Dear Autism Parents: On Unconditional Acceptance

I just read an essay in What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew and it touches home with me. In it, the author, Haley Moss, mainly describes how she feels parents need to ucnonditionally accept their autistic daughters. She particularly emphhasizes the need to support the girls’ special interests even if they’re not age-appropriate or girly. Boy, do I want to tell my parents this. It’s too late now, as I’m 32 and have half a lifetime of conditional love behind me already.

Moss herself too was encouraged to develop age- and gender-appropriate interests as a child. She recounts a fourth grade memory of being advised to trade her rare cards for Bratz dolls. I have no idea what they are, but I remember in fifth or sixth grade also being encouraged by my mother (in not so subtle ways) to trade my Barbie dolls for pop music CDs. After all, Barbie dolls may be girly but they’re not deemed appropirate for an eleven-year-old.

The negative effects of one such incident, like Moss experienced, can be undone by a greater occurrence of open acceptance of the autistic’s special interests. For example, Moss’ paretns eventually affirmed her interest in video games. In this respect, I felt generally okay about my interests in fifth and sixth grade, because, though my mother did not support my playing with Barbie dolls, my father did support my drawing maps.

As a general rule though, I have commonly felt only conditionally accepted by my parents. This is reflected in constant victim-blaming when I was bullied. They were at least somewhat consistent in that, in that at least my father spoke negatively about the intellectually disabled girl whom I bullied too. Of course, he set an example of ableism by doing this as much as my parents did by victim-blaming me.

When I went into college to major in applied psychology, I still got my parents’ reluctant approval. After all, though my major wasn’t that well-liked by them and my college wasn’t as prestigious as they had wanted for me, it still was college. Since having experienced my breakdown in 2007, it’s pretty clear my parents are not there for me anymore. That’s sad, but it’s true.

The saddest part about What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew is, unfortunately, that those parents who most need to hear the messages in it, will not read it. My parents don’t even think I’m autistic despite my having been officially diagnosed half a dozen times. Other parents may’ve gotten the diagnosis but choose to join the likes of Autism Speaks and shout “You are not like my child!” at every autistic adult trying to educate them about acceptance. That’s so sad. However, if some parents are helped by this blog post or by the book in showing unconditional acceptance to their children, that’s already good.

Tuesday Ramble

I don’t really know what to feel. Today was, well, chaotic. It started out with me getting up at 7:10AM as usual, still tired as usual. My energy level usually rises during the day, but being on high doses of psychotropics still means I’m at least somewhat tired all the time.

At day activities, everyhing went okay. I did some table-based activities and went for a walk with one of the staff trying to learn the route around the building. Meanwhle, a lot was on my mind. Yesterday, the staff had been telling the new intern how one of the clients acquired his cognitive disability. This was such a sad tale. I mean, yes, it may not be ideal to be born with a severe intellectual disability, but at least then you don’t know better. This man, the staff said, probably doesn’t realize much of what his life was like before his brain injury.

Still, it made me sad. I, after all, do know about my life before my extreme autistic burn-out in 2007. I could reason that, since high school was hard for me too, I should be happy I no longer experience that level of pressure. And I am. But that part of me, the would-be-university-professor, is still there.

After lunch, I went home. I wasn’t even home for ten minutes when we had a massive power outage. I didn’t discover it at first, only noticing my Internet connection had gone. Then, I discovered that my computer was running on battery power, so I went to check the rest of the house to see if we still had power anywhere. That’s hard, being blind with light perception, as I’m not sure I trust my vision enough to check the lights but I tried to anyway., I eventually went to check some other electronic devices throughout the house. Then, I called my mother-in-law and texted my husband. My mother-in-law texted back that she couldn’t find any news about a power outage, but my husband called back to let me know the whole village was out of power. Later, we joked that I had somehow caused the power outage.

My mother-in-law came to pick me up, so that while at my in-laws’ home I could at least do something on the computer. Which reminds me of how dependent on electronics I am, especially when alone. Like, I hardly ever touch my phone while at day activities, but at home, practically the only thing I do involves my computer or phone.

In the evening, my father called me by accident. He never calls me and even when my paternal grandma was dying, all I got was a text message from my mother. As such, I immediately panicked, because why in the world would he suddenly want to call me? As it turned out, it was nothing.

