The Astonishing Confessions Of an Unknowing Autistic Boy Imagine never having heard the word "autism." And what's a spectrum?

The Astonishing Confessions Of an Unknowing Autistic Boy Imagine never having heard the word "autism." And what's a spectrum?

Yes.  That’s unknowingly autistic me in Sixth Grade.  Make all the jokes you want.  I’ve heard ’em all before.

 

Close your eyes and…NO wait!  Forget that.  If you did that you’d never get through this article, but keep the thought in mind and throw in some soft music after and only after you finish reading.

I’m a high functioning autistic with Asperger’s and to me that was funny.  If you’re not laughing, let me say that another autistic would be laughing right now.  It’s really that good to think that I would suggest you close your eyes as you begin reading some information that could be very helpful or possibly even change your life!

The truth is that I grew up in the olden days, I was a junior in high school before we got computers in high school and we had those floppy discs and some “C:/” somethingorother.  The words, “autism” and “autistic” were first used in schools ten years after I graduated in the min ’80’s.  There was no spectrum until four or five years ago and, “Asperger’s Syndrome” wasn’t too far behind, “autism.”

I was a weird kid, not THE weirdest, but pretty close. Not really a traditional geek, dweeb, nerd nor whatever it is that the kids are calling it these days, I was just strange.  I was the outsider.  Though an athlete in the top 25-30% of his middle school, I often found myself on the very end of one bench, watching the game and wishing I hadn’t been told I wasn’t needed.

Starting in fifth grade and going all the way through high school, I went to Christian school.  It’s at that point in my life that I really remember being publically ridiculed in classrooms full of mainly fifth-tenth graders, by the teachers, for being autistic and not knowing it. 

Believe me when I say those memories stick with you.  Especially when you’re not Dutch in a high school where 85-90% of the students and faculty were Dutch Christian Reformed.  The chants of, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much,” still ring in my ears from time to time.  I was tormented for being Lutheran and half German-half English  

The last few weeks, in particular, I feel like I have to explain nearly everything I say and I hate it not only because it sucks in ways you can only imagine but also because it makes me sound like a pompous douche, which I do my best not to be.  I’m not a pompous douche, I’m just autistic and don’t take crap for being that way.

There were happy moments in my childhood to be sure, but honestly, unless I think really, really deeply in my mind and really focus, I can’t remember them.  I came from a home where my parents were married for 46 years when my dad passed away from colon cancer., so things were pretty steady on the home front.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Corner licks were never a problem, but tell that to the coach…

I played two seasons of little league, badly, without ever once getting a hit and soccer poorly until I hit about 16. Around tha ttime I gained coordination and was finally good enough to get a soccer scholarship from a lower mid-level NAIA school located in a town in Nebraska where the students made up half the population.

What that means is this.  I was just good enough for a nothing school that I had applied to and that didn’t recruit me, so I became a, Uh, I seriously don’t even remember what our mascot was.  And I don’t care enough to look  Anyway, I became one of them and I got my traditional number 16.  And I played.  On a pretty regular basis.

You see, it turns out that the coach was also the economics teacher and, having no actual soccer coach on staff,  he agreed to go to a summer camp to learn how to coach soccer.  Every player on that team knew more about the game than Coach Whatshisname.  If you’re drinking something I beg you to empty your mouth before continuing.

It also turns out that coach coached directly out of the manual.  The book says that on week 8 practice 3 you highlight various moves on corner kicks.  Did it matter that we scored on an overwhelming average of corner kick opportunities but that for some reason we loved letting the wings in behind us and the opposing offense is destroying our walls?  Nope.  Because that day we were working on corner kicks for two hours.

God help us, we were mediocre in spite of ourselves. 

I was the backup goalkeeper and a pretty physical two-way halfback.  There were times we would just let go, find our groove and play a street game.  There were als0of  a lot of times there was physical punishment for not plying his 1950’s era textbook style in the fall of 1984.

College had its own set of problems, but let’s trip farther down memory lane and visit the sixth grade me above.  I remember virtually nothing about my much younger days, but my first memory and only young memory is being four and sitting the stairs of our rented condo in Cypress, CA.  We were moving out and just a  few miles away to a brand new home in a city called Seal Beach.

The next thing I remember (seriously) is being in fifth-grade and having my teacher call me weird, stupid and lazy, I heard those same three words all the way through ninth grade.  Its as if, “say this to him on a regular basis” was written in Sharpie on my permanent file.  I wonder if there are still files going back to the late 70’s that I could look at to verify that?  I may now be on an Aspe mission.

I also remember my mother telling me constantly that I wasn’t living up to my potential.  To my brain, which at the time I had no clue was wired differently than anyone else’s or that such a possibility even existed, everything is logical.

To live up to my potential is to succeed. To not live up to that potential, is not succeeding, and not succeeding equals failing.  I didn’t understand until many years later that she never meant it the way I took it. 

In fact, she was trying to encourage me, but because I was on a different wavelength from her, as is most of society, I took it literally and logically and heard my mother call me a failure, even though she wasn’t calling me that at all.

There were other thingsfrom my childhood, such as coaches telling me they only played a half a game because they had to and being called “Weed” growing up because of a speech impediment which has now gone away. 

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

BUllying, especially kids, is never cool.

There were the things that I was called by the students, understanding that back then we did not have the inclusion and acceptance of the LGBQ community, as we would today and that we have advanced in our language when it comes to describing others.

I could talk for days about the memories from my childhood, the best ones, barely mediocre.  The point is that whether you grew up in a time before we knew about autism or if you’re currently a parent of an autistic child. good or bad, our brains are always processing the things that go into it and good stimuli lead to good responses.

We’re weird.  I’ll admit it and be the first to raise my hand,  I’ve said on many occasions and I’ve titled my next book, Asperger’s Is My Superpower.  Back when I was in school and, to be honest, through my diagnosis at age 46 and slightly beyond,  I was confused about why I did some of the quirky or idd things I did and the weird things that happened over and over now made more sense.

