No Such Luck

Have you ever been at the right place, at the right time, crossed paths with the right person, and said or heard words that brought light to a dark tunnel in your life? Some would call it luck or a coincidence. I call it something else.

A moment for me is one I can still picture like it was yesterday.  I was going down a hallway, met a person who took the time to chat, and I asked her a question that popped up in my mind in the course of our conversation.  Her answer ultimately resulted in an answered prayer.  It was something I had prayed about for two years. Believe me, those two years felt like an eternity. I often in my mind visit that dark day which ended with a ray of blessed hope. I appreciated that answer more than I would have if I had received it two years earlier. I wouldn’t want to relive those two years, but I can see with hindsight that the dark period was a faith-building exercise.

Sometimes I say the word “luck”, or the phrase “I got lucky”, or “what a coincidence”. I really don’t believe in either. I don’t pin the blame on luck or coincidence when I experience the right place and the right time bit. One might call me a fool but I believe it’s the Lord instead of good luck. It’s not something I can prove to anyone; it has been and remains a matter of faith on my part.

I’ve also said the phrase “at the wrong place, at the wrong time”. At times of tragedy, such as at the scene of a fatal accident or mass shooting, it is a commonly heard phrase. I wonder because that’s a lot of what I do living on the autism spectrum if there’s such a thing of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Is it all part of God’ plan? Even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, is there a purpose beyond the seeing? There’s such joy at being at the right place, right time with a happy outcome. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. “Why?” may be the most asked question of God on any given day. I ask that question sometimes. It is beyond my understanding.  If I knew the answer, I’d be God and I’m not.

The Bible is full of stories where one was at the right place, right time, and doing the right thing. One Bible character who had multiple such stories was King David. Such as was it just a coincidence that David’s father, Jesse, sent young David with provisions to where his older brothers were stationed with Saul’s army? If David had not gone that day, the story of David and Goliath might not be in the Bible. We can only speculate as to what would have happened to Saul and his army if there had been no intervention from a youngster with a slingshot.

Was it luck that David’s stone from his slingshot hit Goliath in just the right spot that knocked Goliath off his feet? I don’t think so. Just looking at David’s entire life, I can see where the encounter between David and Goliath was part of God’s plan of putting David in the right place at the right time, one step at a time, heading to the throne.  David didn’t go from shepherd boy to king by no such thing as luck, but by faith.

 

Advertisements

The Mute Button

The British writer, Alis Rowe, frequently writes about autism. One of her quotes that hit close to my heart: “I can be talkative and expressive when with a single person, but the more people there are around me, the less interactive and more introverted I become. Inside a group of people, I can’t contribute/function, and tend to ‘shut down’ because I find it all too overwhelming.”

I lived that quote during a recent episode where I was in a group setting in a hospital waiting room.  I had been in hospital waiting rooms before but it was the first time since learning I had an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One thing I did differently with the knowledge of my diagnosis was preparing for this gathering.  I had my fidget toys like my spinner and cube. I had my smart phone with its many apps. I had no idea how long I would be there and if it went longer than expected, I had my comfort toys with me.

The group consisted of mostly people I knew but there was a dozen of those I hadn’t met before. My typical role in gatherings of three or more is to be the “silent” one. It doesn’t matter if I have known them most of my life or it is my first time to meet them.  As soon as I arrived, there were almost a half a dozen people already there.  Although I knew them, I immediately went silent.  It is as if a mute button is attached to me and it always comes on by itself when I’m in a gathering of three or more.

As more came in, the social chatter and laughter picked up, but I wasn’t a happy camper. None of my topics of interests came up. Except for the one I came with, no one hardly spoke to me beyond the “hello, nice to meet you, or how you are doing, or nice to see you.” I guess maybe I send out “don’t speak to me” vibes without putting effort into it. On the other hand, I was fine with just the greetings. I secretly feared someone might ask me a question I couldn’t or didn’t want to answer.

