Hangwire

It isn’t a chore for me to organize my stuff; it’s a TREAT! It’s not so much re-organizing the BIG stuff such as beds, recliners, etc. I’ll do that but on rare occasion. It’s more the small stuff such as the clothes in my closet or drawers. I want my space to be as predictable as my routine.  I intensely dislike playing hide and seek where I am the one seeking and seldom the finder.

I went overboard this last summer. With the kids out of school, I was on break since substitute teacher aides are on hiatus. Solo activities help to keep me in a good mood. On one afternoon, I took to organizing my bedroom closet for the upteenth time.  I like doing it so much that I stopped counting how many times I’ve given a closet a re-org.

After I finished tossin’, I needed to go garage shopping. Why? I had tossed more than half my clothes. The criteria for what to toss out was what I hadn’t worn in a year or so. It became abundantly clear to me that a limited amount of my clothes see the light of day. I tend to wear the same old things; a creature of habit.

I had worked so hard that I got sweaty and thus, cranky as a bear. Ought oh! As my energy level goes down, my tendency to have a meltdown goes UP!  I  felt a volcano rumbling within in.  I should have slowed down but once I start something, it is truly hard for me to put the brakes on it. How did I know I was hitting the boiling point? My clue was engaging in combat with the hangers.

I had a lot of hangers left over after discarding so much of what they had hung up. I was trying to put them away in a box but they didn’t want to go away quietly. One entangled with another one and separating them apart got on my nerves. Some flew on the floor. Well, okay, I gave them a little boost.

Fighting hangers was a sign I was heading for meltdown country.  I did what sometimes chases a meltdown away.  I walked away and went out to the backyard for a hanger break. Maybe I could walk off my crankiness. Since I like being productive, I picked up dead leaves and twigs. It may sound strange but it is an activity that sometimes will soothe down the rumbling.

After the lawn looked sufficiently leafless, I had calmed down by then and I returned to the hanger mess on my bedroom floor.  I put the hangers in the storage box without any more combat. After storing the left-over hangers and the clothing that didn’t make the final cut, I took a good look at my closet — my masterpiece. It had more empty space and was organized to the hilt. Just “perfect”.

It can be so exhausting living on the spectrum aiming for perfection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My To-Do

I am a stickler for routine as many are on the Spectrum. But I can make adjustments without shutdowns or meltdowns BUT … there is a but. An essential “but”. I have to be the person making the adjustment.

I have not been one to rely on to-do lists. My memory was reliable; just the rest of me was in doubt. Not one hundred percent, but sufficient enough that I didn’t have yellow stick-em notes decorating my desk. Well, my memory is aging with the rest of me. Its reliability isn’t as reliable as my memory was when it was 20-, 30- or 40-something.

I came across something to help me avoid the sticky reminder route.  It is a computer application version of a to-do list.  It’s the “computerized” part that had me hooked since I am a computer addict.  Instead of writing down my to-do’s in my hard to read chicken scratch, I key them in on my keyboard. A mouse click takes care of deleting a to-do after completed. When my to-do’s for the day is done, I get a note on my computer screen of “well done and good night”.

This application has done wonders! I have put items on this list that I never got in the habit of doing until now. One example is putting on makeup. Those who know me can appreciate the wonder of this. I’m the type who doesn’t want to give much time in the morning to grooming.  The reason behind my short hairstyle is the less hair there is, the less there is to brush or wash. So for me to add putting on makeup to my morning routine is headline news.

If I put an item on the to-do list for a particular day or for every day, I will do it unless I have a sufficient reason that I won’t feel guilty about not doing it.  I read somewhere in my Autism research that a guilt complex is not uncommon for those on the Spectrum.  I tend to agree since I sure got one that gives me a hard time if I don’t finish my to-do’s.

A Yard Toy to Me

Trimming the hedge has been added to my growing list of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) stimming methods to hopefully thwart meltdowns.  There is also the added benefit of exercise and being outdoors.  My backyard has become my ground to persevere by repeatedly picking up dead leaves, dead pecans, or giving the hedge a haircut.
Recently one of my brothers showed me how to operate the edger or weed eater.  It was a brand new one thanks to another brother who ordered it online.  He took the old one we had that was NOT user-friendly.  My brother sure knows how to pick ’em because the edger is easy to turn on, turn off, and operate.  There is a drawback.  I doubt there is an edge trimmer invented that doesn’t have this drawback.  It is not user-friendly to one’s ARMS.  Mine paid me back big time after I “played around” the sides of the yard with it.
My brother doesn’t care for edge trimming.  Me?  I took to it like a duck to water.  I used to think my attraction to gadgets, “gadgetitis”, was just quirky behavior.  After I learned I was on the Spectrum, I had a better understanding of what was behind my gadgetitis.
I don’t view the edger as a yard tool, but as a toy.  Give me a battery-operated or power-corded piece of work and just watch me go to work, no, rather, go play with it!

