>I was watching Supernanny, another new favorite TV show, and the mom was obsessed with dressing her children just so. It made me think about how I no longer worry about what I’m wearing. I have extreme tactile sensitivity. I didn’t wear a pair of jeans until 6th or 7th grade… everything had to be elastic waists or dresses. No lace, nothing scratchy. No buttons, because they require a stitch, and I can feel the stitch. Nothing sewn in, like a patch. Even elastic waists had to be wide enough that they didn’t remotely cut into my waist, or I’d have a melt down. I wore jeans regularly from 9th grade until this past year, when they became unbearable again. In fact, lately, I’m extremely uncomfortable for an hour or two every time I have to change from one outfit to another and my body has to adjust. Yes, everyone wears jeans and what I call “nice shirts.” And yes, I live in yoga capris and t-shirts in the summer, yoga pants and hoodies in the winter. I got over that being a big deal. I can go to class, go to the mall, at this point, even go to church like that. It’s no longer a big deal.
Not that I completely don’t care how I look. I like skirts a lot. They’re super comfortable too, and I think they’re prettier than pants. Since I only wear cotton t-shirts and cotton pants, I don’t always look the most feminine, and I am a girl, after all. Anyway, I found two long, cotton skirts at the mall the other day, and I got two t-shirts with pretty designs on them to match. Now, I can go to church and look appropriate and be comfortable. Sometimes, I can find the best of both worlds!
Another thing that has ceased to be a big deal is my diet. Most parents fight with their kids about eating vegetables and healthy things, right? Not my parents. As a child, I ate and drank the following: apple juice, fat free vanilla yogurt, peanut butter, one kind of cheese, one kind of bread without the crust, margarine, small amounts of milk, pudding, and small amounts of ice cream on occasion. That wasn’t the majority of my diet. That was it. For years and years, that was it. Between that and a myriad of gut issues, that’s what had my mom going to doctors. My kid won’t eat. I was always in the 90th percentiles for height and weight, but I wouldn’t eat. Forget vegetables, my mom wanted me to eat pasta, drink milk, eat crackers, chicken. Normal kid things. Anything. A good day was when I eat three different things in the same day. I ate quite a lot of bread and butter growing up, and I ate a ton of yogurt. I was almost addicted to it, my mom said. Apparently a lot of kids who have gluten issues are like that. I’m happy to say that now, as an adult, I’m much better. I still can’t do raw vegetables because of the texture, but I can eat cooked broccoli, green beans, carrots, and cauliflower. I can eat bananas, raisins, strawberries, and cooked apples. I can eat rice, GF pasta, GF breads and crackery things. I drink almond milk, and I eat eggs probably 4-5 days a week. Because we know where I came from, not being able to munch an apple to just go out to a restaurant just isn’t a big deal to us.
The last “not a big deal” is one I’m still working on. I hate to cry or stim in public, but I definitely do both, and frequently. A lot of stimming can pass off for being fidgety, and that I’m okay with; I’d never be able to control that. But when I really get excited or frustrated or just when I really need to do it, rather than just let it happen, I want to go hide and get it out of my system. In case you’re wondering, I often spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom when I’m out either to hold my ears or flap my hands. Also, when something goes wrong, when plans change, when it’s too loud or too crowded, I cry. I hate doing it when people are around. I squeeze my hands and bite my tongue and do everything I can not to cry. Even when I get back into the car, or whatever, I still try not to cry. I want to be normal. I don’t want someone to have to say, “Oh, she has autism.” That’s what it comes down to. I’m working on getting over that though, because the fact is, I do have autism, and it’s not going anywhere. I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I should be able to let my mom or let Leigh say “She has autism. She’s upset/excited, but she’ll be fine, thanks,” and keep going on with my day. It’s just not a big deal.