You have no idea how great that feeling is to finally have things make sense to a man in his mid-late forties.  I imagine that for someone 10 or 12 with their whole life in front of them to at least know they’re high on the spectrum and have opportunities I didn’t have has to be more of a blessing than you’ll ever know.  Just with that in your pocket, you have an advantage over me.  You know now why you do the quirky things that make you, you.  It took me 46 years.

I didn’t know until I was 46 and by then I had become pretty much brainwashed that I was a weird loser that would never amount to anything.  It took a while to knock most of it away, but I still have my days where I believe it.  I seriously do.  Over 100 articles in 30 different magazine titles and a dozen newspapers plus scores of websites including Good Men Project where I write a weekly column and I feel like a loser.  I remember the day I wish my name was in one of them.  How viciously and tight that depression takes over.

Your Aspie child may not have certain memories of events you think are important but he or she doesn’t have control over which memories ultimately stay and which ones go.  As I said, I know I had a good childhood, but the memories I have are bad.  I still love my mom (my dad passed away) and I know that she’s always loved me and wanted the best for me.  I now know what she means by not living up to my potential and at 52 I finally have things figured out.

I think.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

 

It’s About Time I Figured Myself Out Getting to know your true self is a key to a happy life

It’s About Time I Figured Myself Out Getting to know your true self is a key to a happy life

Welcome to my first Music Monday post.  Though I can’t sing to save my life and I occasionally can’t properly play my iPhone, music is still a big part of who I am.  These posts aren’t necessarily about the song as a whole; maybe it’s one line, or maybe it’s the way the song makes me feel or the memories it brings back when I hear it.

I grew up in Southern California on Alternative and Indie music, which is why I like things that others would scratch their heads at.  Today may be one of those songs.  The Summer Set was an Indie punk/pop band with some catchy lyrics and videos that may be a little young for a fifty-two-year-old but aren’t too bad.

Sunday morning as I was blending my berry smoothie this song came on and per the usual, I listened to the music and the lyrics and started thinking about them.  I don’t always think of the lyrics literally, but they make me think and that’s exactly what happened today.

IJ.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic.com Music‘m not a bit too anything to the punk kids or the pop kids.  That’s mainly because I’m not a kid and I never was a pop kid, though I did throw down some punk music in my day.  I still do.

No.  I’m a bit too Asperger’s for the Neurotypicals (NT or non-autistic) and I’m a bit too NT for some Aspies (a PC term for those with Asperger’s).  That’s because I was forty-six when I was diagnosed and though I can’t change my aspie-ness, I did everything I could to try and fit in with the NT’s, A.K.A., the “in crowd.” before I knew what was wrong with me.

Like most of my kind, we struggle to find where we fit in.  We don’t want to be labeled as the weird ones or the freaks, but we also know that we won’t fit in with our NT neighbors, co-workers and others that we know.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with depression and self-esteem.  These are pretty basic traits shared by most Aspies and high functioning autistics and though I get told from time to time that people like my writing and it helps them, I still doubt myself.

I’m doubting myself right now as I write this, wondering if this is just a stupid idea for a blog post about music or if this makes actual sense.  That decision is in your hands and honestly, I would LOVE for you to use the comments section to let me know.  All I ask is that you don’t be too brutal.

I’m not a prophet, just a guy who shares about autism, neurodiversity and the struggles we face.  Being an autism advocate and an author who’s not a big name like Temple Grandin means that yes, I’m not turning a big profit, but that’s OK.  I’m in it to help people, though making a living wouldn’t be a bad thing!

I feel as if I don’t fit in anywhere, which is why, like the majority of autistics, I have few friends, stay home a lot and am lonely.  That’s not what I want, but after years of being alone, you kinda get used to it.

As far as being too Hollywood to go back to my hometown, my hometown is less than an hour from Hollywood and last week was the one year anniversary of my move to the Ozarks where my sensory overload went from a 20 down to about a 5.  That will happen when you leave the hustle and bustle of So. Cal. and trade it in for three lakes within twenty minutes and more trees than you can count.  I have no plans on going back to my hometown for anything more than a visit.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic,com musicI get in horrible depressive funks that can last for weeks, which is why you don’t see posts or social media for periods of time.  I stay away from it all because I don’t want to sound whiny.  I know that’s wrong and I’m working on trying to get over that.  Depressive funks are part of autism and if I’m going to be an advocate for the autistic community then I need to show people the whole picture.

I very recently started trying CBD oil (from the male marijuana plant, with no THC or any of the properties that get you high) and so far I’ve noticed a lessening of depression.  I’m still in the, “Is this really working or is it in my head” phase, but I plan on doing a series on CBD oil, so use the sign-up button in the top right corner so you don’t miss any of the good stuff that is yet to come.

When I get in these funks I tend to stay in my own little world and music is the one thing that can get me out of it, but also the one thing I tend to avoid.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, my problems are nothing compared to what others are facing on a daily basis with families being torn apart in detention centers, others being evicted from their homes, families dealing with the OD deaths of loved ones and the list goes on and on.

I have to remind myself that my life isn’t that bad, which isn’t always easy.  Of course, I can just turn on reality TV and get an hour of what I call “White Trash Therapy.”  That’s something that makes you feel better about yourself for a while that you don’t have to pay for, and you still get to sit on a couch!

To get out of these funks, I need to get grounded again, take a deep breath and instead of pulling my head out of the clouds, pull it out of somewhere on the southern part of my body.  With my self-esteem issues I can honestly say that, with one exception, I can never remember having my head in the clouds.  That one exception is when An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.

In the six years that I’ve known I’m autistic and the nine months I’ve devoted my writing and professional life to autism and working with those high school and up, I’ve done a pretty good job of learning more about who I am and why I am who I am, so yeah, I’m starting to figure myself out.

“Is there a point to this?”  You may ask.  Of course there is.  There’s hope for us all  We may not be happy with who we are or where we’re at in life, but we can keep chasing greatness, figure ourselves out and become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.  At least that’s what I get when I hear this song.

Don’t forget to use the comments section to let me know if this makes sense to you or not and how it resonated with you!

***

This Wednesday, August 15 catch me on Autism Live With Nancy & Shannon at 11:20 am Pacific talking autism, my book and neurodiversity.  You can watch it here.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Check out the video and enjoy the music.

