Category Archives: Aspergers Diagnosis

“Tell us more about this racquetball…what are the clothes like?” “Can we wear cute outfits?” “I do.” “I think racquetball sounds great.” 


At the beginning of this week, I didn’t know where the week would lead me…little did I know that I would get a lesson in self-love. 

It’s no mistake that I’ve had issues with my autism spectrum diagnosis. Accepting it has been a pattern of grief, relief, understanding, and confusion. I had been focusing on all of the struggles that have been in my life due to autism. I didn’t know how to embrace autism and let it define me in a positive light. 

For the past 2 weeks I had been looking into forms of exercise that would appeal to me. I found some methods that worked for me and some that didn’t. 

This week was very successful in finding what I love. 


I had seen an event in my area being advertised as “farm yoga.” I was incredibly excited for this! I’ve tried yoga in the past and fell in love. One of my special interests is animals. Put both interests together and you get success!!! 

Farm Yoga was hosted by Garden of Edens Massage Therapy in south Oklahoma City (Moore). The instructor was Kyleen and she was extremely friendly! Upon arrival, I pulled up to a big red barn in the countryside. I was welcomed by a small group who welcomed me in! I paid $5 (I love cheap deals!) and received a free chair massage, some feed for the animals, and I put my name into a drawing to win some free stuff! As I was enjoying my massage, Chewy the goat came up to me and asked me for kibbles! It was so much fun. 


After my massage I decided to feed the goats and donkeys that were in the same pin we were doing our farm yoga in! The donkeys were a little skittish and Chewy was a food hog. 

During the yoga class, there were a few moves I couldn’t do whether it was due to coordination or working around the extra fluff I have going on. The best part about yoga is listening to your body and asking it with what it wants, what it’s comfortable with, and what it would like to try or hold back on. When my body asked to hold back on certain poses, we stopped and pet a goat or donkey. Sometimes it was hard to keep my concentration. Every once in a while a goat would come up to me and lick my toes!!! 

The most memorable moment of farm yoga, for me, was at the end of our cool down. At “namaste” I looked over my shoulder and one of the donkeys was kissing my shoulder! It was like he could feel my happy spirit and was encouraging me to keep going. Animals are so magical. 


At the end of the class we enjoyed new friendships, conversations, and refreshments! I, of course, decided to feed some of my furry friends some more kibbles!!! 

As if my day couldn’t get any better, I also won a gift basket containing a charcoal face mask, Epsom salts (which are always a need in my life after yoga), a bath bomb (I LOVE bath bombs! Especially Lush), an eye mask, candies……and…..a gift certificate to a free one-hour hot stone massage!!!!

Farm yoga=no regrets. 


One of the most exciting things about learning that I am a member of the autism community is making new connections. I met my friend Ariel on a Facebook group for the Aspie Adults of Oklahoma City. She is also part of my Facebook group named Oklahoma Women on the Autism Spectrum. I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting her in-person yet and when she announced her fitness class on her personal Facebook page, I KNEW I had to meet her and befriend her! 

Ariel Cullison is a Pound Fit instructor and leads classes at The Wherehouse OKC located in Del City, Oklahoma. She is so much fun, she’s friendly, and has an amazing energy. The class is extremely welcoming to all ages, races and sexes. She provides modifications in her fitness routine to those who would enjoy more of a challenge or those in need of a more gentle method of movement. 

Sounds great! But what exactly is Pound Fit?! Glad you asked! I was introduced to Pound Fit when I watched the show This Is Us. Kate participated in a cardio fitness class that involved drum sticks, music, rhythm, and I KNEW I had to find a class for myself! 

While Kate’s class takes on more of a therapeutic feel, don’t let that scare you. Ariel’s class was definitely more cardio-based and fun-filled and had some fun jams that went along with it! I struggle with coordination and there were a few times I got lost on the rhythm, but Ariel was encouraging and didn’t let me get too far off the beaten (haha, get it?) path! 

