Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New News For An Old Year

HI everyone! I'm finally getting around to posting, in time for the last day of 2014! I have got lots of news for today!

First of all, my book With Love, From Angel is now officially available, and you can get it in a multitude of ways!

The full-color version is available on CreateSpace for $20, or Amazon for $18. You can also get it on Kindle for $7.00. But if you buy the hard copy on Amazon, you can also have the Kindle version for free!

The black-and-white version is available on Createspace for $10, or Amazon for $9.00.

If you buy it, let me know what you think of it!

I am also getting ready to start on my new book project, Our Amazing Brains. It is going to be by, about and for kids whose brains work in unique ways! I am hoping to find kids of all ages, who are either diagnosed with something like autism or ADHD, or who are undiagnosed but have minds that work a little differently than most. To participate, kids have to answer some questions about themselves (their parents can help as much as needed), add a photo or drawing of themselves, and show something special that they enjoy doing (it could be a photo of something such as a jigsaw puzzle or block tower that they've worked on, artwork they've created, a story they've written, photo of pets they take care of, a description of a hobby, etc. The sky is the limit.) I am hoping to be able to give each child a copy of the book, and if I make additional royalties somehow I am going to look for a way that I can share it with all of the young contributors. If you know of a kid that would fit well in this project, click the link!

In a rush of other news... Bro, Sunny and Squeak have been visiting! They got here on Christmas Eve, and are staying until January 3. We've been having a lot of fun! They've mostly been staying at my parents' house, but they also rented an apartment in the city for a few days, and I got to stay there with them. We went to the Field Museum, hung out in the city, and spent time in the apartment soaking in the hot tub and playing board games. (Bananagrams is my new favorite!)

I also got a haircut right before Christmas. (My mom cut it.) Here is a picture of my new haircut, and also wearing the new very colorful sweatshirt I got for Christmas that I have been wearing every day since!

So, 2014 seems to be ending pretty well for me. It will be interesting to see what 2015 will bring. Doesn't that sound so futuristic?

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you party hearty!

New Year Graphics

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Almost Here!

I have fixed up my book, added two more chapters, gotten the front and back covers all ready, and uploaded it to my self-publishing website of choice. Now I just have to wait for them to review my files within the next 24 hours, and then soon after that it should be ready to go!

The bad news is that the book is going to cost a whopping $20.00, even though it is a short book, because it is full color on the inside. That is the rule of the publisher... a full color book costs more to produce. However, because I felt guilty for charging you guys $20.00 per book, I am also making a black and white version. The black and white version is still handwritten and includes all of the drawings and stuff, but it is just all in black and white. I really love bright colors, which is why I had fun creating the original version with all my colored gel pens. But I want it to be affordable to everyone. The black and white version is $10, which I thought would be more reasonable for those on a budget. I will also be offering a Kindle edition, for those of you who prefer e-reading!

I'm excited! I think you guys will like it!

I am already thinking about my next project, too. Since With Love, From Angel is geared more towards neurotypical adults who have children, family members or friends with ADHD or autism, the next one is going to be geared towards neurologically diverse children of all ages. I am going to invite kids to participate in it by contributing their artwork, stories, or descriptions of their special talents and projects, I have made a special page on this blog with more information about it. Here is a link to the page. You can also get to it by going up to the navigation bar and clicking on "New Book Project."

I am really excited about that project too! I do love writing. I am at my best when I have something like this to work on.

Okay, I will let you all return to your busy pre-holiday lives, for now! TTYL!

P.S. While searching for a picture to include with this blog post, I found out that when you type "Neurologically diverse" into a Google Image search, my picture comes up! That is kinda neat, huh?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Please Excuse The Delay

Hi everyone! I was hoping to have the book I'm working on ready by, um, two days ago, so it would be around in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, some complications have come up, both with the book (I like to write in different colors, but the bright pink ink I used on some of the pages does not translate to a scanned version) and in my personal life (I recently went through a traumatizing experience that, even though it only lasted about five minutes, was really upsetting to me and has been replaying in my head over and over ever since. I will write about it eventually, but because it involves my family, I just need some time to process it. A few days or weeks or something.)

So... I'm going to set a new date for the book, and maybe even add some more chapters to it! Here are the chapters I have so far: What I Wish People Knew About Autism, Aspergers In Females, My Answers To Things People Say About ADHD, Bullying, Responding to Bullying, What NOT To say To Someone With ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, Mental Health Conditions, etc, Why Bother Getting DIagnosed, To Med Or Not To Med, Most Important Advice, and a quiz at the end. 

Please let me know if you have other ideas that you think belong in this book! So far it is only 70 pages (which feels a lot longer when you are writing it longhand!) so I'd like to beef it up a little as long as I'm taking some extra time with it! 

If anyone is interested in previewing what I have so far and letting me know which parts suck the most, I would be happy to send you the PDF file! 

In the mean time... I am going to take a short nap, as I am not feeling particularly well today. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

So, It's Official!

 Hi everyone! I haven't written in a few days. For the past two nights, I have been busy doing my autism evaluation. For those of you who didn't read about it or don't remember, a bloggy friend did something really awesome for me... she paid for me to have an evaluation with Tania Marshall, an expert in female Asperger's Syndrome. I have mentioned before that, although I was told I probably had Aspergers by a therapist, and have always identified with most of the things I read about it, I was never officially diagnosed. Because I have an imagination and some form of social skills, at the evaluation I did go in for about 10 years ago (it was at University of Illinois and was free) the psychologist didn't think I had autism, and diagnosed me with ADHD instead. Actually, Tania Marshall told me that about 80% of females with Aspergers also have ADHD, so, I guess it does fit!

So, for the evaluation, the first thing I had to do was write an "autobiography" with some of my memories from childhood. Then I had the "in person" evaluation, which was actually on Skype. She went over my autobiography with me and asked me some questions about it, asked me about the rest of my life, and about my family history and previous diagnoses and junk. 

Then, before the next day, I had to send her something creative I had done (I sent her one of the stories I wrote and showed her the books I've self-published on Amazon), take the RAAD test online and send her the results, and get someone close to me to write a paragraph-long description of my strengths and weaknesses. And finally, last night, I met with her again on Skype and talked some more about my experiences. 

