with the clothing theme while I love clothes and fashion I can’t sew or iron but I would like to design and make my own clothes. However, on Next in fashion pretty much all the designers are gay. I’m certainly not gay. My favourite designers on the show are Angelo and Charles. So a shy yet flamboyant and hugely talented gay Italian guy and his design partner who calms him down so that he is able to let the brilliance emerge from his mind onto paper and them cloth.

Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race of which a crucial part is the ability to sew/make outfits and Trixie Mattel’s Moving Parts; has shown me that it’s ok to stand out from the crowd. Your different and you always will be so stop hiding and shrinking into the background. Your doing yourself and the world no favours there. Your in fact doing the opposite by denying the world your talent.

If your an introvert privately but an extrovert socially then you are an ambivert really. A bit like Lady Gaga. I’ve always hated the public/private persona that people have had to adopt to cope with the world but now I understand the reasoning and how fragile everyone really is.

Having coped with a near fatal car accident and a force 5 hurricane this Covid 19 isolation is a doddle. It’s the only time in my life when it doesn’t matter that I can’t drive even though I would really like to. I have asked a couple times before but I’ve not been allowed for safety/finance reasons. There is the possibility I will get flashbacks since I don’t remember my accident or that I will get overwhelmed and that is why we haven’t progressed in this area.

I would also like to have a child. My mother was always very against this idea as at times I can barely look after myself. I’ve never had a job in my life and can’t support myself financially so I would be completely dependent on my husband and also his parents. Actually that’s not too far off from the situation right now. It’s also been this way since I stopped living with my parents. I can’t live on my own as my inattention would mean something could happen like today I got bright pink paint on my jumper. Luckily it’s only acrylic and I tried to wash it out almost immediately with hand soap and vanish stain remover but it’s a blue jumper with a design in the knitted fabric so it can’t be hidden if it doesn’t come out.

However my mothers trauma of being alone and penniless as she left her husband is not my pain to carry any longer. She made a mistake marrying him but she loved him so it was right for her just then. When it came to later life he wasn’t so she sacrificed her home, job, car basically her whole life to reconnect with my father who she had met earlier on in life but not thought too much of him.

I may find my calling as a mother as I enjoy teaching, writing, reading, history, film, photography, gardening, arts and crafts and cookery. Laundry is therapeutic I find as is loading/unloading the dishwasher and even hoovering gives a pleasant feeling that everything is clean and tidy once more.

Shopping was a way to get out of the house, to see people, have conversations and feel part of the world. I didn’t need anywhere near the amount of things I bought but anxiety made me stockpile. This has come in handy but nobody could have predicted this almost complete collapse of life as we know it.

Tomorrow I’m going to do laundry and change the beds, Hoover and move a bunch of gravel about as I need to exercise. If I’ve got energy left as we certainly have enough food and meals from my mother in law cooking; I will do a dumbbell workout. Perhaps even squeeze in some basketball or a walk/run. Not that running is my thing with inverted hips and knees. More of a duck waddle lol.

Strategies for working through problems like Covid 19 quarantine

For me I find complaining/voicing my opinion about a problem to another person or writing about it on here seems to unlock the answers for me. It’s almost like the thoughts need to be given tangible form for them to coalesce into something recognizable. I think I’ve just lost most people now by using words that are infrequent but I do like precise language where possible.

Watching Netflix/tv/YouTube also works as well for thought formation as does practicing art. Distraction and focusing on something else allows the other parts of the brain to focus its creative juices on finding a solution to a current problem. Then there is the race to write it down when it turns up as there always fleeting. As soon as I try to record them there gone. Such is the ethereal nature of thought.

After a period of free time when my brain has got to the point where I feel like I’m going to go insane because I am so bored, it all of a sudden snaps into creative, problem solving mode.

I need to make a schedule for the next couple of weeks at least. Since my husband is in the highly vulnerable category I will most likely be hiding out in the country for quite a while. Infinity is a scary concept to minds that like order, rhythms and structure.

