Saturday, March 26, 2011

Autism Expo

Autism Expo...great in theory, not so great in execution.  Well, sure, I guess it's a wonderfully informative kind of thing if you aren't actually ON the spectrum.  Trying to put this into words is going to be difficult.  I should really try to find a way to make this funny.  Oh! Two guys walk in to a bar.

Third one ducks.  Did I set the mood correctly?  Probably not.  That's just one of those things people "like me" can't do properly.  I learned a lot about people "like me" today at the expo.  Aisles and aisles of my flaws on display where everyone can see.  Tri-fold poster boards really got a boost in sales,  One side of all the boards was all "Oh, here are all of your problems" and then the other side was all "and here's how our therapies can fix you so that you aren't a burden to everyone for the rest of your life."

As you can probably tell, the expo isn't exactly geared toward people actually on the spectrum.  It's geared toward parents "dealing" with children on the spectrum.  I left feeling that I am someone who is not a person, but something that needs "dealt with" or "fixed".  I feel a bit deflated.  What kind of life am I saddling Eric and the little dudes with?  A life of "dealing" with my issues?

And the therapies, dear Lord, the therapies.  If you don't do it, you are doomed to live in your parents' basement, with no friends, unable to get a job, a burden on your loved ones forever.  (Again, this was geared toward the parents, so get your kids these therapies, straight away, or your kid will be the one living in your basement forever.)  Well, I have news for you parents of children on the spectrum, THOSE EFFING THERAPIES ARE TORTURE.  That is what I have to say about it.  As a person in my situation, that is how I feel.

There were books.  Hundreds of pages of worksheets and planners and, seriously, an entire book devoted to exactly what to say in exactly what social situation.  MEMORIZE IT, CHILD, OR YOU WILL GROW UP TO BE NOTHING!  I know it sounds great in theory, to parents trying to help their kids, to adults trying to help their friends or significant others or spouses, but trust me, to those of us actually doing it, it sucks, and it sucks hard.  I don't say what I'm supposed to say in social situations because my brain works differently.  I'm broken.  I know it.  You know it.  Just let me be!  WHY do I have to torture myself memorizing all of this crap?  Why can't anyone just say, "Oh, that's a new perspective on that topic that I've not heard before."  Instead, "Oh, that's not the appropriate response, so I'll just go make fun of you with my friends in the corner.  By the way, you're fired."

So, we memorize the stupid social situations and what to say when so we can make friends and keep a job and be happy and not burden our loved ones, the whole time feeling like we're being completely fake, wishing we could just say "screw it" and be ourselves.  It is hard to be someone you're not every time you are out in public.  Truly exhausting.  Parents of kids on the spectrum, I know your intentions are good, I know they are, and you love your children and you want to help them, but on a personal level, it really feels like shit to have to do this.  It reinforces that we aren't normal, and we better shape up, because we're making your lives miserable by being who we are.  I do know that the therapies from Hell are important because, well, reality.  We can't act the way we want to act and still function in society.  I get it.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, can we give it a rest?  Does it have to be all autism all the time?  Can we just have a few days a month to be who we are?  No mention of differences.  No mention of therapy.  No mention of a special diet or special meds or special mantras or words or sensory therapy.  No, "Hey, that was really inappropriate."  Maybe try, "Oh, I never thought of it that way before."

I don't even have people pushing me like that.  In my situation, I wasn't a child with known ASD; therefore, it's probably a blessing in disguise that I didn't have to go through this torture as a kid.  I'm probably better equipped to deal with it as an adult.  As you can see, I don't deal well.  I'm the one pushing myself and making it all ASD all the time.  I think if I don't, everyone will think that I don't care about "bettering myself" and that they're going to be stuck with crazy me for the rest of their lives because I don't care enough to "fix" my broken parts.  I should take my own advice and give it a rest with the pressure.  I'm not perfect.  I'm trying to be "normal" all of the time, but I eff it up more often than not, and then I'm really hard on myself because I failed.  Especially if I embarrass a friend or family member in the process.

Dang it, this entry isn't funny at all.  Perhaps y'all should just go read Mompetition instead.  Valerie's blog is much more hilarious than this one, and since "Mompetition" is my next topic here, perhaps you'd like a reference point.