Most of the things I told her, she said they were very typical of women with Aspergers, It was almost funny how everything I said (even the things I thought were unique to me, like how when I was a kid I used to sneak into the classroom bathroom to read when I was supposed to be learning math) was actually pretty common. 

Because Australia is upside-down from us, where she was it was a hot and sunny summer morning, and where I live it was a dark and chilly evening. Yesterday I had also spent the whole day at the Museum of Science and Industry with my dad, and I was really tired from walking around all day. So it was 10:30 at night by the time the session was coming to an end. Tania told me, "Congratulations! You have Aspergers!" She kept asking me if I had any questions, but unfortunately I was so sleepy at that point, I couldn't really focus my brain. I was just glad to hear that what I've always thought was true, was finally confirmed! 

One very interesting thing is, if you go to Tania Marshall's website, you can see that she has written a book about females with Aspergers, called AspienGirl. It makes reference to the "Planet Aspien." The description explains that many girls and women with Aspergers (even before knowing they have Aspergers) have spent their lives feeling like they were aliens from another planet. 

Hmm... sound familiar??? I told you I was an alien! 

The anticlimactic part was when I went downstairs and announced to my parents that I had an official diagnosis of Aspergers. They pretty much said, "Uh, yeah, so? We already knew that!" I tried to explain to them the difference between thinking and knowing. But they were too busy watching TV to listen. 

Some people balk at the idea of getting a diagnosis. I know of parents, in particular, who become very sad when they find out their young child has autism. I think in many cases people see a diagnosis as confirming that something is wrong with the person (or themselves) and that they will never live an ordinary life. For me, though, that is a moot point! I already knew something was strange about me, and I have already not lived an ordinary life. But ordinary has never been a goal of mine, anyways. I'd prefer extraordinary! And maybe, now that I have an official diagnosis, it can help me learn more and do more to move ahead with my life and be independent!

At any rate, I am officially an Aspie... an AspienGirl.  Maybe I've finally found my home planet!

I already said it and I'll say it again, a million thanks to my friend (I don't know if she wants to be identified so I won't blurt out her name) for making this possible for me! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Cover

I mentioned briefly in my post yesterday that I am working on a book that is sort of based on this blog, that people could share with their non-blogreading friends and family members. I am hoping to finish it by December 15, which is in 8 days. (I'm a fast writer... plus a lot of the work is already done for me, since I am expanding on some of my blog posts!) 

The book is kind of different from usual books, because I am writing it in longhand, with different colors of ink, and illustrating it with my own little sketches. I want it to be like a letter I am writing to the world. 

I have already made the cover, and I thought I would give you a sneak preview! 

What do you think?

If you want to help me out, please tell me if there are any particular blog posts, or any other topics, that you would like to see in the book!

In other news, the first part of my evaluation for Aspergers is tomorrow, late at night. I will let you know on Tuesday how it goes!

I think I am going to cut this short because I have a wicked stomachache from drinking too much lemonade and eating too much flan! (A weird combination, to be sure!) 

Friday, December 5, 2014

No Particular Topic

This is a wayward post with no specific topic. I just wanted to give an update on a few things, so all of my thousands of twelve fans don't think I abandoned my blog! 

Okay. Last time I wrote, I told you about my idea for a learning center type place for neurologically diverse kids. I got lots of feedback from people who thought it was a great idea! I do seriously want to do it someday... maybe someday soon. This is the kind of thing that I wish I could just get up tomorrow morning and start doing. But there is a lot more involved. I don't even know all the things that would be involved! I'd at least have to get a building, get some sort of business license, do a bunch of advertising, and hire some people. I don't think the $209 I have in the bank right now would cover all of this! 

However, rest assured that it is definitely a long term plan. I've been thinking about it every day. In fact, if anyone has any advice on how to start a business, I'd love to hear it! I think I may still attempt to get a regular teaching job for this fall, hoping to work for a year or two to build up funds and credentials. But, who knows... if a job doesn't materialize, I might just put my plan into action earlier! 

Also, a few people have suggested that I should write a book. I am always working on my memoir, off and on. But I also got it into my head to write a book that is sort of based on this blog, that people could share with their non-blogreading friends and family members. So I am in the process of creating such a book. I say "creating" because it is more like an art project. I am writing it out in long-hand, with scratched out mistakes and everything, in different colored ink, with my own little illustrations. I want it to be really me, unedited, as if I am in the same room talking to the person. I am basically expanding on some of my blog entries about autism, ADHD, etc. 

My question to you is, what would you like to see included in this book? Do you have favorite blog entries you think should belong, or specific topics you think others would like to hear about? Let me know!

I hope to have the book finished by December 15. When you self-publish, you can really expedite the publishing process that way! So, it will be ready in time for Christmas, if anyone wants to give it as a gift! 

Meanwhile, I am nervous right now because tomorrow I have to take my grandpa shopping. I am not nervous about that part... he is fun to hang out with... but I am nervous about driving him. The whole reason he asked me to is because my grandmother has vertigo and cannot drive, and my grandpa is more or less blind. But I hate driving other people. I am very self-conscious about driving with other adults in my car. People can be very critical of others' driving skills. I am a safe driver, but I have poor depth perception and a terrible sense of direction. Plus I never know if others think I am going too fast or too slow, breaking too jerkily, etc. 

Only a handful of people have had the exciting privilege of riding as a passenger with me. One of them was my Auntie Em. Unfortunately, when I tried to back out of her garage the first time, I knocked the side mirror against the garage doorway. I told you I have bad depth perception. Other than that, it went pretty well though! The other people have been my parents for very short distances, and little kids who are too young to be backseat drivers. 

Also I have heard from my Aunt Bea, who gives them rides a lot of the time, and she says my grandpa yells at her a lot about her driving. 

So, yeah, something to be anxious about! 

So, I'm going to go scruffle up some dinner now, and I will let you know how it all goes! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sometimes I Dream Big

Well I guess I failed at NaBloPoMo, but oh well... I did pretty good! I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! 

I've been waiting all day to write about this dream I had last night. I dreamed that I started this learning center type place for neurologically diverse kids and their families. There was a preschool program, a tutoring program for older kids, afterschool clubs, respite care, and other cool stuff. 