Even through the sweat and sore muscles, I had a smile on the entire time and really felt free, energized, and empowered. I’m incredibly grateful toward Ariel for helping me embrace that side of myself and her class members for helping me feel encouraged. If you’re in the OKC area, I HIGHLY recommend you check out one of her classes! 
This week is only half-way through and I’m loving the opportunities it has had in store for me and the lessons it has taught me. I have found confidence in myself, I’m learning to take better care of myself, and I’ve found a few new hobbies and friendly faces to become more familiar with. I am grateful and my heart is full. 

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Aspie Meeting update and Autistic Burnout topic 


Autistic burnout. It’s rough. It’s tough. But it doesn’t have to beat you down. 

I’ve been trying to blog on this subject for a couple of weeks. The truth is, I’m learning that burnout takes a longer amount of recovering than I realized. I’m still experiencing burnout even as I type this. It’s also a never-ending cycle. 

Let me start from the beginning.

I had a dream a few days ago. I was walking and running with all the energy in the world, my body wasn’t holding me back and I wasn’t huffing or puffing. I love those dreams. When I woke up, I decided I wanted to try training for a 5k. I usually hate exercise. I associate it with people yelling at me and it being a scary, overwhelming experience (we’ll touch on that another time). I really enjoy yoga but I haven’t done it in months so I haven’t felt comfortable going to a class. So, I decided to download the Couch to 5k app, go to the lake’s walking trail, and do a little training there. I decided on this because I would be in control of the pace of the workout and the intensity. As I began my walk I was encouraged by Britney Spears’s “Stronger” telling me that I was “stronger than yesterday.” I started reflecting on “yesterday”. “Yesterday” I was stuffing my face in an ice cream sundae from Braum’s and today I was on the running track. I was both mad at myself for the choices I made but happy that I decided to change the name of the game.

As I started my routine, the sundae (and the extra bowls of cereal, the poptarts, and ice cream all from the past 2 weeks) started catching up with me. Let me put my body image into perspective for you- as I was doing the two-minute running portion of my exercise, my body fat was clapping against itself. I didn’t know if I should feel encouraged because it sounded like my body was encouragingly applauding me along, or if I should feel humiliated because all of this excess fat was swishing around in the air, banging against itself, and creating a siren that rang “LOOK AT ME! I’M ATTEMPTING THE THINGS!” 

I didn’t last very long. I only did half of the routine. I became discouraged, found a park bench, sat, and sulked. I’m the master of sulking. I looked over the horizon of the lake and thought to myself, “here’s another thing I’m attempting at that I’m quitting. Again.” Then I thought, “Why do I have to quit? Why am I quitting? Is it just because it’s hard?” I decided to get up from the park bench and make the long (to me) trek back to the car. As I was walking, one of my favorite songs from middle school came on Pandora, “Fly” by Hilary Duff. In her encouraging fashion, Hilary sang to me, “When you’re down and feel alone, just want to run away. Trust yourself and don’t give up. You know you better than anyone else.” So, I decided I wouldn’t give up, I would just adjust my workout to fit in a way that better suited me. I decided I would do water walking and water jogging instead. My knees still hurt but not as much.

Moving on….

I recently reached out to a local group in my area, Aspie Adults of Oklahoma City. The group usually meets in Norman once a month. I asked the leaders if they could have a group closer to where I live in OKC and they said that was great- if I wanted to pull it together. I struggled with the decision for a couple of months but decided I would give it a go. A wise individual (Okay, Hilary Duff) once told me ““Fly, open up the part of you that wants to hide away. You can shine. Forget about the reasons why you can’t in life and start to try. ‘Cause it’s your time, time to fly.” 

So, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I would start a North OKC chapter for the Aspie Adults of OKC.

 At first I decided I would have the meeting at a local library in the middle of town. I found out that the public library in Norman lets the Aspie Adults of OKC reserve a room for free. The public libraries in OKC have rooms that cost anywhere from $30-$100 an HOUR. It may not seem much to you, but that’s much to me. So, I reached out to a local LDS (Latter-day Saints) Facebook page for my area and asked if anyone had any ideas on where I could go that was fairly cheap or free. I was hesitant about using an actual church building in my congregation because I know some people feel triggered by religious environments and wanted to keep the group neutral. I would stay awake at night and worry about where I was going to have the meeting. Finally, someone in my stake (Mormon term, look it up) reached out to me and said they would let us use their conference room, free of charge! So, if you’re in OKC and ever need a place to get your electronics fixed, go to Digital Doc off of May and 59th!!!!!! They are great people. They said it was alright with them if I held a meeting every 4th Saturday of each month. Thank you, Digital Doc!!!

