LGBT+ and Aspie too

I recently read an article (I’m sorry I can’t find it anymore!) which contained a few statistics of interest. In the whole world’s population ( 7.6 Billion) approximately two percent (150 million) are LGBT+. Also if you look at word population approximately two percent of people are autistic worldwide.

If you narrow down and look specifically at the autistic population that statistic of LGBT+ people rises to 3.5% of autistic people identifying as LGBT+. Additionally a quarter of autistic people have some degree of gender dysphoria (defined as:  the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex.)

I am aware of several autistic people who identify as non-binary, agender, gender fluid and lesbian/gay or bisexual. I know a large amount of autistic people who are straight and cisgender.

It was in realising that I myself am not a straight woman, that I became interested in the LGBT+ world. Of course this was at the stage in life where everyone seems to be defining themselves and so naturally I became more accepting of myself as an autistic person also. It was in finding my partner who is also ASD and identifies some body image issues, that I began to notice how many LGBT+ people were also autistic, or people who were autistic and also LGBT+. This became interesting to me and made me ask one obvious question: Why?

Why are there more people who have ASD that identify diversly in other areas? Of course most people will jump straight on the wagon of ‘because people with ASD are more open and honest with themselves, so better accept their sexuality’. I believe this may be the case some of the time but I myself don’t work into that area.

I was terrified when I realised I was gay. I hated myself, I self-harmed and felt I was wrong and broken. I was whole heartedly willing to pretend to be straight in order to have a normal life. I felt if I acted with my sexuality I would never find anyone to love me, I was so niche. (ironically – or maybe fatefully – around the time I started having these fears I first met my best friend and now partner who I adore)

I did not fit the idea of being more accepting. I was disgusted by myself and so certainly would not have been an advocate for others. So that makes me think there must be more. This set me on a thought path, made me come to a conclusion which I was sure others must have noticed in the world of science. I was right.

For a long time people thought that those who saw a link between autism and LGBT+ were a bit off kilter. This is beginning to change. An article I found (linked below) shows a 2014 study which showed that autistic children were 7.59 times more likely to have variation in their gender expression. The more you look the more articles you find which link LGBT+ and autism, and surely this means that science is on to something.

Now, to get things very straight (pun intended) I am not and never will be a person that believes if we know what causes autism we should or could cure it. I believe we cure autism and we remain a boring race with no ingenuity and will only evolve in the classic sense. I feel autistic people, yes are influenced by the way this world has been made but it is genetic and will carry on and spread making the world beautifully diverse.

This does not mean that I don’t want to know where autism comes from, what causes it to happen in our bodies and the question most on my mind at the moment – is there something in the brain which ‘makes’ someone autistic and/or LGBT+?

I don’t think we should ever know the answer truly, because if we do some horrible people out there will try to cure autism and cure people who are LGBT+ and so I think we will always be safer in the dark on this topic.

So really I don’t have an answer on this topic. I know that people with autism are more likely to be LGBT+ and even more still will be the ‘T’ and be gender fluid or transgender, even non-binary or agender. I also know that autistic people may be less likely to lie to themselves about their sexuality or gender. I do think there is more to learn, that there may be brain links in this area but I also feel in this part of science not knowing is best for humanity. We have learned in the early days of genetics and in the early days of  modern history that if we know too much those who are most privalidged in society are likely to wipe out the others, to make their world how they want it (anyone heard of a guy called Hitler?). We cannot do that again, we cannot change the things we only claim to understand.

And to prevent going totally off topic I will end this post here. I hope it has given you something to think about today, whether you are LGBT+ or not. I hope you enjoyed this post, as always comments and suggestions are more than welcome. Thank you so much for your continued support. I’ll see you in another post soon 🙂

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ASD, Special Interests and Liking People

The title of this one may seem a tad odd, I am hoping to gain some advice and to give some in return. This is a blog post about an issue that I feel is common for people with ASD, more so with girls with ASD, and it is something which I have experienced; special interests in real people.