It could be just a dream. But several years ago (which was actually just last summer, I just realized, but time is weird in my brain) my sister-in-law Sunny had a dream that she opened a resale store in her town and became very successful at it. She kept thinking about it, and she talked about it to some people, and within less than a year, her resale store became a reality! Some people expected the store to fail, but it has been open for 5 months and is thriving. 

So maybe my dream could thrive too! I know I actually thought of something like this before and even blogged about it maybe, but this new version seems a little more reasonable and possible. It seems really cool to me because I'd be doing what I love... teaching, and helping kids enjoy learning... without having to follow a lot of the strict rules that come with teaching in actual schools. It would be more about helping kids explore and discover and grow, and less about test scores and standards and curriculum. 

I've always heard that it is a good idea to visualize something you want, and even think of it as if it is already a reality. So I actually made a website for it, as if it was an existing organization (but without an address, phone number and other stuff... I don't want people to actually start signing up for it or something, until it actually exists!) The last page on the site is a poll you can take. If you want to visit my site and read all about my dream as if it were reality, check out Over The Rainbow

Okay, that is all I have for now. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Look At This

I don't have much time to blog today because I am in the midst of a project I am trying to get ready in time for Thanksgiving... but in the spirit of NaBloPoMo, here is a video of Lily playing with her tennis ball in the snow! It was a whole new experience for her... she was running around and kicking it and shaking it! At one point (not in the video) the snow on the ball made it stick like Velcro to her paw (her fur tends to collect snowballs) and she was shaking her arm until the ball flew off... and then she chased it happily! She also discovered that if she buried the ball, she could not smell it in the snow, which meant she had the added challenge of trying to find it! At least someone enjoys winter!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Somebody Get Me This For Christmas!

For some reason, one of the all-time most popular posts on this blog is this one, on which I posted about some of the items I remember having in childhood. One of the things I talked about was my Colecovision, the pre-Nintendo game console that my brother and I used to play video games on.

So, I was shopping with my mom yesterday, and look what I saw in the store! (And by the way, this is not a sponsored post. I wish it was, so they would send me one of these!)
They are apparently selling all sorts of consoles that we children of the 80's remember fondly. They have Sega (actually that came along a little later than the others), Intellivision, and Atari.

My aunt and uncle are 8 and 6 years older than me, and they are the ones that taught my brother and I to play video games. I can't remember what they had at their house... my mom says it was Atari, but I seem to think it was Intellivision. Anyways I have really great memories of the four of us sitting on the floor in the family room at my grandparents' house taking turns with the controller With both Coleco and the other console, a lot of the games came with a little card that you slid into the controller, so you could see which buttons to push... for instance a baseball game would have buttons for different kinds of swings and throws. I loved the feeling of pushing the buttons. For some reason it was really stimmy to me.

And at my grandparents' house my favorite game was this racehorse game, because all of the horses were a different color and the buttons on the controller card were different colors. I'm not sure I even understood how to play the game, but I just loved watching those colored horses! This is what it looked like. Awesome graphics, right?

We also used to play Pepper II (it was like Pacman), Smurfs, Centipede, Carnival, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, and I seem to remember some sort of educational alphabet game of some sort.

I am so getting one of these, somehow or another! Somebody notify Santa Claus!

Well, I am not great at ending posts, so... I will just back away slowly.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finding My Style

I have posted before about Vinted (it is where I got my wicked cool Converse high tops with the heart pattern!) I have been getting a little addicted to it lately! I've never been particularly interested in fashion. I tend to want to wear things based on their colors (I like bright and bold colors) and texture (preferably soft and stretchy!) The embarrassing thing is that, even though I am an adult, my mom still chooses a lot of my clothes at the store. When I am with her, I can at least give my input... but a lot of the time if I see something I like, my mom vetoes it because she thinks it is too expensive, she thinks it will make me look fat, she thinks dog hair will cling to the fabric, etc. I also get a lot of my clothes for Christmas, which means I tend to wear a lot of sweaters in the winter. Another problem is that a lot of the time if I am wearing an outfit I put together and like, my mom will say it is inappropriate for some reason or another and send me back to change. For proof of that, read this blog entry, in which my mom had a fit because I wore jeans (actually they were corduroys but she kept saying they were the same as jeans, which still puzzles me to this day.) We have had similar arguments because she often wants me to wear black dress pants, which I find horribly tight and uncomfortable and itchy. I remember one particular time when my brother was visiting and we were all going somewhere, and my mom was insisting that I needed to wear black dress pants. I had already seen my brother wearing jeans, but when I pointed this out, she said, "Well, you are older, so you need to look more grown-up." Which didn't make sense to me because at the time I was about 25 and my brother 23, so it wasn't like he was a teenager or something. Or she will say, "Because you are a girl." But I would rather wear a skirt or dress than those dreadful dress pants! Bleh! But anyways...

What I started out to say is that I have very little experience choosing clothes that I really like... not just clothes that my mom and I can agree are acceptable. On Vinted I can look at a lot of different used clothes and think about things I like and don't like. I can "favorite" things I do like, and sometimes I can even buy something, since it is used clothing and some of it is pretty inexpensive.

For instance, you remember my very cool shoes, right?

I also recently bought these boots. I love to wear Ugg-style boots in the winter and fall (the ones I've been wearing were about $100 cheaper than actual Uggs, but you know what I mean, boots that are really soft inside) but my mom kept telling me that my boots from last year were too worn out and that I needed to buy new ones. So I found these on Vinted for about $6.00. They are brand new and still have the tags on them!

Also, when I first joined Vinted, they gave me a $10 credit to get whatever I wanted from the site. I searched the site over and found a really cool skirt, for only $7.00. The picture has already been deleted from Vinted or I'd show it to you, but maybe another day. It has all different colors.

Here are some of the things I've favorited, and might buy whenever I have an extra few dollars. A lot of times when you favorite something, the person selling it will actually drop the price right away in hopes that you will buy it, which is how I got my Converses for a dollar.

I like patchwork stuff. I love this sweatshirt because of all the different colors and little pictures on it. Its only $9.50 so I may get it when I get a paycheck someday.

