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.

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

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
  • How to Streamline your life

    I like to collect things I always have. This is an autistic thing for reasons yet unknown but I think its more to do with the introverted mindset. We are happier indoors, away from others and left to our own things. Our thoughts are strong to the point of being overwhelming. They control us so having familiar items around us calms us. However these same objects reinforce a negative mindset inside of us and in order to be truly free we need to be rid of reminders of past episodes in our life.

    Like everyone else I have heard of Marie Kondo. I have even written a little bit about my opinion on her and her methods. Streamlining your home is a good idea at any time but it seems to take on new significance in the new year. Most people are open to the perspective of change at this time of year where as at other moments it takes something drastic like a relationship, environment or health change to inspire you to take a long hard look at yourself.

    I was looking at the back history of my posts recently and this always serves to remind me just have far I have come from those early days when I mainly just posted other peoples posts that interested me. I forget how I used to be and need reminding that change is continual. When I hit some negative points like I did yesterday its comforting to know that I have been there before and I have gotten out of it. Each time I learn something new.

    Expectations whether generated by society, your upbringing or yourself can be devastating to your self esteem and your morale. Know yourself as written on the temple at Delphi it one of the most crucial things to remember. You have to remember your core values as demonstrated in Inside Out for they are what motivate you. Sometimes they are warped out of all comprehension, sometimes you forget what they are but they are always inside of you.

    Getting back to your basics is one of the important things that can be done easiest after Christmas because there is a natural lull in nature. Its a time for taking stock, reflecting, seeing what worked, what needs to still be worked on and possible strategies for the year. Planning is an activity that has to be completed otherwise you don’t have anything to work from. When things get hectic later on, if you can refer to your schedule then its easier to progress. Trying to make a schedule when you are burdened with too many responsibilities means that its going to be a poorly thought out plan.

    All plans need wiggle room though as the unexpected does happen. I see in lots of couples that are successful the things that changes their lives the most is when they get pregnant. They can’t function like they used to. Children remind us that we are human and not the machines we have come to think of ourselves as. Take the time out to enjoy them as you don’t get that time again.

    On the other side of the coin is when you have planned your life around having a child and your continually disappointed when that doesn’t happen. There is no end to the thoughts that circulate in your head. As the years go by and you attend more weddings and hear about the subsequent pregnancies and birth you wonder what is wrong with me? Why isn’t it happening for me? Maybe I not meant to have a child?

    All I can say in response to this is that the most painful feeling is to not have a child when you want one but even that is topped by having a child with the wrong person as i have seen in some of my friends. They may have been the right person then but it just goes to show that nature isn’t fair, its brutal.

    For the love of mathematics

    My first love in life was maths. I was astonishly good at it. I had the kind of brain that just knew the answer to problems without even realising it. I was very much like Daniel Tamnet. He struggled enormously with his talent and the fact he wasn’t like anyone else. He also couldn’t connect with others. It was only later in life that he learnt that he was capable of more than just maths. He also is a celebrated linguist and has a phenomenal ability to explain how he does this seemingly unearthly talents.

    While I no longer have such mathematical talents I am still very much interested in maths and physics problems. I’m just reduced to reading about others accomplishments as you will learn in the book, maths is a young persons game and by the time you reach your thirties your pretty much over the hill just like in sports. They have even proven that you are much more likely to win the noble prize when you are much younger due to the sheer output that is possible in your youth.

    I don’t want to sound morbid because I still have many decades left in me I hope but I know that life can be cut short quite quickly as mine almost was 17 years ago. It’s almost like an anniversary. I don’t celebrate it but maybe I should. It reminds me that I was one way for so long and then in the blink of an eye I wasn’t. As an autistic that throws you the most extreme curve ball you can ever deal with. When you have reassess your whole life’s plan, reanalyse what you are now capable of but most crucially relearn basic human behaviour like walking, bowel control and sleeping through the night, is it any wonder that I have been lost for so long trying to rediscover myself?

