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Common Symptoms of Some 'AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS'


PLEASE Click on UNDERSTANDING AUTISM and READ it before reading this paper.

This is meant to be a relatively Short way to help you see if you are part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, which includes:
    □ High Functioning Autism
    □ Sensory Processing Disorder
    (Sensory Integration Dysfunction)
    □ Asperger Syndrome
    □ Developmental Coordination Disorder
    (Developmental Dyspraxia)
    □ Dysgraphia
Most kids and adults who are in the Autism Spectrum and who do not show significant obvious symptoms, are SELDOM diagnosed. If the problems and symptoms are not glaring, no one bothers.  Even Kids with obvious symptoms are often not diagnosed, since many teachers are not trained to know what to look for and of course most parents do not know what to look for.

If you believe that you are Autistic, and you are still in school, PLEASE get officially diagnosed, so that you can immediately get some special training and therapy to help you overcome the challenges of your Autism, which will make your life happier.

Either talk to your Parents or School Counselor, or I can try to find Autism Resources near you. What we do know is that the sooner you are diagnosed and receive special therapy, the faster you can overcome much of your Autistic challenges.  It is critical to catch this as young as possible. I basically had to do it all on my expect, except for the Speech Therapy and Balance Beam work.

Depending on your state, young adults 22 or under can be eligible for Autism resources, like vocational training and even help with temporary housing.  Some states also have resources for Adults with Autism.

I can also talk to you about things you can do on your own to help overcome the challenges of your Autism.



DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS (ASD)

Since all of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have the same root cause, basically faulty connections and wiring in your brain, every single person with ASD will have present with different mixes of symptoms, AND to different amounts.  A person can also be on a little Autistic or a great deal.

Behaviorally, certain characteristics identify the Autism Spectrum. The type, severity and/or number of autistic traits present, determines the type and severity of Autism in the individual.   These autistic traits may be beneficial for some disciplines like science, mathematics, engineering and computer programming. Artistic creativity is also common, including music. Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders excel at Visual Thinking and have superior Spatial Abilities. But at the same time, you can have a lot of social detriment.  This is definitely how I am.

The symptoms of the various Autistic Disorders often overlap each other greatly.  Specialists used to diagnose you by asking you a large set of questions about symptoms, and if you had more symptoms matching Asperger than you did for High Functioning Autism, or any of the other disorders, then they diagnosed you as having Asperger Syndrome.  The problem with that is that you always have symptoms of other Autism Spectrum Disorders as well.

Therefore, everyone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is now diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Then you can list which is dominant in you if you wish.

Some autistic individuals might show a marked proficiency in rote memorization which may help learn the foundation of these subjects; however, others with autism may have poor rote memory skills.  The exceptionally good aptitude in certain subjects, of those with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum, may be due to their ability to readily identify patterns and apply them consistently to new situations outside of established knowledge or teaching.

The biggest plus-side to my autism has been my ability to solve very complex problems, to see patterns in drawings, data, accounting, and even human behavior.  I solved problems no one had solved in over 10 years.  Those with ASD are often able to solve complex problems, when most other people cannot solve those problems.  When Autistic people are solving these problems, the 'Left Temporal Lobe' of their brain becomes very active.  If you then take a normal person who fails to solve a set of problems, then stimulate their 'Left Temporal Lobe' (via Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation), they can suddenly solve those problems.

A 2007 study found that contrary to popular belief, people on the Autism Spectrum are capable of reading facial expressions, social reasoning and understanding stereotypes. Eighteen children ages 10 to 14 were able to attribute a range of mental states to dynamic and static facial expressions, but not as great as their neurotypical peers (normal kids).

The autistic children were better at recognizing mental states when the eyes and mouth conveyed information than when these facial features were static and neutral. In a second experiment, children 11 to 15 were just as capable as their neurotypical peers (normal kids) at interpreting mental states, whether it was the eyes in isolation or in the context of the whole face.

Autistic people may be prone to committing social faux pas (an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation) due to an inability to predict the reactions of, and understand the intent, needs and desires of those around them. This may cause neglecting of social niceties, like knocking on doors before entering or returning a greeting.

Similarly, they may be overly trusting or paranoid of strangers. I am very over-trusting.  Autistic children generally want to develop social relationships and are actually able to build relationships with peers through social skills training.  People with autism can also be taught how society works by using virtual reality simulations to learn about the complex rules of society. Being on the autism spectrum does not keep these individuals from understanding social roles and stereotypes in a society, many of them can understand the role of a cashier in a super market to locking doors in a bad neighborhood



My Autism Spectrum Disorders are as follows, by degree of strongest to weakest:
  1. HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM
  2. SENSORY INTEGRATION DYSFUNCTION or SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER
  3. ASPERGER SYNDROME
  4. DEVELOPMENTAL COORDINATION DISORDER or DYSPRAXIA
  5. DYSGRAPHIA
You can overcome the worse of these disorders by getting various therapies for Autism, vocational training if it is keeping you from getting a job, and by having the COURAGE, CHOICE , DETERMINATION, PERSEVERANCE & PATIENCE to overcome your challenges.



HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

High-Functioning Autism basically means you are Autistic, but can function fairly well in the real world.

Those with High Functioning Autism typically have higher than ordinary IQ, but measure much lower using standard tests.  This is because the amount of language processing necessary on the tests and the large quantity of verbal instructions involved in the testing process, even on the "non-verbal" portion of standard intelligence measures. When tested using a truly non-verbal method, such as the Leiter-R, there can be a significantly higher measure of IQ.

I was diagnosed as Mentally Retarded in 1st Grade, and in 9th grade was given an IQ test and Aptitude tests for Guidance Counseling (what they felt you would be good at doing for a Living).  My parents and I were called in to talk to the Counselor, who showed us a Bell-Curve of National Intelligence, and showed how I was at the bottom of Intelligence, Mentally Retarded, yet I was in the top 10% of my class, almost straight A's and on the Dean's list.  He said, "Tests don't Lie," but obviously they do.

If you are Autistic at all, NEVER believe anyone who tells you that you have a low IQ or are not intelligent.  It is a LIE.



Many of the effects of High-Functioning Autism are things I have overcome and controlled, but I still feel some of the fear, anxiety or nervousness.  For example, I still feel anxious about going to a party full of strangers, but I push past that and go anyway.  I will still feel hesitant to introduce myself to strangers, but I do it anyway. Then I feel better afterwards and enjoy myself.

High-Functioning Autism has, or still does, do things like make me:
    :bulletblue: overly trusting, or the opposite, difficulty trusting
    :bulletblue: Lacking the ability to engage in "small talk"
    :bulletblue: Prone to commit social faux pas (an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation) because of an inability to predict others' reactions
    :bulletblue: Have a tendency to neglect social niceties like returning a greeting
    :bulletblue: Have a hard time Understanding  Jokes, or it talked a long time to figure them out.
    :bulletblue: Shy, a loner
    :bulletblue: Avoid eye contact
    :bulletblue: Prefer routine and order, like writing lists & alphabetized indexes, sticking to a limited wardrobe
    :bulletblue: Have difficulties with social interaction
    :bulletblue: Be seen as being overly serious or earnest
    :bulletblue: Become the target of bullying in grade school
    :bulletblue: Seek out the company of my intellectual peers, joining hobby groups, while avoiding my age-group peers.
    :bulletblue: Uneasy with the complex social interactions
    :bulletblue: Having difficulty with motor skills and co-ordination (also part of my "Sensory Integration Dysfunction")
    :bulletblue: Prone to complex habitual movement.
    :bulletblue: Have difficulty initiating love and friendship relationships, often being rejected because potential partners perceive you as being either too "nerdy" or too intelligent, which can lead to low self-esteem and loneliness.

On the plus side of HFA effects are:
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often become excellent problem solvers.
    :bulletpink: People with HFA are usually intelligent, gifted, honest, hard workers
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often become excellent in science, mathematics, engineering and computer programming.
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often have the ability to focus intensely and for long periods on a difficult problem.
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often have an enhanced learning ability, although this often is not applied to subjects they are uninterested in.
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often have intense and deep knowledge of an obscure or difficult subject and a passion for pursuing it in an organized and scholarly manner.
    :bulletpink: People with HFA often present no problems in a supportive, well-resourced educational institution and often do well academically if they can be stimulated by good teachers.
    :bulletpink: Speech and diction can be unusually precise in some individuals with HFA, but this may be delayed or awkward in many other individuals.
Like most things in life, there are negatives and positives, to being different.

Human beings are CHALLENGE oriented.  We respond well to it and rise to it.  If you do not naturally have challenges, then that is when SELF-MOTIVATION comes in.



SENSORY INTEGRATION DYSFUNCTION or SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is the inability of the brain to correctly process information brought in by the senses.  For example, for me, each eye was reading independently of the other, then the brain integrated those two signals (put them together) into one.  My brain did not integrate them well.   SID can also make your skin sensitive at times, or your ears sensitive to sound.  For example, sometimes my clothing feels very uncomfortable; things like shirt tags on the neckline can drive me nuts; moist skin feels bad to me; jeans rubbing on my legs can be irritating (it comes & goes).

SID makes you very uncoordinated with poor motor skills and planning.  Foods taste and texture can be untypical, like many things taste much more bitter too me. I can stand coffee in ice cream, but drinking coffee would curl my hair.  Some vegetables, beer and wine taste so bitter it sends shivers up and down my spine.  Lilies smell so pungent I can't stand to be near them.

I used to love spinning around and around with my arms spread wide, which is common with this disorder, along with rolling around on the floor a lot. It feels calming to us.

You may experience:
    :bulletblue: Either be in constant motion or fatigue easily or go back and forth between the two.
    :bulletblue: Withdraw when touched.
    :bulletblue: Refuse to eat certain foods because of how the foods feel when chewed.
    :bulletblue: Be oversensitive to odors.
    :bulletblue: Be hypersensitive to certain fabrics and only wear clothes that are soft or that you find pleasing.
    :bulletblue: Dislike getting your hands dirty.
    :bulletblue: Be uncomfortable with some movements, such as swinging, sliding, or going down ramps or other inclines.
    :bulletblue: Have difficulty calming yourself after exercise or after becoming upset.
    :bulletblue: Jump, swing, and spin excessively.
    :bulletblue: Appear clumsy, trip easily, or have poor balance.
    :bulletblue: Have odd posture.
    :bulletblue: Have difficulty handling small objects such as buttons or snaps.
    :bulletblue: Be overly sensitive to sound. Vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, hair dryers, leaf blowers, or sirens may be upsetting.
    :bulletblue: Lack creativity and variety in play. For instance, as a child you may have played with the same toys in the same manner over and over or prefer only to watch TV or videos.
Only some of these apply to me.



ASPERGER SYNDROME

Asperger Syndrome is characterized by:
    :bulletblue: Narrow interests or preoccupation with a subject to the exclusion of other activities
    :bulletblue: Repetitive behaviors or rituals
    :bulletblue: Peculiarities in speech and language
    :bulletblue: Extensive logical/technical patterns of thought
    :bulletblue: Socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and interpersonal interaction
    :bulletblue: Problems with nonverbal communication
    :bulletblue: Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
People with AS lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction, and may lack the ability to communicate their own emotional state, resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend, or finding it hard to know what is "acceptable". The unwritten rules of social behavior that mystify so many with AS have been termed the "hidden curriculum". People with AS must learn these social skills intellectually through seemingly contrived, dry, math-like logic rather than intuitively through normal emotional interaction.



DEVELOPMENTAL COORDINATION DISORDER ( DYSPRAXIA )

I have Dyspraxia, which is difficulty getting our bodies to do what we want when we want them to do it. It includes difficulty with planning a sequence of coordinated movements.

MEMORY PROBLEMS: In addition to the physical impairments, developmental coordination disorder is associated with problems with memory, especially working memory. This typically results in difficulty remembering instructions, difficulty organizing one's time and remembering deadlines, increased propensity to lose things or problems carrying out tasks which require remembering several steps in sequence (such as cooking). these problems are more significant compared to the general population. However, many dyspraxics have excellent long-term memories, despite poor short-term memory.  Many dyspraxics benefit from working in a structured environment, as repeating the same routine minimises difficulty with time-management and allows them to commit procedures to long-term memory.

People with developmental coordination disorder sometimes have difficulty moderating the amount of sensory information that their body is constantly sending them, so as a result these people are prone to panic attacks.

Many dyspraxics struggle to distinguish left from right, even as adults, and have an extremely poor sense of direction generally.

Moderate to extreme difficulty doing physical tasks is experienced by some dyspraxics, and fatigue is common because so much extra energy is expended while trying to execute physical movements correctly. Some (but not all) dyspraxics suffer from hypotonia, low muscle tone, which like DCD can detrimentally affect balance.

Difficulties with Fine Motor Control & Coordination lead to problems with handwriting, which may be due to either ideational or ideo-motor difficulties. Problems associated with this area may include:
    :bulletblue: Learning basic movement patterns.
    :bulletblue: Developing a desired writing speed.
    :bulletblue: The acquisition of graphemes – e.g. the letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as numbers.
    :bulletblue: Establishing the correct pencil grip
    :bulletblue: Hand aching while writing
    :bulletblue: The acquisition of graphemes – e.g. the letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as numbers.
Difficulties with Gross Motor Control & Coordination and body image issues mean that major developmental targets including walking, running, climbing and jumping can be affected. Problems include walking, running, climbing and jumping. One area of difficulty involves associative movement, where a passive part of the body moves or twitches in response to a movement in an active part. For example, the support arm and hand twitching as the dominant arm and hand move, or hands turning inwards or outwards to correspond with movements of the feet. Problems associated with this area may include:
    :bulletblue: Poor timing
    :bulletblue: Poor balance (sometimes even falling over in mid-step). Tripping over one's own feet is also common.
    :bulletblue: Difficulty combining movements into a controlled sequence.
    :bulletblue: Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception (the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement).
    :bulletblue: Difficulty remembering the next movement in a sequence.
    :bulletblue: Some people with developmental coordination disorder have trouble picking up and holding onto simple objects such as pencils, owing to poor muscle tone and/or proprioception.
    :bulletblue: This disorder can cause an individual to be clumsy to the point of knocking things over and bumping into people accidentally.
    :bulletblue: Some people with developmental coordination disorder have difficulty in determining left from right.
    :bulletblue: Cross-laterality, ambidexterity, and a shift in the preferred hand are also common in people with developmental coordination disorder.
    :bulletblue: Problems with chewing foods
Difficulties in areas relating to physical play may lead to dyspraxic children standing out from their peers. Major developmental targets include ball skills, use of wheeled toys and manipulative skills, including pouring, threading and using scissors.
    :bulletblue: Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception
    :bulletblue: Mistiming when catching
    :bulletblue: Complex combination of skills involved in using scissors
    :bulletblue: Difficulty dressing and feeding.
Kids used to fight over who would get stuck with me on their team in sports.  I would see the ball coming and would be sure I had it, and it would land 6 feet (2 meters) away.

