>Arthur

>I loved Arthur as a kid. And when I say “kid,” I watched Arthur until I was 14, and probably still would watch it if I knew where to find it and when on T.V.

Anyway, good ol’ Marc Brown, the creator of Arthur, did an episode on Asperger’s Syndrome. One of my college professors even emailed me about it. I’m sure most of you have heard, but for those of you who haven’t, I thought I’d link to the segment where they explain what Asperger’s is. I thought they did a fabulous job!

Enjoy!

For the full episode here is part 1 and part 2 (it’s about 15 minutes long). It’s worth your time!

>Interruptions

>Well, I’m trying to work on my daily medical transcription stuff, but I dare you to try transcripting when you have the hiccups. I got so frustrated I was biting, so I decided to take a break and blog until the hiccups are gone, and I can hear the dictations.

Much like my hiccups are interrupting my studies, my anxiety is once again interrupting my life. As my therapist once said, “Anxiety and come out in some pretty weird ways,” and for me, it does. Of course I hit, bite, and scratch at myself a lot more often when I’m anxioius. I wear bicycling gloves to keep the backs of my hands covered, but then I just end up biting the gloves (I guess that’s better than biting my hands). I also get obsessed with death and dying… not in an “I want to die” way, just in a… I want to talk about it way. What would happened if I died? What are all the different ways I could die? Yes, it’s morbid, and Leigh pointed out that it’s socially unacceptable, but my mind won’t get off it. Pretty sure it’s just the anxiety obsessing over things.

I’m back to taking Klonopin daily to keep myself from melting down all the time. I wish I didn’t have to, but there’s no way I’d make it through work, especially, without it. Or today, I had so many things to do. I canceled my feeding therapy appointment because I knew I’d melt down at all the textures and conversation with the therapists. So first on the list was stopping at the pharmacy for pills. Then, I went to my research study and stayed fairly quiet there while we worked. After that I ran into the grocery store to cash a check, pick up Cat Fancy, and get some new nail polish because my manicure from the wedding is already a mess. Then I dropped my donation jars for the autism walk off at the restaurants. Lastly, I stopped to pick up two books in The Cat Who series. Finally, I’m home. I couldn’t have handled all of that without the meds to keep me calm. They don’t even make me tired, they just calm my body down to a tolerable level.

The million dollar question is whether anxiety and panic are inevitable at work for me, or if I could find a job such that I could be comfortable. I like to think that the right job is out there waiting for me. If only I could find it. In the meantime, it looks like I’m stuck fighting the melt down monster

>Odds and ends

>So much has happened that I just have to write, even though I know my brain isn’t up to a nice, organized post. So I’m going to write, but it’s not going to be nice and organized. It’s going to be scattered.

First, I went to work last night. My mom said to go and keep my head down and do my job, and that’s exactly what I tried to do. I interacted with my boss as little as possible. She certainly wasn’t nice (at all) when she did talk to me, but she didn’t scream or anything either. I was so nervous to go that I actually took a Klonopin. It slowed my body down enough that I could manage the anxiety better. It slows my heart down, calms the nausea, and stops my hands from shaking. It’s a lot easier to control the mental aspects of anxiety when the physical aspects are controlled. I work Thursday (boss will be there) and Friday (boss won’t be there). I would really prefer to work 2 days rather than 3, but I’m too scared to approach my boss about it. She hired me to work 3 days, and so I’m afraid she’ll fire me if I can’t do what she hired me to do. I’ve decided that I’m going to try my best to adjust to 3 days, give it a few weeks, and see how I do.

Baby Corn got adopted, so he can’t be mine. While I’m upset, I realize that it means that God has a different cat in mind for me. I just hope that he’s in a good home.

My sister’s wedding was last weekend. Talk about a lot of social interaction in one weekend! Friday night, we did the rehearsal and then had a 4-hour-long rehearsal dinner. I came home and slept for 12 hours. Saturday, I woke up at noon and hurried to get ready to get to my sister’s hotel room. We helped her get ready (there were like 10 people in that little hotel room, mind you). Then we went over to the church (I rode in the limo!) and took pictures. We had the ceremony (yes, I got teary) and I did my reading, nice and loud and nice and slow. Then, we drove to the country club where we had the reception. We stood around with drinks (Diet Coke, for me) an appetizers, then we sat down and had dinner. Everyone danced (I don’t dance). We had a cookie table (a tradition around here), with upwards of a hundred dozen cookies. It was insane. I sat near the cookie table and read my book while everyone danced. My aunt brought me home before it was all over, because I was exhausted. There was a gathering at my sister’s dad’s house on Sunday, which I didn’t go to. I was absolutely done with people. Being home alone was glorious.

