>A proposal

>Having read my book, a friend from college emailed me to ask if I might consider writing a second.

Write, you say? Me, write again? Well, my interest was perked.

She mentioned that there is a severe lack of reading material on the subject of faith and special needs. The few texts that do touch the subject primarily focus on how parents employ faith to deal with their children who have special needs. But adults with disabilities have been overwhelmingly silent on the topic of fitting into the Church.

I got excited, and oh, the wheels are turning. There’s so much to think about! How do I divide the chapters? What topics do I touch upon? With whom do I need to speak to sort out my thoughts, and who might I contact to contribute their own ideas to the book?

If you’re interested in answering a few questions that may contribute to the book, shoot me an email at autisticspeaks@gmail.com. Or if you want to tell me of a specific subject you think would be important to include, get in touch with me, and I’ll add it to the list (er, I’ll… start a list).

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>The aftermath

>Forgive me for not going into detail, but you understand, I’m sure. It wouldn’t be nice or kind or fair to do so. But I can be general, and you’ll get the point.

Bad things happen when I melt down.

In this case, I’m referring to saying things I shouldn’t have said to people I shouldn’t have said them.

Right now, I get this. In fact, last night, right after the melt down was over, I got it. I prayed, I repented, I fell asleep in peace. But in the heat of the moment, I didn’t get it, and now I’m stuck with the aftermath.

I hate that my autism has caused me, yet again, to hurt or anger the people who are most important to me. It’s not fair. I completely lose control when I melt/panic, and I say and do stupid things. Leigh even reminded me last night as I was texting her, “Stop now before you say something you’ll regret.” What she didn’t know was that it was too late.

I did everything right with that melt down. Chloe gave me verses of comfort in Isaiah. I prayed. I wrote. I held the kitty. I texted Leigh. And I prayed some more. And still, in between prayers, I managed to screw things up.

I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll ever have full control over my words and actions when I melt. Even doing everything right, I made a huge mistake.

Now what? Now I honestly, humbly apologize. Now I promise to try harder next time. Now I hope and pray that the person I hurt can forgive me. I certainly don’t deserve it, but I can hope.

And now, I remember this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

>Autism is no excuse

>Alright; I have to leave for work in half an hour. Let’s see if I can squeeze out this post.

The premise is this: I don’t think autism is any excuse to be a jerk.

On previously-mentioned message board which I have no longer been visiting, someone wrote a post about a man at his church who was joking around with him. The poster felt that the man was making fun of him, because he laughed a lot. He said that he had tried not answering, but the man continued to try to converse with him. He asked the board for advice about what to do to get the “offender” to leave him alone.

There were four pages of responses, and all but one or two involved things such as the following:

-Call him a swear word and walk away.
-Scream at him, including swear words, and tell him to quit being said swear word.
-Tell one of the higher-ups at church that this man was harrassing him.
-You get the idea.

I posted something like this: “I’m absolutely tired of hearing that people on this board can’t make friends, and then this is how you tell someone to deal with a man who may well just be trying to be friendly? Many people with ASD falsely believe that someone is making fun of them; I know I’ve done it many times in the past. Instead of being flat out rude to this man, try something like this. ‘I appreciate that you’re trying to make conversation with me, but I find myself not understanding your jokes and it makes me feel as if you’re laughing at my expense. I’m guessing that this is not your intent, but it’s upsetting me, and I thought you should know.'”

In this case, it was so easy for me to see these people’s bad attitude and how it was causing them to act rudely.

Oh, shoot.

You see, that’s when I realized something. I’m no better than they are. At work, everyone talks behind everyone else’s backs. And lately, when I’ve been immsensely frustrated, I’ve been doing the same thing. I talked about J to A, and D to J, and J to D, and C to J, and J to Kand… oh my.

I’ve been really intrigued by Paul’s list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galations 5 lately. To me, they seem like a checkpoint. Are you loving? Joyful? Peaceful? Patient? Kind? Good? Faithful? Gentle? Do you have self-control? You can’t show all the fruits of the Spirit without being in the Spirit. If you are in the Spirit, chances are good that you will show its fruits. Some come easily to me… gentleness, for example. Others, like self-control and peace, not so much. So in my prayer journal I wrote down the fruits of the Spirit and how I could demonstrate each one at work, since work seems to be my big stumbling block. Today I will focus on self-control by not speaking words in anger or frustration.

Autism is no excuse to be a jerk, Lydia. Don’t forget it.

