For autism awareness month I have a funny story. When I was 11 and 12 if I was asked if I had a boyfriend I would take the term literally seeing it as a girls girlfriend or croonie. In addition I was unable to distinguish acquaintance from friend. So I would reply I had several boyfriends considering all my boy acquiescence and friends as boyfriends. When asked which boy I liked I would list all the boys I liked as person. My list of boys I like and boyfriends change day-to-day depending who I got along with at the time.
Eye Contact 4/2
I have another funny autism awareness story today and will try to type one per day. When I was 7 my teacher was working with me on eye contact during “Hello time”. She told me to look at her. I did with my eyes wide open. She told me not to stare. She lost me there. Also her firm voice and moving my chin to look at her like a parent does w an autistic kid was so intimation to me that one day I faked a stomach ache to get out of class. She fell for it. She asked me if I was well enough to make chocolate chip cookies. I decided I was “well”
Today’s Autism Awareness Story- I was nine years old when I cried on timeout. My teacher told me to stop crying. Then one day I was timed out for the third time in 2 weeks for things that I did not know was wrong. That was a record and I was so scared. I cried for an hour on and off so my teacher said it was ridiculous to cry over something that happened an hour ago and was like “you wouldn’t cry over something that happened 2 years ago?” My AFTERTHOUGHTS I watched the autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman” and saw the old lady cry over her late husband dying 80 years ago. Not understanding the context I thought she was acting absurd crying over something that happened 80 years ago and thought she should have long gotten over it. Also one of my teachers and a kid discussed how they cried over the movie ET. I thought they were being crybabies crying over just a movie. Also there was this time a teacher confronted me about something that was a very sensitive and private issue that I was protective of and I started crying and was concerned I was being a crybaby, but did not get that I cried over this teacher asking me about this issue because 1, I was reacting to a very painful time of my life, and 2, this teacher was stepping all over my territory and I felt emotionally violated.
Today’s Autism Awareness story. This is a hoot. When I was eight years old I was in a silly mood and told my teacher I did not do my homework because my imaginary friend Rusty scribbled on it. The fact of the matter was I did do my homework. The teacher timed me out for “telling a fib.” I did not know what a fib or lie was and was confused what I did wrong. But instead of asking what a fib was I carried on. The teacher asked if I was ready to come back but I stuck to my goofy fable and got put back on the time out chair. Them it clicked what my teacher said. I learned what a fib was and that it was wrong. So bittersweet.
Bathing Caps 4/5
Today’s Autism awareness story. When I was 11, I was given a swim test in Girl Scout camp. I took the term literally to show how “good” of a swimmer I was. I was informed about the color-coded bathing cap system and was sure I’d be in the highest swimming group, yellow cap. I thought I was that good. But this was how it played. For the test instead of swimming across the shallow end I did a somersault under water. The counselor told me to swim across, so it did it underwater holding my nose. I was given a red cap, which meant beginner and was not allowed in the deep end when I have been swimming in the deep end for 3 years. Needless to say, I was humiliated. And my mother wrote a note to the counselor pushing them to put me in the blue cap – the Second level. Not used to being undermined I regressed for a few months to carrying around objects (the bathing caps) which I stopped at age 10. So for those who knew me at camp then, that’s the story of my bathing caps. Fortunately I overcame some giant stumbling blocks right afterwards but not without further oppression.
Childhood Passions 4/6
Today’s Autism Awareness story. My passions changed frequently as a child. While I always had a love for bodies of water, I will list my passions from 4 to 11. Age 4-5. Balloons 5-7 candles 7-9 watches 9-10 Porta potties and outhouses 9-11 airplanes 11 bathing caps
I still am fascinated with jumbo jets but nowhere as much as I was as a child. Also as a child from 8-12 I was obsessed with numbers and rating things in grades, scale of 1-10 and grades.
