A Little to the Left of Normal: Episode 1 – Surprise! I’m an Aspie.

A little to the left of normal

Welcome. Are you seated comfortably? Good. Then let us begin this week’s Asperger’s Anonymous meeting. I’ll go first shall I?

Hiya luvvies! My name’s Karen. And I’m a little to the left of normal. I have been accepted by the Scottish Centre for Autism in Glasgow as a likely Asperger’s case after GP referral, and am currently awaiting an appointment with them. So as such, I am now happy to call myself “self-diagnosed awaiting official diagnosis.”

Whose next?

Anybody?

Ok. I’ll keep talking then 😉

Yesterday in college there happened a mini discussion about the Autism Spectrum. And the viewpoint arose (or perhaps queried is a better way to say it) that symptoms associated with ASD inc AS (Autism Spectrum Disorder including Asperger’s Syndrome) are just as common in normal people so how can that mean someone may have autism.

This is where I feel there needs to be more readily available information because I too often hear the “yeah but normal people do that too” thing.

Aye, true. But not in the same way, or to the same degree.

There is a fine line at times between what is acceptable as “normal” or NT (Neurotypical)  behaviour and what is not. And sometimes people don’t see what is so obvious, either because they don’t want to, or I think most of the time it is because no one has been able to explain the intricacies well enough in the everyday environment. I doubt I will do much better but I’ll give it a go.

I will never get through everything in this one post. Really the intricacies of ASD are so discombobulated that this is going to have to be done over a series of posts. But then why not?

So here goes…

First thing’s first. No two Auties or Aspies are the same. There are huge differences between not only abilities and disabilities on the spectrum itself, but more importantly there are massive differences between male and female Auties and Aspies. The spectrum covers a wide range of disorders previously thought not to be linked, and perhaps some are and some aren’t but they fall under the Autie umbrella now.

People on the spectrum are not psychologically challenged. This is a common misconception. Their brain is in fact wired differently. They have a neurological condition.

People on the spectrum process information in an entirely different manner to neurotypical people. Too much information can be physically painful and it is distressing – by information I am talking anything your brain receives such as sound, light, sensation through touch and texture, sensations within the body in girls that could be menstrual cycle and pregnancy, taste and any number of little things in between.

Now, lets talk about obsessions. Many creatively charged people will jump on the “lets forego self-care (washing, eating, exercise etc) in order to work on that obsession” bandwagon. That’s just scratching the surface of obsession and I wonder if they truly understood how deep obsession can get, if they would still class themselves in the same category and claim “yeah but we all get like that from time to time”? I very much doubt it.

Again, obsessions vary from person to person and across the genders, with males being more obvious in their obsessions, some of which can seem pretty strange to neurotypical folk. For example. A neurotypical person may have an obsession with classic cars. An Autie (particularly a male Autie/Aspie) is more likely to be obsessed, not with the vehicle itself, but with one “special” part of it; for example the wheels, or the bolts that hold the panels together, or the pistons… you get the idea. Females seem to generally be more drawn to things which are more socially acceptable; craft, knitting, books, writing, art, animals etc.

For me, my first and longest lasting obsession is horses. I have given up everything to keep myself close to them, to learn all I can about them. I wonder if I explained just how much danger I have put myself in to keep myself close to my obsession throughout my life, if it would be considered something that normal people do? Let’s not go into too much detail; perhaps we’ll just say when you are willing to put yourself at the mercy of violent and abusive people just so you can stay close to your obsession, to forego food and sleep for days on end and sleep on a thin blanket over a flagstone floor with nothing more than a curtain over an empty doorway for privacy, for months upon months, upon months, upon years even, just to survive and be close to them… it’s a step too far. Not only did I do this. After I took a time out from uni because I had had a major melt down from the shear weight of the stress and anxiety of my daily life. I went back and subjected myself to it all over again. I was used, abused and outright robbed and I endured simply because they had what I needed. And that was horses. I lasted 3 years. Perhaps I will talk about my time in Aberdeen in more depth in later episodes… we’ll see.

It brings up another of those things that people relate to but don’t realise how deep the trait runs, and that is inability to recognise danger. Self-preservation means a whole ‘nother thing. Many look at this as akin to daredevils and thrill seekers but that’s not the case. Those people put themselves in danger to feel that euphoric adrenalin rush that comes with a death defying experience. Auties and Aspies just don’t see the danger. They walk into these situations utterly oblivious. That is why so many Auties and Aspies are physically and sexually abused; particularly as children. Some gain an awareness as they age, some don’t. My mum always called it blind trust. It’s also linked to the need not to let people down. So in order to keep people happy you just do as they say. Even if you don’t want to. Take a moment and reflect on the implications of that. I mean the real and dangerous implications of that.

Not a nice thought whatever way you look at it, is it?

