The Invisible Man

I spend a lot of my time trying to get NT’s to understand what it is like to be on the spectrum. It is always so clear that NT’s don’t understand, and most don’t try to. We hear it from them all the time. You know the drill- ‘you look normal’, ‘are you sure you really have Aspergers?’, ‘you are just using Aspergers as an excuse to act this way’. I know this is a weird comparison, so don’t read to much into it- But watch the compassion NT’s have for someone with a physical handicap. Look at how genuinely caring they are for someone with Downs. Then look at how they treat those of us on the spectrum. We are often treated like the invisible man. Like nothing is possibly wrong, ever.

invisible_man_by_nameless0oNormally I am good at wearing the mask and covering up the invisible man. The mask that makes NT’s feel at ease because I am good at pretending to be “normal” and I can fit in pretty well. However, these past few months have been stressful for me in my personal life. And as any Aspie can tell you; stress does not bring out the best in those of us on the spectrum. Yes I have had a few melt downs around the people I trust enough to do so. But what really gets me is the way others have changed. I still wear the mask around them, but I am clearly doing something differently. I have noticed since I have had some stress in my life, that most all of my NT friends have treated me very differently.
The logical side of me says that when I am having stress, my friends will care enough to ask if they can help, or at least ask if I am okay. But that isn’t the case. And I can say that this is not the 1st time in my life I have seen this happen. I find it not only an odd behavior for NT’s, but also very painful. I tend to lose faith in people. The same people whom I have helped when they were in need, the same people I considered to be like family… I become the invisible man once again.

So to all of you NT’s out there who are really trying to connect with, or understand someone on the spectrum, I offer you the following. We are not emotionless robots. In fact in many cases we feel emotions 100 times stronger than you do, we just have a difficult time expressing it. And that leads to frustrations (melt downs). Yes, we know we are awkward sometimes, but it is not intentional. And it is just awkwardness, it is not the plague. Treating us like a we are disposable is the worse thing you can do. Almost all of us are fiercely loyal. It takes a lot for us to show that loyalty, but once we do it is because we trust you. When you betray that loyalty… there is no greater pain for an Aspie. When you treat us like the invisible man, and just ignore us, we only hide deeper within ourselves. When you actually get angry at us, for no apparent reason, you lose us. And that loss hurts us more than you can imagine.

So for now, I will remove the mask, hide and be invisible. It is safer that way at times.

Whose Charities Are They Anyway?

Before you have a knee jerk reaction to support some Autism Charity, please read this!
Also, see my earlier post on this topic here- https://aspiewarriors.com/2012/08/10/ignorance-breeds-ignorance-autism-speaks/

 

My Autistic Dance

You can hardly walk though town these days without tripping over some autism charity or another. In terms of awareness, the message seems to be getting out. On radio, TV and in the papers you hear about autism most days.

So why, you might be forgiven for asking, are these autistic advocates and activists not satisfied? Why are they still complaining?

It’s very simple. Awareness means nothing. What autistic people need is acceptance. Equal rights, equal opportunities. An end to exploitation and second-class status.

What does nearly every autism charity have in common? It was set up and is run by parents of autistic children. However well-meaning they might be they are not autistic. Their aims are not autistic people’s aims. These organisations are run for the parents’ benefit, not for the benefit of the autistic children and adults.

So you get Autism Speaks with their infamous blue puzzle piece:…

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Fidget Cubes Awkward Relationship to Autistic Stimming

Fidget cubes- Yes, or No?

The LauraKBuzz Network

fidget-cube-2

While I wasn’t diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum condition called Aspergers Syndrome until I was almost 18 years old, looking back over a journal my mother kept during my childhood many of the diagnostic criteria were there from a young age.

From as early as age four my mother made records of various obsessive repetitive behaviours I would engage in, and the considerable distress that not being able to fulfil them would cause.

From hand squeezing patterns to jumps every set number of steps, bleeping noises to rocking on the floor, I seemingly needed to engage in sensory patterns to calm myself.

This is often referred to within Autistic Spectrum diagnosis as stimming. It can cover behaviours from small tapping motions up to full body twists, turns and rocking.

It’s often a response to sensory overload. As a person with Aspergers I often struggle to filter out unimportant sensory information…

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Job interviews, mental health, and aspergers

Many of you know that that I am looking into ways to help those on the spectrum find real employment. This article from Behind the Mask hits home to many of us who are looking for work.

Behind the Mask

I have been job hunting for months now, and it is an exhausting, demoralising, confidence destroying, seemingly endless process. Filling applications form after application form, sending out CV after CV, day after day, week after week, it has ground me down to a state of apathy. With anxiety making the thought of how my application might be received overwhelming, and depression sapping away my motivation to nothing, I find myself missing more deadlines than I meet, and it seemed for a long time that no one would ever even consider employing someone as useless as me.

And then… an interview invitation. For a job I actually really really want. My first response it to have a panic attack, and 10 minutes later I’m lying on the floor calming down and thinking “I can’t do this”. But I can, and I did.

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What I wish NT’s understood about Sensory Overload

If I could have NT’s understand just ONE THING about how it feels to be an Aspie, it would be to have them understand what Sensory Overload feels like. There is no single answer for this. Sensory Overload, like so many other things we Aspies deal with, is complex, deep and complicated.

Imagine you are focusing really hard on something, let’s say you are trying to walk a tight rope. All your focus is on not falling. Putting 1 foot in front of the other. This is how Aspies focus on almost everything. Now imagine someone blasts an air horn right behind you! What do you feel? Scared? Anger? Fear? Yep, that is what it is like. But it is so much more-

Imagine you are driving your car. You are paying attention to the traffic, dealing with everyone else on the road. And someone turns the radio up full blast- but then they are changing the stations every 2 seconds. That loud noise is now more than a distraction, it is annoying, painful even.

Ever try watching a movie, but someone behind you is talking nonstop? How do you feel? Annoyed? Mad? I mean you paid good money for this movie, and you have no clue what it is about because you can’t hear it over the rude people behind you.

Now imagine all of the above situations at once. But for some of us on the spectrum it is just the sound of the Air Conditioner running, then the neighbors lawn mower, and the phone rings, the cat meows. These may be easily ignored if you are an NT. But to those with sensory processing issues, it is painful. Irritating, Enraging! It is like being stuck in a rock concert while trying to write a term paper.

It is not just sounds. Movements such as crowds, or something as simple as the trees going by when you are driving. Smells, Touch, anything that effects the 5 senses can create sensory overload.

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Next time you see someone overwhelmed due to sensory overload, try to understand THIS is what they are going through. Watch the short video in the link above. Then just imagine being in my shoes every day-

 

Aspergers, Work and Social Media

aspergers-work-and-social-mediaIt has been a long time since my last blog post. I have been busy working, and starting a new marketing company. I help business learn how to use social media correctly to promote their brand on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram… As someone who has worked in sales and marketing for 30 years, I found an area where I could really help people succeed. It has also been a lot of fun!

However my new business venture quickly made me realize something; A lot of us with ASD really struggle on social media. We tend to not have that filter. (These days with the news and politics, most NT’s don’t have a filter either!)
So I have been thinking, ‘am I the only Aspie who is in business for himself‘? ‘Are other Aspies having difficulty finding work, or keeping work due to their social media interactions‘? Hmmmmm. If so, then maybe I could focus more on helping others on the spectrum who want to start their own business, or who just need a little help finding a rewarding job. I like to help people, and my passion will always be helping those on the spectrum.

I often look at my son, and I wonder what will he do for a living when he grows up? In my opinion, he would do best if he could start his own company. He loves sports, that is his thing. Although like most of us on the spectrum he lacks the coordination to play on a competitive level. But he can name almost every player for every team from Football to NASCAR. I can see him becoming a commentator, or maybe opening his own store selling specialty sportswear. Who knows. At the same time, we still have not let him have a social media account. Mostly because we do not want him running off his friends by posting 500 sports memes a day.

So what if I could help him? What if I could show him a step by step plan for using social media in a way that gains him more friends instead of running them off? What if I could start laying the foundation now for him to build his personal brand? Maybe by the time he graduates he would have a large following that he could leverage into potential customers. hmmmm

And what if I could help others on the spectrum do the same thing? What if I could offer step by step tools, coaching, mentoring for those who have a dream but struggle a little getting that dream up and running? I know a lot of great people in the ASD community, what if we could offer a summit via webinar or recordings, and give real world pointers to help them be successful on line, and in life? What if I could help just 1 person on the spectrum start a successful business?

The other side to this coin; if you want to start your own business, and you want to promote it online, there are THOUSANDS of people willing to take your money and “teach” you how to be successful. I know because I have looked at these people, and I have taken their courses. and 99% of them SUCK. They just rip people off by regurgitating the same information, filled with empty promises of get rich quick. The person with Aspergers who wants to start their own business would be easy prey for those ‘Gurus’.

I may look into this further. Maybe I can help others. Or, maybe I am wrong, and most people on the spectrum are not interested in this kind of help. I would love to hear your thoughts.