Sunday, February 28, 2010

Funday Sunday

I have trouble falling asleep at night because I get anxious about things. Sometimes I'm up for hours. Luckily, my mom put a TV in my room so I can have something to do other than mull when this happens, and I don't have to go downstairs and make all kinds of noise.

Last night, rather than worry, I was excited. First, I found out that there exists a CD of classical music as a backdrop to a cat purring. Because Elsie is the only thing so far that calms my tics down, I'm hoping that this comforting sound will help to calm them. Needless to say, I'm excited about the prospect, and it was keeping me up.

And then there was today. First, Leigh and Justin both came over in the morning and we all went to church. It's a church that Justin and I have been attending on Saturday nights. I don't love the sermons (especially the one this morning, it was "fluffy," as Leigh put it), but it's a solid church and the people are so welcoming. Right now, I need welcoming people and decent sermons, as I sometimes feel alone in this city, more than I need average people and incredible sermons. It's not that the sermons aren't biblical... they are. They're just not always very deep or convicting. Still, for where I am in my life right now, it's a good church.

After church, the three of us headed over to Chipotle for some chicken burritos. In case you don't know, the tortilla is made of flour. I can't eat flour. But it seems that if I just do it once a week at Chipotle, although I cough and get really itchy, my GI system can tolerate it. Just once a week. And it's so worth it.

After some car shuffling back at my house, we headed how to the bowling alley. There, Leigh met some of the members of the HFA/AS group I've been going to. We didn't bowl, because "hey, that's 6 bucks," and it hurts my hand from when I had surgery. But it was fun to watch everyone. I wanted Leigh to meet "all those autistic people" to see how different one is from the next.

We got back from bowling and played with Elsie. Here's my new favorite picture:


After all the fun and excitement, and dealing with the effects of a late night, there was only one thing left to do: I crashed for 2 hours.

Ahhhhh. I love Sundays.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cushions of energy

Last week, my therapist handed me a CD. "Try this," she said. "Every night before you go to bed, do this guided imagery exercise. Let me know how to like it when I see you next week."

I took the CD home, and that night, dutifully broke out and dusted off my CD player. I put the CD in and loved the music right away.

First, Ms. Naper... Napa... Nap..ar.. stek? told me to go to a place that I find peaceful and relaxing, in my mind. She suggested against a large oak tree, or on the beach, or deep in a field somewhere. Ignoring her suggestions of what I should find comforting, I picked my safe place: under Leigh's bed, when it used to be lofted. Okay. So I imagined how it looks (a little dark, a little crowded, but nice and tight and safe), sounded (err... sometimes I hear Leigh typing?), felt hard, that's easy) and even smelled (like a room, duh). I got the feeling that my safe place didn't exactly fit the mold here, but that's okay. It's mine.

And then we got... abstract. She instructed me to imagine a cushion of energy, drawing every good thought and feeling that anyone has ever thought or felt about me toward myself. I'm sure that's great for some people, but I can't see thoughts and feelings, so how am I supposed to draw them anywhere? My visual brain can't handle the non-visual aspects of this imagery. It's too abstract and complicated.

I realized, though, that I do really like the music that plays in the background of the CD. It's very calm and relaxing. Something like this, minus the talking, might do a little better. I can ask if my therapist can get a hold of that if I give her back the imagery CD. Or, Leigh's friend has a CD that has classical music with random cats meowing throughout. Depending on the tempo of the music, that could be very relaxing. Or what I really want is a CD with cats purring. Does anybody know how to make that?

That would be amaaaazing. A-meow-zing? Hahaha...

(A little update: I found a CD that uses cats purring with classical music as a backdrop and is meant for relaxation. Oh my goodness. All I need is $20. Maybe once I start working, I can get it and fall asleep in peace!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 1

Today shall go down in history as Day 1 in my life. It's truly a new beginning.

I got up, got the testing finished up for Cushing's at the hospital lab, and headed off to feeding therapy. I waited for a half hour once I got there (hey, the service is incredible, so I'm not going to complain). Christine, the OT, called me back and did some muscle testing with me and found that I have slightly low tone, but nothing to be worried about. Then, she mentioned that she noticed that I move very stiffly. Instead of moving individual parts of my upper body, I keep it all connected. She showed me how to stretch my neck and shoulders, one muscle at at a time. Then we did an activity where I keep my feet facing front, reach across my body, and hit her hand behind me on the opposite side. It was to practice crossing midline and turning my body. She wants me to practice these exercises at home, too, and I will.