 


Figure Me Out Lyrics by The Summer Set.  Photo courtesy Pixabay

Identify, Accept and Celebrate Your Sexy Inner Nerd We all have one, so why not fly your nerd flag high?

Identify, Accept and Celebrate Your Sexy Inner Nerd We all have one, so why not fly your nerd flag high?

My name is J.R., and I’m a nerd.  I’m proud to be a nerd, but that should come as no surprise as, whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all nerdy in different ways.  Our job is to find that way, accept that it’s part of us and have fun with your inner nerd.

Not all nerds are guys and in fact, some of the coolest nerds are of the female gender.  To a nerd like me, we even find some fellow nerdy women that we would love to date and be with, though for an autistic guy with an autism service dog, I think I may be pushing the nerd envelope a bit in trying to find a hot nerd who digs me.  Oh well.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic.com

Tina Fey is nerdy hot

Speaking of hot nerds who dig me, or in this case, don’t know that I exist.  Back in the day (not that long ago) Tina Fey is a prime example of “nerdy hot”.  One of these days I’ll come up with a Nerdy Hot scale to see how much nerdiness and how much hotness someone can handle, but for now here’s a pic of the SNL and 30 Rock star in all her nerdy hotness.

Let’s talk about nerds in general because we’re not a one type fits all bunch.  Yes, there are many types of nerds in this world which makes the discovery part of your nerdiness so much fun.

“But J.R.,” you ask.  “How do I know what kind of nerd I am?”  That’s a good question and one which takes a bit of self-reflection and some experimenting with the various types of nerdiness so you can figure out what your jam is.

Here are some of the more common types of nerd categories in the world today.  There are way more categories, so if you don’t find yours here, chill out and go exploring for the nerdy thing that makes your life happier.

Book Nerd

Comic Book Nerd (my type)

Star Wars Nerd (this is a HUGE one in the nerd community, but one which I never got too into)  May the Fourth Be With You.

Academic Nerd (similar to Book Nerd but focused on schoolwork and not on the New York Times Bestseller List)

Sci-Fi Nerd (this is similar to the Star Wars nerd but also includes stuff like Star Trek. Battlestar Galactica and anything else having to do with science fiction)

Tech Nerd (think Steve Jobs or any hacker you know)

Science Nerd (Beaker from the Muppets and Bill Nye the Science Guy are their heroes and if it has to do with science, they would cancel a date with Tina Fey to work on their project)

Music Nerd (this is in honor of my friend Sarah who claims herself to be a music nerd.  Typically they listen to indie- I like alternative indie–but they also tend to get into some really freaky, weird stuff.  I’m not judging because, hey, they’re fellow nerds)

Gaming Nerd (this is kind of a sub-genre of the sci-fi nerd, yet these people will spend days at a time playing their games, ignioring their jobs, families, the shower and anything else important in their life)

There are, of course, sooooo many more types of nerds out there, but these are a few of the bigger ones and ones that you can start exploring.  Of course, you may not have to explore because you may already found your nerd jam in this list.

I fought my nerdiness for years until I finally came to embrace it in my forties, a year or so after I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.  But you don’t have to be autistic to be a nerd.  In fact, some of the world’s top nerd minds aren’t autistic, but if you are autistic the nerdiness seems to come as a package deal.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The DC Bombshells are a male nerd’s dream come true!

There’s one comic book series that I particularly enjoy and that’s DC’s Bombshells.  These are 1940’s versions of some of your favorite female superheroes and villains done in a sort of pinup style (which I dig as a theme in general).

The bottom line is, we all have an inner nerd hanging around inside of us and the sooner we identify what nerdy past time we like, the sooner we can accept and celebrate that which is a part of us.  So what type of nerd are you?  I want to know.  Use the comments section below and let me know!

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

I’m just going to lay it all on the line.  When we as high functioning autistics (HFAs) get hurt, excluded, lied to, screwed over or otherwise wronged, whether intentional by the person(s) involved or just perceived by our brains, it quickly turns into bitterness and we have a hard time letting go of it.  We want to let go of it and have the bitterness go away, but as hard as we try, it lingers like one of my autism service dog’s toxic farts.

Let me be clear about one thing.  When I said. “perceived by our brains,” that’s something that’s real to us as autistics.  I can’t tell you how many times this has affected me over the years, but it’s now 1:46 am and I tried to sleep for the past two hours but couldn’t because the bitterness over something keeps churning over and over in my brain making slumber impossible.

It will sound strange, but alternative music played at a high decibel level will normally help me relax and clear my head but not even a heavy dose of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, My Chemical Romance, Velvet Revolver and a few others could do it for me tonight. This bitterness has a hold on me and won’t let go, probably because I have to come face to face with it in about twelve hours.

As I sat down and started banging away at the keyboard, a Foo Fighters song I like but rarely hear came on and I thought some of the lyrics were fitting for what I’m writing.

Bitterness J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters

Because you’re not the one but you’re the only one
Who can make me feel like this
You’re not the one but you’re the only one 
Who can make me feel like shit

The truth is that, yes, others can make us feel awful but even as autistic adults there has to be some way to put these thoughts that stir up bitterness out of our minds.  But how?

The easy way out is to avoid human contact altogether, something a lot of us go out of our way to do.  But is that really a solution?  Not in my mind.  As uneasy as I generally feel in group settings or one on one with people I don’t know or don’t know really well, sitting at home alone with a flatulent black lab isn’t the answer to my problems.  In fact, it makes me more depressed and makes me feel like no one cares about me.

We could try talking the situation out with the person(s) who filled us with bitterness but I’ve found often that leads to more bitterness and feelings of anger.  To use a sports metaphor, it’s a good option on paper, but when we get on the field, it’s not going to work.

As HFAs, each of us is unique and that means that we each have to come up with a mechanism to get rid of that bitterness and get on with our lives.  As I said earlier, for me it’s often loud alternative music that somehow soothes me and gets the thoughts to go away, at least for a while.  When that doesn’t work I’ve used meditation, breathing exercises and a combination of hot showers and stretching to loosen up my muscles.

My go-to way when nothing else works is often writing, but generally, the writing is full of the bitterness that’s inside me.  Depending on what I’m working on that’s a good thing.  Tonight/this morning it was a good thing because I decided to write about the bitterness inside me.