The next plan was to come up with the discussion topic. I wanted to do a get-to-know-you activity, while celebrating our diversity, but also acknowledging that we can all come together as one. The first thing that popped into my head was puzzle pieces. I was really hesitant with this thought because puzzle pieces is usually associated with Autism Speaks and that particular organization is very triggering to a lot of auties. Basically AS doesn’t have any auties on their board of directors and also things autism is a thing that needs to be cured. They have used the puzzle piece to represent autism as something that is puzzling and a cure (the missing piece) needs to be found. That’s a very butchered version, but that’s the gist. To me, the puzzle piece represents something I have been trying to find all of my life. I’ll speak on that another time. For this exercise I was preparing for my Aspie meeting, I was wanting to use the puzzle as a way to show how each other in the group were different but could come together and find their place in our meeting-it wasn’t even related to autism at all. So, I reached out to an autism women’s group on facebook and asked their opinion. They suggested I make the pieces in a shape that didn’t look like traditional puzzle pieces. It was a very helpful comment and I took the fellow-aspie’s advice. I decided to buy some new coloring crayons and some markers at my local Target. I already owned coloring pencils. I wanted to make sure there were different “artistic” methods of creating a personal “all about you” puzzle piece that would speak to each person. 

I arrived about 30 minutes to the meeting. I had brought name tags. I’m really bad at names. I either remember your name or your face, it takes me a long time to connect both. I learned that some aspies at my meeting had a disorder of some sort that caused them to not ever remember names so the name tags were a great idea. Good job, me. Digital Doc did a great job setting up the tables and chairs the way I requested, and I arranged all the art supplies and puzzle pieces the way I wanted to.

I ended up having 6 people (excluding myself) show up to the meeting! Some of them were leaders and members of the group in Norman and I believe a couple were new. One of the members told me “one fact about aspies, they’re either really late or really early.” So, in true aspie fashion we started 30 minutes late! It was fine, though.

 I prepared a few questions that we could discuss. My first question was “What was life like for you growing up with autism? Did you feel like you fit in or did you feel like you were an outcast?” I heard stories that were like mine- a few members were diagnosed later in life and a few were diagnosed in childhood. They all had feelings of isolation. 

The next question I had was “What advantages do you feel come with being on the spectrum?” Aspies are known for having special interests. Some suggested that their special interests helped them be self-reliant. For example, one of my member’s special interest is religion and he has been able to be a pastor. Therefore, his special interest of religion has helped him make a living. My favorite, and I feel like the best comment was made by one individual who said, “Once you harness it, you become a great anthropologist.” So true, the one thing that has gotten me through the NT (neurotypical) world is copying behaviors I’ve seen by others. 

The last question I had for them was, “Do you feel like you have a place or have found your place in the neurotypical world?” This is the question that I was most anxious to get answers from. I wanted to know the secret of fitting into the world around me. However, everyone answered a big ole “NO.” It was both discouraging but comforting to hear that I wasn’t alone in my feelings of isolation. 

After our discussion, I asked those who felt comfortable to tell us what they put on their puzzle piece. I received a round of applause when I mentioned I had written “Weight Watchers” on my piece because I had lost 50 lbs on the program. One person had shared with us a drawing on their bearded dragon, I think it was, because they collect amphibians. Another person was a truck driver and shared a drawing of a truck. My favorite one was an individual who said “I like Star Trek.” and held up their drawing of a Star Trek space ship thingy thing, for lack of knowledge of technical term. 


I ended the meeting by having us put the puzzle together. My parting statement was, “Although we may feel different, we fit in somewhere. Just like any puzzle, it may take time to find the spot where you fit in perfectly, but I promise you fit in. Especially here, at Aspie Adults of OKC.”


All in all, it was a very successful meeting and I had a great time. I was told by the members that they enjoyed the meeting as well. That was very encouraging. 

