Samantha Craft’s Updates August 2016

last updated August 2018

You can find me at Spectrum Suite LLC  and email me directly at marcellelinn @ icloud . com. Spectrum Suite will soon be offering vocational coaching, life coaching, and spiritual coaching. Stay tuned!

Thank you for your support through the years. I couldn’t have wished for a kinder and more accepting community.

This blog was open from 2012 – 2016. I make updates from time to time with new news.

Sam’s other blog can be found at Everyday Aspie.

Both blogs are retired, after many years of writing, except for occasional updates about happenings related to autism, the autistic community, and the book Everyday Aspergers.

New book I contributed to here

BOOK INFORMATION
· Amazon US link
· Amazon UK link
· Amazon Australia link
The soft back version is available in USA on Amazon here.
Current updates can be found at my company Spectrum Suite.
Please consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

THANK YOU ~ SAM

Marcie Ciampi, M.Ed   (AKA: Samantha Craft)

Craft is best known for her prolific writings found in her well received book and blog Everyday Aspergers. A professional educator, she has been published in peer-reviewed journals, been featured in various literature and venues, including Aspien Women, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Mighty,  Spectrum Women, Project Aspie and Different Brains.  She is coauthor of the book Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism and speaks on the topic of neurodiversity around the world, including at the Love & Autism Conference (Fall 2018) and Southwest Washington Autism Conference (Fall 2018).

Craft was the Community Achievement Award recipient at the ANCA World Autism Festival (2017), her works have been translated into multiple languages, with her list of traits for females on the autism spectrum shared in counseling offices around the world. Since 2012, she’s had the opportunity to correspond with over 10,000 individuals on the autism spectrum. Her blog Belly of a Star features her paintings and drawings and over 100 poems and spiritual writings. Craft also serves as the Lead Job Recruiter and Community Manager at ULTRA Testing, an innovative technology company with a neurodiversity hiring initiative.

10 Years in the Making! Everyday Aspergers

This Blog Everyday Asperger’s by Samantha Craft is retired. Her company website is myspectrumsuite.com  Thank you for the community and support you have offered through the years.

 

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In 2004, I was called to write. I dedicated myself to write every day for a year. I only missed one day and completed a 250-page memoir. I often wrote 4 to 10 hours a day. I spent the next years editing because my dyslexia and dysgraphia make it very challenging for me to detect errors. I knew nothing of writing. It was pretty substandard material at the start. I didn’t even know when to capitalize the word ‘mom’ or how to use a semi-colon. It took me three years of writing and editing to find ‘my voice.’

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I taught myself to write by studying other books, relentlessly. I took notes and would write pages and pages of words I found (in other books) on notepads. In 2012, I started Everyday Asperger’s (blog) and  wrote almost every day for a year. I then continued posting blog posts several times a month, for another two years. Each Everyday Asperger’s blog post took a long time to edit. Then, after it was online, I would reread the words for an hour (at least) trying to find all the small mistakes that I couldn’t find the first time. (I didn’t mind; it was a type of stimming for me.) At the time of writing the blog, I also reedited some of the original (year 2004) childhood stories.

Recently, after 3.5 years of writing over 1,300 pages online, I began the process for my book: Everyday Aspergers (EA). I tore through 1,200 single-spaced pages of this blog, some of which were my childhood stories, picking and choosing, and then piecing the posts together like a puzzle. This took a solid two months of working almost daily. From there, I refined and refined, trimming most posts to 1/3 original size; some of those posts, if not most, were originally two to three pages long. Next I found little parts that got cut but were still gold nuggets and found places to sprinkle them in.

After that I polished and polished and polished, and began to edit. Soon the final editing took place from December to today. Most weeks I spent the equivalent of a full-time job editing. I also employed the help of a professional editing team. To date, the manuscript for Everyday Aspergers has gone through four editing rounds, in which I read the words (at first 717 pages, then 615 pages, then 417 pages) from start to end. Each page was reedited each time! I’d spend marathon days, up to 12 hours straight editing. Some of the childhood stories have been edited and polished at minimum 15 hours per page! Counting the years before, I’d say the book itself has well over 5,000 hours of editing alone. That doesn’t count any of my writing time. It’s a HUGE accomplishment. It’s not just something I threw together. It has a huge heart and huge effort behind my endeavor.

I cannot wait for the book to be in my hands. More so, I cannot wait for those who wish to have the book to hold the story in their hands! I’ve been waiting since 2004, when I had a dream.

Much love,
Samantha Craft

I updated the Checklist for Females with Aspergers here

Me on Twitter: aspergersgirls

More about the book on  new website

 

 

 

 

What’s Up?

buns

Hello!

I have missed you. Everyday Aspergers (EA), the book, is coming along quite well. It’s in the final draft stages and I hope it will be ready for your eyes by this early-May. (And the cover is awesome!!!)

As some of you know, I have spent countless hours editing . . . I recently had a huge aha moment: being dyslexic I ought never ever try to edit! But alas, it’s a bit too late for that. I have ‘literarily’ (notice the non-risqué double entendre?) edited my book more hours than I can calculate. And the book started off at 1,200 pages! Don’t worry, I have a professional editor. Good thing because I still have trouble with sneaky homophones, like verses and versus. Who ever invented the English language sucks.

sex

What’s been challenging is grammar rules—there are lots and lots of rules, and not everyone is in agreement. In addition, commas hurt my eyes, if they are not placed in the correct place; correct as in where it seems I ought to sprinkle a little dash based on the rhythm in my head; not ‘correct’ as in rules. So that’s been an interesting predicament. Also, hyphenated words fall into a similar spot as commas: the inconsistent box. And it doesn’t help that I went through a happy-to-hyphenate stage and a put-a-comma-everywhere phase. I am still recovering.

The other, (likely Aspie-related), recent challenge has been chopping up my previous blog posts,(there’s over 500), rearranging, refining, omitting, rewording, embellishing and realizing that this process is not LYING or being dishonest in the slightest degree.

