Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, November 23, 2015

Greetings From Chicago

My mom didn't send me the pics yet, but this is where we went!
Hi everyone! Just dropping another note today, although I am really too tired to write a real blog post! I am sort of slacking off, but tomorrow should be better! Today I had a pretty fun day. My mom had to go to the hospital in the city for her cancer treatment, so I went with her. Even though the cancer treatment was obviously not fun, we still had fun the rest of the time. We took the train down to the city, and then we had breakfast at Corner Bakery. I had Banana Honey Crunch pancakes, which I actually thought would be a lot better than they were. I thought the bananas, honey and granola would be in the pancakes, but it was just all sitting on top... so they pretty much just charged extra in order to put some stuff on top of the regular pancakes! 

After that we went over to the hospital for my mom's treatment. She had to get an IV drip which was about an hour long, so I mostly just sat around with her. She also had to get a really painful shot in her stomach. She is not getting chemo until February, but right now she is getting other cancer-fighting drugs and steroids and stuff. 

Then we walked over to State Street to look in the windows. Every year Marshall Fields (which is now Macy's) puts displays in their windows that tell a story for Christmas. The last few years, since Macy's took over, the windows were sort of lame. But this year they were pretty cool... they were about the planets. The only thing that disappointed me was that they didn't include Pluto as a planet! Poor Pluto. 

After that we walked around a little more and went to the Kris Kringle Market and looked at crafts and things. We bought some roasted nuts, which turned out to be cold. We thought they'd be served hot, but they were pre-roasted and just put in the paper cone. I thought to myself, "They still taste good, but if we wanted cold nuts we could just buy a box of them!" Half of the point of buying roasted nuts at an outdoor market is because they are supposed to be hot!

Next we started walking back to the train, but we stopped at Potbelly's because we saw the sign that said "Create Your Own Macaroni And Cheese." You were supposed to be able to add two toppings to your mac and cheese. We both like mac and cheese, so we ordered it with a topping of mushrooms. I've had it this way before with grilled mushrooms mixed in and it was delicious! But we were about to be disappointed once again... this was just regular macaroni and cheese, with some sliced cold mushrooms on top. I don't know why we were having so much trouble buying quality food today! It was like they weren't even putting any effort into it, they just wanted to sell as much as possible. Boo!
We ended up throwing the mac and cheese away because even the noodles weren't that great. 

Finally we went to the train station and took the train home, and then we got home and walked the dogs, and ate leftover pizza for dinner, and then I was very tired and passed out cold for several hours. Now I am about to go back to bed again. 

My mom took a lot of pictures with her phone today and she said she'd send them to me, but she didn't yet, so I will have to show you tomorrow!

Okay that is all for now. Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Stealing: Would You Rather

Hi everyone! Here is another meme again! I just arrived in Chicago this morning, and I will update you more tomorrow, but I am SO TIRED! I need to take a shower and go to sleep, because I'm going to the hospital tomorrow with my mom for her cancer treatments. So, here is Sunday Stealing!