There is so much I want to say, or perhaps need to say on this subject. And I’ve decided now that I will continue to do just that. I’m not forcing people to read about it, far from it. If you’re not interested then scroll on by, but I do feel that it is really empowering to find someone’s experiences are very similar to your own. It really helps you to know you are not alone and that someone else really does understand, because they have been there too.

I will be aiming to post an “A Little to the Left of Normal” episode each week – probably keeping to Wednesdays.

Please feel free to make comment, discuss and ask any questions if you feel you want to.

Thanks for listening luvvies xx

Cheerie-bye the noo!

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14 Responses to A Little to the Left of Normal: Episode 1 – Surprise! I’m an Aspie.

  1. Anne says:

    Great post! (I thought I added your blog to my RSS feeder, but apparently I’m going senile) I try telling the part of it being a neurological issue to everyone who assumes it’s just about being crazy. I had a feeling horses were one of your major special interests ;). One of my friends used to sleep with her horses as well for, when it comes to a neurotypical person, no apparent reason. In a crappy poorly insulated shack more than a proper stable. I totally get it now.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the violence and abuse part :(. I thought you were spared that shit but I guess few of us are, really. I still can’t believe my naivety when it comes to major social happenings. I guess when you have blind trust in people, you will inevitably learn the hard way. But learn you shall! 🙂 Looking forward to the next episode of this!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Karen Gray says:

    Oh yeah been there! Though that was by choice. The unfortunate surroundings I found myself in when I was at uni were some of the worst days of my life but I feel lucky that where so many people have shared that they have huge familial upset and reluctance to try to understand, I’ve had none of that. Since telling my mum I thought I had Asperger’s she has been nothing but supportive. She was sceptical at first but every time I spoke to her she seemed more and more sure that I was right. I’m glad I have that support because it would be pretty difficult if she didn’t want to know, even with hubby being supportive.

    I sometimes feel really guilty that I have such a supportive family. It’s weird. Like I am somehow cheating everyone who has had a rough time where family is concerned. Though I have had more than my fair share of being bullied and cheated etc etc etc….

    I have decided not to hold much back unless I am uncomfortable talking about it, and even then, I kinda feel like well perhaps I really should talk about uncomfortable stuff too. Though I am friends on Facebook with at least a few of the people I will end up talking about which could get a tad awkward. But then perhaps they have forgotten all about it and I’m the only one that remembers because it’s me that was the target? Meh! Blinkers on and no filter I shall wield my spade of irrefutable truth and forge onward!

    I also have two people so far that have agreed to guest blog for some of these episodes and share their stories and experiences which will be really nice 🙂 Not asked everyone yet *cough cough* *hint hint*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arlainash says:

    I just got my results from neuropsychological testing today and like I’d suspected, I’m on the spectrum. I’m feeling relieved, but also like “now what?” I’ve bookmarked this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Gray says:

      Hi and thanks for dropping by 🙂 I am STILL awaiting my formal diagnosis but have been accepted by the team and allocated a “support worker” from the centre for when I eventually get to go there, so yeah… In the process of pushing to get both the kids looked at now. I’ve been a bitty lax in posting to the “A Little to the Left of Normal” threads so it’s something I will be pushing to do regularly now. Had an awful year where I feel like I have completely lost who I am. I think that must be something many of us go through mind you. I just happen to have had a lot on my plate BESIDES the ASD stuff. Anyways I will be posting more regularly on this thread 🙂

      Like

      • arlainash says:

        I’m sorry to hear you had a terrible year. I will read the other posts you’ve written so far in this thread and maybe by then you will have written more. Make sure to take care of yourself too. The neuropsychologist didn’t recommend much to me besides cognitive behavior therapy. There don’t seem to be as many support systems for adults with autism here where I live. I’m glad you’re getting a special treatment team. I will take my results to my next therapist appointment. She didn’t know what difference it would make to get this diagnosis. I already am on disability.

        There is a support group through Autism Speaks but I’ve heard that they take a negative view towards it and want to eliminate it instead of seeing it as a different way of looking at the world.

        I totally get what you mean about the people who say “everyone does that.” It’s so frustrating. I also think I’ve been taken advantage of in the past because of not being able to perceive danger.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karen Gray says:

        I dunno if there will be a any help as such. I mean I have gotten this far alone and for me it’s a journey of self affirmation and also about paving the way for my kids who I believe are both also on the spectrum. Both high functioning like me, my daughter more so and it is her I am worried about knowing that I suffered in silence, struggling on in an unrecognised invisible struggle because I appeared “mostly” Normal. Sophie is more confident than I was too and as such it will mask the little red ASD flags even more. But she absolutely is on the spectrum as is her brother. They have both been refered to speech therapy by school and nursery now so it’s a foot in the door at least! Anyway I digress. I doubt there will be much help but see just knowing there is a reason behind my oddities? There is something weirdly reassuring about it. I mean some of the things are frightening to think/look back on but others it’s like whoa. That was obvious! Autism Speaks I recommend giving a wide bearth to. Like seriously. There is NOTHING wrong with you. You are simply wired differently and as such will have a different method of dealing with the world. The ASD brain has been proven to be formatted in a completely different way to the neurotypical brain and as such ASD is a neurological condition and not a psychological condition. I have heard a great many bad things about Autism Speaks. Have you had a look at any of the online support groups? On Facebook and such?