The Can Opener Challenge

It isn’t always the big battles on the Spectrum; it’s the little ones too.  The little ones are bigger at the time than they are in hindsight.  It is in hindsight I can write about them and have a chuckle or two.  If I can laugh about any battle, it hasn’t defeated me.

A little one started when my Mom interrupted my blog-writing asking me to open a can for her.  I’m not complaining about that.  It just throws me for a bit to pause when I’m creating a masterpiece.  Arthur (arthritis) makes opening a can with a manual can opener a painful proposition.  I figure I better have empathy since Arthur probably already has his eyes set on me in the near future.  I come from a long family tree of Arthur’s victims.

This made me think of a battery-operated can opener I had seen at a store having a 20% off sale the very same day.  Since I was planning on going anyway, barring a large crowd, I made note of it to look for one.  With a small showing of customers at the time I entered the store,  I went ahead and bought a red Handy-Dandy battery-operated can opener, one of those As See on TV products.  Besides my Mom needing one, I am attracted to a battery or electric gadget like a coin is to a magnet.

I took it out of the package in my bedroom to get the gadget up and running without my Mom knowing a thing.  I wanted to surprise her by doing a “show and tell”.  That was a good plan but that’s not how it went down.  After installing two “AA” batteries, I pushed the button and not a sound was heard.  I tried placing it on a can in case the opener wouldn’t work without having something to spin on.  That’ didn’t work.  I was so frustrated!  I don’t give in to defeat easily when it comes to gadgets.  I am the “gadget queen” in my clan.  After numerous efforts, this “queen” eventually came to the conclusion it was a “lemon” can opener.

I didn’t ask for this battle, but it fell in my lap and I saw it as having two choices.  I could toss it and try to forget it; or, I could take it back to the store for an exchange/refund.  My Mom would have taken it back to the store without any hesitation whatsoever.  Me?  Just the opposite.  I have a phobia of customer service desks.  My first inclination was to do to the malfunctioned opener what I do with party invitations:  toss out!

The price receipt, though, kept staring at me.   Guilt is another biggie of mine.  I came up with an idea to ease my guilty conscience.  I’d put it back in the store bag, go back to the store, and if there was a store clerk who seemed friendly enough, I would ask to exchange it.  I didn’t want a refund because I wasn’t ready to give up on presenting my Mom with a can opener that would defy her nemesis, Arthur.

I’m proud to say I got up the nerve to approach the customer service desk and asked for an exchange.  She took the lemon and dropped the exchange item in a bag with a “have a good day”.  I could breathe easy now as I walked out the store after my victory of facing the exchange challenge.  I know such transactions come easy for a lot of folks, but not for me.

It was back to the drawing board.  The only difference was it was black instead of red.  I wish I could say that after the battery installation, the handy-dandy opener came to life.  But that’s not how it went down.  It wasn’t making a sound either.  After repeating what I did hours earlier with the red “lemon” one, I re-dressed it back into its package.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to return to the store or not.  Two customer service interactions in one day — there’s only so much I can take!

It was aggravating I couldn’t get a gadget to work.  I can’t thread a needle, but I know my way around setting up a smart phone, smart watch, etc.  I had to try one more time to save my reputation for gadget-fixing.  I used a can of chili as my guinea pig.  Just as I was about to take my finger off the start button and give in to defeat, the opener came to life.  It started its journey around the can lid while I watched in amazement.

This was supposed to be the end of the story.  Nope!  A few weeks later, the black handy-dandy opener met its fate of a trash can after opening a can of green beans.  It did a spin around the lid of the can.  The problem was it wouldn’t let go of the lid.  They were inseparable!  I did manage to free the green beans but I had to toss the can opener with the can still in its mouth.

Now, most people would have given up by now.  But I don’t give up easily.  I wasn’t about to be outdone by any kind of gadget.  I received a 20% off e-mail from a store and I saw this as a sign to go ahead and purchase No. 3.  I’m thrilled to say the third one was the charm.  As for what my Mom does when she needs a can opener, she still hollers for me and I do the honors.

 

 

 

 

Wired to the Hilt

If you are on the Spectrum, you probably met a skeptical look when you brought up the “Spectrum” talk.  I’ve long learned from just observing people that rolling eyes can be a sign of skepticism just as a yawn a sign of boredom. I’ve gotten both during my mere mention of the word “Autism”.