Amy (the ST) came in and set up the table for us to eat. First, we each got a baby carrot. We touched it with one finger, then two fingers, then held it, then put it on the back of our hands, then rolled it between our hands, then walked it up to our shoulders, then held it on top of our heads, then touched it to our cheeks, then to our lips, then painted our lips with it, then touched front teeth, back teeth, and all the teeth in between, then put dents it in with our teeth, then took a bite and spit it out, then took a bite and chewed it and spit it out... and that's as far as I got. I couldn't swallow the carrot.

Next we took a lemon and did everything up to holding it in our teeth. We did honeydew (they called them "green squares") and I swallowed that, even though I didn't really like it. Then we took a break and did a preferred food, rice cakes. Next we did mandarin oranges, which I liked and swallowed, with great effort. After that it was back to a preferred foot, this time Babybel cheese. Finally, we did apple, and I chewed and swallowed that. We practice "losing" the food in our mouths and collecting it back together and swallowing it. Because I don't chew well, I lose food easily in my mouth, and it makes me nervous, especially so when it's a nonpreferred food. But practicing, knowing I could spit it out at any time, really helped.

After that I went to the autism research study and did attention training on the computer, which is boring. I get tired of it and tell them when I'm done. I found out about another study they're doing with fMRIs and I was really, really interested... but darn it, my IQ is too high. It's not even that high! Gosh. Why are they afraid of a little IQ, eh? Also, they won't take me because of my diabetes and my insulin pump. Ridiculous. I really wanted to do that study.

Finally, I met my friend Becky at the mall. She lives almost an hour away, so we don't see each other too often. But we went shopping! I found cat salt and pepper shakers and a cat clock, which I promptly told my mom I want in my apartment someday. Then we spent ages shopping for plain black leggings. I wanted some to wear under skirts and pants, to block the feeling of the pants, and just to wear around the house, because of how comfortable they are. It took us 4 or 5 stores, but we found them.

When I got home, after dinner, I wanted to show my mom how I could do the oranges. She started to cry! She said she wished my dad could see me (I called him, then). My stepdad insisted that I would be able to eat a carrot if I dipped it in peanut butter... Mom said, that's gross, don't do that. He said, "Humor me," so I did it, and I swallowed that little bugger!

Day 1.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Autism and Elsie

I don't know where I would be without my cat. Not a cat, but this cat. Our relationship is such that she is perfectly in step with me, all the time. As I type this, she's sitting directly behind my head, purring.

One of the ways she calms me down is by that purring. I love it. I hold her and rock back and forth and listen to her purr, sometimes for a half hour. She just sits contentedly in my arms and purrs. I think you can see how comfortable we both are:

video

When I had my evaluation done at a major medical center, they noticed that I still have some echolalia, or speech that isn't exactly my own. You can see it here. When my mom gets home from work, she says, "Hi, Els." I say it... all the time. Sometimes I even say it when Elsie's not there, to get her to come. So, it's functional, but it's still the remaining vestiges of echolalia.

video

My extreme kitty perseveration has paid off, at least in one way. This is one smart cat. She not only comes when I call her, she follows very closely behind me. Here, watch!

video

And, finally, here's another example of Elsie's calming methods. This is a bad example of it. She was following me around, and I picked her up and put her on the couch. She clearly wanted to walk around and so got up at the end, but usually, with the lights off, she would lay there in her little kitty ball for as long as I needed her to do it. I think she could tell I was trying to make her perform, and that I didn't really need her right then. Oh well. You get the point. Talk about bliss!

video

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Uh oh

Houston, we have a problem.

