More than Meets the Eye: the tip of the Autism Iceburg.

The study of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has brought to light there are many things I can relate to, and some that do not strike my internal bell. Although I do not have a diagnosis of ASD, I am also definitely Neurodivergent (ND) rather than Neurotypical (NT). [see end of post for definitions of these two words]. For years it has been obvious that I just don’t process things the same way as most people. I do have an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) diagnosis and have been learning that the two (ASD & ADD or ADHD) are closely interrelated, possibly with the same roots. Someone described it as what appears to be two icebergs above the water, but they’re joined under the water into one. Perhaps then it’s not surprising I have been very intrigued by studying autism and finding the similarities and differences in myself.

One thing I’ve learned is that there is a worldwide autistic community that often writes eloquently as they describe autistic life from the inside. For example, on Twitter look up the hashtags

#ActuallyAutistic , #AskingAutistics , and #autistic .

These are just a few of the hashtags that can help you learn more. Many of these people are highly intelligent, incredibly brilliant, and capable. Some of them were considered low functioning and nonverbal when younger, but eventually grew out of that and became able to function in the world around them. Several diagnosed autistic people have become advocates and activists for better understanding of ASD. That functioning does take a lot of effort however. These people are giving us a new insight on autism that should be an inspiration for parents of autistic children as well as for newly diagnosed adults.

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On WordPress you can find Yinin’s Thoughts:

Aspergreatness- Liberty of Thinking:

And “Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism” which actually has several contributing authors.

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Reading some of the blogs above, I was fascinated by a discussion on autistic actors in TV series and movies. Specifically mentioned by Yinin was “Gray’s Anatomy”.

I really wish they would start using actually autistic people in TV series and in movies. Or at least seriously consult with the artistic community. For example, in Gray’s Anatomy; Dr. Dixon, an autistic surgeon, makes an appearance in season 5. As i read in a blogpost by “Yinin’s Thoughts” :

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“So I was already starting lose the rose-coloured nostalgia glasses when Dr Dixon showed up. She’s every bad autistic stereotype rolled into one, and characters like this are a huge part of why it took so long for me to even self-diagnose, let alone consider an official diagnosis.” ~Yinin 🙏

https://yininsthoughts.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/greys-anatomy-autistic-headcanon/

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Yinin’s blogpost led me to

Lynne Soraya on Psychology Today:

1. “People with Asperger’s are individuals.   The profile of skills and deficits vary with each person’s personality and makeup. Some may effect the person only slightly, others very strongly – and the same diagnostic criteria may manifest is a completely different way in two different individuals.

2. “Adults are different than kids.  While Asperger’s is classed as a pervasive development disorder, meaning it doesn’t go away, that doesn’t mean it remains exactly the same throughout the lifespan.  We learn and adapt. An adult, the age of Dr. Dixon, in this type of occupation, would have had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with her symptoms.   She would have learned, at least to some degree, to put a veneer of “normalcy” over her more off-putting traits in order to get along in the world.

3. “Gender makes a big difference in how Asperger’s manifests.   As Newsweek magazine notes, “…some specialists predict that as we diagnose more girls, our profile of the disorder as a whole will change. Anecdotally, they report that girls with Asperger’s seem to have less motor impairment, a broader range of obsessive interests, and a stronger desire to connect with others, despite their social impairment.”  Further, girls with Asperger’s “…are more adept at copying the behaviors, mannerisms and dress codes of those around them, than Aspie boys tend to be.” Dr. Dixon does not reflect any of this.

4. “People with Asperger’s are as capable to have a brilliant career as anyone else.   The Asperger’s “islets of talent” can actually give certain gifts that may make that person better at the job than a person without Asperger’s (think engineers, scientists, computer programmers, musicians, artists).   Wouldn’t doctors know this?  Isn’t this why they’d be courting her in the first place?

~Lynne Soraya

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One thing that has confused me in diagnosing, is the theory that most people who are autistic, on the spectrum somewhere, are very resistant to (or uncomfortable with) touch and contact. However Dr. Dixon from Gray’s Anatomy above wants her coworkers to hug her to calm her down. And yet it was a hug from the parents of her patient that freaked her out. Somehow this doesn’t match up in my mind. I myself am a hugger extraordinaire. In fact I’ve had to teach myself that it’s not always appropriate to just hug people; that some people are not comfortable with that especially in a spontaneous way. It is just something I grew up with, I would hug and kiss everyone in the house before going to bed at night.

Many people have the idea that autistic people do not feel emotions or understand them. From everything I understand this is absolutely not true in most cases. Many ND people are actually hyper empathic, and are so overwhelmed by the emotions they don’t know how to sort them all out; which is why they might appear to freeze up on the outside.