Would You Rather Meme

Stolen from: Would Your Rather

  1. Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly? Depends on who the person is, but probably stuck on an island alone as long as I had a lot of books with me.
  2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold? Too hot! For sure! Because then I would jump in the river!
  3. Would you rather have a cook or a maid? A cook because they could cook me lots of great things! I don't really mind about whether or not my house is clean.
  4. Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling? Youngest. I'm already the oldest, and it is highly overrated.
  5. Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery? Well, I'd rather win the lottery so that I could use all that money to do free work to help others.
  6. Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest? Ten hours is a long time for a dinner or a concert! I'd probably go to the concert and bring my headphones. At least they might have some churros there!
  7. Would you rather be an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner? Nobel Peace Prize.
  8. Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job? Outdoor job! Like at a farm! That would be cool.
  9. Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain? On the mountain, as long as it isn't too hard to get down, and there are no grizzly bears up there.
  10. Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side? Hmm, I don't know. Is it Terminator 1 or Terminator 2?
  11. Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends? In private so you don't feel so much pressure to say yes.
  12. Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food? Grow my own food. I stab myself with the needle when I try to sew! I'd have to figure out how to grow Dr. Pepper, though!
  13.  Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first? Bad. Get it over with.
  14. Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else? My own boss.
  15. Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors? Either one would be okay. I'd just ignore them.
  16. Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show? Dating game show, because that way I don't have to eat weird things.
  17. Would you rather be too busy or be bored? Bored. I'd just go to sleep!
  18.  Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium? I'm not much of a sports fan. If I was, I'd probably want to spend it at the stadium!
  19. Would you rather spend the day with your favorite athlete or you favorite movie star? I don't really have a favorite athlete, so probably movie star. Although I don't particularly have a favorite movie star either. But at least I might know who they are!
  20.  Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer? Constantly summer, of course! I got a rude reminder of that when I got off the plane in Chicago wearing just my thin sweatshirt that I put on in Washington, and had to wait outside in the freezing cold for twenty minutes!

Okay, that is it for Sunday Stealing! And now I am going to bed. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday 9 Meme

Hi everyone! I don't have a lot of time to post this weekend because I am getting ready to travel back to Chicago for the week... but in the spirit of keeping up with NaBloPoMo, I found some memes to help me do a quick, yet interesting, post. Here is Saturday 9. 

Saturday 9: Perfect Storm (2014)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about "the thrill of a lifetime" kind of love. Do you believe we each get one great love? Or do you think it's possible to fall in love more than once? I think it is possible to fall in love multiple times. You can definitely love more than one person in this world. If you love someone and decide to commit to them, though, you have to choose not to pursue any other options.

2) Brad Paisley endured his own "perfect storm" in 2010, when he lost his guitars in the massive flood that hit Nashville. Tell us about a time when you had to clean up after Mother Nature. About two summers ago I came home from work one day to find that a micro-tornado had whipped through my neighborhood. There were fallen trees everywhere, and the power was out for several days. We were used to the power being out at least once every summer, but this time my parents actually bought a generator. The neighborhood was on the news because there was so much wreckage everywhere!

3) He is married to actress Kimberly Williams, who played Steve Martin's daughter in the Father of the Bride movies. He has admitted he was a little in love with her before he met because he'd seen her on screen. Do you have a crush on anyone right now? No not particularly.

4) He's a passionate Cleveland Browns fan. Are you following the NFL this season? No, football bores me.

5) Brad has developed his own line of western wear for Boot Barn, including some pricey items. (A "Perfect Storm" felt hat goes for $230.) What's the most expensive item you've added to your wardrobe recently? My mom bought me a cool pair of Jambu shoes that I don't have a picture of right now but they are these ones.  They were 50% off but still the most expensive, and nicest, pair of shoes I own! They're very comfortable too!

6) "Paisley" is also a term for a popular print. Are you wearing a print or solid right now? I am wearing flower print leggings and a solid white sweater. I was also wearing my patchwork sweatshirt earlier!

7) Crazy Sam is not a big country fan, but she can sing along with this song because it played so very often at a bar she frequents. What's the last song you sang? This song that the little kids at the school where I worked last week were learning in music class. It is a Christmas song. The only part I remember is, "::clap:: Must be Santa, ::clap:: must be Santa, ::clap:: must be Santa, Santa Claus!"

8) Though Brad Paisley has recorded songs about drinking, he never touches alcohol. His favorite beverage is Yoohoo, a chocolate beverage bottled by the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Company. Actually a Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle. They sell them at the New Seasons grocery store and sometimes before DBT I stop and get one.
9) Random question from a Sat9er: What's your favorite handmade item? Phyllis gave me a handmade scarf she bought in Oregon and it fleece and has dogs on it! 
Okay, that's it for today, everyone. I will write a better post on Monday!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Possible New Job... Maybe!

I've been rocking this NaBloPoMo thing... I've been posting at least once and sometimes twice a day! Gotta celebrate the small victories!