If I make a documentary-type video, I'll have to edit it to make it decent. So I tried to make and load an edited video (about Elsie and I), and what do you know, it won't load. I tried for hours, and it "processes" for like nine years, but it won't finish so I can publish the post. So it looks like there won't be a documentary video. Sorry, friends :(

In other news, I'm perseverating like crazy lately. I'm usually fairly obsessed with Elsie, but it's been worse than usual. I'm anxious when she's not right in the room with me. She's not always with me... she likes to make sure I'm settled with whatever I'm doing, and then she once she's satisfied that I'm alright, she likes to lay in the family room. If I call her, she comes and sits with me for a bit, but then when she knows I'm fine she goes back. I feel like I'm constantly interrupting the poor thing to come see me. Perseveration reaches a point where it doesn't feel good anymore. It starts to make you feel a little nuts.

I debated about posting about this, but it's something that's going on in my life and I don't feel too weird about sharing it. I went to see an endocrinologist about my mysterious weight gain (80 pounds in just a few months despite a low calorie intake). They think it's something called Cushing's syndrome, and I'm going through the testing for that. The bad news is that Cushing's is almost always caused by a small brain tumor, which requires surgery. I would appreciate good thoughts and prayers sent my way... just that they figure out what's making me gain weight and feel so blah. I don't usually post about things that have nothing to do with my autism, but hey, that's also part of my life, and I need all the prayers I can get. Thanks, guys.

I'm off to the mall with my mom. We're shopping for my sister's wedding shower. Here's to hoping it's not too terribly crowded! After that, Justin and I are going to church and then to Chipotle.

Mmm, Chipotle!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I need your input

Back in October, Leigh suggested that I make a video during the Walk Now for Autism. I was too shy about the whole thing, but I've been thinking about it. And I think I'd like to make a video about autism, just not one in which I'm a central player. I think I'll go around and ask a question, the same question, of the people in my HFA/AS group.


In the meantime, I need to figure out how to make videos on my camera and how to upload them on here. I practiced on my favorite subject, of course.


video



So if I were to make a video, going around and asking my fellow autistics a simple question about living with autism, what would you like that question to be?

If you don't leave me suggestions, there can't be a video.

Ready? Go!



Okay, I can't leave without posting these two pictures.














This one is what happened when I tried to take a nice, smiley picture of Elsie and I. Instead, I got puh-lease put me down kitty and glasses sliding off and not looking at the camera because, wow, that's a really bright light Lydia.














And this is one of the ways that Elsie helps me to stay calm... she pushes her forhead against mine, as hard as she can. I love it.

There will be salad

Yesterday morning, I got up at 6:30 A.M. to go downtown with my case manager to see about getting cash assistance to tide me over until I start working. It seems like they had already made up their minds before I got there and just needed me to sign the papers. Today, I am $102.50 richer than I was yesterday. I get $102.50 every two weeks, until I start working, at which point I lose the benefits. That's fine with me! I have no desire to stay on government funds any longer than I need to. Also, if I get SSI (er, when I do...) I have to pay back the months of cash assistance I got. They'll take it out of my lump sum of back pay. Oh well. It's doing its job right now, which is putting gas in my car and allowing me to pick things up at the grocery store when I need them. That's all that really matters.

After the interview, I hurried back home and picked up two foods I will eat (yogurt and cereal) and one that I won't (an apple) and headed to my feeding clinic evaluation. I met with the speech therapist (ST) and the occupational therapy (OT) and had my snack. They had me eat several different foods and noticed that I don't chew right. Apparently, children and adults chew differently. Children chew up and down, and adults have a rotary chew pattern. I still chew like a child, which makes it difficult to manipulate fibrous foods like fruits and vegetables. They think that, early on, I developed a dislike of these foods because I couldn't manipulate them correctly, and over time, came to fear them. So, the ST is going to work on chewing with me, and the OT is going to do sensory-based things with the food. The OT is also going to do... OT (handwriting, hand strength, balance and coordination, sensory stuff, etc). We also talked about the benefits of Therapeutic Listening, and we're going to try to get me into that.

So, that's where things stand. Next on the list is to see about getting food stamps so that I can buy some of my own food and let my mom off the hook a little. Onward!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A little bit embarrassing

Confession time. I hate showers and brushing my teeth and changing my clothes.

Of all the things I struggle with, this might be the most embarrassing. The sensory experience of it all can be just too much.