Now I’m supposed to feel good, or at least okay, but I don’t. Oh well. No time for processing, as I’m off to bed in about fifteen minutes.

Share Your World-Revisited (September 3, 2018)

I’m joining in with Share Your World – Revisited. It’s revisited because it’s now with a new host. I realize I’ve only participated in the original SYW once, so for me this isn’t a huge transition. For Sparks’ first week, she has a few really good questions to spark (pun intended) our creative thinking.

When you are old, what do you think children will ask you to tell stories about? If you are “old” (a term with different meanings for everyone); what stories do you tell your grandchildren?
I don’t have children and don’t ever intend on having any. I also don’t tend to gravitate towards children, so I don’t tell any outside kids any stories and probably never will. That being said, I love reading stories to my inner children. I don’t make them up myself though. I love free children’s books on Amazon Kindle. May post (or have my inner children post) some thoughts on some of them someday.

When did something start out badly for you but in the end, it was great?
My life. No, it isn’t necessairly great, but it’s better than it started out as. I was, after all, born prematurlely and had to be on the ventilator for six weeks. I’m now pretty content with life and above all, I’m here.

What do you think you are much better at than you actually are? Maybe this one’s kinda mean…thoughts?
English and writing. No, I’m not fishing for compliments. I used to write stories as a teen and thought I’d someday be a published writer. Then my husband told me my stories aren’t all that imaginative and he’s probably right. I did get one piece published in an anthology, but it was non-fiction.

As for English, my husband is able to take a test that guesses your level of German fluency that’s itself in English and scores at C1/C2 level (those are the two highest levels). I don’t speak German at all, but sometimes I think I could reach that level of English fluency. Well, I can’t.

What would be the worst thing to hear as you are going under anesthesia before surgery?
“I guess she makes for a good experimentation object.” Seriously though, I don’t know.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
Seeing my riding school horse Angie for the first time after summer break.

Years From Now

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a fan of journal writing prompts. Today, I found a self-exploration journal on Amazon and, since it’s free, I didn’t hesitate to download it. It’s called The Self-Exploration Journal: 90 Days of Writing, Discovery and Reflection. The first prompt is to write down why you want to embark on this journey of self-discovery. I’m not even sure. I mean, I just write for the sake of writing. I don’t even commonly reread my blog entries, though I did often reread my diary entries when I still faithfully kept an offline diary in the first three years of secondary school. I loved that. Maybe I should make a habit out of rereading some of my blog entries too. But since I currently don’t, I don’t even know that blogging is going to help me discover myself.

I mean, who am I, myself? I see myself in so many fragmented aspects that I’m not even sure who “Astrid” is. All these aspects, parts or identities usually listen to that name, but even as I write this, I don’t feel “whole”. I’m just a part among parts that somehow, in an abstract kind of reality, make up the mind belonging to one body. We have just two hands, both of which we currently use for typing up this journal/blog entry. Which, I might say, is going nowhere.

The second question in the 90-day series asks me to write about how I want to look back on my life ten years from now. Well, I honestly have no idea. Four years ago, I wrote a lettr to my 38-year-old self. I think I may reread it today. Already nearly half of those ten years have passed, but I have no clue at the time what I dreamed about. I mean, three years ago, I did a post as if I was 79 already and looking back at the past fifty years. The only thing I remember that would-be-flashback including was that we’d still live in our current house. Now we’re not even three years on and my husband and I are already thinking of moving.

What does it say of me that I don’t envision that much progress even in fifty years? Does this lack of a truly progressive vision of the future impair my actual progress? Or is it the other way around? That I’ve learned not to expect positive change because the past taught me I’d always fail anyway?

The first time I did a “___ years from now” post was in September of 2006. A psychologist my staff were consulting had asked me where I saw myself in three yars. There were, or so I thought, two possible scenarios: one in which I lived successfully fully independently or with just a person reading my mail once a week and was at university and the other in which I needed substantial support. I explicitly wrote that this “black” scenario didn’t have to mean I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed support beyond that which is normal for a blind person.

