Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From One End of the Map to the Other and then Off It Completely

When our children were first diagnosed with autism and Asperger's Syndrome respectively, I wanted to get my hands on everything possible I could read. I checked out books, saw videos, visited newsgroups and websites and looked into support groups.

Later, when I became aware of my own place on the autism spectrum, that interest continued, except that in addition to looking for information on how autism impacts boys, I was playing Nancy Drew to find out answers to the mysteries of my own life. Autism / Asperger's presents quite differently in females than males and during the period I grew up (I'm 43 now), the autism spectrum as it is defined today was not nearly so broad.

If you check statistics, many more men and boys are diagnosed as being on the spectrum than women / girls.  Interestingly enough, in my initial search across the web to seek out fellow Aspies, I came across quite a few blogs written by women who were either diagnosed formally or self-diagnosed on the spectrum.  There seems to be a desire among many females on the autism spectrum to let their thoughts be known in the blogosphere.  It may partly be a female thing too.

I regularly wake up to an in-box filled with autism related emails.  Some are about upcoming events, some are about research studies, some are website newsletters, some are educational.... there's a LOT of stuff each day to try and sift through.

Some days I breeze through it handily.  Other days like today it overwhelms me.  Information overload...

Then I look at my children and I ask myself if I'm doing everything I possibly can to help them overcome obstacles, meet their needs, teach love and compassion and encourage learning and retainment of life skills. Am I being spiritual enough? Am I encouraging enough physical activity?  Am I being too lenient? Too harsh? Are we getting in enough sensory therapy?  Is our routine well-balanced?  Are we focusing our priorities correctly?

Yes, on days like this, I feel very overwhelmed inside.  I want to shut down but I can't.  Well, maybe I can, but I shouldn't.  I'm Mom, I need to provide, I need to take care of things....

I can talk about the concept of taking care of myself first in order to be able to give the best of myself to others but when I'm in the middle of my own meltdown crisis (which often looks to others on the outside as very quiet and calm... the calm before the storm...), my own advice and good intentions are replaced with less positive thoughts and perhaps at these times, I turn to the vice which has been plaguing me for years.... emotional eating.

Did I ever tell you that I was a closet binge eater?  It started in junior high, dissipated a bit in high school and then really took on a life of its own in college.  I have an unhealthy relationship with food.   I'm well aware of this.  I just don't know how to break it...  It's not like a vice you can just quit.  You have to eat to live.  My associations with food are not so pleasant...

This is something I know I need to work on.  As my children are both particular eaters, I want to make sure that they don't pick up on my own bad habits too.  Incidentally, 90% of the day I eat healthy, drink my water, take my vitamins, try to exercise and all that "crap".... BUT that 10% kills it all...

Something for me to write about in the future.  Related to autism?  Maybe... at least the compulsive component... perhaps even obsessive since I think about food way more than I would like to.

Well this blog certainly was one of my more rambling ones.  I wasn't even going to write today.  I noticed in the past week I had lost two followers and although I should not have taken it personally, it made me begin to question the quality and content of my writing.  Writing too much?  Writing too little?  Writing not enough about autism?  Writing too much about autism.

I should just go with my theme and be me.  Come As You Are, Let Your Light Shine...

I am all over the map tonight. It's just one of those emotional evenings.  I've been thinking a lot about some of the recent events in the news such as the Arizona shootings and what chain of life events would cause Jared Loughner to do what he did?  I've read a lot of speculation of course.  He's "this way" or "that way" or has "this mental affliction" or "that one", "this political affiliation" or "that one" but what do any of these reporters or speculators know factually?  The guy has been painted in many different ways and OBVIOUSLY there was something going on.

I think when tragedies like this happen, people are quick to try and paint the person as "not one of us" or "definitely one of them".  We want understanding.  We want comfort.  We want to think of these events as anomalies because it is too painful to contemplate that the kid next door who seemed friendly if not a bit quiet could grow up to be a killer.

The truth is that we really don't know the person next door as well as we think we might.  It's hard enough to know ourselves, our partners, our children and the ones we live with on a daily basis.  How observant are we as human beings.

Try naming the eye color, height and favorite sport / hobby of everyone you can think of that you come into contact on a regular basis, whether it be co-worker, neighbor, student, teacher, postal carrier, etc. What are their odd habits?  Can you imitate their mannerisms? What was the last thing that they wore? You can do it. Pretty easy, right?

No?  Well, for some maybe...

I realize this blog was all over the map but I'm trying something tonight I do pretty rarely.  Free flowing thought. No editing.  Raw.

Until next time...

No comments:

Post a Comment