Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,

Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Aspergers and Me: My life as an Aspie



Cute little Aspie Jedi Padawan :)  I will be joined at intervals with my fellow Aspie, the Angel Castiel :) 
(Gifs are not mine)


I figured out I had aspergers/autism when I was around 17/nearly 18 (I think) and it became even more apparent once I was in college (which makes me sad, since I thought I'd begun to improve, but not really). But, looking back, I can tell there was a lot that was there that pointed to it. But, sadly, the psychologist I went to see didn't realize it and my aunt had to point me in the right direction to look.

Aspergers is a form of "high functioning" autism and is now just referred to high functioning autism in the book on disorders (I don't like the term "high functioning", but it's the term many use, so I will be using it here). It is a neurological disorder that affects a person's brain and how they view and interact with the world. For example, it can make us bad at socializing or at least awkward with it. We can be literal minded and sometimes our brains get stuck on something (Aspies also can have other disorders, such as OCD, which I also have). Things we get stuck on are either our special interests or really upsetting things/things that are bothering us. There are various other things like stimming, sensory issues, and meltdowns that are marks of the disorder. We also come across often as younger than we are and have a bit of innocence about us (or the appearance of innocence, since, while I do have some, I can be really vicious with my words when angry and I want to hurt bad people). Many also say we are smart or tend to be, and I think that's probably true for some. 

The question on empathy is one that I've seen discussed a lot with many people on both sides. My two cents is that, yes, we do lack of a certain kind of empathy but that doesn't make us bad. Because we still have and feel sympathy. I think some people get the two confused. Empathy means we understand and can feel how another feels. I have trouble with this when it's something I can't relate to (emotionally. I can LOGICALLY get it, but it doesn't mean I truly get it). For example, I didn't understand why someone would like what Disney has done to Star Wars. I logically understand that people like the new movies, but the emotional side of my brain is extremely confused and wonders exactly WHY they aren't mad about the EU and why they aren't showing sympathy to EU fans (since most don't). And this is not just me. Since I realize this, I have used it to explain to others about things. For example, this lady I know who is most likely also on the spectrum, couldn't fathom WHY I was boycotting the DisCanon. But, I explained that it was the exact same reason that she boycotted The Hobbit films. And then it clicked for her. So, while we do have trouble with empathy, we don't lack in sympathy at all and we are just as caring as everyone else. In fact, my first instinct when I see an upset child is to comfort them and calm them down (as can be seen when this little girl at the pool got bashed in the face and was sobbing and I went over and hugged her til she calmed down and swam off *I did try to get the attention of the adults she was with, but they weren't paying attention :( *). 

As I mentioned earlier, while I only recently came to the discovery (several years ago), there are signs that I look back on and can see even now. 

When I was a new born, they had to cover my face because I would jerk at too-bright lights or too-loud sounds and as someone who was in intensive care, this wasn't a good thing (and they had to put a sign out front).

As a little kid, I must have gotten overwhelmed a lot by the people, because I freaked out at restaurants and grocery stores more than most kids (and it wasn't because I wanted something). I still have sensory issues, in fact. The worst for me is hearing, since certain noises drill into my brain and scatter everything and sometimes make my hands shake and I'm often filled with rage or a small bit of panic (not always). Touch is also something I've always had an issue with and I don't like certain kinds of physical contact. I don't like hugs at certain times (I'll give them when I'm comfortable) and bad smells can affect me and if I'm having a really bad day, lights can bother me. 

I've always had special interests and would hyper focus on a topic. As a kid, it was anything from Moses to Outer Space. It's probably one reason why I have stuck with my book series since I was nine. They are also my various fandoms, my favorite characters, my career paths, my hobbies, and other things. I think even listening to the same song on repeat has something to do with it. 

Meltdowns and rants and getting upset and rambling on and on about something or another has always probably been one of the main things I've noticed growing up. You know those metldowns children have that everyone gets embarrassed about seeing? Well, I still have those. I had them at 17. I had one a few months ago at a rally and some even a few weeks ago while on vacation and I'm 20 years old and I'm in college. In fact, I have had several AT college. It's embarrassing, it's humiliating, and I would't wish that on anyone (well, I would like SOME jerks to be humiliated like that). Because it just makes people annoyed and angry with you :( And, in a way, it's why I ended up changing schools (because a teacher couldn't handle it and ruined my chances there in a way...and what she saw was just a little crying and, later, some anger. It was very, very mild).
However, there is one moment I'm proud of. When I was at that horrid camp, I had a really bad meltdown/panic attack because I had to do a swim test and, for some reason, I did NOT want to do it. I was literally shaking and crying and freaking out, but I did the damn thing anyway. The guys administrating it seemed to understand and I was able to practice treading water a bit before actually doing that portion. But I did it and I will give myself credit for that. 