Well, that’s all I got for now. Sorry for the scatteredness. I know you don’t mind :)

*UPDATE: Mom called my boss. She asked her if everything was going okay, and Boss said I’m doing well. She said the only issue was with the cat class, and Mom explained that I often look like I’m not paying attention because I don’t make eye contact, but that really, I am. Boss said that other than a few little things that are to be expected, like being uncomfortable with the big dogs, I’m doing my job very well. Mom said that if she has any problems, to please call her instead of talking to me, because Mom knows how to communicate with me. Hopefully Boss sticks to that suggestion.

I feel so much better.

>Autism attempts to stay at work

>My boss approached me yesterday.

Boss: You can take care of Baby Corn?

Me: Yes.

Boss: Because he’s going to get sick a lot. He’s going to need all kind of vet care.

Me: (Confused, because he’s never been sick so far and the internet says he has a normal life span. Made a note to self to call the medical department and go over his chart).

Me: Did you get my email?

Boss: *rolls eyes* Oh yeah, I got it.

Me: … What do you think?

Boss: I think you handled the situation wrong. You shouldn’t have left before the class was over.

Me: I left about ten minutes after he said, “Well, I guess we’re done here.” I thought we were done. What do you think about telling him that I have autism as an explanation?

Boss: I think you should have told me that you have autism in your interview. Sometimes I don’t hire people like that.

Me: My doctor told me not to disclose my disability until I was hired.

Boss: Well, now it’s a big problem. In fact, I’m not sure you’re going to work out. We’ll have to wait and see.

Now believe me, I get that it’s illegal for her not to hire me because of autism or to let me go because of it, but there are several important factors. First, I don’t think she cares. Second, I don’t have any remaining energy to go fighting legal and moral battles here. I’m just trying to stay afloat. To be honest, if she doesn’t want me as an employee simply because of my autism (I know that I’m a good worker), I don’t want to work for her.

Call it running away, but I’m looking into another potential job. I’m terrified of this boss, who is known to full out scream at people. I don’t want to work for someone like this. I can’t deal with it.

I emailed the director of the daycare and basically said, here’s the deal: I have Asperger’s. While I’m really good at some things (remembering things, following rules), I suck at others, like relating to my peers. I’m kind, a very hard worker, and I love children. I just can’t do office politics and might need help talking with parents. Do you want me?

She emailed back with about six questions about what Asperger’s would mean at that job. I answered them all positively but honestly.

She’s going to get back to me.

And did I mention I’m now really worried about Baby Corn?

Good thoughts and prayers, please? You know what to do.

>Autism goes to work

>Maybe the weekend before last, I’m not even sure, I had to go to a cat handling class for work. I was told it was to be very casual; don’t even wear your scrubs, just come in whatever you have on. It should only last about an hour, just some basic information about cats.

Jack (I figure that’s a generic enough name I can use it in its entirety) was the guy who ran the class. It was just me and 2 other people. If I’m with just one other person I try to feign eye contact and smile a little bit, but when I’m with a few others I usually do my usual no eye contact, no facial expressions, no talking. I listen as best I can and try to blend into the background. I don’t like to call attention to myself, so I stay quiet, and that’s what I did there. I did notice that the other two people were very talkative and asked lots of questions. I had already done cat volunteer training, so between that and the fact that the training was very basic (this is a cat, it has 4 legs and a tail, it says meow…), I already knew everything Jack told us and just listened quietly.

I thought I did fine. I didn’t call out. I had no outbursts of echolalia (common at work, because I’m anxious). I interacted with the cats Jack brought out and talked to them. I didn’t interrupt anyone. I didn’t say that I was kind of bored when asked how the training was. All those things I’m supposed to do that take work on my part, right?

Well, until yesterday. My boss called me into her office. She checked that I was at the training. I said that I was. She said, “Jack said that you were really rude and didn’t care at all what he was talking about.”

What! I was shocked. He was talking about cats! Of course I cared! Even if I already knew the information, I still listened and heard everything he said.

My boss asked, “Did you know everything he talked about?”

I told her that I did, but that I listened. She said I must have said something offhand. I said well, to be honest, I don’t think I said a word the entire time. She said “That’s what I said. Lydia doesn’t talk; how can she be rude?” I told her that the others there were asking questions and interacting, and that I was just quiet, and maybe that’s why he thought I didn’t care. She told me not to worry, that I wasn’t in trouble, and to go ahead and start feeding cats.

