I had been thinking that I don’t have the attachment-to-objects / empathy-for-objects thing that some autistic people do (basically treating objects as if they have feelings. Feeling like you should apologize to them if you damage them, grieving when you have to get rid of them as if you were losing a friend, things like that.)
It’s true that I don’t feel like that very often or very strongly now, but I just remembered there was one object-empathy-ish thing that I felt really strongly about when I was a kid.
It’s not something you would expect, like ascribing feelings to dolls or stuffed animals.
I used to think that the way balloons slowly lose their helium, stop being able to float, get smaller and wrinkled and damaged-looking, was really sad. I didn’t like having balloons in the house for parties because I knew they were just going to (I felt) die, in a few days.
I felt the same way about glow sticks. We used to get them on the Fourth of July, and after we got back from watching the fireworks and I went to bed, my mother would put my glow stick in my room “so I could see it while I fell asleep.” As soon as she shut the door, I’d get up and cover the glow stick up with something, because I hated the thought of watching its glow slowly die.
So yeah. Single-use things that run out. That’s my object empathy thing.
I’ve been thinking about fasting– not in the sense of “considering whether I should do it,” just thinking about the topic– and I think I can now (months after I started thinking about it, yeah) explain why the idea fills me with Nope.
So. Eating, actual meals, regularly, is something I struggle with executive-function-wise. In fact, it’s one of the few situations in which I actually feel… vulnerable / helpless / not-able-to-cope re: being autistic, is when I’ve gotten hungry enough that it impedes my ability to get myself food.
Why does hunger impede my ability to get food.
- physical fatigue/weakness
- on top of executive dysfunction, makes getting up & doing things even harder
- executive function goes down
- makes it harder to stop doing other things & start looking for food
- makes it harder to follow a long series of instructions to get / make food
- sensory issues / need for familiar things goes up
- limits my choices for foods I can eat
- makes it harder to get / make food (going to a noisy store, touching unpleasant textures)
- general emotional fragility
- makes managing my phobia harder
- which may further limit my food choices and may also make cooking & eating take longer
- makes me start fucking crying instead of just going “ew!” when I touch an unpleasant texture, which is not fun
I didn’t used to have as extreme a reaction to low blood sugar as I do now, I think, but… I do now. It affects my mood pretty dramatically, and it also makes me physically weak, a lot faster than I think it should at least.
tl;dr I associate not-eating with meltdowns.
You consider doing something (X). X is something you could do if you chose to, but not something do very often if at all. You would have to go out of your way to do it. You imagine what would happen after you do X. One of the results is something that would be dangerous or unpleasant (Y). You imagine that you would be scared or upset if Y happened. You can easily and reliably prevent this unpleasant thing Y from happening by not doing X. You don’t do X. You stop worrying about Y.
You remember what happened the last time you did something (A). You thought A was a harmless thing to do, and you did it almost without thinking, but then something else (B) happened because of it. B happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and it was very hurtful and/or scary, and you were terrified. Thinking about it now, you’re still terrified. What if you do A again by accident? And not only that, if something as harmless-seeming as A can make B happen, what if other things you do cause B to happen, too? You are constantly on alert to keep from doing A. You are constantly afraid of B.
Both of these things could be described as “learning from the consequences of your actions,” but they are not the same thing.
This is another Tumblr autism community controversy that I’m like a month late to.
The question isn’t really “Do neurotpyical people do stim/fidget-like things?” because obviously the answer to that is yes; the question is, should we call those things by the same name when neurotypical (or, non-autistic) (or, non-cognitively/learning disabled) people do them, as when autistic people do? Or should there be separate words?
Continue reading “Do Neurotypical People Stim?”
First of all, I totally get it. I’ve made basically the same comparison. I’m assuming you had the same experience I did where you read people talking about harmful therapy and went “Wow, that feels familiar” even though you were never in therapy. I get it.
But isn’t it… a little soon, to be saying “Bullying is bad because it’s like ABA therapy”? Shouldn’t that sentence be the other way around?
I mean, the group of people in which it’s unquestioningly accepted that ABA therapy is harmful is not that big.
I feel uncomfortable about the idea of using the harmfulness of ABA therapy as a foundation to stand on to talk about how much I was harmed by other things. It seems kind of rude to put that weight on them when they’re already more than busy with all the people who can’t believe a Scientific Therapy™ could possibly be harmful.