There were TONS of parents at the expo today.  Tons.  I stopped by nearly every booth, and at nearly every one, the Mompetition was alive and well.  Why in the name of Satan were these people playing the "my kid is more broken than your kid" game?! Seriously?  Also, you're discussing something very personal to your child with strangers, IN FRONT OF HIM.  Dear Parent:  He can HEAR you!  Your kid can hear that you're "bragging" to another parent about how he didn't talk until he was 7, while SHE got to hear her kid talk at 5.  (Haha, little Leroy! You win the title of most "broken" kid in the room!) That is a sure-fire way to make a kid feel like crap.  It made me feel like crap to not only read about how broken I am all day but then hear it from everyone talking about their kids who are like me.  I wonder if my parents feel like that about me, like they got a defective one.  None of their other kids have entire 'expos' devoted to their problems.

Then there was the absolute cruelty in the corner of the room.  Aisles and aisles of actual helpful information on ASD, and then, shoved in the corner of the room, stinkin up the joint, an effing SCENTSY booth.  WHAT were they even doing there, you ask?  I'll tell you.  Capitalizing on sensory processing disorder, that's what.  Yeah, scents help calm people with sensory issues sometimes, so hey, I guess the ASD crowd is a great burgeoning market!  Way to go attempting to capitalize on people with disabilities, Scentsy representative!  It backfired, however, though not exactly on the Scentsy rep, though I'm sure it did trickle down.  Here's an effing hint:  The same scents don't help all people with sensory processing disorder to calm down.  In fact, some scents rile us up and throw us into a rage.  These sensory triggers are different for each and every individual.  Setting up an effing BOOTH with a ton of DIFFERENT smells mixing with one another and floating through a room FULL of people with sensory issues is a bad.idea!!!  Jesus.  This bitch should be arrested for assault.  It was cruelty at its finest, in my opinion.  Why would the expo even allow such a booth?  Presumably the owners know that sensory processing and ASD go hand in hand and that their vendor hall would be full of small children who have trouble connecting their sense of smell to their emotions.  SURELY.

I have to end this blog entry.  I'm angry and defeated.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bits of Tid

1.  I'm getting sick.  I can feel it.  You don't wanna know the details, but you trust me, dudes, it's getting there.  Both the little dudes got it, and here it effing comes.  Straight outta Compton, yo.

2.  The Big Man gave me this little GEM today: "Good thing we have washing machines and don't have to wash our clothes in the creek the way they used to have back when you were a kid."  How old does he think I am, anyway?  Ancient is the answer to that inquiry.  Between this and the Little Man telling me a few days ago to take a shower because I smell like a foot, I'm pretty sure the little dudes have decided that I'm a fish from biblical times.

3.  Also, I was thinking about middle school the other day, because I am awesome, and I recalled my clothing choices.  They weren't good.  I refused to wear jeans until I was about a sophomore in high school.  Here is the reason.  The texture of the denim hurt my legs.  This was the early 90s we're talking about, here.  Jeans were super tight, and then to add insult to injury, you had to do something called "tight roll" them at the bottom.  Adding more tight to the tightiest tight that ever tighted.  As such, when you sit down in jeans, your jeans rub on your knees, and I just could not handle the sensation.  Therefore, I had sweatsuits.  Matching ones.  Fuscia, black and teal.  Elastic around the wrists and ankles.  I dressed in what the modern fashion world calls "a column of color in a monochrome palate."  My middle school classmates called it "ugly ass clothes on an ugly ass girl".  One girl in particular, let's call her Michelle, because that was her name, berated me for my clothing choices on a daily basis.  Her favorite line was, "oooooh, Karen, where did you possibly get such different clothes?  Must be some new place at the mall.  They look soooo expensive."  Sarcasm and hangers-on dripping from her very being.  Every day, my answer was honest.  "My mom got them at K-mart."  This was always followed by tons of laughter.  Some sort of sick routine.  I remember always thinking, "This is so weird.  Why does Michelle care what I am wearing?  How does my sweatsuit affect her in any way?"  I didn't much comprehend that making fun of people can make someone else feel good about themselves.

My clothes were pretty easy to pick out for my mom, I think.  I'd wear pretty much anything, as long as it wasn't jeans.  Anything neon green was totally go.  Also, my granny got me this hideous...thing at Once Upon a Child when I was around second grade or so.  It was a 2-piece matching set, green with purple polka dots.  The pants were capri length, with ruffles around the bottoms.  Cute for a 7-year-old, yeah.  It was the top, dudes, the TOP.  The top was a bra, basically.  It was a strip of fabric about 6 inches wide with OFF-THE-SHOULDER ruffles for straps.  WHY did they even create such an article of clothing in a size 6X?  Also, THANKS, GRANNY!  I wore that thing a couple of times, or I should say I whore that thing.  Christ.