The reality is that our brains are wired differently than most of society and people either don’t understand what they’re doing to us internally or the truly horrible people out there know exactly what they’re doing and screw with us for the sport of it.  Neither is good, but when you’re tormenting someone so you can have fun, you’re a special kind of a-hole.

As I bring this to a close, I’ll keep cranking the loud music and hope that between that and the writing I can find the slumber I desperately need because I have a very busy day ahead of me and I need to be at my best.

When you get the bitter feelings that won’t go away and distract you from work or keep you from sleeping, how do you handle it?  Share your tips and ideas with us all.  Please.

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Pixabay Creative Commons

Foo Fighters, The One, lyrics by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiffett.

Foo Fighters, The One, video.

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me

nerd

[nurd]

noun Slang

an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

Courtesy Dictionary.com

My name is J.R. and I’m a nerd.  This isn’t a new revelation to me and probably not to those who have known me for a while.  I will say one thing about the definition above and that’s that I don’t believe it has to be a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.  Don’t believe me?  What about all the Dungeons & Dragons nerds out there?  They’re being social, just with their own type.

People on the autism spectrum, especially high functioning autistics (HFA’s) like me, tend to get focused on one or two things, often to the point where it becomes an obsession.  Sometimes that’s good and other times, not so much.  Usually not so much.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The Jackalopes of the Spring Select League

For more than twenty years I played and coached ice hockey.  When I was coaching I coached at every level from Learn To Play classes, to weekly skill clinics to youth recreational leagues to travel teams to high school.  Generally, I coached at least three teams at a time and my record, including tournament teams, was eight teams at one time.  If that isn’t focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else, I don’t know what is.

Almost a year ago I moved from the sensory overload that is Southern California to the quiet and peacefulness of lakes, trees, and moonshine that is the Ozarks and I love it.  I knew I would be giving up coaching and playing, but I was ready for something new and more relaxing in my life.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that I would probably need to find another thing for me to hyper-focus on.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic.com

Comic Force in Branson, MO

A few months after moving here I met the owners of Comic Force, my local comic book shop and my inner nerd found what it had been looking for.  It had literally been years since I had been in a comic book store and not only is this one cool (check out the floor in the pic on the right), but it was like nerd-vana.

I had no idea that comic books had become such a huge thing and had no clue of just how many new characters there were, such as The Amazing Squirrel Girl (which I refuse to pick up and look at because it just sounds lame).   As soon as I saw that Squirrel Girl cover about fifteen nut jokes immediately went through my brain.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The DC Bombshells are an old-school male nerd’s dream come true!

I also found that DC has taken some of their most beloved characters and changed them up a bit for modern times as well as took some and made them very retro as is the case with a series I enjoy, DC’s Bombshells, a hip, cool version of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and other female heroines and villains teaming up to fight for justice during World War II.

After my head stopped spinning from all the selections they had, I looked around and finally found some titles that I was interested in.  I bought a few, and being a typical Aspie and spending hours on the tablet/computer doing research on characters, story arcs, new titles coming out and various series.  After doing that I found that I had more female comic book characters I was interested in than male characters, something I probably need to talk with my psychiatrist about.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.comNot Weird Just Autistic

Ant-Man & The Wasp

I guess as autistic obsessions go, comic books are pretty low level as far as being weird, scary or strange and very high level on the nerd scale.  To be fair, I do have comic books that feature male characters such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Ant-Man & The Wasp, which technically is a guy and a girl, but for this argument, at least it’s got a male character listed first.

Representing the estrogen-powered superheroes in my collection are the Bombshells, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Black Widow.  I guess you could call me an equal opportunity comic book nerd.

“J.R.,” you ask.  “Is there a point to all this or are you just talking about comic books?”

I do have a point and that’s that as high functioning autistics, Aspies or whatever you want to call us, we generally get hyper-focused on something and, as long as it’s not porn, meth or something else harmful or potentially harmful, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The neurotypicals (non-autistics) in our lives may not understand these things and may even call them obsessions, but they’re not obsessions.  They’re part of who we are and they’re part of the autistic traits that so many of us have.

What we as people on the spectrum need to realize is that not everyone in our lives is going to be interested in what we get caught up in and we have to understand that because we naturally want to share our knowledge with others.  Yes, the majority of us are naturally afraid of social situations, but when we find people that are like-minded and share our same interests, we can make friends both on and off the spectrum and that’s a good thing.

As much as we think we want to be alone, we really don’t.  So my challenge to all my fellow autistic nerds is to go out there this week and whether it be comic books or something else, try and find one person you can connect with and become friends with.  When we find others that share our passions and interests, life is better.

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Purple Chin Media/J.R. Reed

An Attractive Terrific And Nerdy Prospective New Woman

An Attractive Terrific And Nerdy Prospective New Woman

To be clear, this is not the new woman.  I think this is Winnie from The Wonder Years who grew up to be a cute math nerd.  Or maybe it’s someone else.  

 

Yes, you read the title corrective.  J.R. has a possible probable new woman in his life.  When last we spoke about the topic of dating on this blog, I had sworn it off, written a book about cross spectrum dating, had it published and it’s now available on Amazon and Kindle.  Yes, that was a shameless plug, but at least it’s out of the way.

The last relationship I had wasn’t amazing and my subsequent online encounters were horrible at best.  I’m fifty-two and I had women in their sixties and even early seventies sending me messages.  Sorry, but at my age, I’m not looking for a cougar.  The last time I was online. two women flat out said that they could never date a guy with a service dog.  That really bummed me out and I swore off online dating forever.

Fast-forward a few months and, “forever,” is apparently over because I decided to give it one more shot.  The first two days were filled with wonder at women who try way too hard to make themselves look sexy, women who make me wonder what, “average,” really is in this country and women with profiles that make you want to run.

I’m pretty picky about who I send messages to.  I actually read the woman’s profile–a foreign concept to many–and when I send a message I reference things in that profile so they know I did more than look at pictures and send a message.  The third night I messaged a woman I’ll call Jo.  It’s not her real name. but it’s not a bad one. I can think of a lot worse fake names for a new woman in my life.

