>Movie?

>First of all, thanks be to God, I am home.

Second, I have a dilemma.

My parents are going to see Avatar on New Years Eve. My options are either to go with them (and therefore get out of the house) or stay home, alone. It seems sad and almost ridiculous to choose to stay home alone, but hear me out. I’m scared of the aliens in Avatar, for one thing. For another, movies are hard. They’re loud. If I go, I’ll definitely be bringing my noise cancelling headphones. But then I’ll look ridiculous, which believe it or not, I do care about, some days more than others. I could go to the movies and watch a different movie than my parents, so that’s an option. Or maybe if someone has seen Avatar, you can tell me if the aliens turn out to be okay and not scary. They just freak me out. I get freaked out pretty easily, and something about them does it. Darn those aliens. I would like to go see the movie.

Help, please? Ideas? Suggestions? Thoughts? Comments? You get the idea.

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>Things to do

>Thing to do when you’ve been in the hospital for 2 full weeks and get a 8-hour pass at home:

1. Eat Mexican food

2. Go to the toy store to get a painting book and silly putty to share with friends on the unit when you get back.

3. Go to the craft store to get a paint-by-numbers to occupy your time (cats, of course).

4. Come home. Hug kitty immediately. Do not put her down. She will purr excessively.

5. Eat a couple of Christmas candies, finally.

6. Paint your nails a pretty pinkish red shade to brighten your spirit

7. Open Christmas gifts with the family. Put on the pearl necklace from India and use the pretty lip gloss immediately. You will feel better.

8. Make a gingerbread house with your mom. It will collapse. That’s okay.

9. Take a shower in your own shower. Shave your legs, finally.

10. Return to the hospital, rejuvenated. Refreshed. Ready for round 2, even if it turns out to be long. Hold onto you faith; you’ll need it more than ever. You can do this.

>Christmas from the hospital

>It’s a different sort of Christmas this year. There will still be presents, and my mom, but other than that, not much is the same. Unfortunatley, I’ll be celebrating one of my favorite days of the year (up there with Easter and my birthday) from the hospital.

I don’t know how I ended up here. It came literally out of the blue, and I felt horrible. You see, I missed a dose of my meds on Sunday morning. I take my meds morning and night. By Monday night, when my stepdad lost it and yelled at me, I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I’d been either sleeping or crying for two full days at that point, and I was terrified because I didn’t feel safe at home anymore. I knew I wasn’t. I texted my therapist, and she told me to get to the ER. My mom took me, and they admitted me. Even now, I don’t know where the horrible feelings came from. They’re not gone yet, though.

One major point of contention that I have with autism is that it doesn’t allow me to express myself well. I try to talk to these doctors and therapists here, and all I can give is one word answers that aren’t very descriptive. “How do you feel today?” “The same. Bad.” “Depressed?” “I don’t know.” “Sad?” “I don’t know.” “Anxious?” “I don’t know.” It makes it very hard to get the appropriate treatment when everyone has to guess what’s going on inside my head. I wish I had something more profound to say on the subject, but I don’t. It’s just a tough situation that I wish weren’t so.

From here, I’ll go back to the partial program that I was in this summer. I’ll probably be there for about a month. Now, here’s some big news. From there, I’m not planning on going back to a job of any sort. The job hunt is called off. My mom and I totally agree that I’m not stable enough to try to work right now, that it would be unfair both to me and to an employer to expect that of me. So, I’m going to go to partial and do my autism research study and volunteer at the library. I’d also like to volunteer at the animal shelter with the cats. They have two big cat rooms that are set up like a bedroom and a kitchen, with 12 cats in each room. The cats look so happy. They need volunteers to hang out with and socialize the cats; I think I’d be perfect for that. It’s just a little bit far away (30 minutes), so my mom would have to be okay with paying for the gas to get there.

Part of not working means applying for governmental cash assistance, otherwise known as welfare. I feel awfully stupid about that. I’m a capable young women; I should be able to work. But the fact is that right now, I can’t. I can’t deal with shoulds and woulds and what ifs. I have to deal with the facts. Leigh says that it’s just a rough patch, that I’ll be able to work again. The doctor here says that welfare gets a bad rap but that really, this is why it exists, for people and situations like me right now. It will be 18 months, at least, until they hear my case for SSI, so I can’t wait for that. I guess I’ll just have to go with the flow.

I should be coming home Monday. I’m still feeling pretty bad. I did have a little bit of a turning point when Leigh came to visit yesterday on her way from college to home, 5 hours away. It gave me a little energy that I hadn’t had before. Still, I’m not sure if I’ll be ready to leave on Monday or not. Time will tell.

Hope you’re all still with me, since I’ve been gone. Don’t worry. I’ll be back.

>From Leigh

>Hi everyone! I was thinking, since Lydia’s in the hospital and can’t really update her blog like she’d like to, this might be a good time for me to jump in and talk about Lydia from someone else’s perspective. Plus, I’m in the middle of finals, and this is a welcome study break! I’m Leigh, by the way. I think Lydia has mentioned me from time to time.