If you've been reading my blog you may have seen my post called Up $#+@ Creek Without A Paddle the other day. If you haven't, here's a summary... I was having a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad day, I felt like I would have a meltdown. I used my DBT skills to hold myself together. But just barely. The end. 

So now, you'll be happy to know that some things have gotten a little better! First of all, my DBT therapist signed my sheet from American Airlines, and I just emailed it to them tonight, so everything should be okay with that. We shall see. 

Second of all, I have been working all week, at the same subbing job, and actually really enjoyed it! I was working as a 1:1 assistant for a kindergarten boy named "Sandy," who is autistic and is in a regular kindergarten class. The job was for afternoons only. When I first started the job it was just going to be for the day, and they did not really give me any information at all about Sandy. Only that he was a pretty sweet kid and that I needed to stick with him at recess, gym class, etc. After meeting him and spending some time with him, I assumed that he was attending a special education kindergarten program somewhere else, and then coming to the regular education kindergarten program for the afternoon. Sometimes they do that with kindergartners, I guess to try to give them the best of both worlds. 

I was surprised that, although Sandy was obviously a sensory disaster, he didn't seem to be getting any sort of help or accommodations. No OT or speech therapy.  No sensory breaks or sensory diet. No personal visual schedule. Just, one adorable little dimpled boy tip-toeing and hopping and flapping around the kindergarten room, with a different temporary 1:1 assistant every day to basically keep him from escaping. I wondered what was up with that. Surely his preschool program would have passed along all the things they were doing last year to help Sandy. Did the teacher just not want to do these things? (That didn't seem likely... the kindergarten teacher was one of the most awesome teachers I've met in quite a while.) Were they trying to wean him off of his accommodations for some reason... maybe working at making him "look like everyone else?" I kind of wanted to ask, or suggest something, like, "Maybe some sort of bouncy cushion to sit on would help him sit still on the carpet longer," or "maybe we could give him something to fidget with in his hands and that way he might not keep reaching over and grabbing random items off the floor." But I didn't want to overstep my boundaries, since I was just a substitute assistant.

After the first day they ended up asking me to stay and work with Sandy for the rest of the week. So I did. And it was a great week! Between the kindergarten teacher's calm, positive, nurturing teaching style, and Sandy's sweet disposition, everything was great. But, knowing I was going out of town the following week (next week) I wondered if Sandy was just going to continue having another chain of random subs. I felt bad because we'd already started to be comfortable together, and I hated to disappear on him. 

Then, this morning, I was talking with the teacher and found out Sandy's story. Sandy is not actually diagnosed with autism. This was surprising to me... because he isn't one of those, "Hmm, something may be a little different about him, but we can't quite put our finger on it, and maybe it is better not to label him just yet" situations. This little kid is very clearly autistic. But apparently he never got diagnosed... or maybe it was suggested to his parents by a pediatrician but they didn't want to consider it. He did not go to preschool at all, so he didn't have contact with any teachers or specialists who could have recognized his autism and at least made some suggestions. He just appeared on the first day of kindergarten, registered with all of the other children, with no information about him at all. So there he was, this little kid who had never set foot in a classroom in his life, who can barely talk, who cannot hold a pencil or a crayon, who is really not processing much of what the teacher is saying to the group in general. He was basically just running around yelling, completely overwhelmed and scared and not really understanding what exactly was going on.

After the first few days, when it was clear to everyone that Sandy needed some support, they decided to start having him attend for half days only. They thought leaping straight into all day kindergarten was kind of a lot to expect of any child who had never been in school before. They also arranged for him to have a 1:1 adult with him... but since he didn't yet have an IEP or anything, they couldn't actually hire a permanent person. So they just called it an "open position" and got a bunch of substitutes. Meanwhile they referred him for special education, and he started going through all of the testing and everything. In the first month of school, even with a 1:1, Sandy mostly just played with toys or took walks in the halls. The teacher worked with him on things like sitting on the carpet during story time, walking in a line, etc. But that is still hard for him, because of his sensory problems. He knows how to sit pretzel-legs on the carpet, but it is very, very, very hard for him to just sit there for twenty minutes during calendar time or story time. He wants to lie down, or curl up in a ball, or get up and leave. He has to be moving. It is so hard for him to just sit still. It is hard for any 6-year-old. It is ten times harder for Sandy. 