    I had barely found myself at 17 having led a very isolated and protected life. My mother worried excessively about my vulnerability to the point of making her obsessive about protecting me. This doesn’t help when your recovering from a near fatal car accident and she has to raise you all over again from not knowing what 2+2 is to the realisation that the reason you have sent your daughter to many hospital appointments is vindicated because she is autistic. Her differences with viewing the world finally make sense but now you have a new challenge as you don’t know the affects the car accident is going to have on her. Are you going to allow her the freedom to grow or are you going to increase your efforts to cocoon her from the harshness and realities of the world?

    I spent the next year off school recovering and adjusting to my new way of being. I had done the SAT test immediately before my accident so that was a marker of my intelligence then but what was I now?

    I never took the test again as far as I recall so we will never know but suffice to say I completed high school, did an Access course, a CISCO course in my spare time and got to university.

    This is where the trouble begins because as well as losing my mathematical ability it seems I have also my ability to program. This is a big problem for a person who wants to be a computer scientist. Cue me exploring many other areas of interest while learning how to socialise, be a human and basically epically failing at my degree without me even realising. I passed in case your wondering.

    For an autistic no longer having a sense of purpose is devastating. I had fulfilled all of the things (read my mother) had wanted for me. I had beat a accident that could have killed me, I had got a degree, I even had a partner with a house and his own business. What on earth was I going to do since I was clearly incapable of getting a job?

    I’m still in the quandary of what do I do with my life and what am I capable of but I keep exploring new options. Life has never been simple or easy for me but hopefully I figure it out before it ends whenever that is.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Autism as a superpower

    Greta Thunberg is fond of saying that her autism is her superpower and in a way that is true. It allows her to have the single mindedness that is needed to get the government to pay attention to climate change. It also allows her to continue on with her task regardless of the obstacles that are present or that are put into her path deliberately.

    However this also blinds her to the fact that she was rather cruel to her mother making her stop singing opera because flights are bad for the planet. She is a bit like those hard core vegans that say cows are releasing methane into the atmosphere therefore we are no longer allowed to eat them since it’s too dangerous. South Park had an episode on this recently and I was stunned to find watching UFC that the impossible burger actually exists. I thought they made it up as a joke.

    Autism can be regarded as your superpower but it’s extraordinarily fickle in its operation. You have to learn how to control it much like all the characters in Heroes or any other super hero oriented show has to. Before this is done it has more downsides than upsides. This is our eternal struggle. Autism is a gift but more often it’s treated as if you have an infectious disease that makes you incapable of anything.

    We need not only autism awareness but autism acceptance. We didn’t make ourselves this way and we didn’t ask to be this way so we should not be penalised for something that we were born with. As Lady Gaga says “I was born this way!

    Best wishes

    Angela

    The difference between an early and late diagnosed autistic

    I’m going to start by saying this is just my personal opinion based on what I have observed so far. I am a late diagnosed person on account of the fact that myself and my personality were quite developed by the time I got my diagnosis at 17. An early diagnosis I classify as you got it very early on in your life so you’ve always been autistic. There was never a time that you can remember being an undiagnosed autistic.

    The reason I decided to make this distinction is that it shapes your personality. There is the debate about whether you are an autistic person or a person with autism. This is more than the simple language debate it would seem. I know a lot of people would think what is the difference but it’s there. It depends how much you think autism is a part of you and your life. Does your autism define you in the way that a footballer is sometimes only thought of a footballer and when they stop playing they have lost their identity? For me my autism is a big part of me as it’s always been present whether recognised or not but it’s not all that I am. I am interested in a great many things in this world. Yes I can be obsessive, literal and single minded but I can also be social, warm and affectionate.

    I think my late diagnosis helped me as I learnt the habits that I need to survive. I don’t have the strange eating habits of only eating chicken and chips or other similarly limited diets. I may say inappropriate things occasionally but I’m generally polite. I’m a fairly well rounded person who luckily escaped something much more debilitating like Down’s syndrome or Tourette’s but even here people are making strides towards acceptance. They are being welcomed into the community.