In three nights I found one woman that I was interested in sending a message to and I decided that was it.  If she didn’t message me back, it was all good and I would go back to the dating underground for the foreseeable future.

But something amazing happened.  This woman, who I found both attractive and intriguing based on her profile, messaged me back within a few hours.  We messaged for a while and then eventually moved to text for a day and then to talking on the phone.

After a couple days of conversations with no lulls or weird moments and after having made a date for Sunday, I decided this girl was what I was looking for and I could see us getting along.  It was then that I started thinking about when I should tell her that I have Asperger’s. 

In case you wonder why I need to tell her about my Asperger’s before our first date, the fact that I have a service dog makes it kind of necessary to drop that bomb early on.  A black lab in a service vest is hard to hide on a date…

The sparking conversation that I was offering up was certainly helping, as was my occasional wit and partial charm, so I felt very relaxed in telling the new woman that I’m up on the spectrum.  I thought it would go well, but it was even better than I imagined.

eye roll JR Reed Not Weird Just Autistic https://www.amazon.com/Aspergers-Guide-Dating-Neurotypicals-Married-ebook/dp/B07CRXSLVR/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1525282665&sr=8-2&keywords=an+aspergers+guideJo has personality, which I love, and I’ve gotten the eye roll emoji more than several times after texting things.  I don’t mind the eye roll when it’s done in fun, which is how I’m pretty sure she means it.  As I said, she has a personality which keeps the conversations fun and both of us laughing.  Also, I’m sure I’ve gotten the eye roll many times on the phone, I just can’t see it.

It’s amazing how connecting, or at least feeling the beginning of a connection, with someone can make you feel great.  Not that I was feeling bad before, but it’s nice to know that there’s someone you’re interested in who is interested in you as well.  Though we’ve “known” each other less than a week, it was cool to have her encourage me and wish me luck as I went to my book signing the other night and to actually like me for who I am.

I’m not one of those people who sugar coats things and tries to make myself look better than I am so that I can woo a woman my direction.  I’m simply myself and if she likes me, then wooing may take place at some point.  Why would I pretend to be someone I’m not so that she likes me, knowing I can’t keep that charade up forever? 

All that does is waste people’s time and both people end up getting hurt and I don’t want to hurt anyone.  That’s not how I roll.

So the bottom line is this, now I get a fresh start at creating a great relationship with a new woman and I get new (potentially) very happy chapters for one of the books I’m writing, Asperger’s Is My Superpower.  

What will happen Sunday and beyond?  I don’t know.  To quote singer Natasha Bedingfield, “The pen’s in my hand.  Ending unplanned.”  I’m taking this ride on faith, some good intuition and am going to have fun seeing where it takes me.  Or, I guess, takes us.  I’m making no assumptions, not looking too far ahead and should things look like they’re starting to work out, letting communication be what pulls us closer together.

When you find a new woman who is attractive, terrific and nerdy all at the same time, that’s a woman you want to keep around and see if you two can build a solid relationship based on friendship, honesty, and trust.   

Will we click and build something together?  Who knows.  Stay tuned and you’ll find out.  Better yet, enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this. 

 

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Spotlight On Bullying:  Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Spotlight On Bullying: Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Bullying is real in the autistic community.

I knew I needed to write something tonight, but I wasn’t quite sure what to write about.  I have couple posts already started, but neither seemed to really float my boat, so I went about doing some site updates and turned on some loud music while I tried to gain clarity on what to write about, the first video, below, Bully by Shinedown, resonated with me from the moment I hit shuffle.  As I listened to the words for the hundredth time, I started thinking of incidents where I was bullied as a child and even recently.  Yeah.  Bullying.  That’s a good topic.

The words resonated with me and suddenly I had my topic.  Bullying and the depression and other crud that drags along with it for years and years.  And I’m speaking about bullies both on the spectrum and off, though mostly off.

There is such a thing as an autistic bully.  Take the character of Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory.  Though never officially said, Sheldon is the poster boy for the arrogant autistic bully that doesn’t realize a bully, because he’s autistic.  Today I’m discussing more the neurotypical bully, as that’s what I’m most experienced with, I’m simply acknowledging that we have our bullies as well.  It’s not just you neurotypicals.  Be cool.

Keep in mind that the word autism wasn’t formally being used until almost ten years after I graduated high school and the term Asperger’s, my time of high-functioning autism, wasn’t spoken of until a few years after that. My bullying was because I was weird, different, odd or whatever they were calling me that day.  There’s an interesting side to the bullying that I just now thought of.

J.R. Reed wwww.notweirdjustautistic.com @NWJautistic bullying

This is what it feels like when bullied–physically or mentally.

I went to public school through fourth grade and then Christian schools from five-twelve.  While I remember a little bullying from the losers in my neighborhood Webelos troop/pack/whatever it is, I don’t really remember any bullying from kids at public school.  I sure as hell remember the bullying and the crappy remarks from kids and teachers at the private schools.  And being set up by a couple kids in eighth grade to get me in serious trouble with the principal that I would eventually prove wasn’t me.

But no memories of public school.  Weird, huh?  It’s almost as of there were students and teachers eviler at private than at public school.

The bullying, mental and physical in middle school and mostly mental in high school, still hurts.  I do my best to push it away so I don’t think about it, but every once in a while, it pops back up for a bit.  The faster I can push it away, the better I feel.

I’ve heard this song, Bully by Shinedown, hundreds of times.  It’s on my Creatin’ Music playlist along with a lot of other loud songs.  Tonight, I guess since I was thinking of topics to write about. I guess I listened a little closer.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I don’t in any way suggest we confront our bullies.  All that will do is create more problems. We’d love to make ’em pay, but they will.  Life will get them.

J. R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com @nwjautistic bullying

The Three Amigos of bullying are anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. This is Chevy Chase, Martin Short, and Steve Martin.

Bullying, whether as a child or an adult leads to several issues in the brain that need to be dealt with.  Quite simply, they’re anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.  These are like the Three Amigos for the autistic person as all three tend to come riding into town together, much like the Three Amigos on your left, only not nearly as funny

We get anxious because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We know something’s going to happen and when it does, we want to be ready.  Spoiler alert:  We never are ready!