I myself am hyper empathic, but I suspect sometimes I’m picking up things so far below the surface that the person is not even aware of that emotion or thinks they’re hiding it. With someone very close to me, and their words and attitude are opposite from the emotion I’m sensing, it creates within me a conflict that might lead to fight, flight, or freeze. The situation and their words are not making sense to me at that point.

It usually ends up with me melting down into cathartic sort of ball on the floor, in convulsions.

This cathartic reaction, ( is that even the right word?) This convulsive fetal position reaction, renders me inable to speak for a while. When someone speaks to me, maybe trying to get me to come out of it, I hear it but it doesn’t register. At this point I would usually be sobbing in an uncontrollable panic.

This generally takes a day or two to recover from, in terms of energy. It could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before I can speak coherently. Since I started taking an antidepressant about three years ago, I’ve only had a handful of these episodes. I’m able to take a hard look at myself, my reactions and emotions, without falling into the abyss. On the other hand, I often feel somewhat numb at times when I’m used to being extremely emotionally sensitive. I seldom even cry anymore when uncontrollable sobbing used to be a common reaction. It was all worst during menopause, so much worse. That is when I started having a long slow break down. At the same time I was living with my sister and being a caregiver for her as well as trying to run a photography business. Needless to say my sister was the most important at that point, and so I gave up my business and went to a doctor for the first time about my mental emotional problems. Since then I have been blessed to regularly see a counselor, actually a series of counselors. One thing that has come out of all of this is the thought that these life skills for coping should be taught in elementary school as a standard, for all children whether Neurodivergent (ND)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity

Or Neurotypical (NT)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotypical

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All of this long post barely scratches the tip of the iceberg (whether the ASD iceberg or the ADHD tip). If you have family, friends, or acquaintances that are autistic (including Asperger’s syndrome), I encourage you to check out some of these links and learn more to help yourself better understand. If you wonder if maybe you are autistic, reading some of these blog posts and asking questions on Twitter are excellent ways to learn more.

Thank you to those who take time to actually read, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. If I am inaccurate in something I said, feel free to let me know.

~Darlisa

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Snow for Valentine’s Day

In spite of the fact that last week it approached 60° for a bit, and plants are starting to show signs of budding and even blooming in some areas further down hill, this morning I was reminded that it is definitely still winter in Trout Lake. ⛄️❄️🌈⛄️.

We might get more over the next few days.

Poor Dear Willow, I know you think this is all my fault, with your poor tired body and achy bones. Believe me I can relate to the tired old body and aching bones bit! I used to like shoveling snow. 😂🤪❄️

There has been a lot of coverage on a book called to Siri with love, written by an artistic parent and detailing their experiences in life. This book has sparked an incredible outrage within the autistic community. On Amazon there is an excellent and long review analyzing why the book is extremely inappropriate and untrue in many respects.

https://www.amazon.com/review/R1ETAD2ZT1INNB/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

Pink Morning Lennies

Mount Adams glowed with a lovely pre-sunrise pink and blue deliciousness that pulled me out of bed after only 3 hours of sleep, to stumble outside with camera in hand. By the time the sunrise kissed the mountain top, the pink had gotten brilliant. I was staying in Glenwood,  Washington, where I have a wonderful view of Mount Adams from my friends house.

These are only iPhone pics, but I really wanted to share now! The color is not quite as brilliant as my eyes were seeing.  This is an unusual event; typically the lenticular clouds more often are seen far ro the right of the mountain from this location.  Last night between 8:15 and 8:38 pm we had roaring sudden gusts of 40 mph winds, which dropped to 30 mph gusts for the next hour.  Base winds ranged roughly from 8-15 mph, fluctuating BETWEEN GUSTS from the SW to SE, and back to SSW. Temps at that time were 44 deg. F.  This morning it was below freezing and I ran out without my gloves 😂💕  Oops

May your day be blessed.

~Darlisa Black

The Gas-lighting of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

I have been sitting here reading this article, and all the comments, and feeling more and more charged up, with feet tapping, holding my breath, rocking, and an overpowering feeling of connection to all of this.
I am nearly 60, recently resorted to anti-depressants after a major meltdown in life; and with frequently changing diagnosis in addition to major depressive disorder (which has never felt correct to me). ADHD was the first, minor BP another, they were both dropped by a new doc, then adhd re added along with Straterra.
I am starting to wonder if this could be the answer after all. Like many, I was told no because I am empathic, I laugh, and hyper aware of body language. Lately I am thinking perhaps that in reality my inability to understand the boundaries of others, my lack of the understanding of time passing, and avoidance issues might point to ASD.
Hmmm, what else… cathartic panic meltdowns in relationship disagreements that make no sense to me whatsoever. The Zoloft has mellowed the meltdowns mostly… but leave me feeling apathetic and non creatively inspired.
One odd bit, strange nerve jolts thru my body when I was tired and cold… the Zoloft mellowed that out as well, although they come back immediately if I miss a couple doses.
Very textural… if clothes feel wrong I will not wear them. Music can consume me… smells are powerful… are any of these things signs?
It is just that when I read blogs and such by people on the spectrum, I can relate! This and other blog posts by Seventh Voice are very informative.

