Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aspie or Not: Quirks, Traits, and other Oddities.

Before I move on to my next list of personal characteristics, I learned something new about myself today that I wanted to share. I don't like noise. That's been established. Certain noises are okay. Music for example (especially if it is mine) or noise of people if we're have a party (usually I'm three beers deep by then). I can deal with amusement parks and I've even tolerated chuck-e-cheese over the years. I also enjoy going to the movies. I think they are louder than necessary, definitely, but I can sit through it and deal.

Today, however, my BF hooked up his Bose speaker to our Television to see if they still worked. Oh my god, did they work. He ended up putting a Star Wars movie in. which of course, led Jack straight into the living room. I don't know if anyone else realizes how many different sounds and pitches of noises there are in Star Wars, but there is a "wicked fucking lot." Not only were they TOO LOUD, but they were coming from every different direction possible. Surround Sound, I hate you. Too me, my living room sounded like a Movie Theater, which apparently I can not tolerate in my home evironment. This went on for basically the whole movie. There was no way I could stay in the room or even downstairs. All I could feel was the pressure in my ears, which traveled then to my head and I was sure it would explode. Instead I went upstairs and decided to hide there and get some stuff done while the movie played. Only I could still hear it. Through the god damn floor. I could not only hear it but I could feel it as well. My anxiety level increased steadily and pretty soon I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. With the help of an Ativan and the long awaited end to the surround sound, I was able to return to normal. 

So, what did I learn?  Movie sounds are best kept in movie theaters. The noise, if is too much, actually creates a physical symptom in my body. And lastly, my anxiety (at least some) is most definitely sensory related. Before doing any of this research I wouldn't have been able to make that connection. Instead, I probably would have gotten annoyed with my BF, when in reality, it was just the noise. These are good things to know. Bad things to experience.

And...moving on. This next list will be a mish mosh of things that pertain to me. Some may have an Autistic Flare...others may not, but all of them are me. Enjoy. Or not.

1. I like organizing. I like cleaning. I like order. I like making and having a plan. I really really really like lists.

2. I hate messes. Messes on the outside make my head a mess on the instead. Even my own messes will eventually paralyze me. If it gets too bad I will no longer be able to function (work, paint, cook dinner, talk on the phone etc...) until I clean up the mess and create some kind of order again. 

3. I tend to do things in an inflexible way. Simple things like loading the dishwasher, to complex things. I just realized I can't think of a complex thing, because either A. I don't know the difference between the two or B. ---everything seems complex.

4. As I do my things in my inflexible way...I also would like that others do things in my same inflexible way. And as Selfish and Sheldon-like as that sounds, It's true. (It's not that you's just that your way sucks) I would also like my own "spot" on the couch...and as much as I joke about this, my BF switches spots on me all the time and it brings about that feeling of being anxious and lost. 

5. I notice the details, almost always, in every situation. The big picture, however, often escapes me.  I can tell you the details of the article but will be lost of the main idea. Also, even though I may be singing all the lyrics to the song, I will most likely not be able to tell you who sings it. 

6. As for music, I go through phases. I enjoy it all but depending on what phase I am in, it's not unusual for me to listen to the same song 20 or more times in a sitting or on a long ride. 

7. I make a list everyday of the things I have to do. I do this mostly because I need a visual. I need to see what I have to do, in order to know I have to do it. 

8. If I don't make a list, I will most likely wander in circles, like a dog, until I finally settle on the couch and watch some horrible T.V. I just won't know what the hell I'm doing.

 9. I've gone without lists for periods of time. It usually ends up with me questioning my own existence and why I'm even here. Not pretty. Not good. My lists are important. Their importance stretches far beyond the to-do tasks written on them.

10. I've always liked a variety of different foods, and only had a few foods I refused to eat due to texture. However, I do eat one food at a time until it is gone before moving on to the next. As a child that food could not touch. If my peas by chance happened to roll into my mashed potatoes is was over. Done. Ruined. Now, I get stuck on one certain food and want to eat it all the time until tiring of it and getting stuck on something new. 

11. I have vivid, complex dreams where I'm almost always searching for something, or trying to put pieces together, or trying to make things right. 

12. I started escaping from the real world at a very young age, with drawing, writing, poetry, and daydreaming. Stories or movies went on in my head constantly. As an adult, nothing has changed. I still spend a larger majority of my time in my head. The only difference I'm noticing, is that since all of this research and discovery I feel less guilty about it now, and I'm actually starting to use it to my own benefit. 

13. I am a Visual Thinker. I see pictures or often times, "movies" in my head. Every interaction, pretty much creates an image in my head. (My BF is clipping my coupons right now and said to me "you have a coupon for Silk Milk?....instantly I saw a silk gown and a glass of milk. pictures. all the time)  I visualize everything without even realizing it. I've always found it hard to listen to someone explain how to do something without a visual to go along with it. If I can't get the accurate visual myself (example: the silk dress and the glass of milk) I won't understand completely what it being said. I also can't remember directions to driving somewhere unless I drive it myself. The strangest part about any of this to me, was finding out that not everyone thinks this way. I always just assumed that everyone saw pictures or movie clips in their head as well. 

