My Aspie Tell-Tale Indicators

One-player games are the best!

Amidst a group, my thinker is working and my mouth isn’t.

Tasks that are planned are a delight to carry out.  Unexpected tasks are NOT!

Although my interests are few, they are plenty of ointment for my anxiety.

I don’t share very well.

The decisions I have to make on the fly are ones I usually kick myself for later.

I prefer to take on a problem by myself.   There’s just something about the gratification of figuring it out all by myself!

If I ask for help in solving something, I am a desperate woman!

Even if I could use some assistance in a store setting, I seldom will seek it.

On rare occasions, I have acted spontaneously and enjoyed it, but it was MY idea! Someone else’s, NO! I might do it but I won’t like it.

I like the sound of “Alone Again”.

I make a phone call and hope no one answers.

There’s NO space like MY space.

Bailey and her Splint

My vacation is now the same destination.  A six-hour round road trip that I have come to know so well.   How well?  I know how many exits there are off IH-75 from Dallas to my destination in Oklahoma.  I have two road stops and I know the exit numbers of both.  It is a solo trip and upon arrival, I’m the only human being within a few miles.  I have the company of three dogs whose Pop and Mom are my brother and sister-in-law.  When they leave for an overnight visit for a night, or more nights, that’s when my vacation begins.

On my most recent dogsitting adventure, I had to keep an extra eye on one of the three dogs, Bailey, who had surgery on one of her hind legs.  It had a splint on it and she was having to take antibiotics and pain medicine.   There were three dog bowls with three hungry dogs at my feet.  It took a few mistakes for me to figure out what was the best approach to dispensing the medicine in the right bowl.  I also learned the hard way to wash my hands after every dispensing operation.  Believe you me, Bailey’s antibiotic powder tasted terrible!

I would take the dogs for a walk so we all four got some exercise and fresh air.  I was empathetic as I observed Bailey try to keep up with the rest of us.  Before the surgery and splint, she could run circles around the older dog Blu who is 15-years-old in dog years.  Now she was the one in the last place.  When I saw her in a distance hopping along in our direction, I headed back in her direction.  She then stopped and hopped around where she was doing what dogs are notorious for doing – smelling the earth.

Watching Bailey’s struggle reminded me of my own with living on the Autism Spectrum.  For a temporary period, Bailey had something that set her apart.  It was just a splint on a hind leg, but mentally and physically it was a temporary life-changing event.   Though no fault of her own, Bailey was out of step with her companions.

When Bailey stopped trying to keep up with us and was satisfied with where she was, it brought to my mind that this is how I cope with living on the Spectrum.  Unlike Bailey’s difference, mine is a lifelong one.  I didn’t have an explanation of what my “splint” was until I had just turned 58.  Knowing what it was helped me to stop trying so hard to keep in step with my companions.

For instance, I didn’t get as far as marriage and a family of my own.  After my diagnosis after turning 58 years old, I stopped grieving about that.  I know that some of my peers who are on the Spectrum are married and have families, but I believe it just wasn’t something I could have managed.  If  I had pursued marriage and family just so I could be like my peers, I suspect I would have been as miserable as Bailey would have been in stretching that rear leg farther than it was able to go.

Bailey’s struggle is temporary.  When that splint comes off, she will be back in full force.  She will be able to run as far as the puppy Luna.  My splint will be with me until my last day on earth.  But I’m okay with that by relishing where I am at in my life instead of where my companions are who don’t live on the Spectrum.

 

COMPETITIVE I AM NOT!

Competition is one of those things I see people do and wonder why. To be the BEST? Beats me why. Whatever I like to do, such as bicycling, I just want to enjoy it by MYSELF! I don’t care to be in a race on a bike or in a game with a deck of cards. I don’t like to play games with others. I am content as I can be solving puzzles in solitary confinement. 

Surprisingly, I fell head over heels with a new obsession last Christmas that affords myself many an opportunity to indulge in “competition”.  It’s an offshoot to my long-held obsession with electronic gadgets.  I have long held a strange attraction to items attached to power cords or have battery compartments.  Anyway, I ventured into the world of video-games.  After all, video consoles do have power cords attached to them.