Seventh Voice

Artwork by Mirella Santana

Of all the traits attributed to Women on the Autism Spectrum, there remains one that not only continues to go unrecognized as a valid trait but has also suffered the fate of being reconstructed by professionals as a rationale for denying Women a diagnosis.

The trait I’m referring to is that of developing a strong sense of self-awareness.

In almost every description pertaining to the experiences of Women with Asperger’s Syndrome there is evidence of the development of an early, inexplicable sense of ‘otherness,’ to be found.

This sense of ‘otherness’ expands exponentially as girls grow older and develops into a keen sense of self-awareness.

Their strong sense of self-awareness in turn, increases their sensitivity toward any and all experiences that suggest or confirm their perceptions of themselves as different.

Undoubtedly, whilst at school, undiagnosed spectrum girls will find themselves showered, almost daily, with an endless array of situations that…

View original post 950 more words

Autumn and Mount Adams

 

Driving up Highway 141 recently, just before the snow made angels out of burned trees from the Dry Creek Fire, I rolled down my window to soak in the mountain valley air.  The smell of this Summers wildfire mingles with the rich fungal odor of fall.  Surely the Morel mushrooms must be happy, I thought with a wry grin. (More writing and photos below)


Rivers of fog draped across the mountain sides like an undulating snake,  or a scarf tossed carelessly over a shoulder.  Perhaps now that the Drycreek drainage is showing off the new shape that was hidden under the tall evergreens, she’s heading out to a winter party to show off.

Sighing deeply at the loss of the luxuriant evergreen giants, The smile returns as I contemplate the new growth already manifesting on the hillside. Elk, Bear, and Deer will love this change that will bring in more low growing forage of leaf and berries. I recall the bear from a couple summers ago that was feasting on wild blackberries or currents out in the older clear-cut that has been growing back.  Change is part of a forest, both natural and manmade, and often brings about a healthier ecosystem.  Not always, of course, at least not in the short term. However looking at the long-term picture of which we are just a very small part, the world has been changing throughout its history and we live such a short amount of time we tend to think it’s always been this way.  Have we affected these changes?  Certainly we have, and not always for the best, but change will still happen without us at its own pace.  We just seem to rush it along.

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The photos in the post, along with many other images from 2017 are in this gallery https://starlisa.smugmug.com/Nature-Galleries/Screen-size-images-2017/

Clicking the link opens a new tab or window.

Meanwhile near Glenwood lovely fall leaves of Vine Maple, Dogwood, Elderberry, and Cottonwood reflected beautifully in a small stream. Glenwood-Fall_10-15-17-1054

Glenwood-Fall-1088

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Back in mid October, Outlet Falls was starting to increase the water flow.  I am sure by now there is a great deal more water. Glenwood-fall-OutletFalls_10-15-17_0950

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I finally spotted my first elk herd of the season on Conboy National Wildlife Refuge recently… was not able to get good quality pics but sharing anyway.  The real treat was watching them come out of the field, up and over a fence and across the road, flowing like a river of brown.  They are so big, yet so graceful.

Glenwood-Fall_10-17-17-0181Glenwood-Fall_10-17-17-0180

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Here we have a series of Mount Adams from Glenwood, taken about 2 weeks apart.
This first one is October 1, 2017.MtAdams_Glenwood_10-01-17-9752

Next is sunrise October 14.  Notice the snow around and below treeline?  That whole area is a burn scar, hit first by the Cold Springs fire in 2008 and more recently hit hard by the Cougar Creek Fire in 2015.  A bit further west, the burn scar continues its way along the south and west sides of the mountain from the Cascade Creek Fire of 2012.  There have been other fires before those 3 as well, and the Huckleberry bushes love coming back in burns.  Wildflower meadows thrive as well, and the Elk and Deer have more grazing areas.  Glenwood-Fall-MtAdams-sunrise-0897

Sunrise on Halloween DayGlenwood_MtAdams_Alpenglow_10-31-2017-2464

Later on Halloween Day, with a short lived lenticular cloud capGlenwood_MtAdams_Lenticular_10-31-2017_2625

and rainbow from November 1, 2017. Glenwood_MtAdams_Rainbow_11-1-2017_2663

I would love to hear from you..  which were your favorite photos, perhaps, or what fall means to you!

Also, you can check out the menu links on the blog, and click on Photo Galleries to see many more of my photos.   The photos above along with many other images from 2017 are in this gallery https://starlisa.smugmug.com/Nature-Galleries/Screen-size-images-2017/

Clicking the link opens a new tab or window.

Thanks for your feedback!