So anyways. They finally had an IEP meeting about him, and he is actually going to be switching to a self-contained special education classroom. They do not know yet if he will have a permanent 1:1 assistant... it will depend on how well he does in the self-contained classroom, I guess, or how much inclusion he will participate in. (If he does participate in inclusion, he'll have to have a 1:1 with him to go with him to the regular-ed parts of his day, at least.) But the teacher said, if he does get a 1:1, she's going to recommend me for the job. She said that, of all the people who have worked with Sandy so far over the school year, I have done the best with him! 

Of course, it isn't a teaching job. But it would be in a school where I'm already a little bit comfortable, with a kid I've already started to work with, a kid that I really enjoy working with. It would give me an "in" for applying for a teaching job next school year. 

I don't know whether I should start looking forward to it and getting excited, or whether I should put it out of my mind for now. The receptionist took my name and email and phone number and said that she would personally keep me updated about what was going on with Sandy's 1:1 situation, and that if she didn't know anything by the time I get back in town after Thanksgiving she will be sure to get me some other subbing jobs in the building so that I can at least be around. 

On Sunday Lily and I are leaving for Chicago, and we won't be back here until December 2. I am going to try to relax and have fun and enjoy being with my parents. Maybe, by the time I get back, I will have a job!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Compare And Contrast Challenge!

I was invited by another blogger (FlutistPride) to participate in a challenge that she created. The challenge involves comparing and contrasting yourself with another blogger. I feel kind of honored because I was the first person she compared and contrasted herself to! You can read that post on her blog here

I decided to compare and contrast myself with The Gal Herself, over at One Girl's Musings. I worked on this for quite a while, and made a Venn Diagram and everything, before I wrote this post! I love Venn Diagrams for some reason. Much of what I know about The Gal Herself, I learned from Sunday Stealing and other memes. Here is what I came up with. 

We both use aliases in our blogs. Mine is Angel The Alien, and she is The Gal Herself. I think she's a little more protective of her alias than I am, because I post photos of myself and have mentioned my real name before, and she does not do those things. 

We are both from Chicago area, born and raised. 

We both love the Beatles! 

We both are animal lovers.

Neither one of us knows anything about cars.  

We both enjoy writing and blogging. 

Both of us care about children, but neither one of us has any children ourselves.

The Gal Herself is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. I am not much of a sports fan, but I consider myself a White Sox fan out of loyalty to my dad, who is definitely a true-blue White Sox fan. 

I have a dog, and she has cats. I did have a cat before, but I don't know if she has ever had a dog. 

I have a tattoo, but no piercings. She has pierced ears, but no tattoos. 

She is independent, owns her home, and supports herself. I am more or less dependent on family. 

So there you go... two Chicago girls-turned-bloggers, alike in some ways and different in some ways. 

If you would like to participate in FlutistPride's challenge, you don't have to wait for someone to nominate you. You can just do it. Here are the rules:

 Challenge Rules:
  • Do not compare and contrast yourself with yourself. That defeats the purpose of this challenge.
  • You are not limited in your amount of comparing and contrasting, but please keep your post coherent and readable.
  • Link to the blogger you intend to take the compare and contrast challenge.
  • The challenged blogger must be informed via comment section or E-mail order to be obligated to post. If they explicitly decline, they are no longer obligated to participate.
  • Do not vex anyone who declines.
  • The Compare and Contrast Challenge is not intended to be demeaning to any party. Do not use belittling remarks, even if they are jokes. Save your viewers the headache of trying to read your intentions through a screen.
  • There is no particular timeframe the challenge should take place in.
  • Let the other blogger know you compared and contrasted yourself to them. Invite this person to challenge others.
  • Tag your post Compare and Contrast Challenge if you are participating or challenging someone else.
  • No one has to challenge you in order to participate.
I liked that challenge! I can't wait to read some more by other people. If you take the challenge, let me know!