Today’s Autism Awareness story
When I was a kid and young adult I was really big on numbers and writing lists. I used to be obsessed with writing class lists in high school and as a child I was obsessed with grading and rating. I even made up grades higher than am A plus such as I. In addition i created x for higher than plus and ÷ for lower than minus like an A× or F×. As a young adult, it was global functioning numbers, grades, SAT scores, and IQs. I had a vivid memory with people’s birthdays, ages, dates etc. When I was five I taught myself multiplication and division. As my mind filled up with knowledge my memory on dates an all grew fuzzy but still have birthdates of many people in my past stored.
2/25/86- telling a teacher over and over, “You tell me.”
5/2/86- Wrote on the desk because I did not wait for paper patiently.
5/14/86- Actually did my homework, yet I told the teacher I did not do my homework because my imaginary friend scribbled on it.
All those times, I kept chanting, “I’m in control!” on time out, which another classmate did. We probably incited the whole class to chant that when ever they got timeouts lol
11/13/86- get into to another child’s backpack and took his worksheet to copy his signature and bragged to a teacher about it, all hysterical. (I did this out of ignorance)
5/11/87- when timed out, I told the teacher as an excuse not to get timed out, that it was some random child’s birthday from my after school program.
4/27/89- I had learned about how earth worms regenerated, so I cut a worm in half in the play ground to see if that would happen. I got a huge lecture for torturing animals and timed out.
10/1994- My art teacher was educating us in printmaking techniques and gave us a pop quiz. I did not pay attention during her lecture, so I wrote off the wall answers on my pop quiz.
10/1996- One day, my friend and me had detention and spent the whole time looking at each other and laughing. Then afterwards, we jokingly complained how it was punishment.
4/1997- my friend pulled the seat away from me and I fell on my ass by accident but my balance was right on cue and I held my mystic strawberry kiwi straight in in the air with it splashing. I was laughing my ass off. I got sent out for not keeping my composure and probably horsing around and having food fights earlier in lunch period. The teacher must have been fed up. Take out the concensequences and this would have made a great Mystic drink commercial lol!
Bettering my linguistics 4/9
My high school offered no foreign languages, which upset me. So I taught myself the basics of three different languages in my senior year, learning tons of words and basic conversation in Norwegian and Italian and a few words in French. During my middle school and earlier high school years I also taught myself Norwegian so I had as much basic understanding of Norwegian as a high schooler might have in say in one foreign language she took during her school years.
Body part drawing 4/10
Today autism awareness story focuses on my innovative behavior. I used to draw with my toes, mouth and left hand and eyes closed. I did this to imagine what it would be like if I could not use my limbs, blind etc. and to see how well I could draw with various body parts.
Linguistics 2 4/11
Today’s Autism Awareness Story – when I was ten I learned a little Norwegian and discovered that different countries have their own languages. I went to Checkaslavia bf it was split into different countries and discover the check language. I saw people talking jive on the movie, Airplane! I also discovered bilingual menus in Europe. I asked my mother why our menus don’t have different languages in the USA. My mother said it would be a big menu with lots on languages. I said the menu only needs four languages, Norwegian, English, check, and jive. Then I asked a teacher if she could count to ten in Norwegian like I can. She said she could count in French. I said that doesn’t count. I guess I had not discovered French or Spanish ad languages yet.
Silly childhood story for autism awareness. While I am writing one per day I am focusing on my uniqueness as a person on the spectrum while describing my success and failures and I typically mix it with humor. And I have a funny story today. I used to go with dad to go grocery shopping and then we’d hit the liquor store so dad can get some wine. He brought me with him because he did not want to be alone. I was 10 when I became obsessed with percentages. I also discovered that each type of alcoholic beverage has a percentage of alcohol. So I liked to read the liquor bottles to see the percentage of alcohol in each bottle. A security guard caught me and said I’m not supposed to be there. I did not know children are really not supposed to be in liquor supposed to be in the store alone and I had wandered off from my family a little and it looked like I was trying to buy alcohol. I thought the security guard was mean.
When I was a younger was obsessed with packs of mediums with large amounts of types of colors. At seventeen I bought a pack of 96 pastels and a pack of 96 crayons. At age 20 I bought a pack of 120 pastels. I remember when I was 6 I could name all the colors of a pack of 64 crayons and once had an assignment to list 8 colors but it referred to the boring old 8 crayons. I listed colors from 64 crayons like burnt sienna. I had an art sale and used the money to buy a pack of 80 caradoshe watercolor pencils. Once I was introduced to caradoshe crayons. I bought the 84 packs. I still love tons of colors but not as much as before.