A little bit about me… I’m a Christian, I’m 21, I’m a senior at Lydia’s alma mater, and I’m a psychology major. I’d love to someday work with autistic adults. I’m a Young Life leader, my favorite color is green, I love to travel (especially to Mexico), and I love German Shepherds. Oh, and I’m INFJ, according to Myers-Briggs. I think that about sums it up.

So you may think that the reason I became friends with Lydia is because I want to work with autistic adults. Actually, those things happened in reverse order. I have always been very interested in autism, but when I met Lydia, I wanted to be a marriage/family counselor. I have a knack for seeing through conflicts straight to the root of the problem.

My friendship with Lydia developed before she was even diagnosed with anything autism spectrum. When I was a sophomore and she was a junior, we both tried out for a spring dance/colorguard show. That’s how I met her, technically, but we didn’t really become friends until the following fall during band camp. One of the girls was unnecessarily mean to Lydia, and the injustice struck a nerve with me. Lydia and I chatted more and more, we started going to meals together… and the rest is history.

Anyways, I’d love to talk about some of the things I’ve learned from being friends with Lydia. The first one is patience. I truly believe that you can never be patient enough, and there are times when I struggle with it, but Lydia has helped be more patient than I was before I met her. Understanding something is not a prerequisite to having patience for it; frequently they go the other way around. If I got annoyed at everything anyone did that I didn’t understand, I would be annoyed a lot! So instead of responding with frustration, I have learned to respond with curiosity. This of course extends far beyond hanging out with Lydia.

I’ve also learned not to make things more complicated than they are. 99% of the time with Lydia, if something is bothering her, it can be solved by cats. “Cats?” “Where’s Elsie?” Apparently I’ve said these things often enough that she can now say them to herself and sometimes she doesn’t need me at all! Sometimes I wish it was that simple for me too. Maybe simplicity is bliss?

Although she may not always agree with me, I see Lydia as capable of incredible things. She’s already making a difference in the autism world just through this blog! She’s got a teacher-like quality that helps her make confusing things really clear, and there is a job out there that really needs that skill. We just have to find it.

I’d like to make a disclaimer of sorts. Sometimes I feel like when Lydia writes about me on here, it makes me look like some kind of saint. Really, I’m no saint. I’ve figured out some things that are helpful, but it was only after trying a lot of things that WEREN’T helpful. Trial and error, trial and error, trial and… success! I guess I’ve just gotten lucky sometimes. It’s also lucky that I have an awesome cat whom I think Lydia misses more than she misses me!

Lydia has been bugging me for months now to write about “how do I do it” for someone’s blog. I’ve tried to write stuff, but it just ends up being trial and error, listening, and patience. But really, that’s it. How do I write a whole blog about that? …maybe I just have. hm. Anyway, I’ve never written for a blog that people actually read before, so I’m not sure I’ve inspired questions. But if I have, feel free to ask!

Merry, merry Christmas!

Leigh

>Hospital

>Just letting you know that I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m in the psych hospital (again) and will be for the next week or two. Everything’s okay. Nothing to worry about now.

Let you know when I’m back 🙂

>Dilemma: the solution

>My computer is at the doctor’s office (AKA, my dad’s) with a virus. Dad will fix it up and get it back to me in a day or so, but until then, I come to you from the guest that is Mom’s computer.

Now, just gotta type fast before anyone catches me on it!

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to disclose my autism or not in my job interview, and I’ve come to a decision. Given that it feels right at the time (and it may not; it didn’t at my last interview), I am going to be upfront about it. The main reason is that if I’m working for a company who would not hire me simply because of my autism, then that’s not a company I want to work for. It’s a bad sign if people are going to treat me negatively for that reason alone. I understand that it happens, and not infrequently, out in the “real world.” At the same time, this is an organization that specifically works with children and adults with developmental disabilities. If they do not see the true worth of people with such disabilities, then I don’t want to work for them.

I am a loving daughter, adoring sister, and good friend. I am valued in spite of and also because of my autism. I want to carry that into all aspects of my life, work included. Wish me luck.

>Dilemma

>I’m on the job search again. The job I was supposed to take starting in January… our friend keeps not getting back to us. She was supposed to take me out a few times last week and she never called. I need a job. So, it’s back to the job hunt.

Most jobs are ones that you would take because it’s a job and you need work. Then there are jobs that you actually want. I decided to stretch myself a little bit and apply for TSS (therapeutic support staff for kids) positions. I would still only be able to work part time. I got a call back for an interview the other day. That’s a good sign, at least. I’d love to work one-on-one with a child with autism. I might be good at it. After all, my degree prepared me to work with children.

Now here’s the dilemma. Do I tell the interviewers that I have autism? On the one hand, I think that having autism will make me a better TSS for children with special needs. It will explain why I understand them better than the average person. Also, I’m tempted to come out and say it because I don’t tend to interview very well, and it explains that. On the other hand, do I want to be so forthcoming about my supposed disability? I’m not sure if they would look at me differently or not. They shouldn’t, being that this organization is all about people with disabilities; they should get it. But, there’s no guaranteeing that they will.

So what would you do?