As a kid, I screamed in the bath tub. Screamed bloody murder. It wasn't enough to put a washcloth over my eyes. My parents finally resigned themselves to not bathing my everyday, and only washing my hair every few days. When I was 2, my mom found a blue, foam ring that fit on my head that kept the water from falling into my eyes. It helped, but still I would all out melt down at the prospect of a bath. My hair was actually fairly long and got knotty, and I hated my mom brushing it. It was such relief to get it cut when I was 5, nice and short to my shoulders so that it only had to be brushed after it got washed, which wasn't that often.

I stuck with the every-other-day baths until middle school, when I started to shower and did it daily. Middle school and high school were the years of the least sensory issues, and thankfully, I was able to shower daily. But in the last couple of years, I've started to have trouble again.

I usually shower daily, but the whole process is a nightmare. Going from clothes to no clothes sucks, then the water pressure hurts, then the towel makes my skin burn, then changing into new clothes is the worst. I hate new clothes. First of all, they're stiff from being washed, and secondly, they feel different than the clothes I'd had on. I don't do pajamas for the same reason; I just sleep in whatever I've been wearing. As I just told Leigh, by the time I'm done, I feel like someone has just peeled off the top layer of skin, leaving me a raw, open wound. I hate it. Brushing my teeth is rough too, sometimes, but it doesn't hurt like showering. It's just uncomfortable.

I'm starting to run into problems with clothes, too. You know that I only wear sweatpants, right? Well, my mom found me a pair of jean leggings with an elastic waist. Finally! A way for me to wear jeans and look halfway normal! Maybe it's because I got used to those, but now I can't even wear my sweatpants. Ughhhh. The hurt my legs. So I'm sitting here in leggings (but they're capri length, so I can't wear them out). I'm not sure I could get away with wearing leggings like that out in public, either... I'm super muscular, but last year I put on a good bit of weight due to meds, and I don't know how that would work. This might be a lesson in self confidence though, as i might be reduced to wearing only leggings. I don't know what else to do.

I really need a shirt that says "Will work for cats." Because that's the agreement Leigh and I have, now. When I shower, I get a Lolcat. Yes, it's come down to that. I don't look at Lolcats online very often, because they're almost too good. So. Many. Cats. I can't contain my excitement, and it turns from something good to something bad. It makes my heart beat fast and my hands sweaty and it's just... it's cat overload. One cat at a time is good, but all at once is overwhelming.

So, yes, this is a little bit embarrassing, that I don't want to shower, but at the same time... this is autism, you know?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reassurance

My mom says that when a baby is tiny, it can't fall asleep itself or calm itself down at all. Its parents literally have to do everything for it at first. But its the parents' job to teach that baby how to calm itself down and put itself to sleep. It can't be rocked to sleep for the rest of its life, and the earlier the baby learns, the easier life will be for the parents, and later, the baby.

I must be capable of reassuring myself, because I did learn to put myself to sleep (although it took until I was solidly 5 years old). But let me tell you, it's hard work. I need to be reassured by other people about almost everything. I frequently ask "...right?" questions or, another common one, "I'm okay?" I just don't know for myself if I really am or not. I have to ask.

This is getting ugly, because I'm getting a little controlling about where Leigh is. I need to know. If she doesn't answer, I get anxious. I tell myself that she's just at a movie, or at a friend's apartment, or left her phone in her room for a while, but it doesn't work. I still feel like I need to know that she's "within reach" by text or phone call or email. I'm afraid that she won't be there to reassure me about something, and then what will I do? Falling apart isn't a logical solution.

So we have work to do. She's starting to implement the waiting strategy: telling me to wait fifteen minutes and just tolerate the anxiety. She says it's simple to reassure myself. Just get calm (basically, find a cat) and then think logically. So if I'm anxious about where she is, I need to find Elsie and then think, "It's not my job to be in charge of where she goes. She can take care of herself."

Autism is certainly a conundrum at times. I have such a strong inner world, that in so many ways, I would almost rather be without people. I'm only capable of any attachment with people very rarely, but when it happens, it can get complicated. This is frustrating to me. I want to be able to form attachments without such difficulty but also to have enough of a sense of self that I can reassure myself. My sense of self frequently falters and I need other people to put it back into place for me. I guess reassurance is a good first step.

Find a cat and think logically. Might as well give it a shot.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

...and bad things happen when I'm on autopilot

I function on autopilot a lot. I don't really think about what I'm doing. I have a bad habit of always thinking about the next thing I'm going to do. I don't "live in the moment" very well at all.