I have spent plenty of time here at the in laws before in the past but we had many visitors then and we could go to other places before too. Now that it’s a lockdown and one with an indefinite and probably lengthy duration. It makes things rather difficult to cope with. I have been practicing mindfulness and not using the phone immediately upon waking. I find it helps enormously if I don’t use my phone /tablet/ laptop for a while after waking. Reading isn’t a thing I do well upon waking despite the fact I adore it and I’m often a compulsive reader. My ability to take in words is being increasingly hampered as I get older.

I’m becoming less able to turn my attention to everything but I’m becoming more specialised. I am however becoming less autistic in that I’m becoming less selfish with more social skills. So in that way I’m becoming broader minded.

Autism means self in Greek so by developing yourself this is the only way you can become less autistic.Your autistic neurology remains. This is how you can seem like everyone else yet not be like everyone else at all. It’s also how others can be like you but not autistic themselves.

In an article I read recently it mentioned the changes that happen to the brain as it ages. Fluid intelligence decreases but what is left crystallises so it is like the essence of what makes you tick is being distilled. You are refining a fine whiskey to release upon the world. You have matured for many years in a couple of different casks by now so you are full of unique flavours. Few who come across you will appreciate the taste but for those who do they are worth there weight in gold.

Just beware of those that see your value only in monetary terms and try to sell you off to make the most profit for themselves. They are often the sneakiest as they are charming and entertaining but also deceiving as they only reveal parts of themselves. They keep there true self hidden for many years.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

Babies on Netflix

This is an in-depth look at the differences in children caused by parenting styles. It also seeks to find out about the social development of a child. It looks to see how responsive they are initially and incrementally.

In the first of 6 episodes they analyse oxytocin (the love hormone involved in bonding) counts in both mothers and fathers to see how it differs across pregnancy, child rearing, culture and whether the child has 2 dads, is a 3 parent family so 2 dads and the surrogate mum or a mum and a dad. Additionally they scan the brains of the adults participating to see the sizes of there hippocampus and whether there activated or not. This area is responsible for learning and is bigger in children with more distant parents leading to the refrigerator theory of the 1960s. This is not what causes autism and has since been disproved.

They also measure the cortisol (stress hormone) levels using the still face test. This is where the mum plays with and talks to the child, then sits back unresponsive to see how the child copes with this. The children notice immediately that something is different and then try to figure out what has caused. Eventually they all start crying and self soothe by putting there fingers in there mouths. When the parent returns to normal behaviour the children may over react initially but they gradually return to their happy selves.

I thought this may be the origins of thumb sucking, pacifiers/dummies, nail biting, over eating and smoking as this is all self soothing behaviour by sticking things in our mouths.

They go on to look at the other major aspects of a child’s life like food, crawling, first words, sleep which I thought they would have covered earlier and first steps.

I think this is going to be a fascinating series to watch regardless of whether you have children or not as we were all once children ourselves.

The Matrix

To start to live life you need to find out how to unplug yourself. This will be lonely and you will have to learn a whole new way of being but it will be worth it. The world outside the Matrix is a fabulous place. It is inhabited by children, autistics and other neuro diverse individuals, eccentrics, the enlightened who have emancipated themselves, self employed and digital nomads. These are spread throughout the world so although it seems like many, there are likely to be only a few near you. They are increasing though with the current attitudes towards climate change, vegetarianism, sexual and gender identity as well as dress and nationality.

If you need help and encouragement to understand this watch the first 3 parts of the Matrix and look forward to the next instalment coming next year. It will be interesting to see how the fact the Wachowskis are both now women alters the storyline. Along with the progress that has happened in technology in the past 20 years. I’m extremely excited to see what they come up with as it’s my favourite movie that I gain something new from each time I watch it.

Best wishes

Angela

Advocating for autism

As a proud autistic adult I have written 2 new books and these are about how to deal with the traumatic and emotional events that life throws at us like dealing with grief, social occasions, adolescence etc

Imagina and A Life of Ice and Fire.

This is in addition to Autistic Communication and Autistic Education.

My other books are on How to learn the Greek language, Greek life, More Greek, How to learn languages and finally A Life of Halcyon Days which is a romantic chick lit book set in Greece.

Best wishes

Angela

Can you forget your native language?

Can you lose your native language as an adult?

I’ve been fascinated by adults in Greece who can speak both Greek and English to native levels yet as they get older they stop being able to do both. This has perplexed me in the UK too with people who learnt languages fluently at a young age yet can no longer speak the language.