This frustrates me immensely. First of all, when my mom tells me if that if I just try hard enough I can “blend in,” these are the situations I’m talking about. My lack of eye contact, odd mannerisms, and lack of speech (or odd questions, when I do talk) make me stand out. This is a perfect example. People thinking I’m rude and inattentive is a very common occurrence for me. I’m a lot of things, believe me, but I really don’t think I’m almost ever rude.

After thinking it over and talking to Leigh, I emailed my boss and asked if she would tell Jack that I have autism, and that sometimes I come across in ways I don’t intend. Of course, she never responded, but that’s to be expected.

I hope she does tell him, though, and between you and me, I kind of hope he feels like a jerk.

>Not today

>Today, I could write about so many things.

I could write about my frustrations with my ability to communicate verbally. I always manage to come off sounding rude when I don’t mean anything rude at all. I think it’s because I’m so focused on getting any words out at all that I tend to leave off the niceties. I just stick to the main point of what I need to get out. It’s not a matter of being polite; I try very hard to always be polite, as I believe strongly in politeness. It’s just a matter of not speaking well. But I can’t write about that today; I don’t have the best writing words, either, it so happens.

I could write more about the repeat game. I caught myself texting Leigh a repeat today, right after it said “sent.” I wanted to melt down in the grocery store. I was just… just trying to deal with the grocery store, and the people all around me, and I was repeating to Mom (stinky stinky stinky, Hefty Hefty Hefty!), and it slipped. I felt like an idiot, even around Leigh. Sometimes my repeating means something. I quote VeggieTales when I’m anxious or scared (So are you scared? No, not really. Are you frightened? Not a bit.). I’m trying to tell myself not to be scared. “Live deliciously,” from a commercial, means that I ate something good and enjoyed it. Today, my ice cream got a live deliciously. But I can’t go into that today; I’m too frustrated about.

I could write about how I took Mom to meet Baby Corn today, and how we had the most wonderful time. Baby Corn was shy around her and neglected to show her how he nuzzles my face with his cute little nose. He buried his head in Mom’s arm. And how I got covered in cat hair and don’t want to change my clothes because it’s Baby Corn and he’s on me and I miss him. And how tomorrow I will call Jackie, the lady who works in the office at my new apartment, and ask her if there’s any way to have 2 cats. Any way at all. But I can’t write about that today, because I’m too excited and it’s too good.

I could write about how anxious I am because Mom went to the train station to pick up my aunt and my cousin and another lady and her daugther, because my aunt and cousin were in Manhattan this weekend with the Girl Scouts, and Mom had to leave me at home,. I’m nervous and anxious. I really wanted to go with her, but there wasn’t enough room in the car. It makes me so uncomfortable to be home alone with my stepdad. But not today, you see; I’m too upset.

I could write about how frustrating it is when people tell me to make friends. My mentor at church, who I absolutely love, said, “Can’t you make some new friends out at your new house?” I had to explain that, though always possible, it was highly unlikely that I would make any friends. I’m terrible at it. I can only make friends when someone helps me along. For example, Mom introduced me to her friend C this weekend. C has a big, comfy house and a very shy cat named Etta. C and her husband, M, have 4 children who all have gotten married or otherwise moved away. I loved being in their house, even though Etta hid. With Mom’s help, they could be my friends, but I can’t meet people on my own and do it, and I have an especially hard time with people my own age. But that’s depressing, so I don’t want to write about that today.

I could write about my sister’s wedding that is next weekend. Yep, Emily is getting married. I love my sister, and I love her fiance Matt, but I don’t think I love weddings. Of course I was meant to be in the wedding, but I’m too shy and don’t want to be fussed over and don’t want to wear that dress, and my sister was oh-so-kind and left it up to me what I wanted to do for the wedding. I chose to do a reading from Jane Eyre (which I only understood parts of, but was determined to read and loved what I did understand). So that’s next weekend. But I can’t write about that today, because I’m very nervous.

There are so many things I could write about. So much new is going on in my life. But sorry, just not today.

>Wishes

>I wish I could go back to Disney World.

I wish I had the words to tell you what I want, when I want it.

I wish I didn’t worry so much.

I wish I could take Baby Corn home to my new apartment.

I wish I could get through a church service without having to “go to the bathroom” or stand out in the lobby.

I wish I didn’t get lost when I walk around alone.