I like this dress because of the colors. I am not sure I like the material and I don't like that it is see-through, but I would probably wear a shirt underneath and then it would be okay.

I like this because of the colors and pattern. It is called a tunic.

I like both of these skirts because I like skirts with a lot of colors and that are flowy, not tight, and not too short.

I could look at Vinted all day long! 

I actually have to go walk my dogs now, so I don't have a very good ending for this post. Maybe you can make something up! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

An Inspirational Person I've Never Thought Of Before Now

Have you ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? You probably have. I have not. I don't know why. I have a tendency to not watch movies. But now I totally want to see it.

Next question. Was there ever a celebrity you really looked up to and thought of as a role model? I haven't. (Well, maybe when I was a little kid... I wanted to meet Soleil Moon-Frye. But I didn't really understand the actress part of it. I thought she really was Punky Brewster! But, as always, I digress...) I don't really pay that much attention to celebrities. I mean, I can name all four Beatles... but other than that, even if I love a movie or a song, the celebrities involved fly under my radar. Until now.

I have this free trial of Scribd, which allows you to read as many books as you want to for a monthly fee. And if you are me, that means, probably about 20 to 30 books per month... so I can really get my money's worth from this! As I was going through adding books to my "library," I came across one that was a memoir by a mother who had adopted a toddler from the foster care system. It interested me because I used to work with kids in foster care and I have always planned to some day adopt a child (or children) from foster care. Of course, the author's name meant nothing to me because I had never heard of the person. The book was called Instant Mom.

As I started reading it, it turned out that the author, Nia Vardalos, played the main character, Toula, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But I still wasn't all that excited, having never seen the movie or anything.

As I read on, though, I learned so many things about Nia Vardalos, that by the time I reached the end of the book, she had become one of the people I admire the most! For instance, I was really inspired by the story of how My Big Fat Greek Wedding came to exist. Did you know that Nia actually wrote the movie, which was based on her family and the story of her wedding?

She wrote it because she dreamed of starring in a movie, but she was having trouble getting anything but minor television roles. In her book, she writes how her being Greek and having dark features, as well as not being a skinny-mini, kept agents from taking her seriously. One agent even told her to change her last name to Vardalez and pretend to be Hispanic, because there were more parts available for a Hispanic woman than for a Greek woman.

Nia was used to rejection and had always just found another way to do something, when one way didn't work out. So, she decided she would just write a movie with a Greek woman as the star. So she wrote it. And when it didn't immediately get picked up by a film producer, she just decided to start performing it on her own. She actually rented a place to perform, invited people to come be in the audience, and performed it as a one-woman comedy show. And eventually (I won't tell you how because I don't want to reproduce the whole book here, since I think you should read it yourself) it was turned into a movie, with Nia playing the part of the bride!

The main point of the book was actually about her journey to become a mother. She really wanted to be a mother, but her body just wasn't allowing it to happen. She started looking into adoption, but that didn't seem to work out either. She almost gave up. But then she decided to try adopting a child from the foster care system. And (again, not telling you the whole story) she met her beautiful daughter! And now she tries to spread the word about adopting from foster care, encouraging other people to do it.

The moral of this story is that if you want something really badly and it doesn't seem to be happening, you should just make it happen. It sounds super corny, but Nia doesn't try to claim that this is an easy thing to do... just that, if it is something you really dream of and feel that it is meant to be part of your life, it will be worth all of the hard work. And it might even take a really long time, but it will be worth the wait.

I really admire Nia Vardalos after reading this book. I felt like she was just a regular person, because she writes about feeling really anxious about certain things, being uncertain and embarrassed and all of the things I feel on a regular basis. Sometimes she felt so nervous about doing something, but she just "jumped in" and did it. I think I need to do more of that, instead of letting my anxiety and my disability stand in the way between me and my dreams.

If you want to read Instant Mom, you can find it on Amazon, here. Oh yeah, and apparently she donates all proceeds to charity. So, go read it. This is not a sponsored post. This is just me telling you to go read this book.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Watch This Video While I Take A Nap!

Hi! I am too tired to blog today, but in keeping with NaBloPoMo I need to post something. So, here is my very favorite baby goat video, which I can (and do) watch about a zillion times in a row! I want a baby goat!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Analogy or a Metaphor Or Something

This is not my dad... and my dad
isn't this old... but he does do this a lot when he's
not wearing his hearing aid! 
Last night I told my dad about my upcoming evaluation with Dr. Tania Marshall. I wasn't even going to tell my parents. But I realized that, since the time zone difference between Australia and the US is pretty big, I will be doing my appointment on Skype for two hours between 9 and 11 pm one night, and 10 pm and 12 midnight the next. They might be wondering why. Plus, since my computer is sort of slow, I might need to borrow my mom's laptop. 

My dad, unfortunately, was not happy about the idea. He thought it would be a huge waste of money, especially when I told him that a friend of mine has offered to pay for it. He thought I should decline her offer. He kept asking, "So, if they confirm you have Aspergers, then what? They cure you? Is there some sort of shot or something?"

Um, no, that is not how it works! 

The whole thing seemed futile to him. Furthermore, he pointed out, he thought that having an official diagnosis would allow me to use Aspergers as an excuse. He said, "You're still going to have to do stuff. You can't just not put the peanut butter away and then say you have Aspergers."

Which was kind of a stupid example for him to use. Sometimes I do forget to put things away, but usually small things like a fork. Not a jar of peanut butter. And I've gotten much better in recent years at cleaning up after myself in the kitchen. I've always tried, but might overlook some crumbs on the counter or a streak of grease on the stove, which my mother's eyes zero in on as soon as she walks in the door. I swear, she walks in and immediately scans the area for anything she can gripe at me about. 

But I digress...

I was starting to say something else to my dad. I don't even remember what. But he misheard me. He thought I said, "I am Lincoln." Which makes little or no sense. I rolled my eyes and repeated myself loudly, and he said, "Sorry, I'm hard of hearing, you know." Which he totally is. He is supposed to wear hearing aids but he never does.

Suddenly I realized what a great analogy that was. "Right. So you are hard of hearing. How would you feel if I told you that you just had to try harder to hear people talking? What if I told you that if you stopped focusing on being hard of hearing, and concentrated on acting like you could hear as well as anyone else, you would be able to hear fine? Or that you just want people to think you're hard of hearing, so that you can use it as an excuse to not listen to what people are saying?" 

