Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Do I Dazzle You?

This My Little Pony is called "Dazzling Mist." Also, aren't
My Little Ponies a lot creepier than they were when I was a kid?
Yesterday I went to my psychiatrist, who is actually a psychiatric nurse practitioner. That's basically the same as a regular nurse practitioner... they can prescribe medicine and do many of the things that a doctor (or psychiatrist, in this case) can do, but have to be supervised by an actual doctor. So my psychiatrist is a nurse practitioner but is probably the coolest psychiatrist I have ever been to. And I have gone through many. Most of the psychiatrists I've had have been on a check-in-check-out type of system... they are really only interested in the medical aspects of mental health. During a brief appointment they ask you if there are any changes in your mood, any sudden reactions to your medications, any questions you may have, etc... and then they release you into the wild. In Chicago I saw my psychiatrist about once a year for twenty minutes.

This dude actually spends at least an hour with me each time, having in depth conversations with me about how I'm doing. It's not quite like counseling... I've also been to many counselors, and often it is sort of a teacher and student relationship, with them being in the higher position. This is more like having a friend who really understands you well and can also prescribe you medicine!

I see him for ADHD medication because ADHD is his specialty, although he also understands autism. Let's call him Dr. D, so I don't have to keep typing "the nurse practitioner" or something. Anyways. So yesterday Dr. D was saying something along the lines of that he thought I was most comfortable working with kids because kids provide a safe and accepting relationship, but that I also provided that safe and accepting relationship for them. That makes sense... one of the things I like most about kids is similar to one of the things I like most about animals... they are their true selves all the time. They don't pretend to like you, or pretend to be something they're not, or plot against you. And if they get angry with you, it is usually short-lived. If you are kind to children and make them feel safe, they will like you and enjoy being with you. At least, young children. As they get older, kids, especially neurotypical kids, can learn to be more cunning. But with young children, what you see is what you get. I love that about them, and I guess I do provide a safe and accepting relationship back to them, because I am pretty straight forward also and I accept them for how they are.

Dr. D also said that if only I had more confidence, if I hung out with more adults, I would really "dazzle" them. I had a harder time understanding this. Dr. D seems to think I am really smart... he's even suggested I try to get my Master's degree. He was basically saying that if adults were able to see me the way kids see me, and I were more confident around adults, they would think I'm really smart also.

Then he said that I'd probably get along really well with people in their 20's, because I look much younger than my real age, plus I am socially and emotionally younger, but in many ways also wiser (because I'm not actually in my 20's) so if I hung around with people of that age group, I would just be, like, a really awesome 20-year-old.

That is sort of funny, because I do blend in more with people in their 20's than people my own age. Considering that many of my peers had babies when we were in high school, I am literally old enough to be a grandparent right now.

I read once that people with Aspergers (which was what my kind of autism used to be called) are socially and emotionally 2/3 their age. I think they were mostly talking about kids, and that would definitely apply to me as a child. I always played with younger kids and was just more at their level. At age 9, while kids in my grade were already starting to be interested in boys, clothes, and music videos, I was definitely still playing "house" and "Barbies" with the 6-year-olds on my street. At age 15, I was probably similar to a 10-year-old who had been cruelly dropped into the middle of a high school life. At age 18, while starting to live on my own, I was about as successful as what you might have expected from a 12-year-old. In fact, at age 18 I hung out with people who were in their 20's, many of whom were former gang members (yeah, that's a long story for another day) and they looked after me. They seemed to understand that I was not quite at the level of a regular 18-year-old, and they were much kinder and more protective of me than they were of some of the other kids my age that were around. That was one of the ways I got my nickname "Angel," because they thought of me as being younger and innocent, although they also used to call me "the baby," which I didn't like as much. (As in, "I bought beer for us, and Dr. Pepper for the baby!") And as I was working my way through college at ages 23 through about 28 (because I went part time) there was no noticeable difference between me and the actual college-aged kids.

I am not sure I would ever be able to "dazzle" adults, though. I am highly aware that I can be very annoying to the people who spend the most time with me. (One time I was lamenting about the problem of hanging out with a local group for people with autism, saying, "You see, Mom, people with autism can be annoying." My mom burst out laughing and said, "Oh, really!" Because she thinks I'm annoying most of the time.) Part of it is because I tend to blurt out whatever is at the top of my head. Usually this means talking forever about whatever I am currently excited or nervous about at the time, as well as random nonsense such as "Is Lily a good dog?" When I'm nervous and shy I tend to be the opposite, pretty much mute, to the point where when I was in high school many people in y classes seriously thought I couldn't talk. But once I warm up to people, then I tend to be bubbling over all the time. I don't think all people with autism are like this... in fact, I've seen it more among people who are considered more "low functioning" autistic. Maybe because more "high functioning" people tend to be focusing on staying cool and blending in, while "low functioning" people just let it rip. I don't even like the terms "high functioning" and "low functioning" at all, but I don't know how else to explain what I'm saying in less than 80 million words.

There are some people who cannot communicate orally, well enough to function in day to day life. But they learn how to type or use a letter-board, and suddenly they are able to share their thoughts, and it turns out they are very smart. Maybe if I was able to just communicate by typing, people would see past all of the nonsense and weirdness, and then I would "dazzle" them.

That would be sort of cool!

However, if I pulled out my laptop each time someone talked to me, and typed a paragraph, they might also find that weird. Especially if it was all of the sudden. If I suddenly told all the people who know me, "I'm going to be communicating through my laptop from now on," they'd be like, "What?" Plus there's no way I could give up speech. Usually people who communicate through typing do not have speech... whereas I sometimes have too much. It's just that my thoughts make much more sense when I have the opportunity to type instead of talk.


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