Once in the 6th grade, I was taking a home ec class and learning "sewing", so my friend and I got into my mom's fabric chest in her sewing room and decided to make a shirt for me out of this red fabric with black ducks on it.  What we did was fold it in half, and then I laid down on the fabric, and my friend got the scissors and traced my torso in fabric.  We then sewed the fabric into a "shirt".  I showed my mother, and she was LIVID.  As she should have been.  I'd not asked permission from her to use a fabric that had special meaning to her and was meant for a special project in honor of a friend of hers that had passed.  I had cut it up into a "shirt".  As such, my mother let me wear this thing to school.  I was so proud of it.  It took 20 minutes to put it on because, well, when you just trace yourself, you don't really leave much room to sew seams; therefore, the shirt is about 6 sizes too small.  I was trying to impress my home ec teacher with my superior shirt-sewing skills.  What I ended up with was a lot of name calling, a dress code violation because the shirt showed my midriff, and cut off circulation in both of my arms.  The "shirt" had to be cut off of me when I got home.

I started wearing jeans around sophomore year since JNCO came out, and those suckers were ENORMOUS.  No rubbing on the knees.  Do y'all remember these things?  They had ones called "mammoth" and the cuffs were a whopping FIFTY inches around.  My brother and I had a pair.  We both fit in one leg of them.  I wish I could say that was the only time there were multiple people that fit into my pants.  Read that how you'd like.

As such...I overcompensate now.  A LOT.  I'm obsessed with fashion.  I watch all of the collections and mark my favorites that I'll buy to wear nowhere if we win the lottery.  I'm the girlfriend you see in the grocery with a screaming 4-year-old and a cart full of Pop-Tarts in bulk and a 55-gallon drum of apple juice sporting 5-inch heels and a tailored leather jacket, accessorized to the nines.

Seriously, though, if we win the lottery, I'll be at the grocery in a Versace ball gown.

This one.  At the Meijer.  I'd buy a matching coupon binder, since my pink one would clash.  At the self checkout with my 12 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls, 55 cups of Yoplait and 26 packages of string cheese.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Sometimes I wish I'd never been diagnosed.  If I hadn't been diagnosed, I wouldn't have had to go through "training".  If I hadn't gone through training, I wouldn't know how mean people really are (or were) to me.  I could go on in my blissful little world oblivious to the cruelty.

I've had a hard couple of weeks.  Sleepless nights full of nightmares, my past running over and over through my head, only with a new perspective.  One where friends I thought I had weren't really friends at all, and people I thought were pretty awful anyway are nearly inhuman now that I know what they were doing.

It's pretty obvious to anyone that spends time with me on a regular basis that I'm "different".  It's not hugely significant or anything, but my behavior is odd at times.  My affect is flat most of the time, unless I am excited or passionate about a topic, and then I become nearly childlike.  My manner of speaking or delivery is different at times, enough that strangers have noticed.  I rock a little when I'm nervous, and I self-stim by rubbing my hands on my jeans between my knees to calm down.  My brain processes things differently; therefore, I think in ways that neurotypical people do not, which leads me to ask questions that seem logical to me, but completely odd to others (particularly in group settings, this can be embarrassing).  As such, I find it impossible to believe that in my entire 30 years before my diagnosis, NO ONE KNEW ANYTHING WAS WRONG.

This thought invades my brain often.  WHY didn't anyone do anything?  WHY didn't anyone at school tell my parents about my behavior?

Thinking about my past, I've come to the cruel realization that some people didn't do anything about it because it was better for THEM if I was different.  It furthered their agenda if I didn't fully understand what I was getting into.  I was easily taken advantage of.  So easy, in fact, that once one person figured it out, he passed it on to his friends who could then take further advantage of me, and my idiot, naive, ridiculous ADULT self couldn't even tell the damn difference.  Some groups went so far as to figure out something wasn't quite right with me, take advantage of me for their own economic furtherance, and then add insult to injury by asking me to do things that seemed logical to me but were completely ridiculous to gain amusement from my disability.