I admit I am guilty of being on the other end.  I have a friend who can talk a heap about her constant companion, Arthur (arthritis).  I can empathize more of the person’s need to talk about Arthur now that I know I’m on the Spectrum.  In comparison, Arthur is more noticeable than my Autism.  I sometimes smell the person’s “Arthur” cream and I don’t   mention it because that would be a social no-no.

We were talking the other day about my blogs and she thought she could identify with some of my Autism traits.  I told her neurotypicals (those not on the Spectrum) share some of the qualities, but it isn’t only the traits themselves, but the frequency and intensity too.

She got a good taste of what I meant when I gave her a show-and-tell of my bedroom.  I’m not sure what occupied my bedroom that convinced her the most.  My half-dozen small desk organizers and my basket of another half-dozen spare organizers that I have run out of a place to put them.  She said, “No wonder you volunteered to organize my pantry!”

Then, there was my herd of electronic gadgets.  It’s one thing to hear me talk about my gadgets and it’s another thing to meet the herd in person. The collection includes two TVs, one for cable TV and the other for streaming.  There are two computers but one of them belongs to my Mom.  There’s my home assistants:  Google Home, Alexa Echo Dot, and my newest addition to the family – Alexa Echo Show.  A smartphone, tablet, printer, and a TV receiver for each TV and a router.  My recliner is power operated with two power cords.  Then, other devices attached to a power cord: digital clock, aromatherapy diffuser, two lamps, and a fan.  I’m probably leaving something out but oh, well.

Actually, the convincing sight may have been the sight of five power strips that are all home to my power cords.   Since my Mom’s house is over 60 years old, I don’t have many options when it comes to where I can plug something in.  Power strips are necessary to power my collection.  My friend just shook her head and said, “You have more power cords than I have dresses.”

I don’t talk as much about my Autism with my friend.  Arthur is still a frequent topic and I empathize since he’s hard to ignore.  Since Arthur was a constant companion to those in my family tree, I suspect there’s a day coming when he will get attached to me too.  My friend does occasionally ask though, “How’s Google and Alexa doing?”

 

 

 

 

 

The Late Night Griller

I don’t like asking questions and I don’t like answering them. I have plenty of them running through my mind though, more than I want.  It’s one of my challenges of living on the Autism Spectrum.  When asked a question, even one that I should know the answer, my brain doesn’t pop up the answer in lightning speed.  My anxiety can get the best of me and give a dumb answer that I will kick myself later for.  As far as asking questions, I really have to work up my nerve to ask because of my fear of a negative or puzzled response.  Those times when I have gotten up the nerve to ask, then it was a question I probably asked out of sheer desperation.

When Jesus walked upon this Earth, He sometimes asked questions such as asking His disciples who people say He was and then who did they think He was.  He was asked questions, too, from His disciples and followers.  He also got questions from His enemies but they were seeking to discredit Him in front of the crowds.  On one occasion, he was grilled into the night by a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  An unlikely person to interview Jesus because he was a member of a group of Jews, the Pharisees, who did not care for Jesus’s teaching.  He was also a high-level official being a member of the ruling body of the Jews known as the Sanhedrin.

Nicodemus’s grilling of Jesus is told in the third chapter of John.  John reports that Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night.  Many speculate Nicodemus chose to meet Jesus at night because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus in the light of day.  Perhaps he didn’t want his peers on the Sanhedrin to know he was conversing with their perceived enemy.  This may indeed be true but the Scripture only tells us it was a night visit.  It doesn’t say why.

At the start of their conversation, Jesus confronts Nicodemus with the truth that he “must be born again”.  (John 3:3). When Nicodemus seems skeptical, Jesus remarks that since he is a leader of the Jews, he should already know this (John 3:10).

It is in Nicodemus’s grilling that Jesus stated one of the most well-known and beloved verses in the Bible.  It was the verse recited to me by my pastor before I asked Jesus to save my soul decades ago.  The words in John 3:16 mean more to me than words can say:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.  That whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”   It sums up in a nutshell what the Gospel is all about.  I understand what a church leader of long ago, Martin Luther, meant when he referred to this verse as the “heart of the Bible, the Gospel in miniature.”

It doesn’t say in the scripture if Nicodemus went home that night a believer of Jesus or not.  My thought is Nicodemus either came around that night to believe in Jesus or he eventually did because of other times Nicodemus is mentioned by John which put Nicodemus in a good light.

The next time he is mentioned was when he was on the job on the Sanhedrin as they were considering what to do about the “Jesus” problem.  Nicodemus comes to the defense of Jesus by stating Jesus should not be dismissed or condemned until they have heard from Him personally.  (John 7:51). However, the rest of the Council didn’t take kindly to Nicodemus’s statement and rudely dismissed it.