However, it took a lot of energy. I was high on energy after my meeting and wanted to do a lot of things, I didn’t want to go home. I think I was running on adrenaline. My husband had been called into work that morning unexpectedly and didn’t have the energy to go on a date with me so I went by myself. I ended my evening at a coffee shop, listening to a live performance. I was the only member in the audience, which was fine by me. It was a man singing and playing his guitar. He asked me what I liked to listen to and I told him “pop.” Poor dude. He tried, unsuccessfully, to play Britney Spears for me. I later told him a song by the Black Crowes would suffice. So, he played “She Talks to Angels.” I think my dad would have been proud of me. (Don’t tell him I had to do a quick Google search first.)

Saturday (meeting day) was great. The day after was a whole other story. When I woke up Sunday morning, I already off. I felt incredibly guilty because I didn’t have the energy to get up, go to church, and teach my primary class that day. I woke up with a sore throat (battling a sinus infection, which is NOT sensory friendly) and I was just overwhelmed from the start. I was mad because I was in a bad mood and didn’t know why (Oddly enough, I still have a hard time recognizing burnout at times) and ended the day in a meltdown. The meeting went great but the weekend didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get to spend time with my husband in the way I had planned all week. We were supposed to go fishing that weekend but so many other things came up that we didn’t make it. So, disappointment and exhaustion ended with a mild meltdown Sunday evening. 

I think the most frustrating thing is that I need so much downtime to recover mentally from all the activities I put myself through. I don’t give myself the time I need, mainly because, sometimes, there’s not time to give yourself. 

Needless to say, I think this week is going to be low-key and activity-free. Although, I’m planning to go to Farm Yoga. Stay tuned for a blog post on that. I already have an idea planned for my next meeting on the subject I want to talk about. I’m very much looking forward to that!

Thank you for making it to the end of my blog post. I apologize if any of it was confusing to follow. Writing while experiencing burnout is pretty interesting and exhausting but I wanted to give you guys something!

Take care!

Expectations, Infertility, and Autism


I think the main entity that causes anxiety in life are expectations. The anticipation at the results of an event or the sudden change in plans drives my anxiety through the roof. It also happens with good things! The planning and excitement leading up to events leaves me exhausted. The exhaustion isn’t always bad, and I’ve even learned to welcome it, give it a warm hello when it knocks on my door, and offer it a room to have a nice, comfortable stay until it’s visit is over.
Expectations require a little more planning on my part. Scratch that, they require a lot of planning. I’ve learned it’s important to have a Plan A, Plan B, and even accept that there is no plan at all.
Alongside my parents, I was also raised by my grandparents who I loving refer to as Granna and Poppy. G&P adopted my Aunt Martha who has several mental and physical handicaps, all of which don’t keep her from smiling the biggest smile you ever witnessed and demanding hugs at every turn. Martha taught me the importance of ability in disability. Granna taught Martha she could pretty much do anything she wanted, if she put her mind to it, and tweaked a few things. Aunt Martha lives an independent life in a group home with other ladies, she has a job, and she even has a boyfriend!
I feel that when the media includes autism in its programs, it only illustrates one side of the spectrum, and it is usually the side I don’t entirely relate to. There is an entire other half of the spectrum that Hollywood doesn’t explore near enough, and when they do touch on it, it usually showcases the “classic,” male-sided idea of autism. The truth is that people on the spectrum, and all differently abled people can live healthy, productive lives and be part of society.
With all of this in mind, I know how important differently abled people are to the community. I know they can live successful lives, I know they can over reach impossible standards placed before them. Even with this knowledge and witnessing it first hand, I’m ashamed to say that upon receiving my Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis…I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to be put in the same category as these types of people, handicapped people. Then I felt ashamed of myself for having these thoughts and feelings. I was raised to include everyone, different or not; to embrace them as equals. So, why did I have these thoughts and feelings? One answer…expectations.
Expectations followed me into my marriage. You know the saying, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage”? Hello, expectations. I was determined to get pregnant right after I got married, in 2014. I just assumed my Momma’s prayers reached God’s ears with more force than mine because my husband and I were stupid-broke newlyweds who could barely afford to live ourselves much less care for a kid, and that’s why there was no success in conceiving.
Earlier this year, after much discussion and prayer, we decided to contact my OBGYN and get the process started, for real. My expectations were that the doctor would figure out what was wrong, she would give me some medicine, we would do The Dance, and we would get the results we wanted. HAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, it doesn’t happen that way.
One morning I decided to take my one millionth pregnancy test of the week. Guess what?! It came back positive! I showed a few friends who confirmed that their eyes saw a positive, I showed my husband, I texted my sister, then I called the doctor. As I waited for the doctor to call me back to confirm my blood pregnancy test, I calculated that my due date would be December 24. Christmas had been such a bad time of year for my family since my Mammaw, Nana, and Granna had passed away a few years earlier on or around Christmas. I began to refer to the holiday as Doomsday. I was so ecstatic that I would get to give my husband and the rest of my family the best Christmas gift ever and make the holiday season happy again, and associate it with LIFE. I even tried to convince Christopher that if the baby was born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day we would name her/him Noel.
Then I received The Call. Along with autism, I also battle with Polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s pretty common for people with PCOS to receive a false positive, or a chemical pregnancy, due to imbalanced hormones, and that is what happened in my situation.
Expectations out the window, I was crushed. I was bombarded with anger, shame, guilt, jealousy, just to name a few. I had “all the feels,” if you will. Those feelings are overwhelming to anyone, especially to an autistic.
Here I was, struggling with both my mind and my body not working “correctly.” It was embarrassing. I questioned my self-worth. Why was I on this earth if I was going to be “retarded” and barren? I questioned my worthiness of motherhood, if I would even make an “acceptable” mother since I had autism. Surely God thought the same thing and that’s why he didn’t send me a baby.
The truth is there are plenty of women on the spectrum that have successful careers. There are many women on the spectrum that live an ordinary, everyday life and blend into the crowd. There are many women who live amazingly funky lifestyles and are noticed for their talents. There are plenty of women on the spectrum who reach motherhood and excel. There are also many women on the spectrum that let life take them on a journey and learn to embrace their travels, heartaches, and joys.
My goal is to open the door to that discussion, to break down the walls and barriers that are autism. It all starts when we begin to open our mind to the great and numerous possibilities. It starts when us aspies begin to believe in ourselves. Most importantly, it starts when we change our expectations. 