And the most laughable moment to date, regarding this book journey, (at least according to my autistic partner), is when I said, “I don’t think my book is autistic enough,” with weeping puppy-dog eyes, and he adamantly responded (after asking if I was PMSing), “If you are not autistic then I am not autistic.” So that set things straight. He then added, in his arrogant Aspie-genuis tone, “Plus, you’re like the poster child for Aspergers.” Still processing that one.

sad eyes

Publishing a book is kind of like childbirth—had I known the pain, I doubt I’d ever have started; however, once I see my baby, it will be worth every agonizing moment. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I do have to say that my psychological metamorphosis has been fascinating: One moment confident, next moment terrified. One day never wanting any human to read my words ever again, next day, over sharing my works. It’s kind of like the publishing process has intensified my autistic extremes! Go me!

Oh, and I’ve had ample opportunity to sit back and listen to LV (little voice inside my head) burst aloud fret after fret. I think she’s grown a small pink cape monogrammed with ‘insecurity.’ First off, I apologize for the short phase (about 1.5 months) in which we (me, LV and Sir Brain) we’re never going to have ANYTHING to do with AUTISM ever again! This was largely due to the ebb and flow of opinionated jerks online (something I swiftly swam away from), my tendency to hyper focus almost to the tipping point of my sanity, the way my life drips and oozes of autism (partner, son, ME, job, writing, reading, social media platforms, blogs, book, research, friends, so forth …), and my forever search for balance (psychological and hormonal!).

spice

For a short stretch of time, I figured I’d be a hermit in the back room, behind my garage, and just obsessively paint, never to resurface, except out of loyalty for the occasional chocolate bar left outside my door. After some retreat and reflection, I realize autism is in my bones—and most definitely in my genes—so not really a smart plan to try to escape it, entirely. Still, I am attempting to not let my special interest consume me. But alas, I likely will always have my all or nothing tendencies, despite my best efforts.

With all that said, my prolific abilities for writing and off beat wit seem to have resurfaced. This following two years of gradual rehabilitation from a weeklong hospital stay, in which the trauma to my system greatly affected my executive functioning ability; I mean I couldn’t even open an envelope for months. Took me three months to be able to sit up for more than an hour. There was some major healing that had to take place. But thankfully, I feel about 95% back to normal. Except now, my premenopausal brain-frying hot flashes and hormonal extremes–seem to be affecting my dyslexia and dysgraphia. Kind of like someone turned up the omitting words, mixing up words and letters, and forgetting thoughts dial to about the umpteenth power. So that’s been fun. Good timing, don’t you think?

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Talk soon,
Sam the Ham
(Now I want to list words that rhyme with ‘ham.’ Yep, I’m back!)

My recent interview about females and autism:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/positivelyautistic/2016/03/05/positively-autistic–jeanettes-autism-show

To support this book journey please join our Facebook Community listed on this blog in the side section or follow this blog. Here I am on Twitter

Of She

universe
universe

Of She…
She mounts, as the tuft ribbon, torn
Riding the circumference of questioning
Mind turned, trembled-wavers
Across endless cause
I cannot, I can, I will, I shan’t
And over the mountain terrains
She treks
Feet, aching soles
Upon beaten battleground
Heart opening to the chasm of reason
She is, and she is not
Twisted and reborn into
This something new and un-new
Opened and closed
Reexamined and brought into the light
Distraught and brilliantly aware
Carrying the global basket, woes
Torrid tears racing down bones
Outlining, this shadowed-speaker
Born into prism
Walls, resurfaced and reshaped
Made into what almost is
Until fleeting moments weep away
Left idling, still,
In creviced thoughts
Of what has come
Fragmented semblance
Slivered whispers
Claimed identity
The torrential gathering
Of she
~ Sam, 7/25/15

What Does Aspergers Mean to You?

I asked some online community members what Aspergers meant to them. These are some of the responses. (Apologies if there are repetitions or if I forgot anyone.)

What Does Aspergers Mean to You?

Alexandra – I have Asperger’s. No, it’s more than that: it’s not just an attribute, it’s something that is so intrinsic to who I am. It colors my perception and shapes how I interact with the world. My mind is the core of my being, and Asperger’s is the core of my mind.

My son, mother, sisters and I have Aspergers. It’s been so very tough not knowing why I was different all these years. It was isolating and confusing. I ended up hating myself for many years, but after my son’s diagnosis we all had a light bulb moment for ourselves too. I will not speak of what it meant before I learned to love myself. I will share what Aspergers means to me now. It is wonderful. I have figured out what to do to prevent meltdowns and face everything that comes my way. I rejoice in my ASD. I have perceptions that no one around me does. E.g. I see music not just hear it. I cannot find words but I can write everything in music. My piano solos say so much more than words can. Everyone who hears my compositions has quite the experience. I like to take people to places they forget exist in them or don’t know exist. People say that they visibly see life stories unfold before their eyes and they connect. I still find immense joy in watching ants work. I feel the life of the planet and even inanimate objects because they deserve thanks for providing us with a purpose. They are a part of us. I don’t miss things that most do. I have life buzzing inside of me that most forget as they become adults. I love sharing this with others and being wakened together.

I am on the spectrum and so is my daughter. I never knew until my daughter’s diagnosis when I was in my late 30’s. Ever since I found out my life has changed for the better! To me Asperger’s means that I am not alone anymore. I can better understand myself and others. This gives me confidence–confidence I never had before by knowing how far I’ve gone. It takes strength to live in this bright, chaotic, illogical and very loud world. I remember this when challenges arise.

My daughter has been diagnosed and I am certain that I would be under the right conditions. The root of what it means to me… a completely different viewpoint from the outspoken rule of normal! Wonderful insight and different angle on solutions to situations.

Kylee – I learnt a long time ago a child I was in contact with. also my mum was doing some training and recognised myself in some of the traits. it just means I’m different but I try to not let it affect my life.

My name is Stefani. I have Asperger…To me it means I’m capable of great things, but it takes me a long time. It means that even if I’m 31, I feel like a 14 years old. It’s means that life around me doesn’t go the same speed as life inside of me. It means that I will never truly understand what’s going on but I always be amazed by the smallest of thing.