    I think an early diagnosis is akin to helping a butterfly out of its chrysalis. You damage it in ways it can’t know until later on. I was hurt by others and by not knowing myself but now I think I’m being reborn like the butterfly and I’m flying free due to having gained the strength from my earlier struggles. One of the things my mother always said to me was “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I’m not quite sure whether she was joking, being sarcastic or truly meant it as it differed when she said it but it’s true. Also “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Or “Cry and you cry alone, laugh and the whole world laughs with you.” These were epithets delivered on how to make friends and the mood you should be in to attract other people.

    People are what make life more interesting but you have to be in the right place to be able to accept them into your life. If you have more drama and issues stored inside of you than the average soap opera; your not going to be in a fit state to be anybody’s friend. It is up to you to make the most of your life as you only get one. Your not a cat I’m afraid.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    How to evolve work to benefit autistics

    I read Digital Darwinism this morning on Blinkist and it spoke about changing businesses to account for the internet in the way we did for first electricity and then secondly computers. These have become integral parts of our lives but it took some time to accept them in roles that were more than just bolt-on additions. We need to do this with our workforce’s. We need to utilise location independence and free ourselves from the restricting 9-5 m-f culture. This is another barrier that can be removed with some innovative thinking. It mentions the perils that come from not adapting but also the successes that can come from revolutionising employment. For more information about different work practices read or listen to on Audible Cal Newport’s various books or Scott H Young for inspiration.

    We need to evolve work so that it benefits autistic people.

    • Autistic people are kind, caring, idealistic and often put the needs of others before themselves.
    • This means that they will help others often to the detriment of themselves in the workplace.
    • They will also not promote themselves so they won’t get the due rewards that comes from their achievements.
    • They are also extremely empathetic to the point that your unresolved issues will cause them emotional distress.
    • This means that we don’t fare well in the closeted atmosphere of the typical office. We are not to be found gossiping around the water cooler and certainly not about what happened last night on Love Island etc.

    It is shocking that only 1 in 6 autistics are in work. Not having work is a major contributor to depression. This is highly prevalent in the autism community. Anxiety is another factor that ranks highly and is caused by uncertainty. Not knowing what your going to do in your life or how your going to survive from one day to the next makes you ill. A lot of autistics feel suicidal as it affects them that much.Monique Botha

    We have difficulty blocking out the trauma of the world yet to the average person everyday life isn’t traumatic. We can’t desensitise like you do. We are present in life much more than you. We are worrying about the bigger issues of the world like Greta Thunberg for instance. We are not often motivated by money or material possessions. We are striving for self actualisation.

    There are reasons we like gardening (Alan Gardner), animals (Temple Grandin) or computer science (majority of Silicon Valley). These are all unemotional things in terms of human emotions. This is what disables us so we are unable to communicate. We are have a lot to offer we just have to be given an environment in which to do so.

    My personal experience

    I tried to become a part of the workforce but I’m too stubborn and resistant to allow myself to enter something so completely alien to me. When I went for interviews I never sold myself as I didn’t really want the jobs. I just felt I had to go through the motions and somehow I would earn a living. It always felt completely inauthentic. Even the clothing was distasteful to me!

    I would like to work but I’ve never found anywhere that was comfortable for me because the energy present was toxic. I am a person that will walk into somewhere and if it’s too noisy I will walk straight back out again. I have done on several occasions. The people I have been with are sometimes ok with this and sometimes not. I have never found social environments inviting because of this unsettling behaviour. Since all workplaces have people they can be classed like that.

    I have also never understood the way the average person keeps going into work even though they hate it. It completely drains them so they live for the holidays or the weekend. They numb themselves with alcohol and moan to their colleagues yet do nothing to improve their situation. When such things are classed as normality is it any wonder I have stayed far away from that.

    Best wishes

    Angela