6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
Okay,  honestly, no one thinks exactly like anyone else, but with me?  The difference is pretty exaggerated, mostly thanks to my Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Or, to use a term I've become very fond of, the difference is pretty exaggerated, mostly thanks to my being "neuro-atypical."  (Meaning I have a brain that is physically  weird, as well as the varieties of weird that you probably know or at least suspect.)

The basics of Autism are that some part (or parts) of the brain under-develop, and some other part (or parts) of the brain over-develop.  (Brain scans have shown this consistently.)  There are some fairly typical symptoms, but not every autistic person will have those symptoms.  I, for example, have no real difficulty with making eye contact, a fairly  common issue for autistic people.  I'm neuro-atypical in different ways.

Dictionary-dot-com defines autism spectrum disorder as "any of various disorders, as autism and Asperger syndrome, commonly manifesting in early childhood and characterized by impaired social or communication skills, repetitive behaviors, or a restricted range of interests."  I didn't manifest in childhood, not strongly enough to attract attention, anyway.  Or not the kind of attention that got me tested and treated or anything.  

I do have some of those symptoms.  I've never really socialized well, and the older I get, the worse that gets.  I tend to dislike change in my personal world (but not enough to be a republican, ha-ha!), and I have long preferred to communicate in writing over verbalization, at least when something was emotionally important to me, because I do so much, much  better than I do verbally.

But, in the end, it all comes down to this: I don't think like you do.  

That's hard to really wrap your head around, and, believe it or not, I get that-- because I have to constantly  remind myself that very few people remember things like I do.  This was pointed out to me a few years ago, when a friend mentioned some things we'd done when we were young and dumb, then said, "I'll bet you thought I forgot all that, didn't you?"  When he seemed puzzled by me answering "of course not," we started talking about memory... and  I came to understand that it wasn't just him that had a memory that wasn't as good as mine, it was most everyone.  (Only my best friend comes close to having a memory that works like mine, and as well as mine, and [I think] better than mine on some subjects.)  (Well, him and my gaming buddy R, whose memory is... actually kind of scary-good, even next to mine.)

I remember everything I've ever read that interested or amused me.  Not verbatim, no, but by content.  Hand me a book, I can tell you if I've read it or not without ever opening it, most of the time by title and author, though I sometimes have to check the back cover/inside flap copy.

I also can plot some hugely long book, or fanfiction, and keep that plot in my head, despite it sometimes taking literally years  to finish the project.  I've never outlined, and consider it a silly habit (sorry, if any of you who do it are reading this), because all of that is in my head, usually before I finish the third chapter.

I see mystery's solutions, often long before anyone thinks I should be able to, and I'm right about my deductions an ever-increasing amount of the time.  I spot the horribly subtle clues that are in the book/show/movie, and there's the solution, boom.  (To be fair, I miss the obvious  [in both entertainment and life] a ridiculous amount of the time.  Goes back to that whole "different way of thinking" thing, I suspect.)

I think about a ridiculous number of things that you don't have to, most likely.  I have to think about socializing, which can make things a bit... odd, at times, I suspect.  I have to work  not to think about problems, be they mine or those of people I'm close to.  I am currently nearly constantly thinking about either my upcoming disability hearing, or one friend's losing their job and having to move back home, or another's potentially dangerous problems that are a mix of personal and potentially legal.  I have to actually push those things aside to think about other things.  Irksome, on occasion, but other times, that kind of focus can be really  handy....

Thing I'm trying to get at, here, is that all of you are going to (if you haven't already) very probably lose your patience with me, someday.  When that day comes, ask yourself... "is this because he's being an ass, or is it just that he's neuro-atypical?"  Because there's at least a chance that the difference/rigidity of my thinking is at the root of the behavior that irked you in the first place.

Honestly, I'm very rarely a jerk on purpose, especially to the people who are likely to be reading this in the first place.

"Neuro-atypical."  That sounds so  much better than "autistic," don't you think?
6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
You know, I walked into this whole "oh, hey, I'm autistic" thing thinking I was, you know, not really autistic, or not very autistic, because I, ladies and ginglefins (two attaboys and a cookie if you can identify that reference), am a freaking idiot.

See, I know how often Hollywood (generic term for "visual entertainment," easier to type than "TV and movies") screws up... well, everything they touch. I am extremely aware of how badly they misrepresent every sort of law enforcement and issues of Criminal Justice, and more than a little aware that Hollywood as a whole fails all the sciences, forever.

And I'm aware that they screw up medicine and medical issues, badly, constantly, even (yes, I'll say it) dangerously.

Yet... want to know where I got most of my ideas about Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Yup. "Idiot" I said, and "idiot" I meant. My ideas about Autism Spectrum Disorder and those who deal with it mostly came from Hollywood.

So I thought, "hey, I'm not autistic, maybe. Or not very, or not typically."

Thing is, I'm more and more sure that these thoughts were those of a man who was, if you will pardon the expression, full of shit. Except maybe the last part, because I don't have what a couple of medical professionals consider the most common symptoms of ASD, difficulty with eye contact and a huge, single-focus obsession with... something. (Apparently, gaming is too broad to count, as are heroes, reading, writing and even superheros. If it was "D&D and ONLY D&D," or reading the works of one particular author over and over to the exclusion of all others, or "the Flash and no other superhero" etc, so forth and so on, maybe, but none of my real-world obsessions actually qualify as an ASD thing.)

