Wearing Blue for #World Autism Awareness Day

Interesting. When I woke up this morning I completely forgot the date, and that it is #WAAD. Still, this is the t-shirt I chose to put on.

Somehow I think it’s fitting. It’s blue, it’s a Big Bang Theory reference, and it perfectly meshes with aspie-ness in general.

Happy World Autism Awareness Day. May you have a peaceful, calamity-free day. Live long and prosper.

Quirky

“I’m not nuts, I’m eccentric. No…quirky. I like quirky, and I think it fits. I think I’ll keep it.”

Quirky: It’s a word wherein the form encapsulates its own concept. Quirky is a quirky word. I think it also describes so many #Autism Spectrumites to a T. Not weird, not geeks, or nerds, or any of the awful playground-taunting words that I will not type here. Quirky. It’s a perfect fit. It describes the charming oddball, the one who’s oddness and charm balance each other perfectly.

The little monster who giggled when he banged his nose on the wall, because banging your nose on the wall is such a silly thing to do, even if it does hurt.

The young man who thinks that the streaks of grey at the roots of your hair look nice, and he’s not afraid to tell you so, both insulting and complimenting at the same time in such a disarmingly charming way.

The non-verbal girl who sorts her cards over and over, interrupting herself only to give you a smile that lights up the room, before going back to her task.

Yes, quirky. I think it fits.

Little Hobbit Goes To School

Fascinating Stuff! Most of my experience dealing with people on the ASD spectrum has been with adults and teens, so working with a small-ish Monster Tot has been a true education. Little Hobbit is such an entertaining child to work with.

I have never before met a 3-yr-old with such an impish, deadpan sense of humour. He plays with your mind, and he KNOWS he’s playing with your mind. He takes in knowledge – absorbs it in great bucketsfull, but he refuses to demonstrate that he knows. He just smiles with twinkling eyes, bats his long curly lashes at you, and says, “What IS that?” with a lilt to his voice.

Today’s lesson: Thermodynamics. See, he’s bored with letters. Refuses to pay attention to reading lessons. Wants to run around and pretend he’s a race car (which, I’ve learned, means he knows how to read. He just does so in secret when no one is looking. I’ve caught him when he hasn’t known I’ve been looking. Tee hee). So, thermodynamics it is. Last week, it was states of matter.

With all of the information filling his head, he’ll rule the world in no time, IF he can figure out: a) how to sit still for 30 seconds at a time, and b) how not to let the overwhelming sensory input from the world (lights, sounds, smells, tastes!) derail his progress.

Fascinating stuff.

Non-verbal communication is HARD!

Non-verbal communication is HARD! According to Myers-Briggs I am as introverted as it is possible to be. 100% Introvert on the Introvert/Extravert scale.

All the nuance. Body language, facial expression, movement, laughter. What does this look mean? How about this one? And that one? Confusing!

I received this t-shirt as a Christmas gift. Says it all, I think.

Strawberries and Meltdowns

Little Hobbit is screaming, screaming, SCREAMING. Each cry is louder than the last one, higher pitched, more frenetic. Approaching full-on hysteria, but never quite getting there, stopping just shy of the edge. Poor Hobbit. So much going on in that powerful little brain of his, and little insight just yet into how to control all that power. So very bright. So VERY confused. Poor Hobbit.

The day started well:

“Do we have strawberries? May I have a strawberry?”
“Yes, Hobbit, we do. Pick a hand.” Strawberries hidden in each hand, so he can’t lose the game. Delight breaking across his little face as he finds one, then another, then another hidden in my palms.
“Do we have more strawberries? May I have more strawberries?”
Sadly, no more strawberries left. Hobbit just ate the last three, filched from the lunch intended for another.

Hobbit handled it well, no more strawberries. But the pressures of the day built, bit by bit. No, you can’t play with trucks during your reading lesson. No, it’s not time yet. It will be soon. Just a few more minutes to wait. And Hobbit reached 100% of his limit. And so started the screaming, screaming, screaming.

And I knew, all those hours later, that the screaming was connected to the strawberries. A result of the strawberries. A direct line from A to B. A favourite treat. NOT ENOUGH of a favourite treat. A day filled with new things: data, information, rules, lack of rules, new senses, old uncomfortable ones too. But it all started with the strawberries.

Poor Hobbit. Sleeping now. All the screaming tired him out.

The graceful dance of stimming

Watching one of the little Aspie boys I know tiptoe around on his giant hobbit-y feet, touching his index fingers and thumbs together in a light, repetitive rhythm, I am once again struck by how graceful and elegant the movements of a stim can be. His walk is like a dance, back and forth, with a little side-to-side sway of the upper body, and the tap-tap-tap of his fingers and thumbs. Then a twirl, reverse direction, and he starts again. Back and forth across the floor. Then he dips to the floor, does his own variant of the Downward Dog, a quick plank, and back to his graceful, hobbit-y walk.

A stim can be a thing of beauty.

Many years ago, a dance teacher I knew used to teach her fidgety little students how to channel their twitches, to turn them into dance steps, sinuous little movements rather than jerky ones. A flapping hand became a flower turning to face the sun, a tapping foot became a subtle shift of weight, or a flex of the knees. Rocking became a gentle sway from side to side. Put it all together, and the stim became a dance.

I wonder if we spend too much time trying to work the stims out, instead of making them better. If you need to dance through life, it hurts to stand still.

Christmas on the Spectrum

Shiny objects. Jangling bells. Booming voices. Hearty greetings. Bright lights and brighter colours. Vivid flavours, textures and sounds. Music, music everywhere. And especially, Shiny Objects.

Christmas on the Spectrum. A time of glitter and glare, sensory triggers, shattered routines and so much socializing. Enough to bring even an Aspie with good coping mechanisms to his knees, this Christmas thing.

Try to find the stillness and the beauty of Christmas. The quiet of snow falling at night. The crackle and pop of a roaring fire. The slow burn of a marshmallow toasted over that fire. A deserted library, open but empty, with all the books to yourself. Bundling under ALL the covers with that wonderful book that someone gave you. Sneaking away from the festive festivities to a quiet room with no one else in it. Keeping the lights off so no one knows you’re in it now. Toasty warm flannel pyjamas. So very soft.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, whichever way you can.

Thoughts on Einstein’s thought

A person starts to live when he can live outside himself. –Albert Einstein

Profound. Interesting. And it gets right to the heart of the autistic conundrum. How to bridge the gap between the world inside your head, and all that other stuff that goes on out there. Especially when inside is such a comfortable, familiar place, and out there can be a welter of confusing sensory, social and intellectual input, too jumbled together to fully take in, let alone understand.

 

Welcome to the Solaris Autism blog

We started this blog to share some of our personal observations, thoughts and feelings about living and working in the world of autism.

It’s different in here.

We likely won’t be posting daily, or even on a fixed schedule. Just when something occurs to us that’s worth sharing.

All the best,
from the Solaris Autism team