Product Review: Arvazallia Ultra Curl Defining Cream

Hi everyone! This week I got to test a product called Arvazallia Ultra Curl Defining Cream With Argan Oil. Those of you who know me in real life (or who have ever looked at me) know that I am not the most stylish person. I have never been able to do much with my hair. I like to keep it pretty natural looking anyways, and so usually the most I do with it is condition it, comb it out, and let it air-dry. Sometimes this turns out okay, but sometimes it is frizzy or oddly misshapen... it is sort of a luck-of-the-draw situation.

However, I would never be one to spend an hour in the bathroom fussing over myself. I also tend to avoid many hair products because of the smell and feel. (Does the smell of aerosol hairspray give you an instant flashback to the junior high girls' bathroom? Just the memory of that scent gives me an instant headache!)

When I was offered the chance to review Arvazallia Ultra Curl Defining Cream, I was hoping for a product that would really not add much to my morning routine... something that would be really easy to use (dummy proof, really) and would control my curls without drastically changing my appearance. I also wanted something that wouldn't have a strong smell that would follow me around all day.

The first thing that I noticed was that I really like the smell. I don't really know how to describe it. It isn't overly flowery, nor does it have a generic "soapy" smell. It is a pleasant scent... maybe sort of fruity? The smell faded as my hair dried, which is important because I work in schools, and many children (especially those with sensory processing disorders) are sensitive to smells. I noticed my hair smelled fresh and clean, but not overpowering at all.

When my hair dried, I noticed that my curls were frizz-free and looked like individual curls instead of like a wild mess. (I guess that is what they mean by defined curls.) My hair stayed nice all day! This is noteable because, working with children, I am moving around all day, sometimes running, sometimes being out in the rain, sometimes even getting my hair pulled. So to be able to come home and look in the mirror and see that my hair stayed calm even when I wasn't, was a good thing. This is me at about 7:00 tonight. How do I look?

I really did not need a lot of this in order for it to work. Just a tiny squirt worked wonders. I think this 10.14 ounce bottle will last me a while. I am glad about that, because I will (hopefully) have some job interviews coming up, and I'll need to look at least a little bit "put together."

Curly haired people, let me know if you've used this product before, and whether you liked it!

Up $#!& Creek Without A Paddle

I am having not a great day today. Not a great day at all. And I am going to take just a few minutes to wallow in my sadness, and then I am going to use some of my DBT skills to help me cope with it and move on.

So I have not been working much. But I've actually been working more in the past two weeks than I did in September and October. I have been forcing myself to take more subbing jobs, especially the ones that are subbing for actual teachers, because those ones pay more than twice as much as the assistant jobs. The bad thing is, we get paid once a month, for the previous month. So at the end of September I got no check at all, and then at the end of October my check was less than 200, and for the end of November my check will probably be pretty meager... bigger than the last one, but not quite big enough.

I am leaving for Chicago this weekend. When you travel with a Psychiatric Service Dog, you have to submit your paperwork to the airline at least 48 hours ahead of time. Well, I had submitted mine a week ahead of time, just to be sure. I was certain the paperwork would be fine, because I used it in August on a different airline to travel with her.

This morning I woke up to a message on my voicemail from American Airlines, asking me to call them. So I went to call them, but when I dialed it took me directly to Verizon Wireless, who informed me in a robotic voice that my service was being cut off until I paid my bill. Trying to deal with things like a capable adult, I actually called the Financial Services (because although your phone is cut off you can still call Verizon apparently) and asked them to turn my phone back on and that I would pay at the end of the month when my check came. They said they would, if I authorized a post-dated check, So I did... but later, looking back on it, realized they said the total would be $253, instead of the $80 I was expecting. I think the lady charged me for last month plus this month plus next month! I wonder if I can go back and change it to just last month, and then pay this month next month, and then... yeah, I'm upside down in my phone.