Three years later, in September of 2009, I had almost two years in a psychiatric hospital behind my belt, of which I’d spent sixteen months on a locked ward. I wrote a flashback then and remarked kind of cynically that stuff couldn’t get much worse than they were now in three more years, or I’d have to be in a homeless shelter or prison. Then, I reasoned, I wouldn’t have Internet access so the whole wide world wouldn’t know. As it turned out, in September of 2012, I was still on the same ward I was on in 2009.

I finally left the hospital in 2017 and live fairly independently with my husband. I guess at this point, I’m pretty content with my life. That doesn’t mean I have absolutley no dreams, but I must admit I don’t generally see these as realistic indeed.

Song Lyric Sunday: Car

It’s Sunday again and this week, the theme for Song Lyric Sunday is quite cool. It is “car”. Now I don’t care that much for pretty cars and am happy with our thirteen-year-old Suzuki Alto as long as it still goes. An exception though are songs about cars. Yeah, I love those.

My husband is a truck driver, so I’ve gotten to know quite a few truck driving songs. The song I selected though for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is about a regular car.

My husband introduced Confederate Railroad to me a few months ago. He’s since moved on to other kinds of songs, most recently French chansons, but I still love me some good country and southern rock. So here goes.

Song title: Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind
Song writers: Dave Gibson, Bernie Nelson
Band: Confederate Railroad
Release Date: March 12, 1994

We were poor when I was a young’un
I don’t remember ever going hungry
Daddy made sure we didn’t do without
I went to school with some of these fellas
They had money and I was jealous
I didn’t know then what I know now
Daddy’d say you can’t judge a book by looking at its cover
It’s what’s inside that really matters

Daddy never was the Cadillac kind
He said some things just glitter and shine
He taught us that love was the one thing money couldn’t buy
Daddy never was the Cadillac kind

I left home right out of high school
Bought me a big car thought I was real cool
Cruisin’ around the old neighborhood
I’d see Dad after church on Sunday
I’d say you’ll have to go riding with me someday
He just said no, I never understood
He asked me how I bought it, I told him on credit
Daddy just smiled, I’ll never forget it

Daddy never was the Cadillac kind
He said some things just glitter and shine
He taught us that love was the one thing money couldn’t buy
Daddy never was the Cadillac kind

It took a while but now I’m grown
I’ve settled down with kids of my own
The more I give them
The more they want

Daddy left us last November
I don’t remember him ever looking better
All laid out in his Sunday best
I’m sure instead of all the attention
All he’d of wanted was a few words mentioned
A simple man simply laid to rest
As they drove him away in that big Cadillac
With a tear in my eye I had to laugh

Daddy never was the Cadillac kind
He said some things just glitter and shine
Just this once I hope daddy enjoyed the ride
Daddy never was the Cadillac kind

Embracing My Neuroses

A lot has been on my mind lately, but for whatever reason, I can’t get it out onto the screen. As such, I keep reverting back to standard, mundane blogging features such as #TToT and the like. I don’t mean these aren’t important to me and they are among my most popular posts, but I intended this blog for myself, not (primarily) for my readers. Of course, now that my blog is off to a start, I do worry about my stats.

As I was browsing Paperblanks, a journal writing prompts app on my iPhone, I came across an interesting prompt in this respect. It is: “This year, I’ll learn to embrace my neuroses, such as ___”.

Embracing neurosis. That seems like quite a counterproductive thing to do, as neurosis often is seen as something negative, something we need to overcome. Then again, in dialectical behavior therapy (I think), it is said that you cann’t change something without accepting it.

This year, I will learn to embrace my neuroses. I will learn to accept them as they are and move on from there. I have several neuroses that I need to embrace.

My main neurosis is my heighteneed response to being triggered or criticized. Pete Walker calls this the fight-flight-freeze-fawn response. I tend to lean towards fight. As such, I tend to perceive an outer critic as more severe than it is intended as due to my own inner critic chiming in. I am to an extent aware of it, but not usually when it happens. By practising mindfulness, I hope to become more aware of this response.

I also want to embrace my freeze response of retreating into my inner world. I am often judgmental of myself and my alters when not online, but this doesn’t seem to do us well. I am going to learn to validate myselves.

I have a lot of little “neuroses” that I’ll want to embrace and not change much at all. These include my stims, such as twirling my hair. I will write more about stimming on the upcoming International Day of the Stim.

What is a neurosis you need to embrace?