>Growing up and other stuff

>I went to my “other half’s” wedding over the weekend. We grew up going to summer diabetes camp together from the age of 12 onward. She’s always been one of my best friends, and in touch or out of touch, I couldn’t imagine life without her cheerful presence. It occurred to me, and I mentioned to the people we sat with at the reception, that it’s truly worth having the lifelong disesase for knowing Katelyn. I wouldn’t trade her for “health” (in quotes because who’s to say something else wouldn’t just be wrong instead?!). She’s a true friend.

He was our camp counselor for many years, and they fell in love over a long time (yes, he’s about 10 years older than us, but she has quite a mature mind and always has). It’s quite the fairy tale, eh?

I got to talk about work, Elsie, and autism at the wedding with our table. They all seemed very interested (I kept an eye out and tried not to talk for too long…). They laughed and smiled and asked me lots of questions. I told them about my book and wrote down the information on napkins for them. One of the men sitting with us reached across the table and said, “I’d like to shake your hand, if you don’t mind. I’m so impressed by everything you’ve accomplished. It can’t have been easy.” I felt… well, confused, and kind of neat, and kind of embarrassed. No one has ever asked to shake my hand before. All this to say that I’m not sure I minded 🙂

In other news, Elsie P and I are doing well. We get cable and phone and internet on Wednesday. Now’s a good time to mention that my computer got spyware via Facebook and completely pooped out on me. Mom was nice enough to pay the $100 repair bill and get it all fixed up nice for me to tide me over until we can afford a new computer. I’m very grateful. Anyway, I will only go on Facebook now from the library (not in order to infect their computers but because they have super-strong anti-spyware programs at places like libraries), so you won’t be seeing me there as much. Oh, well. That’s one way to cure a semi-addiction.

I went to the dentist today and got no less than 20 shots (I stopped counting at 20) in my gums. They did scaling and root planing. And they only did the right side! The numbness was miserable, and the scaling and root planing hurt my ears like crazy, and now I’m all sore. Bring on the ice cream, eh? Mom said, “…and yogurt, and baked potatoes, and milk…” and I said, “And ice cream!” Truth be told, I think that since the numbness is gone I’m good enough to eat most foods at the point, although I did get the obligatory milkshake on my way home.

Off to take care of other business online now then go home to Elsie P!

>In the interest of disclosure

>It’s 9PM, and Mom and I are hanging out at Starbucks so that I can (hopefully!) talk to Chloe and tell you all what’s going on. I only have about a half hour, when Mom will take me back across the street and Elsie will watch our rented movie (Molly: An American Girl).

I wanted to tell you about something that happened at work last night that was both good and bad.

We have a new girl at work. I’m not her biggest fan, exactly, because she drops the “f” word around me all the time (no, seriously, like every sentence!) and she’s very abrasive. I’ll say things to be friendly and she’ll completely ignore me and walk away. I have trouble tolerating rudeness, but I have to work with the girl, so I continue to be nice.

Because she was new and it was only 6 months ago that I, too, was new, I thought I would try to help her. For example, when she asked me what to do with the dogs, I explained and then said, “And make sure you turn the lights off when you’re done.” Or in another situation, I said, “I’m not sure if anyone’s told you that we’ve stopped feeding the cats at 8pm. We just feed them at 6 and that has to last them until tomorrow. I don’t want you to get in trouble, in case you haven’t heard.” I truly just didn’t want her to get in trouble and get yelled at, so I tried to help her out. I would have appreciated it, and did, when I was new. She always said, “I know already.”

Well, when I got to work yesterday (Tuesday), my boss said, “Lydia, I need to talk to you.”

(Insert fear here.)

Boss: How do you get along with New Girl?

Me: She’s alright.

Boss: I just want to explain something to you. If I ask you to hand me a pen, I don’t care if you hand it to me this way or that way. I just want the pen. When it comes to this job, I don’t care how the work gets done, so long as it gets done. So, you might do something one way, and New Girl might do it another way. As long as it gets done, I let everyone do things how they do them best. Does that make sense?

Me: Yes.

Boss: So, if you see New Girl do something differently than you would do it, that’s fine by me. It doesn’t worry me, and it shouldn’t worry you. Got it?

Me: Got it.

Boss: That’s my girl.

So basically, she couldn’t have been nicer. New Girl is still swearing constantly and being short with me. I try to be nice….

Me: (walking into New Girl’s cat condo that she’s cleaning)… Do you need cat litter?