I wish driving weren’t such a stress for me.

I wish I could speak like I can type.

I wish I knew that someday, I won’t have to depend on my mother as much as I do now.

I wish that I could make friends.

>68 minutes

>Lest you think my brain handles language just like yours does because I write just like you might, let me explain the difference. My brain handles language much more slowly than yours. These posts are written a phrase or a sentence at a time, almost never all in one go. For this post, I’m going to insert a * every time I take a break. So far, I’ve taken two.*

Normally, when I speak, I do okay if I keep it short. I’m not one to speak in long soliloquies.* When people see me write, they assume that I’m an intelligent being.* When I speak, my IQ drops about 50 points. People who have only heard me speak, and not write, ask me questions like “You can drive? A car?” and “You went to college?” These questions are not one-timers*, either. They’ve each happened at least a dozen times.*

But tired and anxious is a deadly combination, and I become both at work.* The echolalia, a.k.a. the repeat game, really kicks up then.* It. drives. me. nuts.*

One of the things I do is repeat the tail end of questions people ask me.* “Can you take out the trash?” is met with “Take out the trash? Can I… um… yeah.”*

(Pause. Insert melt down here).

Another* thing I do is get hooked on random phrases I’ve heard and* have this incredible urge to spit them out at random. “Sometimes I play the repeat game.” “Right on red.”* “God, You reign.”* Not a big deal when I’m alone in the laundry room at work (favorite activity there = put the radio on and repeat, repeat, repeat), but after work when everyone is sitting around and it’s all I can do not to say “right on red,” it’s a little– okay, a lot– weird.*

I also repeat my own thoughts, after I’ve thought them, out loud, over and over.* There’s a word for this… palilalia, I think. It fogs up my brain of new thoughts, though, and gets really aggravating.*

I wish I could sum this up nicely and wittily, but my brain is done.*

It’s rare that I run out of words to type with, but… as my mom would say, stranger things have happened.

>Problems and solutions

>Problem: Leigh was just down here for the weekend a month ago, and I couldn’t go up there because I had a therapy appointment Friday, a different therapy appointment Saturday, and a cat training at work on Sunday. I couldn’t go anywhere long enough for it to be worth it. I was melting down because my plans to go visit her for the weekend got broken and now I wouldn’t get to see her.

Solution: Leigh and I met for the afternoon in the town where my therapy appointment was. We went to Target (new belt, cat change purse!, and split a wedding shower gift for a friend with Leigh), the Christian bookstore (more on that later), Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, and Chik-Fil-A. We had lots of fun! Didn’t avoid the melt down, but I had fun once I got there and did really well being out for so long.

Problem: I need a devotional. I’m trying to do My Utmost for His Highest but I get very little out of it. In fact, I understand almost nothing. What’s the point of a devotional you can’t understand? I like to read my bible every morning, and every evening I want to have a little snippet to read and meditate on while I listen to my purring CD.

Solution: When we went shopping the other day, and one of the things I found was this book. It’s designed for kids. But it’s not all Sally-and-Susie-are-having-a-fight-and-oh-what-shall-they-do. It’s a bible verse, a short lesson with some simple examples, and a closing prayer. It’s not at all dumbed-down and doesn’t treat kids like idiots. I like it a lot, and I’ve started using it. I’m thrilled with my finding.

Problem: I’m terrified of the day when I lose Elsie. When I lose her, I’ll be without a cat period and may not find the right cat very fast.

Solution: Well, it’s not really a solution, but I want to get a second cat so that the transition is easier. I’ll just have two cats for a little while, and then one, instead of one cat and then no cat. It’s the no cat part that scares me so much. There’s a cat right now at work who is definitely the right cat. His name is Baby Corn, and he has cerebral hypoplasia… it means that his brain stem didn’t develop so his back legs don’t work, he can’t see very well, and he’s mentally retarded. He loooves to be held and cuddled and he’s the sweetest cat. If he’s still there when I move out (can you say a prayer that he is?), he will be my kitty. He told me today that he’d like that.

>And you wonder why I love the mail

>1. I got a letter from Temple Grandin. A real letter. It basically says that she had social problems too, that she talks about it in her books that I can read if I want, and it says to get a good mentor in my field and make sure they know to tell me when I’m being rude so I learn. I like that advice. I wish there were someone at work who could do that for me, but there isn’t. There’s no one I really click with.

2. I got a notice that an apartment is coming available in the very near future in the low-income housing. Elsie and Lydia: A New Adventure!