“I don’t think you’re supposed to call a hymn gay. It’s like a sin or something.” “Whatever, man. I’m not saying bulwark.”

Section D: Comorbid Attributes

I’m skipping section C and will go back to that next time. The reason being because this is my blog and I make the rules here.

So, today is a good day so this should be a happy post. I wanted to write about being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how my autism brought me to the Church.

If you don’t know me then here is one important fact you should know about me: my middle name is Anxiety. Any event that could have the potential to make anyone anxious usually already greeted me at the door and offered to take me out on a date with the conversation topic of Let’s-Think-Of-All-The-Bad-Things-That-Could-Happen. I get anxious in large crowds, loud music, awkward conversations, and growing up church wasn’t my favorite place to be. The church my family attended was all the anxiety rolled into one. I was not a fan of the electric guitars, the drum set, and any of the instruments that created the worship band, excluding guitar, piano, and violin (because I’m allowed to be picky. Again, this is my blog). The only thing I appreciated during worship time was listening to my family sing and reading the lyrics on the screen. Everything else was noise. My dad worked hard when he was the worship leader and there were a lot of times that people would come up to him and complain over the song choices that my dad decided on, I saw how it discouraged him, and maybe that had a lot to do with my choosing a different church to attend as well, but this blog post is not about that so we will move on with the story. (In the middle of writing this, my doorbell rang and I was worried it was my visiting teacher or something. I love her but I’m not dressed for company. I opened the door and it was my sister. I forgot I told her to come over. We had a good visit. Moving on…) Mostly there were a lot of doctrinal questions I had that no one could answer without giving me a long, complicated, scholarly article. Doctrine shouldn’t be so complicated, in my opinion.

I attended a retreat with my youth group at Ozark Christian College and one of the classes I attended was “How To Save Your Mormon Friend From Hell.” Awesome. I love learning about new religions and I don’t want people going to hell. I don’t remember exactly what all was taught in the class but I do remember a little. Basically the Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wasn’t Jesus Christ. Makes perfect sense, right? (Sense my sarcasm?) and Moroni who came to Joseph Smith in his bedroom one night to reveal to Joseph about the Golden Plates was a demon and ended up possessing Joseph Smith. It was terrifying. I ended up sleeping with my light on (no joke) when I got home because I was scared to death that Moroni was going to appear in my room at night, like Joseph, and possess me with his devil-ish powers.