My mom and I went to David's Bridal today to shop for my dress for my sister's wedding. It's dark blue and has short sleeves. It's sparkly on top, with a ribbon around the middle, and the bottom is made of taffeta. Here's a not-very-good picture, but at least you can get an idea.














Anyway, after we got the dress and appropriate undergarments (which are ridiculous, I might add), we went to go look for shoes only.... the car wouldn't start. We tried again. We tried while cross our fingers, crossing our eyes, and sticking our tongues out (not really). It didn't work. My mom called my stepdad, Bob, and he came to jump the car. So we went back inside and waited for a while, until he came. It wasn't a big deal, but it was the second time in three days that the car pooped out on us, so I think my mom was a little frustrated.

We got home, and my mom told me to go get the mail and put my sister's wedding response card thing in the mail right now, before I forget. I went through the back door, up the basement stairs, out the front door, got the mail, and started to look at the mail I got from the Social Security office about cash assistance. I was fully absorbed in that, when the doorbell rang. My mom was rather annoyed that I'd locked her out downstairs. I apologized, and I thought she came in behind me in the front. I wasn't really paying attention, because I was distracted by the fact that I'd gotten mail. The next thing I knew, I had a crash and a scream. "Lydia, come open this #*$&W% door RIGHT NOW!"

I ran downstairs. I was so confused; wasn't my mom already in the house? Apparently not. Apparently, what my mom had meant by "you locked me out downstairs..." was "come back downstairs and open up the back door."

Oops.

She got so mad she broke a window in the door so that she could yell up the stairs to me.

I think she's over it; she just lost her temper. I... am keeping Elsie close by because I'm still so nervous. I'm afraid that my stepdad will yell at me for the broken window, because he yells at me for everything. I'm sure I'll hear about this.

I can't help but to think if I didn't have autism, I wouldn't do stupid things like that. I would be more present in the moment and less in my own world all the time. When I think hard about it, I can truly focus on what I'm doing for a little while, but not for very long. I could never do it all the time.

Guess I'd better get used to doing stupid things, eh? You'd think I'd be used to it by now.

Sigh. Now where's that cat?

Good things come to those who wait

The good news: I got the job I wanted, working in the daycare that I went to when I was little. It's a group supervisor position. I'll be in charge of ten kids.

The bad news: The position has been created to fill in for someone who is leaving because she bought at a house. She's not moving until mid-spring, so I won't be working until mid-spring.

But the position is mine, and it will be there for me when it does open up. This gives me time to prepare, getting group activities organized for the kids in the meantime. It also gives me time to possibly go back to partial for a while, which I'm strongly considering. The partial I went to this summer won't take me back, because they don't feel as if they can't adequately help someone with an ASD. My case manager can get me into a partial through his company, though. It's a little farther away and would be interesting with the driving, but it would be more intensive therapy and they wouldn't turn me away because of my autism. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book exerpt

You know that book I've been working on? It's kind of my current obsession. I'm about 130 pages into it. I write daily. One of the questions I did today was, "How do you decide who to tell and when?" That's something I really struggle with. So here's a paragraph from my book, getting at the heart of the matter.


"Work and school activities are both situations that I strongly consider telling someone about my autism. I wouldn't want to get fired from work, in trouble with a professor, or asked to drop an activity due to something related to my autism, something I can't help. The hardest decisions to make are in regard to peers. Do I let people think I'm weird, or do I provide an explanation for my weirdness? On one hand, part of me thinks that other people's opinions of me aren't important, that I should be who I am and let people take it or leave it. I should have enough confidence to be myself regardless of whether people approve of me or not. Also, I don't want to use autism as a "get out of jail free" card. I don't want people to lower their expectations of me simply because of my diagnosis. On the other hand, maybe exactly what they need to do is change their expectations. I can't be expected to always be appropriate in social situations, because new things come up that I haven't learned about, and sometimes I'm inappropriate without knowing. I can't be expected to tolerate loud, crowded environments, because my sensory system just doesn't cooperate and I panic. If I don't provide people with an explanation, they're going to expect me to be as skillful as anyone else in social situations and they'll expect me to go to movies or the mall on a weekend afternoon. I know other adults with autism who don't tell anyone about their autism and let others think what they will, and I know others who bring it up in the first moments of meeting a new person. I'm not sure that either extreme is the way to go, but it remains a difficult balance."