That old lonely feeling of being an alien from another planet came back.  I wanted to “stim” to soothe and comfort myself since I felt like a tea kettle about to boil over.  I got out my smart phone and tuned into my favorite apps.  I was the only one with ear plugs in their ears.  I know it gave off the impression of aloofness but unknown to them, I was in survival mode.

The apps were not enough to soothe the “pain” I cannot describe.  I whispered to the one I came with that I was going to take a walk. I used the excuse I wanted to stretch and exercise. Well, that was partly true, but it was far less about exercise for my body and more for my mental state. When I walked outside, I took a deep breath. It was like I had been drowning and managed to come up for air.

I started off my walk with tears rolling down my eyes. If I had let myself, I could have cried like a baby. I didn’t know why at first. I just was overwhelmed with sadness. After a few laps, the tears dried up. My batteries were recharged as they always are after a walk by myself.

When I returned, I saw another person had joined the gathering. The person wasn’t someone I was close to, but he was a sight for sore eyes. I knew he had ASD too! I made a beeline to sit next to him. We exchanged few words and that was okay. It was just having someone else besides me on the Spectrum there. One in a crowd is tough, but two in a crowd is less so.

I think I know why the tears. My ASD is a constant companion and there are times when it slaps me right in the face. This was one of those times when it let me know it is there and it isn’t going to leave my side. There is no cure for ASD. I can’t be like the others. I can’t join in on their chatter and laughter and enjoy it as they do. For me, such gatherings are draining and that isn’t going to change. The mute button will always come on.

Not wanting to end on a sad note, there was a moment during the gathering of an example of how I copy others’ behavior in social gatherings.  It was an eye opener because I didn’t realize until after learning about my ASD and being in group settings that some social actions don’t come as natural to me as it does to others.

The room was big but low on chairs.  When others entered the room where we were, the one I came with stood up, shook hands, and offered her chair.  I first thought, “You mean I have to stand up?”  If I had been the only one there, I wouldn’t have stood up.  I would have thought, “Hello…” was sufficient.  Offer my chair?  I didn’t do that part at all.  It wasn’t until after I got back home that I thought maybe I goofed on that one.  You see, I was operating on the rule of “first come, first serve”.

Only God Knows

As a substitute teacher’s aide, I go to different schools on various assignments.  Some assignment calls for me to go to multiple classrooms assisting assigned students.  I once arrived at an assignment where there was a delay in getting me the schedule of the aide I was subbing for. Until I had that schedule in hand, I had a bad case of butterflies in my stomach. The butterflies flew away once I got my hand on the piece of paper with the schedule typed out. I held on to that piece of paper for dear life. In my spectrum world, a comfort zone isn’t one without a schedule.

When Jesus walked this Earth, He met with many people, went to many places, and traveled with a group of disciples whom He taught along the way.  I wonder if He had a schedule or if one of the disciples took care of planning when and where they went. Maybe his trips were planned out, one day to Jericho, another to Galilee, and then somewhere else, etc. Or, maybe Jesus and his band of disciples took it day by day and no planning beyond that.

There was a schedule the Lord must have had in the back of His mind. He spoke of what was on that schedule multiple times, much to the dismay of His disciples. Jesus knew when, how, and where it was going to take place: His death, three days in the tomb, the resurrection, and ascension back to His Father in Heaven. The Lord was not caught off guard when Judas betrayed him and the officers came to arrest Him. It all happened right on schedule.

Jesus spoke of an event that is on God’s schedule in Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” The time is blank and will only be filled in by God, the Father. Jesus knows He will come again for a second time, but not even He knows when that day will be.

Since Jesus’s time on this Earth, there have been those who have predicted that the Lord would return on such day. Some even convinced a multitude of people who even went so far as to sell or give away their possessions and putting their house in order. The days predicted came and went, leaving the predictors with egg on their faces. I suppose it is just natural to speculate, but to predict a date is ignoring what Jesus said. It is pointless to predict God’s timing. If God didn’t tell His own begotten Son, why would anyone dare think He would reveal it to some soul on Earth?