With all of these realizations comes a very painful conclusion.  My disability wasn't all that well hidden.  It was just hidden from ME.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fulfilling? Quite.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty idealistic.  A daydreamer, if you will.  (Dreeeeeeam weeeaver...sorry).  When I was first able to move in with Eric and the kids become a SAHM after being in the workforce for 16 years, I  thought "Whew! Now I'll get to do all of those things I didn't have time to do because I was at work!"

Um. No.  None of those things are getting done.  In fact, less of the things I wanted to get done are getting done.  I am taking five classes this semester instead of my usual four.  "Sure," I thought, "this will be a snap with all of this extra time!"  How is it that I now have LESS time to do things than I did before?  The answer is, of course, that the little dudes are MORE than a full-time job.  Before I would work my 40 hours, go to school, and if I needed time to do my homework, I'd just tell Eric I couldn't come over today to visit.  I was still there a few days a week, but now I live here.  My day with the kids starts promptly at 7:30 in the morning, and it does not end until 12.5 hours later, if I'm lucky and they go to bed at 8 without a fight or without being so loud for an hour after bedtime that we have to go in there and remove toys.  Eric gets home between 4:30 and 5, and boy, does that help, but I still don't have any time to get my work done!  If I leave the house, I feel guilty that Eric is there doing it alone after working all day; if I DON'T leave the house, I get no homework done!  I can go in our room and try to work, but it goes a little like this:

*trying to read and absorb what I'm reading* SHRIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK!!!! AAAAAAAAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!  I AM GOING TO GET YOU!!! STOP LOOKING AT ME!! SHRIIIIEEEEEEK!  KAREEEEEEN, DAAAAAAAADDDY, HE IS NOT LETTING ME HAVE THE BAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!  and again, if I may emphasize little man's favorite noise, SHRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!!!!  I cannot believe a boy can get his voice that high.  I'm going to enter him into a Mariah Carey impersonator contest.  I almost want them to hit puberty so that their voices deepen and I never have to hear SHRIIIIIIIEEEEEK again.

That is really not true.  I have been a MESS lately because they are growing up.  I miss Big Man during the day when he is at school badly.  Little Man will be in kindergarten in a few months.  It is devastating.  They turn 5 and 7 in 3 short months; 5,7 and 3 can go to Hades.  They are no longer allowed in my number line.  DOWN WITH THE FIRST THREE ODD PRIME NUMBERS!!!

I did get to go see Big Man at school today, and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've ever had.  One of my little "daydreams" was that I'd have all sorts of time to go to PTA meetings and be involved in school and go on field trips all of the time.  They don't let little brothers on field trips, and the one PTA meeting I went to was AWFUL.  The women with 4th graders that had been there for a few years completely dominated and had no respect for the opinions of any new parents.  Many wonderful solutions to the many problems the PTA proposed were given by new members, and all of them were shot down or blatantly ignored.  I felt that I was in a room full of children instead of adults.

Anyway, today Big Man's teacher allowed parents to come in during their Writer's Workshop so that the kids could share stories they had written and techniques they had used to write them, and little brothers were allowed!  Little Man and I were very excited to go see Big Man during the day, even though he had nothing to read.  He's had a nasty flu and has been out of school for a while, so he wasn't there to write a story.  However, he did share with me a book that he did not write, which was awesome.  Also, I got to meet two other little kids who shared their stories with me since their parents couldn't come.  They were darling.  One of them was a very shy little boy who wrote a story about baby ducks and kept writing "Quack! Quack!"  He then showed me all of the sound words in another book.  The other little girl wrote a story about chicks (they hatched them in class), and she had a book full of sound words, too.  Big Man showed me the use of ellipses in a book and dashes and what they meant.  Then the little girl told me, "When my little brother eats, he poops a LOT!!"  She also told me all about wrestling and her little brother, who likes to fight when he watches wrestling.  This is when Little Man piped up, in a crowded room of parents and children that had just gotten silenced by the teacher, "Me and my brother fight, and I punch him in the face!!" as though it was his proudest moment.

Awesome.  He acted like he'd never get disciplined for that, too.  Aside from that, I really enjoyed myself, even though I know more about someone's little brother's bowel movements.  I was quite surprised at the behavior of some of the other parents.  Two of them were texting throughout the entire exercise, and one of them even made a phone call while the kids were sharing.  I found it exceptionally rude.  *Judge, judge, judge*.  Eh, I'll think they're rude, and they'll think I allow my kids to punch one another in the face without prejudice.  We're even.