Now most of the issues I have had with this have been in childhood – I often have interests in fictional characters but less so in real people – so the expertise I give may not really apply to older people or to those who are growing up in a world with more social media and options for internet ‘stalking’. ( I put stalking in inverted comas because in this sense I mean the popular notion of stalking, I am aware that with people who have ASD this stalking can unintentionally become harmful)

When I was a child I remember having one or two people that I looked up to, that I admired and due to this I became a bit obsessed with them. I would play imaginary games where I pretended to be these people and often got embarrassed when they spoke to me. I wanted to know a lot about them and would daydream scenarios with them. I do sometimes make the interesting note that they were always girls (the characters are also always girls) and when I was very young I believe this was a qualities thing but as I got older this became about role models, copying other girls that I knew fit in well. I also, as a gay woman, believe it may have had something to do with very basic crushes although that never crossed my mind until I met my partner who I will get on to more in a minute.

At this age, there was only so much I could learn about these people (facebook wasn’t around back then) and because I had this streak of embarrassment at the thought of speaking to them it meant the interests did not last very long. At the longest my special interests in people lasted for around two months, which is relatively short in terms of my other interests.

For parents teaching their children about special interests in real people I would recommend not trying to prevent the interest, but not encouraging it either, for example allowing the child to talk to you about their interest but not asking questions or showing great interest in return (I do not advise this approach with all interests, something I may approach in a future blog). I would make sure your child has a good ground for respect, understanding there is a time and a place to talk to the person their interest is on and also, if they are in their early teens, making sure they have a good concept of public and private, so that they are not sharing information the person of interest (literally) would not want others to know.

The tables of this blog post will now turn a bit in that I want to ask you all some things about special interests in people.

I appear to have a special interest in my partner, who is also an aspie. This to many sounds fine and you might think ‘what’s the problem?’ however in the past I have become so used to phoning and talking to her on my schedule that it became all about me and I feel I really drowned her a little. She got stuck into a life that wasn’t hers but only ‘ours’.

This lead to us spending six months or so apart, in which time we realised that being apart was not an option and that our break up had been an anxiety induced mistake rather than us taking the time to try and work through out issues.

I adore her, I know (for now and have for the past three years) I want to spend my life with her, marry her, have children and pets with her etc. The thing is I need to deal with my dependency on her. I need to try and keep the ongoing boundary of sure we can have three hour phone calls but we don’t have to – and shouldn’t expect to – have them every friday at three thirty sort of thing. There should never be a force to do something only for the sanity and desire of another person. That goes without saying, I just feel my ASD is making it slightly harder for me to stick to this rule.

So, with that, are there any suggestions people have for my predicament? Are any of you people with ASD in a relationship with someone who had ASD, if so, how does that work?

As always any other comments, suggestions, words of encouragment or any other thing I have forgotten about, are welcome, I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll post again soon. 🙂

 

Visibility of Invisibility:

So, here is a subject that I myself often go back and forwards on, whether I would prefer my invisible disability to be more visible and therefore easier for the general public to know about, and today I want to talk a bit about this.

This is a topic which I first really began to think about a few years ago when I began to discover that, as an autistic person, I may have been able to have an assistance dog. I feel that one of the reasons that my family were against an assistance dog was the fact that I would then be walking around with a visible aid for my disability. I would no longer be able to hide my disability and would risk being seen as a disabled person first and a person second.

This is something I have avoided myself for longer than I would have known what I was avoiding. When I was a child- sort of pre-teen – I began to really understand that I was different from the other kids but I never told them I was autistic. This was for two reasons, 1) I was unable to see that I was different to the extent of being disabled by it, and so didn’t think I needed my diagnosis and 2) because I didn’t see why anyone needed to know.

The feeling of other people not needing to know developed as I grew into a young teen and upwards. I grew more aware of the world around me, as you would expect, and through that, I learned what Autism truly was and also that –  for a reason, I didn’t really understand – most people had a narrow and boxed-in view of what autism was and what it could become. I didn’t want people – as cruel as it sounds – to think of me as being unintelligent and very disabled, I wanted to be seen as ‘normal’.

