533: Interviewing Autistic Individuals

 

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1. When being interviewed for a potential job, adults on the autistic spectrum may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.

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2. Rarely, during an interview, is an autistic jobseeker feeling at ease and content, and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’

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3. Without a clear guidelines of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the an autistic can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened or extremely nervous.

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4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more likely than not be over-thought and imagined repeatedly, with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself, repeatedly after the event.

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5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you,’ to the hiring agent, can be devastatingly crushing to a person with autism. It’s common to obsess over the reasons for failure and to catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’

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6. During the hiring process the autistic job candidate might be set at ease with (kind) frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that autism is primarily centered on social and communication challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.

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7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent correspondence can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with autism; and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior, until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling, on the company’s part, can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.

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8. Before an interview, some candidates on the spectrum will create scenarios in their mind of failure and miscommunication, and have fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough.

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9. Oftentimes, the autistic job candidate will want to be seen, heard and understood; as is such, it is commonplace for an jobseeker to provide information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary, or beneficial. Most autistics will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the hiring agent might find this transparency refreshing or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by their own actions, thinking, once again, they have revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.

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10. The autistic job candidate will likely wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation. For this reason, in some cases, if opportunity allows, the candidate will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why they weren’t hired or considered for further recruitment.

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11. As individuals on the spectrum have coexisting conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for the recruitment team members to be sensitive to the possible detrimental consequences of the interview process. They simply are not going to respond like typical candidates. What might take a typical person a week to overcome, might take the autistic person years. Often events, particularly those that create a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.

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12. Some autistics will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues. But the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop, rapid thinking.

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13. While the autistic individual is interviewing, they will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by their own nervousness and internal coaching, and be simultaneously experiencing two conversations at once—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee, and one that is an ongoing internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and, as a result, gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as being not being present or distracted, is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external conversation. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements, and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.

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14. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers, able to connect information at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question, the better.

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15. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming; while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for oversharing, or being short in response, will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough.’ Efforts to clarify, probe, and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.

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16. In most cases, people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink, and edit thoughts and ideas, than spoken form. When possible, some type of written assessment ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.

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17. Autistics are used to being judged, ridiculed, and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips, and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.

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This post was revised in the summer of 2017. 

Sam’s new book Autism in a Briefcase: A leading edge tool for putting diversity into action is coming soon!

Written by founder of myspectrumsuite.com  Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed. is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the senior job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with exceptional needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistic individuals. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.) see myspectrumsuite.com for more information.

531: The Balance Beam

I have a hard time giving to me. It’s not about esteem, as far as I can logically decipher. Nor is it about being selfless or completely altruistic; though I strive for those ideals, I highly doubt they’re attainable in my human suit.

I have a hard time feeling my achievements and accomplishments. It’s not that I don’t take note of my hard work and efforts, and even the path I climbed, (or sometimes slid down rapidly screaming for help), to get there.

More over, I don’t think I have the capacity to feel, essentially, who I am.

I can see that I am intelligent, kind, and for the most part understanding and forgiving. I recognize what could be quantified as a kind of ‘goodness’ in me, and even an over-riding sense of wanting to serve to serve and not to gain approval. I get all this about me. I see it. I recognize. But somehow I can’t feel the experience.

I don’t know if one would call it a sense of pride or fulfillment, or other abundant amounts of labels—but whatever it is that other people seem to get and obtain, in an abstract way after achieving a goal, I don’t seem to have that. I can’t even say if it’s a feeling or outcome, simply because I don’t understand.

Perhaps this inability to understand is because I don’t think the race or game, or what-have-you, is ever over; and to top that off, I don’t even believe that the race or game actually exists. I see the process of achievement as a cluster of something or another, all unrecognizable and indistinguishable amongst the rest of life’s happenings.

To me, I do to do. I give to give. I care to care. I exist to exist. There isn’t this motive or agenda underlying my actions or ways. And if there is, the motive, if not for others, feels heavy, poisonous, and akin to wretched waste.

I just am. And this way that other people sometimes maneuver through life baffles me: the secret schemes, the plots, the webs spun and re-spun. And furthermore, along the same lines, in comparing the declared ‘loser’ to the announced ‘winner,’ the latter seems nothing of grandeur in comparison to the agony of the defeated one.

With this said, I cause myself great harm in overanalyzing my every move. The spectator I am, observing self, tinkers about with scoping tools, contemplating if my action is suitable representation as reflection of interior. If, in fact, in the light of the day, what is said or done, matches my intention or desire. In a constant state of analyzing, I am aiming for the path that is in direct resonance with my soul self.