My name is Beni. Diagnosed AS as a mature woman. I don’t relate specifically to the label of Aspergers and don’t think it’s a disorder, but identify as autistic for several reasons. The diagnosis has been liberating. It means I am the way I’m supposed to be – not “wrong” or broken somehow. Just different, and I’m very much okay with that. It also means that I’m not alone as I felt all my life until understanding why I’m different and how many other people are similar to me. Still have problems, but I deal better understanding why.

Jon, have ASD. Asperger’s to me is the albino of the human race…I may think I’m normal, until people kick me out of the herd because something is ‘off’ and they can’t pinpoint it. It is knowing that the people around me are instinctively thrown off by my sheer presence, regardless if they’re aware of it or not.

Mike, have Asperger’s. To me is like that old awkward friend that never leaves me alone, and I have to be very careful kind and cheering with him, otherwise he starts to screw me over and he wont stop until I put attention to him. The diagnosis was liberating and helped me to understand and know a lot about myself, weird things on my behavior and difficulties that I presented along the way started to make sense for me. Still struggling, I’m not on the sunny side yet, but every day I get closer to clarity, peace and direction in my life.

Jo. I have an autistic child but run a group for children with disabilities so have lots of children with,asc,aspergers etc,aspergers means to me clever people with an eye for detail they can be very funny and dry witted people some of the most loveliest people I know xx

My name is Ines. I am a self-diagnosed aspie. To me, AS means self-acceptance and understanding. Before I knew about AS I didn’t comprehend my life, I thought I was crazy, weird and not worth it. Now I know why I’m different, and I’m learning to be less hard on myself. I have a love-hate relationship with my AS: most of the time I’m proud of the unique characteristics it gives me, other times it’s hard to put up with the challenges it brings. The best part is when you can name something that something automatically starts being less scary. smile emoticon

To me Aspergers tells me that I am my son’s mother. If it were not for his autism diagnosis, I would never have come across Aspergers. My son has helped me to understand who I was, and in effect, helped me understand how to support better him too!

Sometimes, my late diagnosis makes me feel alone, as I am still trying to find out, after so many years of trying to fit in, who I really am. I have lows and highs. My highs help me feel unashamed of my past self- something I always felt. Now I know the reasons behind many of the difficulties I have experienced, I no longer feel so bad. My lows lay in the fact that I have lost a sense of who I always was, and am trying hard to find that person again, in a mass of overwhelming experiences that I cannot yet understand properly. I want to find that person in whole, and feel unashamed of that person. The late diagnosis has been a difficult thing, but I am still glad that I have it, and I think my son came along as a messenger almost, and not just for me, but also so that I could nurture him too. Quite a beautiful symbiosis.

Lennée- self- aspergers is superpowers. Overstimulation is kryptonite. There is no way this is my home planet.

Kate. Have ASD. Unable to KEEP friends that I can be myself around and feel happy with. If I meet someone I admire who tolerates my quirky traits and accepts me the way I am, even after they really get to know me, I smother the relationship. I’m so happy to connect with someone I find interesting, but I suppose I ultimately destroy it with obsession. It’s lonely and sad. But I feel I have gifts that other people don’t have.
I just have to find other ways to connect with people enough that satisfies that desire to know someone intimately without the obsessed part. Just sharing myself with someone else who reciprocates and finds me equally interesting. Relationships are a struggle. If I’m not practically obsessed, then I’m often not interested. I feel I either get bored easily, or I become emotionally dependent. I don’t know how to have a “normal” friendship. It’s really bad when I’ve been rejected by someone I desperately wanted to be friends with. I struggle to even talk to someone whom I desire acceptance. I have a great fear of rejection by someone I care about to the point that it is debilitating.
Relationships are just one aspect! I could go on.

It’s something that makes a person’s mind operate on a different level, oftentimes beyond what others can. It’s also something that other people don’t care to tap into or allow to reach its full potential

Asperger, well it means joy relief frustration wisdom and understanding of how my brain and mind works…sadness because of the way dad tried to cure me by military discipline and domestic violence and abuse of mom my sisters and me because we were all destroying his image in the society of the 60,s and the 70,s.His standing as a free mason and at the golf club and the church as a church leader It caused me so much pain and damage and hurt and loss of self-esteem and being brutalized .I am amazed how I survived with suicide and ultimate goal of leaving the house getting into uni and getting a really good job I spent years being isolated and shunned and mocked behind my back because of my idiosyncratic behavior as an Asperger .Then I got married twice why do people want to marry a damaged person is it to domineer or is to manipulate and con and commit fraud against .Now its a joy I have met really wonderful friends and so wonderful people I am learning on the run how Asperger function by trial and error and coming unstuck and causing hurt unintentionally I TRULY WISH NOW THAT WE ARE RECOGNIZED FOR WHO WE ARE OUR UNIQUENESS AND IN PARTICULAR THAT ALL THE WOMEN AND GIRLS ARE ALSO GIVEN THE SAME CHANCE AND RECOGNISED NOT TREATED SO BADLY AND SHABBILY.

Hubby loves me for me

Sam. Aspie super-hero. For me, at this moment, it means extreme pain and isolation. But in another moment, it will mean extreme joy and connection. I am waiting for that other moment…often.

Liz. ASD dx’d and ASD parent. Frustrating, debilitating, self-consciousness and fear.

Rick (have ASD): To me, it means understanding my own nature for the first time in nearly four decades of life. It means not punishing myself for my differences and eventually coming to accept them for what they are: gifts.

Amanda – I have Asperger’s and am a single mother to an adult son who has Asperger’s who still lives with me as I am his only support (emotional and otherwise) – Hell…

Sherry. I’m me.

Aspergers means social mysteries, heightened empathy and honesty to a fault to me – Anne with aspergers and parenting aspergers

Gail, don’t know but…honest

Chris(have ASD) it means living in this world but not always being a part of it.

I asked my son, Matthew (9 yrs old with AS) “Well, I am sensitive to a lot of things. There are certain things I like a whole lot that most people don’t like that much. Oh, I’m smarter than most people!”

Carrie (ASD) Translating the world in vivid empathetic color.

My name is LeslieAnn and I have Aspergers. It’s a family trait affecting my father, my sister, a grandmother, cousins… For me being a an aspie means that I see/ experience the world through a different lens- think “macro” or “bug eye”- than NT’s. I process what I experience differently: I equate it to cultural differences between immigrants.

Great joy and fulfillment and never-ending wonders!

Krista – for me Asd Means 100’s of things, (oh man) it means My 15 yr old Autistic Son and I have always had a beautiful understanding of one another. It means New Beginnings, knowing I’m FINALLY I’m NOT alone because I’ve finally met so many wonderful adults like myself! It means, YES I CAN do things that I’m NOT dumb and that I can learn and STILL learn at 40!! That it’s OK to be ME, to stand up for myself, to say NO! It means Finally having an understanding of all the unanswered questions, that all the Snide comments, laughs, and ongoing ridicule were due to cruelty of a world that did not understand ME, and not always the other way around. A society that was mired scared than anything of differences that could rock the boat or take away forming little identical robots or individual Uniqueness’s. It means that I Krista, am going to be OK!! That I CAN now conquer many fears, YES I ALWAYS WAS and AM intelligent, but when I learn, I just need a visuals. It means That I am extremely sensitive to noises, sounds, tastes and touches, that these were NEVER my fault and that I can NOW use tools and accommodate for these things so that I can “HELP” myself because I now have a great understanding of ME!! It means Im actually learning to Love who I am for the first time in 40 years!! This is all due to my son, my little Miracle Man.

Serena. Aspergers, is a parent to Aspergers and friends Aspergers. What ever it is, it is always mixed with individual personality and a unique body therefore it’s different in each and every one of us. Now I’ve got that out-of-the-way I can say it means we are the round pegs in the square holes , the spanners in the works , your guide when your down the rabbit hole , it means we stand out and like to stay in , the force is strong in these ones , given love , support and the correct environment will transform the world into a better place (just the same as anyone at full potential) , a label that has helped me find my people ( and you know what that means – everything) , eccentric , eclectic , empath, I’m certain it means seriously funny , brilliant , weird and wonderful. There is more but I have run out of time. It means quite a lot doesn’t it.

Adrienne, parent of two ASD teens, to me it means my kids think outside of the box without all the inhibitors…kind of like how children are pure before society ruins them. Totally positive for us!

For my daughter… She’s bright, intelligent, but so socially awkward. I feel sometimes that there is a fog in her brain that just needs to lift so she sees the light…

Self (and I know this may be a little difficult to grasp – but please bear with me) Aspergers as I have come to learn and live with it… is a title given to us by someone who wants to pull out the gifted children of the God/Light from the others. A mark; a word used to initially oppress and hold down w/ deems of mental illnesses when really – most of us just aren’t crazy enough for this world. For if it were a mental illness – like many others – there would be a pill to stabilize it. Just as there are pills for some of the symptoms – but we know, many NT’s have depression and anxiety. Psychics don’t have pills, animals don’t have pills to control their in-tune senses. To me – Aspergers is the word we have adopted from those who label to help us locate each others…It doesn’t define us other than in some half right medical Manual or record. We go crazy trying to find ourselves find a label to explain it then realize that it was okay to be us in the first place. Hope that makes sense…

Sariah. Asperger’s means I’m unique, I see the world differently than most people do, my strengths and weaknesses are not predictable, and even though I have trouble figuring out some simple things, it also allows me to figure out some complex things that others can’t.

Hi! I’m Alyce. Since I discovered that I am Aspie, my life has made sense. I am not the oddball in my friendship groups of fellow Aspies! What a feeling to not be judged, to be able to speak my reality and be understood instead of laughed at! Being Aspie amongst Aspies to me means my feet are finally grounded.

Sarah. I’m an Autistic parent of Autistic kids. Aspergers is a way of life. It is part of my everyday experience and I wouldn’t be me without it.

Johanna. I have not been diagnosed, but am very certain that I have Asperger’s. To me Asperger’s means being caught inside a bubble, looking out at the world, being an eternal spectator without a chance to ever participate. Like being an alien on a strange planet where everyone looks like me, speaks like me and acts like me but I just cannot connect. Like standing on the other side of an abyss with a bridge that only other people can cross, but not me.

Cynthia: Asperger helps me to control my bipolarity because I am tending to be over rational thanks to that. For example, when I am doing shopping and beginning to spend a lot, a part of me says: “Stop that’s enough!” and during meltdowns, it is the same thing even it is quite hard. It is like weather: sometimes it’s too sunny, then it’s too rainy and Asperger is here to regulate the changes of mood. The empathy is cool also because I understand people better even if I think their emotions are mine often and that is difficult to handle sometimes (and up or down episodes follow). After, I have the habit to not define myself through my disabilities; I am simply myself, a unique human being in a collective society.

Darci .diagnosed 10 years ago as an adult, spouse diagnosed as an adult somewhat recently. Aspergers means answers to a lot of questions for myself, and exoneration of myself. I am happy I am different and myself even if it means parts of my life are incredibly difficult.

Eva…I am undiagnosed I think in pictures and colours and makes for an interesting time depending on which subject we are discussing smile emoticon…my son of 15 is ASD..it means i spend each day worried i may fail my son in his needs and wants for his world…sometimes we can be over consumed when our paths cross and when our expectations clash….other times the house is a joy, full of laughter and comfort and love. each day brings new smiles and sometimes tears….and i wouldnt change a thing!!

Laura, I am autistic, so is my daughter my mum & my sister. To me it means being different but not being less. It means my Windows into the world are very different & so I see things in a different way & I value that highly. It means a lot of people don’t understand me or accept me which can be isolating.I like being autistic it gives me gifts, it gives me my hyper focus & passion for subjects which always helps me through dark times. I always feel sorry for people who don’t have passion for something.