Obviously, that didn’t happen (although I’m a member of the Church now so maybe I did get possessed? Again, sarcasm.) and it just lead me to want to learn more. So, I did what anyone would do. I went to http://www.mormon.org ,straight to the source, to research it out. It was about the same time I was reconnected with my childhood friend from Hawaii (Hi, Saren!) and I wanted to make sure she didn’t go to hell. I was on a mission to save this good friend of mine over Facebook and I needed to do my research. As I was reading about the story of Joseph Smith, I found a lot of similarities between us. Joseph Smith wanted to know which church he should join. He read in the Bible that he should pray and ask God. So, Joseph went to the woods to pray. As he was doing so, a bright light shown above him and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared before him. The Lord told him not to join any of the churches because they were twisting doctrine around and everything was incorrect. The Lord told Joseph that he was going to be the prophet of the Restoration and restore the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. There’s more to the story and if you want to learn more go to http://www.lds.org. Moving on. So, with all of the research I was doing to try and convince my friend that she was going to hell and she needed to be saved, I instead discovered the church she attended was a church of true grace and mercy and love and….I could go on. Someone else had already asked all the questions I was wondering about and his name was Joseph Smith. He was a cool kid in my book. One you could relate with. So, in true Aspie fashion, I became obsessed with anything Mormon and did as much research as I could on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I talked to the missionaries online and asked all sorts of questions. I learned all there was to learn about the Church. All my questions were answered, I wanted to be a member, but one thing stood in my way- my grandpa was a preacher, my dad was a worship leader, my family came from a predominantly Church of Christ background, and there was no way I had the guts to disappoint my family. I loved my family and they taught me some amazing values growing up. The last thing I wanted to do was thank them by tossing it all out the window and joining a church I knew they wouldn’t approve of. But, I already knew I loved the Church and I was so unhappy attending the church my family belonged to. So, I had to take a risk.

The first Sunday I attended, I walked in the front doors, stood and looked around. I didn’t know where to go. So, I asked. There was a little elderly lady and I said, “Excuse me, I’ve never been here before and I don’t know where to go.” Her eyes got so wide. If you know anything about Mormons, they are usually the ones knocking on doors trying to find investigators. It’s not every day an investigator just shows up on their doorstep asking to be taught. The lady told me to hold on for a moment and found a pair of Elders (missionaries) to introduce me to. I don’t remember their names.

Walking into the sanctuary, you could feel a calmness. It was so welcoming. It felt familiar and pleasant. I felt at home. All my aspie senses were tingling in a good way. The service was nice, calm, quiet, reverent. I loved it. Perfect place for someone with autism, in my opinion.

I took the lessons from the missionaries, had a baptism date set, and then I did what any investigator would do: I chickened out and started avoiding the missionaries.

I was scared. The Church felt so right but I was so scared of disappointing my family. And I was confused. And I was a teenager. Graduation was around the corner. So much change. And gnomes. Gnomes don’t really have anything to do with this story but I feel they always need a place somewhere in life. So, gnomes.

So, I tried attending my family’s church again. I tried to get involved in youth group. But my best friend Rachael had moved and I hated trying to make friends, especially if they were going to move again. (Military life, gotta love it.) Again, I was trying to search for answers in my church that I knew weren’t there. I ended up just feeling depressed, disappointed, and frustrated. I really did try. Rock and roll music just doesn’t have a place in church in my opinion and playing Spoons in youth group wasn’t going to help me learn about the Bible and the doctrinal questions I was searching for. If any of that sounds confusing to you, welcome to my world.

After a few weeks, or months, of trying my hardest to like the church I grew up in, I decided that I just had to do what made ME happy- and that was with the Mormons, sorry mom and dad and sister and grandma and grandpa and youth group leader and preacher and random friends.

