Something Good- Day 169

Today was a rough day. I was pulled over by a police officer for not stopping at a stop sign. I had stopped, but there is a curve in the road and walls on each side, which prevented the officer from seeing me stop. I do not know what to do when I get stopped by a police officer. I panic and get defensive because I did nothing wrong. This is my third time being stopped by an officer, and my panic reflex has gotten worse each time. It especially makes me anxious because I feel like I have no control over it. I obey all traffic laws as well as I can, but that does not mean I am safe from an officer trying to make a point.

Anyway, the officer gave me a warning, which I still resented because I knew I had stopped. As I drove away though, I was overcome with feelings of anger and resentment and hurt. I wanted to call my best friend or my sister or other family member, to help calm me down and get to a state where I could go to work okay. Instead, I drove to work and blasted my music. My body tensed to the point where my hands couldn’t move the way they should. I thought about pulling over and calling my boss, but I relaxed just enough to drive safely to work.

My body was aching from tensing up so much, and I was in a bad mood. My coworkers could tell right away that I was upset. After working for a while, I finally calmed down enough to do my job. I did snap at one of my coworkers at the end of the night though, and my boss asked me what was going on. I told her about getting pulled over and my bad experiences with police officers and wanting to call out sick. It brought back up some of the feelings, but I mostly held it together.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I finally was approved for my house refinance. I have been waiting for this for weeks and working on refinancing for months. I am grateful for the terms I was given though and the way this all worked out.

Another thing that made me smile today was talking with a lady who took her dog outside to do his business. She had a crutch, so I stopped to ask if she needed help with walking her dog. She thanked me for my kindness and said I was sweet to offer. She introduced herself, and we talked for a minute before I drove off. It felt good to connect with someone for a minute or two.

Something Good- Day 148

I am working on a house refinance that is not going through as quickly as I had hoped. But I received a call today that they are hoping to speed up the process if possible. I also saw a post from a friend that made me realize just how lucky I am to own a home at this age, especially on my own.

I am turning 30 in just over a month, and sometimes I feel behind in life. I am not married, have only been on a couple dates in my entire life, and am a long way from having children of my own. But we all have our strengths and weaknesses, struggles and successes. I would love to have someone to share my life with. I would love to have children to love and teach. But my path is just different than what I would want it to be. It is still good though. I am still doing what is right for me at the moment, and that is what is important.

Something Good- Day 138 & 139

I have been helping my sister start a blog for a religious project. She is editing Jesus into photos to show how He is present in all aspects of our lives. She published her first few posts and has been excited all day to see how many views she is getting and from what countries. You can check out her blog here.

I also had the opportunity to check out a comic someone shared with me about a superhero with autism. It seems like a cool concept, and I would encourage you to check it out here.

Something Good- Day 77

Sometimes I forget I have autism, especially at work. I work at a bank, and things are usually the same every day. I help customers with their transactions. We have a weekly schedule. The opening and closing routines are always the same. Even though I think I do well with changes, the structure helps me remain calm when changes do come.

Things were different when I went into work yesterday. The opening routines were the same, but everything changed after that. The lobby was closed. We could only help people in the drive-through. I could handle that, but then more changes came. Our cash machine was not working, and they asked us to wear gloves the whole shift. I started to feel anxious. The longer I wore the gloves, the more anxious I became. And customers kept coming, so I did not have time to process all the changes and adjust to them.

After an hour, I took an early lunch to get away from everything. I broke down in the break room and could not stop crying. My boss came to check on me after a few minutes. She said they would work something out with the gloves and that I could go home for the day if I wanted. I decided to go home because I was emotionally exhausted. I took a nap almost as soon as I got home.

After the nap, I called the branch manager to discuss my needs. She told me that I could take an additional day off if I needed. I felt fine at the time but said I would let her know. As the afternoon progressed, I felt tightness in my chest and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I told my manager I would take another day off and return on Thursday.

It is not fun to have a meltdown at work and not be able to explain why to your boss and coworkers. But I am grateful for their support through it.  I only realized after this experience that I did not like the new girl because she did not fit in my routines. She did not do things the way I wanted, and it frustrated me. I know I owe her an apology, and I need to express my appreciation to all of my coworkers.

Anyway, my something good for yesterday was being able to talk to my sister to help me calm down. Then coming home and finding some peace in the chaos. I am hoping the extra time to process everything will help me return to work tomorrow better equipped to handle this whole situation. People need banks to stay open during this time as much as possible, so I am glad we are staying open for now.

Something Good- Day 55

We had our church activity today. It went really well, but I got overwhelmed and frustrated when we we’re cleaning up. My sister’s family came though, which really helped. We did a food drive auction. My brother-in-law was able to be the auctioneer. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we had a lot of food donated. It was a pretty good day overall, and I was able to take some time later to relax and calm down.

Something Good- Day 13 & 14

I got off early yesterday, so we were able to go to a friend’s house to have dinner and play games. Afterwards, we met up with another friend to watch a movie, which was also really fun.

My favorite show started up again last night, so I was able to watch the new episode of “The Good Doctor” tonight. It hit close to home because I relate so much to the main character, but I just love that I can explain my feelings through someone people can watch on screen.

The Need for Opportunities

Not many people realize I have autism. It is not a topic that comes up very often in everyday conversations. And I have grown so much in my abilities to communicate and cope with my surroundings that I hardly notice it much of the time. Through all this, I have realized how important it is to have opportunities to learn and grow.

Most people take talking for granted. They see friendship and having conversations throughout the day as normal, everyday occurrences. This is not always the case for someone with a disability or for someone who is a loner or an outcast or even just an introvert. I remember being afraid of my voice as a teenager and young adult because I used it so little that I was constantly afraid it would not come out right when I needed it.