Sue. I’m an Aspie. It means appreciating the fine details in life. An affinity for gadgets and a gift for figuring out how hey work just by taking them into my own hands. Honesty. Loyalty. Taking things at face value. Seeing things in black and white, but at the same time, through rose-colored glasses. An eternal childhood wink emoticon

Asperger’s is a big part of what makes me ME!

John. Autistic’s Father, Autistic. For me it means I am different, and then some on top of that, lol, and I have a name for it, unlike so many in this world – a reason for focus, for depth, for fascination, a reason for everything from my different way of being, to living even. I love being autistic, which is such a major part of who I am.

Lesley. I am Aspie. To me it means having a unique view of the world but being feared for it. Still I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have it.

Michelle… My daughter is an Aspie! She is awesome! I’m not biased she is genuinely cool!

Arlene , could be diagnosed with it but am not. My daughter has it… To me it’s not an identity. It’s a checklist of things that have made life really hard for me but I have overcome and have been better equipped to help my daughters one an aspie the other full on autism. I do not believe having aspergers is something to be proud of but not to be ashamed of either. It just is BUT If I have it… It doesn’t own me. I am me with or without it.

My son and I have ASD…it means no matter what life throws at us we don’t ‘live’ in the same world as everyone around us. This is mostly good and highly amusing. I agree with so many answers tho; it just shows how we are all connected. Like our own ASD tribe, so much to relate to.

I’m Samantha, nickname Amma (because I wouldn’t go by Sam and Mama always said I have to be different). I started learning about the Spectrum 3 1/2 yrs ago when my youngest child was diagnosed. I read everything I could find, sometimes from sunset to sunrise. One of the sites I found is Sam’s blog. I still remember the moment — I’d read for hours on her site – and I sat back stunned. I’d found another human with a mind so similar in process that it was as if I read my own thoughts. I haven’t gone for a diagnosis but by joining this community, I’ve met wonderful people and friends. What it means to me to identify with this label — and these are my observations and opinion — is that we are all gifted with a neurological system that is evolved and surpasses anything humanity has ever seen. We have senses activated beyond the standard 5 we are taught about, and we have abilities to learn, grow, build, create, help and heal other people in ways we’re learning together. What I love most about my Spectrum friends (and yes, I do see it in my family now also) is how funny everyone is. I was always told I have an odd sense of humor yet I laugh with some of you often these days grin emoticon I’m thankful for this gift and thankful for the learning I’ve gained in this community to see it as a gift rather than a disorder. We’re blessed.

My name is Kelly. I am 55 years old this year and am self-diagnosed with Aspergers. To me, Aspergers means freedom. I like being an unusual woman, and I am finally free to be unusual me. Now, I know why I do things the way I do them, and I like it. Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

Karen, have ASD. I am 55 and was diagnosed a 51. I always knew I was different, but didn’t understand why. I felt unlike other people from the time I was in preschool. My diagnosis has brought me relief and understanding. I no longer feel that i’m “wrong” or “broken”. I am now free to be who I was born to be without guilt or regret. And it comforts me to know that I have a communitiy of other people on the spectrum who experience life in much the same way as I do.

Patricia. I am an undiagnosed aspi, and I can trace the aspi traits back through both sides of my family. To me it means being aware of the duality of being me, of seeing everything going on around me at the same time as being unaware of subtleties in human behaviour. It means loving my kids so much it hurts, but on the outside people see me as a distant Mom. It means having to always be “on”, of always checking my behaviour and trying to appear normal. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I wish I didn’t have to struggle so hard.

Lisa. l have Aspergers. It means a reason to be different, and a reason to be kind to myself – to let myself search until l find the place l am happy and what and who are good for me. lt means soft sweet-smelling skin and touching rocks and growing flowers and remembering my teddy bear and hugs. lt means sewing and drawing and looking for connections. lt means solitude and sanctuary, aromas and music. X

It means never going out in public without buckling on my prosthetic personality. It means constantly being reminded that things that literally jump out at me are not even noticed by other people. It means being wound up with tension as I scrutinize every clue as to how people are reacting to me, and wincing with expectation of being misunderstood and offending someone. It means being a connoisseur of smells, a specialist in textures, a critic of movie minutiae, a noticer of tiny trivia, and a dangerously curious investigator of oddities.

Emily. I’m a parent of an ASD teen girl. Also suspect in myself but only dx ADD. For us ASD means intensity of focus at times. Other times total inertia. Musically gifted, creative. Longing for connection. Desperate attempts at fitting in. Driving people away but never sure why. Deep, existential thoughts… Longing for simplicity, escape from movement, noise, smells. Needing to wrap up in a fuzzy blanket of solitude, way more often than is considered acceptable by most. Feeling separate, always standing outside the window looking in. Feeling fragile, but knowing there is an inner strength to forge ahead, and keep trying.

Kirsti. Aspie. Diagnosed 14 months ago. Misdiagnosed and heavily medicated for 20 years so I never had the chance to learn how to live with it, so now that the meltdowns are happening in extreme ways and the anxiety is beyond a level I can control, it’s horrifying and I am considering a return to “Zombie Land” even though the side effects were so heinous. Just so I don’t have to feel this anymore. Sorry. I wish I could be more positive about this awakening.

Karina. I have aspergers. To me it means high anxiety, which can be debilitating.

Asperger’s, for me, is like a different operations system in a computer. Most use Microsoft Windows, but some us use LINUX.
It’s different and sometimes more efficient and sometimes more laborious. The two systems, with some effort, CAN work together. The data must often times, be rearranged (formatted differently).
This should be one of our cooperative goals).

Jennifer, just beginning the process of being assessed, mom of three aspie kids. To me, Aspergers is like a secret golden key that unlocks the door to a huge trove of information I’ve been desperate to find. I feel like I’ve just been given a temporary membership pass (pending proper approval) to an exclusive club whose qualifications I find I am uniquely qualified.

Mitzi. My son has ASD. I’m still learning but to me it makes him unique and I really learn a lot from him by how he views the world. He makes me “smell the roses along the way.”