I don’t have any inclination of predicting the day of the Lord’s coming or even of the end times. That’s up to my Father in Heaven. The Lord has work for me to do on any given day. I should focus on doing that and not worry about the day and hour of the Lord’s coming. It could be at any time today, tomorrow or decades or centuries from now. Instead of speculating, I should just do as the Lord told His mother Mary and stepfather Joseph:  I must be about my Father’s business.

 

At the Crosswalk

One of the questions on an autism test I took several months ago was if I found it easy to do more than one thing at once. That didn’t require more than a second to answer. I am usually cool, calm, and collected when I am performing ONE task at a time. If I have to do more than one, my chances of making a goof go up tremendously.

On my job as a substitute teacher’s aide, I once had morning crosswalk duty directing pedestrian and car traffic. How did it go? There was a famous baseball player called “Dizzy Dean”. Well, that nickname would have fit me that morning.

I had done crosswalk duty at other schools, but it wasn’t something I had a heap of practice at. I always have a problem doing something I only do once in a blue moon. After all, practice makes perfect or almost. No job training or helpful hints were given by the sixth-grader who gave me the school-issued “STOP” sign. If it was only the incoming traffic I had to focus on and direct, it would have been a breeze. But it doesn’t work that way with crosswalk duty since a crosswalk exists for on-foot traffic.

Pedestrians were coming from two different directions with parents bringing their kids up to the front door and then crossing back to their awaiting cars. I had to watch the cars coming towards me and the foot soldiers to my right and left.  Needless to say, my neck got a workout.  Then there was the challenge of correctly holding the stop sign in front of cars or pedestrians depending on which one I wanted to stop. Sometimes I got confused and fortunately, the drivers figured it out themselves.

There was the added challenge of having to make decisions on the spot as to when I would stop pedestrian traffic to keep car traffic from backing up too far and vice versa.  I must have done okay and didn’t want to wait too long since I didn’t get angry stares from either drivers/pedestrians and above all, no honking horns.

Although my brain isn’t wired to keep up with all these multiple tasks, I survived crosswalk duty without any fatalities or near misses. Crosswalk duty is a lot harder than it looks.  I imagine it is challenging even for those who can juggle multiple tasks at once without blinking an eye.  Me?  I just aim for survival at the crosswalk.

 

 

The Prophet Who Did His Job

In the Old Testament, there are stories of kings, queens, judges, priests, and then, there are prophets. There were a number of prophets with some of them having long, hard to spell names like Malachi, Zechariah, and Habakkuk (Google does come in handy for spelling). Their main job duty was relaying God’s message to one or more people. Sometimes they had good news, but it often was a warning instead such as “if you don’t repent and change your ways…”.

I would imagine the job of a prophet could be a thankless one since their message didn’t always tickle the ears of the receiver.  It could be a dangerous one too such as Elijah having to flee from King Ahab who didn’t think much of Elijah and thought less of the God Elijah served. It could be a lonely one. Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet” who served during the reign of five different kings and wrote a lot about repentance. They lived fascinating lives such as Samuel who was a miracle child, anointed the first two Israelite kings, and was the only ghost we meet in the Bible (read all about it in I Samuel 28).

Nathan was the prophet who was around when David was King.  Unlike Elijah and King Ahab, Nathan and David had a good relationship. Nathan was a member of David’s royal court and one of his closest advisors. There are a few stories in the Bible featuring Nathan that occurred during some of the darkest and most emotional times in David’s turbulent life.

Nathan was around when David decided to build God a house. David thought it wrong that while he lived in a beautiful palace, the Ark of the Covenant was housed in a lowly tent. David shared his plans with Nathan. The prophet, so to speak, gave him the high five. But Nathan spoke too soon! God visited Nathan in a vision and told him to go back to David with an entirely opposite message. God did not want David to build him a house; rather, David’s descendant would be the one to build God’s house (2 Samuel 7:4–17).