The final mention of Nicodemus in the Bible is after Jesus’ crucifixion. Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial.  This is another sign that Nicodemus did take to heart Jesus’s words that night.  Nicodemus brought expensive spices for use in preparing the body for burial and then assisted Joseph in wrapping the body and placing it in the tomb.

John’s Gospel leaves many questions about the one who grilled Jesus late into the night.  Was he born again? What did he do after the resurrection? The Bible is silent on these questions. Perhaps Nicodemus’s final recorded act was his declaration of faith.

Since I have trouble asking questions even from those people I know, I give Nicodemus credit for asking questions from someone his peers was opposed to.  He’s a good example to follow for all believers can and should ask Jesus questions that are in their hearts.

After all, Jesus is still open to questions, even late into the night.

Zig-Zagging on the Spectrum

The picture was shared on Facebook by Autism All States Foundation United Kingdom.  It gave me a good laugh at myself.  The easy way of a direct line from start to finish is the road I seldom take.  My way has one detour after another.

I started my day with a jog on the patio deck.  I added this to my routine after purchasing a smart watch that counts my steps.  While upping the daily step count, a thought pops up in my brain of something to blog about. This was after a day or two of writer’s block and so I was eager to get on the computer and start blogging.  The blog was my ultimate destination and I sure went the long way about it.

I got on the computer with the intention of starting to blow.  But there’s a slew of emails that captured my attention.  I take a detour from starting a blog to tending to my e-mail.  Another detour buzzes when the washer goes off that my Mom had loaded earlier.  While loading the dryer in the garage, I am caught again with another detour.  The stick vacuum reminds me vacuuming is on my to-do list and instead of ignoring it for later, I vacuum right then and there to delete the unliked chore off my list.  I empty the vacuum container and notice the trash can is nearly full.  The voice inside my brain says you can’t leave it like that and so I take the trash can outside to empty.

I then return to my computer desk and finish up with email duty.  Before opening the site where I blog, I notice the desk crumbs staring at me like a neon sign.  I go for my hand vacuum to feed it the crumbs and discover there’s more on the bedroom floor and rug.  By the time I am finished, the hand vac has ingested a full meal’s worth.

I commence to going back to starting that blog. It is amazing that despite the detours the subject hadn’t left my train of thought.  Before the second paragraph, there’s a Facebook (FB) pop-up screen notification of a family member posting a new video.   I pause to watch the video thinking I’ll get back to my blog immediately afterward.  Wrong!  I see more FB postings and it’s another ten minutes before I leave FB land and get back to that blog.

My blog is again interrupted with the thought of the laundry in the dryer.  I stop to check and it was waiting for me to put away.  By this time, my smart watch app is telling me I need to do some more stepping and so I jog and fold laundry at the same time.  Take it from me, both can be done at the same time.

I could go on with more detours I took before finishing my blog but I’ve gone on long enough.  I’ll just say I did finish the blog just before the evening hour.

More often than not, I finally arrive at whatever the destination is.  I just seldom reach it with a straight shot.  On the bright side, I get a lot of chores done by zig-zagging on the Spectrum.

 

 

 

 

Good Answer

My almost 4-year-old grand-nephew was enjoying playing in my room while the adults were finishing up with Sunday lunch. I don’t dine with the other adults because it is my routine to eat later and by my lonesome. The “lone diner” is one of my autism spectrum disorder traits along with my obsession with electronic gadgets that my grandnephew was playing with. I’d like to say it is ME that attracts him to my room but I suspect it is a combination of his great aunt’s company and her gadgets.
He was sitting on my recliner and asked me, “Is this your bed?” I told him it was. “You sleep in a chair?” I nodded I did. I then asked, “Can I have your bed?” He said, “No, it’s at my house.” HA!
It was days later that we were taking care of him and his eight-year-old sister for my niece. Their grandmother picked them up and she came into my room. She immediately noticed that my room was bedless and asked if I slept on THAT (pointing to my recliner). Since I was caught off guard with the question, it took me a good minute to answer. I was even surprised by my answer which was:  “It’s an aspie thing.”  Instead of coming up with some other excuse, I decided to forgo passing and call it what it was.
The reason I called it an aspie thing goes back to years ago when I lived in a two-story condo by myself.  I bought a queen-sized bed when I moved in.  The problem was by the third night, I couldn’t get comfortable even though I had a half-dozen pillows situated under my head and at my sides.  Honestly, I haven’t found a comfortable bed to sleep in yet.  I sleep with more pillows than anybody I know.  A comfort thing, I guess.
The final straw that put me downstairs wasn’t the bed.  It was the pitter-patter of the feet of whoever resided above me.  Such patter will bring on a meltdown just as fast as loud music.  By the way, the upstairs neighbor ignored my broom.
After a few nights of sleep-overs on the recliner, I became attached to the recliner and sleep on it instead.  So that’s why I told my grand-nepher’s “Mimi” it was an “aspie thing” that my recliner served the dual purpose of sitting and sleeping.
Bless Mimi’s heart for her response of saying simply in a cheerful voice, “Oh, okay.” Good answer! Simple and short.  Better than others I have received such as “you don’t look it” or “oh, well, everybody’s got something.”