In addition, I cannot detect the idiosyncrasy of common conversational rules spawned by the associate facing me; yet, I can dissect with fine-fashion the inner-weavings of my own motives. So much so that I deliberate with self questioning if my words are appropriately suited for ‘proof’ (to self) of authenticity.

Is the exterior self accurately representing the unspoken self? I ask. Still with this perceived self-harm, I need this way of being. The manner in which I tread upon a dreamland stage, whilst all about more selves collectively critique the actions portrayed by the exterior, is a proverbial limb of my essence. To be without such manner of existence, I would find myself broken and obsolete, and abandoned, the same as wood for fire. And as tree, I would weep.

In honesty, the worst of the matter is when another enters my zone: the place in which I sit unsettled watching for discrepancies between what is intended and what was produced; distinguishing the gaps, molecular they might be, between what is felt intrinsically as truth and what is displayed as reflection. I hide within, in constant wonder-state, questioning if what I have done is honorable. And here the pain comes, as the mind blunders and rallies for evidence of what is honorable.

Again, I find myself today, in the balancing act of striving for neither perfection nor satisfaction, but rather the gentle center point that does more to extinguish self and lighten all. It’s a varying balance beam of grace that beckons me to be all I can be, but not too much.

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

514: Aspergers: The Potency of Knowing

Today, I know more about myself and my makeup than any other time before. Today, I know more about my world and my place in it than I ever thought possible. I understand concepts at a deep intellectual and spiritual level. A grasping that even I gasp at from moment to moment. I see interconnections everywhere, and I reach conclusions at a constant and continual warp speed. I am and I am not, and I feel forgotten and fed at the same instant, spread out and dipped in a breaded-pudding for some type of monstrosity to munch and munch upon. I am twisted, and I am broken, and I am entirely undone into myself. And I am lonely…again.

I have twice-forgotten why I am here: my mission, my purpose, repeatedly dreading what is to be and what is to happen, and immersed in a fear-state regarding what has already transpired. I see now that I have lived in a constant state of reliving fear. Everything has been about anxiety, everything wrapped in misgivings and in the sap-trappings of my flight/fight mentality. I am inspired by mishap and mayhem. Miss-shaped by my potentiality to turn each and everything into imaginary illusion and puzzle. I don’t know how to live—say be—without deciphering and analyzing. I don’t know how to look upon my own world, without seeing the impending danger. I’d like to believe this isn’t true, and I’d like to believe further more—with enough belief, say faith—that if I believe enough I can make it so. And I’d like to believe that I can change. But now I stand at the crossroad of wondering if indeed my very nature, my very infrastructure, is not one of exact design predicated by the intense longing to solve. And if so, if I am mere machine set out for deciphering, if my mechanism be one of constant discovery, and if I am have stumbled or purposely fallen into hyper speed, then what is to become of me? And have I not, by simply being as I am, caused my own fate?

I am confused, but not entirely. And I am torn open, but not fully. There is a part of me strong, always strong, holding on, just as the child clenching to her mother’s drapery, the curtain the last plight, the last hope, the last saving grace. If I just hold on, no one can tear me out of the house I am in. I am that hero on the swinging high bridge, the last rope unraveled, the planks removed, flanked and flailing in the unforgiving air, thinking if I let go, even for moment, I tumble to the death of me. And then again, I am. Lost just as before.

I can think, and that is my burden. I can think into depths I don’t understand. So deep I can dwell that in seconds I unravel information that by all rationalization should be data that would take another decade to retrieve, if not eons to fathom. I say this not as pompous one or know-it-all; abundant am I in feelings of guilt and regret. I say it merely as fact. I think, and I fall into a deep abyss of what is. And I come out having reached conclusions and understandings that are beyond my own grasp, yet somehow sticking to me much the same. I am removed, and yet still dwelling in this place of knowing. And in this knowing, I know I know not. I know that each and every place assumed reached is still another empty finish line. I know that everywhere are rules that do not exist and answers that are mere ghosts whispering their bent truth—like the rays of light manifesting mirage. What I see is naught. What I know is naught. And still I dive, twisted into misgivings of self and universe, the same.

This is how I live, from day-to-day, from moment-to-moment, somehow lost in myself, and still alive and here. Still performing the medial and mediocre tasks, whilst deciphering all about me, and all that lines the walls of the interior self. I am a complexity so entirely complex that I segregate myself, dividing and re-dividing to the ultimate-power trying to manage what is layered and layered within. I am the worst enemy and the staunch supporter. I am the fuel that keeps my churning and the water that attempts to douse the rioting debtors’ quarrels. I am that which turns the key and that which wishes to stop the engine. All at once, I am made to be without wanting to be—and here in this state I wander about, alone.