Socializing has always been difficult for me. While I did have friends as a kid, most of them were homeschoolers like me (since, I've found, they tend to be much more accepting of me than public schoolers on average) and it was usually just a 3-4 at a time. I had more when I was younger. I remember, quite distinctly, all the girls at dance suddenly not wanting to talk to me (I was six. Before, when I was four/five, no one noticed as much). I thought at first it was because I wasn't in tap but even when I did that along with ballet, it didn't stop the isolation. I tended to gravitate towards the adults and there was one assistant teacher in particular who was really nice to me :') I wish I could thank her for that (I did have one girl later on who liked Star Wars, so we talked, but she was a bit odd too, so I think that's why we clicked). It got worse the older I got, especially when most of my friends left me :( I ended up making some awesome friends online and that's really where I make most of my friends now. Of course, I CAN talk to others and I've gotten better at it, but since changing schools, I've become so careful I tend to just not talk much around others. 

Even his failed high five is swoon-worthy. | Can You Make It Through These 25 Castiel GIFs Without Swooning

One last thing that comes to mind and annoys me is how people treat me like I'm a baby. I first started noticing it when I was an older teen (like at that awful camp), but it got to the point of being hair-rippingly frustrating while in college. It's a pain because I'm smart and I know I am. But people only see the nervous, child-like side of me and make assumptions. I even had a guy condescendingly pat my head when I got mad at them for comments on homeschoolers (they all also  got to pick their topic for the improv game but they wouldn't let me do mine :P) 


Now, I will go through the below traits and tell you if and how they relate to me.




(I won't copy every question word for word).

Appearance/Personal Habit 

1: Dresses comfortably due to sensory issues and practicality. 
Yes, I would say this is true. I don't like shirts that cling and I HATE low neck lines. I WILL not wear them (except for an acting role, which I have done). I have some that are a little lowish that make me uncomfortable (like, if I'm wearing a tank top under a button up blouse, I tug it up a lot). If it were up to me, I'd wear shapeless clothes all the time, but I have to dress niceish because otherwise people will probably ignore me even more than they do. 

2: Will not spend much time on grooming and hair. Hairstyles usually have to be "wash and wear". Can be happy not grooming at all at times.
Hmmm, well, as someone with curly hair, I don't have the luxury of just washing it and letting it dry. I do have to do some stuff, like washing it with special conditioner (only shampoo it once a week) and put hair oil or cream in my hair to keep it looking nice. But I have never had long routines and I don't wear make up unless I have to or I'm feeling down about my acne/acne scars and I put base on to hide it. 

3: Eccentric personality; may be reflected in appearance

I would definitely say eccentric is a word you could use for me. I have weird opinions and weird views on things (for example, I think dancing with family members is bad and I won't do it unless it's with, like, a baby I'm holding, or something). I have weird habits I do and many things that I do confuse people. Not sure if it reflects in my appearance, but maybe, since I like wearing fandom shirts? In all honesty, I wish I could go around in Jedi robes, trench coats, armor, and tunics. I think I will wear my leather jacket more this semester :) :D

4: Is youthful for her age, in looks, dress, behavior, and tastes. 

YESS!! For one, I look younger than I am. I look at myself and compare myself to most of my peers and I just look younger than they do, for some reason. I also think I look younger in my dress too. I don't wear revealing clothing which women my age tend to wear (even though I COULD pull off short shorts well) or anything 'fashionable'. I also often act like I'm younger and even though many of my thoughts are of someone my age, that doesn't quite transfer to how I act. Like, I have mature thoughts when it comes to the guy I like, but when I talk about it, I act like an embarrassed 12 year old about their first crush. Tastes, I would say so too. Yes, I read fanfic that is quite adult (I skim those parts, don't worry) but I tend to like clean fiction, especially when it comes to published fiction and movies/TV shows. And I still watch my favorite 'kid' shows and get excited about them.

5: Usually a little more expressive in face and gesture than male counterpart

I have a very expressive face. In fact, most people say they can read me very easily. I sometimes CAN hide it and I think when I'm cautious around strangers, my face is blank. But I can't see what I look like so....

6: May have androgynous traits despite outward feminine appearance. Thinks of herself as half-female and half-male (well balanced anima/animas).