Nathan goes back to David with God’s answer.  Instead of being stubborn about it and going ahead with his plans, or throwing a tantrum and taking it out on the messenger, David accept’s God’s will. That’s a good lesson in itself. Not all my prayer requests have turned out as I had originally hoped.  Sometimes I have to go through the process of accepting God’s answer, reminding myself that my Father knows best.  If I could see what would have happened if my request had turned out the way I wanted, I have no doubt I’d be on my knees thanking the Lord for sparing me from what I originally hoped.

The most famous encounter between David and Nathan came later.  It was after David committed adultery with Bathsheba.  When she informed David she was pregnant with his child, he was so desperate to cover it up that he brought about the death of her husband, Uriah, who was a loyal soldier in David’s army.  David married Bathsheba and life went on … or so David thought. Nathan shows up and it was a climactic moment, to say the least.  If it wasn’t one of the worst moments in David’s life, it surely came close to being.

Nathan began with telling David about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had company and needed to prepare a feast. He sees the poor man’s only possession, a little lamb, the poor man loved like a member of his family. The selfish rich man takes the lamb to feed his guest instead of feeding his guest with one of his own lambs from his flocks. David’s reaction to this story was an absolute rage. Perhaps the story took David back to when he was a shepherd boy tending his father’s flock. David declared the rich man had no pity and deserved to die.

This is the climax! I dare say one could have heard a pin drop when Nathan pointed to David and said, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).

Perhaps at that moment, David felt like an arrow of guilt had hit his heart. It couldn’t have been easy for Nathan to reveal David’s sin, but he was the prophet and it was his job. David did confess to Nathan his sin. At least, David didn’t deny it or try to blame someone else. Nathan had good and bad news. The good news was the Lord had forgiven his sin and that David would not be punished by his own death. The bad news was David and Bathsheba’s child would die. It was devastating news but David didn’t argue with or blame the messenger who was just doing his job.

After the death of David’s child, his wife Bathsheba became pregnant again, this time with a son whom they named Solomon. The Lord sent Nathan to David again but this time with wonderful news that the Lord loved his son Solomon. They named their son, Solomon “Jedidiah,” a name that means “beloved of the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:24–25). Solomon would grow up to later build God’s house, the temple, and became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Another mention of Nathan is an encounter he had with Bathsheba. David was near death at the time and one of David’s sons, Adonijah, had his eyes on his father’s throne. Nathan knew Bathsheba well enough to speak to her about Adonijah attempting to take David’s throne from her son, Solomon (1 Kings 1:11). Nathan enlisted her help in bringing the matter to David’s attention before David’s death. After Bathsheba told David what was going on, Nathan came in and backed her up. Thus, there was no King Adonijah.

There is evidence that David and Bathsheba appreciated Nathan for his faithfulness, friendship, and even his “tough” love. First Chronicles 3:5 reveals they named one of their sons “Nathan”. A fine thing to be named after a prophet who did his job.

A few decades ago I pray for something with a heavy heart.  In my prayer, I had a sob story and thought that what I wanted to do about the situation had the Lord’s blessing.  Just as I was almost about to carry it out, I ran into someone.  I shared my sob story with the person who generously gave me a hug and advice.  Her advice wasn’t what I wanted to hear but I listened.  It occurred to me a short time later that her advice was the Lord’s answer.  I can’t prove it but to this day I don’t believe it was a coincidence I ran into this person when I did.

In a way, she was the prophet delivering the Lord’s message to me.  At least, I can say that time I accepted it and if I had to live it over again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  By the way, I never held a grudge against her.  She was just doing her job.

 

Deciphering The Rules

Whether it is a first-grade teacher or an Ivy League professor, the beginning of the school year or semester is spent introducing students to rules and expectations. When I was growing up, rules were written in chalk on a blackboard. Now in some schools, rules are displayed on interactive whiteboards and typed out using a computer keyboard. The tools have changed, but the rules haven’t changed that much. Such as there’s still the rule that one can’t talk when the teacher is talking and that rule is still a popular one that students break.

I am a retired government employee and my post-retirement job is being a substitute teacher’s aide. I started my fourth school year in a gym class for two days. I heard the P.E. coach’s list of rules 14 times in those two days. It reminded me of playing my favorite song over and over again on my record player back when I was growing up.