Developmental verbal dyspraxia is a type of ideational dyspraxia, causing linguistic or phonological impairment. Key problems include:
    :bulletblue: Difficulties controlling the speech organs.
    :bulletblue: Difficulties making speech sounds
    :bulletblue: Difficulty sequencing sounds: • Within a word, • Forming words into sentences
    :bulletblue: Difficulty controlling breathing, suppressing salivation and phonation when talking or singing with lyrics
    :bulletblue: Slow language development.
I had to take speech therapy until I was in 6th grade in elementary school.  For example, I could not say the letter "R".  Say it aloud now and notice what your tongue does.  Asian people learning English as a second language have a lot of trouble with this letter, because there is no equivalent sound in their language.

ASSOCIATED DISORDERS: Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) is part of the AUTISM SPECTRUM and is commonly associated with other Autistic related disorders, such as: Sensory Processing Disorder (described above), Dysgraphia (described below), Dyscalculia (difficulty with mathematics), and is can also be associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).



DYSGRAPHIA

I have Dysgraphia, which is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting personal thoughts and emotions on paper. Writing is something I did not get very good at until later in life.



I am proud to be AUTSIC. I feel NO shame in being Autistic and do not actively hide it.


I have proven that you can be pretty severely Autistic and overcome most of it, so that you can lead a full and happy life.

I did very well professionally and was able to retire for life at age 34, and I was able to have an active outdoor life, hobbies, and was even a Foster Father.  Before Age 34:
    □ I went to a Merchant Marine Academy (not military) out of high school, and completed my 4-year Engineering Degree in 3 years, graduating number one. I worked up to Chief Engineer, Unlimited Horsepower, Steam and Diesel, on ships.
    □ I was a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineer.
    □ I did design work in Automation and Control Systems (electronic, hydraulic, pneumonic & electrical), and wrote a series of technical manuals.
    □ I am a certified Electrician, Plumber, Machinist and Welder and did all house trades and Carpentry, from foundations up to roofs and all finishing work.
    □ I was trained as a Firefighter and had Emergency Medical Training.
    □ I was a Lieutenant Commander in the USNR.
    □ I am trained in Accounting and Computer Programming.
    □ I started a Landscaping business, an Investment business, and worked as a full partner in an Export business, as well as trading in securities, bonds and precious metals.
    □ I was a Lithographic Pressman, and did Typesetting, Layup, Camera, Darkroom, etc, in High School.
    □ I was a Foster Father to two children, a 7-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, for a year and a half with my second partner.
    □ I was an avid Rock Climber, as well as Hiker and enjoyed White Water Rafting.  I had a hobby with Sea Water Reef Systems with live corals and other sea life.
After Age 34, I then devoted the rest of my life to Volunteer Work and Art:
    □ I went into Volunteer Work □ I started a Graphic Design company □ I got training as a Counselor (UW), and became a Volunteer Peer Counselor. □ I taught myself Computer Graphic Arts, as well as traditional arts.
I am a Gay man and had a boyfriend for 1 year, them my first partner for 4 years, then my second partner for 6 years, and then my third partner of almost 25 years and counting.  Going to sea was murder on the first two relationships, plus we were codependent. Third time was the charm.

I have many freinds and had a large Social Life, as well as Dancing and teaching dance, with total strangers and freinds, many nights of the week, doing the Tango, Rhumba, West Coast Swing, Two-step, Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing, Samba, Mambo, Salsa, Cha-cha, and of course, letting-go and dancing in Gay dance clubs, until I became disabled.

My point is to simply show you that you can be Autistic and have a grand life.  You face challenges others do not, but when you overcome those challenges, it makes appreciate everything so much more, and helps you to become a better person.



GETTING BETTER – OVERCOMING THE LIMITATIONS OF YOUR AUTISM

Introducing myself to strangers and dancing with strangers was terrifying to me.  I pushed myself hard night after night, forcing myself to introduce myself to total strangers each night, ask strangers to dance with me, and try to make freinds. It got easier and easier to do.  I started having more and more fun and enjoyed having freinds in my life.   I did not know what to even say at first, but people were really friendly and helpful and I got pretty good at socializing, even in holding conversations with multiple people.   I got better at looking people in eyes and in simple intimacy with people.   Dancing was supposed to be impossible with my kind of Autism, but I just kept pushing myself, practicing and taking lessons.

My Neurologist says that I pushed my brain hard enough and long enough that it literally rewired itself so that I could dance, so that I could more easily meet people and socialize with them.  This is called NEUROPLASTICITY, the ability of the brain to rewire itself when it needs to, and it only knows it needs to if you push yourself.

If you keep AVOIDING the things that your Autism makes difficult, like socializing, making freinds, physical things, then you will not get much better.  If you challenge yourself in the areas where Autism is limiting your life and happiness, then your brain will rewire itself to better be able to do the things you want to do.

Years of isolation and subsequent depression led to a suicide attempt that I survived only by accident. Once I was making freinds, learning to dance, and had a social life, I finally found JOY and HAPPINESS in life.  I had had two previous relationships that failed in part from my inability to even see that I was being used and betrayed in a big way. I had few others in my life and tried to live THROUGH THEM.  This is no way to live. When I became a happier person and able to meet the kind of guys who were good for me, I found the love of my life, which was over two decades ago.

Please believe me when I tell you that being Autistic does not make you LESS in any way, and in fact can make you MORE in some ways.  I know that it can feel overwhelming, confusing, and sometimes terrifying to be Autistic.  Depression is common. But you can overcome it all.  It is much easier to overcome it with some help.


©Matthew Barry 2012, 2014







EXTRA READING





AUTISM: SOCIAL RULES, SOCIAL BOUNDARIES, SMALL TALK, & SOCIAL FAUX PAS

CONVERSATION:

In Conversations, there can be INNUENDO (an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one), conversations within conversations, underlying meanings or subtext, indirect things, hints, secondary implications, etc, all going on in conversation, in a kind of complex dance. Autistics have a hard time seeing and interpreting all of this secondary stuff going on in conversation.

The more people added to a conversation, the more difficult it typically gets for you. You would probably do best when talking to just one person at a time, while being in a group of three of more would be more difficult.

When a neurotypical person is conversing with another person, talking and listening, their brain is very rapidly (almost simultaneously) processing a great deal.  He or she is:
    □ Listening to the other person,
    □ observing that person's facial and body language, the subtle tone and inflection changes in the speech,
    □ then translating it all,
    □ then interpreting it all,
    □ then accessing related memories,
    □ then processing it all, what it means to me, implications, innuendo, double-meanings, subtle hints, conversational undercurrents, etc,
    □ then project possible consequences,
    □ then process possible ways you want to respond,
    □ then projecting the possible consequences of each possible response,
    □ then choosing a response,
    □ then translating the thoughts of the response into verbal speech, facial and body language.
Now imagine doing all of that with four people in a group conversation.

All of this is using most of the areas of your brain.  But Autistic people have faulty connections and wires connecting the entire brain together.  This is why Social interaction is so difficult for Autistic people.  All Autistic people are different because all of us have different faulty connects, and differ in how badly they are faulty.

Sometimes there are Double-Meanings to what people say, based on the context of what is said. Example: Julie broke up with her boyfriend over the weekend, and she and other girls are now talking on Monday.  One of the other girls says, "Girls who can't keep a boyfriend must have personal problems."  This is actually an indirect attack against Julie, but only if you put it in context of her recent break-up.  By-the-way, if you were the one making that comment, it would be a social Faux Pa.

I have a problem noticing when the person I have been talking to is ready to move-on and mingle with other people.  I miss the social cues a person gives when they are uncomfortable talking about a subject, or are getting bored with the topic.



SMALL TALK:

Small Talk is casual, light or informal conversation for social occasions, or trivial conversation.  In spite of seeming to have little useful purpose, Small Talk is a bonding ritual and a strategy for managing interpersonal distance. It serves many functions in helping to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues, and new acquaintances. In particular, it helps new acquaintances to explore and categorize each other's social position. Small talk is closely related to the need for people to maintain positive face—to feel approved-of by those who are listening to them.

In school, a lot of small talk with start with, "What's Up," or whatever the going phrase is.  Most youth would then reply with something like fine, whatever, etc, then the first person would finish with something like, "Cool, see you later," or some such thing.  This is simply a way to connect and disconnect fairly quickly.  Most people can sense if the first person is in a rush and won't try to extend the conversation, but an Autistic person might not see that.  If you want to talk to the person more, there are various ways to signal that you want a longer conversation, like suggesting you meet at lunch, or after school, or email each other, etc.

Sometimes the Small Talk is simply to CONNECT with each other, for the purpose of opening a deeper conversation. Then one of you can raise a topic, like something going on in school, or you are upset about something, or wanting to share something with the other person.  When you are both finished talking, you then use small talk to DISCONNECT.

Sometimes you want to break-into a group of people, so you walk-up and wait for a good time to interject yourself, then start with small talk, like "Hey, what's up." Then you can try to pick-up where they left-off in their conversation.  An Autistic person might just jump-in at an inappropriate time, like in the middle of a person saying something.

Sometimes you are in a group of people and no one is talking about anything much, like talking about sports, the weather, gossiping about other students and basically killing time.  But everyone is also connecting socially, and even if not much is said, it often feels good to just connect with others socially.  However, I personally despise 'Dissing,' which is two or more people going-off on other people, like "Look at that guys hair, someone should just shoot him and put him out of his misery, what a loser."  I know people who can do that for hours.

Small Talk lubricates social interactions in a very flexible way. The purpose of the Small Talk is often dependent on the point in the conversation at which the Small Talk occurs:
  1. Conversation opener; When the talkers do not know each other, it allows them to show that they have friendly intentions and desire some sort of positive interaction. In a business meeting, it enables people to establish each other's reputation and level of expertise. Where there is already a relationship between the two talkers, their small talk serves as a gentle introduction before engaging in more functional topics of conversation. It allows them to signal their own mood and to sense the mood of the other person.

  2. At the end of a conversation; Suddenly ending an exchange may risk appearing to reject the other person. Small talk can be used to mitigate that rejection, affirm the relationship between the two people, and soften the parting.

  3. Space filler to avoid silence; in many cultures, silences between two people are usually considered uncomfortable. Tension can be reduced by starting phatic talk until a more substantial subject arises. Generally, humans find prolonged silence uncomfortable, and sometimes unbearable. This can be due to human evolutionary history as a social species, as in many other social animals silence is a communicative sign of potential danger.
In some conversations there is no specific functional or informative element at all. The following example of small talk is between two colleagues who pass each other in a hallway:
    Bill says, "What's-up Matt?"
    Matt replies, "What's up Bill, how are you?"
    Bill says, "Fine, thanks. Have a good weekend?"
    Matt replies, "Yes, thanks. Catch you later."
    Bill says, "OK, see you."
In this example, the entire short conversation is a space-filler. This type of discourse is referred to as 'chatter.'

The need to use Small Talk depends upon the nature of the relationship between the people having the conversation. Couples in an intimate relationship can signal their level of closeness by a lack of small talk. They can comfortably accept silence in circumstances that would be uncomfortable for two people who were only casual friends.

In workplace situations, small talk tends to occur mostly between workers on the same level. However, it can be used by managers as a way of developing the working relationships with the staff who report to them. A boss who asks their employees to work overtime may try to motivate them by using small talk to temporarily decrease their difference in status. The balance between functional conversation and small talk in the workplace depends on the context, and is also influenced by the relative power of the two speakers. It is usually the superior who defines the conversation, because they have the power to close the small talk and "get down to business."

Small Talk can be either direct or indirect. Direct topics include personal observations such as health or looks. Indirect topics refer to a situational context such as the latest news, or the conditions of the communicative situation.

You are supposed to avoid controversial topics, like politics and religion, unless you know you are already in full agreement.  Some topics are considered to be "safe" in most circumstances:
    □ The weather
    □ Recent shared experiences, for example "Isn't it great to see our athletes do so well at the Olympic games?"
    □ Television and films
    □ Sports
The level of detail offered should not overstep the bounds of interpersonal space. When asked, "How are you?" by an acquaintance they do not know well, a person is likely to choose a simple, generalized reply such as, "Fine, thank you." In this circumstance it would probably not be appropriate for them to reply with a list of symptoms of any medical conditions they were suffering from. To do so would assume a greater degree of familiarity between the two people than is actually the case, and this may create an uncomfortable situation.

Conversational Patterns:

Most Small Talk conversations are made up of predictable segments:
  
The first segment is usually phrased so that it is easy for the other person to agree. It may be either a question, or a statement of opinion with a tag question. For example, an opening line such as "Lovely weather, isn't it?" is a clear invitation for agreement.

The second move is the other person's response. In 'functional conversations' that address a 'particular topic,' one's responses should contain no more information than was explicitly asked for.  The principles of small talk contradicts this. Politeness in small talk is maximized by responding with a more substantial answer. Going back to the example of "Lovely weather, isn't it?", to respond factually by just saying "Yes" (or even "No") is less polite than saying, "Yes, very mild for the time of year".

Subsequent moves may involve an acknowledgement such as "I see," a positive evaluation such as "That's nice," or what's called "idling behavior," such as "Mmm," or "Really?".

Cultural Differences:
If you are talking to a person from a different culture, it become very challenging since people are often very sensitive about social rules and can easily become insulted.  This is especially true of socially rigid societies like Japan. Some cultures have a great deal more social rules than others, and the consequences of breaking those social rules can be much worse.  Being Autistic in Japan would be worse than Being Autistic in America. However, even within your own country, different areas have different social rules.  In some countries personal finance issues such as salary are considered taboo.  But Taboo subjects may even depend on your social class.

Social Class:
The higher the social status, the more RIGID the social rules.  Maybe it is Ok to talk about how much debt you have or how much salary you make in a lower class, but go to an upper class party and it is taboo.

Individual Cultural Differences:
Even cultural differences between individuals matters. I once gave my ex-partner a compliment and he threw something heavy at me. It turns out that for him, when a person uses a "big" word he does not understand, it must be an insult.  I have been accused on DA of being Arrogant because I use words they did not know.  They assumed I was using those words to specifically put them down, when they are actually everyday words for me.

Gender Differences:
Speech patterns between women tend to be more collaborative than those of men, and tend to support each other's involvement in the conversation. Topics for small talk are more likely to include compliments about some aspect of personal appearance. For example, "That dress really suits you." Small talk between women who are friends may also involve a greater degree of self-disclosure. Topics may cover more personal aspects of their life, their troubles, and their secrets. This self-disclosure both generates a closer relationship between them and is also a signal of that closeness.