It was in my later high school years that I really began to see ASD as an asset. I began to realize that there were some fantastic people out there, some inventors and creators the likes of which had never been seen before the time they lived in, who happened to be autistic. I saw that with the ASD I experienced, I was running the same track as everyone else except I had a drag parachute holding me back. I would overcome the hurdles and get to the end of the race but those who didn’t have the ASD parachute would always be ahead of me. I would never win the race, but I would finish it.

This was why, until very recently I would say, I always mentioned my ASD after new friends and acquaintances had known me for a while. I wanted them to realize I was the same as them (perhaps a bit quirky) before they saw the things which made me different from them due to my Autism.

I would say that as time has gone on, and I have become more aware of my own personality and what makes me, well, me, I have become more accepting of my ASD. I have gotten to a place in life where the visibility of the condition is normally pretty perfect.

However, like with almost everything in life, there is another side to this. This being the side where people refuse to understand the reason I sit close to the front of the public bus, or why I may put my fingers in my ears and duck at any sudden and/or loud noises. I feel sometimes it would be nice for strangers to be able to see that I am different. I would like some people to be able to see that I am not badly behaved or ignorant, I have a disability.

You could also say though, that I am glad I don’t have a physical disability, because I am glad of the days I can seem typical, the chances to blend into the background despite my disability and all the things which tag along to the side of the condition. I really respect those who have to use crutches, dogs or wheelchairs – especially those treated badly because they only use a wheelchair some of the time – because, although I can’t really have a day off, I can make it appear that way to the world around me.

 

I hope you enjoyed these little thoughts from today, I know, I know, I said I would be back to more regular updates but currently I am in need of ideas, I don’t know what people would like to hear about, so let me know, if there are any topics anyone would like to hear about then I would love to know. As always any thoughts or comments are more than welcome and I hope to speak to you all again soon 🙂

The Blanket Trials

As I talked about in my post ‘Life Updates’ I recently got my first weighted blanket. I have been using it for about a month now and I wanted to talk you all through the process of getting my blanket, how I acclimatized to it and my pro’s and con’s of the blanket.

First of all, I live in Scotland and so I bought my blanket over Facebook from Weighted Blankets Scotland (will add a link at the bottom, if I forget to then feel free to remind me). I did not spend a lot of time looking into other places to get my blanket, I had previously had a quick look at blankets on Amazon – which were all more therapy-based –  and on Etsy, most of which were children’s blankets. Having never used Etsy and having seen very similar pricing from Weighted Blankets Scotland, that seemed the best place to go. I messaged the lady who makes all the blankets and asked about the price of a blanket for a 75kg Adult, she sent me back the price of £130, roughly what I expected, and she was fantastic at helping me chose the right fabric for me.

I knew I wanted the classic style, a patterned fabric on one side and a soft, plain fleece on the other side. I have seen on the Facebook page that double sided fleece is also a possibility.

I knew I wanted a blanket which did not match my current interests because I know how often my interests can swap about and I knew I wanted something which was sophisticated and wouldn’t look childish sitting on my bed.  I ended up going for a grey pattern with trees and a grey fleece on the other side. I wanted dark colours because being an adult female, things happen and sometimes bedding gets dirty (as I’m sure many of you have experienced). I will try and insert an image of my blanket here:

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My blanket was very quick to complete (given the fabric I chose had to come from overseas), it took around two weeks to get home to me.

Upon taking this single bed sized blanket out of the box it felt incredibly heavy, hard to lift heavy but as I have learned from making my dolls, dead weight always feels a lot heavier than the weight of a child, dog, or tortoise.  My blanket is roughly 7.5kg but feels heavier than my 13kg dog!

This observation is exactly matched to most of the feelings I experienced on my first night using the blanket. I was really excited to get in bed and to try it out. Lying in bed with it on, the first night I felt I was being pressed down by it, it felt really heavy and I actually awoke the next morning with a bit of a sore back and sore calves. I had expected this, knowing that it takes the body a little while to adjust to the blanket.