        Like

    • Karen Gray says:

      If you haven’t already, check out https://anonymouslyautistic.net/ She shares a LOT of brilliant and relevant tips and threads from other sources. Also check out https://themighty.com/ xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • arlainash says:

        Thanks for the link! I bookmarked the page and will read it soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karen Gray says:

        No problem. Also you should give Rudi Simones books a read if you havent already. When i started to think that i might be on the spectrum i became utterly obsessed with researching it. And i mean obsessed in the ASD sense of the word. Everything wentnout the window other than the research I was doing. I am not a reader. Not at all. I think the Dyspraxia has something to do that as well as my lack of attention span and such (a mad thing for an author of 4 and a bit books to say I know) but I read both Aspergirl’s http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aspergirls-Empowering-Females-Asperger-Syndrome/dp/1849058261 and 22 things a woman with Asperger’s wants her partner to know https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1849058830 in little over a weekend. And as I read I marked with little strips of post-it-note tape all the bits that were exactly the same as me, my actions or my feelings. I damn near filled the entire book with luminous yellow! Anyway I found reading these 2 books in particular to be hugely self-affirming and reassuring that I wasn’t crazy and only convinced me further about my being on the spectrum. Anyways they are great books besides the info factor. She writes in a lovely style and it makes them really easy to read.

        Like

  4. arlainash says:

    I’ll look for those books. I am not much of a reader either. That has been difficult for me to accept about myself. I like the idea of books, but have to force myself to read them. I’ve also been diagnosed with ADHD and that could explain my inability to focus on a book. And I don’t know if it could be part of ASD-maybe having to do with literal thinking -but I can’t really picture things that are described in books when I read. I might be wrong about this, but I have the idea that most people see a movie in their head when they read a novel. I also have a hard time remembering what I just read, which could be ADD. It frustrates me because I would like to be the type of person who reads books.

    I don’t see how to reply to a thread of comments on my phone, which is my only internet access, so I’ll reply to your reply to my comment here: I’ve not been to Autism Speaks’ forums. I first heard negative things about them from a woman I met at a yarn shop before I was diagnosed. And I’ve found other autistic writers, such as on the web site Everyday Feminism who said Autism Speaks’ rhetoric is ableist and eliminationist. Where I live, Autism Speaks is housed in the building across the driveway from where I used to go for a support group meeting for mental illness. A guy I knew who lived in a community for people with mental illness that I belonged to also went to Autism Speaks meetings. He seemed to have a less progressive view, if that’s the right word, about autism, seeing it more like an illness than just a difference. Like me, he was on disability, and I would say lower functioning than me, whereas you are probably higher functioning than either of us because of your ability to raise children and write novels. But then again the term high functioning is ableist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Gray says:

      It’s all relative really. I would be classed as high functioning as I am good at masking symptoms and forcing myself to do what I hate, fear, loathe, struggle with etc etc I have limitations in other ways I expect and of course no two people will ever be the same, especially in ASD terms. I have heard a lot about that group through a friend and others in a parents of girls with ASD Facebook group I am part of as though my daughter is not yet tested, she is definitely on the spectrum and one of the admins knows this. Anyways yeah I have heard pretty bad things about them trying to “cure” people of ASD and all sorts.

      My books I wrote specifically for non-readers like myself. They are in short Manea gable chunks with short sections in short chapters and I keep it fast paced. With regard to attention a pan, I think this is why I have so many characters and so many different points of view but it keeps my mind engaged and hooked into the story and seems to have the same effect for readers. I hope you will find them engaging and easy to read. I would actually love to hear your thoughts on them as you (like me) are my target audience and as such your take on them is important 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • arlainash says:

        I will look for your books. Are they on Amazon? I have a gift card for them. I was actually referring to the books on autism you mentioned, but they sound good. I am a writer myself, but fiction isn’t my strong suit. I have poetry and nonfiction on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karen Gray says:

        I’m a dough-heid so I am! Sorry. Brainless moment there. Yeah, those links for Rudi Simone books will likely take you to the UK store. Just switch out the .co.uk for a .com. I think you will enjoy them. I will have to go have a look at your writing. I write the odd poem but it’s usually fantasy that’s my go to for reading or writing 🙂 let’s me live in my head. Yeah my books are on Amazon um… this is the link to my Amazon Author Page with all my books on it. Well the books so far anyways 😉 https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Gray/e/B0136TYY08 I quill be writing this saga till I’m deid I expect. Only 1 book left of my first series though and then it’s a jump in timeline for series 2 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • Karen Gray says:

        *will not quill lol

        Liked by 1 person

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