By contrast, men's small talk tends to be more competitive. It may feature verbal sparring matches, playful insults, and putdowns. However, in a way these are also both creators and signals of solidarity; the men are signaling that they are comfortable enough with each other's company to be able to say these things without them being taken as insults.



AUTISM & SOCIAL RULES & BOUNDARIES:

In Autism, we often do not understand much of the Social Rules and Customs, nor do we typically recognize Social Boundaries. Our society has thousands of social rules and boundaries, and we are very slow learning them, and even when we do, we often do not recognize the social cues that should tell us if we are crossing a boundary, etc.  For example, you are not supposed to talk about certain subjects with strangers or casual acquaintances, but if you know each other well, you know you won't be upsetting him or insulting him by talking about those subjects.

My partner is very attuned to fairly rigid social standards and boundaries, and I therefore embarrass him at times and he disapproves of me at times.  Before we would go to an event, or out to dinner with friends, or go to a social event, my partner used to start telling me the names of wives, husbands and children to remember to mention (or they might feel insulted), and what I am not to talk about with certain people, what subjects I should bring up with certain people, and not to use a buffet plate twice, and on and on…  I kept telling him he was wasting his breath, because I either won't remember it, or I won't be limited by such things. Frankly, I believe that rigid social boundaries and rules are like a prison for people, limiting social intimacy.

With an Autistic person like me, when you ask me, "Hi, how are doing?" I am likely to answer honestly, which breaks the Small Talk rules. However, an honest answer, like it has been a lousy day, or I feel depressed, will often initiate a meaningful conversation about why your day was lousy, or why you feel depressed, which can then lead to another related subject.

When I finally decided to break out of my Autistic Prison, and forced myself to introduce myself to strangers, I practiced different introductions and settled on simply saying, "Hi, my name is Matthew," and holding out my hand to shake hands. But then what do I say?  I decided that there is no way I can play their game or deal with all of those social rules and small talk, so i decided to simply be honest and open and not worry about Social rules and boundaries or doing small talk.  People would either like me or not.  I eventually learned some of the Social Etiquette.

The first person I decided to approach was a Lesbian at the GLBTQ Dance hall I had just started going to. I introduced myself to her and she to me.  She asked how I was doing and I told her I was doing better, but still recovering from trying to kill myself. This naturally led into a conversation about that and then she told me a story about a difficult time in her life.  I sensed a secret involving shame that she had maneuvered around in her story.  I decided to take a chance and tell her that I had been raped once and about feeling shame and guilt.  I told her my story. She then started telling me about how she was a victim of incest.  When we finished talking, she said that in her entire life she had never been able to tell anyone her story, not ever her partner, and that talking about it was like an enormous weight off her shoulders, and that she already felt much less guilt and shame.

I continue to be the same way.  I am open and honest, even though it breaks all of the rules. Many people find it very refreshing. I made a lot of new friends.  I find that breaking the social rules is ok as long as I do it compassionately and with good intent.  Sometimes I get hurt and/or betrayed by being so open about myself and letting people in, but I figure it is week worth it for all of the Love I gain in my life from everyone else.



SOCIAL FAUX PAS: An embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.

Social Faux Pas are basically when you break the social rules, boundaries and etiquette talked about above.  This is typically due to the fact that we have difficulty predicting others' reactions. We may also neglect social niceties like saying, excuse me, knocking on a door before entering, send thank you cards, or returning a greeting. You may keep forgetting peoples birthdays and anniversaries.  You may say things inappropriate for the conversation or for the situation.

I tend to str talking about something and everyone looks puzzled and have no idea what I am talking about, because maybe we were talking about cats, and now I am taking about camels, only I forgot to put what I washing into context for  them, forget to let them know I was going in a new direction. I sometimes pause in my speaking while I think.  If they don't know me well, some will just start talking  before I can finish.  I am slow to answer questions at times, wanting to think it through more.

People will say things to you expecting your support or help, but an autistic person might miss those cues. Like if he says he had a difficult weekend, this would be your cue to ask him what happened in a supportive and caring tone of voice. I am actually really good at this, despite being Autistic, because I also have empathy.  I think I suffered so much in my life that I became attuned to it.

Other times people give subtle cues that they do NOT want to talk about something.  He could say he had a lousy seeking and say it in such a way as to indicate that he doesn't want to talk about it. Autistics might miss that cue.

With practice at socializing, just pushing yourself to do it as much as you can, you do get better and better at it, as your brain rewires itself to handle conversation better.  This happened for me.

Then when I became homebound, and had to write to people on the internet, it turned into a nightmare, because it was like a new language.  I had always been good at technical writing, but could barely write a letter home, I wrote without emotion.  People were seeing me as arrogant and cold.  In desperation, I decided to try to pretend I was talking to the person I was writing to, as if he or she was sitting across from me.  It worked, it tricked my brain.  This is why most of my writing is conversational.




©Matthew Barry 2012, 2014

Common Symptoms of Some 'AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS'


This Only Covers The Most Common 'Autism Spectrum Disorders,' & Only The Most Common Symptoms Of Those Disorders.

PLEASE Click on UNDERSTANDING AUTISM and READ it before reading this paper.



This is meant to be a relatively Short way to help you see if you are part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, which includes:
    □ High Functioning Autism □ Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Integration Dysfunction) □ Asperger Syndrome □ Developmental Coordination Disorder (Developmental Dyspraxia) □ Dysgraphia
Most high functioning Autistic (ASD) people are SELDOM diagnosed. If the problems and symptoms are not glaring, no one bothers.  Even Kids with obvious symptoms are often not diagnosed, since many teachers are not trained to know what to look for and of course most parents do not know what to look for.

If you believe that you are Autistic, and you are still in school, PLEASE get officially diagnosed, so that you can immediately get some special training and therapy to help you overcome the challenges of your Autism, which will make your life happier.

Either talk to your Parents or School Counselor, or I can try to find Autism Resources near you. What we do know is that the sooner you are diagnosed and receive special therapy, the faster you can overcome much of your Autistic challenges.  It is critical to catch this as young as possible. I basically had to do it all on my expect, except for the Speech Therapy and Balance Beam work.

Depending on your state, young adults 22 or under can be eligible for Autism resources, like vocational training and even help with temporary housing.  Some states also have resources for Adults with Autism.

I can also talk to you about things you can do on your own to help overcome the challenges of your Autism.



I am proud to be AUTSIC. I feel NO shame in being Autistic and do not actively hide it.

I have proven that you can be pretty severely Autistic and overcome most of it, so that you can lead a full and happy life.

I did very well professionally and was able to retire for life at age 34, and then devoted my life to volunteer work and Art.

I have many freinds and had a large Social Life, as well as Dancing with total strangers many nights of the week (Tango, Rhumba, West Coast Swing, Two-step, Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing, Samba, Mambo, Salsa, Cha-cha), until I became disabled.

Please believe me when I tell you that being Autistic does not make you LESS in any way, and in fact can make you MORE in some ways. I know that it can feel overwhelming, confusing, and sometimes terrifying to be Autistic. Depression is common. But you can overcome it all. It is much easier to overcome it with some help.

Matthew
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:iconsunao17:
Sunao17 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I think I might be a High functioning Autist
but I think the level is really tiny... I think I just like being a
lone
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Technically, things like Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, etc, are no longer seen as a diagnosis.  It is now all recognized simply as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), because all the symptoms of all of the disorders overlap considerably, like slightly different shades of gray.

Autism is typically thought of as a bad thing, but in my experience it can be a good thing. Autism usually comes with gifts, and if you can overcome certain challenges, the net result can be a big gain. The greatest gift of all for me was an indirect gift of autism, because I became the man I am from learning to cope with and overcome my Autism challenges and the way people treated me.

Autism had some direct gifts for me to, such as art, an overthrusting nature, a deep empathy, and something I did not discover until about age 24, when I realized that I had an amazing ability to rapidly solve very complex problems in multiple fields, such as electronics, accounting, engineering, control systems, and even people.  It served me well.


The downside to autism are things like social challenges, sometimes physical coordination, etc, but the great news is all of these can be overcome if you want to overcome them. I have overcome every challenge I felt  were limiting me, and others I never bothered with or found adventitious.

I actually do rather well in isolation, as I live now. Being a loner, being able to fill up your life by yourself and with creativity is fine, but in my own personal experience, loneliness gets worse as the years go by. There really is something very special about having someone to share your life with.

When I was finally able to take on my social challenges by pushing myself out the door and going out socially, forcing myself to introduce myself to total strangers and try to converse socially (very difficult then), and learning to dance (seemingly impossible), I discovered a level of happiness and outright joy that I had never even thought possible.  I also met my current partner this way.

The odd thing was that at sea, on ships, I was in command position and was actually very good working with people, but at sea it felt different, they felt more like family in my mind, while at home I was socially inept, and this is the way autism can be.

The human brain is wondrous in its ability to adapt and rewire itself, something called neuroplasticity.  Any autistic challenges you have can be overcome, by pushing your brain, challenging it, over a period of time.  I was told that dancing and even sprinting was impossible for me (Sensory Integration Dysfunction), but I pushed myself had for three moths taking lessons 5 nights  week, practicing at home, and not getting much better at all (and looking like an idiot).  Then I suddenly started improving rapidly.  I did so well I decided to learn leading and following in (major brain shift) and learning to do this on over a dozen dances, and then I started teaching dance.  All of this through Neuroplasticity.

Anyway, if you have any questions, ow want to talk about how overcoming any challenges you would like to deal with, or to just talk about Autism Spectrum Disorders, feel free to drop me a Note anytime.
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:iconkilluanatsume:
Killuanatsume Featured By Owner May 6, 2014
Hi, I have dyspraxia and often I have to explain what are the difference between it and dyslexia. Is it me, or there is almost no information on dyspraxia?
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Hi, Dyslexia is easy to describe, but Dyspraxia is much harder to describe because there is a wide ranch of possible symptoms.  If someone is curious about the symptoms of my disorders, I usually just describe the symptoms that affect me personally.

Few doctors or people would recognize the word Dyspraxia.  In fact it has a new name now, Developmental Coordination Disorder, DCD (Developmental Dyspraxia), so I need to update my deviation.  You can get more information on it from: Developmental coordination disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DCD (Dyspraxia) is normally under the umbrella of the Autism Spectrum, along with Dysgraphia, and Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Integration Disorder), etc. Dyspraxia is often found together with Sensory Processing Disorder (part of Autism spectrum) and can sometimes be associated with ADHD or Aspergers Syndrome (part of Autism spectrum).

It seems rare for anyone to be diagnose with Dyspraxia by itself.  The diagnosis would probably be Autism Spectrum Disorders, with DCD (Dyspraxia) being a dominant disorder, or perhaps with Sensory Processing Disorder as dominant, or whatever it turns out to be.

No matter what you call it, you treat it the same way, by using Neuroplasticity, by pushing yourself to overcome the challenges of your disorders.



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:iconkilluanatsume:
Killuanatsume Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
thank you again
Reply
:iconpokefangirl491:
Pokefangirl491 Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2014  Student General Artist
I've been reading up on Autism Spectrum Disorders, and I found this informative. It's rather a shame that it is so misunderstood by many.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Yes, there is even some confusion in the autism community and amongst professionals in the field.  For example, there are still doctors and Psychologists who give young people a diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome, even though it has been removed as an official diagnosis. Nobody just has Asperger Syndrome.  It is just a set of overlapping symptoms found in the Autism Spectrum.  Doctors giving this diagnosis are just being lazy and not explaining it fully to the patient and/or the parents.

If you or someone you know is in the Autism Spectrum, please keep in mind that the easiest time to overcome many of your Autism challenges is in childhood, when your brain is already forming millions of new neural connections each day.  By pushing the brain in the right ways, the brain will form new neural pathways and connections around problem areas in the brain.  This includes social challenges, motor skills and all other autism challenges.

For those who are not autistic, the wonders of Neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change itself) can still help you.  It is how the brains of children develop the way they do.  For example, kids who play many hours of video games causes the brain to improve the neural pathways for hand-to-eye coordination and visual processing speed. The more you practice at languages or playing a musical instrument causes the brain to improve in those areas. 

I was told that dancing was impossible for me to do, and it frankly felt impossible, but I just kept at it 6 nights a week. When I started I could not even hear the beat in the music or feel the rhythm. Years later I was teaching dance.  If something is important to you, keep pushing yourself.  It may seem like you are not making any progress at all for months, and then suddenly you start improving.

All the best,  Matthew
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:iconpokefangirl491:
Pokefangirl491 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Student General Artist
I may not have a developmental disability, but I have tried to make a difference in my community for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Those of us who are not neurotypical appreciate anyone who takes the time to try to understand the Autism Spectrum.  I wish most people were like you.

Some of us are sensitive to the term Developmental Disability (not me), simply because the majority of those on the Autism Spectrum are not "Disabled" by our disorders, and many people overcome most of their challenges.  We now know that if you catch Autism in infancy, there are some who can be completely cured of Autism (2 cases so far).  One way to know that Autsm might be an issue in an infant is by doing a Head-Lag test:

HEAD-LAG TEST FOR AUTISM IN INFANTS:

A baby typically should be able to control their neck muscles by around 4 months of age, so that when an infant is pulled from a lying to sitting position, the head should remain in line with the torso and not flop back.  Ninety percent (90%) of the infants later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder exhibited head lag when they were 6 months old. About half (54%) of children with any social or communication delay showed evidence of head lag as infants.  Head lag at 6 months does not mean a child is going to have autism, but the probability is high.

In infants and children, the brain is forming millions of new neural pathways and connections, as well as trimming (dissolving) many.  When some neural pathways are not being used or utilized, the brain trims them away.  By challenging the brains of infants and children, especially in areas of they are not doing well in, the brain can be directed to form many new pathways and connections in those areas.  In the past, parents were told to not top push cAutistic children at what they are not good at (like social skills, eye contact, physical coordination, etc.) and focus only on what the child is interested in. But this actually makes things worse by encouraging the brain to specialize in only select areas.  There are now many new therapies for infants, young children and teenagers on the Autism Spectrum.

PROBLEM: The biggest problem (as I see it) is how many kids fall through the crack and go undiagnosed, even when the symptoms are glaring, even all the way through graduation of High School.  This often leads to depression and sometimes suicide, with very low self-esteem and sled-confidence.  I have dealt with two such cases in the last year.

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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
This is what I try to teach.  Neuroplasticity is even more effective the younger you are, especially in infancy and pre-teen years when the brain is forming at such a rapid rate.  With early recognition of Autism Spectrum Disorders, some kids can almost completely overcome their Autistic challenges by adulthood.