You cannot reach me, because you cannot find me, and my mind is unknown to you. Unless, you too, are this sort of mechanism made to churn and to long. To understand you are the machine and the person all at once. To understand that you are made up of the essential elements that make whole, and to watch yourself transition instant upon instant, morphing with each choice, each thought, each word, each influential force. And everywhere and everything is about. To be sensitive to the cycle itself, to the give and take, the yin and yang, the light and dark, the here and there, the wait and see, the envy and love—to watch self as bystander and take note upon note upon note of what is. This is to be awakened. This is to be semi-exposed to the power of the now and the power of the singular demolished and whole eradicated. To watch as the power is seen in all. To watch as the demons, too, turn into angels and warriors. To see the universal connections both outside of self and inside self, and to know, beyond doubt that nothing is of this being named I. And to still shiver and shake, thinking the potency of knowing must somehow diminish with enough discovery

502: Dear You: To my Aspie Sisters and Brothers

Dear You,

If you are reading this, please know you are not alone.

I know at times it feels that way—really feels that way; so much so, that even your keen logic cannot convince you otherwise. The voices will tell you are unloving, unworthy, undesirable. But the voices are lies. You are love. You are worthy. You are desire.

I have been in the dark place more times than I can count; it comes, the bleakness, spontaneously in huge volcanic ruptures. The pain itself tears at my heart and my soul and leaves me breathless and weak. It is then in the black that I cannot find solutions. When I believe I have no one. And that all about the world is my enemy.

But that is not truth, even as it seems very much truth. It isn’t. I know it isn’t. I know because I have witnessed our beauty in the countless people I have encountered on the autistic spectrum. Their truth and love are evident, their souls transparent.

Please know that by being here, you are making a difference. You are making a difference to me. Your pain is my pain. Your story my story, and we share a lifetime of similarities. I understand you; I truly do, just as you understand me. If we were to sit alone in a quiet place and talk, you would know me and I, you. We are sisters and brothers. We are one in our quest for truth, justice, and love.

I know how you suffer in your silence, and how you too suffer in your immeasurable thoughts. I know how you have to always balance what is inside with what you display on the outside. I know this extreme burden, the heaviness, the endless weary mind. How exhausting that task remains, day in and day out, night after night, in what seems a thousand lifetimes wrapped into one.

I understand how you see beyond the illusion of what is indoctrination, and beyond the falsehoods of societal norms. I know. And I know what isolation comes from our being. I know what it is to be ostracized, questioned, blamed, persecuted, attacked, and made victim. I know. And I stand tall still, more so for you than for my own self. For I will not stop. I will not shut out my light to please an enemy that moves against me. I will remain here. I will remain strong. I will remain whole in my determination to rise above the chaos that is this world. I will continue to seek out kindred souls, who not only understand me but understand the necessity for the demolishment of mediocrity. I will be here, waiting, always. Welcoming through my threshold truth seekers and the like.

I honor you, and our family, each individual who remains afraid but nonetheless holds steadfast to the value of authenticity. No. You are not alone. Not anymore. There are thousands of us here, much more alike than different. And even as we suffer at times in our isolation, in the end we are surrounded by circles and circles of friends on the same path.

Please understand that I think of you daily. Please know that I count my blessings with you included as a star in my night sky. Without you, I wouldn’t know where to stand or how to be. With you I remember my light. I remember me.

Much, much love.
Stay strong.
Stay true.
Your friend,
Sam

491: Standards: A Long Time Coming

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I love how in life, messages, like the quote above, come to me at the perfect time. I have had a hellish year. I avoid that word, but in this case it’s the most effective descriptor I can find. I shall counter balance it with my giddy spirit and lots of love! I promise. Plus better to face the truth of events and be done with it. Gather the happenings under my hemline, sit with them, and then release. Like a whoopee cushion.

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I have reclaimed and re-found my giddy self that was lost about this time last year with the onset of the first of many challenging events. The little-happy-loving girl in me went into hiding, for the most part, and became the fierce warrior she needed to be. I can’t say I enjoyed myself much at all in the last twelve months, except in brief moments, in between the intervals of extreme spiritual, mental, and physical exhaustion.

A lot happened that I won’t go into, as I steer away from discussing others’ personal lives, beyond my own. But on the scale of stressful life occurrences, you know those common stressors, well let me just say I encountered many; if not in full, than to the point of hovering around at the perimeters of the feasible happenings.