He sort of laughed but didn't argue, so I went on, "See, you went to the doctor and found out you were hard of hearing, so you know what you're dealing with. You can wear hearing aids to help you hear. I want to have an evaluation to find out what I'm dealing with, and so I can learn ways of helping me do better."

"Yeah, but I don't like wearing my hearing aids. I'm not even wearing them right now," said my dad.

"So what is dumber? Someone who wants to see a doctor to find out more about their disability so they can learn how to do more in life? Or someone who wants to just ignore their disability and walk around not hearing what anyone is saying?"

Then my dad said, "I'm tired. I'm going to bed."

He either realized I was right, or got tired of arguing with me. Either way, I think it is a good analogy for any neurological or mental conditions. I think it makes more sense to find out what is going on and what you can do about it, rather than to pretend nothing is going on and just try to compensate on your own. 

Still haven't told my mom though! That is a battle for another day! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Am I Lazy

In my house people think I am lazy.

Lately I guess they are right. Here is why. 

Lately when I wake up in the morning I have to have a long talk with myself to get myself out of bed. Sometimes I will tell myself I can "sleep just one more time," which means I will go back to sleep and as soon as I wake up again I will get out of bed. Except I might not wake up until noon. 

To get myself out of bed I have to bargain with myself. I have to think of all the things I am supposed to do that day, and then negotiate. I'll be like, "Just get up and get dressed, and you don't have to take a shower today. Just get up. Just take that shirt and pants off the top of the clean laundry pile and put it on and put your sweatshirt on and you'll be all ready. Okay, you can run errands tomorrow. Today, just get up."

I have to think of something I actually want to do and promise that to myself. "If you get up, you can check your email, and maybe someone commented on your blog! If you get up, you can check if there is a new SVU recorded on the TV!"

And of course there is tiny little Lily. Although she would be happy to snuggle in bed with me all day, she needs to go outside, she needs to eat dog food, and she needs some time to run around and play with her little tennis ball! 

Sometimes I have to bribe myself even to make lunch. "Make a sandwich and you can have a Dr. Pepper!" 

So when my mom gets home, she sees that I have basically just stayed downstairs all day and used the computer and watched TV, while my room remains messy. She tells me I am so lazy. 

I don't know how to explain that this isn't the real me. When I was student teaching, and when I was teaching summer school, I would come home from work and immediately get to work on planning and getting things ready for the next day. If you added up all the hours I worked on planning and preparation in addition to actually being at work, I easily worked 12 hours a day... enthusiastically! When I was a nanny, I would get up each morning, get the older kids ready for school, take them to school, come home, get the little one ready, take her out on some fun outing, come home, make her lunch, spend the afternoon doing games and projects and other activities, go pick up the big kids from school, supervise homework time, and clean the house, all before five o'clock rolled around. If I got a break... I usually let the little kid watch TV for a while after lunch to wind down, in lieu of a nap because she refused to take them anymore... I would spend it planning and preparing for future activities. Even when I first worked as a teacher's assistant, I would stay after work for an extra two or three hours each day, working on things I thought would help the little boy I worked with. 

But I have to have something I'm passionate about. I have to have something to drive me. 

I am definitely not passionate about cleaning my room. I am not passionate about subbing... it is okay, but it does nothing to get me out of my rut. I am passionate about writing in my blog, working on genealogy, arts and crafts, etc... but spending time doing those things counts, in my mother's many people's book, as laziness. 

So on days when I don't have to sub (which is a lot lately) I will avoid doing things I enjoy because I don't want my mom to see that I've been wasting time on frivolous things... but I can't make myself do the few things she'd find as useful... so I end up just doing nothing, which means i am lazy.

So, yeah. 

It won't always be this way! Someday I will have a teaching job again, and I will have a real reason to get up every day, and I will feel deserving of doing the things I enjoy in my free time. But right now I just have nothing. And my parents just look at me with disdain for that. Disdain, I tell you! Did you ever have anyone think of you as a waste of space and oxygen? 

Why am I even writing all this now? This is a sad post. But it is how I feel right now. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm Looking Forward To This

A few weeks ago I posted about why I have never gotten an official diagnosis of Aspergers, although I was told by a therapist that I probably do have it and I've generally assumed it to be true. In that post I mentioned that I really wanted to seek an official diagnosis, but that it is hard to find someone who specializes in females with autism. I had heard about Tania Marshall, an Australian psychologist who has become an expert on the topic and has written several books about it. She still has a private practice, and is willing to work with people via Skype. I wished I could speak with her and have an evaluation with her, but I thought it was out of my reach, because I didn't think my insurance would cover it and the fee was kind of hefty. 


A fellow blogger offered to pay for an evaluation for me! 

It sounds too good to be true, but I have an appointment with Tania Marshall in the beginning of December! Actually it is two appointments. It is a pretty in-depth assessment. You have two two-hour appointments, one of which includes a formal assessment. And you have to write a 3 to 4 page autobiography about your childhood. (I was thinking of finding some good excerpts from this blog to send her. For me the hard part might be limiting it to 3 to 4 pages!) If you wondering why it would be good for me to have an evaluation (some people have pointed out that there is really no reason to have one because what good do labels do anyways) you could read this from Tania Marshall's website. 

I am excited! But I am also nervous. Ever since I heard about Aspergers, way back when I was 17, I have believed that I had it. It explained so much. I've also been told by therapists that I probably do have it. My ADHD diagnosis explains a lot as well, but I have always felt like that is only a piece of the puzzle. On one hand, the evaluation may confirm what I've known all along, and give me access to more services and coping skills to help me do better in life. But on the other hand, she might say I do not have Aspergers or Autism after all, and I would feel a little foolish, like I've been lying to everyone all along. 

I can really hardly wait!

In the mean time, my cool new shoes came in the mail today. I got them from Vinted for a dollar. Aren't they cool? Too bad I will probably have to wait until spring to wear them outside! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Capturing Snowflakes

Last night it started snowing! And this morning it was still snowing!