Got that taken care of, at least temporarily. Then I called American Airlines, who said that they were rejecting my Psychiatric Service Animal letter because the letter from my therapist in Chicago (which worked fine for the other airline) didn't include THE DATE THAT MY THERAPIST STARTED PRACTICING AS A THERAPIST! I suggested that they just call her, using the phone number in the letter, and ask her, but they said no, they need it included in the letter. So the lady sent me a form, which I was to email to my therapist in Chicago to fill out, and if she sends it back to me, then I am good to go. BUT if for some reason she doesn't check her email... I don't know. My next step will have to be to see if my medical doctor will sign the form, even though I've only seen her once because I just moved here.

After that was taken care of, I had to borrow some gas money from my aunt, because I am THAT BROKE. I hate asking to borrow money, so I had Lily do it for me. Nobody can say no to Little Lily!

Then it was time for work. That went okay. I have been subbing as a 1:1 assistant all week for an adorable kindergartner with autism who is mainstreamed all afternoon. The position as his long-term 1:1 is supposedly open, and I wish I could take it, because I like the teacher there and I like the kid and the school is so calm and positive... but it is only 20 hours a week, which would earn me only about $800 a month, which, although way more than I'm making now, is not enough to live on.

On the way to work, I noticed that my dashboard light that said BRAKE came on. My brakes seemed to be working fine, though, so when I got to work I Googled it on my phone and found out that it probably means I need more brake fluid. Well, car, you are going to have to get in line! But then, after I stopped and got gas, the light went off. So... WTF? Any car literate people out there? 

Then I came home, and made cookies with my aunt, which was really the only good thing.

Then at dinner my aunt and uncle had a talk with me that I need to make more effort to work more hours and get more money so I can become independent, because they're going to be moving to a smaller house and there probably won't be an extra room for me. I always knew that I was only supposed to be staying with them on a temporary basis, but I pictured myself being gainfully employed by this time, and I thought my only obstacle would be finding an apartment and finding a way to get my things from Illinois to here. I never thought I'd be down to zero in Washington!

 I feel like I have no control to get enough money to live on, because I've been trying for YEARS and nothing ever pans out... I need some sort of systematic formula for getting a job and getting a place to live. I need more in life than what it is possible for anyone else to give me. I need a miracle!

I feel like I am stuck between 50 rocks and 50 hard places. Everything is coming at me at once. I can literally feel the pain in my face as if someone is chucking rocks at me. Or maybe I'm just getting a sinus infection. Either way, it sucks.

The good thing is I have my DBT skills now, which I am learning more of each week. The skills are meant to help you deal with anxiety, depression, and other strong feelings, So instead of feeling like I need to have a meltdown, I can use my skills. I can use WiseMind to keep myself from making irrational decisions like jumping out a window. (Don't worry, I won't do that, it was just the first irrational decision idea that came to mind!) I can use Mindfulness to slow myself down and concentrate on the present moment, instead of going into a spiral of worry and hopelessness. I can change the temperature of my body (this is a DBT skill that is similar to waterboarding yourself, but it actually helps you calm yourself down in a crisis) or do Paced Breathing and Paired Muscle Relaxation. I can validate myself by telling myself that my emotions make sense because anyone would be feeling this way in my position.

But DBT does not have a skill for how to get several hundred dollars in order to pay your phone bill and pay your rent and put gas in your car and get your prescription from Target and make sure your little dog has dog food, and there is no skill for making sure that your therapist in Chicago hurries up and sends you the paperwork you need to bring your service dog (who should not even need paperwork because she is a SERVICE DOG, but the rules are different for Psychiatric Service Dogs) on the plane in four days.

I feel like I am going to spiral. But I am not. Instead I am going to finish this blog, then I am going to spend some time online looking for a job for when I get back from Chicago, then I am going to do my diary card for DBT, and then I am going to go to bed.I am a zillion times broken. I need to sleep.

And here are the cookies I made today!