Conversation skills 4/14
Today’s Autism Awareness personal story will focus on my conversation skills as a teenager and young adult. As a teenager, I spent all my time “gossiping” or just talking about my peers and teachers. I did this because I did not know what else to talk about. I hated being told nor to gossip. Of course I know now there’s a good reason not to and would not encourage gossiping with my art students. But then when I was 16 I discovered Beavis and Butt-Head and the Jerky Boys. My conversation topics switched to talking about them, movies and music. One day I went on Soac club trip and brought my Jerky Boys tape for others to listen. Most of us got out of hand and the teacher told us we could not talk about any entertainment or we’d get writing assignments. I could not believe it. That meant I could not talk about my favorite rock bands? Then all of us were given goals for the SOAC club. My goal was to talk about reality. Boy was that like a slap in the face? I eventually got into talking about realistic things. In college I spent a lot of time talking about my personal problems and partying. Then I discovered politics and loved talking about it. However I was soon told that and religion is not good topics in conversation. I thought wtf? I learned the hard way though because the political debates I had with others got ugly.
My autism awareness story of today. My reading comprehension and ability to think abstractly is so checkered. I was in a 2nd to 3rd grade level in reading when I was 11 but was prolific in writing zine style books, which I took a bunch of paper and folded and stapled it. And then I wrote a story. I got tutoring and my reading level climbed up to a 4th grade level. I loved reading novels. Soon as a teenager I tried to write my own novels, which were 50 to 100 pages and full of pager ism from my favorite series such as Fear Street and camp Sunnyside friends. I managed to write a 300 paged badly written book of a bunch of friends going to Norway when I was 15. Yet at 15 I had a reading comprehension of a 12 year old. Anyway my reading comprehension and abstract ability climbed steadily and my writing skills improved steadily but it was never up to the level it should be. Anyway I have always been a prolific writer but prefer reading nonfiction and self help books to literature, which I don’t have an attention span for unless assigned to read them. At grad school, which I’m here for creative writing I am challenged, to read very challenging stuff that would be hard for any layperson. I am wiped out but hopefully will have an easier time w reading comprehension and reading lit afterwards.
When I was first diagnosed with autism the psychiatrist who diagnosed me told my mother I will never be about to think abstractly. I surpassed his expectations when I was six and stated only God can count to infinite. My parents were blown away.
Coming out of the Closet 4/17
This autism awareness post will focus on coming out as a person on the spectrum. When I first found out about my condition I was very open about it. But then I learned that I had trouble making friends and noticed the neorotypical NT kids treated me differently bc of my situation. So as a teenager I tried to avoid NT kids for I was self conscious of my differences. I would much rather stay home and play Nintendo. I did not want to be pitied. When I did go to gatherings w mainstream kids or teens, I stayed in the closet. Kids noticed I was withdrawn and were concerned I was depressed but I kept my guard up. I tried out the sweat lodge at Camp Ones. While everyone poured their heart out about their situations I remained guarded and said my brother is going away to college. My peers were disappointed I did not pour my heart out. This was because I feared being labeled and treated differently and wanted to be ordinary. I tried to come out in College and but was treated differently and people labeled me as having a disease or would say they were embarrassed to be seen with me etc. etc. I retreated back in the closet and became much more careful of coming out. Over time I have gotten much better at finding time and places to out myself. For example I would not come out on a job interview bc believe me there was a couple of jobs I had where I was treated like a village idiot, not included in employee events and or not given a chance to use the cashier and hidden away from the public to do menual jobs. But then there are jobs or volunteer gigs where I feel comfortable outing myself and my collages see my Asperger’s/autism come with invaluable insight and gifts. I will come out in my grad level classes so my professors can understand my challenges to think abstractly and for accommodations as my core classes for my English major are my weaknesses since it’s loads of abstract applications to reading material and focuses heavily in social skills.