The coach didn’t just read the rules out loud; she deciphered them.  That was particularly helpful for those who take verbal instructions literally — word for word — a common trait for those of us on the Autism Spectrum.  If she hadn’t explained them, some students might be trying to live up to something that wasn’t realistic and/or totally confused when the class was playing tag.

For instance, one of the top five was to do your BEST at ALL times. The teacher admitted that the literal meaning wasn’t realistic. She explained she wanted the kids to do their best with what they had that day. If they were in a fantastic mood with energy to match, they should be at the top of their game. If they were not up to speed, she asked they just do the best they could with whatever energy they had to give. I was glad she explained that because I wasn’t as much an eager beaver on my second day as the first day of being her sidekick.

Another one of the top five school district-wide rules was “Keep hands and objects to yourself at all times.” If taken literally, one would think it was NEVER appropriate to touch someone. That’s a good rule when students are standing in line or sitting side-by-side on the gym floor, but not when playing a game like tag where tagging is, more or less, touching someone.  The coach gave examples as to when the rule applies and when it doesn’t.  It’s a good rule, but the “at all times” phrase just needed deciphering.

The coach had her own dozen or so rules in a computer document that she read out loud. One of them was one that took me by surprise.  I never heard of a coach having the rule of “no jackets in the gym!” The students could wear jackets to school but were not to enter the gym wearing one.  Her reasoning behind this rule was that kids might get sick from getting too hot wearing a jacket while doing their exercises and playing games.

This rule gave me an uncomfortable feeling since I was in violation of it.  She didn’t ask me to take it off and I didn’t volunteer to do so. I was not working in a hot-boiling gym or even a warm toasty one. It was so cold in the gym that I felt my knees shivering. I mean that LITERALLY! I assume I was given a pass since I was a substitute or maybe the 20-something old coach wouldn’t ask a thin gray-haired lady to take off her jacket.

 

shivering

Within Boundaries

A British writer who writes about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Alis Rowe, wrote “I gain a lot of comfort from people who do not expect more time/interaction/activity from me than I can give, i.e. they are able to understand and appreciate that there will be ‘boundaries’ in our relationship and are flexible to be OK with that.'” Those of us who have ASD and have such a flexible friend(s) are blessed indeed!

I was once asked in a psychological test what I picture myself as being in one word. I didn’t have to ponder long on that question. The word “observer” instantly popped up. I see myself looking out the window and just doing that — observing. Sometimes I do that at the shopping mall. Sit down to get a load off and to observe the passersby. Come to think of it, with what I see at the mall, it’s sort of like watching a reality TV show parade.

As an observer, I am mystified by those who socialize and enjoy it. The “enjoying” part is the mystery.  I wonder what’s so fun about it when I want to go off by myself and solve a jigsaw puzzle or something. I hear of planning get-together events and I shudder at the thought of an invitation. I know to a neurotypical (NT) that sounds so … what’s the word … I don’t know. But whatever the word, it’s not flattering.

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t secretly desire to live on a deserted island even though I may appear to behave like I do. Even I admit to a need to interact with people. I actually enjoy conversations ever now and then. But like Alis’s quote, on a limited scale. Such as I have a weekly conversation with someone who shares my interest in politics. With all that’s going on in Washington, we haven’t run out of gas yet on that topic. I get rather loud at times on my soapbox and repeat myself but the person doesn’t complain, not yet anyway.

My best way of interacting with my fellow man was, is, and will continue to be writing. I can write down my thoughts, edit them with countless drafts, and when ready to ship, I hit the SEND button. I can’t edit or delete what I say on the phone or in person. It is so frustrating and beyond my ability to stop replaying conversations of yesterday or 30 years ago with words I wish I had said or had not said at all.

Another Alis Rowe quote: What people don’t get is that, even if it doesn’t show, autism is a massive, massive part of me and it leaves me with a lot of reasons (not excuses) for almost everything I do, or do not experience.  Autism is the reason I am mostly content doing things that don’t involve other people. It’s not an excuse; it’s just an explanation.

