Monthly Archives: March 2011

Good and Evil and the Human Dilemma

Well, it’s like this. Heroes of disability are inspiring me daily. I enjoy adding a new hero every day to my facebook page. These people reflect good qualities in the human spirit of determination, perseverance and hope. There are also people who live for doing kind acts. They let us know that people do good deeds out of choice because they are sure it’s right.
On the other hand, people are also capable of choosing to be horrible. I now have to face some sad truths about human nature. My world has become sadder since I started thinking about the Holocaust. I sort of knew, because it is a well known history, and it is awful to be sure. Children and old people, and anyone the Nazis hated, were abused so cruelly and really tormented physically and mentally before being slaughtered.
I think about it because I read Anne Frank’s story and I came to care about her and her family. It happened long ago, but it feels like hearing a friend got murdered. I seem to feel it personally. Some of my classmates could not care less, but I think about how people chose to commit horrible evil in the name of Nazism and attacked defenseless civilians. It’s one of many cruel acts humans have done.
We are, as humans, a mix of goodness and horribleness. It is in all of us and we are required to choose. The heroes I show are choosing goodness. The Nazis, and those like them, chose to live in hate and sadism. Now I try to make sense of it all.
I believe God gave us free will so we can choose and decide for ourselves. I am sure free will is necessary or we would be sheep in a robotic world.  Stopping evil means denying us choice and free will. It would be a dead life. 
On the other hand, evil is awful and I struggle with this concept. The innocent Franks and their horrible fate- is this the price humanity faces for freedom of choice? This is my internal struggle. Now I must work it out as best I can.

Disabled, or Super Able?

I have been thinking about people with disabilities who succeed at high levels. For example, many of you have seen the films of Oscar Pistorius, the runner, on my facebook page. He has no legs and he is a runner of world class speed. This is what we call a paradox.
In music, we find the same situation with Evelyn Glennie. She is a great musician and she feels her music because she is deaf. Look at what Beethoven accomplished in his deaf years.
In the sciences, we have Stephen Hawking. In engineering, Temple Grandin. In athletics, Jim Abbott (another paradox- a handless pitcher), and  one-legged wrestling champ, Anthony Robles.
In other words, we have the human spirit unwilling to quit. Kind of staggering in a way because they had to fight very hard to be average. But they were not average. They were superior.
Adversity can make you determined. I know this from experience. Heaven knows, I’m a paradox too. I can’t speak and I give speeches often. Someone else reads it out loud, and I’m standing near, but I’m not quitting. In the weeks ahead I am gathering videos of the inspirational and determined, who are shattering limits, for you to see. They are my hope and my models.

Noticing Our Blessings and Defeating Sorrow

Life is hard to predict. Even harder to count on.  Since horrible things can happen without warning, I think we really need to live each day like it is a gift.
 Inside I get sad and edgy and I know I must fight it. My limitations irritate me so much. I lose myself in rotten resentment. Bad idea. I’m not helping my life in self-sorrow. I stop seeing my blessings in those moments, but I have so many blessings. I just have to notice them.
I may be disabled and non-verbal, but I am lucky too. I have a good family. I am cared for by many people. I have free will to communicate and to learn. I am loving my liberation inside as I climb out of autism’s silence. I am into nature and music. God gives me breathe each day.
Can I feel gratitude for the small miracles too? I must because small miracles add and add and add to a great gift. Living in recognition of our gifts is a weapon against sorrow. Those if us who get sad often must focus on our blessings.
I love delicious food and I’m lucky I have tastebuds to enjoy it. I love water and I’m lucky to swim. I love music and I enjoy it every day. Should I focus only on my illness and feel miserable? No, not ever. We must choose life in the belief we can make it better.
It is easy to make life worse. Hard to make it better. But if our life is precious to God, which I believe it is, then I must see it is an obligation to be good to our own selves as well as others. The belief that it must be perfect to appreciate our gifts is sort of juvenile. I’m hoping to get better at this.
I see some disabled people who fight so incredibly bravely. I am so inspired by their attitude. I see how they fight on and on. I see it and I know it’s not easy for them, but do they really have another good option? There is another option, but it stinks. Anger, resentment, and self-pity are horrible options. I think if we have one chance with our lives, we’d better live to our best in spite of our challenges.

Crying in My Heart

The news is really upsetting me. It’s horrible how it is only grief or disaster, natural or man made, that seems to get reported. The events are far away, but my overly sensitive system transports me to Japan and Libya and Jerusalem and in my mind I’m there. I read in Anne Frank’s diary and in my neural pathways I’m hiding from evil Nazis in an attic. The bummer is, I can’t control it.

The truth is, being sensitive is a gift in a lot of ways, though the curse is moments like this. The belief that I, as a person with autism, have no insight or compassion is off base.

More on that another time.

Even light movies like Indiana Jones get me upset internally. I imagine running from arrows, boulders and being in snake-filled pits and I can see the exciting story, the humor and all, and I still get frightened for nothing.

I feel autism is highs and lows of intensity. I can’t hide from feelings. I have to deal with them.
The news is overwhelming in its sensational stories. I know I have to filter because of bits and pieces that distort the whole, so I think I’ll take a break, starting now, from listening to any more news and news analysis. Then I can focus on the brighter topics like homework and folding my laundry without thinking of nuclear reactors, disasters, and sorrow.

For the moment the world looks safe in my mind and I can stop crying in my heart.