What I feel comfortable saying about ABA therapy and abuse goes in the other direction:
When people tell me that they were harmed by ABA therapy, I believe them even though I have no personal experience with it. I believe them because I do have personal experience with bullying and emotional abuse, and I can recognize that their experiences are similar to mine; their experiences are abuse coupled with medical authority. The basic premises and underlying worldview of ABA therapy are the same premises that underlie bullying and abuse.
That’s what I have to say about ABA and bullying. They’re harmful in the same way, for a certain sense of “way.” And I think that talking about that similarity is good for both helping people understand bullying, and helping people understand how therapy can be harmful.
But inasmuch as any kind of abuse can be said to be worse overall than another, I think it’s pretty reasonable to say that receiving that abuse mindset one-on-one, in a systematized way, from a person who you’ve been taught to respect as a medical professional, is a “worse,” more intensive exposure to it than receiving it haphazardly from your peers.
Most of the time, when I see people talking about executive function problems in the form of autopilot/habit fail, it’s things like “I put sugar on my toast and butter in my tea instead of the other way around,” or “I started putting my shoes on to go out the door but I hadn’t put my pants on yet,” things like that.
My most common and most annoying autopilot fail is clicking the wrong button on the computer. Examples:
- assuming whichever button is on the left is “agree” or “ok” when actually it’s “cancel”, I hate websites/programs that switch that around
- intending to click on something in the toolbar of the browser (like “refresh” or “back”) and instead clicking something at the top of the web page
- or vice versa
- within one toolbar or menu, clicking whatever I click most often instead of what I needed to click
- clicking on an icon that looks superficially similar to the one I intended to click on (tumblr versus twitter, anyone?)
- clicking on the location where some thing usually is, but it’s not there (dear programs that re-order things based on what you’ve used most recently: stop)
- using a keyboard shortcut that belongs to a different program
- typing the correct password… for a different website
The worst is when I do something wrong and then have to wait an interminably long time for the wrong thing to start up or load before I can get to what I actually wanted to do.
Netflix is great and all but honestly, I miss commercial breaks. I can handle broadcast-TV-style “marathons” of a TV show (or at least, I used to be able to) but I can’t handle Netflix binge-watching. It’s just too long for me to listen to something– especially, I guess, something with a complicated, emotionally intense plot– without breaks to process, stand up and walk around, think about something else.
And commercial breaks served that purpose really well, and that makes me kind of sad that they’re kind of gone from the places where I actually watch TV. (I’m obviously also not a fan of Netflix’s “automatically start the next episode in ten seconds” thing.)
Today one of Sparkly’s favorite TV shows got a bunch of new episodes added to Netflix, and we watched three of them in quick succession, and then I spent about 20 minutes playing solitaire because anything more complicated felt like Too Many Things.
And it’s a good TV show! And I really like it! I just… can’t watch too much of it all at once. I hate this, it feels ridiculous, but apparently this is the current state of affairs for my brain.
(For Autistics Speaking Day 2016)
Continue reading “Authenticity”
Last week’s minor controversy in the autistic community on Tumblr was over the phrase “on the spectrum” and whether people should use it to refer to other “spectrums” besides autism. Here’s my two cents.
- Yes, as far as I know the phrase “on the spectrum” originated with autism, so in some sense it’s “ours”, we started it.
- Yes, it’s confusing and frustrating when people say “on the spectrum” without context and you can’t tell what they’re talking about.
Why would we want to lay claim to this phrase, though?
Is there any reason for us to say “on the spectrum” instead of “on the autism spectrum”, or if that’s too long for you, why not just “is autistic”?
The only reasons I can think of are:
— if you think the word autism only means ~severe~ cases and think there needs to be another term for when you’re including everybody else
— if you think the word autism is unsightly and embarrassing and you want to talk about it without actually saying it.
To anybody who isn’t already familiar with how people talk about autism, “on the spectrum” is confusing when it refers to us, too. It’s inherently confusing. Why do we need it?
There’s this article being passed around on Tumblr about something that’s apparently a pretty new idea in psychology. It’s called “rejection-sensitive dysphoria” and it purports to describe how people with ADHD are particuarly prone to being sensitive to criticism, as an inherent part of the neurology of ADHD brains.
I don’t have ADHD, but if someone was trying to tell me that my sensitivity to rejection
(which is pretty similar to what that article describes)
was just how my brain works,
and not, say,
a reaction to having been repeatedly criticized and rejected, my whole life, for things I did not understand and/or could not stop doing,
(those things having been caused by the way my brain works)
I would be offended, personally.