I was a little perturbed about the snow. It doesn't usually snow until December, and right now it is still fall, and there should not be any snow in fall. Anyone who has ever been to kindergarten knows that! The picture for "Fall" on the season chart is always a tree with colorful leaves, and the picture for "Winter" is a snowman. WHY CAN'T NATURE FOLLOW IT'S OWN RULES?

But anyways... I went outside to take my tiny little Lily for her morning pee and poo. It wasn't even all that cold out. The snowflakes were huge, and when they landed on the sleeve of my jacket, I noticed that many of them were so big, you could very clearly see their snowflake shape! Because usually when you see a snowflake, it looks more like a little white dot, unless you get out a magnifying glass or something. But these were big and fluffy and beautiful. So big that I wondered if maybe I could take a picture of an individual snowflake!

I went inside, dried off my little dog and gave her a carrot, got my camera, and went back out.

It took me a little bit of experimenting, followed by some photo editing, but I got some pretty interesting results. Let's take a look!

My first attempt... snowflakes on my jacket sleeve! It was kind of hard to do, because it required me to hold the camera in one hand while twisting to position it over my arm, while still being able to view the snowflakes... all before they melted! 

Holding a clump of snow. My hand looks really pruned from the cold!

Some snowflakes on the side of my mom's car. The problem I was having was that my point-and-shoot camera pixelates too much to really zoom in on a snowflake! But this still looks cool. 

These were on a snow shovel.

Snow shovel again! I love this one! 

After I went in and showed my mom the pictures I'd already taken, she suggested I try catching them on a piece of black paper. I didn't own a piece of black paper, but I decided to try it on this folder. The trouble is, they melted really quickly on the folder. I guess it was too absorbent. 

Another folder one. 

Still on the folder, but I managed to crop and zoom in on one individual snowflake, which was my original goal! 

Next I tried it on a black plastic tray that I found in my mom's basement. That worked pretty well. 

Still on the tray, but  I used the photo editor's "thermal effect."

On the tray, using the color tint effect. I love that one on the right, don't you?

On the tray, using the "extreme bkacn and white" effect. 

On the tray, using inverted colors!

On my dad's car window without photo editing. 

Aaaaand one more on the snow shovel! 

My dad suggested that I should compare all of the flakes and see if I can find two identical ones. Uh, maybe that can be your project for the day! 

I love taking pictures. These were really fun to do! I hope you like them! 

Okay bye! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two Guys Telling It Like It Is

My topic for today's blog post just fell into my lap. Actually, it fell onto my Facebook wall when my cousin tagged me in a post. He and his fiance recently found out that his fiance's son has Aspergers, so they've been learning a little about it, and came upon this website. When I saw it, I knew I had to blog about it! 

The website is called Asperger Experts, and it is mostly centered around giving advice to parents and teachers of kids with Aspergers. One thing that sets this site apart from the rest is that the two experts are two guys with Aspergers. Their names are Danny and Hayden. I don't know how old they are... I'd say in their early twenties... but they were both diagnosed with Aspergers as children.To me this is really interesting, because many of the adults I know who have Aspergers were not diagnosed until they grew up... because when we were kids it wasn't really all that well known. Danny and Hayden are young enough to have grown up with a diagnosis and to have had some level of autism-specific guidance from their parents and teachers.But they are old enough and wise enough to look back on their lives and see what the adults could have done better for them. They're not spiteful. They seem to take everything in stride. What they want is to help other adults to understand the kids in their lives who have Aspergers.

Another thing about Danny and Hayden is that they both seem very introspective. Each of them went through some difficult times as kids, dealing with things like bullying and being misunderstood. Each of them became determined to change their own lives. They both work really hard on learning about themselves and taking control. Just the fact that these two dudes got together and created this website is very inspiring to me. I feel like they can not only offer great insight to parents and teachers, but be great role models to people (especially kids) with autism and other special needs. 

You can tell they have some background in business, because they've set up a lucrative business for themselves. They ask you to sign up for their email list, and once you're on the list they have a series of free videos about different topics related to working with, or parenting, kids with Aspergers. They also have several video courses for sale, In addition, they offer a coaching/mentoring service where they work with individual families on their specific goals and challenges. 

The only thing I wish is that they would speak a little more directly to kids with Aspergers. I know that their main goal is to be the voice of people with Aspergers and speak to parents and teachers, so that they can better help the kids in their lives. But it would still be cool to see some videos and articles with them giving advice directly to kids. (Maybe they do have such videos and I just haven't seen them yet!) 

Anyways, if you have autism or have someone with autism in your life, I think you should visit this website. Even if you don't sign up for mentoring or buy the videos, you can get a lot out of their free videos, Facebook page, and blog

In other news, I am feeling better today, and I actually helped my parents out by cleaning the entire basement. My mom often tells me I'm a slob, so I told her I'd be happy to clean any room in the house except for my room, which is a lost cause. (It's not dirty... just really crowded and no where to put stuff.) So she gave me the basement, which is usually my dad's job, so really I just helped out my dad and he got to do nothing. And, uh... yeah... that's really it for today! I'm going to go eat pizza! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

And They All Lived Happily Ever After

The very, very first story I remember my parents reading to me was called The Very Best Home For Me. It was one of those Little Golden Books. Do you remember those? They still make them. But mine were the old ones, picked up by my parents at garage sales or passed down to us by my grandparents. My parents read it to me so much, that I remember being able to recite the beginning of it when I was only about two years old. "Once upon a time, in a little house deep in the woods, there lived a lively family of animals." 

The story went that there was a kitten, a puppy, a rabbit, a turtle, a squirrel, a bird, and a chick. They all lived in this house together, and at the beginning of the story they referred to themselves as a family. They all did chores around the house, and took turns cooking meals for the family. They got along really well and lived in perfect harmony, except for one issue. None of them liked the others' cooking! The cat would serve catnip tea and milk and bits of liver, the squirrel would serve nuts, the rabbit would serve healthy salads, the bird would serve birdseed and worms, etc. About 70% of the story was a long description of what each animal preferred to eat, and why none of the other animals enjoyed this meal. There was absolutely no compromising among these animals. They were determined to only cook and serve their one favorite food, and they were equally determined to not eat anything else.