Only, I'm suffering a couple of things that... I dislike talking about, and that are probably symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They can be, I know, and they're odd enough that I suspect that they are.

I used to love comic books. Superhero comics especially. I have an insane number of trade paperbacks collecting comic book issues, usually one or two storylines per book, and I recently got back all of those. And I started re-reading them, working through them in an order that was pretty much "favorites first." Then... I stopped. Not because I don't like the stories any more, that's not the problem-- if you've heard me rant about "the Flash," you know that's not the problem.

It's the colors. The action scenes. Those things... bug me, almost hurt, nowadays. There's too much to follow, too many obnoxious color combinations, too much BRIGHT vs. too much DARK. I can only read a couple-three pages before I have to put the book down and go do something that's more... blah. Less riotous, less insane. So far, I haven't had trouble with TV and movies, or not MUCH trouble. I do get a bit overloaded after some things, and I very, very rarely watch two hours of anything straight any more. (Which at least makes it easier to avoid binge-watching things on Netflix. Not much of a silver lining, no, but I'll take it.)

It's not just that. Last weekend, at my grandfather's funeral, I got badly overloaded-- and I only went to the graveside ceremony. But that was held in a tiny little cemetery out in the country, and there were too many people crowded too close together. Despite the somber occasion, there were some bright colors, mostly coats and jackets. And the sounds, the sounds of fall and wind and a whole lot of people murmuring and talking before the thing started, and some people crying, and then the damned prayer, and my brain needed to separate out each individual voice when the "amen" came, and of course I couldn't even begin to do that, not with one two-syllable word. Hell, even my clothes were... were not right. The textures of the slacks and shirt felt too slick, too not-right, and the tie, despite not being very tight at all, felt like it was choking me, and the whole thing just sent me damn near round the bend. I went to my car as soon as it was over, as fast as I could move, and I... well, let's just say that my driving away was not a thing of dignity and decorum, and leave it there.

I sometimes think that this is at the root of my crowd issues, but... no. It doesn't help them, no-- crowd noise, colors, motion, those aren't making things easier, but they aren't the root of that problem, just an exacerbating circumstance.

So, I'm trying harder than ever to avoid crowds, and I'm pretty much giving up something that I really, really loved for a long time. Or mostly giving it up. There's still prose superheroes to be had, thanks to the likes of Peter Clines and his Ex-Heroes series, Seanan McGuire and her Velveteen Versus stories, and, of course, the best of the prose super-beings books, the Wild Cards series, by many and varied, under the leadership of Melinda Snodgrass and George R. R. Martin.

This damned sensitivity to over-stimulation of the senses is not what I would call a good time, but so far, I'm dealing with it. Or at least, I'm trying.

6kinds_of_crazy: stupidity demons (Default)
I hate crowds.  I loathe them with a passion I used to reserve for pentecostal/evangelical religions (both of which seem to attract more of the seriously stupid than other, marginally less infuriating religions).

If I'm going to continue with the whole honesty thing, crowds scare me.  I can't see everyone, I can't track them all, and I can't be sure that I'm... safe, I suppose.  That no one is going to enter my personal space, or touch me.  The former upsets me, the latter can actively freak me out.  More and more seriously, the touch of an "unauthorized" person upsets me.  ("Authorized" people include friends and medical people.  And family, so long as we aren't talking those relatives that dwell [or were raised in] the state of Alabama. They're all on the "don't touch me" list.)  Thus, the proximity of an "unauthorized" person can upset me, too.

More and more, being in a crowd leaves me with the feeling that I'm going to have to just leave wherever it is that the crowd is with whatever my task in the store (the most likely place to encounter a crowd) was left undone.  Not a comfortable feeling.  In fact, it leaves me feeling somewhere between angry and ashamed.  

Yeah, yeah, I know.  "Nothing to be ashamed of."  Well, despite all my best efforts, I do have enough of that despicable "machismo" garbage in my makeup that being afraid of something that other people aren't can leave me feeling ashamed.  I don't like it (or particularly like admitting it, even), but it's there, and I have to acknowledge it.  (Honesty.  Occasionally, the habit is really annoying.)

Entering a grocery store is becoming a chore that I hate so much that I'm considering trying to do my shopping for two or more weeks at a time, maybe even a month.  Tragically, I'm not really equipped with the storage space for foodstuffs to make that at all practical.  So instead, I'm thinking about doing my shopping in Aldi on Wednesdays... and my Walmart shopping on Thursday nights, after gaming.  Might work... I hope.  (I wish Aldi was open later than eight PM, that'd make all of this easier.)

Worse than grocery shopping?  My medication refills.  They're all kind of staggered, and because of my insurance, I can't just get things early to get more of it at once.  I often have to make a special trip to Wal-mart just for meds twice a week, and that?  It can't be done late at night. The only place with a pharmacy that's open that late doesn't take my insurance at all, so... I'm stuck with things as they are.

And it's not getting better.  Sure, the therapy for this hasn't started, but... I have doubts.  The things that are being talked about, they just don't really sound terribly effective to me.  And, after watching my mother abuse prescription meds for years, I'm horribly leery of using meds to control my issues more than I already am-- to be honest, I really don't like relying on the meds as much as I already do.  More will be... problematic, I fear.

Why can't this be easy, damn it all?

Oh, well.  Until something changes, I'm just going to have to deal with it, I guess.  Tragically, that may well result in me being hard to deal with. Apologies in advance for that part, folks....

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