Cyle. I was diagnosed with aspergers in adulthood
For me, it’s jus like any of your friends, families or loved ones quirks, maybe more numerous. It means standing out at times as different, quirky, somewhat animalistic and while loved ones seem to grow attached and appreciate this, acquaintances and less close friends judge and assume. I am both talked and treated down to, and looked up to and admired depending on who I am with and where. It is a big part of who I am but not a label I wear on my shoulder. It is a difference I am proud of for all the trouble it has caused me and I believe that is mostly due to the few that have learned to love me even more because of, and not despite it.

Finding out about Asperger Syndrome was like finding the Hayne’s Manual for my life. It explained so much about me and what I lived.

538: Assumption Junction… the truth of my Aspie words

People who don’t know me well, and some who do, sometimes jump to conclusions and assume things about my intention and motivation behind my writing that aren’t necessarily true. I write to write. It’s largely a processing mechanism.

The problem is that who ever is reading my words will interpret said writing based on his or her own opinions and prior knowledge. In other words, if someone is naturally confrontational then the chances of this same person thinking I am being confrontational in my writing is high. Or the opposite might be true, where a confrontational person might make a judgment call that I am weak because I am not displaying a countering personality. Wherein I might be explaining something for a thousand different strands of reasons, all of which pop in and out of my head through the process of scribing, he or she will make an abrupt conclusion about my intentions that includes perhaps two or three primary reasons (again, based on his or her experience). The worst part of it is when this said party then turns and suggests he/she knows what I was trying to say and why I was trying to say it. When truth be told, I have already played over in my busy mind a hundred times why I said what I said, how I said it, and why I said it.

People don’t often know how long I take to write a response. When I am dealing with an out-of-my-comfort-zone response to someone, for example via email or instant messaging to someone who I do not have a close relationship with about a subject I deem important, I take a very long time to write, upwards to an hour for revisions, rewriting, rewording, reworking, and rereading. I stim through the editing process itself to calm my anxiety over the situation. If I am triggered, particularly by what I interpret as an injustice towards another, it takes me even more time to write. What is difficult then is when I am accused by another to have written something in haste, without thought, at length, or without consideration to the audience or the communication rules of some company or organization. It is hard to digest this type of assumption because nothing is further from the truth. The receiver does not understand that I have painstakingly relived scenario after scenario of possible outcomes of how my words might be interpreted. That I have tried my hardest to follow any rules of communication. That I have pushed myself to shorten all I want and feel the need to say. That I have left out more than 75% of what is really on my mind, and sometimes much more than that.

In example of the revision process, I will write a sentence and then imagine the person/audience reading my words. I then evaluate their potential reaction and adjust in hopes of causing the least amount of miscommunication. It’s not about people-pleasing or avoiding conflict, it’s more so conveying my truth as I see it in the most gentle and kind way (and rule-following way) as possible. To do this I switch around words, I alter adjectives, I choose new phrases, and I clarify repeatedly through transposing my words and readjusting. A draft will be rewritten more times than I can count, and large sections deleted, redone, and deleted again. It never seems to be right enough. Not in a perfectionist way, but in a ‘this is my heart’ way.

I discern ahead of time feasible misgivings or upset on the upcoming reader’s part. This process is exhausting at all levels and causes physical and emotional pain. The most troublesome hurt follows if and when the intended recipient responds in one of the many non-constructive ways I had foreseen him/her responding, and then I see all my efforts were for naught.

People think that the length of my writing equates debate, that length = ego, that length = confusion, that length = selfishness, that length = not caring about the recipient, that length = non-professionalism, etc. etc. I don’t write at length to get my point across or to prove something. Once again, I write to clarify my inner workings and to let the person know my intentions fully. If a part of information isn’t shared that I believe at the time is a pertinent piece of the subject at hand I feel as if I am being deceitful, even as I logically know that by definition I am not. No amount of reasoning fixes this.

I over explain myself in written word as much as I do in spoken word. Particularly when emotionally triggered. And such triggers can come from a variety of sources, especially from others’ behaviors that are not privy to the autistic experience. With all my spiritual studies and practices, a part of me would like to say I am ‘above/ being triggered, but that’s hogwash. I am neurologically wired to be more prone to fight-or-flight responses. (And in my case biologically/physically wired that way, as well.) So, I accept that I get triggered.

It is cumbersome and downright dangerous for me to write (without a lot of editing) after I have been triggered. I cannot help but let some of the emotional upset leak through. As much as I try to pamper and sugar coat the words, this ache of being triggered comes out. And then, even with careful revision, the trigger leaks through. In response, I am evaluated based on the characteristics of my writing. I am labeled emotional, reactive, too concerned, too sensitive, etc. This adds to the initial trigger, and to the continual compounded feelings of being misunderstood and misinterpreted throughout my life. Thus is the prospect of such an invisible disability when held by a person that primarily seems to function at a high-level of ‘normalcy.’

People with autism usually get me. And I in turn get them. I am the first to smile when someone sends me a very long online message. Usually the person is apologizing ahead of time for what they label a ‘rambling.’ And usually I am skimming some of it and finding the golden nuggets of what was written. I get it. I am the same way. I am going on and on about a particular subject whilst at the same time stepping back and observing myself and thinking: Why am I doing this? Sorry! Still, I do it. I process and I stim through words.

I can go through periods of purposeful semi-muteness, wherein I try not to talk at length to anyone. I am mad at myself and the world at that point. And don’t think I can function unless I change who I am, at least outwardly. Usually this state by nature turns me into some type of hermit, where I am only talking to maybe one person I know. It’s the way I retreat and I guess hide from the world. When I have had enough of me and I believe the world has had enough of me, I burrow like a wounded animal licking my wounds and punishing myself for having any form of self-pity and the brain I do. Not long after I come out of it and I am a babbling brook once again.

People who are wired like me understand. They know the ebb and flow of being this self. They know that even we get tired of the non-stop jabber and thoughts and processing. And they, for the most part, accept me unconditionally, with so-called flaws and all. It’s the others that just don’t get it whom I have a difficult time repeatedly associating with.