My first bite into gaming was a cheap video game console.  A small investment before going full hog.  By Christmas, a few months later, I had purchased not one, not two, but three different video game consoles.  I can’t speak for others with Autism, but with me, if I like something, I go way OVERBOARD!   This explains, too, why I have so many boxes of Cheerios and packs of diet coke always on hand.

My favorite video games are one that provides “training sessions”.  I stay “in training” instead of engaging in an online competition!  Such as a ping-pong game in virtual reality where my opponent is an alien-like figure.  The figure always wins just as the wall always wins when I practice hitting a tennis ball against a wall.  My goal is to maintain a work-out of pinging back and forth rather than serving a ball that doesn’t make it over the net or lands off the table in out-of-boundary land.

My Autism has a part in just about everything I do.  That includes when I have a game controller in my hand.  My lack of balance, motor skills, and speed raise their ugly faces when I’m gaming.  Racing games, in particular, are not a good match for me.  I don’t know a lot about racing but I know enough to know that quick thinking on the fly is a valuable asset for a speedster.  One doesn’t have time to think on a racing track of whether to speed up, slow down, veer to the right or to the left, etc. if they want to finish in a decent place.  My goal isn’t to finish third, second, or first.  But just to get to the finish line with the racing care in one piece. 

There is always the option with many of the video games of playing them with others on-line.  I’d only do that if a pistol was pointing at my head.

 

 

TOO OLD FOR GAMING? NAH!

I confess right up front I am 61 going on 11.

Family members who come over to my Mom’s for Sunday dinner where I also live are used to my being a no-show at the dinner table.  I am a solitary diner, in other words.  My sweet grandniece and charming grandnephew rush to my room after dinner.  To see me?  Well, I am the key to getting entrance into my room where the toys are.  I call them electronic gadgets but to the kids they are toys.

One of my gadgets/toys is a robot named Cozmo that resembles a big-sized mouse.  The kids enjoy playing with it using a smartphone app as a remote control to control the robot’s movements.  Cozmo can also sing on demand and make animal impersonations.

I’ve added another obsession to my list and it all started when my grandniece said she wanted a Nintendo Switch Lite for Christmas. I would like to pin the blame on her but that wouldn’t be fair.  Her wish prompted me to do research on what she wanted and its relations (Xbox, PS-4, etc.).  By the time I came to my senses and said ENOUGH to Amazon.com, I had bought an Xbox, Virtual Reality Quest, as well as a Nintendo Switch Lite.  It wasn’t for my playmates; they were all for ME!

I am letting the kids play though when they are visiting.  If there is one positive reason for adding video consoles and games to my collection, it would be the joy of watching the kids in my life play with them.  I think it is a good safe bet that they’ll remember me as their Great Auntie Sashi having the neatest toys in town.  Not a bad way to be remembered.

One of the delights when I sub for my friend, a special education teacher’s aide, is working with a now-third grader named Elijah.  I’ve known him for a couple of years now.  The aide brings him into the room where she is stationed and spends 15 minutes with him each school day to help him with social skills.  I subbed for her recently on a Friday and the following Monday.  Elijah, like myself, is on the Autism Spectrum and has a talent and special interest, or obsession. Mine is writing and fascination with gadgets; Elijah’s is drawing and fascination with superhero characters like Spiderman, etc.

I told him on Friday that I had recently taken up a new obsession with video gaming.  He said, “You’re too old to play games!”  Of course, I gave a strong rebuttal to that but I didn’t see any sign that I had persuaded him that I wasn’t too old for the gaming world.  On the following Monday, I told one of the special ed instructors what Elijah had said about my being beyond the age of gaming.

Later, during our 15 minutes of time together, Elijah and I decided to play the board game Chutes and Ladders that was sitting on the table.  Low and behold, I won the game!  I told the instructor I had won, half-believing I had.  She said within earshot of both myself and Elijah, “Well, I guess Ms. England you are NOT too old for games!”  I looked over at Elijah’s face and I detected an honest-to-goodness chuckle.  Like some autistic boys, it is NO SMALL task to get so much as a chuckle out of them.

I am not too old for playing video games.  Winning?  Well, I do win sometimes but I’m better at losing.  Video gaming always reminds me of my autistic traits of lack of coordination, lack of being able to focus on more than one thing, and not being quick on my feet.  However, my obsession has only grown and I’m persistently stubborn about playing no matter my scores.  Since I play games by myself as I do so many things, I don’t have to contend with eyewitnesses.