My story shows that even when you start working to overcome your autistic challenges later in life, you can still overcome much of your autistic challenges, although you have to work harder and longer than if you do it as a child when your brain is still developing.  I was tackling my physical problems, coordination problems, learning problems and some social problems in my teen years.  But I did not really get to work on my socialization issues until I was 34 years, after trying to kill myself.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Going to sea on ships kept me isolated.  Once I stopped going to sea I no longer had any social connections at all.  I forced myself to get out of the house each night and forced myself to introduce myself to total stingers each night.  It was incredibly difficult to do at first, but I just kept pushing myself and I got netter and better at it and made a number of new freinds within just a few months.   
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:iconbookgrl63:
bookgrl63 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013
I wasn't diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome until I was 17 and by then I was already in a mental hospital for OCD. When I was younger I used to think Autism was terrifying, one of the most horrifying things that could ever happen to you. I used to worry that I was secretly Autistic and was actually completely divorced from reality. I worried that my 2 year old brother was going to become Autistic because he had tantrums. I had tantrums as a child and I still do now, even though I'm 19. I wish I had been diagnosed sooner. My mother says that I was too high-functioning for people to notice. I spoke, I made friends, and I came off as very precocious. I think it might also have to do with my being a girl. I was kicked out of a class in 8th grade, had to switch schools in 9th grade, and have recently left college without finishing my freshman year. I have never had a real job or a real romantic relationship. I really wish people didn't portray Autism as some horrible disease. I think I might have been diagnosed earlier if people knew that someone on the Autism Spectrum could be so high functioning. The interesting thing is that the fact that I can pass as neurotypical, has actually been quite a hindrance.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Hi,

I am sorry to hear that you suffered so much. We have that in common. We now know that of Autism is found early, like when you are an infant, it can be treated very well and sometimes reversed.

There is officially no longer a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, as it has been removed from the Psychology Diagnostic handbook. Asperger is just one part of Autism Spectrum Disorders. In other words, Asperger may be your primary disorder, but you share others as well—they all overlap each other.

OCD is relatively common with Autism and many never get diagnosed with Autism.

No one has ever guessed that I was Autistic, once I left High School. Your ability to function increases with age.

The fantastic news is that you can OVERCOME most of your Autistic challenges, through a process called NEUROPLASTICITY. this is the ability of your brain to rewire itself around problems areas. all it requires is that you push your brain in the areas you want improvement, and keep pushing until you get the results you want.

I was able to do this with almost all of my Autistic challenges, including socializing, gaining a great deal of speed in cognitive processing, eye contact, physical coordination, being able to dance, being able to write with emotion, controlling OCD, overcoming fears, etc. I did this as an adult.

As a child, I only got two kinds of therapy, side I was actually diagnosed as being Mentally Retarded. I took speech Therapy up through 6th grade. I had to spend a could of moths pace back on forth on a Balance Beam, which started on the floor and was razed higher once or more a week, so that it hurt more when I fell off, which was often. Once I could stay on the beam, I had to read flash cards being held my parents standing on each end, with letters on the cards, then later words. I had Sensory Integration Dysfunction. It was training my brain and eyes to work together. I was seeing double.

Depending on where you live, you may still be able to get help for your Autism. I have been working with a young man in California who is 21 and he has gotten coverage.

The thing to do is to figure out what it is that hold you back the most, what is self-sabotaging you. then you can focus on overcoming that.

The more you simply keep pushing yourself through the areas you have trouble with, the sooner you overcome it.

With my dancing, I was taking beginner lessons 4 nights a week and dancing (trying to) 6 nights a week, for about 4 months with almost no improvement, then suddenly improvement started and in another two months was doing very well in a more advanced class. then I decided to learn how to both lead and follow in multiple dances, continuing to learn dancing, and teaching dance, for another 15 years.

I was terrified to meet strangers and go to parties, to introduce myself to strangers. I forced myself out of the house to go to the dance place and set myself a quota to introduce myself to at least one stranger per night. This was really hard to do, but it got easier and easier over time.

Whatever your challenges are, there are ways to overcome them.

The final goal is for you to be able to fulfill your dreams and live a relatively happy life.

I wish you all the best…

PS Sorry for any typos, I have been up over 2 days and have no time to edit.
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:iconmenollysagittaria:
MenollySagittaria Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Maybe they should call High-Functioning Autistics "high intelligence" XD Because the "high" in this context just implies high compared to other autistics. Not to mention the "functioning" implies just functioning and getting through life, instead of excelling. Whereas the latter would more accurately describe them with regards to the general population.

(I have some of these traits, such as usual social anxiety vs. when I'm actually interacting I am very open to strangers. I would certainly take this diagnosis happily over what I'm currently labeled as. -.-)
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
First, it is very important for you to read Understanding AUTISM [link] BEFORE reading this deviation on the Symptoms.

Some might actually take offense by what you said, but I know it comes from a place of not being fully informed. It is important to know that Autism isn't really about intelligence and even those Autistic people who need full-time care for basic daily functions are very likely to be very intelligent. Therefore, calling it "High Intelligence Autism" would be downright insulting. While a person may not be able to do a lot of physical things needed for self-care, or to be able to communicate will with others effectively, the person inside may be very intelligent.

This is similar to looking at a person with Cerebral Palsy and assuming they are retarded, when in fact they have the same intelligence range of anyone else. Also, when you stay you would rather have this diagnosis (Autism Spectrum disorders) than what you are currently labeled as, it shows a real lack of understanding of how much suffering can come with Autism, of how isolating it can be, how very alone you are, unable to connect to others, trapped inside of yourself, without freinds, even unable to connect to family, not feeling any love.

If Autism is diagnosed very early, especially when in infancy, a lot of therapy can result in very good outcomes, and in a few cases, a complete reversal of Autism. The trouble is that kids like I was get completely missed. I talk with kids like this on a regular basis. There is a high rate of suicide and depression.

The Diagnosis of High Functioning Autism is a specific disorder within Autism Spectrum Disorders and has a specific set of symptoms. For some autistics, the white matter in their brains (the wiring) is so disrupted that they need 24 hour care to care for basic living functions. At the same time, often they have even more specialized brains. When the wiring is very faulty between area of the brain, the isolated areas specialize. This is where SAVANT capabilities come from.

In High Functioning Autism we are able to live on our own and care for ourselves, therefore our FUNCTIONING is Higher, but that does not mean we are more intelligent. I was originally diagnosed as Mentally Retarded. I started out unable to walk right, unable to speak right and completely trapped in my head. Even my eyes did not track together, so I couldn't learn how to read (each eye was trying to read independently). I had very bad physical coordination. I was speech therapy all the way and through 6th grade, and still had a lot of problems, especially with the letter R.

In 1st Grade, the State wanted to pull me out of school and put me in a school for what they called "The Mentally Retarded." My mother removed me from the school system to prevent that. A doctor diagnosed me with Sensory Integration Disorder, which turned out to be one of the Autism spectrum disorders. I had to pace back and forth on a balance beam at home many times a day. Each few days it was raised higher off the ground, so that it would hurt more when I fell off. Eventually I had to read flash cards with a letter on them, and say what the letter was. Then I worked up to reading flash cards with a word on them, as I paced. After that, I rapidly learned to read. I did so well, so fast that I was skipped to 3rd Grade.

I think (mentally process) in a different way from most people. Most people think in a Linear Way, where 'A' leads to 'B,' which leads to 'C,' which leads to 'D'… I have an "Intuitive brain." At first I look like an idiot. I struggle and struggle with 'A' & 'B,' like pieces of a puzzle floating around in my head, not making sense of it, confused. Then in a flash I will jump from 'A' to 'D,' in one leap, then jump to 'H.' In this way, I was able to solve incredibly complex problems, in a short amount of time, making me very goos at my job. I became skilled in multiple disciplines, from Accounting, Counseling, Engineering Control systems & Automation, Firefighting, Machining, certified Electrician (Hi & Lo), Certified welder, Plumbing, International Exporting, bullion trading, currency trading, Equity trading, Digital Art (I had my own Graphic Arts business), Print Media, Carpentry, Jewelry making, precious metal design, mold making and casting, Glass work, Marine Reef Systems, I had a landscaping and irrigation company, I was a Lieutenant Commander USNR, and Chief Engineer Steam and Diesel, unlimited horsepower, etc.

I struggled for my good grades in school and had no social life. All I did was study. I have very poor memory due to an undeveloped Hippocampus (from years of abuse/stress as a child), I have very little visual memory and I am unable to see details in my mind. This means that I cannot see faces in my mind. I dream in a conceptional way. Like I can imagine myself looking out over a beautiful mountain and lake scene, but I do not actually see it, I just know it is there. I see people by personality identifiers in my head.

My High School IQ test said that I was on the bottom of the bell-curve of national intelligence (mentally challenged), but I was on the Dean's List and in the top 10% of my class. The counselor said, "Tests Don't Lie." I and my parents were told that college would be a waste of time and money. I put myself through college. I completed a 4-year Engineer degree in 3 years and graduated number one, as well as being the Corp Executive officer. I was able to retire for life at age 34 and devote my life to volunteer work.

My point to you is that the so-called professionals kept telling me I was mentally retarded, based on their tests. Autistic people often do terribly on multiple choice questions. This is because we look too deep and keep seeing possibilities when two of the choices can be true or false. I challenged the US Coast Guard on some of their test questions for our licensing, and won. Measuring intelligence using a multiple choice test is idiotic, especially with the wide variety of cultural influences.

We now have an entire School system driven completely by 'Standardized Tests,' the same tests that keep saying some kids are not intelligent and don't know the material, even though they might know it better than anyone else. Just giving a time limit can mess some youth-up. I remember being asked a question about second cousins, and I never knew any of my relatives and had no idea about such things. But my ex-partner from West Virginia could give you the names of his 3rd cousins and all of the interconnections. So a lot of those tests include cultural references. I got a question about what a 'Troika' was and got it right because I actually read Russian authors, while others would get it wrong, even though they may be very well read.

How many kids are told they are stupid, and believe it? I tutored to help pay for school, and there would be young men who thought they were stupid, but once I found the key to help them understand the concepts, suddenly all the pieces come together for them and they did great. How many young people are shuffled to the sidelines, simply because they do not look like everyone else, just because they think in different ways. I struggled to understand my Diesel class. Most guys worked on cars in those days, but I would not know and engine if I tripped over it. In desperation, I went to the professor, who took me to the lab building, to an engine that was cut in half (longitudinally), then cranked over the engine by hand, showing me how all of the valves and pistons moved in relationship to each other, and in a flash it all made sense to me. We can also learn in different ways. As an example, boys and girls learn in different ways.

Intelligence is measure in just one way by our society, which is based in the speed and retention of data. I 'think' slower than most people, but I am like the Tortoise and Hare racing. When it comes to solving complex problems, I end up solving it faster than anyone else, solving engineering problem that were left unsolved for over 10 years.

Society is STUPID for judging both kids and adults on a narrow definition of intelligence. There are many geniuses in this world, but it might be in writing, art, furniture making, even engineering and science, all who may show poorly on the stupid tests used for measuring intelligence.

In Exxon, they used to have a policy of only hiring from the top 10% of graduating classes, but they started finding that the top 10% did not mean those people were innovative, could solve problems, manage projects, work in a team, be creative, etc. Some people are very good at memorizing vast amounts of data and some are very good at taking tests.

In conclusion, when we talk about so-called INTELLIGENCE, it is a slipper slope indeed. Who is intelligent? How do you measure it? WHY do we bother measuring it? It is just another way to segregate people into classes.

I had to overcome terror to force myself to start introducing myself to people, trying to converse with people, but never feeling like I 'Fit-in' with anyone or anywhere. I pushed and pushed myself this way, and also to learn to dance, something I had been told would be impossible for me to ever do, but I did it. It is called NEUROPLASTICITY, the ability of the brain to rewire itself to get around problem areas, or to improve performance.

Past age 18, no one ever guessed I was Autistic, because I was able to hide it better and better, but I still live with it every day, and automatically work to hide it, from habit, but my partner was able to recognize it, once I explained what it is. I have pushed my brain incredibly hard in my lifetime, to overcome my biggest Autistic challenges. I have also always worked hard to make sure that my autism never had a negative impact on my partners or our relationships. If he wanted to go out to a social event, part of me is screaming NO, but I say sure, lets do it, because it is good for me to get out, and once there I will have a good time.

When I got depressed in my current relationship, I went into counseling to get help. I did not want to drag my partner down with me. I love him and want him to enjoy life. But what happens when a partner develops a problem, but will not get help and refuses your pleas to get help? When you truly Love a person, you do not want them to suffer because of your problems, so this should be the push for a person to get help. But some people are just selfish and do not seem to care how much their partner suffers. Relationships work as long as both people are willing to work to solve problems. When one partner is no longer willing to work to solve problems, then it is time to think about breaking-up, because it will only go down-hill from there.

About Autism, I have personally never seen a relationship break-up because one of them was Autistic.
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:iconvioletense:
violetense Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Student Writer
I am on the mild end of the spectrum and have been aware of this since I was a child. I appreciate your taking the time to spell all of this out, it is an excellent resource for trying to explain myself to others.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You are most welcome. I have another deviation [Understanding AUTISM [link]] that has an easy explanation for what autism is, when explaining to others.
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:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Isn't Asperger's Syndrome and "High-Functioning" Autism the same?
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hi, No they are different, but very close:

HFA vs. Asperger Syndrome:

The main difference between the two is thought to be in language development: people with Asperger syndrome, typically, will not have had delayed language development when younger.

The controversy over the differences between these two diagnoses goes back a long way, as shown here:

TO SUMMARIZE:
    :bulletpink: Both people with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome are affected by the 'triad of impairments' common to all people with autism.

    :bulletpink: Both groups are likely to be of average or above average intelligence.

    :bulletpink: The debate as to whether we need two diagnostic terms is ongoing.

    :bulletpink: However, there may be features such as age of onset and motor skill deficits which differentiate the two conditions.

Level of cognitive functioning

The view that Asperger syndrome is autism without any additional learning disability is helpful from the diagnostic point of view as it is fairly easy to make a distinction in these circumstances. However, Asperger himself said that there might be unusual circumstances where a person could present the symptoms of Asperger syndrome with additional learning disability. It is widely recognized that high-functioning autism cannot occur in someone with an IQ below 65-70.

Motor skills

In recent years the view that Asperger syndrome can only occur when there are additional difficulties with motor skills has become more prominent. Certainly Asperger himself was well aware of the prevalence of motor skill problems in the group of people he tried to describe. It seems likely that most children with Asperger syndrome experience poor co-ordination and difficulties with fine motor control. However, many children with higher functioning autism will also have difficulties in these areas.