Well...yeah, you could say that. I personally think the whole concept of femininity and masculinity is completely stupid, but that's how our society views things, so I have to go with that in discussing this. Stereo-typically, I do have traits that men 'tend' to have more than women (like, I enjoy making someone cry because I kicked them so hard when I'm sparring in a tournament and I think about how to use weapons and certain kicks/punches/strikes). I am kinda well balanced, but I think I need to work through some of my effemeniphobia.  But androgynous? Yes, very much so.

7: May not have a strong sense of identity, and can be chameleon-like, especially before diagnosis. 

Well, I will say, that actually, I am MORE chameleon like after diagnosis, but I think that's because college screwed with some of my thoughts. Certain teachers and my roommates messed with it and now I'm confused about myself, where I was more sure as a teen (I think, sometimes I forget how bad things were....I even do this for things like periods or eating corn). In all honesty, I don't like some of the things that have changed about me and I want to get some of that back. 

8: Enjoys reading and films as a retreat, often science fiction, fantasy, children's', can have favorites which is a refuge.

HELL YES THIS APPLIES TO ME. I tend to get really intense about fiction (as can be seen in how upset I got and still get when  I think about the EU...now maybe some people will be nicer to me? No? Aw, well, it was worth a shot). It makes me feel better about things. I can imagine being in that world and, especially during years and times when I was growing up (and when I was alone at my last college and even sometimes now), I could use those worlds as places to calm down if I was upset or to make myself happy. I even like to pretend that those fictional characters are my friends and I get very attached to certain ones. It's an emotional connection like you'd have to family or a friend, and they will always be important to me.

9: Uses control as a stress management technique. Rules, discipline, rigid in certain habits, which will contradict her unconventionality. 

I do like having a routine and I don't like it being messed up. I also don't like when I'm focused on doing a thing or thinking about a thing and people interrupt. Like, just, no. :p  This sort of structure is very helpful in my college career and as a writer, as it has kept mee able to schedule and plan out various things.

10: Usually happiest at home or in other controlled environment.

Basically, yes. I am an introvert as well, after all ;) 

Intellectual/giftedness/education/vocation

1: May have been diagnosed with autism/aspergers when young or may have been viewed as shy, gifted, sensitive. May have learning deficiencies. 

I was diagnosed with OCD at 10 but we never thought I'd be on the autism spectrum until it became clear. People always viewed me as unique and one-of-a kind growing up as well as sensitive and explosive. I didn't have any learning deficiencies but I did have trouble with my motor skills (better at that now) and I had trouble learning to drive a car. 

2: Often musical, artistic.

Actor, writer,  and singer who used to play piano and clarinet. So, yes. 

3: May have a savant skill or a strong talent.

I am pretty good at certain academics, like history, and memorizing. I'm also a good writer, actor, singer, and Martial Artist. People apparently say I'm smart and stuff so I'll believe them.

4: May have strong interest in computer games, science, graphic design, inventing things of a technological and visual nature. More verbal thinkers drift towards writing, languages, , cultural studies, psychology.

I am the second half of that, mostly (though I do love science, especially Astronomy). I love writing and I am interested in the other three. 

5: May be a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and will possess a wide variety of self-taught skills as well.

Well, yes. I did learn to read at a normal age, but I read at fairly high levels (adult books as a tween YESS). I was, in a way, a self-taught reader, yes. I DID teach myself a lot, though. I am very much a self taught writer. No one showed me how to write fiction, I was just making it up as I went and learning from observing. I also taught myself to sing until I had voice lessons and I taught myself how to type fast. I'm sure there are other things too my mom could tell you about (like, I knew my colors, numbers, and letters really early). 

6: May be highly educated by struggle with the social aspect of college. May have one or partial degrees.

YESSS to that first part. Oh my gosh, it's so true! I'm pretty good at the academic stuff. If it weren't for grading (which is dumb) and having to socialize too much, I'd be enjoying it a lot more. I still am (REALLY loved my history course, last semester :) ), but parts of it are not as fun. If you have read my accounts of college, you will know that quite a lot of my problems stemmed from the social side of things. I am just a junior, but I will have a degree with a major and minor :) 

(gif not mine). 

7: Can be very passionate about a field of study/interest then suddenly switch to something else.

Not so much this for me. I mean, I do go from interest to interest with fandoms but I still love all my fandoms. I mean, I stuck with the same series from the time I was nine. That's dedication.

8: Have a hard time holding onto a job/finds employment daunting

Well, I've only had two jobs (left the first one because I was transferring and they liked me there) so I can't answer the first part. For the second, it IS daunting but I can do it. Annoyingly, I have to do all the leg work in getting hired by showing up and making them get their paper work and stuff together, so that goes to prove that I can do it.

9: Highly intelligent yet sometimes slow to comprehend do to sensory and cognitive processing issues.