We get depressed because we got pushed around or called names or made fun of, or were belittled by our math teacher for not showing the work the way it was taught.  We get depressed for all sorts of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that it’s embarrassing, degrading, painful, and yes, for some it leaves scars.

Ah, self-esteem!  I can’t remember the last time I felt really good about myself for an extended period of time.  That doesn’t completely mean that life sucks, but it certainly has its pauses from the good feelings and reminds me just how good the good feels.  Things have certainly gotten better in the self-esteem department, but like everyone, I have my days.

Bullying leaves invisible scars for years to come.

It’s true.  The scars can sometimes be seen on our faces as pained looks, but no one really knows what’s going on in our head.  We’re fighting back those moments where we were bullied.  Back to the boss that called me Forrest Gump for four years, back to the math teachers telling me, yet again, that they don’t care that the answer is right, the work wasn’t as shown.  F.

There’s more to bullying than just what happened at that moment.  We wish that’s all it was, but it’s really just the beginning for us.  And as we fall down that rabbit hole remember ing what was said or what was done to us, we get depressed and lose our self-esteem a few more notches.

Practicing neurodiversity and neurodivergence will help us all in the long run.  Most bullying is done out of ignorance.  If we all work together to educate our part of the world, bullying will slow down to an all-time low, because people will respect one another for who they are.  And that’s the way it should be.

 

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor Bullying

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

 

 

Math and the what if outcome of my life

Math and the what if outcome of my life

Let’s clear one thing up, right off the bat.  I’m fifty-two, considering going back and taking a few classes to finish up a degree and I am terrified of math.  I don’t get math, the math doesn’t get me and that’s just the way it is.  It wasn’t always that way, though,  There was a time when I was good at math, though to look at my grades you would definitely not know it.  Let me tell you a story.

The year was 1982 and it was my first year at a small, mainly Dutch, Christian high school in Southern California.  Being a small school, we only had a couple math teachers and I was lucky enough to get one of them as my homeroom teacher.  This was back when we actually had homerooms and your first period wasn’t your homeroom.  This homeroom teacher is now a Facebook friend and though I never had him for math, I really wish I had the opportunity to let him try and teach me.
 

No, I got stuck with the other math guy. 

 

I got the guy who loved baseball players, was indifferent to most everyone else and though I’m sure he cared, was more than a bit gruff when it came to those who didn’t learn math his way.  I didn’t learn math his way because I have an autistic brain.  I didn’t know it at the time because there was no such thing as autism until I was well out of high school, but that doesn’t really matter.

Back then I was actually pretty good at math/algebra, whatever you want to call it in high school.  My problem was that even though I got the answers right because my brain worked differently, I showed the work in a way other than he taught it.  Since my work didn’t match his work in the way he taught it, I received D’s and F’s.  
 

That killed my self-esteem, my desire to take math and numbers in general.

 

What would have happened to my life had I received A’s and B’s and been rewarded for getting the right answers and obviously not cheating?  Would I have gone into another field where I could have supported myself and my daughter better throughout life?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

Imagine what it’s like to be in high school, get the answers right all on your own and basically have a teacher tell you to sit down, shut up, deal with the grades I’m given and, “put in the effort to learn it the right way.”  If I had the answers right, I apparently was learning math in a correct way, just not the way it was being taught.

My brain looked at the problem and saw it in a different way.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s the Aspie out of the box thinking.  I simply found another way to solve the problem correctly.

I graduated in 1984, which means that thirty-four years have passed and I’m still deathly afraid of math.  I didn’t know what else to do besides retreat into my own world and take as little math as possible.  My parents weren’t understanding, but why should they have been?  There was no research or discovery to tell them that there may be something different in the way I process things, so they just kept on me about my grades.
 

“You’re not living up to your potential,” is what I heard from my parents on what seemed like a daily basis.

 

I was trying to live up to my potential and in my mind, because I was getting the answers right without cheating, I was living up to my potential.  But report cards don’t lie and the grades showed that I wasn’t living up to my potential.  I’ve carried that with me for thirty-four years and I’m sure I’ll carry it with me until the day I die.

Let’s fast forward to the present and look at kids in high school today.  It could be math, or maybe English, history or any number of subjects that an Aspie struggles with.  The help that’s supposed to be there for these kids now that autism, Asperger’s and spectrum disorders have been identified often isn’t.

Kids today who have IQ’s off the chart will get stuck in special ed classes because they struggle in one or two areas and because they’re socially awkward.  That’s not right at all.  It holds the student back, throws a label on them and kills their self-esteem as bad, if not worse than mine was back in 1982-1984.

My focus is on high school age as well as college and adults because the reality is that we’re the forgotten ones when it comes to autism.  The overwhelming majority of money earmarked for autism at both the federal level and through charities is directed towards young children.
 

There’s nothing wrong with directing money towards helping children, but it does hinder the work being done for the 50,000 + high functioning autistics who turn eighteen each year.

 

Math and other autistic life problems, J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com

The IEP is supposed to help our kids, but more often than not it’s just a piece of paper that’s filed away in a student’s file and is forgotten about.

I listen to parents talk about their kid’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) and what I hear is a joke.  These kids on the spectrum are told that they will get certain help to overcome the challenges they face in school, be it math, reading or whatever subject.  When it comes right down to it, the vast majority of these kids get very little of the promised help, if any at all.

One would think in the thirty-four years since I graduated high school, with the discovery of autism and how to help, that we as a society would be doing more for our future generations, but we’re not.  All we’re doing is creating a bunch of new J.R.’s who will go on to have big self-esteem problems in life because no one can recognize that we think differently and that we’re not developmentally disabled.

 

 

 

Just because we use our brains in a different manner doesn’t mean that we should be shoved into, as one Special Services Director for a school district recently put it, SPED classes.  SPED is code for Special Ed.  
 

Special ed is the last place a student with Asperger’s belongs.  

 

Remembering that high functioning autistics tend to be out of the box thinkers, do you really want to stick the smart kids of our next generation, the ones who have great opportunities to fix the problems we face now and will face in our future, in special ed because they struggle in one subject and are a little socially awkward?  