So, I walked into church again the next Sunday I made my decision. And guess who I met? The sister missionaries! Hey, Sister Lamb and Sister Buckley and Sister Wright and Sister Esau!!!! The sisters became my very best friends. They answered all my questions, prayed for me, read scriptures with me, included me on their P-day (preparation day, the one day missionaries take off from mission work to do their laundry, get a haircut, and do some sight-seeing, etc.), randomly texted me or called me, and just became my best friends. They were so encouraging and true examples of everything I was searching for- a friend in Christ, a sister, and someone who knew their stuff! If they didn’t know an answer, they knew where to look. I loved it. They were genuine.

In May 2011 I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I thank my Autism Spectrum Disorder for that. My sensory issues, general anxiety, my questioning of my place in the world all sent me to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, I do get mad at God for giving me ASD but I also realize that without it, I wouldn’t belong to this wonderful church and it gives me a unique story.

I’m so thankful for Joseph Smith for asking the questions that I would one day ask myself and I’m thankful for my family for respecting my decision. I know a lot of my posts have been discussing the anger I’ve had towards Heavenly Father lately, but I feel that it is part of the process of getting to know myself and my diagnosis. Thanks for getting to know me as I get to know myself!

And remember: gnomes.

“Special? like ‘stop-eating-the-paste’ special?”

So, what exactly is Autism Spectrum Disorder? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016) Some individuals are slightly affected while others are severely affected. About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017)
This fact by the CDC really irks me:
ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017)
So, why is ASD more common in boys? Behavioral and preliminary neuroimaging findings suggest autism manifests differently in girls. Notably, females with autism may be closer to typically developing males in their social abilities than typical girls or boys with autism. Girls with autism may be harder to diagnose for several reasons, including criteria developed specifically around males and overlapping diagnoses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or anorexia. (Szalavitz, 2016) Please visit this website for elaboration on the science and research behind the topic. It’s extremely fascinating. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-different-in-girls/
So, what does autism look like in girls? Well, that’s why I started this blog- to find out more about myself while exploring the signs. We know since the spectrum is wide, it’s different in everyone, as we have established, so I will just stick to talking about myself and my experiences- I’m good at that! Perhaps I will get my mom to write about the early years since I don’t remember them so well (it would be neat to hear her perspective anyway), so I’ll stick to the years I can recall better.
I’m going to base the next few blog posts on a list I found of girly aspie symptoms, compiled by Samantha Craft, a fellow Aspie and blogger.
(Her list can be viewed here https://everydayaspie.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/females-with-aspergers-syndrome-checklist-by-samantha-craft/
I hope my upcoming series will be beneficial and informative for all who may stick around and read!

References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 10). Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, October). Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
Szalavitz, M. (2016, March 1). Autism- It’s Different in Girls. Retrieved from Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-different-in-girls/

“Gnome kicking says a lot about a man’s character.”

I think the one thing that overwhelms me about my diagnosis is feeling free. There’s a lot of freedom and possibilities.

I feel free because now I know why I do weird things. I know why I have sporadic obsessions. I know why I start breaking out in nursery rhymes for no reason. I know why I have conversations with my husband and sister in a silly voice. I know why I get frustrated so easily.

The possibilities I feel I have now are to choose if I should continue to “fake it” and force myself to have neurotypical behavior, which causes me a lot of anxiety and concentration, or I can just choose to let go and let me be myself. That is hard. That is vulnerability. And I don’t know if I have the courage to do any of it.

Here we most certainly are.

The first thing you should know about me- I hate being vulnerable.

The second thing you should know about me- I force myself to be vulnerable every single day.

 

For the longest time, I considered myself a bad person, unable to grasp the concept of grace that was constantly preached to me in church. I was born a sinner. I was a terrible kid, truly. Anything could set me off- touch, smell, tone of voice, sounds. When I look back at childhood, I mostly just remember chaos and then feel guilty for putting my parents through that type of hell. (Side note- I really did have a good childhood with happy memories. But I mostly was a little shit.)

I always knew I had a learning disability, ADHD. However, I was always told that if I just concentrated harder, tried better, I would understand what I was being taught.