My question to you is this: What would you do?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ch-ch-changes

Does anyone remember the Brady Bunch episode where Peter's voice changes? I loved the Brady Bunch as a kid. It probably crossed the line between normal and autistic obsession, but that's okay. Obsessions can be a good thing, and that one made me happy and nothing else.

I think the 22 inches of snow around here came to help teach me a lesson. You know I'm working on waiting right now. Another thing I really don't like (a la Alton Brown) is changes in my routine. The key to making plans with me is that you have to do it one of two ways. One option is not to make them unless you're sure you can follow through. The other option is when you make them, specifically remind me that things might not work out and we might have to reschedule. That will keep them from getting so firmly implanted in my mind.

So the snow. Uh, yeah, there's a lot of it. And yeah, it's really pretty on the trees and all. And I'd love to go sledding right about now, if I had a sled. Heck, I'd love to just go take a running leap into it. But none of this makes up for the fact that it forced me to change plans over. And over. And over.

First, Mom and I were supposed to go shopping on Saturday, and I was supposed to hit up Avatar with Justin on Sunday. That didn't work out. Saturday, everyone was snowed in. Sunday, neither Justin nor I particularly wanted to venture out to actually drive in the snow, so we kind of canceled on each other. Instead, Mom and I went shopping and to see Avatar on Sunday. Not a big deal, right? I still got to do what I wanted to do, and I absolutely had a blast doing it, I might add. But I'm still not over the fact that it changed. It didn't go how it was supposed to go. It's wrooooong (yep, that's whining). The shopping was incredible (did I mention that I got clothes for my sister's wedding, and 3 new shirts, and a sweater, and 2 pairs of pants? This, from the girl who hates to shop). The movie was wonderful, ear plugs firmly in place, thankyouverymuch. There's just that little irk in the back of my mind that it was wrong.

Then, today, my case manager Jeff and I were planning on going out to breakfast. Again because of the snow, he had to come three hours late and we couldn't go out at all. He just popped by for a visit. So there's that. And then I had to make an appointment with the feeding clinic for Wednesday for an evaluation. But more snow is supposed to come, so it's a tentative appointment, and they might have to close the office. At least I know it's tentative ahead of time. That does help. Still, I'd rather just have my appointment and go to it.

Gosh, snow. Enough of you for a while. Go mess up somebody else's plans!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dreams

I'm having a rough night. My tics are really bad this weekend, which makes me more anxious, which makes my tics works, which makes me more anxious... I think you get the idea. I actually called the emergency number for my doctor's office last night, realizing that tics aren't exactly an emergency, but I may have found my way into an emergency if I didn't find a way to calm them down. I hoped that the psych nurse on call would be able to give me some advice, but she just called the doctor on call, who told me to take a Klonopin. So, another day, another Klonopin tonight, and I'm starting to feel trapped in my head, which is never good. I start to lose the ability to communicate and interact with people. I don't know why it happens, usually. It always happens after I've been social for too long, but today, I've been snowed in the house all day. Who knows. But here I am. The only way out of my head is to write, so write I will.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want in my life. It was the last topic I wrote on in my book, so it had to be on my mind. I want a job, part time. I want my own apartment, away from my step-father. I want my cat, and I never want to be without a cat or two. I don't want to get married, as far as I can see it. But there's one thing that really, really stands out, even more than the cat. I want to adopt a baby.

The nature of autism means that I'm focused on myself. The nature of parenthood means that I would need to be focused almost entirely on another person. How to reconcile these two things so diametrically opposed to one another?

Growing up, and pre-diagnosis, I had a dream for my life. I was going to be a trauma surgeon, live in Florida, and adopt children internationally. What about that hasn't changed? After freshman year of college, I realized that I would never be able to handle the physical and social demands of residency in order to become a doctor. I developed a new plan for my life. I would be a teacher, live within a few hours of home to stay close to my mom who I love so much, and still adopt children, able to be home with them in the summer. And then I got the diagnosis. Since then, my plan has shifted dramatically. Now, I hope to work part time in the lowest position at a daycare, move into low-income housing, and just be able to take care of myself. Did my plan change because of the diagnosis? Am I selling myself short?