As much as that first night it had felt ‘too heavy’, it still wasn’t uncomfortable or suffocating in any way and by the third night of sleeping under it, I was much more comfortable with it. On the whole, I would say it also has helped me sleep better about eighty percent of the time, the reason I say this will be covered in a minute.

So, now on to the pro’s and con’s I have with using the blanket. I feel after a month of having it I am ready to explain how I feel it has helped me and I will probably do an update on how it has helped the next time I have to stay away from home with the blanket as an extra comfort.

Pro’s of the blanket

  1. For me, a major pro is the double-sided design, it helps me remain at a comfortable temperature when sleeping, if I am too hot I can put the fleece side away from my body so I don’t get too hot and on the other side of that the fleece side down is very warm as the weight helps to trap in the heat. Anyone who has ever slept under animal furs will know what I mean.
  2. The weight helps me to relax almost instantly, or at least at what I would consider being the way that neurotypicals must relax. It is far quicker and easier to relax with the pressure of the blanket, even if it is only covering my legs and not my whole body.
  3. This is a pro I hadn’t anticipated, having the blanket on my body when I am doing work for Uni- particularly reading – helps me to concentrate. Normally when reading, even reading for pleasure, my mind wanders quite a lot and I have to bring it back to the words in front of me quite often but wearing the blanket is like having a bubble put up around me I am able to shut out other things for the time being.

Now if I make things even I will go on to Cons:

  1. The biggest con for me is what I mentioned previously, unfortunately, if I am having a day where I am struggling to fall asleep then the blanket does not help as much as on a normal day. I feel this may be due to melatonin issues I used to have when I was a child and issues I still have occasionally now. I am only tired when I’m tired and really struggle to settle my brain if I am not in the zone for sleep – this is particularly the case when I am ill.
  2. Another slight con is the warmth of the blanket. As Mentioned I live in Scotland and at the moment here it is averaging about one or two degrees Celsius and so it is quite cold. Sometimes with the blanket and my duvet, I am too warm and I worry a little about whether I will struggle to sleep under the blanket (even the blanket without a duvet) during the summer months.
  3. ugh, this is a long shot as far as con’s go but I want to make it even… So, the final con is that it is, obviously, heavy. I will likely be able to take my blanket with me for holidays within the UK but I would not be able to take in abroad as it would be most of my luggage allowance and the other chunk of the allowance would be taken up by medical supplies and gluten-free food staples. I also worry about this when we go away in our touring caravan, the more weight you tow the more fuel you burn and all that.

In reality, there is only one true con and that is the fact it does not always help me, I also worry about getting too used to it but the purpose it was bought for was to help me to destress during the night the most. It will be relied upon more I feel in the next few days as we head into Christmas and things begin to get a tad more hectic around here.

How many other people use weighted blankets, are you getting one for Christmas? Or are you thinking about purchasing one? I hope my brief review of it all helps you make your decision on whether the blankets are right for you and a little on how to go about purchasing one. As always any questions, comments and thoughts are more than welcome, hope everyone has a great day and I’ll speak to you again soon 🙂

 

https://www.facebook.com/Weighted-Blankets-Scotland-1331860600183395/ 

 

Yikes! Where did the time go?

Dear readers, yes I was getting back into a good habit of updating regularly, yes I was enjoying it and yes, I do plan to get back to that but exams have been going on and I have been ill recently also (which really sucks and I am still getting over it). On the plus side, I am now on holiday from Uni! woohoo!

So I wanted to broach the subject of future blog posts, and I mean over the next month or so while I am off and able to concentrate on thinking and writing a little bit more than I usually do. On one side I am hoping to fully attack the whole subject of ASD and Christmas, a topic which I know a lot of people write about now and again both personally and as part of charities and autism associated groups, but I want to give another spin as I often feel a lot of these work as survival guides for those who are helping children with ASD, who are having a jam-packed Christmas season. There is not very often a set of rules for getting older and being expected to help with food and organization, or with getting fewer presents and less of the magic you did in younger years.

