Monday, March 30, 2015

Switching Tasks

It's a pain! Too many things going on at once overload my brain, so I prefer focusing on only one or two activities a day--such as playing a video game and doing ONE homework assignment. Not THREE homework assignments, TWO phone calls, TWENTY emails to check, TWELVE phone notifications, ONE meeting to attend, etc.... otherwise my brain explodes from thinking about all of them at the same time!

I am writing this because I'm currently overloaded. Usually when this happens, I get my brain to slow down by writing out my thoughts in list form. Here's an example, using what I'm dealing with right now:

-> Asperger's Documentary DVD's (people asking for them left and right when I don't HAVE them yet)
-> Need to make the DVD cover so I can order them
-> Need to make the DVD itself so I can order them
-> Need to make a few changes to the film so I can make the DVD
        -> Need to edit the film to make the extended version so I can make the DVD
-> Alyssa Huber Films Website (need to get that launched so I can sell DVD's!)
-> I've never made a website before
-> I'm paying for monthly hosting already so I should get on it now!
-> I can't get on it now because I have an exam and paper to write
-> Busy in college
-> Paper to write, exam to do--
-> People talking around me
-> I can't shut out their voices! I can't think anymore!! (at least not enough to finish this list)

...I already feel better.

But you get the idea; it's chaotic.

The only reason why I was able to stay sane this weekend is because I had shut out everything else so I could focus on the premiere of my Asperger's documentary (Check out the trailer here). It's ironic, because I spent the entire weekend around people--premiere on Friday, awards on Saturday, and social event on Sunday--and yet I felt refreshed because I could let my brain focus ONLY on those events.

The challenging factor about college is not so much the fact that I have to be around people a lot, but that I have far too many things to address at once. And no matter how minor they may seem, the
quantity is what saps my energy at the end of the day.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#HighFunctioningMeans I'm Still Not Normal...

In a fellow aspie writer's blog, "Aspects of Asperger's," Capriwim's posts are very articulate and interesting, and he has a good following. Many may even question whether he's on the spectrum or not, since he has the capability to write so well. However, while Capriwim is a talented writer, he doesn't make posts all the time. He explains that the culprit in his lack of regular posts is his everyday struggles with being on the autism spectrum; like his "difficulty multitasking when other things are going on, difficulty switching from one task to another, and difficulty getting organised."

So why do many NT's—and even aspies themselves—question or deny an Asperger's diagnosis?

Why even?
Here are some common statements you might here from the doubters:
  • "Are you sure you have autism? You seem so normal!"
  • "You can't have autism. I know someone who has it, and they're nothing like you."
  • "How can you have autism if you have a good social life?"
  • "You don't LOOK like you have autism."
  • "Why do you have a job if people with autism can't work?"

It all boils down to two factors:
  1. Everyone on the spectrum is different. Personality, symptoms, and level of functioning all vary. Quoting an expert on AS, "Once you've seen one aspie, you've seen one aspie."
  2. A lot of us are really good actors. We can mask many of our symptoms, but it uses up a lot of energyand once we're out of energy, the symptoms can resurface with a vengeance.

I am fortunate enough to have just the right blend of traits and symptoms to get by. On my best days, I have a willingness to learn, carefully-measured humor, political correctness, acceptance of anyone, and the ability to adapt to another person's style. For this reason, I can fit in among NT's as well as the neurodiverse community.

I have also been told that I'm physically attractive and my presence is pleasant, which comes in handy for first impressions. ( So people won't know I'm crazy until they've joined the Alyssa fanclub. :P )

I also happen to be ambitious. I've survived school and college so far, discovered my dream of being a filmmaker, produced one full-length film and many short films, and I'm currently finishing up a documentary on Asperger's that has already accumulated a small audience.

You might be thinking: "Okay Alyssa, you've made it clear that you're pretty well-off. So what's your point?"

My point is: this is the Alyssa that everyone else sees. Ambitious, pleasant, and cheerful.

What they don't see is my anxiety, depression, and exhaustion. They don't see my OCD tendencies, perfectionism,
and mental blocks--
--nor my overstimulation when I'm out in public.

They don't know the level of dread I experience at the thought of leaving my home to attend classes or run errands, wearing u.n.c.o.m.f.o.r.t.a.b.l.e clothing and/or interacting with people. They don't see me flapping my hands from nervousness or excitement when I'm alone in my room. They don't hear me repeating the same words or phrases over and over to get my brain back on track. They don't even see my happy aspie moments when I squeal and laugh freely, talk to myself or my fictional characters, and play with my favorite childhood toys.

That's why there's a helpful new #HighFunctioningMeans hashtag on Twitter (as Capriwim mentions in his post), which is there to help others understand the complex nature of being a high-functioning individual on the spectrum.

Check out the Aspects of Asperger's blog post for more info and examples.

If we continue to educate our friends, families, teachers, colleagues, employers, and everyone else about what it means to be on the autism spectrum, perhaps we'll all be able to forgive the aspies on those days when they just can't keep up the act anymore. Let them show their autism without fear of being judged.