The Energizer

If there was a video camera on me at 4 or so a.m. in the morning, it might find me jogging in place on the patio deck talking to myself.  Before someone calls out the mental health emergency responders, I am totally aware of where I am, what I am doing, and what time it is.  HA!

The sources of my “step” morning ritual, a Smart Watch on my left arm and a Fitbit on my right, are counting my steps.  FYI: I wear both because I like to compare the totals the two gadgets come up with at the end of the day.  Weird, I know.  The reasons I get up early are so I can be alone to do my thing and to get an early start on my stepping up to the plate.  I will be a uncomfy “aspie” if I don’t reach my daily “step” goal by the end of the day.

A few months ago, I purchased a new car while trading in my old one.  It was hard parting with my set of wheels since I am prone to be strongly attached to my things.  When they told me that all my old car’s tires would be replaced, well, then, I didn’t mind so much divorcing it.

My new car is MY new baby.  I have had it for four months now and I’m still keeping it spicking span clean inside and out.  I will go out and vac inside the car, clean the windows, etc. when I’m in idle mode or nearing meltdown country.  Just another activity I can do that helps smooth the wheels turning in my mind and keeps my “baby” handsome.

One of those most delighted with my turning into “The Energizer” is my Mom who is still active but doesn’t get around at the same speed as she used to.  She has long enjoyed working in the yard, but Arthur (aka arthritis) gets in her way a lot of times.  I started helping out and to my surprise, yard chores have a soothing effect on me as does rocking, pacing, and jogging.  The hard part is knowing when to stop.

My Autism Spectrum Disorder pushes me to perfection.  I can’t leave the yard until it at least looks like I have won the battle with the leaves where there is a heap fewer of them or the hedge looks trimmer than when I started.  Oh, by the way, my Mom doesn’t miss her once quality time with the rake or the clippers now that the energizer bunny has taken it over.

 

 

He is Autistic

I am a frequent Dollar Store shopper.  The check-out lines are sometimes too long for my liking but I admit three or more people ahead of me is what I consider a long line.  I reckon it all depends on your point of view as to what “long” or “short” is.

On one of my shopping trips as I approached the check-out line, I was relieved there was just two ahead of me.  The store manager was manning the register.  He was checking out a red-headed freckled-faced boy who was grinning from ear to ear.  I’m guessing maybe 10-years-old.  The youngster had his dollar bills ready and gave to the manager.  I had my head down when I heard the manager say in a stern voice, “What are you doing?”

I did not see what happened but I saw the boy’s hands near the gadget customers use to purchase with a credit/debit card.  He was probably playing with the buttons.  There was what seemed like a long pause and a red-headed slim woman came up who was probably the boy’s mother.  She just said to the manager two words, “He’s autistic.”

I felt like an arrow hit my heart since I’m on the Spectrum, too.  The manager maybe felt an arrow in his heart, too, because he said in a softer tone, “Oh, okay.”  Nothing more was said.

The boy reminded me of the students I work with as a substitute teacher’s aide.  It is rewarding to work with students like this boy.  It is sad, though, to hear of “shopping tales” that are such a nightmare that parents/caretakers are reluctant or give up taking their child with them shopping.

The incident replayed in my mind over and over for the remainder of the day and into the night.  It took me back to my childhood when a 7-11 store manager was correcting me for something I had no idea was wrong.  His stern warning left such a mark on me that I still remember it a half a century later.

I watched them walk out of the store.  I dare say it wasn’t the first time she had to tell a stranger, “he’s autistic”.  It probably won’t be the last either.  Perhaps she had left her boy at the counter to see if he could handle paying for something all by himself.  He did fine except for the last part.  He just needs more practice, that’s all.

The boy didn’t drop his smile the entire time.  He seemed oblivious to what had happened.  I hope he has no memory of it.  But I’m sure his mother did not get off so easy.  She was the one who took the hit.