It’s like this, supposing I am blind. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s accepted. After all you can readily observe I am blind.

And then it’s like this: I have autism. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s not accepted. After all you can’t readily observe my disability and I should be able to change. I can adjust. I can conform. I can just communicate like you do. Follow the rules and protocol. And if I cannot, then I must be inconsiderate, impossible to train, or stubborn.

But it’s not that way. It’s just not. I cannot adapt without modifications and understanding, anymore than the person with a visible disability can. If I was an amputee, I wouldn’t be able to grow legs. If I was deaf, my speech would be affected. If I have autism, my brain is different. It doesn’t just change based on suggestion. It’s an impossibility.

Sam’s book Everyday Aspergers is now available internationally on Amazon.

More information can be found at her company: myspectrumsuite.com

530: Just Three Minutes of My Day (Aspie Exhaustion)

Ironically, after posting about ‘small talk’ on a social media site, I was in Trader Joe’s grocery store last night and the male checker locked eyes with me and asked, with a toothy-grin, “So, what have you been working on?”
What have I been working on? My face squished up in confusion.

Number one thought barged in: Glad I am wearing a winter hat to hide my burning red ears.

The bombardment of thoughts that followed went something like this: What does this question mean? I am embarrassed. Can he tell I am beet red? I wonder if it bothers him he is balding. I wonder if he is single. What does he think of me? Why would he ask this? What am I supposed to say? He is staring at me. Can he tell I am embarrassed? What is he thinking? How should I respond? I am taking too long. Do I look autistic, shy, or stuck up? I don’t want to look at him. I don’t want him to think I am in a bad mood or mean. I am not. I thought I was better equipped than this. I thought I was prepared. I bet I look stuck up. Just like in high school, always misinterpreted. The people in line are looking at me. I wonder if they are married? I wonder if they can tell I am so embarrassed. They are frowning. Are they tired or sad, or mad at me? I look flustered. How much time has gone by? Why did I choose the shortest line and not the line with the female checker? (That’s about half the thoughts, anyhow.)

Only seconds had past, but in my reality it seemed hours.

I refocused. All l I could think to say was: “What made you ask that question?”

I realized immediately that I sounded evasive, suspicious, and even perhaps flirtatious. Not my intention.
By this time, I wondered if he was perhaps psychic, and could sense I was working on many projects.

The checker responded quickly and easily, in a manner that screamed ‘this is so easy for me. “Oh, I was just making small talk to pass the time.”

Small talk. Small talk. Small talk! Should I explain there isn’t such a thing in my mind?

He stared at me, and I knew as the blood-shot through my cheeks and up to the bridge of my nose that in this communication game it was my turn to speak. I stuttered some, and then formed some shaky sentences about my new job and such, remembering of course, with screaming reminders in my head, to ask him about himself. By the time the three minutes were over and the checker had scanned and bagged my ten items, I felt I’d been to war and back.

Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers

467: Enough

A month ago I said the word: Enough.

And that was that.

I was done with living in fear of leaving the house and meeting people. I was done with looping and fixating and anxiety. I was done with not honoring my light and soul. Done with the whispers of still needing improvement or further self-analysis.

I don’t know how it happened, or why it happened, but it did. I kind of just shifted. Bing-Bang-Bam, and with my declaration of ENOUGH, I was reborn.

I know part of the transformation was from the shift of my self-perception. As I have said before, if I were standing in a room full of people who had had contact with me, and I asked each individual to stand on a soapbox and describe who I was, with certainty each and every person would have their own varying opinion of me, viewpoints based on the day he or she met me, the content, my mood, his or her mood, the circumstances, the timing, the longevity of communication, and on and on and on. Each person would not only have a differing opinion of me based on his or her own perception (a perception based on environment, upbringing, attachments, biases, judgements, spiritual belief system, food intake, hormones, etc.) but he or she would no doubt have a different opinion a year or two later, perhaps more complex, modified, or embellished, but nonetheless differing.

Through writing, I learned that praise is just the same as criticism. That each comes from a bias source. That neither is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. It took others’ constant feedback to get me to this point of self-acceptance. Now, with the new found awareness of others’ perceptions not being the basis of my identity, I am able to continually let go of attachments to others’ opinions in all of my relationships.

I recognize I just am. And in this “AM-ness” I am just fine.

I’ve recently gotten to that deep, deep, penetrating place of fear-relinquish. I don’t regret a thing. Not one moment of this experience, or upcoming experiences, or anything. This is as it is. I love myself and if I need to forgive me, then I forgive myself for being human. It’s simple. I don’t attach to others’ opinions and I don’t attach to my own thoughts of me. And I don’t let anything fester or linger. I just release.

I don’t buy into others’ emotions or perceptions of reality. Their truth is about as real as my truth. And I know what my truth is: constant transformation. In no way am I the same person I was ten years ago. Some of her opinions and judgments would make me blush and giggle now. And in no way will I be the same person I am now ten years from now. With this knowing, I’d rather spare the future me embarrassment by not clinging onto anything significant, whether that be an opinion, conclusion, thought, concept or so-called ‘truth.’ I just would rather be, without the chains of having to act in any way, except in the process of releasing.

It’s a form of Buddhism, I practice. But it’s also a form of Christ-love, of human kindness, of radical self-acceptance that leads to love of others, and much more. I am not naming anything I am experiencing, not placing a label on what is happening. And in attempting to describe where I am at, through the limitation of words, I contradict myself.

Enough said of this or that.

At this moment I am thankful for the gift of the relief of constant self-analysis, self-focus, self-betterment, and self-evaluation. I am thankful for the clarity of mind and joy I feel.

There are a few things I am doing that I believe are contributing to my well-being.