Language development

This is the area that probably causes the greatest controversy. Both ICD-10 and DSM-IV1 state that for a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, spoken language development must be normal. Children with high-functioning autism may have had significant language delay. However, Asperger's original descriptions of the condition stated that speech and language peculiarities are a key feature of Asperger syndrome. Often diagnoses of Asperger syndrome are made when a child is quite old and they or their parents may have difficulty remembering the details of their language development.

Age of onset

A diagnosis of high-functioning autism and one of Asperger syndrome can be made in the same individual at different stages of development. Occasionally a child has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism in early childhood and this diagnosis has been changed to Asperger syndrome when they started school. Some diagnosticians are clearly of the view that Asperger syndrome cannot be diagnosed before a child starts school. However this is largely because areas such as social skills deficits may not become apparent until a child spends a lot of time in social settings.

Conclusion
Although it is frustrating to be given a diagnosis which has yet to be clearly defined it is worth remembering that the fundamental presentation of the two conditions is largely the same. This means that treatments, therapies and educational approaches should also be largely similar.

At the same time, all people with autism or Asperger syndrome are unique and have their own special skills and abilities. These deserve as much recognition as the areas they have difficulty in.

If you have recently been given a diagnosis of either High-Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome then it is worth checking what criteria the diagnostician was using.

AGAIN, the Diagnosis can change as you get older.
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:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. You are an essay god! O.O I was diagnosed at around the end of my Senior year of high school. And the phyciatrist that diagnosed me called it Aspergers but my school's special education director (or something like that) called it High-functioning Autism.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Have you read my: Understanding AUTISM [link]? This will explain a lot about your Autism. Further below, I will tai about how you can overcome much of your Autism, as I have.

Your true diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorders. Both your Psychiatrist and School director were being lazy (and incompetent in my opinion), by not explaining what is really going on.

Years ago, we were diagnosed with having ONE disorder, such as High Functioning Autism, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Asperger, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, etc. This was done by going through a long checklist of symptoms. Whichever disorder you showed the most symptoms of became what they labeled you as. But the experts in Autism realized early-on that every single person with Autism has overlapping disorders.

In other words, your have both High Functioning Autism (HFA), Asperger Syndrome, SID, Dyspraxia, etc, to some degree. You will have one or two disorders that are dominate. Therefore, it is more accurate to say that all of us Autistic people are somewhere on the AUTISM SPECTRUM.

Your brain is made up of Gray matter and White matter. Gray matter is your thinking stuff, like computer chips. White matter is like all of the wires and connectors in the computer. Autism is a disorder of the White matter. Autism is a bit like static on a radio stations, having trouble tuning into specific stations.

You will have some broken wires (neural pathways), loose connections (neural connections), crossed words, tangled connections, etc. Each autistic person will have faulty wiring in different areas of their brains, the faulty wiring might be just a little, or very widespread, and the severity of the faulty wiring will vary. When you take all of these different possibilities, you end up with Autistic people who display a very wide range of possible symptoms and challenges, as well as gifts.

If certain parts of your brain became more isolated than others, due to faulty wiring, these areas become more specialized, and this is why most of us have a gift or gifts, to some degree. I did not realize what my gift was until around age 24. I am able to solve very complex problems in many different areas, like engineering, accounting, people, electronics, etc. My brain thinks intuitively, rather than linearly. This can make me seem stupid to others at times. For example, in school I would struggle to understand something, like electrical theory, failing the weekly tests. Then, in a flash, all the pieces of the puzzle fall together, and I go from zero on the tests to 100%, when the class average is 30. Then I jump further ahead of the others. Then I am doing my own design work. The more dysfunctional you were in early childhood, then often the more pronounced your gift.

I was very dysfunctional, with problems in being able to walk, talk, and learn. I was in speech therapy up through 6th grade (the letter R was my biggest challenge). I was very uncoordinated. I was diagnosed as Mentally Retarded in First Grade and failed first grade. I was taken to a specialist who diagnosed Sensory Integration Disorder, which later became part of the Autism Spectrum. They missed the High functioningAutism, because back in the 1950s and early 60’s, they only saw Autistics as being the lowest functioning ones, and they were usually diagnosed with Mental Retardation (what they called it back then).

The only therapy I got (other than speech) was to pace back and forth on a balance beam, after being pulled from 1st grade. The beam started on the ground, then it was raised higher twice a week or so, so it would hurt more to fall off. Eventually I would have to read flash cards of letters held both ends of the beam, and then later words on the flash cards. When I reentered school, I did so well that I skipped a grade.

In High School, in Guidance class, we were all given an IQ test and Aptitude tests. My parents were brought in, with me, to be shown how I was on the bottom of the bell curve of national intelligence. We were told that I was not intelligent enough for college and we should think of vocational training in menial labor. I was on the Dean’s list at the time, in the top 10% of my class.

I did go to college on my own and I earned a 4-year Engineering Degree in 3 years, and graduated number one in my class. The moral of this story is to NEVER believe in the negative messages of so-called experts, about what you are capable of or not capable of. My brother was told he would never walk again, and now he walks just fine.

Autistic people typically do not do so well on IQ tests, and therefore should be given an alternate test. We also often have trouble with multiple choice questions. We tend to see too many possibilities and are tend to be very detail oriented. But again, autism manifests itself in many different ways.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

OVERCOMING AUTISTIC CHALLENGES

The human brain has the ability to remap itself for all of your life. This is called NEUROPLASTICITY.

The old way of treating Autism was to avoid problem areas and focus on the things you are good at, and unfortunately there are still too many parents and professionals still doing that. You want to do the opposite. By pushing yourself hard, in those area you have the most problems with, you can overcome those problem areas.

IF you push your brain hard, then over time your brain will create new Neural pathways to work around problem areas, or simply to improve existing ones. If a person has a stroke in the brain, killing part of the brain, causing paralysis on one side of the body, it is possible to recover much of the original function, through intensive therapy.

Examples:
At age 34, after surviving a suicide attempt, I realized that I had to overcome my problems with making freinds and meeting people. I survived before by going to sea. the number of people on a ship is very small and they all become like family, but at age 34, I retired from going to sea and now found myself absolutely alone.

I forced myself out of the house each night to try to socialize, and this was incredibly difficult. I found a Dance place for GLBT people. They were obviously having a blast dancing and talking with each other. I wanted that. I forced a Quota on myself, to go up to at least one stranger per night and introduce myself and try to converse. I don’t know how to do small-talk or play social games, follow tons of social rules etc. I decided to simply try being completely open and honest. The first few weeks of introducing myself to strangers were very difficult. But it was not long before I found myself with a large social circle of acquaintances and freinds. This made a huge positive difference in my life.

My SID (Sensory Integration Disorder) and other Autism Disorders made me very uncoordinated. While I overcame much of this, I was told that things like dancing and sports were impossible. I actually became a very good rock climber. But it was dancing that really seemed impossible. I told my right foot to go backwards and left foot would go forward. I started taking the lessons they offered at the dance place 4 nights a week. Most people took the beginner lesson for a few months before being able to get around the floor comfortably. Then suddenly I found myself dancing with ease. As I got better, I decided to learn hoe to both follow and lead, and then added more dances (Two-step, Waltz, Tango, West Coast Swing, Foxtrot, Rhumba, Samba, Mambo, Bolero, Cha-cha, Swing, Salsa, etc.). Then I started teaching dance.

CONCLUSION:

I did so well that I retired for life at the age of 34. Autism helped me more than it hurt me in my professional career. Whatever you Autistic challenges are, you can overcome most of it, and learn how to work around the rest.

Example 1, I still feel uncomfortable going to parties full of strangers, and feel some anxiousness around it. But I force myself to go, and once I get there I do fine. I look for someone alone or maybe two people chatting, and then introduce myself. Mingling continuously is not something I can do easily, so I end up spending the night talking to only a small number of the people there, but it is very enjoyable.

Example 2, when I became too disabled and housebound to do my volunteer counseling in the field, I had to switch to doing it over the internet. It was not pretty. I have Dysgraphia. People complained that I sounded arrogant, cold and uncaring. Dysgraphia is all about being able to convey emotional thoughts and feelings in writing. I tried different things but to no avail. I knew I did fine when talking to people verbally, so I decided to try to pretend that I am talking to you face-to-face as I wrote, and it worked. I basically fooled my brain by imagining myself verbally talking to you as I typed.

My point is that there are ways to overcome whatever problems Autism causes you, so never let it hold you back.

ROMANCE:
I am 57 years old. In over 34 of those years, I was in a long-term relationship. I was a virgin until age 22, so I was only single and looking for someone for about 2 years in my life, one year at a time. I have been with Greg for over 22 years now. Autism does not need to affect your romantic life at all.

I never pretended to be something I am not. This who fell in love with me did not care about my Autism. I brought a measure of order to their lives, and brought a measure of wild abandon to mine.

Love requires courage and risk. Living life fully takes courage and risk. Autism can become your PRISON if you let it. Autism can be a detriment to your life, or a benefit to it. I went from being a fairly low-functioning Autistic boy to a pretty-much full functioning, successful and relatively happy man. The only real limiter in your life is yourself. It is our doubts and fear that hold us back.

Matt
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:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well they were free so, I take what I can get. I can't really complain...a lot of people in my hometown are uneducated and somehow get jobs like teachers and doctors.

Wow, I didn't know they considered Autism, Mental Retardation. That seems like a contradiction to me.
You and me have some things in common, I too was in speech therapy for YEARS. From Kindergarten to 6th grade and failed Kindergarten, psychologists believed it was because of my ADHD, which years later come to find out I don't have the symptoms for ADD or ADHD, which is why I never did get to skip a grade like you did because I was misdiagnosed and never got the right kind of therapy.

Laugh out loud. An IQ test determines if you were smart enough to go to college back then? How ridiculous. I had to take an IQ test and was offended when they told me I was average. I don't wanna be labeled average or below average.

I am not "low-functioning" perse, but I seem like a normal person at first and then when I start talking I seems like a jerk or rude...I don't do well with first impressions I guess. It is easy to start an argument with me because I might say something "weird" and I hate arguing so I might just get mad, yell a little bit, and leave, or start getting sick.

I was a bit surprised and glad when I heard GLBT. But then I realized that I found this article from the GLBTQ-with-Autism Club haha. I am gay too (Lesbian), and I am starting to think that having Autism Spectrum Disorder and being gay is going be very challenging, it is challenging enough with Aspergers as well as living in the Southern Bible Belt state of Oklahoma where everywhere you go you get sad because people act so unintelligent.

Wow, I really needed to read that, thank you!
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I am happy to hear that you are Family. If you plan on going to college or trade school, I would highly recommend going to a college or university in an area friendly to the LGBTQ community. It is easy to find out. Just Google the college name followed by LGBT GLBT. You can also do that with the city the college is in. The greater majority of colleges have Gay clubs of some sort, which is a good place to meet other Lesbians. I have working with a couple of young people stranded in small Southern colleges who were extremely lonely, not knowing of a single other person who was Family.

If you are not going to a college or trade school, I would highly recommend that you move to a LGBT friendly area. I know that moving and leaving family and freinds is very scary and finically risky, but you can work and save-up to get out. The reason why I suggest this radical move is that I know how it feels to be isolated and alone. When I was able to be around people like me, it saved my life. I tried to kill myself at age 13, then came very close at ages 16, 18 and 24. It was when I had a gun in my mouth at age 24 that I decided to at try to come-out to my younger sister. I wrote her a letter. She did not know, but if she had rejected me, I intended to finish killing myself. Interestingly, she later came-out as a Lesbian.

Anyway, you deserve to live in an area where you are largely accepted and where you feel safe to be openly Lesbian, and to even walk down the street holding hands with your girlfriend. It is like that on most of the West Coast. Tucson, Arizona is actually dense-packed with Lesbians.

. . . . . . . . .

Autism was not all understood back in the 1950s and 1960s. As for IQ tests, Schools still use essentially the same thing, TESTS. Standardized tests are extremely discriminating and favor very specific types of people. I do terrible on tests, yet I have shown myself to be smarter in the real world than those who test at the top. The Tests given at various times while you are in school determines important things that affects the rest of your life, yet these tests are highly flawed. The school system want to put kids through a meat grinder that homogenizes all kids into hamburger, like everyone is the same. It crushes the diverse types of creative personalities, different brain types, different ways of thinking and processing information, etc. It is rapidly getting worse with music and art being cut from many schools, as well as sip classless and even PE.

For me, by the time I was in High School, I was functioning much better. Elementary school was very difficult, as was Jr. High School. But to give you an example, I had no idea what sex was until I was 19, and nothing about Gay sex until I was raped by two men with a knife at my throat, at age 20. I knew I was different by age 11, and I confessed it to my Aunt just after my 13th birthday. I described it as, “I feel about boys the way I am supposed to feel about girls.” I was very isolated by my parents, restricted on TV and no movies, no real friends. It was a strict Catholic family life.

It was when I went into the Academy, and away from my oppressive and abusive home, when my development rely exploded in rapid growth. I was completely accepted by the guys there, and they became my family. Alas, I had to hide my being Gay, under threat of death, and had to live that way until I was 34. I eventually was out with family and freinds, but could not be out at sea.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Autism is very often misdiagnosed as ADD & ADHD. sometimes the medications actually make you worse if you are Autistic.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ANGER, FRUSTRATION, FEELING SICK

Frustration can make some Autistics anger-based. It is also really easy for us to beat ourselves up with gulf and shame whenever conversations go bad or people don’t understand, or just seem clueless about us, misunderstand us, etc. Please, give yourself a break. There is no one to blame. It sucks that we are challenged around social stuff, but such is life. They have their own challenges. It sucks that I was born into an abuse family, in a very homophobic time in history (1955), born with health problems and juvenile arthritis, Autistic…but this is life. Make the most of it.

I was a master of beating myself-up for not being good enough, for not knowing what to say, or saying the wrong thing, being laughed at, punched, kicked… It was stupid of me to blame myself and think less of myself. It is also stupid to blame others and rail against them. It is the nature of the beast. I started challenge all of that energy into getting better. I studied people. I called it the “People Puzzle.” I do not want to be a man centered in negative energy. I chose to be a man centered in compassion and positive energy. If you get angry a lot then people just assume you are a bad intentioned person. Channel your frustration into determination to learn from it.

In my humble opinion, it is very important that you try to change your trend towards being anger-based or self-critical, as it will harm you in your adult life. Start by trying to understand how your ASD is causing people to react negatively to you in conversation, or not like you.

I gave you a link to my ‘Understanding Autism’ deviation. It shows what happens when you socialize with a person or people. Neuro-normal people have tons and tons of little social rules, social etiquette, and social expectations. We Autistics can easily break these rules and have no clue we are doing it. My partner says I do not notice when I am boring a person, like I have talked too long on a subject. People give very subtle clues in the language of their face and body, and we do not always read these well.