This isn’t just related to an average person though. If you look at Ricky Martin’s career he speaks with his native accent in Spanish and English but then he moved to the US and gets married to an American. His accent changes so drastically that he can’t even sing his own back catalogue properly anymore!

Luckily this change can be reversed as on his most recent song he is back to sounding how he used to when he was younger.

As the article above suggests it’s all to do with emotions. If you associate positive emotions with a language and a specific purpose then you are more likely to remember it. If however you try to use a language for another purpose like your native language for work purposes in an English speaking country your likely to fail. Too much mental control is required for this to occur.

Best wishes

Angela

On finding out the reasons for things – cookery edition

When I was just starting out to cook for my self I made the usual student meals. Everyone knew that bacon and cheese were wonder foods that could pretty much rescue anything disaster that you happen to make in the kitchen. Bacon was also the cure if you had drunk too much. What those experiments teach you is the importance of salt and fat to your food.

You don’t realise this then as the object of food then is fuel that is to be cooked quickly and eaten just as quickly so you can get on with whatever activity you were doing before.

I also realised why you always eat pancakes with honey and lemon. There soft, sometimes chewy but also crispy and sweet so all your taste buds are covered.

I’ve have had Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s 3 good things cookery book for a while. It’s another textbook sized cookbook that goes into detail about the ingredients that chapter is focused on. I’ve used it quite a lot as it’s simple and quick to put together but the results are amazing. I have his River Cottage cookbook and his Bread cookbook too. Bread is a thing the British don’t do particularly well as anyone who has even eaten a slice of white sliced bread will know.

I also like Jack Monroe as I bought her first book about cooking on a budget. She it turns out is autistic and has some Greek heritage too so that might have something to do with it. It’s a good book as the receives are simple to follow and there all costed and portioned well. They use some unusual ingredients like tinned peaches but if your as limited on funds as she was you have to improvise.

Another one of my favourite chefs is Jamie Oliver as when he first came on the scene he was known as the Naked Chef due to his stripped down style of cooking. He has made many a book and program since his Jamie’s Great Britain but I find this a brilliant book.

I also have a Readers digest book on potatoes which I find quite authoritative when coming up with new ideas for what to do with spuds.

I thought I would list the best books that I have found for autistics to use so that they can learn some independence. It works for students just as well as there are no fancy ingredients unlike Nigella Lawson.

Thriving Autistic Adult Series

  • Best wishes
  • Angela
  • Cleaning

    I thought since this is another basic area that we all need to learn I would draw attention to a book I read about this on Blinkist. Mrs Hinch’s Hinch yourself happy. This is an advertising campaign that started appearing all of a sudden when I went shopping for cleaning materials. There was never any explanation that I saw in the form of adverts for who this Mrs Hinch was or why she was so good at cleaning. She certainly wasn’t a celebrity like Kim and Aggie Woodburn became with her own reality tv show. So the conclusion I came to was she was a housewife who had just gone viral through the use of social media. This is what the book, which I came across later, more or less says. Authenticity is the key here I believe. She believed in herself and became a star.

    Part of My basics for living well as an adult with autism series

  • Best wishes
  • Angela
  • On listening, enjoying but not understanding (Hyperlexia or just Autism?)

    I’ve just realised that as much as I enjoy listening to the songs by Giorgios Sabanis and especially his Logia pou Kaine (Words that burn) album; I haven’t the faintest idea what he is talking about upon reading the English translations – Giorgios Sabanis lyric translations.

    I’ve listened to the lyrics as he has sung them with accompanying written lyrics, even reading them at the same time but there meaning seems to have slipped my mind. I’ve watched the videos to his songs and thought that I had intuited the meaning since there are generally evocative and seem to go well with the song but I haven’t grasped the finer points in the slightest.

    This should make me depressed but I see it as another aspect of autism. It is after all a social communication disorder. It took until I was a teenager to start to get the finer points of socialising in English so you could look upon my progress in Greek as though I am a teenager again. If I have to do this with every language I want to learn it’s going to be one painful nightmare repeated over and over again. I really hope this isn’t necessary. The emotional growth is nice but does it have to be so painful each time?

    Best wishes

    Angela