Another area of writing I would like to tackle would be one I don’t feel I have mentioned very often and that would be my eating disorder. I have been suffering from Binge Eating Disorder for around four years now, and it is an area I find very difficult to live with and possibly one of the hardest of my conditions to manage in everyday life. I would like to talk to you all about this, about how my ASD and Diabetes is affected by the BED and vice Versa.

I am also trying to think of other areas which I could look at, other areas which are affected either due to having ASD or that exist due to having ASD, I’m not entirely sure yet what these will be but I will keep thinking on the topic and I am always more than open to suggestions which you would like me to talk about, or even questions on how to approach certain things in your own lives.

This is gonna be a short one, but I am going to follow it up pretty soon, simply didn’t want to have this post be too all over the place and so I thought I’d do this update and then carry on with your normal viewing – er –  reading schedule.

Thank you all once more for your support with this blog, I am so glad that it is not only readable but that it interests you all enough that you keep coming back for more. I also want to say thank you for your support in the sporadic nature of my writing, I hope one day to get more into a habit of updating on a regular schedule and I am trying but life, ASD, and procrastination get in the way sometimes (as do special interests and devoting all my time to my interests rather than functioning like a  typical human being). I hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas are looking forward to it and those who celebrate other holidays, whether they are upcoming or have passed are looking forward to/enjoyed the excitement.

Thank you all for reading and I’ll be back soon (literally finishing up this post to write the next one lol) 🙂

The Puzzle of the Jigsaw

This is a topic which has been on my mind a bit recently because of some ASD Artwork that I have been working on as well as some of the comments of others with ASD and that is the notorious puzzle piece.

The Puzzle piece, or Jigsaw piece as most people in the UK would recognise it, has been the symbol for autism for a while as far as I am aware. I am not sure exactly how long but I have been involved in the real ASD community online and such for I would say about two or three years now, and the puzzle had been long established before then.

When I first came across the puzzle piece I was actually really excited about it, there was a symbol for ASD. To me it was (and is) similar to wearing my Black Widow hourglass necklace, it is like being part of a fandom and people in the fandom will know what it means but people outside don’t necessarily see it as anything special. I was, as you can probably imagine, a bit confused when I realised that a lot of people didn’t like this image. To me it just was the logo as it were for autism and there was nothing to be done about it.

I know a lot of people relate the jigsaw piece to two things:

  1. Autism speaks,  and
  2. Being ‘broken’

I never made either of these connections and here is why. For the first part, I am very much 90% against autism speaks. I say 90% because I still can’t be totally against something which raises awareness, yes it shows the bad stuff but hey I am part of the doll community and most people raising awareness of reborn dolls do so badly and in a hateful way but that doesn’t stop nice and loving people becoming interested in the hobby. Also Autism speaks –  to the best of my knowledge as a UK resident – uses a blue puzzle piece. It doesn’t use all four primary colours which is the case for most ASD things that I have seen. It focuses on one branch of the tree of autism awareness but its only one branch, not the whole tree. The branch also does not control the quality of the fruit which comes from it. This horrible, ugly branch might still hold some lovely apples if that all makes sense.

The second area where the puzzle piece is often seen as something bad is through the idea that we are not whole, or that we are broken. That is because you look at the puzzle piece as part of a whole person. I don’t see it that way, I look at the piece as one person in a community of people. I see those indents as the things we struggle with, the bits that make us have bad days and such, and those tab type bits, those are our strengths, the areas where we excell beyond the normal areas of a person. We might be a bit funny in terms of the ‘shape’ of our personality but guess what, those other people in the community, the other pieces which are needed to make a jigsaw complete? Those people also have different strengths and weaknesses. Someone in your community will have the strengths to fill your weaknesses and another person will have a weakness that your strength can fill.