The point is that there is no reason to get angry at them or at yourself. Instead, make it a learning process. My secret to success was to be combine compassion with honesty and openness. People came to realize that I mean what I say, and that I have no negative intent, ever. When I make mistakes, they now know that I meant no negative intent. When I am getting to know someone new, I usually ask them, “If you are ever in doubt about something I say, please ask me about before you get upset, as it is probably a misunderstanding.” Most people assume negative intent as soon as you say the wrong things, or react wrong, etc.

Rule 1, LISTEN. A good place to start is to work much harder on LISTENING. When your friend is talking to you, focus on what she or he is saying. Try to notice facial expression and body language. Don’t interrupt the person talking.

Rule 2, NEVER put anyone down, ever. I know a lot of people love to Dis, gossip and put others down, but it is not right, and for an autistic person, it is dangerous, because it is a subtle game we are very bad at.

Rule 3: Beware ASSUMPTIONS, as they tend to bite you in the ass. When in doubt, I always ask. If I am talking and the other person’s expression looks odd to me, I might ask if I have said something upsetting to him or her. I slowly but surely learned how to avoid the biggest social alligator pits.

I have few boundaries, and while this upsets some people and make some uncomfortable, I have found it more advantageous than not. For example, I have no problem bringing up the fact that I was raped, abused, suffer from depression, tried to kill myself, etc. Most of society sees this as inappropriate, yet I have found that when I do it, it often opens the door for the other person to open-up about things trapped inside of them, like a lesbian who told me about being molested by her father, and then saying she had never been able to anyone in 32 years.

It takes time and effort on your part to learn how you can best socialize with people. But if you simply take the attitude of, “Screw them, this is who I am, they can take it or leave it,” then you will find yourself very lonely and isolated. In social settings, everyone is adapting and compromising to find missile ground. Arrogant people don’t do that and they stand out in any social event.

I will send you a Note with some socializing tips.

Please just remember that mistakes and having a tough time is simply how we grow and learn. I have had horrible things happen in my life, and each time I chose to learn what I could from it, then let it go and move forward. In my early life I could not let go. I hated myself and took all of my mistakes as proof of how useless and worthless I was, it almost killed me, more than once. When I finally let go of it all, it set me free. When I became open about my secrets, letting go of those secrets, it was like fresh air blowing through my heart. Thus I found love and acceptance for myself, an imperfect man, but a man wanting to keep learning and improving.

Recognize the beauty of who you are inside. When people used to tell me that they loved me, I thought to myself, if only they knew who I really am, they would hate me. I looked in the mirror and saw UGLY, a reflection of how I felt inside. Yet when I did open up and allow people to see who I was, including all of things I felt guilt and shame about, I was even more loved. We humans are all struggling through life, none of anywhere near perfect. What matters is wanting to be better and trying to be better.

I am dying, I live in great pain, but I am relatively happy. I see beauty where others see ugly. I can see beauty in the naked body of an 80 year-old man or woman. Ugliness is a construct of mankind. We make things ugly. There is great beauty in who you are as a person, if you let yourself see it.

When I was 13, I begged God to make me Normal. Being Gay back then was like a Death Sentence. My priest had just told us Altar boys that boys who are attracted to other boys are an Abomination in the eyes of God, doomed to burn for eternity in the eternal fires of Gahanna. I could not understand it. No one made me this way, so I must have been made this way by God, so why would god hate me? It ultimately shattered my Faith and I tried to jump off of a Freeway overpass in front of a truck (a man grabbed my legs as I was going over). Coming Out Gay Age 13, 1968 [link]

I hated the gay in me (internalized homophobia). I did come to accept myself, but guilt and shame still clung to me. I still remember when I came-out to my Mother and she called me a disgusting pervert and tired to get me to go to a shrink to be FIXED. I told her I don’t want to be fixed, I LOVE being Gay and would not change it for anything. Afterwards, it struck me that I really did believe that. I LOVE BEING GAY and would not be straight for anything. CELEBRATION of GAY PRIDE [link]

Look inside of yourself to find wonder. You are Autistic and a Lesbian, and these are good things, things to embrace and be proud of, because they are part of who you are, and you should be proud of yourself. You have survived. Now it is time to thrive.

With Love, Matt
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:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I very much appreciate all these long detailed messages. They mean a lot to me.

I think I have matured and learned a lot throughout my life. I see the beauty in me and in everyone else around me, I am getting better at socialization.

I am proud of my sexuality and also my faith
if not for my research and my scientist-like mind, I would still me in turmoil and I hate seeing anyone go through the same thing, I have a friend who is a charismatic evangelical Christian and also gay...he has internalized homophobia and it breaks my heart...one time while me and him where having lunch one day in the NEO cafeteria I saw him checking out a male student that passed our table, then I heard him whisper to himself "I am not gay" it broke me from the inside. He was in the LGBT club for maybe 2 days but he gets offended easily and people didn't want him in the group anymore. At one meeting I said "it was all just one big mess from one small misunderstood conversation" and that they should just calm down and let it go. Now that the club has dwindled down to only 5 active members I don't think we can afford to be picky and I have volunteered to help run a booth at Welcome Week that represents the LGBT & Friends Club. I know I will get nasty looks once they ask and realize what LGBT stands for but that is a small negative side I am willing to face.

Thank you again Matt!

:heart: Beth
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
You are most welcome. Maybe you can help the young man by giving him the address to the mat the Vine video or my posts on the Bible and Homosexuality. It is horribly sad because guys like him usually have to hit rock bottom and either die, or accept themselves, and too many die.

It is especially sad the club was not more understanding and accepting. I have found that young people who had it relatively easy coming-out or dealing with their homosexual nature, tend to less understanding and compassionate with those who are struggling. They are not mean-spirited, they simply lack understanding of the tremendous pressure others can grow-up with and how religious bigotry can greatly distort and harm a person's self-worth and self-confidence.

That young man really did need that club, and he may have been a pain to deal with, but we are FAMILY, and if we do not help each other, who will? This is what our community is known for. We took care of each other when no one else would through the AIDS crisis. It is what I have been doing for 23 years now in our community, being it feeding those of us who are hungry, caring for the dying, helping Street kids, and doing Peer Counseling to our community.

Perhaps you can entice him back, or just be there to talk to him when he needs it.

I am very happy to hear that you are actively participating in Community outreach and volunteering in the community.
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(2 Replies)
:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, your sister is a lesbian? More proof that being gay might be genetic. I have a young teenage cousin who is a lesbian, according to my family history, if indeed homosexuality is genetic, I got this gene from my mother's side and on HER mother's side.

Tuscon huh? My mother was born there I think. I was thinking of moving to Missouri, they are pretty open...surprising for a southern state.

Oh, God...gang rape. Any rape is terrible. Did you get therapy? I bet you never talked about it until you were much older though.

That would explain my problems with previous medication and the problems I have today being autistic.

Wow. Well I think I might even have arthritis...my mom had it since she was 14 and that was when my problems with my joints and sensitivity.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Please remember that Neuroplasticity is a miracle for those with Autism. You really can overcome your Autistic challenges, whatever they may be. The secret is that you have to be Persistent and Tenacious and keep pushing yourself hard. I kept pushing myself out of my house and out to socialize. I kept pushing myself to look at people in the eye, to introduce myself to at least one stranger per night, and hold a conversation with person and others.


For partner dancing that was supposed to be impossible for me. I have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which makes me very uncoordinated. I kept taking basic lesson night after night, looking like a fool, and not seeing much of any improvement for months. My brain was rewiring itself in that time, and then suddenly I started improving at a rapid rate. I did so well that I decided to learn how to both lead and follow in the many dances. Later i started teaching dance.

I made huge strides in my Autism. I also have Asperger and Dysgraphia. Dysgraphia affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting personal thoughts and emotions on paper. When I became homebound and had to switch my counseling to the internet, I really struggled with this for months, but kept writing to people every single day. I overcame the problems, mostly.

What I am trying to tell you is that Autism should never interfere significantly in your life.

IMPORTANT: Your brain continues to develop until you are about 25 years old. Age 18 to 25 is when your Frontal cortex develops the most, your higher functions. CHILDHOOD is the very best time to work at overcoming your Autism, while your brain is already forming millions of new neural connecting every single day. I did it in adulthood, which was much harder than if I had gotten more help as a child. If you can catch an infant with Autism, some are actually being essentially cured by intervening with special therapy from infancy onward.

My autism is like my Gayness, they are simply a part of who I am. they both gave me big challenges in life, but those challenges made me a better person and helped me to grow further than I ever dreamed I could go. I like myself and am proud of myself, which means I am proud to be Gay and proud to be Autistic.

I do not see my Autism as a negative thing. Autism has given me a gift. I am extremely good at problem solving and engineering and electric design work. It also allowed me to rapidly learn accounting and other skills.

I am an Intuitive thinker, unlike most people who are linear thinkers. This made me look especially stupid in school. I struggle in the beginning of a new concept, like algebra, electronics, etc. Nothing makes much sense, like puzzle pieces floating around in my head. Then in an instant, the entire puzzle comes together.

I was told twice, in First grade and in Ninth grade that I was mentally retarded, yet I was on the Dead's list in 9th grade with a very high GPA. I got my 4-year Engineering degree in 3 years and graduated number one. YET, they said I was stupid.

Please remember that society chooses to measure just one kind of intelligence. We squash so many kids who have other forms of intelligence, because they do fit in the mold of the school. NEVER, ever believe anyone who tells you that you are not good enough not smart enough, not capable enough in anything. The world is full of idiot experts who are panting at the chance to put you down.

My father almost never spoke to me, but after meeting with my HS counselor, and the counselor telling my parents and I that I was on the bottom of the intelligence curve and not suitable for college, my father told me, "You have a simple choice, you can either believe that idiot, in which case he is right, you ARE stupid, or you can go tell him where he can stick his test results."

It is up to you to carve whatever path you want for yourself in life. Autism can possibly help you along the way, but it should not hinder you, as long as you deal with it. I did not figure out that I had a gift from my autism until I was around age 24.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The propensity for homosexuality is passed down on the female side of the family only. The genetic propensity is just one factor. It is a bit lengthy to explain it all in a comment.

I am not sure two men constitutes a gang-rape. There was no counseling. If anyone had found out, I would have been forced out of school and my career, so it had to be a deep secret. Therefore I could not talk to anyone about it, and I never did until I was 34 years old. I will say that I got over it pretty fast in the scheme of things. At the time it was happening, I did not even understand what or why they were doing those things to me. As you know, I am Autistic, and back then it meant I was very sheltered growing up, plus no sex-education at all. I had no idea even what swear-words meant or where babies came from.

The thing that truly horrified me was when one of my rescuers asked me not to judge all Gay people based on those two animals. I asked what 'Gay' meant, and when he told me, I was horrified to realize that I was like the rapists, this 'Gay' thing. The guy explained that most of them were not like that at all, etc. Still, it was a shock. But it also told me that there were many others like me, and that I was not some freak of nature.

After a terrible violent violation like a rape, you can either let yourself be a victim for the rest of your life, or you let it go and move-on with life. I moved-on, I had to survive. Life could not just stop for me, I had classes the next day, test, training, work... My roommate did catch me crying the first day, but luckily he jest left and kept it secret, as it would have been bad for if it got out (it was a different world then 1975).

. . . . . .

I sure you do not have a rapid type of Arthritis, because I was starting to get in real pain trouble with it by age 30, and it was downhill from there. I would not want anyone to suffer this way. My very physically demanding job (brutal on the body) on supertanker ships may have exacerbated and accelerated my arthritis. Your body is constantly moving, even in your sleep, on a ship, which is rolling, fishtailing, whipping and pitching without end. Many times we had to tie ourselves into our bunks.

Let us hope for the best with you. If you start having back pain later in life, you can have a base-line x-ray done of the spine to see how your discs and vertebrae are doing.
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:icondeviantaspie:
DeviantAspie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I am choosing a college that is public and cheap because I don't want to have to take out loans and I already have free tuition

I am in NEO, I wasn't expecting an LGBT club to be there but I found one!
I am now a council member in the club and I attend Student Body Council meetings as a representative of the club. It is hard to find and meet lesbians here on campus. Most of them aren't even in the club even though I place posters for the club where they live that in the dorms. I know they are out and we need more members, I just don't know what to do about that. With my social issues and anxiety I do not know what to do about that either, I cannot just go up to someone and strike up a conversation...
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
This is excellent news.

I need another day to answer your other comments because I just married my husband on June 13th. We set the date to coincide with our 23rd Anniversary, so as of June 13th, we have been together 23 years and now heading for 24. I don't know how much longer I can hang onto life, and know i can go any time, but I plan to keep to holding on for as long as I can.

We live in Washington State where Gay marriage was approved, so we are Legal in some States at least. We did not really desire to be officially married, since we feel we married in spirit 23 years ago, and we legally bound ourselves via Trusts and Powers of Attorney way back then, but we felt that this was an important political statement to make for our community.

My two sisters and my younger sister's wife were present. My younger sister and he wife will be married in July. I was Best man in their wedding years ago, when they went to Vancouver, Canada to get legally married in Canada. It was the last time I was able to travel away from home, so It was very special. This time it will be simple ceremony in front of a judge, to make it legal in Washington State.

We have high hopes for the Supreme Court deciding to make Gay Marriage legal in all 50 states, but we are realistic enough to have low expectations.
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(1 Reply)
:iconebonsong:
Ebonsong Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012
Thank you.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You are most welcome.
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:iconthestudierofthearts:
Thestudierofthearts Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Awesome list. I been having a bunch of these social faux. people who i had assumed were friends with each other, were actually husband or boyfriend.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Just remember not to beat yourself up of those social faux pas. I have lived a long time now and have found that most people don't care. People tell me that they find me refreshing because I don't play social games and I am to the point. When your intent is good, people can usually sense that and know you are not saying something to be hurtful or cruel.

I try to think before talking, giving myself a little longer to answer. I try to apply compassion and kinds to what I think, which affects what I say. For example, if see a woman think she looks like an evil witch, you might end up saying something you regret. I try to think in a more positive way, which affects what might blurt out of my mouth.

I once made a social faux pas so big that it could have made my life difficult, but instead, it was interpreted as a joke. I was 19 before I knew what sex was. A cadet had smuggled a Porn film reel and projector on the ship (back before VHS or DVD). I ask one of my freinds why that naked man was doing pushups over that naked woman. He thought I was joking and it spread throughout the Academy as a joke. The alternative interpretation would have been extremely embarrassing for me. It was like the first Western movie I saw as a teenager and I asked why all of those men kept falling down. It gives you an idea how innocent and naive I was. You would think that the guys would have been abusive about that, but actually they seemed to have more like a big brother attitude towards me.