Before I started talking 4/18
Todays autism story. Before I started talking on a regular basis I would occasionally talk or udder words but when mom acknowledged my talking I played stupid making noises. I used my gifts like quickly putting puzzles together only when people weren’t looking. I guess I felt I did better when people weren’t looking over my shoulders. This is why I try not to look over people’s shoulders when I teach them unless they need intensive help. I still have a hard time learning when being told what to do constantly.
Misinterpreting talk about boys 4/19
When I was 12 a boy in my class told a girl he liked her. This boy was my friend. I asked him if he liked too? He said as a friend. I thought yay! He sees me as a friend. But then I learned what like really meant. And to add to my autism awareness story, when people asked me at age 12 if I thought this guy was cute, I thought she meant adorable so I would point out a little boy and say he’s cute. Again I did not know what they really meant.
Sensory Issues 4/20
For today’s Autism Awareness story I will discuss my own sensory issues. I know a tone of people on the spectrum that cannot stand tags in their clothes, various temperature and smells like perfume. Here are my issues, which by the way worsen, in great distress and frustration and angst.
For touch or spacial- I am claustrophobic and feel uncomfortable sharing a seat with someone when I have a backpack I have to put on my lap and don’t like standing in crowded vehicle. Also I get really annoyed when people push their seats so far back in the bus or plane that I have no room to do anything. I do not know if this is a feeling controlled issue or sensory. Also my tongue burns easily and I get blisters very easily. Also drafts bother me and I have a very hard time sleeping in very hit rooms.
Taste- finicky with texture of meats. I have been unable to swallow or am afraid to swallow foods I do not like like plain milk since 20 years ago when I drank milk when having stomach issues and threw up in the cafeteria floor in front of others.
Smell- I have a hard time breathing with the saturated smell of waste or tainted raw meat or dead animals. I feel like barfing.
Vision- bright sunlight streaming through windows makes it hard to for me to focus or see so I wear sunglasses.
Hearing- a big issue- as a child I hated popping balloons and screaming kids. It hurt my ears especially when near them. Now I get annoyed and distracted when people are loudly talking across seats also being stuck in an airplane with loud crying toddlers irk me. The sound of loud Thunder or construction machinery hurts my ears.
Now I could be wrong but many of my sensory issues come from anxiety. Whenever I hear thunder, I think global warming. People invading my space, I associate with disrespect and pushing me around.
Fantasy Rules, Reality Drools 4/21
When I was little I used to have a huge community of imaginary friends that I called mold people who I would talk to or tell stories about and would bring them everywhere. Then starting at 12 I developed a community of characters in my head who I would fantasize and write stories or act out storied about them. I still do this especially when under stress. As insane as it sounds it keeps me sane when reality is harsh to me. Often I would fantasize how my characters handle my difficult experiences and they’d handle it better or seek revenge and get in a ton of trouble doing things I would never do. It’s like I have instant Q or TV running in my head with different TV shows from an Orange is the New Black type show to family shows with parenthood to high school type stuff.
Art Sale 4/22
I two autism awareness personal stories today to make up for missed time. This one and the previous one. When I was 8 I had am art sale at my grandma’s house in Tenerife. Since I knew nothing about pricing I priced my drawings very randomly day pricing on of my worse drawings for 35 bucks and pricing a good drawing for a nickel.
Eye Contact 2 4/23
Autism awareness personal story- Many people on the spectrum struggle with eye contact and so do many trauma survivors. I am somewhat of a trauma survivor so it’s hard to maintain eye contact bc I fear their eyes will deceive what they say but am getting better at that. Like many on the spectrum I am better at listening to complex information I have not been that exposed to when I look away from the speaker so I can focus on one sense at a time to process and also when I talk about something intense and painful I often look away when I talk but see others do that too.
