Getting the ASD diagnosis myself has really has lead to me getting a better understanding of me and has allowed me to do the things I have denied myself- like stimming. It is actually really calming and very productive, who knew?!? obviously I knew to some extent but feeling it… different ball game!
It goes to show that reading about autism, or having an autistic child just isn’t enough to give you insight into living with the condition. It is one thing to say you let your child stim because it makes them happy despite people staring or telling you they shouldn’t be allowed to do it. It is something completely different to stand there and stim and feel that release and that positive feedback just by doing something like shaking your hands/flapping. All the times I have denied myself the opportunity to regulate by stimming seems stupid now.
I think it also has to be said that myself and Dinky are very different. We may both have a diagnosis of ASD, but actually we are poles apart in a lot of things. We share core difficulties, but our reactions and our levels of challenge are, like I said, very different.
For example-Dinky loves spending time with other people, she loves it, she struggles with the social rules, with needing to take control and with other social communication and interaction issues, but she still gets stuck in there wanting to play. Even at her age I was mostly alone, I didn’t really socialise. Now, well, I was talking to my therapist about this earlier- I thought my social isolation was purely because I knew I didn’t like being around people- trust issues.
Thinking on it more, Yes, it is easy to put social isolation down to trust issues. However since I have started pushing myself to be more involved with the parent carer forum and helping parents who are in the position I was in, I have come to realise trust isn’t actually the issue.
The issue is my feelings of inadequacy due to struggling where all these people feel at home, knowing some people see me as odd, feeling uncomfortable when people try to force eye contact by twisting themselves and positioning themselves to get me to look at them and the getting frustrated with people’s small talk… like discussing the weather… I have spoken about this before to both the person that assessed me and my therapist today…
Both myself and the other person have obviously met at the place we are in, which means we both left our houses and unless we went in a blacked out bubble, we are both unlikely to have missed the weather, I know it is bloody raining.. I have put my window wipers on to see the road properly, plus we live in the UK, the weather is normally crap… so why do people feel the need to talk about it? And people call me odd!
Sorry to break it to you NT’s but you are also strange, you just don’t know it. Its like being part of a football team, wearing lime green shorts and long socks would be weird by itself but it doesn’t seem strange on a team where you are all dressed the same… you all have a fixation with the weather, it doesn’t seem odd to you because you all do it, but to me it is odd because it seems irrelevant, and I have to remember it is not an insult to my observation skills. Only when it is pointed out like this do some NT’s realise how bizarre it is.
Sometimes learning more about why I am the way I am is great, sometimes it is not great, sometimes it is downright confusing. A lot of the things I thought were due to PTSD, are actually down to ASD, and some things I just cant tell the difference, or sometimes I learn things like I did today.
Ok, previously I have read a little about shut downs, but I never really looked into them. I understood they were internal meltdowns, but didn’t know much more. Dinky is more of a meltdown person. She occasionally goes quiet and takes herself off to one of her safe spaces. She has a sensory den, she also has a tent with duvets and cushions in that she can sink into and feel more enclosed. I read these are good areas to have for an autistic child.
Well today I read Alis Rowe’s book on meltdowns and shutdowns (Alis is from the curly hair project), and shutdowns were in it. I read with interest as I know I have meltdowns, maybe not like Dinky’s any more, I did though- I was just as explosive and caused enough damage to school property when I ‘lost it’. It was always assumed I had ‘low frustration tolerance’ and ‘a short fuse’ and ‘anger management issues’… sorry to disappoint my teachers but they were wrong, I had a neurological condition that no-one was aware of and I wasn’t coping. Anyway, Some of sounded like how I feel in a ‘dissociative state’- ‘body is present mind is not’, ‘stare into space’, ‘blank expression’, ‘cant speak words wont come out’, ‘blacked out/numb’. I then went on facebook for a bit (as you do) and up comes a link to a youtube video from ‘autism awareness’ facebook page…
Yeah, this really makes complete sense to me and I totally get it, I often feel it.
I get overwhelmed by emotions that I cant name. It has happened in my therapy sessions too. I could never make sense of them, I knew I wasn’t having a flashback where I was remembering what happened vividly, or like last week which I definitely felt like I was back ‘there’ with no images. Shutdowns are like a dissociative state like with PTSD but different and I thought it was just part of the PTSD, it isn’t. A lot of what I thought were ’emotional flashbacks’ are actually emotional overload to the point of shutdown. I don’t lay on the floor and collapse but I do sit in my chair for hours not being able to move, and feel really tired after.
- I feel really bad that I didn’t look these up properly when Dinky started showing signs of shutdowns.
- I feel like I am constantly finding out new things about myself and the things I experience. Things I ignorantly put down to something when it was something else. I am really going to have to try and notice more the differences between the PTSD flashbacks and dissociation and Autistic shutdowns and dissociation.
I think I have rambled enough for today…
I wonder what I will learn tomorrow.