At this point, I think not. Growing up, I had no sense of... anything. My dreams weren't based in reality. My dream of being a doctor was a bit like dreaming of winning the lottery. Yes, I have the brains for it, but I never could have handled that type of schedule. When my professors mentioned, and several times, that they were worried about student teaching, I ignored them. I blocked it all out. I wanted to prove everyone wrong, that I could do it. I thought that simply because they thought I couldn't, that I had to prove it to them. Had I been smart about it, I would have asked, "And what if I can't do it?" But you know, the truth is that I probably wouldn't have believed I couldn't student teach until I actually tried and failed. I didn't want to hear it.

I still have long-term goals for my life. I want to go back to school and get my master's in either special education or psychology. I want to work with children with autism, whether in the context of school or home or educational research, I don't yet know. I need to do something that will allow me to work one-on-one with people, rather than in large groups. I also need to be able to leave my work at work, and possibly even find something that I can do on a part-time basis. I may never be able to work full time, and that's okay. You see, college is no indication as to how a person will do with full time work. College classes rarely go over 20 hours per week (and the one semester mine reached 21, I skipped classes weekly). So, yes, I did well in college. No, I don't do well working full time.

But that's just work. Where I live isn't of much importance to me. If I live in low-income housing (it's not near the city, so it's really not a bad situation), so be it. If I live in a studio apartment till I'm 40, that's fine. I don't need a lot, and as long as I have what I need, cat included, I'm happy. I'd rather not have the house and yard to take care of, to be honest. But gosh, that baby. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it, but doesn't that give me something to really work for? Sometimes I get really strong gut feelings about things, like the fact that I don't think I'll ever marry. Other things, I'm just lost on. The baby issue is one of them. I have no idea if it would ever work, but I can hope. I can dream.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oops! I forgot to mention...

I forgot to mention something else really important that's going on in my world!

I've applied to be a freelance writer on Examiner.com. It's a news website that hires writers to write on their topic of expertise. My chosen topic is autism. The pay is based on how many readers you have. I submitted an application and a writing sample. It would be really, really cool to get paid for my writing. I should hear back in the next couple of days, so prayers and happy thoughts are welcome once again.

In other news

Well, some things are going on around here, and I thought I should update you.

I had a job interview today. I met with the director of a church-based child care center near my home. It's actually the daycare and preschool that I went to when I was 4-5. After a mild case of shock when I walked in and experienced a flood of memories, I sat down and talked with the director. She said that she first has to convince the board that they need a new position, but that that shouldn't be a problem. She said that I would be overqualified for the position she has open, but I told her that that's perfectly okay. As long as I'm working with kids, I'll be happy. So, keep sending good thoughts and prayers my way about that. I really want this job. I really need this job.

I've mentioned before on here that as a child, I ate very poorly... as in, I only ate six things. Now, as an adult, I eat a lot more than I used to, but I still can't eat most fruits, almost all vegeables, and anything with pieces or lumps. When I was little, they didn't do anything about this. Now, they have pediatric feeding clinics. I found one around here and called, asking if they would consider treating an adult. They said that they never had but would be happy to work with me. Yesterday, I got a prescription from my doctor for occupational therapy (OT) and speech therapy (ST) for feeding difficulties. I'll fill out paperwork (a sensory profile, an eating history, and a 3-day diet history) for the clinic, and I'll start there within the next few weeks. I'm so excited as the prospect of being able to eat a salad!

Finally, I've decided to go see Avatar this weekend. Darn those scary aliens, but they're not going to keep me away from what I hear is a great movie. Hopefully I don't get nightmares from them! We are going see it in 3D, but not at the IMAX. I can't handle the IMAX.

So, that's what's new in Lydia Land! I'm going to go watch Alton Brown now :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Alton Brown

My mind is running a mile a minute as I try to start this post. Where do I start? "Let's start at the beginning/A very good place to start." But what's the beginning?

Okay. Breathe. Do you know who Alton Brown is? If you don't, here's a YouTube video of his show, Good Eats, and here's a link to his website. All caught up now? Good.