I....don't think I have this? My mom may know better. I know I can get what someone is telling me but sometimes there are things, like sarcasm and generalizations, that go over my head. 

10: Will not do well with verbal instructions. Needs it to be written down or drawn in a diagram. 

Well, that's tricky. I DON'T do well with verbal instructions for repeated things, but if you talk me through something, I can figure it out at the time. I do much better, though, on average, with written instruction at times and, most of the time, when someone shows me how to do it over and over.

11: Will have obsessions but not as unusual as male counterpart.

I know several men and boys with aspergers/autism and I would say this is true. My obsessions tend to be things like my fandoms, acting, writing (and my book series), my favorite pairings and friendships in fiction, my favorite characters, singing, Taekwondo, Dean Winchester (hehe :( ), Space, History, Literature, etc. I also like architecture and sciences. Most of these obsessions are more accepted than, sadly, some of the interests the men and boys I know have. :/ 

Emotional/Physical

1: Emotionally immature and emotionally sensitive.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, this is like the most perfect description of me in the history of ever (this is me being serious).

2: Anxiety and fear are predominant emotions

Yes, they are in a way, but so is anger for me. I get anxious and worry A LOT. As I remember Qui-Gon saying about Obi-Wan, I have even worried about worrying to much XD. Fear is a thing I feel, but not like how you see it in those Autistic Castiel fanfics (which I like, but sometimes I don't like how spineless they make us seem :p :(). Fear leads me to have anger, like Yoda says, and that's why I get so mad about things people find irrational. 

3: More open with talking about feelings/emotional issues than male counterparts.

I will talk about my emotional problems. I am not afraid to do so. In fact, I'm known to overshare. 

4: Moody and prone to bouts of depression. May have been diagnosed with something else.

Not sure if I get 'depressed' all the time, though I have been depressed before, but I do go through emotional mood swings and there are spans of time where I feel really down or unmotivated. I have been in a slump since last Fall :( (with lots of ups, of course). I was diagnosed with OCD at 10, as I said before.
5: Probably given medication and is sensitive to it.

Not really, but I might get on some medication :/ 

6: Has tummy problems

Yes. Many problems with health start in the gut and I know I need to heal mine up a lot more because I have hurt it with my stress :( 

7: Stims to soothe when sad. 

I do at times, yes :( I know one time, when I got screamed at, I curled up into a fetal position, which is something I apparently do when really upset. I also like patting my arms and neck and head with my fingers, rocking, and holding my head between my elbows (among other things; I rub my face a lot).

8: Similar physical reaction when happy

YESS :D But, sadly, most people get annoyed with it and want me to tone it down. Which is mean, because why can't I be happy OR sad? What do you want me to do, be a robot?  :p 

9: Prone to temper or crying meltdown, even in public, because of sensory or emotional overload.

YES YES YES!! This happens a LOT. If you haven't seen me like this, be glad you haven't, it isn't pretty :( Though, if you've seen me let loose on a hater online, you can kind of get a gist of a temper meltdown. 

10: Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood. This can incite anger and rage.

Anger and rage are basically the same thing :p (rage is a bit stronger). Oh well, semantics aside, this is also VERY true for me. I think that's why, when I heard about things like rape, racism, sexism, and homophobia, my first reaction was horror and rage (unlike a lot of kids who joke about rape...which makes ZERO sense because it's evil). It's also why I hate when people don't treat me fairly like everyone else and then they tell me to get over it and be an adult.

Me: It's not fair, they got to do their picks but I can't do mine?

Person: Grow up, it's not that big of a deal.

Me: 
I've come to beat your asses >:D You have to play fair or not play at all.

I also HATE being misunderstood. This happens a lot, especially when I try to explain something in a weird way and people start laughing and going on about something, thinking it was something inappropriate, when it really wasn't :p For example, this one time in class, I was trying to tell the people (it makes sense in context, we were discussing sex ed) about how I knew something as a kid (unlike them) about how babies were made and they started going off on a tangent about "Flowers in the Attic", thinking I was talking about reading that (which I wouldn't have read AT ALL as a kid or now). It was so frustrating because I had to raise my voice and talk over people to get them to stop and listen.

11: Prone to mutism when upset, especially after a meltdown. May have a strange voice when stressed or sad. 

I don't exactly go mute, but I do get really quiet after a meltdown. I call these things 'shutdowns'. I feel very drained and I don't want to talk verbally to others. But I can so it's not me being rendered completely mute. I do feel like my voice vanishes when I'm feeling excluded but I could still talk. I do stumble over my words a lot, though. 