Limbo is a great word to describe where I have been for a year.

One of the greatest benefits of this recent journey is I have ended up with a vast understanding of what I will and will not put up with in regards to befriending others. It took me long enough to figure this understanding of ‘standards’ out! Over four decades to be precise.

Here is what I now know of MY STANDARDS:

First off:

It’s okay not to like someone and choose not to associate with that person. This is not a reflection on me as a person. It does not mean I am impatient, imperfect, or have a low tolerance. It does mean that I am recognizing my comfort-zone. I am not recognizing limitations. There is nothing limiting about me. I am setting boundaries with people who affect my energy to a degree where it affects other areas of my life and my interactions with loved ones.

Because I have this capacity to see into people, to read people at a psychological and/or spiritual level, I tend to steer right passed what is blatantly infront of me (addictions, abusive behaviors towards me, RED FLAGS, HUGE RED FLAGS) and forgive someone of EVERYTHING, upon initial meeting, and continually, as needed. I will forget about a person’s current negative behavior, rationalize his/her actions, or not even notice danger signs or the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable with him/her.

I understand now that I cannot help nor connect with everyone. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But sometimes those of us with huge hearts get a bit askew in regards to reality. In truth, some people are, excuse my language, really messed up.

Some people are just too far beyond my capacity to sort out. Not that I have super powers or anything, not that I am a fixer or helper. But because I am kind and open-minded, I sometimes fool myself into thinking I can be friends with anyone. While I think I can feasibly see the light and potential in most, I certainly don’t need to take on someone who substantially drains the living life blood out of me! There are crazy, really crazy, people out there who will harm me, if given the chance. I need to bind myself to this idea, and face that reality.

It’s okay to have standards! (repeat three times)

STANDARDS for a person I choose to associate with:

1) Not delusional

2) Predictable and Reliable

3) Apologetic when aware he/she has trespassed against someone

4) Vibrate at beneficial energetic level most of the time; I know not all people crave this, but I know myself

5) Honest, trustworthy, has integrity, non-manipulative, etc.

6) Not sexually intrusive or acting perverted

7) Doesn’t demean a gender, sect, denomination, or creed

8) Loves him or herself, and, if not, is self-aware enough to work on getting to this place

9) KIND, KIND, KIND; this means they don’t have ANGER issues. I do not like people who blame, judge, or point fingers. And that’s okay. I can be kind but not fond of people. I can love but don’t have to include everyone in my life.

10) Doesn’t disappear and abandon our relationship over and over; I don’t care what the reason, I don’t want or need that in my life.

11) Cares about self and other people

12) Avoids passive-aggressive behavior

13) Doesn’t use body, sexuality, or images of self in attempt to get what he/she wants

14) Has looked at their issues; isn’t perfect, is even far from perfect, but is self-aware and willing to work on betterment

15) Doesn’t suck my energy, use me in any way, or expect things of me beyond basics (like similar things as listed on this list)

16) Truth seeker

17) Non-clingy

18) Doesn’t do either of these extremes: worship me (put me on pedestal) or degrade me (criticize me in attempt to feel better about him or herself). I don’t want to be on someone’s mind ALL the time. I want him or her to have a life. And I don’t want to be the object of desire or loathing.

19) Doesn’t monopolize my time and attention

20) Has something to offer. I am not picky. I mean a smiling face and a good heart is a fine offering.

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.

463: Aspergers is not a Disorder

dis·or·der
n.
1. A lack of order or regular arrangement; confusion.
2. A breach of civic order or peace; a public disturbance.
3. An ailment that affects the function of mind or body: eating disorders and substance abuse.
tr.v. dis·or·dered, dis·or·der·ing, dis·or·ders
1. To throw into confusion or disarray.
2. To disturb the normal physical or mental health of; derange.

(source: the free dictionary.com)

Aspergers is not a disorder. It is not an ailment. It is not a malfunction. Aspergers is not equivalent to an eating disorder or to substance abuse, which imply a treatment plan, such as therapy or 12-step, to support and correct the behavior.

Aspergers is not a state of confusion or disarray.

Aspergers is a neurological difference. A difference that is not better or worse, but simply not ordinary and exists outside the familiarity of mainstream’s indoctrinated interpretation of ‘normal.’ Aspergers is a form of high-intelligence which consists of varying degrees of over-analysis, deep complex reasoning, and some ‘unusual’ social behaviors. The social behaviors are not impairments.

A person with Aspergers inspires another to love beyond the limitations of ego, with an unconditional love which is not based on preconceived notions of how one should be according to an onlooker’s self-based interests and desires.