I can only speak on my behalf, but I don’t want to see them there.  I want to see them thrive, become educated and grow up to be the thinkers and leaders of a new generation.  Just as I wonder what could have been in my life had I been given the opportunity to get good grades in math instead of being made to feel like an idiot and a moron for not doing the work the same way, I wonder what will happen with our next generation if we keep blowing off their IEPs and sticking them off to the side instead of working with us and our unique set of challenges and abilities.

So what’s it going to be?  Are the Aspies of the world going to keep getting pigeonholed and shoved in the corner or are we going to be respected as individuals and treated like regular people instead of someone special?  What are we going to do about it?  Are we going to sit back and take it or are we going to fight for our rights?

I don’t ever want to hear another story of someone who has lived with the shame and negativity I’ve lived with because of math or another subject in school.  Let’s band together and fight back for our rights as people.  Who’s with me?
 

I’m proud to be a guest on a nationally known autism podcast next week.  You can catch me on the Elijah Winfrey Show chatting with Eli and Toni about growing up off the spectrum and about my new book that’s currently at #26 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases chart!  I’ll be live on Tuesday, May 15 at 11 am Pacific.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

What is 1 in 59, Really?

What is 1 in 59, Really?

If you’re a part of the autism community, I’m sure you heard last week’s update by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). that in the United States, autism is now diagnosed every 1 in 59 children.  That’s up fifteen percent in two years and two hundred-fifty percent in twelve years.

(FYI, if you’re reading this and you’re not part of the autism community, God bless you for reading my autism ramblings.)

Those percentage numbers are based on the CDC numbers from the same years in comparison and it’s scary to know that the area I specialize in, high school age and above, are aging out of school faster than we can help them transition to the life that the majority of those on the upper end of the spectrum only dream of.

Reports on autism subjects can vary with their numbers or percentages, but they’re often not too far off base.  We can safely say that more than half of high functioning autistics will get stuck living at home, with a relative or even out on the streets.  Some surveys put the percentages in the mid-sixties, with others going all the way up to the low-eighties.  Either way, it’s not a great situation.

This will sound like I’m soapboxing,  but I’m really not.  I’m simply stating facts.  With the official number dropping from 1 in 68 to 1 in 59, that means the blog post I wrote just weeks ago about how fifty thousand new high functioning autistics are ready to enter college or the workforce every year, is now irrelevant.  The numbers just went up.

As numbers in my demographic go up, it’s because kids are transitioning and becoming adults.  Some call these rising numbers an epidemic.  Some are wrong.  It can’t be an epidemic, because an epidemic implies a disease and autism is NOT a disease.  We are not, “sick.”  I say, “We,” because yeah, I’m on the spectrum.  So what?  Is it really that big a deal?

ASIDE–when it comes to meeting women, it is a big deal.  Most have no interest in someone with Asperger’s and a service dog.  And a purple goatee.  It’s not the goatee, so don’t even go there.

The harsh, sad truth is that, yeah, it can be a big deal.  Especially when you consider where you live and how bigoted your ‘hood is.  Most people don’t know Asperger’s from. uh, something else that sounds like Asperger’s. 

Do you want to know how bad the lack of knowledge on autism is?  I recently had a neighbor tell me that we had someone moving in around the corner, “Who is like you are.”

“Uh, white?”  I asked with disbelief, knowing how bad this was going to end up.

“No,” they said.  “You know.  It’s what you have.  Kind of like being retarded.” 

“Kind of like retarded?” I repeated over and over in my brain, trying to not publically flip a gasket.  

Then I took a deep breath, poorly feigned a smile and asked, “You mean, Asperger’s?”

“Yea that’s it,” they screamed as their spouse laughed their ___ off at what was just said.

“Um….,” I stammered as I tried to find as pleasant a way to put this as possible,  “Yeah.  So I have Asperger’s, and even after my stroke, my IQ is still in the top 2% of North Americans.  People with Asperger’s are NOT, developmentally disabled.  We haven’t used retarded for a couple decades now.”

Picking themself up off the floor, the spouse offered to grab some WD-40, to pull the foot out.

The point to that story, and yes there was a point, is this.  People have no friggin clue what an autistic person is, or is like, or what we can be.  Those of us in the early years of Gen X (Some polls put 1965 as a Baby Boomer and others in Gen X–I prefer Gen X), remember Dustin Hoffman as The Rain Man.  Yes, he was autistic, but a very low functioning one.  The character was mainly a savant, with a thing for quickly calculating complex equations in his noggin and watching Wappner.  He is NOT the ideal reference to who we are.  Nor, for that matter, is SheldonCooper from The Big Bang Theory, though we’re definitely more Sheldon than Rain Man.

People younger than us, really have little clue, in general, as to who we are.  And who we will be in bigger numbers, because, you know, 1 in 59. 

You’re probably asking yourself, “If this isn’t a disease, why is he so lit up about 1 in 59?”  That’s a fair question.

The lions share of money designated for autism be the federal government or passed out by major charities, favors the kids.  I’m all in favor of controlling the autism rather than letting the autism control us and if that means, starting young then let’s get to work!

The bottom line is that more money needs to be spent and more attention given to those in about eleventh or twelfth grade and above.  Because as 1 in 68 became 1 in 59, Fifty thousand new adults on the spectrum turning eighteen each year becomes a hundred thousand over time.  And what about the ones we missed when they were eighteen?  or twenty-one?  or thirty?  Or, like me, forty-six?

That’s a lot of work to do without a whole lot of funding to help and not a lot of advocates working with adults.  Please, help me spread the word that we should be accepted, welcomed and appreciated for what we bring to the table, just as we would do the same for you–even if we have a weird way of showing it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see any high functioning adults being held back in any way.  We’re different and different isn’t bad.  We think in a different manner than our neurotypical counterparts, we’re socially awkward where they can talk us out of any situation while we sit back and plan things.  We really do make a great pairing.  It’s neurodiversity at its best!

Neurotypicals (NT), we have skills you can use and you have skills we can use.  Our joining together and putting our brains together is called neurodivergence.  It has to happen, and do you know why?  1 in 59.  We can do amazing things if we work together! 

