Continuing Education

Dear Entities,

I’m sorry that it’s been a while since writing. I’ve been busy with working and my schoolwork and that alone has been causing a lot of stress. But I haven’t stopped reading and learning more about my conditions. I’ve been reading Aspergirls and I am Aspien Woman lately. When reading these two books, my condition started to make even more sense. I’ve been highlighting passages that pertain to me and in I am Aspien Woman alone, I’ve highlighted over 50 passages that relate to me and my journey with this diagnosis.

It makes so much sense to me why women and girls with Autism are mostly overlooked. We observe, and watch our peers and mimic what they are doing, so adults think that we are normal kids. Even though we mimic and observe our peers, we still feel like misfits, or oddities. I have never understood girls my age and high school was very difficult for me, because I transferred schools in the middle of ninth grade. When I got to the new school, the feeling of being an outsider only increased a million times. Everyone was so into their group of friends that the thought of adding another unknown person was probably terrifying for them. I remember the first day of school, asking a group of girls if I could sit with them; and they looked at me like I was an alien from another planet. I felt like an alien. I observed my peers, quietly from a distance, but what I was observing, I didn’t even want to mimic. I went my own way and didn’t even try to fit in with the “popular girls”. I had very few friends come and go during high school, but mostly, I would talk to one of my favorite teachers. She always seemed to understand me.

Due to growing up without a lot of friends, I developed serious self esteem issues that I’m still struggling with to this day. It had gotten a little bit better and I have become more confident in knowing about my diagnosis and knowing there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I have developed friendships over Facebook and Twitter and although they are only online friends, I cherish them because they don’t make me feel awkward or make me feel like I’m the odd person out of the group. They get me.

  I had many “Obsessions”, as my mom would call them, growing up that were out of the ordinary. She said I had an “Obsessive personality”. I liked Christian music, more specifically a singer that came from my church and now produces records. I watched one particular movie so much and so often that my parents had to hide it so I wouldn’t watch it so much. In that time, Autism was largely a “male” diagnosis and I don’t think my parents even suspected a thing. One of my Special Interests is animals. I have carried it with me all my life. I’ve always loved them and wanted a bunch of animals as pets when I grew up. When I was younger, that made me want to be a Veterinarian, but my mom didn’t think that I could handle Vet school. Then, much later on, while taking a break from school to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I kept getting pulled towards working with animals. More specifically, helping injured animals. After some debating, I decided that the best way to do that was to go into the Veterinary Technician field.

When I got diagnosed, I was a year and a half into my three year program of a Distance Learning Program. So many thoughts rushed through my head while thinking about being autistic and being a Veterinary Tech. One of my biggest triggers is stress and I was wondering how I would deal with the stress while trying to keep calm in front of coworkers and clients. I talked to one of my friends who was a Vet Tech, and she told me that her boss, the owner of the clinic, had the same thing I did and managed to get through Vet school AND is running a successful clinic all while being autistic. That gave me immense hope that I could get through school and be successful in my field of choice.

The next thing that was on my mind was I felt like I was tiptoeing around my parents and family with my diagnosis. I wanted to be honest with them and have their support and understanding. So after battling in my mind as to whether or not I should tell them and talking to countless people, I have decided to let them in and tell them. I am going to be telling them this weekend and obviously, there is some anxiety there. I am anxious that they will not accept it and me the way I am and try to deny my diagnosis like they are some kind of autism expert. (Even though in reality they probably know very little about it) I am hoping that it isn’t this way, however and they happily accept me as I am, for who I am because they are my family. If not, well, I have a community of amazing people on Facebook and Twitter, my loving Husband, and my few friends in real life that will willingly accept me for me and that is the most important thing.

My story isn’t over.

To be continued…..

Love,

Squirrel

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In the Beginning

Dear Entities,

Everything has a beginning. An origin. People, events, time, stories. I’m going to tell a story. Like all good stories must, mine has a beginning. A good story captures it’s readers and makes them feel empathy for the author. It is my hope that through my story, you can get a glimpse of life through the eyes of a Neurodivergent in a Neurotypical world. A world where many, like me, feel like an alien from a different planet. A world that praises being “normal” and shuns being different, despite the so called “acceptance” for those who are “different”. These “different” people who the world shuns due to not understanding, calling them “a puzzle to figure out,” or a “disease that needs to be cured”, have a pretty special superpower within them. They have difficulty in certain situations, such as social situations, but inside them is the power to be immensely creative and think outside the “neurotypical box”. They are a rare breed of human that not everyone gets the absolute pleasure to have enrich their lives. These amazing individuals are Autistic.

The beginning of my story, no my journey, begins in August 2017, when the Husband, and our friends, Brooke and Josh went to South Carolina to watch the Eclipse. When we got there, the Husband, Josh and Brooke decided to go get food to make for dinner and breakfast. I decided to stay behind, due to being tired from being in the car for a long time. I flipped through my Netflix on the TV to find something to watch and came across the TV show, Atypical. It had a 93% rating for my interest level, so I watched the trailer. I thought that it looked really good, so I started watching the first episode. As I was watching that first episode, I was immediately hooked. Throughout the first episode, I noticed similarities between myself and the main character, Sam, who is autistic. Halfway through the second episode, they came back. I told them about the new show that I found and the Husband sat down to watch a little of it with me. I told them that I found similarities between myself and the main character. Josh wanted to show us something funny on Youtube and took control of the remote, promising to turn it back to the show I was so desperate to keep watching. The video they were watching was satirical and everyone was laughing except me, because I didn’t understand what was so funny. When they started watching another video, I couldn’t stand it and went outside to the covered porch and sat on the swing. I was upset that they didn’t keep their promise of letting me watch the show. This was the first time I was introduced to the possiblity of being autistic.

At work on Monday, I was talking to my employer, who counsels individuals on the spectrum, and told her about the similarities I found between Sam and myself. For example, the social awkwardness, preferring to stick to a routine & becoming upset if that routine is changed. She said that she had noticed some signs of me being autistic since I started working there over 2 years ago. That comment, along with finishing the first season of Atypical, lead me to a discovery that would change my life forever.

In the coming weeks and months, I heavily researched Autism and it’s symptoms. I was convinced I had enough of the symptoms to warrant a formal diagnosis. It took me 5 months to get a testing appointment mostly due to my fear of, “I believe I have this, what if the tester thinks I don’t and doesn’t diagnose me?” On January 24, 2018, I went in for the testing. It was mentally draining so I took the following days to recoup from it. We had scheduled the results appointment for February 6, but due to a mishap on the computer, I had to go in on the 6th and retake a portion of the test. On the 7th of February, I had my appointment to go over the results. So many feelings welled up in me even before the appointment, it was hard to name them all. But, to start off, hope, that the tester and I saw eye to eye about the Autism diagnosis. Fear, that I would have gone through the past 6 months of my life strongly believing something that the tester didn’t see. 1:15 came and the Husband and I went to the appointment. The testing had been for ADHD (which Husband and I already had diagnosed) and Autism. The tester read the results of my IQ test which was 83, not taking into account the ADHD. It was on the low end of normal. I was mildly shocked. I knew that I wasn’t the smartest person in the whole world, (especially in math) but I thought it would at least be in the “normal” range. She confirmed my ADHD, inattentive subtype and she also confirmed that it was managed with the current medication I’m taking. (Adderall, Extended Release, 25 mg) When she came to the part where she would tell me whether I was autistic or not, I felt the butterflies start to flap and fly in my stomach. She told me that based on my testing and personal interview, I did indeed have Autism- level 1, formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome. She also told me that I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which at the time shocked me, but looking back now, I can see how that got diagnosed. She told me that we would do medication for the anxiety (Zoloft, 50 mg) and therapy to help cope with the autism.

After I got diagnosed, I felt a feeling of relief wash over me. The months of speculation, guessing and matching symptoms in my childhood to autism had finally revealed that I was Autistic. Since then, I have learned to cope with my anxiety levels and to try to stop them before they reach overload.

Later on in the coming weeks, I went back through my current experiences to see if I had ever had a “meltdown” or if I just generally “shutdown” when everything is too much. One conflict in particular that I had with my employer. We were in the mist of a really rough disagreement that lasted days. A few days before the resolution of the disagreement, it turned really ugly. Yelling and arguing back and forth for literally 3 hours. At the end of the three hours of arguing and my employer yelling a great deal at me, it began. She smacked her hand on the table, about to walk away. My mind shut off. Words would no longer come out of my mouth. It shut down, as happens with most conflicts that have occurred in my life. I started crying and hyperventilating as she saw my meltdown and ushered me to a chair. She got me some water and waited for the meltdown to subside. I was mentally drained from the disagreement and the meltdown, but we resolved our issues.

And this “origin” story is just the beginning of an incredible adventure that I am so fortunate to be on. I have met so many of the most brave, original and nonjudgemental people since being diagnosed. I’ve also learn a lot about myself and my experiences. Which I wanted to share with you. Thank you for coming along with me. I’m honored to have you.

Until next time.

Love,

Squirrel