Social/Relationships 

1: Words and actions are misunderstood by others.
I think Jimmy Novak can say it for me here

2: Perceived to be cold-natured and self-centered and unfriendly.

I don't think people have thought the first one (it's possible, though) but I know the other two have been thought of me. I think people perceive me  as unfriendly and that's why they don't want anything to do with me (well, one reason. There are more). 

3: Is very outspoken at times. Can get fired up when talking about passions/obsessive interests

I think every person that knows me well enough knows about this fact XD 

4:  Can be very shy or mute.

Not mute, as I said above, but I CAN be shy ish. I especially do this when I am worried about making a social blunder :( 

5: Like male counterpart, can shut down when overloaded, but socializes better in small doses. May be able to give a skilled 'performance'. 

Well, I AM an actor ;) I tricked this one person into thinking I still liked them when I strongly DISLIKED them. But those performances are difficult to uphold and I managed it mainly because I didn't want to ruin my grades. 

(me and that certain person)

I DO have shut downs and there are times where I need to get away and be alone for a while or get online. This happens a lot with family functions. I get VERY overloaded at family events and I've found that I behave better if I get on the computer in small doses or read fic on my phone for a little bit. It gets me to calm down. 

6: Doesn't go out much. Would prefer to go out a little with partner, children (and, in my case, friends too), etc. 

YES. Unlike introverted characters in fiction who let the boisterous character take them for a night on the town, I won't be swayed. I like staying in, especially as I've never liked parties (birthday parties, though, are fun) and I don't have any desire to go drinking til I pass out or go clubbing. 

7: Will not have many 'girlfriends' and won't do 'girly things' like shopping or have get togethers or hang out.

This is untrue for me. I usually have had female friends growing up and I really like being around them. We all have similar interests and it's fun to talk to them. Though, we wouldn't go shopping (except for, like, food or books or tourist stuff) XD  Though, shopping isn't only a feminine thing, guys have to do it too. 

8: Will have close friends growing up but won't once adult hood is reached.

Not so true for me. I do pretty much only have online friends now and only one or two people to hang out with in real life, at rare times (everyone else lost interest or we grew distant as we changed and grew up to be different :( ). But, I do have friends. 

9: May or may not want to be in a relationship. If in one, will take it very seriously (or may chose to remain celibate or alone). 

Surprisingly, I DO really REALLY want to be in a relationship at some point (I used to HATE romance when I was younger). And I know for a fact that I would take it very seriously. I used to think I'd remain celibate but I don't think I will (though I wouldn't mind if I did). 

10: Due to sensory issues, will  either really like or really dislike sex.

TMI 
TMI

*cough*
Uhhh....TMI
Well, I'm a virgin so I wouldn't know, now would I? But I don't think I'd be as obsessed as everyone else. It seems a bit...repetitive and messy. And certain...things are SUPER gross (no way will I be doing some things, that's for sure!) But who knows *shrugs*. 

TMI
TMI

END of TMI.

11: If she likes someone (I like men, but not all Aspie women/girls do), she can be extremely, noticeably awkward in her attempts to let him/her know. She may stare at him/her, call him/her repeatedly. This is because she is fixated (I hate the comment on gender roles. I DO WHAT I WANT and I will ask my boyfriend- when I get one- to marry me! >:D)

Hmmm, well, I've never been in the position to LET the guy I am crushing on KNOW. So far, they have been fictional (or actors) or married. But the staring is DEFINITELY true. When I had my last crush, I would often stare at him like this when he was looking away.

(c'mon, Destiel should be canon! Castiel is obvious in love with Dean!!!)
In fact, I remember one time I was staring at him, I got so tense while doing so that I gave myself a knot in my neck. Heh....

And, if you remember my crush on Obi-Wan and have been on social media through my current one (Dean Winchester), you will know that I very much fixate on the person of my affections. 
Like, seriously, Dean Winchester has pretty much become one of my main special interests O_O. 

12: Often prefers the company of animals, but may not because of sensory issues.

I very much dislike animals. I don't mind if they stay away from me but I don't want them coming near me (and if I pet one, I have to immediately wash my hands). I especially hate how noisy and messy and growly they are. Dogs that bark especially piss me off. 


Sometimes the Aspie (and my family, though they are NT) theme song XD

Well, there we are. There are a lot of traits, but this gives you a pretty decent overview. If you have any questions or have any traits you want to ask about to see if I have, feel free to ask :) 

Jedi Knight Shena Tokala signing out. :)





4 comments:

  1. Really good post! I like how you went through the traits and talked about how they do/don't apply to you. Helpful for learning more about Aspergers. :)

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    1. Thank you, glad you liked it :) Glad that it helped :)

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