Even within my boundaries, I still want to have a part in having an impact beyond my boundaries.  That’s why I blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua, Caleb, and the Fearful Ten

When I think of the word “courage”, the pictures that pop up in my mind are of soldiers on a battlefield, police officers on a call where weapons are drawn, or firefighters responding to a raging fire with people inside. Courage isn’t limited to those situations. It can be displayed at any time or place.  It isn’t limited to those wearing a uniform and it doesn’t have to be a matter of life and death.  Courage is when one does what the Lord would have them do, often taking the difficult instead of the easy road, even though they are scared silly.

The Bible provides many stories having the ingredient of courage. One of them is the story of Joshua and Caleb. It is a dramatic and powerful tale of two who did the right thing surrounded by those who chose to give in to fear and doubt.

The Israelites led by Moses had fled Egypt to their destination of the promised land of Canaan initially promised by God to their forefather Abraham. Joshua and Caleb’s story begins where the Israelites were at the threshold of this Promised Land.

Moses sent Joshua, Caleb, and ten other spies into the Promised Land to check out who the enemy was and report back what they saw.  The spies returned after scouting the land for 40 days. All twelve agreed that Canaan did flow with milk and honey and it possessed bountiful fruit. They all reported the inhabitants were powerful, their cities fortified, and they even saw descendants of Anak there. (The Israelites felt like grasshoppers in the presence of the sons of Anak who were endowed with height). The people focused more on the strength of the enemy than the milk, honey, and fruit.

There was not full agreement among the spies on what to do about it. The majority believed the enemy was a mountain too high to climb. Joshua and Caleb were of the opinion that the land was conquerable because they had the Lord on their side and the Canaanites did not. That made all the difference. They stated:

“‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.’” (Numbers 14:6–9).

Although Caleb and Joshua were outnumbered, they didn’t change their minds to appease the majority. Their belief in going forward to battle wasn’t based on what they saw, but on what they couldn’t see.  It’s called living one’s faith.

The people didn’t listen to the courageous two, but to the fearful ten. They even turned on their leader, Moses, and complained about being led out to the wilderness to come this far only to die. It was a bad day for Moses. It seemed that sometimes the hardest part of Moses’s job was not dealing with the enemy or the physical challenges of traveling a multitude of people, but the “people” themselves who may have kept Moses up many a night with their complaining.

God threw up His hands so to speak. The punishment of the people’s lack of faith was making them wait forty years to enter the land (a year for every day the spies were spying out the land). He also promised that every person 20 years old or older would die in the wilderness.  Think about that!  All those 20 and above knew they had no more than 40 years to live and would never leave the wilderness alive.  If one was 20, one knew they wouldn’t live past 60 and would only see the land flowing with milk and honey in their dreams.

There were two exceptions.  Numbers 14:38, “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.”

After the death of Moses 40 years later, Joshua led the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. He won every battle and thus possessed the land that God had initially promised Joshua’s forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Oh, and Caleb? Well, he received an inheritance in the Promised Land in his ripe old age (Joshua 14).

Courage isn’t limited to adults.   I can think of another place where I have personally witnessed courage while on my job as a substitute teacher’s aide. A child is alone amidst a host of classmates on a playground. The child is perceived by the other children to be different.  Maybe it’s the child’s different skin color, or a brace on their leg, or doesn’t speak or talks too much, flaps his hands, spins in circles, or their legs are useless to them.  One of their classmates joins the child.  He or she is pointed at and snickered for giving attention to the “different” one. But the one who stands alone pays their snickering classmates no mind. That child who is putting into practice Jesus’s command to love one’s neighbor as thyself is displaying courage. Just as Joshua and Caleb did when they stood alone amidst the fearful ten.

 

Motor City

An item on the list of female Asperger Syndrome traits is “youthful for her age in behavior…” That item I could put a checkmark beside. A big check mark made with a red marks-a-lot marker!  As I am approaching my 59th birthday, the telltale signs of aging are there. It really hit me when I stopped using hair coloring this past year. Well, I suspect thanks to my living on the Spectrum, I am getting younger by the day.