The first time I realized that something was seriously wrong with my brain was when I was starting, yet again, at a new job. The seventh in two years. The new job was at a call center. I tried so hard to understand what was being taught. For some reason the information just wouldn’t click. I tried taking my Concerta. It helped me concentrate but I still couldn’t understand what was being taught. I remember calling my parents and telling them “Something is seriously wrong with me. No matter how hard I try, I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT.” Eventually it got to the point where my supervisor was getting annoyed with me for asking too many questions, not understanding the information, and I could tell I was the butt of the jokes, yet again. I knew work wasn’t supposed to be fun, but I didn’t want to me the laughing stock of the office. Again. It made it harder than the actual job. (Call me a snowflake if you want, I don’t fucking care.)

That weekend was the beginning of my mental break down. (This is the brief, very edited description of how it went) I cried the entire weekend, non-stop. I remember being underneath my bed at one point, rocking back and forth, screaming at God asking him to please kill me already. Just come down to earth and take me already. I didn’t want to be alive, I was a useless human being that was taking up too much space, causing everyone around me too much grief. You hear all the time that millennials are lazy people who just wanted hand-outs given to them without working for them. I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to work and earn a living, but I knew I was a burden to my employer and the other employees at every place I worked at. I was so tired of being laughed, mocked, and feeling like a complete failure. I wanted it all to go away and I didn’t want to exist anymore.

My only saving grace was my sweet husband who would just hold me as I cried, trying to recite every encouraging word he had already told me, hoping one of the phrases would ring some feeling of self-worth back into my brain.

Finally, I told him, “I need help. And I need it now.”

My wonderful mother and my Aunt Jeanye helped guide me in the right direction toward getting help. They sent information on women who had gone through similar experiences such as mine. I love this video. While I was watching it, I started crying because I felt I had finally found the answer. Those ladies were just like me. I knew I had Asperger’s Syndrome, now called Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It took a year for me to finally get the official diagnosis. I went through several psychiatrists who would literally laugh in my face when I mentioned “autism.” But, I don’t want to dwell on that now. Maybe later. The important part is I finally found a specialist that specializes in autism and he helped me and diagnosed me.

When I first received my autism diagnosis, I was relieved for a quick minute. “Executive brain functioning disorder,” is what the doctor first explained it as. Great, answers, finally. Then the fury set in. Why the hell did I have to live my entire existence thinking I was a fucking idiot? I literally thought I was the stupidest person on earth because I didn’t understand simple concepts. It took a lot of repetition. And sometimes that still didn’t help. (While writing this, I had to step away from the computer and calm myself from a melt-down.) I thought about blaming my parents for not catching this sooner. However, the reality is that I know that my mom tried her best. She knew there was something wrong right away. I was non verbal for the longest time. There were so many signs. She took me to the doctor and they diagnosed me with ADHD at the age of four, prescribed me some magic pills, and sent us on our way. So, I thought I should blame the doctors for not catching this sooner. Then I blamed it on sexism. Doctors were so busy on researching autism in boys, they didn’t even want to waste breath on girls. I needed someone to blame! But the truth is, autism is such a wide spectrum that researchers are just now noticing that autism even shows itself differently in boys and girls.

The biggest realization I’ve had since my diagnosis is that I’m not a bad person. I was not born a sinner. No child is born a sinner. (LDS doctrine, most won’t agree, I know) I’ve spent so many years thinking that I was a terrible, terrible human being. I spoke out and acted in anger several times and I’ve burned so many bridges. Like, a whole sorority of girls worth of bridges. And probably a coven or two of cousins, aunts, and uncles. That’s another story, though. Finally, I know why I have acted the way I have over the years, and it’s not because I’m bad. It’s because my brain works differently and just gets overwhelmed easily. Grace is a new concept that I’ve had to embrace and I’m still working on it.

I’m not the first to go through this experience. And I know I definitely won’t be the last.

Part of my reason for starting this blog is so maybe others who are searching for a diagnosis will be able to relate to my story and seek the help they might want and need. The other reason why I want to share my experience is to hopefully meet other Aspies who can give me some tips because I don’t even know how to freaking help myself at this point. I’m open to suggestions from my seasoned veterans.  Lastly, I want to share my experience to show you neurotypicals how hard it is to live in your world. And you don’t make it easy. Maybe this will inspire you to better understand those with invisible disabilities, such as mine, and instill in you some patience. Because you seriously need to work on that. Please.