Knowing someone with Aspergers is a blessing, as much as knowing any other individual. We each are divinely made in our uniqueness. We must stop rejecting something or someone for the uncomfortableness it brings the onlooker, and start accepting others for who they are in completion.

Aspergers is a reminder, a wake up call, to all those who say they know how to love. You know love? Then here is a chance to prove it. ~ Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers

459: Aspergers: The Marathon

Sometimes I forget the complexities of my own Aspergers. I forget how much goes on underneath the obvious and observed. I forget the complexities and complications. Forget that just to navigate a single day is to run a marathon.

Here is a list of significant challenges associated with individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. (This is based on my experience with myself and son; as is the case with all people, we are each unique, and experiences differ.)

Completely confused by small changes to a familiar situation or environment

Feels threatened by hugs

Overwhelmed by bright colors

Frightened by loud noises

Voices can be painful

Capacity to hear may be better than to see

Lethargic and tire easily, moving from one position to another requires a great deal of energy

Poor sense of self, of body in space, and underestimate how to safely move and navigate environment

Will stick to strict routines and avoid playing with others

Aversions and oversensitivity to certain texture, sounds, colors, people, scents, tastes

Oversensitive to bright lights and sounds, like the humming of the fridge, certain light bulbs, and electric currents that other people may not notice

Difficulty sitting still and getting comfortable

Low tolerance for constant repeated noise or loud noise

Overwhelmed around a lot of people, especially new people

Unable to focus when distracted with visuals, such as clutter of pictures on a work page and/or decoration in a room

May do the following to avoid performing a task or listening: throw a tantrum, refuse with defiance, hide from the situation (under jacket hood, beneath a desk), complain of fatigue, make a rude comment

Short attention span

Difficult maintaining balanced level of emotional arousal, either too low or too high

Impulsive behavior is often a result of a perception of someone’s high-expectations

Doesn’t anticipate the consequence of her actions

Multi-tasking is overwhelming

Weak visual-spatial planning, e.g. bump into walls, objects, and other people

Mentally cannot organize new situations and becomes frightened

Hard to perceive problems

Meltdowns/Tantrums from sensory overload

Constant insecurity about what possibly might happen and how others may or may not behave

Uncertain how to behave in new situations

High anxiety

Risk of self-injury and depression

Feels under pressure to perform and behave

Doesn’t anticipate the consequences of her actions

Every day experiences seem random and unpredictable

Can be violent towards others emotionally or physically, and not perceive own behavior or strength

Difficult judging appropriate behavior

May take risks without knowing how to evaluate danger of the situation

Fears and phobias

Obsessive thoughts

Can have internal pressure to escape a given situation, but lacks the ability to formulate a plan to relieve pressure (no escape route)

Irritated by sensations on skin, such as itchy scalp and arms

Makes repetitive noises, e.g. a vocal sound, tapping, scraping, nail clicking

Bores easily

Doesn’t understand why she is bored by interests others find intriguing, such as common structured play

Sensitive to sensations, such as hunger, a full bladder, dry skin, taste in mouth

Frustrated by inability to perform a given task and/or excel

Preoccupied with details

Meltdowns and outbursts

Over-stimulation

Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear

Feelings may be manifested in physical ailments and actual body pain

Overwhelmed

Difficulty grasping humor and seeing the a different perspective or point of view

May choose one word from a discussion and base his/her individual response on the one identified element, instead of the main point of topic

Focuses on the details of one specific part of conversation, over and over, in the mind

Verbal impulsivity and nervousness, as well as a need to fit in, may lead to interruptions, babbling and hurried speech

Lacks ability some times to determine appropriate moment for closure during conversing, and instead speaks incessantly

May recognize he is talking too much but cannot stop his impulsivity to continue to talk

Grooming and hygiene issues, as well as difficulty evaluating own appearance, presentation and attire

Gullible, unable to always understand the punch line of a joke or hidden meaning of a statement, and easily persuaded by others

Difficulty with nonverbal body language, inappropriate body proximity and facial expression

Fluctuating tone, rhythm, volume, and pitch of voice

Timing of speech and delivery varies

Short attention span

Prefers familiarity in people and surroundings

Difficulty recognizing what behavior is expected in a new situation or event when compared to another past experience—may run, scream, jump instead of sitting

Nervous habits and repetitive behavior

mar

After two days of high-functioning behavior, aka navigating the social arena, I shall be in bed hugging my Mac laptop.

(Much of this article was taken from a past list I compiled, which has strategies for helping children in the educational environment. The link is Working with Children.)