This is my view of the puzzle piece, how I have always seen it. I like that it is different from the other symbols. I like that it isn’t a one-coloured ribbon as many other things are. I like that it is a different shape and can be different colours. I like that we don’t fit into any jigsaw puzzle, we fit into the right one for us and we thrive in that space, whether it is on the edge or right slap-bang in the middle. To quote Dr Seus,

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

That, to me, is every person with ASD. All of us were born to stand out in one way or another. Not all of us will be scientists or presidents, not all of us will create world peace.  Some of us will learn to ride a bike aged eleven, some of us will toilet train at the same age and some of us will even write a book when we can’t speak a word. We are unique and we are special. That is why my artwork features the puzzle piece, because we are pieces, we are bits of the world and we will all do different things but each and every simgle one of us is needed to complete the picture.

Thank you for reading

Life update: No. 1

Ok, so, as I have begun to push this blog more in the direction of an autism blog I thought I would try and keep most of the blogs ASD related to the majority, however, I think now and again I will do a post like this. This is a small update of the things going on in my life to try and keep those who are interested, well, interested.

So, I want to start in the world of my diabetes and then we can go on to the ASD announcements in a bit. I have been having a lot of issues dealing with my eating disorder and my diabetes ( I am aware you don’t know much about my ED but I want to keep it that way at the moment and perhaps talk more about it one day in the future). My problem has been that with the issues I am having my blood sugar readings are a lot higher and very erratic. I have really struggled emotionally with seeing these bad numbers pop up on the screen and it has stopped me from checking my blood sugar as frequently as I normally would do.

Because of this, I was given a trial of the Freestyle Libre. Now the Libre works similarly to a continuous glucose monitor (or CGM) but it also has the added feature that you can ‘swipe and go’ sort of thing. This little guy (Named Libby) sits on my arm with its tiny cannula under my skin and reads my blood sugar through my interstitial fluid. I won’t go into too much detail about how the Libre works but I will give the link….

Here: https://www.freestylelibre.co.uk/libre/

…. To their website. In the long and short of it (stupid saying…) I have gone from checking my blood sugar maybe eight times in fourteen days to having swiped approximately 210 times.  This has made a massive, massive impact on my diabetes control and I have almost enjoyed looking at my readings again because I know they are getting better and I know I can control them like I once did in the past, which also begins to open up the option of pregnancy a little, tiny bit more than it currently is.

The downside is in that the Libre is not yet available on the NHS in Scotland. My branch of NHS is putting it on their prescription in April, until then we will have to pay for this life-changing piece of equipment. I honestly am going to struggle in the few days before my next set of supplies arrive because I am so in love with this device and I really feel others would benefit from it tremendously. If anyone out there has type one, or a family member or friend with type one and would like to know more about the Libre then please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment, more than happy to talk about it I just don’t want to bog down this post with diabetes jargon.

Now onto the short chunk of Autism related news. First of all, I have ordered my first ever weighted blanket. The blanket is meant to arrive tomorrow or the following day (by the time you read this I might already have it, in which case I will be writing a review on it very soon after). My blanket was handmade by weighted blankets Scotland so that it would fit my weight specifications. It was around the price range I was led to expect and the postage was actually cheaper than I thought it would be. I am really looking forward to getting this product (feeling like a proper autistic person now lol) and can’t wait (no pun intended) to tell you how I get on with it.

Secondly, in a few weeks time, I am going to be getting a colourimetry assessment to see if having colour-tinted glasses would help with my balance, co-ordination, and hypersensitivity. The assessment for this is not covered by the NHS (because it is considered more of a homeopathic remedy than a true medical need) but it was decided the test was inexpensive enough to give it a go. Having had a look at my questionnaire the optician believes the test will benefit me so, again, hold tight for a proper review and story all about coloured lenses in the near future (although time and stuff could mean it goes into the new year)

Speaking of the new year, I am thinking of doing a blog post on coping with holidays because they really do through all the icky stuff at us at this time don’t they, all the family visits, parties, lights, talking, busy shops, busy transport, no free time… the list goes on. So, if you are interested in some of my coping methods for the next month or so then let me know.

Thanks for reading guys and please, please feel free to comment below, let me know what you think of this post, what you think of these updates, what you think about the end of the world… ok, maybe not that one. But in all seriousness, I don’t usually bite and I would love to hear from those that read. Thank you for your continued support.