1. I do become what I focus on. I have the ability to ‘perfect’ anything I give my time to. I have succeeded at being a teacher, a nanny, a poet, a writer, and an advocate. When I focus on Aspergers, I become the best “aspergers” possible. With this reckoning, I realize if I have the ability to become what I focus on, then why not focus on being a person who is anxiety-free, joy-filled, and no longer dependent on cyclic-thinking and depressive thoughts? I refocus my attention. I pull my train of thought away from who I was and how to ‘fix’ me, and shift gears. I decide to be free of Aspergers. And somehow, in many ways, I am.

2. I am doing things that scare me. I thought for some time, if I just avoided all that scared me, I would feel safer and better. But that’s not what happened. Instead, I became engrossed in my own time, my own thoughts, and forgot how to get out. Now I go almost every day to someplace that is ‘scary.’ I challenge my own fears. And I relish in the accomplishment of not only surviving but enjoying myself. I refuse to evaluate my social behavior. I refuse to worry about what others think of me. I just embrace who I am and in return love everyone around me. I try not to judge anyone, especially not myself. This is a pleasing place to be. Last night I went to a night club, approached a stranger I’d never met, asked if I could sit with her, and we became instant friends. I embraced her for who she was, and in no time we were up and dancing to the Brazilian music. I hadn’t danced in public in over ten years. And I wasn’t embarrassed (or intoxicated), the noise of the room didn’t bother me, and the strangers all about didn’t cause me to feel uneasy. I just was happy. I just let myself be happy.

3. I decided I wanted to increase my ease of mind naturally. I stopped all forms of gluten. I am walking almost daily. I decreased my sugar intake. I am taking certain supplements, under doctor’s supervision, in high-doses. I am getting plenty of rest. I do walking meditation. I read spiritual texts. I listen to music and sing loudly. I laugh a lot. I am surrounding myself with performing arts venues. I have attended stand-up comedy, live comedy theater productions, live music performances, poetry readings, and other venues. I am also drinking black tea twice a day to keep up my energy and increase my mood. I take no medications, eat healthy, and surround myself with positive people.

4. I am trying many new things and a variety of things. I am not focusing on one area of my life. I am not fixating on one event or one thing. I am exploring multiple avenues. I am going to pubs, to Happy Hours, and to other social gatherings. I am joining things I have thought about joining for years. I am doing things I have wanted to do for years. I am being daring, adventurous, and free. I am allowing myself to be happy over and over.

5. I thought before, if I left my calendar free, I would feel better. But that didn’t happen; it made things worse. I would worry about the one thing I had to do for the week. I would have that dread. But I also would have that extreme isolation of being at home so much. And because I was at home so much, I spent a large amount of time on the computer. I am sensitive to others’ energy. I know this. And because I was spending so much time on the computer, primarily social network sites, I was picking up on others’ emotions. I was lacking social interactions in the flesh, and I was becoming more and more lost in myself. I now believe I need to be out. It it good for me: the fresh air, connecting with other people, laughing with friends, exploring, learning, stimulating my mind, getting out of my own brain. Nothing has been better than jam-packing my calendar. I wake up excited about the days’ events. I have something to look forward to. I have purpose. I have fun. I am like a kid again. And I don’t get tired. Before if I did one thing, I was zapped of energy and tried all day. But now I am recharged, rejuvenated, enlightened, carefree. I am choosing to be this way. I am choosing to focus on the happy adventure and not the exhaustion. If I am tired, I take a little nap, or some more tea, or more supplements, or rebalance my diet, or walk. Basically, I have gotten to the point in my life where I refuse to be a victim anymore. I have a right, just as much as anyone, to be content and full of joy. I have a right to live. I have a right to finally live.

464: Triggers lead to Exhaustion

Triggers and ASD

Anything can trigger me; and it doesn’t matter the amount of self-studies, coursework, readings, spiritual meditation, or self-calming techniques that I incorporate.

I sometimes feel like the energy of something or someone actually jumps out at me; as if I am that electron that moves position inside vast space based on the stimuli (observer) that is in close proximity to me. I continue to feel less like a form and more liken to fluctuating matter.

Once I am triggered by an object, action, word, or person, the anxiety kicks in. My body responds in discomfort. Once I recognize the anxiety through bodily sensations, I can search back and find when the trigger started. Then I am able to pinpoint the stimuli which represents the trigger. At this point, I logically dissect what has affected my equilibrium.

This process of backtracking takes anywhere from a few moments to over an hour. This morning the trigger was a photograph of myself, from the winter of 2013, when I was five pounds lighter. Subconsciously, I held onto the thought of having gained weight, and somewhere in my brain I spun this data on the back burner of reasoning. My body responded with increased heart-rate, a sense of fight/flight, and nervousness. I then looped without complete awareness on being too fat and too ugly to be loved.

These are old messages sill stuck in my filter of self-acceptance and self-love. Once I identified the trigger (the photo), I was able to trace my anxiety back, to self-talk myself down from the negative messages, and to begin to reconstruct a more beneficial view of myself.

The issue at hand, for most aspies, is this triggering happens during waking hours continually, and the process of disintanglement becomes exhaustive.

The fact that the triggers affect us is a direct result of our neurological firing. We are born to make connections at high-speed; so quickly in fact, that the processing occurs without our constant recognition. I am tired, because ultimately, I have a bullet-train mind that takes off with me flailing in the air whilst gripping the caboose.

I believe, beyond the sensory processing of our environment, e.g., noises, textures, scents, bodily sensations, tastes in mouth, etc., that the constant processing of triggers leads to the need to retreat into isolation for a season, be it hours or days, perhaps even weeks. At first, I thought I was primarily being fatigued through various physical ailments (hyper-joint mobility syndrome/EDS), the sensory integration challenges, the need to be as honest as feasibly possible by choosing actions that represent the true self, and the constant evaluation and searching for adequate social skills (tone of voice, proximity, flow of conversation, exact verbiage, etc.)

I understand now another true facet of the exhaustion. While I am processing the direct environment about me, and trying my best to function and present myself in a beneficial manner, I am simultaneously struggling both consciously and subconsciously with the various filaments of triggers that have latched onto the factory in the back of my thought process and have remained there, continually spiraling and looping, until a part of me recognizes the presence and takes measures to spit out the residue.