I have grown so much over the last several years because of the opportunities I have been given to communicate with others. I have seen the differences in my abilities to communicate because of the practice I get in communicating. I talk to people constantly at my work and at home with friends and family.

This has not always been the case in my life, and I first started noticing the difference when I visited my sister’s family on a regular basis. I noticed that it was easier to communicate and the words came more readily because I would always talk more when I was with my sister. I would read books aloud to her children. I would be engaged in conversation with the family and extended family. I was given the opportunity to use my voice more in those situations, and it created a notable difference in the rest of my week.

Since that time, I have been given an incredible amount of opportunities to improve my social and communication skills. I was asked to teach a class at church. I translated often at work and conducted orientation meetings for new hires. I gained a best friend that pushed the limits of my communication skills and allowed me to explore the social demands of friendship in ways I never had before. I was constantly using my voice and communicating my needs and using my social skills. They say that practice makes perfect. I am not sure if that is true, but practice definitely makes you better. The more I was able to practice my skills, the better they became.

My point with all of this is that growing up, I went to therapy and had scattered opportunities to learn communication and social skills, but it was not enough. I learned the skills necessary to place an order, ask a question, or do other things that were required of me, but it never came easily. It was a constant battle to communicate my needs and not feel lost in a world that I could not seem to understand. Now, communication and life in general has become much easier to handle. I know how to do things that I never thought possible in my earlier years. And things do come relatively easily.

I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to have more positive social experiences while growing up. I was an outcast and bullied and extremely cautious with who I trusted because of those things. But I hope that the world has changed enough that it is more possible for children today to have these experiences. I hope it is more possible for children with autism to learn social skills by practicing with their peers. I know the importance of those opportunities. I have seen how much of a difference they can make. And I hope we all try a little harder to give people the opportunities they need to become better.

Hangry

Last week was an especially difficult week emotionally. I had multiple breakdowns a day and just struggled to control my emotions several times throughout the week. By the end of the week, I realized that this was not simply the result of inconvenient timing of mood swings but was instead directly correlating to my eating habits. The longer it took for me to get food, the more aggressive and anxious I became.

I have always known that I struggle with handling needing food. I can tolerate hunger and can go without eating for a while without issues, but if I do not get food when I am expecting to eat, I lose self control. I lash out and have even injured myself at times. This probably sounds a bit extreme, but I looked up a couple articles about “hanger” and aggression around hunger. The ones I found most relevant explained that low blood sugar can decrease serotonin, which increases stress and affects the ability to regulate your mood.

As someone who already struggles with serotonin levels and mood regulation, this can easily send me over the edge. I remember as a kid, kicking myself off a bed because I was so hungry that I didn’t know what to do with myself. The biggest problem with all this is that it is difficult to provide food for yourself when you get to that point. Trying to cook something when your brain isn’t working leads to more anger and frustration because the process takes too long or is not going as planned.

At this point, I have realized as an adult that I have three options. I can withdraw myself from the situation until my body tires itself out and I no longer have the energy to be aggressive, or I can try to maintain self control just long enough to get something to eat, or I can allow things to get to the point when I explode and am at risk of hurting others or myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced these problems as an adult, much less as a child. Granted, as a child, someone else was mostly responsible for providing food for me, but I had less control about how or when that food came.

I think it is interesting to note the differences between what we expect of children and adults. Often when we become most frustrated with how someone is acting, there is probably a physiological component to their behavior. Maybe they literally cannot just keep calm and carry on. Maybe they cannot communicate their needs. Maybe they cannot provide for themselves in the ways we expect. The difference between children and adults though is that we expect the child to learn to do these things and the adult to know how to do these things. But maybe instead we need to focus more on why things are happening to help prevent the physiological reaction because at that point, it is too late in many ways to avoid unwanted reactions.

Expectations, Needs, and Problem Behavior

I have been thinking a lot lately about my childhood. One thing I realized is that I didn’t know how to explain my needs so that someone could help with them. It wasn’t until I was on my own at a university that I could finally focus on and address my own needs.

I bought myself clothes that felt soft and made me more comfortable, so that I could handle sitting still more easily. I bought ear plugs that I used in classes when the lecture was too loud. I never had super bright classrooms in college, but I could have easily bought transition lenses and no one would have said anything about me wearing “sunglasses” in class. Now, I often use the night view on my rearview mirror because headlights are too bright for me. I also have tinted windows on my car that help with brightness during the day. I carried snacks with me to eat during class or before or after to help calm me down. I still have a car full of snacks for this.

The thing I realized is that adults expect so much of children and teenagers. If you don’t meet the expectations, you are said to be acting out, when in reality you are simply being yourself. I remember one time in high school when I got in trouble for taking notes about what the teacher was saying because I did not know how to defend myself when she accused me of not paying attention. There are many stories I can tell like that. I did not know how to communicate my thoughts or needs or desires, so I ended up getting in trouble because adults did not understand. But how can you possibly have your needs met when everything is stacked against you?

So I endured elementary school and middle school and high school, until I could finally address some of my needs in college. And this is what we require all our children to do! We require them to fit the norm, with the pretense that it is preparing them for the real world. In reality, the real world is about enjoying life and finding ways to cope with the less enjoyable parts of life. We may not understand what a child needs, but I think it is important to ask ourselves if a “problem behavior” is really a need that is not being met. Don’t just avoid the problems or force children to ignore them, give them ways to cope. Try to find solutions instead of just seeing the child as the problem.

Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter