Socializing Can Be Fun?

It is summer vacation now, and with vacation comes with long days with nothing to do. For the first couple months of my summer I spent in my room playing video games, watching TV, going to work, and playing around with my computers. But after a few weeks this got boring. I do not have anyone to hang out with and going places by myself is very stressful to me.

My parents noticed that I was not enjoying my summer and that I needed someone to help me go out and do activities with. Enter Kat. Kat is a smart, awesome, strong, confident, and kind adult who I had known previously from a youth group I used to be apart of in high school. She was happy to hear from me and said that she would be glad to become my mentor.

At first I was really nervous. I have never been good at hanging out with people one on one, let alone coming up with conversation topics, but I soon learned that this was not going to be a problem. Kat knew that I had difficulties communicating so she never scolded me when I did not talk for long chunks of time or did not make eye contact with here when she was talking to me. She was patient with me and respected me enough to ask me what worked and did not work well when in social situations so that I did not feel anxious or overwhelmed when we went into stores or restaurants.

I have been spending one or two days a week hanging out with her doing a variety of things. We have worked on my communication skills, talked at length about superheroes, watched TV shows, listened to music, and gone to some of my favorite stores that I had been to anxious to go into on my own. Every time we hang out I feel awesome, like a normal young adult instead of an alien dropped here to observe young adults. I have gained so much confidence this summer. Before this mentor ship with Kat I would have never been able to go into stores by myself and pay for an item without having a panic attack or experiencing sensory overload. Now when I go into stores I say “hello” to the person at the front desk and when they ask me how I’m doing, I actually answer!

I am so thankful to Kat for being a real friend to me this summer and for helping me realize that I am a capable guy who may just need a little more help when it comes to social situations and communicating with others.

So, thanks Kat for being a bad-ass mentor and friend!

What Are We Doing Today?

When I am going out for the day to run errands or going somewhere with my family I like knowing exactly what is going to happen every step of the way. I need to know where we will eat lunch, what time the movie is, or what time we will be returning home.

Knowing these things makes me calm and I can then enjoy whatever we are doing. If I don’t know these things it makes me feel like I have been dropped in the middle of the woods without a GPS, which makes me very stressed and I will eventually get overloaded and frustrated.

When an unexpected event comes up like going to a different restaurant then planned, running late for a movie, or going to an unplanned store I feel like my world is falling into chaos, and I spend the rest of the outing trying to regulate myself.

This of course does not always work, which is when I start being mean to my family or shutting down. This is very hard because I cannot always know what is going to happen when I step out of the house, but my family has been more helpful with telling me the agenda for the day which has made things much easier on me, which I  am grateful for.

Clothes and Me

I have recently been thinking about why I get so overloaded when getting ready for school. It’s not the getting up early or the remembering all the book I need for that day, it’s the deciding what clothes to wear.

I find that picking out a shirt, pants, and some sort of jacket (in the winter) is very hard for me. I used to have a lot of button-downs and jeans to choose from. They were all types and colors which made my closet look very uneven and unstructured which made my mornings fall into chaos.

I don’t know why I need things to be as even as possible, it is just how my brain works. Having everything even makes me feel calm and I am able to go on with my day without feeling some how “off” all day.

I asked my parents if I could purchase pants and button-downs of the same type from the same store. They were happy to do that, and said that whatever I needed to make my days less stressful they would do.

I’m very grateful that I have parents that are willing to hear me out on my issues and try their best to make them more manageable.

Revelations

Having Asperger’s makes it hard for me to understand what people are thinking, why people react to situations the way the do, and how other people connect with their friends and family.

I have always loved watching TV and movies. Even when I was little I would stay inside and watch the same show over and over again. I soon found that watching the characters in the experiences. I always found it hard to relate to the world around me. I found it challenging to follow and remember all of the lives and information about the people close to me.

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“Did I Miss Something?”

Recently I read a post from blogger Anonymously Autistic which was about what Autism actually feels like and how others perceive it. In the post she talks about how being called “high functioning” is not always a good thing, and how being labeled this makes people think she is more capable of things than she really is.

This post summed up everything I have ever felt in my daily life. Since my diagnosis only happened recently the people in my life are now seeing the underlying reasons for my actions. They now see how much it upsets me when plans change, that I cannot eat certain foods because of the textures, and why all I want to do is stay in my room and play video games.

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It’s All in the Details

When we are young and exploring the types of things we like, we often get fixated on a certain subject or topic.

We may know the names of all the original Pokemon, are able to recite the lyrics to our favorite song, or can name all the players on a specific sports team. This is normal for young kids. Their minds are at the height of wanting to learn and know all about the world.

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Expectations vs. Reality

I have noticed that when people see me they see a “normal” human who is a fine member of society, and therefore assume that I will act as such. But this is not always the case. I often find myself in situations where people do not understand why I am acting a certain way, or people not understanding why I cannot accomplish a task that all “normal” people should be able to accomplish.

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