Alton Brown is my culinary hero. He taught me how to make a beautiful omelet. He's on every weekend night at 11 P.M. And I stay up to watch him every weekend. I never miss Alton Brown. His half hour show is the most relaxed I feel all day and all night. He relaxes me as much as Elsie does. I looooove Alton Brown.

He wasn't on Monday. Luckily, I was tired enough that I just went to bed without him. I was upset. I admit, I cried a tiny bit as I got panicky, but I dealt with it and went to bed and was okay by the next morning, though I hadn't forgotten. How dare Food Network deprive me of my Alton Brown? I could forgive them once. But then, last night, he wasn't on again. I had been feeling anxious throughout the evening and was desperately waiting for Alton Brown to come on. But he didn't. Really, Food Network? What's going on here?

When I saw that he wasn't going to be on, I halted mine and Leigh's conversation dead in its tracks and wailed. "Alton Brown isn't on!!!!! I'm going to melt down!" I could feel it building. No answer. Leigh emailed me about some Bible verses I had asked her about earlier and I said, "Alton Brown!!!! I can't think about that when Alton Brown isn't on!" She reminded me that I could watch him on YouTube, so I did that. But that only sort of fixed the problem. He's supposed to be on T.V. every night at 11. Every night.

Leigh said that it was okay that he wasn't on T.V. tonight. She said that I need to think about things I can control, not things that I can't. I asked her what I can control. She suggested that I can control what I do for a half hour every night. I thought about that. My favorite thing to do from 11-11:30 is to watch Alton Brown, but that doesn't mean that I have to do that. I can watch something else on T.V. or do something else altogether, like read, or write, or paint-by-numbers that I like so much. I can choose what I do every night for that half hour. My favorite thing to do is still to watch Alton Brown, but last night I chose to watch Worst Cooks in America and Facebook with Kate and email with Leigh. It's up to me, what I do, not up to the T.V. I decided that this was just a little deal, not a big deal.

I tend to get really hung up on my routines. This reminded me of that day the mail didn't come and I fell apart. My routines are comforting, until they're disrupted. Then, they're binding. I don't want to be bound by my routines. I have to change my thinking from single paths to forks in the road. I have a very visual kind of brain, and I think of everything in pictures like that. When I think "11 P.M.," I think Alton Brown. When I think "3 P.M.," I think get the mail. Instead, I need to think maybe Alton, maybe something else. Maybe mail, or if there's no mail that day, maybe something else. I need to make my brain think in terms of forks in the road that go to different options, instead of thinking of a single point at those times.

So, glad this is getting cleared up. However, I already checked, and my buddy Alton Brown is back on tonight at 11. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Waiting

The admission: I'm terrible at waiting.

The explanation: When I realize I need something at the mall, I want to go now. When I want to paint a new paint-by-numbers, I want it today. When it's time to go somewhere (especially vacation), I want to go yesterday.

The surprise: I text Leigh when I'm anxious about something. I know, your jaw just hit the floor, right? But really, when I'm anxious, I get stuck, and I can't seem to get out of it myself. I've been anxious a fair amount recently, mostly in the evenings. Somehow, after all this time, I still don't know for myself what Leigh would say. I'm so stuck in the anxiety, I have to actually ask her all over again. I'm sure she loves it, all the repetition.

The problem: Part of autism means that I get very stuck in the here and now. If I'm upset about something right now, I feel like I've always been upset about it and always will be upset about it. So if I'm anxious, I can't see past that, and I feel like the anxiety is permanent. And if Leigh isn't answering my text fairly quickly, then in my head, I'm forever on my own. I never said this made a lot of sense, it's just the way it is. Since Leigh is going to Mexico this summer, she won't be able to answer me right away. We'll have to rely on email, which can take some time. So I need to be able to wait until she can get back to me.

The solution: I need to work on waiting, realizing that what is right now is not permanent. I came up with an idea. When I text Leigh about something, even if she can answer right away, her job is to make me wait for a few minutes. That doesn't mean she'll ignore me but tell me specifically to wait for five minutes and then we can talk. Once I can do five minutes, we'll do longer, and longer, and longer, until I'm capable of waiting until the end of the day. I may or may not be able to fix the anxiety by myself, but I need to be able to at least sit with it for a while. Hopefully, over time, I'll get better at this whole waiting thing.