Anyway, in my lifetime, I do not think my social faux pas have caused me much of any trouble, although if I had no idea I did it...Ignorance is bliss. Let us simply say that no one has ever said anything to me about being insulted, or seemed hurt by me.

With time, you will learn more and more about avoiding social faux pas and make fewer social mistakes. Simply make the effort and keep making the effort and your brain will learn and adapt.
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:iconthestudierofthearts:
Thestudierofthearts Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I realized didn't finish my sentence. I had realized people think I am a home-wrecker. but thanks for the talk.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You are most welcome.
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:icondragulasdragons:
DragulasDragons Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
i was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when i was 4... and i remember in the 3rd grade the school ppl told my mum and me i was "mentally retarded", put me in special ed classes, and held me back a grade... tho i was smarter than ANY 3rd grader there... reading and going science at a 6th grade level...but no matter what anybody will ever say i will ALWAYS be proud to say i have Asperger's syndrome~ <3
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
As you know, I was also diagnosed as Mentally Retarded, in 1st grade, and failed 1st grade, but then skipped 2nd grade after pacing back and forth on a balance beam a lot and going to a private school for 1 year. In that school they did not just stick e in a corner with crayons. At least they had the excuse of it being 1959. In 9th grade, we were given Intelligence and Aptitude tests. The Guidance Counselor told my parents and I that I had scored in the "Mentally Insufficient" category (Mentally Retarded), even though I was in the top 10% of my class. I confess that I had to study really hard for those grades, mostly because of my memory problems. Those in the Autistic Spectrum do not takes Multiple Choice tests well at all.

There is absolutely no excuse for what was done to you. It is incompetence and negligence on the part of your school. You can achieve pretty much anything you set your mind to. Some people in the autism Spectrum focus only at what they are good at and avoid what they are bad at, and because of this, their brains do not overcome those challenges or deficits. It was very difficult for me to push myself to introduce myself and try to converse. But I did it and actually became central to a rather large social circle. This enlarged my life and brought me added happiness. I wanted to dance, by my Autism was stopping me, so I simply forged ahead

You should be retested sometime soon to find out where you are in the spectrum. As your brain develops through your youth, up until around age 25, your symptoms become more clearly defined. Asperger Syndrome CANNOT be initially diagnosed until a child has been in school for at least a year, because the key symptoms cannot be observed until then, and the brain has not developed enough by age 4. Therefore, whoever did it when you were 4 did not know what they were doing. HOWEVER, you are in the Autism Spectrum, therefore it is just a matter of which direction you lean towards more. High Functioning Autism and Asperger are very similar.

I am very happy to hear that you take pride in who you are as a person. We are Different, Not less, better at some things, worse at some things.
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:icondragulasdragons:
DragulasDragons Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
aww that's horrible... but i'm glad you recovered from the set-back
yesh yesh i do~
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks. Remember that bad the bad things in our lives can help us make us stringer and become better people. If we never suffered we would never appreciate what we have or how we feel. When you have experienced very bad times, you appreciate it greatly when times are Ok or good.
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:icondragulasdragons:
DragulasDragons Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcomez~ yesh i know... i don't think i would be how strong of a person i am today if i didn't experience and learn from every hardship i had through childhood
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
That is good to hear. I like to look for the positive things I can get from the bad things that happen to me.
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:icondragulasdragons:
DragulasDragons Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
i always do~ :aww: tho it's extremely difficult at times... i always try to find the good side~
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:icondeideiblueeyez:
deideiblueeyez Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I LOVE making lists :la:

It's just so fun. Reading a list is fun too, and I get sad when a list ends too short.. I'm weird like that.

Here's my life story, since countless others have no doubt relayed their experiences to you as well, lol:

Apparently as a small child I made Mum's life Hell. She divorced before I was even three, so she was on her own. I'd scream and cry and I just went ON and ON, waaaay past a regular tantrum, so much that I threw up as a baby. I refused to be put in a car seat, so my grandparents had to hold me in the front seat when they drove.

I never had friends as a kid. The older kids chased me on their bikes as I pedaled for my life back to the apartment complex wondering, "what did I do to make them hate me?" I always came home crying, and it got to the point where Mom said, "Either grin it and bear it or don't play with them anymore."

It took until 3rd grade for me to be put in a special program at school, and it took until 6th grade for me to be put in the higher-grade special program (IEP, just so you know) and for me to actually make changes to my behavior.

I began to actually relay my feelings, learned to excuse myself when things got too hectic, control my temper, my tone and volume --somewhat--, understand other people, limit my grunts and animal noises to a bare minimum, and try to reach out to others.

I don't think I've truly progressed, but my last IEP teacher in Middle School said I've made leaps and bounds, and the High School's World History/Sociology/Race, Gender, Culture/Global Issues teacher has said that I've improved so much. She said I improved so much, and she's only known me for two years! :iconimshockedplz:

I respect her IMMENSELY, moreso than my own parents or anyone else in this world. Hearing that from her is heart-wrenchingly ... touching.

But here's the problem: I'm diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and we've been trying to get me tested for Asperger's, because the special teachers have noticed my tendencies. At the most they're labelling me with "Educational autism", whatever the heck that means.

But the bigger problem with me is: Half the time I don't ACT autistic. Half the time, I get all the jokes, I think logically and abstractly with ease, I UNDERSTAND people (I used to not be able to do that, but ever since Sophomore year I've been so in-tune with peoples' suffering around the world that I've cried on weekends after watching the horrible documentaries in class) , I display affection to others..

But the other half of the time, I can't understand people, I can't understand anything that's not put right in front of me and practically labelled with a sharpie marker because I'm not SURE of one option when there are an infinite number of possibilities that, while implausible, could still be the answer (which is why I DESPISE riddles), I take what people say seriously, and I loathe human contact and act cold and aloof towards others.

It really messes me up because, if I DO have autistic tendencies, why couldn't I have just been born with clearly marked autism or Asperger's? Why this irregularity with my behavior? And if it turns out I am in fact NOT autistic in any way... then what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I such a freak? Am I really just a little child on the inside that I can't freaking read social cues or understand hidden signals?

It feels like there's a hole in me. A hole that's located in my chest or my throat. It's not like it causes me pain, and it's not like I really FEEL something missing, but it's like a hazy "there's something EXTRA I need, something a little ...more I need" to make me feel complete. Something I can never have nor acquire. Something everyone else has at birth, but not me. Why not?

And people saying that Asperger's ..Aspies are nothing but ill-adjusted assholes who like being jerks doesn't help with my doubt. I do say some very biting and sarcastic things not intended for children; my IEP teacher says I need to work on "filtering" what I think into what I say so I don't come off as condescending or rude. I can't help it... Isn't that a great excuse? "I can't help it." "You can help it." Then why is it so difficult? I try, but the words just flow out....

Anyways, great ...ah, essay! Yes. Great essay, sorry for ranting there.. You asked for it .--.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for your story. Remember that very case of Autism Spectrum Disorders is different. If you read Understanding AUTISM [link], you know that these Autism Disorders have to do with the White Matter of the brain, which is like the wires and connectors in your computer. It is therefore like having faulty wiring, but only in specific places. You faulty wiring may only be in a few places and the amount of the problem can be a lot to very little. This is why every single case is different and we all have different symptoms. When you see a list of Symptoms for Autistic Disorders, only some of them will apply to you, not all of them.

I am a very emotional person and very empathic. Autistic people can be things. I grew up in an emotional Ice-house, with no touch or affection, no show of love, just a lot of fear. All I knew was rough touch or violent touch. I actually craved human touch when I was about 16 and getting more and more lonely, but I also shied away from it. When others were affectionate with me, I felt awkward. I forced myself to shake hands and hug people and then it become easy and enjoyable. I am a very affectionate and passionate lover, but it has to be with someone I have an emotional connection to and like. Hooking-up or one-night stands just do not work for me.

SOMETHING IS MISSING?

It seems obvious that you are in the Autistic Spectrum Family. ADD/ADHD is a common mis-diagnosis, although it is common to have that with Asperger Syndrome (explained bellow). With Autism Spectrum Disorders, you obviously do not feel normal because you are obviously different from others and often rejected by other youth. Often we feel like we are broken, defective, incomplete. But I can tell you for sure that AUTISTICS ARE DIFFERENT, NOT LESS. While we have extra challenges, we also have extra gifts that come from the specialization of areas of our brain, due to isolation from faulty wiring. My gift turned out to be Problem Solving, but I did not realize it until about 24 years old.

You have received amazing help with Special Schooling, and I got nothing, so my development was slower at first, then accelerated later. I had the added burden of abuse, deep depression and multiple suicide attempts. I was diagnosed as Mentally Retarded and was constantly called, Retard, Moron, Spaz, stupid, etc. I started to believe them and buy into it. Even though I managed to get a 4-year degree in engineering in 3 years and graduate number one, I still felt stupid. I went on to further achievements and awards and was able to retire for life at age 34, halt the normal age. Yet all that time I lived in fear of discovery that ‘they’ would figure out that I was faking it and was actually stupid.

My point is simply that you do not want to buy-into the negative things people say about you, and even more important, don’t wallow in negative thoughts about you being less, missing something, etc. YOU ARE NOT MISSING ANYTHING. However, it will take you much longer that neurotypical kids to overcome some challenges. I forced myself to go out 6 nights a week to a dance hall and introduce myself to strangers and talk to them. It was terrifying at first. I rehearsed saying, “Hi, my name is Matthew” and holding out my hand. But then what do I say? The more I did it the better I got and reading their social cues. I still break most social rules and cross most social boundaries, but people seem to like that about me, as it can be refreshing from the social games and small talk most people do. I am completely open and honest. Rarely, I still fail notice if I have talked too much or not changed topic, causing boredom for the other person.

My youth was a struggle, although it is hard to separate the ASD from the emotional, mental and physical abuse. I pushed myself really hard to do better at certain things, like reading comprehension, vocabulary, classes and grades at school, and made a lot of progress, by the social end was not dealt with much. It was not dealt with because I was pretty much rejected, even by the nerds. I did not fit in anywhere or with anyone. I was isolated and very alone, except for the girls who stalked me relentlessly. I had no idea what sex was until age 19 and only knew that I was attracted to boys, and that made me an abomination to God (according to my priest).

Have you noticed that it is easier for you to connect with and socialize with close family and freinds (if you have any)? After graduating from High School, my father pressured me into going to a Maritime Academy. My development started to expose rapidly once I was in a new environment and shoved into to close living with a lot of other guys. There was zero privacy, not even on the toilet. I was forced to interact with others every waking moment. Oddly, it was perfect, because life was regimented and it was a completely closed environment, with a relatively small number of guys. They became my new family and they completely accepted me, and amazingly, they liked me. A year ago those same guys would have rejected me, but school is typically a toxic environment for anyone who is different and not popular.

Once I went to sea, the ships were again a closed environment with few people and it felt like family. I learned to socialize better and better with them. HOWEVER, each time I came home, socially I was completely inept. If I went to a Gay bar or club, all I could do is sit or stand there and could not make myself go up to a cute guy and talk to him. Thankfully some of them came to me, lol. I have almost never been single since age 22. In the next 35 years, I was single only 2 years. Unfortunately, my Autistic nature allowed me to be used a lot.

Bottom Line: I overcame all of the big Autistic challenges in my life. You can do it too and you have already started. As you push your brain hard and persistently, change is slow at first as you brain responds and starts to form new neural pathways and connections around your problem areas, and once that happens, suddenly improvement accelerates.

For me dancing should have been impossible. I tell my left foot to go forward and my right goes back. I took beginning dance lessons for months and did not seem to be getting any better, and then suddenly I shot forward and did so well that I decided to learn both leading and following, and then more dances, and then I eventually started teaching dance. You need PATIENCE and you need to keep pushing yourself to overcome your Autistic challenges. You already have had way more progress than I did at your age. It is hard for you to get very much socializing in now, but it will get better after school is done, in college and in the work place, as long as you push yourself to get out and do it.

CONDESCENDING & RUDE:

When I first started doing counseling online, instead of in person, people were not happy with me, saying I was arrogant and condescending. I have Dysgraphia, which is difficulty in expressing my emotions in writing. I did great writing technical manuals that people could understand, but letters home were very dry. When you do not show emotion and your voice is monotone, it sound like a boring teacher lecturing you. If you read a lot like I do, your vocabulary is larger and people think you are talking down to them because they do not know the rods you use. I do not search for “big” words to use, they are part of my normal speech.

In desperation, I figured I was now doing find in verbal conversation, so why not pretend the person I am writing to is sitting right there across from me. It tricked my mind and it worked, and it is how I write now. Now I write better than I talk, since my disease process and drugs I take are robbing me of my ability to talk very well.

Work on becoming more animated in your speech, be more expressive. Your teachers can help with that.

FILTERING:
You want to say what is on your mind. Guess what, everyone does. But other people learn that if you do not consider your words more carefully, modulate them, or choose to say nothing, then you can hurt the other person, or cause anger, disruption, resentments, dislike and even hate. If the first thing that pops into your head is, “You’re a bitch,” but stop to think it through, maybe she was right in criticizing you fro something, or maybe you realize that saying that will make her an enemy and there is something better you can say, like “I don’t agree,” or “Thanks for the feedback.”

How do you make that happen? It takes practice to simply stop yourself from saying anything at all until you can think if this is appropriate. At first, you may have long pauses, but the more you do it, it becomes habitual and faster and faster, with your subconscious mind doing much of it.

WHY ME?
Why was I born with arthritis, autism, Gay and in an abusive family? THERE IS NO WHY. It is what it is, the randomness of life. There is no such thing as Destiny or fate, and in my opinion a God, and if there were a God, would it go to the trouble to make you be born different? I have suffered a lot in life, but I am glad of it, because it made me into who I am now, I love who I am now. I forged compassion into me, it gave me a great appreciation for the things you take for granted. I learned how to find happiness, joy, and a degree of serenity, while living in a high level of pain for most of my life.

Why waste the breath or negative thoughts about ‘Why Me’ when it involves things that just are, things you had no say in, things life gave you. I did not want to be Gay and hated myself at one time, for all of the things I saw as ‘Wrong’ about me. Back then, Gay made you an absolute reject from society and even the workplace, and could mean prison if discovered. In my journey through life I came to be Proud to be Gay and would not change it for anything. I no longer have any shame around my Autism and recognize its gifts to me. I admits I have no pride in having arthritis and nerve degeneration, but I make the most of it and recognize how that suffering has made me a better person.