Movies and Reality merge 4/24
For yesterday’s autism awareness story, I will focus on how videos influenced I was by them. When I was a PAFA undergrad I loved a lot of John Waters movies, the NC17 rated movies, Kids, Dead Man on Campus, etc. I also believed a lot of stuff I saw. When I saw Dead Man on Campus I believed my dorm life would be just like the main characters. I believed I would get a lover right away and party a lot and balance everything. But then I went to live in a dorm and learned that with the RA people could not get away with nearly as much as in Dead Man On Campus and soon learned that movie and John Waters movies which I knew were comedies were just satiring situations. Furthermore it was hard to believe the subtle reality. I believed someone could send 14 recommendation letters to get into a program instead of the standard 2 to 3. I believed a lot of the Rhetoric I see on TV is okay to say when fighting back. But now I know I have to pick my battles. For a long time I always wished to live in a TV movie world and get away with as much as characters do and retreated to video talk when things are rough or I’m board. I still use video talk as my stimming or processing but very much with movies and TV shows that most relate to my situation in some way.
Imagining Audience 4/25
I as so anxious and self-conscious when I did my part of a group presentation in theories in writing that I was having flashbacks. To calm me down I pretended to be one of my more recent Fleisher instructors teaching a craft and found my voice becoming less choppy and developed more authority in my timid voice. I imaged my audience as my classmates at Fleisher or colleagues/ peers of places where I demonstrate strength.
For today’s Autism Awareness story, I will talk about my creative recipes. The Phoebe Murer Specials- I never learned to cook hotdogs till 30 and I am a relatively basic cooker. But here are some interesting recipes I came up with since I was a kid. At 9- I poured grapefruit juice on my cereal and poured powder milk on it. Since age 10 my routine breakfast is hot cocoa poured on cheers and sometimes powder milk and goat cheese. AT 11- I poured coffee on ice cream to make coffee ice-cream. At 15 I started dough recipes with flower mixed with chocolate chips, buttermilk and brown sugar. At 18- I started drinking coffee so to be efficacy for my rushed school morning routines I poured mocha on cheerios. At 28- I liked duping potato chips in Nutella and still do. At 20- I made my first cocktail composing seltzer, gin, tonic water, and grapefruit juice- the Phoebe Murer special.
Animal Bonding 4/27
Today’s Autism Awareness post focuses on my bonding with animals. As a long time pet rat parent, I have learned to read people by observing the way rats interact with each other. I have noticed they are like people with how they form cliques and shun other rats with their hissing and crab walking. I also notice some rats are very personable and inclusive of others. I have seen rats that could be on the spectrum with their creativity but struggle to bond with other rats, but bond with people instead. I have also seen tons of authoritarian behavior in rats. When I see such body language with rats it helps me notice people interaction and their nonverbal codes.
Feelings about my diagnosis 4/28
This is my final post for autism awareness month. I will talk about my reaction to my diagnosis, which is interesting. When I was 9, I was confused why I was in the brownies instead of juniors and was disturbed about that. I kept zeroing in on my brownie handbook on the ages of the girl scouts levels. I also discovered Timothy school was a special needs school and asked why I went to a special school. My mother explained I have autism. I was relieved and happy to be “high functioning and self aware.” I also was pleased to have gifts to compensate for my needs like being in a 9th grade level in certain math skills at age 9. At 5 I could multiply 4 ×27. While I was by nature a horrible speller due to audio processing problems I could spell the two Philadelphia Rivers when I was 6. Of course it really helped to be a leader at Timothy school and adopted a big sister role to one of the younger kids. I saw a ton of potential on myself. My parents planned to have me mainstreamed but then at age 12 I began seeing the dark side of my autism, my struggles. We looked into many many schools after Timothy and they all rejected me. It got to the point the state wanted me sent to Elwyn or Wordsworth. Timothy School fought to have me sent to the Day school instead because it was a school for kids with “milder” problems. Once I went to that school I faced a lot of stigma for being autistic and kids labeled me retarded. While my gifts were still recognized, I felt people focused on my weaknesses much more which lowered my self-esteem. I went from being proud of my autism to wanting a brain operation to make me normal. But then at 16 my confidence repaired it self and I became a leader to some if my peers again and better accepted I will be autistic for the rest of my life I focused on appearing more normal and blending in society. Then in college I got better at accepting My autism. But at times when being really oppressed I am not happy with my Asperger’s but am much happier with it when my strengths are noticed, I belong and feel useful.