To put it bluntly, if those on the spectrum can’t learn and try to be somewhat accepting of their neurotypical peers, and NT’s, stop calling us weird and let us teach you what we have to offer, and come in with an open mind.  

So what can we do about the 1 in 59 figure and making sure it doesn’t go lower?  I have no clue because I’m not a doctor or a researcher.  I’m an Adult Asperger’s Advocate who is an Aspie himself. 

My job is to keep writing, speaking and doing what I can to help the high functioning adult, integrate and fit into society as best they can, while teaching society at large who we are, what we bring to the table and how accepting us into the workplace and your peer groups will benefit us all in the long run. 

And, for the record, that does NOT mean, try to make the autistic person automatically fit the NT mold.  Merging the two communities is a fifty-fifty deal, so the NT side is going to have to give a little as well.  Some people are going to have to open their minds a bit more.

I could ramble on and on for quite a while–maybe it already seems as if I have.  The bottom line is to realize that we are not sick and do not need to be cured.  We also need to be aware of how much the adult community needs other advocates to speak out for those who either can’t, won’t or don’t know how.

1 in 59 is absolutely a scary number, but the one I’m mostly interested in is inching its way towards a hundred thousand per year.  That’s the point where the rubber hits the road and where it all gets really real.

How many people are committed to helping the adults, both young and not so young, in getting to live a life they can be happy with and one where they can live on their own, have a job and somehow be a part of society wherether through a board, club, team, or whatever they’re into that NT’s could take an interest in.

Let’s hear from you in the comments section. Are you committed to helping adults?  Are you already helping? If yes, how so.  Let us know.

My first book, An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, is out on Amazon, Kindle and on the JR Reed, Author website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Enjoy this short video, and remember, we’re quirky people, so celebrate the quirk!

 

Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Right now I’m having a panic attack that literally came out of nowhere.  Seriously.   At this very moment, as I type horribly.  You can’t tell how bad I’m typing because thank God, I have Grammarly watching my back, but just in this first paragraph, I have six red lines under words.  I’m not sure why because my hands aren’t shaking, but they’re happening.  I guess that’s what happens when I try to write my way through a panic attack.

See the blurry foot above?  That’s how the world looks to those of us on the spectrum when we’re having a panic attack.  Nothing is clear.  Everything seems like it’s in a haze. Sometimes things even seem like they’re in fast forward, even though they’re not.  Life is rolling along at normal speed and I can’t speak for all Aspie’s, but for me, things can flip from hyper speed to slow motion in a moment and then, just like that, I hear Scotty (from Star Trek) yelling in a Scottish accent, “I can’t give her any more, Cap’n.  We’re moving as fast as we can!”

So why am I having a panic attack right now?  I have no clue.  This one literally hit me out of nowhere.  I never saw it coming.  Much like a year ago when I got jumped from behind, robbed and repeatedly kicked in the head in California and then waited five hours for the police to arrive.  That’s another story for another day.  Maybe.  The point is, just like that incident, I never saw this one coming.

I’ve tried all the normal things to calm me down, including breathing exercises, different relaxation techniques, putting on some meditation music and trying to focus my brain and even taking a hot shower and letting the water run over my knotted muscles, but so far nothing has worked.

I haven’t had a really major panic attack like this one in a long time, which, when you think about it, I guess is good, but still, a panic attack is a panic attack.  Living in Southern California where it was sensory overload on steroids, panic attacks were far more common for me, but since moving to the Ozarks nine months ago and being around nature, things have been a lot better. 

Of course, they would probably be even better if I didn’t hole up in my log cabin for days at a time, only seeing that nature when I let my autism service dog, Tye, in and out to do his business, but as an Aspie, that’s what we do sometimes.  It’s not the right thing to do but it’s how we tend to roll.

I’m still trying to figure this one out and I know from previous experience it’s not going to just magically disappear, but as I sit here at the keyboard and pound away, watching the collection of red lines grow with every few key strokes, I feel it getting a little better.  The chamomile tea isn’t hurting the situation, either.

How a panic attack rears its ugly head and how it affects an individual on the spectrum is different and almost unique to each of us.  How we deal with them is also a bit unique, but there are a few time-tested ways to help ease the panic once the attack sets in.

The first thing and the most crucial thing is to just accept the attack and don’t try to fight it.  If we try to fight it, it’s only going to get worse, as we now have the panic as well as the fighting going on inside our bodies and our minds.  Dealing with the fact that it’s happening isn’t the same thing as liking it, but accepting that it’s happening and you’re not going to snap your fingers and make it go away is the first step in controlling it.

Laying down and deliberately slowing our breathing and breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth is a good way to slow down the attack.  The breathing by itself isn’t likely to make it go away, but its a good start to getting it under control.

Heat up some essential oil that calms you or light up a stick of incense and put on some calming and relaxing music at a low level.  The smell of something soothing, I personally like jasmine or lavender, along with some quiet, calming music will help focus your mind on something other than the panic attack. 

If you meditate, now might be a good time to do so, or put on some meditation music and, again, slow down your breathing with the sound of the music and see if that will help you relax.  It generally works for me, though not tonight for some reason. 

Try doing something you find relaxing.  Despite the earlier mention of somehow misspelling a ton of words while writing this, writing does help me relax and so far seems to be helping.

As people on the spectrum, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to have another panic attack. but rather, when the next one will strike and how severe it will be.  Generally, we can avoid them by watching for our personal triggers and avoiding overstimulation and sensory overload, but as tonight proves, not always.

Knowing how you best handle a panic attack is a valuable tool to have at your disposal and if you have a loved one who is nearby, such as a significant other, good friend, parent or sibling,  being open and honest with them about your panic attacks and how to best control them is something I definitely recommend sharing with them.  

The benefits of this are twofold.  It helps them to get to know you a little better and when the next one strikes, you have someone in your corner who can help you stave it off.

What tends to cause panic attacks in you and how do you get rid of them?  Share your stories in the comment section below and let’s start a discussion.

 

One thing that may help me feel a little better is you liking the new J.R. Reed, Author Facebook page as well as Not Weird Just Autistic (yeah, those were stupid, shameless plugs).  While you’re at it, follow me on Twitter too.

 

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.