You were born a certain way. This is what life gave you, the hand of card you were death, now make the most of it. The greatest power you have in life is your power of CHOICE. You can choose to wrk hard to overcome your challenges, or let your challenges rule you life. If an earthquake happens, you had no choice in that, but you d have choice in what to do after it is over. You have Choice in what kind of woman you will be, your values, actions and behaviors. You can seek to make people feel better, rather than feel bad, and that means learning how to filter better. It starts with you caring about other people and doing as little harm as possible. We will have road kill along the way and make mistakes, which is fine, because wisdom comes from learning from your mistakes. It is how we grow as a person.

DIAGNOSIS

In my descriptions of symptoms below, please remember that everything is in degrees from a little to a lot and not everything applies. This is why you can get so many different diagnosis. Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism are very similar, with only the age of onset and motor skill deficits to differentiate them. Delayed language development is thought to be High Functioning Autism, but Asperger himself actually included this with Asperger Syndrome, so this controversial.

Most children with Asperger Syndrome do not receive that diagnosis until after age 6, later , or never. Usually, they are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as toddlers. Part of the reason is that doctors routinely screen children for ADD but not for autism. Another reason is that an Aspie's social impairment becomes more evident once he or she hits school. Finally, doctors are reluctant to label a child "autistic." It is okay and even a badge of honor to have a "hyperactive child," but it is another thing whatsoever to have an "autistic child."

Doctors make their diagnoses based on children's behaviors. Since children with Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger Syndrome share similar behaviors, the two can appear to overlap. However, there is a fundamental difference between Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger Syndrome. Aspies lack what doctors call "social reciprocity" or Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is "the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own." Children with ADD have a Theory of Mind and understand other people's motives and expectations. They make appropriate eye contact and understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions. Aspies can not. However, those with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism can and do eventually learn and understand that other people think differently, have other intentions, and can be very different from you, and they can learn to make eye contact, etc.

Both kinds of children can tantrum, talk too loud and too much and have problems modulating their behaviors and making friends. Both are social failures but for different reasons.

The child with Attention Deficit Disorder knows what to do but forgets to do it. Aspies do not know what to do. They do not understand that relationships are two-sided. If an Aspies talks on and on in an unmodulated voice about his particular interest, he simply does not understand that he is boring his friend and showing disinterest in his friend's side of the conversation. On the other hand, the child with ADD cannot control himself from dominating the conversation.

An Aspie child can appear unfocused, forgetful and disorganized like a child with Attention Deficit Disorder, but there is a difference. The ADD child is easily distracted; the Aspie has no "filter." The Aspie sees everything in her environment as equally important. Her teacher's dangling earring is as important as what she writes on the blackboard. The Aspie does not understand that she does not have to memorize the entire textbook for the next test. She does not "get" such rules. Aspies tend to get anxious and stuck about small things and cannot see the "big picture." Children with Attention Deficit Disorder are not detailed-oriented. The ADD child understands the rules but lacks the self-control to follow them. The Aspie does not understand the rules.

If the unfocused Aspie is "nowhere," the obsessive-compulsive and "Fantasy" Aspies are somewhere else. "Fantasy Aspies" retreat into a world of their own making - a world where everything goes the way they want it to. They play video games for hours or retreat into books and music. Their daydreaming and fantasizing resembles the behaviors of non-hyperactive children with ADD. I am more fantasy-based.

Obsessive-compulsive Aspies live a world they create from rules and rituals. Like ADD children, they appear preoccupied and distracted but for different reasons. They appear distracted because they are always thinking about their "rules." Did I tie my shoelaces right? Did I brush my teeth for 120 seconds? 

Some authors estimate that 60% to 70% of Aspies also have Attention Deficit Disorder, which they consider a common comorbidity of Asperger Syndrome. Other authors say that the two cannot exist together. Still others insist doctors have it all wrong and that the two disorders are the same. The real problem is that there is no hard science. No one knows exactly how slight imperfections in brain structure and chemistry cause such problems.

For this reason, getting the right diagnosis for a child who exhibits behavior problems may take years of trial and error. Diagnosis is based on observation of behaviors that are similar for a myriad of disorders. The tragedy is that the child often does not receive the correct medications, educational strategies, and behavioral modification techniques that could help him function on a higher level. He falls farther behind his peer group and loses ground when he could be getting appropriate treatments.

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:icondeideiblueeyez:
deideiblueeyez Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I could barely read this because I had tears blurring my vision.

~Thank you. Very much.
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You are most welcome. When we share our stories with each other, there is much we can learn from each other. Sharing and connect is the basis of Love itself.
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:iconredfieldsofnone:
RedFieldsOfNone Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Student General Artist
Excellent read! I am always excited when you post, and was glad when I finally got time to to read this one.
My twin brother is diagnosed with Classic Kanner's Autism, though I think it's called something new now-a-days. I enjoy reading about all parts of the Autism spectrum.
My favorite part of all your essays, not just this one, is that each one is not only extremely informative, but also personal.

Again, thank you for the excellent read!
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you. I hope you also got a chance to read Understanding AUTISM [link]. Mostly I write about things I have experienced myself, from Autism, being Gay, being raped, being depressed and trying to kill myself multiple times, working at sea, having men use me and throw me away, broken heart, living with chronic pain and illness, caring for the dying, etc. People suggest I write an autobiography, but I doubt anyone would believe what I wrote, LOL.

Kanner's Autism is actually a very old term that I just looked up, based on Dr. Leo Kanner, one of the first research scientists looking into Autism and first describing symptoms that could be attributed to autism. Now we just use the term Autism. But even this has changed and we now have low and high functioning Autism and the Autism Spectrum Disorders. It used to be that all of the different syndrome and disorders were diagnosed separately, but the symptoms of them all overlap each other, with only a few symptoms differentiating one from the other. So they were all packed together. If someone is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, this is not an accurate diagnoses now. In fact there is still a lot of controversy between High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome, since they look very alike, with only minor differences.

Is your brother a Low or High Functioning Autistic? If he pretty much needs care from others to get by, it is probably low Functioning, and if he is in school and able to function on his own at school, or able to live and work on his own, it is probably High Functioning. I started out seeming to be low functioning, with problems walking and talking, so I had to pace back and forth on a balance beam and take speech therapy up through 6th grade. I was diagnosed as Mentally Retarded in 1st Grade, but that was back in around 1959 or so and the word Autism was barely known and seldom used in diagnosis. I shudder to think of how many kids were shunted into terrible facilities simply for being autistic. but I started to do better and better as I aged.

I did better and better as I got older, but my real explosion of growth took place when I was 18 and older. I believe my development was severely delayed from being in a physical and emotional abusive environment. I was pretty much completely isolated with no actually good friends.

AGE & DIAGNOSIS: It is actually wrong to use a single diagnosis at age 5. The brain is rapidly developing with age, converting white matter to Gray Matter, forming millions of new neural pathways and connections each day. You can see symptoms change as a child ages, all the way up to age 25, which about the point the brain is finished developing. A diagnosis age 5 alone cannot be accurate for that reason. If a child is getting good therapy and is pushing him or herself to challenge his or her autistic challenges and deficits, then the brain is forced to start forming alternative pathways around problem areas. This can dramatically decrease the presentation of some symptoms.

For example, I could not read in 1st grade. I have Sensory Integration dysfunction. Each of my eyes was seeing correctly and sending the optic signals to my brain Ok, but my brain was not integrating (putting together) the two eyes, so I was seeing double. Pacing on the balance beam trained both motor coordination and forced my brain to integrate my eyes. The incentive was pain. The beam started out level to the floor, and it was raised once a week higher, so it hurt more to fall off. Then I had to read flash cards being help at each end, as I paced back and forth, and read flash cards with words. My symptoms changed dramatically in one year.

Anyway, I hope your brother is doing well and has been challenged and is pushing himself past his Autistic challenges. The old therapies had autistic children avoiding the things they were not good at and emphasizing what they were good at. but the autistic brain is already specializing in what you are good at, due to faulty wiring to those area of the brain, isolating those area more than usual. By challenging yourself in those areas you are having problems with, you can overcome much of those deficits.

Some of those deficits can mean life and death. I became so lonely and isolated that depression got worse and worse until I tried to kill myself at age 13, came close at 16 and 18, had a gun in mouth at age 24, and only barely survive a suicide attempt at age 34. this is when i finally tackled my problems with meeting strangers, getting new freinds, asking people to dance, learning to dance (not pretty), forming a large social circle, and finally finding joy and happiness.

I feel very sad at times of a loss of 34 years with so much suffering, when a little help in my youth could have given me a happier fuller life. I am still fairly easily used, but I would rather be that way because I draw a lot of love to into my life that way, from being very open and honest, letting myself be seen, unashamed. Some take advantage of that but this is part of live. Love and pain go together. if you want to love intensely, you will hurt intensely at some point. I say the pain of betrayal, loss of love, broken heart are all very well worth it to experience the intensity of deep love, be it friendship or romance.
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:icondaydreamer449:
daydreamer449 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have dyspraxia but only mildly as my handwriting is very neat and I have lots of friends. But I do struggle with co-ordination. I tried doing the high jump at school and I couldn't get my self over the bar. My feet and hands just wouldn't work together. I understood what to do, just couldn't do it. I was also diagnosed with asperger's today actually. But my parents have thought that I had it. Thank you for writing this it is a real help!
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:iconinspiredcreativity:
inspiredcreativity Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hi, I'm happy to hear it was helpful, since that is why I wrote it.

I understand what you mean about coordination. I was terrible in sports for this reason, but I turned out to be very good at Rock climbing. Trying to hit a ball with a bat or catching a ball was near impossible.

In second grade, I had to pace back and forth on a balance beam. This helped a lot in training eye coordination and balance. I could not read because each eye was reading independently, so I saw double. Naturally I kept falling off the balance beam, which was started with it sitting on the floor. Then once a week it was raised up higher, so it hurt more to fall off. Then I had to read flash cards with letters being held at each end, as I paced back and forth. Then finally I had to read words on flash cards as I paced.

When I was 34, I found a GLBTQ Dance hall and loved watching how much fun the couples were having dancing around the floor. But for me, dancing just never worked. I tell my left foot to go forward and my right foot would go backward. I decided that I really wanted to have the kind of enjoyment I saw the others having and I became determined to learn how to dance. I started taking lessons as a follower. Most people took beginner lessons for a couple of months, and I did it for a couple of years. At first it was horribly frustrating, but thankfully there were a lot of very friendly, helpful and especially patient men and women who helped me.

Progress was really slow at first, despite extra hours of practice at home. Months went by, but I stuck with it. Then suddenly I started getting better fairly quickly. Eventually I got to the point where I could dance and talk at the same time, although I was still mentally counting the time. Then the timing became second nature. I decided to challenge myself again, and learn to lead also. At first this was a bit of a nightmare, since the follower starts with the Right foot going back and the leader starts with the left foot going forward. Once my brain could switch tracks Ok, I learned fairly fast.

Then I started learning another dance, and then another. I learned the Two-step first, then the Waltz and West Coast Swing, then the Tango, Foxtrot, Rhumba, Mambo, Samba, Bolero, Salsa, Cha, cha, etc. I got better and better and then started teaching dance.

When you push your brain hard and long enough to do something, your brain can actually rewire itself around the problem areas. Not knowing any better, many autistic people simply avoid the things they are bad at and focus on what the are good at. If you are in the Autistic Spectrum, as you are, you may have to work harder for something, but you still get there.

I worked damn hard for my grades in school. I had no other life. I studied hard, studying at lunch, going home and studying most of rest of my time. My memory is horrible. Some of that was the result of bad physical abuse from infancy, and coping with Autism when everyone thought I was mentally retarded (my official diagnosis). My Hippocampus (memory processor in your brain) never developed fully, due to the constant abuse (which triggered high Cortisol levels, which inhibited Hippocampus function and development).

By pushing myself so hard, I slowly started getting better at school and I was taking the hardest science and math classes. After graduating from High School, I finally escaped home and went into a Maritime Academy (pushed there by my father). My development exploded, it was like a flower bud blooming. I ended up completing a 4 year engineering degree in 3 years, and graduated number one. But I had to work incredibly hard to do it.

I arrived at the Academy suicidal. I had tried to kill myself at age 13, and then came close at 16. I even spotted a way to die on the ship, a flare gun, which I would get access to on Sunday. We had arrived on Monday, for a weeks of hazing, when one-third of the entire entering class was lost. We were only allowed to sleep for 3 hours at a time. You are pushed to the breaking point. I had had a tiny attic room growing up and now I was living compressed in one compartment with 50 other guys, sleeping nose-to-nose with another guy and one above. For someone with my kind of Autism, it was a horrific shock, and now I could barely wait for Sunday to die and make it all stop.

I think it was on Thursday when we had been run and had been allowed to collapse on some grass to rest. The guys were talking and they drew me into the conversation. It suddenly occurred to me that this had never happened to me before. These guys seemed to see me as one of them and even seemed to like me. There were no put-downs, no shoving, no looking down on me. It is a pivotal moment in my life, because EVERYTHING changed then. Those guys and the Academy became my new family and I no longer wanted to die—I was suddenly excited about the future.

One thing I could not understand is why they kept me, when they had forced out many others, sometimes brutally. In marching i just could not react fast enough to the ordered to tun, etc. The guys solved the problem by tapping me on the legs (we were in tight formation, so it was unseen. I asked one of my new friends why I was tossed-out, and he said it was because it was obvious that I was trying hard to fit-in, and I volunteered to do all the worse stuff, and freely offered others help.

My story has a few points:

The idea that Autistics cannot socialize is FALSE. We can socialize well in the right circumstances. In my case, I was around a relatively small number of people and the relations became tight very fast. The relationships feel more intimate and trusting. But walking into a High School with over 4,000 students is another thing entirely.

If you have a set of friends built up in school, you can function just fine within that group. I worked with a boy who was doing fine, and then he was forced to move. He had grown-up with his freinds and was very comfortable with them. Now, in anew environment, he found he could not make new freinds and felt like he did not fit in, and other kids were making fun of him. His autistic traits suddenly stood out starkly.

School is a sick environment for a majority of students. It is often a vicious social pecking order with a level of cruelty not seen much in the adult working and social world. In a recent study of bullies, the bullies felt bullied themselves. If you can find yourself accepted into a tight group of freinds, then you can survive fairly easily, even as an Autistic. But if for some reason you are outcast, it is a very different story.The social game playing is intense in school, and this is one area Autistics have a real problem.

When you say you love socializing and are very chatty, this is true even of me, with the right people. The bigger question is how you do in large groups of strangers, like dropping you into a party of strangers. Would you enjoy being put in that kind of situation? Anyway, Asperger is more about being inappropriate socially, like not understanding or recognizing social rules, etiquette and boundaries. When you are with a group of familiar freinds, they get used to your peculiar ways and simply accept it as part of who you are, your uniqueness.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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