So, if you were writing this story, what would you have happen in the rest of the story? If I were writing it, I think I would make it a story about how all of the animals learned to cook some different meals, and how they all agreed to try some different things, and how they all discovered some dishes that they all enjoyed. Like, for instance, pizza! Yeah, it doesn't sound like an extremely interesting story... but it is more of a nice, calming story to read to children. Maybe before dinner or something. 

This is how the story actually goes on. The animals decide that this can't go on much longer, so they hold a family meeting, and decide that the only solution is for them all to go their separate ways. They spend about ten hours talking about what the perfect home for each of them would be. And then, the next day, they all leave. Well, except for the squirrel, who for some reason got to keep the little house deep in the woods. He quickly fills the entire house with nuts.

One by one, the animals find their new homes. As a kid, I used to love this part. I loved the descriptions of the homes and the foods. I would ask for this story to be read to me every day! The familiarity of the words and pictures was so comforting to me. 

Eventually my mom sold most of our Little Golden Books at a garage sale. But one day I found a copy at Half Price Books, for only a few cents. I bought it for myself, out of nostalgia. All of the pages were just as I remembered them. I could almost hear my dad's voice reading.

But the weird thing was... it struck me that this isn't exactly the happiest story in the world. Although they each find the "very best home"... the dog and cat ending up as household pets for children, the chick ending up on a farm, and the other animals scattered throughout the wilderness... they never saw each other again. At least, not in the story. They couldn't really all go back to the little house for dinner, since Squirrel had packed it with nuts. That night each animal fell asleep at his or her own new home. Reading this as an adult, it left me feeling sad. 

I mean, what was the moral of the story? Never live with people who are different from you? When you don't get along with family members, it is best to go your own separate ways? There is no reason to ever try new foods?

I know I'm reading way too much into it! This story was written in 1982, and stories were different back then. They were meant more to soothe children than to entertain them or cause them to ponder the ways of the world. 

I still love it. I get a warm feeling in my heart whenever I pick it up. It's just interesting to think about, though. 

Do you remember your favorite storybook from childhood? Are there any children's stories that you would write a different ending to, if you could? 

This was kind of an odd post. I am feeling better from my cold, though, and I should be back to good as new by Monday. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I'm Getting Paid For This?

My cold is getting worse, and I really didn't want to go to my subbing job today. Even though it was only going to be for half a day. This morning I slept as late as I could, and then took some cold medicine and hoped for the best. 

I lucked out! When I got there, I found out that all I had to do was prep work! Basically the assistants at that school's preschool program take turns being in charge of getting everything ready for the next week's activities. So I got to spend the whole time cutting out shapes for the kids to do turkey-themed art projects! 

The best part was, I had to make an example for each art project. So I got to do little projects like this. 

When I first got there, they told me that it wasn't a big deal if I didn't get the whole week's worth of prep work done, and to just do what I could in the time I had before the end of the school day. But I got the entire week's worth of prep work finished, and then most of the next week's work too! I like doing that kind of thing. I always get done pretty fast.

I do like working with the kids, and I've subbed there a bunch of times so far during this school year, so I've started to get to know them and the staff members. But for today, when I wasn't feeling good at all, it was nice to be able to just sit by myself in the back of the room and work on this kind of thing!

I hope I feel better tomorrow. This is kind of a short post, because I just want to sleep. Good night! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Your Personality?

Still not feeling so well today, and slept most of the day. I hope I feel better tomorrow because I have a subbing job! 

So, I decided to take some online personality tests for fun and amusement. I've taken the Myers-Briggs test before, but I found a bunch more online. I thought I would show them to you, and maybe you'd want to take them too!

I started out with one I found here that is meant to help you figure out what kind of career would be best for you. It gives you 24 statements, and you say how much interest you have in them... none, mild, definite, or strong interest. My top result was: Supporting people: Your ideal work is mainly about working with people, with their wellbeing and development as the main focus of your work. Example jobs include: teacher, life coach, therapist, nurse, learning and development, or career coach. Well, at least they got the teacher part right! You can take the test for yourself here. 

Next I tried a personality test at PsychCentral. This one has fifty questions, which you answer with Yes, No and Maybe. My top three personality traits were: Agreeable (This trait reflects how we tend to interact with others, especially in terms of our altrusim and friendliness. People who score higher in agreeableness tend to be more trusting, friendly and cooperative than others. People who score lower tend to be more aggressive and less cooperative), Openness to experience (his trait reflects a person's open-mindedness, and interest in culture and art. People who score high on this trait tend to be imaginative, creative, and to seek out cultural and educational experiences. People who score lower on this trait tend to be more down-to-earth, less interested in art and more practical in nature), and Neuroticism (This trait reflects the tendency for a person to experience negative thoughts and feelings. People who score high on this trait tend to be more prone to insecurity and emotional distress. People who score lower tend to be more relaxed, less emotional and less prone to distress.) I have to admit, that one probably describes me very well! You can take that one here. 

I took the VisualDNA test. It was really long, but it was kind of fun because you had to choose a picture for every question they asked. It gave me a whole page of information. It said I'm a seeker (You’re open to new things, and can be persuaded to try anything twice, all in the name of experience of course. We’ve got you down as a bit of a dreamer, you’re probably zoning out right now), It said I depend on my friends and family, and whenever I feel a little lost I wander back to the fold. It also said I'm a bit emo. 

My very favorite part of the results for this test? They told me, "You have the ability of a dolphin but the attention span of a newt." HAHAHAHAHA! Well, they got me! 

I think this was my favorite of the tests I took. They even recommend books for each aspect of your personality test! You should totally try it. 

Well. I have to go get some sleep now so I can attempt to go to work tomorrow. There are a ton more personality tests out there... maybe I'll take some more later! If you take any, let me know your results!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Back-Up Plan

I had a job interview over Skype yesterday evening, and it seemed to go pretty well. It is always hard to tell, because the interviewers try hard to act neutral. Sometimes they nod and smile when you answer, but I am never sure if it is because they actually like my answer, or they're just trying to be polite and encouraging. 