Hello Readers

Hi Readers,

Blogging is a new lifestyle for me. I welcome the chance to be heard, but I’d love to hear from you too. Are you parents of autistic kids, family members, professionals, people with autism, or just curious? I’d love to ge feedback.

If you are on facebook, consider becoming a “like” or “fan” to get regular postings. I am shy, really, so it is weird to write to anonymous.
All the best,

Exercise is Good for Fighting Autism

For me, exercise is a necessary thing. If I’m irritable I get poor impulse control. The tension is overwhelming inside, but if I jog or walk or do a Tony Horton tape, I stabilize. That is why stamina is good for fighting autism. Two and a half years ago I was sorely out of shape. I couldn’t run more than a short distance without real fatigue. I was weak in my abs and unable to lose weight. I was down too.
I was forced to exercise. My mom insisted that I needed to assume I could be fit. She pushed me hard and I was resistant and tried to make her quit. Stupid in retrospect. My mom and I persevered until she hired a wonderful- really wonderful- trainer for me.
I never had a guy who got me so well. It was hard, man. We worked on cardio and coordination and strength. I loved it eventually, and I stopped resisting. Truthfully, he was so much stronger than me I couldn’t have won if I tried.
My family is active so I needed to have stamina too. I think exercise helped me in so many ways. I’m not sad like before. I concentrate now in school better. I have much more body awareness, and I feel better than ever.
I should do more. I always get scared to try, but it’s silly. Formerly I couldn’t do much. I’m so much fitter now, but it’s good to go farther. So… work out here I come! Ha-ha.

Another Rant

Women who think they know it all have filled my life. 
Wow, do I sound sexist? Not meant to be sexist. It’s another rant.
From my home program as a little kid to my OT therapists to my speech therapists to my teachers to many of my evaluators (not all), I have been bombarded with experts who talk about me with such conviction, who assume they are right, and who are not.
They are almost always women, for some reason.
Isn’t really fun to have them make assumptions that minimize me and patronize me. I get livid because as a young kid, when I couldn’t communicate at all, I had to listen to my wonderful women telling the world wrong insights and I knew my life would be worse because they had power over me in my education and so on and I was stuck. I’m not stuck now. Getting communication and being respected is a terrific thing. 
But these women somehow keep popping up. Thank goodness I know so many great open-minded women now, and some who after meeting me really open their minds after that, so it’s not a sexist rant and it’s not a stereotypical rant, but it is a true thing.
Think about it. The vast majority of my professional experts have been women who are super opinionated. And I had a new one this week. They listen only grudgingly to me or my parents, so sure they are of themselves. I simmer and boil and imagine analyzing them and planning their futures as they do for me, but instead I’ll   grin and make fun of them on my blog. Maybe someone will recognize herself here- ha-ha.
I wish I didn’t have to get so irate. I sound grumpy, but people have to realize it has an impact on the subject they are working on. In other words, me, and the other kids they work with, and I’m so weary of it.

Thoughts on Anne Frank

In my English class we are reading the play about Anne Frank in hiding. How unimaginable to have to hide from your government because it is against the law for you to live. It tries to be upbeat, but I can’t imagine the fear of those years. I felt so trapped in my silence for the majority of my childhood, so I think I can imagine how they felt, silent all day, in stillness and boredom. But, I didn’t have a police state after me.
The story is pretty much a slice of their ordeal. Life after their capture isn’t described, but I know only Mr. Frank survived. Oh, the sorrow he must have felt, only he had no family to cry with. My heart aches in thinking about hiding and losing. I guess the only hope is the courage they had, the moral bravery of Miep and Mr. Kraler, and Mr. Frank’s determination to live despite his losses. I pray people never hold genocidal thoughts again.
In lands like Iran they still do, but goodness must win. The person hiding is waiting, not fighting. I truly believe evil must be faced to stop it.

Me and My Dogs

My dogs are a lot of fun. I am really glad we have them. When I was a baby we got a dog, so I am used to dogs. My home is always wagging and scampering.
They bother me when they bark, but it’s bearable mostly. I still cover my ears because I hear too sensitively. It’s worth it because I love them. They are patient with my annoying stims.
I know too many autistic people who scream in fear at the sight of dogs. It sort of makes sense because autistic people have sensitive hearing. Dogs are full of surprises and they run and play in unpredictable ways. It’s for me an exercise in tolerance because I learned to love them in spite of their noise and their weird systems that make a sleeping dog jump out of its bed barking madly and running after some random sound it hears. This stresses some people, I’m sure, but I got used to it, times three. Maybe my dogs helped me in some ways to deal with a changeable world.

Emotional Overflow

The struggle for emotional control is always with me. I try to meet the world on its terms. I need to calm myself to do that. It’s not too bad if I feel OK inside. If I don’t, Oh boy. I find it is a train that rolls so swiftly that even if the engineer tries to stop it, the momentum keeps moving me onward. Once I stop I feel so embarrassed or sorry.

The triggers can be silly to others. Inside, they are serious.

I get nervous. It overflows. I get stressed. It overflows.
It overflows.
Oh man, do I hate that.
I behave the way people expect autistic people to act when I overflow, so they assume I’m not smart or something. Then I stop trying.

Do you see other autistic people do this too? It sounds silly, but it is common. I think it explains the tantrums some kids have. They tantrum from fear, anxiety or stress, but oh how quickly it becomes anger if people try to stop it with “hands down” or “no” or “all done” to a teenager.

The train is stopped by rules and understanding.