The above picture is my new toy — Magic Track. Yes, it is mine even though it says on the box it is for 3-50 year-olds. I take things literally, spoken or written, and chose to disregard the maximum age of 50 since it doesn’t make any sense that 51 and above are too old to possess one.

Magic Track is one of those As Seen on TV products which I never saw advertised on TV. I saw it in an e-mail attachment from a neighborhood store. I was hooked at first sight. My Autism brain was sending me a wire message: “That’s got your name written all over it!” I went to the store a few hours later and was so disappointed that no such item was on their shelves. Their sister-store 40 miles away had it but I wasn’t that desperate. So I ordered it online on Amazon Prime and waited 2 days for it like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

I wasn’t attracted to the racing part. It was the creative possibilities. The track can bend, flex, and curve in any direction. I can change the track into any SHAPE or PATTERN! That’s right up my alley because I enjoy working with shapes and patterns which is a trait I share with others on the spectrum.  With my new toy, I am putting my imagination to use to build various shapes of highway and to add homemade pieces such as making a tunnel from a shoebox.

Since an 11 ft. track is a hard thing to hide, I didn’t bother trying.  The drawback to my having this magic track was the trick of answering the adults in the room as to why someone my age would buy a toy track and car.  I just wore my autism shirt with the words “awareness, understanding, and acceptance” and pointed to it when asked.

I had another reason besides it being one of the female autism traits.  I thought my grandniece and nephew would enjoy playing with it when they were over at our house. I had every intention of letting them play with it if they wanted. I am capable of sharing; although, I didn’t do much of that sharing with their grandpa when we were their age.

So the bottom line is I act “YOUNG” for my age. My grandniece and nephew, my playmates, can back me up on that.

Oh, since 11 ft. did not satisfy my obsessive crave, I got another Magic Track.  Hopefully, that’ll do and I won’t order more before turning my bedroom floor into a Motor City.

 

The Yard Stimmer

Shortly after I learned I was on the Autism Spectrum, I had a conversation about “stimming” with a teacher whose students are on the Spectrum.  She said something that stuck in my brain like glue:  any repetitive movement is stimming.  Well, that being said, it must not be limited to hand flapping, spinning, and rocking.  I am big on rocking myself which is a big help when the “meltdowner” pays me a visit.  Since that conversation, I’ve come up with other stim ways.

Yard work has “stimming” possibilities.  Before I moved back home to help my Mom, I lived in the Washington, D.C. area where I always lived in apartments/condo and had no yard to labor in.  During the autumn of last year, I came down with a “leaf obsession” in my Mom’s yard.  This was shortly before my diagnosis.  I didn’t know why I catered to raking or picking up leaves.  Now with an understanding of “stimming”, I can see why.  There is a repetitive motion to gathering leaves.  I even have a hard time once I start raking of knowing when to STOP doing the leaf bit!

During my summer break from my school job, my Mom said, “If you’re looking for something to do…”  I interrupted and said, “No, I wasn’t looking.”  HA!  She was suggesting some other yard chore – a new one on me.  Well, that pricked up my ears.  Her suggestion was trimming a hedge in the backyard.  I got excited at the prospect.  I know … I live such an exciting life.

The hedge trimmer and I were not well-acquainted but I was eager to give it a whirl.  After my Mom left to do errands, I took off outside with the manual trimmer and went to work.  Cut, cut, cut!  Repetitive movement all right!  It was an instant gratification to see the hedge taking shape.  I was like a sculptress with a chisel.  Despite the Sun’s heat bearing down on me, I wasn’t eager to stop trimming because it was stimulating.  After it looked trimmed enough to me, I put the trimmer away for another day.

Later in the day, the sky turned a dark blue.  Raindrops falling on my head.  Thunder band was rolling in.  The wind was kicking up its heels and I knew what that meant.  After the storm, if I needed to stim, there would be plenty of leaves waiting to be picked up.