Since Oregon time is two hours behind Illinois time, their "after school" hours are my dinner time hours... so sometimes, during Skype interviews, my mom is home! Usually before, when the weather was nice, she would be outside working in the garden or whatever, but since it is cold now, yesterday she was in the basement while I was doing my interview. I thought she was watching TV. But it turns out, she was actually listening to my interview! She said the questions were really difficult but that I handled them well. I don't know. I always feel like I am rambling. It is hard for me to organize my thoughts into spoken words, very quickly. Sometimes the interviewers email me the questions ahead of time, and then I usually write out my answers. I don't read them off the paper during the interview, but the chance to write out what I want to say helps me organize my thoughts.

Without that chance, I feel like this is what happens. 

Interviewer: "During Calendar time, a child tends to act out and be disruptive. The regular education teacher tells you it is because the child just enjoys being disruptive and getting attention. How would you handle this?"

My ORGANIZED answer: "Usually when children act out it is because they have an unmet need. I would want to observe the child during Calendar and do a Functional Behavior Assessment. I would meet with the teacher to share what I noticed. The child might be acting out because the Calendar activity is too advanced for him, or because the session is too long for him to sit still, or because he's not sure what he's supposed to be doing. I would talk with the teacher about what might help the child... he might need a sensory break right before Calendar in order to be prepared to sit for a while. He might need a visual schedule to help him follow along. Maybe a cube chair to help him stay in his own space for the entire time and keep his hands and feet to himself. Maybe a fidget toy to keep his hands busy. Maybe a special job to do so that he is more fully engaged in Calendar. I would get the teacher's input on this, and talk to her about what she'd be willing to try. I'd see what I could do to help her put our plan into action."

My ACTUAL answer: "Um, I think that, when kids act out, it might be because they have a... um... they have some sort of need... and I would want to ob -ob - observe him to find out why he is acting this way. He might need, um, a sensory break, or a toy in his hand to play with, or maybe some sort of, um, break, or something else like that. I would want to help the tea-tea-teacher undergo... I mean understand... what is happening here, so I would want to give her the chance to see on her own, so she could understand." 

Interviewer: "Okay! Thank you!" 

Me: "What did I just say???"

My mom told me that I made perfect sense with my answers, but I am not so sure. I feel like my actual answers don't do justice to what I know and what I want to say. 

Anyways. What was this post supposed to be about again? Oh yeah. The back-up plan.

My mom also had the idea that, if I haven't found a job by the end of the holidays, I should just move out there anyways and stay with my Auntie Em for a while. That way I would be able to attend interviews in person, and if I did get a job I would be able to start on short notice, instead of needing multiple weeks to get out there. 

This plan has many positive aspects to it. I'd be able to finally get out to Oregon instead of just thinking about it, I'd be able to go to more interviews, and I'd be able to spend time with my Auntie Em and Uncle J and all of them. 

It also has a big negative... more for my Auntie Em than for me. What if I still don't find a job? I don't want Auntie Em and Uncle J to be stuck with me, indefinitely, like my parents have been. Usually when I live with people, they start to get tired of me after a while. Well, this is technically only true about my mom, and my most recent ex-roommate. But still, I would hate for Auntie Em to get sick of me and wish she never started this whole thing! And I really don't want to spend the rest of my life being dependent on someone else. I want to have my own apartment!

I can tell my mom is starting to really want me to go. While she was reluctant to talk about it all last year, now she says she is willing to help me drive out there... actually she said she and my dad would rent a U-Haul and tow my car behind it. And she said she will give my Auntie Em money to let me stay there! It was her idea that I should just go out there without even having a job. I think I am starting to infringe on her lifestyle.

So... yeah... I guess I will be out in Oregon in January, for sure! What do you think about that? 

And now, for no real reason, here's a picture of Lily with a leaf on her face! Whenever we go outside she rolls around in as many leaves as possible. They get stuck to her velcro-like fur. Then she just sits there and looks at me, with leaves stuck on her, like nothing is wrong at all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Here, Read These Old Posts, While I Take A Nap.

The trouble with NaBloPoMo is, you have to hear from me no matter what, even if I don't have anything exciting to say. Today, for example, there is no way I have anything exciting to say, it being that I slept just about all day! I wasn't feeling so well today. Maybe I caught some sort of germ from the hotel child care thingy! Germy little kids! Come to think of it, the floor of the hotel room probably wasn't the most sanitary place for babies to be crawling around on! Today I woke up at 6:30 in the morning to take tiny Lily downstairs so she could beg while her grandpa ate cereal. (She thinks she doesn't know how to go down the stairs, so she always wakes me up to take her down. I don't know why.) Then I fell back to sleep and didn't wake up until noon. Luckily, tiny Lily had found her way back up the stairs and was sleeping in my bed with me! I took a shower and got dressed and stuff, took the dogs outside for a while, ate lunch, checked my email, and then I fell back to sleep until 4:15. Then I woke up and did nothing until 6:00, had a Skype job interview, and ate some frozen tortellini for dinner, and now I am working on not falling asleep again! Jeez! Its like I'm halfway in a coma! 

Anyways, I still wanted to give you some sort of quality reading material for the day, so I am posting what, according to my site stats, are the five most popular posts on this blog, since the day I began it in April of 2013. 

What I Wish People Knew About Asperger Syndrome. Posted on August 17, 2013, this one had 307 views. A lot of parents of children with Asperger Syndrome seemed to enjoy reading this one. 

I'm So Old I Fart Dust. Posted on November 18, 2013, this had 312 views. I showed you some things I remembered from my childhood, and gave you the chance to guess my age! 

This Is Not A Real Mother's Day Post. Posted on May 11, 2014, this one had 440 views. I wrote about a family gathering where I actually enjoyed myself and felt like I did a pretty good job socializing. 

My Thoughts On Kelli Stapleton. Posted on September 5, 2013, this post continues to bring me the most views from non-regular readers. This is probably also my most controversial post. For those of you who don't know, Kelli Stapleton was a blogger who attempted to kill herself, along with her autistic child. I wrote about my thoughts and feelings, and I continue to get new comments on this! 

A Somewhat More Organized View Of My Room. Posted on November 6, 2013, this one boasted a whopping 4,551 views! Why did you guys like this one so much? All it was was a picture of my room, after I attempted to organize it. Apparently me cleaning my room was so shocking, it took the Internet by storm! 

Okay, that should keep you all busy for a while! I hope I feel better tomorrow!