New Girl: Yep.

Me: I’ll go get it for you. Everyone hates to get cat litter.

New Girl: Yep.

Me: Well, if it’s okay, I’ll go get it. I like to carry heavy things like that.

New Girl: (Looks up).

Me: Well, I have autism. I have a lot of little quirks, and one of them is that I like to carry heavy things. It calms me down.

New Girl: Yep.

So now, I feel like an idiot. I thought something would click when I told her…. you know, oh, that makes sense. She’s autistic. I get it now. But no sign of that. Nothing. Just “yep.” My only fear is that she’ll go complain to the boss that I told her. Make sense? No. Stupid? Yes. But as nice as my boss was yesterday, I don’t want to get called into her office again tomorrow to be corrected, you know?

Sigh.

Mom’s tired and Chloe’s not online. Gonna take my mocha frap home and watch my movie with Elsie on the arm of the couch.

>Settling

>Just letting you know that I spent last night in the new house with Elsie. She’s being funny… hiding a lot. But when she’s not hiding, she’s right in my face. She cried for breakfast at the usual time. For a full hour. You see, she usually eats breakfast at 6:30 AM, when Mom gets up, but I’m trying to slide that back to closer to noon, when I get up instead. Then dinner will move from 5 PM to when I get home around midnight. She needs to change her schedule… but she’s sure making it difficult!

It’s very weird to me in my own place. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. Ask me again in about a month, k?

>Thoughts from my now-empty room

>It’s official: My mom and Bob and the movers got all my stuff settled into my new house (yes, it’s an apartment. Yes, I call it a house. Where I live = my house, k? Good). So I write to you from the family room at home (The new house isn’t home yet.), minus most of its furniture. I’m at the card table with a rickety wooden chair. My bedroom has my bed (I took the spare room’s double instead of my queen, as the new house has small rooms) and my desk, and that’s it. It shall be strange until I get moved over… then, it will be stranger.

Anyway, I didn’t expect to go to a wedding and learn about myself, but that’s sort of what happened. In no particular order…

– Although my emotions are often confusing to myself and the people closest to me, they can also be totally and completely normal. I got teary at the wedding, just like a bunch of other people.

– A weekend with Leigh encourages and refreshes me like few things do. I believe that being myself, as God created me to be, is the reason for this. I feel this way during worship, with my mom, and with Leigh, and pretty sure nowhere else.

– I’m out of practice for being around my peers. This means that I stand out more than I used to. I think that my world has become so small now that I’m not in college that I’ve forgotten how to “fake it” around my peers. While the girls (Leigh, her college roommate, and a college friend of theirs) hung out and had a drink or two and did I don’t know what, I completely tuned out and read the new Jodi Picoult book in which the main character has Asperger’s (for the record, it’s… decent, but not fantastic), all 542 pages of it, in one evening. I couldn’t even follow their conversation, let alone join in.

– Lack of sleep causes melt downs, just like it used to. I don’t think I’ve been truly short on sleep since I graduated, until this past Friday. I went to bed at 2 AM and got up at 4 AM to get on the bus, and I couldn’t get comfortable on the bus to sleep, so I was exhausted by the time we got to the hotel. I skipped my Geodon, which could have something to do with it, but Walmart made me feel sick, and then the prospect of people coming over and being noisy made me start to cry. But I tuned out sufficiently and held it together and went to bed by 10 PM.

– It’s a bad idea for me to go places by myself. I leave my wallet at the counter in the Macy’s (Leigh grabbed it), leave my phone on the stack of puzzles in the Target (several weeks ago, but my aunt grabbed it), and leave my purse in the dressing rooms. I’m so overwhelmed by lights and sounds and movement that I can’t keep track of myself at all. I also get lost easily, which means that crying ensues. And I mean lost as in, if I walk out of the hotel room to go get a soda or ice, as I did once in Disney World, it might take me 2 1/2 hours to find my way back, which that time, it did.

Anyway, the wedding was beautiful (brown and gold with lots of sunflowers), and I’m glad I went. Next wedding is in town on the 21st (next Saturday) for my “other half” from camp growing up. She is marrying our former camp counselor who she has loved since she was a little girl. It’s a fairy tale! Not so stressful this time because 1. it’s in town and 2. Mom will come. Although I must say, I felt much safer and more sure of myself than I thought I would after being away from Leigh for so long.

A wonderful weekend, a beautiful wedding, the best of friends, and now home to my kitty. Can’t ask for more than that.