14. I love research, finding things out, and looking things up. Google is awesome. For a while, I had considered becoming a private investigator. 

15. I have had pretty strong lifelong special interests. General Hospital (which I will elaborate on in my next post), Books, Poetry, Writing, and Photos. These have all been the same since childhood, with only one additional since adulthood. Sex. These are the main course, and then I will dabble in small, intense "side dishes" from time to time, but these seem to dissolve on their own. I also become obsessed (I'm sure you hadn't noticed) with things, subjects, ideas and sometimes people. 

16. As for the physical traits that seems to align with Asperger's Syndrome in women, I'm pretty much textbook. My eyes tend to have a daydreamy, sleepy or "stoned" look to them. I have poor muscle tone, dark circles under the eyes, IBS, Gerd, GAD, stomach issues, and muscle pain. I'm also double jointed and bruise easily. Medication, drugs, and even herbs have a stronger effect on me than the average person, sometimes even an adverse effect. If I am prescribed medication I now know to take half the recommended dose, because I simply don't need the full dose. I suspect I may have PMDD and possibly SAD.  The sun is my friend and I'm always happier in warmer climates. 

17. Nine times out of Ten I am wearing black yoga pants, a tank top,and a big warm sweatshirt. I have several pairs of black yoga pants, but still, it must appear as if I wear the same outfit everyday. Luckily, I work at home so not many people get the pleasure of witnessing this. My hair is mostly an air dry look and usually up in a scrunchie. (yeah, I know.) If I'm going out to dinner or out for the night I will forgo the yoga pants for jeans, black boots or shoes, and a casual top. On those occasions I may even blow dry and style my hair! For the most part, I just like to be comfortable. I've always found myself to be the most self conscience when I actually try to dress up and look good. When I don't and just dress comfortably I don't even think about what I look like. 

18. For a lot of my life I was passive, shy, and quiet. (Drinking, however, created the opposite effect) Now, as I enter middle age, I'm finding I have a more aggressive side, sometimes even angry, that I'm not afraid to show. I suspect hormonal changes may have something to do with that. I am finding that self discovery is helping. I finally feel like I'm getting some answers. 

19. Stims??  During this whole process, I've been forced to look back on my life, and in doing so I can recall a lot of things I did as a child, but I will elaborate on those in my next post. As of now, as an adult, I talk to myself. Constantly, when I am alone, but even when I'm not alone. I sort of talk myself through what I'm doing...what I have to do...etc. I'm a nail biter from way back. A neck and face rubber. A head holder. A hand shaker and a fist clencher. I also stare. A lot. There could be more and I just haven't noticed. Jack's spinning was so much a part of our lives and who he is that I didn't recognize it as a stim until it was pointed out that it is a stim. 

20. I'm not sure how much or little this relates to anything but I figured I would add it anyway. I have several forms of Synthenasia, which is essentially a condition where one type of stimulation invokes the sensation of another. I have a form of Spatial Synthenasia where I see the Calendar and Days of the week in a 3D visual all around me. It's always the same with Nov and Dec behind me, Jan, Feb, March to my left, April, May June, and July are spread out in front of me and August, Sept, and Oct are to my right. I've seen this my whole life and never had any idea that other people didn't see it too. Another form is Grapheme-Color Synesthesia. Numbers invoke colors, or more simply put, when I have to think about numbers (not math brained) I see them in color. Always the same colors. It was nothing that ever stood out as being unusual to me. In fact, I always assumed it was just some sort of memory of those colored magnetic numbers that would be on the fridge when I was a child. The third form is called Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia, and I don't have this to an extreme level. Basically it is when words produce a feeling or taste. Some words do for me, but not all. Mostly mine consist of getting a wet/juicy or dry feeling in my mouth when I hear names of people. Almost like the name has some kind of control over my saliva glands. The last form is Personification. Basically giving numbers, letters, days of the week, and months of the years...personalities. Or, rather than "giving", it's more like just knowing their personalities because it's all involuntary. This I have also done forever.  

My last (hardly) little oddity which may or may not be a form of the above, is I also assign sex to inanimate objects. For example, numbers, letters, months, spoons, forks, bowls, shovels, rakes....pretty much anything, is either male or female in my mind. Again, I don't do this as in purposely, it just kind of gets done. My son does it with numbers now and when he was really young and had a fascination with telephone poles he did it with them as well. 

As I said, none of this ever seemed crazy weird to me. It wasn't until I found out it was a thing. Like a real thing, that not everyone did or could do, that it registered. My brain is atypical. 

Three lists down. Only one to go. Next time I'll be strolling down memory lane. It was a fun way to connect the dots and it helped me understand a lot of the crap that I felt I went through. 

Hope, who is heading out to buy a pie, because I deserve it after all this typing. 

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