Tag Archives: questions

Autism Questions

Since this is a post in which I talk about myself, have a selfie! I don’t actually take very many of these, so I am feeling very self-conscious.

Ok, so I THINK I found this list of #ActuallyAutistic questions around 4-5 years ago on tumblr, but I seriously do not remember any more details of where I found it or who may have created it. I am really at a loss here. In any case, I thought it might make a decent way to ooze back into this blogging thing, and if any of the questions really strike me I can always note them down to make a proper post about them some other time. If anyone knows where they came from or who wrote them, PLEASE let me know so I can properly cite them.

Anyway, let’s go. A bunch of questions about how I experience my autism. Woo!

1: Did you discover that you are autistic early or later in life? How do you think it affected you?

So at the time of writing this I am 39 and rapidly heading towards 40, just to give my answer some context. I got my first inkling that I might be on the autism spectrum when I was 18. I was officially diagnosed when I was 30. I spend the 12 years in-between pondering, wondering, thinking, analyzing, and having random people occasionally say “do you think you might have aspergers?” to me. I think it affected me in MANY ways, which I know I’ve written about in the past but might be worth writing about more. In brief, I was spared ABA but also no one knew what was wrong with me and it was basically all chalked up to personal failings on my part. 

2: Which terms and words do you prefer when talking about autism?

I am so very identity-first. English puts adjectives before nouns, so “autistic person” just makes linguistic sense.

3: Do you advocate for yourself and other autistic people?

Well, I used to have a blog I posted to weekly that I’m trying to get going again in some form. That’s about it, honestly. I mean, I guess I advocate for myself in my personal life (see: getting diagnosed as an adult, being trans, transitioning, etc) but that’s about it.

4: How did you find out about autism?

Honestly, I don’t remember. I think I first heard of it somewhere in the vicinity of 2000, pretty close to the same time the first person asked me if I might “have Aspergers.”

5: Do you have any autistic family members or autistic friends in real life?

Family members – not that I know of that are officially diagnosed, but it would not surprise me if certain family members were on the spectrum. Friends – yes. 

6: What, in your opinion, is your best autism-related quality?

My capacity to see and focus on details.

7: Which autistic trait gives you the most problems?

Sensory overload.

8: If you could get rid of one and only one autistic trait, would you do it and which would you choose?

See above.

9: Any autistic traits that you don’t have but wish you had?

I’m honestly not sure. The past few questions have already been difficult because I’m not used to breaking down being autistic for myself into specific traits. That said, it’s something I’ve done in the past so I had something to draw on. This one, though… I really don’t know.

10: What do you think about support labels as an alternative to functioning labels?

Ok, so I definitely am against functioning labels. I could go on a rant about “what IS functioning, really?” but I’m pretty confident I know the answer at this point: “functioning” is simply a measure of how well a person passes for NT. This might be worth elaborating on in the future, but yeah. People who look at me see someone who is high functioning because I pass for NT in brief interactions, but I can’t hold down a job, conversation is ridiculously complicated, group interactions with as few as three total people feel hopelessly complicated, I get overloaded in public spaces ridiculously easily, I could go on. 

ANYWAY. Support labels certainly do better at identifying something more concrete and practical than this idea of “functioning” but I worry about them also being used to separate autistic people into “respectable” or “not respectable” categories. I suppose that’s true for any label like that, though.

11: What, in your opinion, is the most ridiculous social protocol rule?

Ooh, this reminds me – I want to write a post about why small talk is actually useful and functional (oh no. now you can see that I don’t post in the same order that I write. In any case, I made that small talk post). I generally take the view that all social protocols are useful in some way, and my lack of understanding doesn’t say anything about the protocol itself. I know this sounds like I’m feeding into the deficit model of autism, so I want to be clear – I truly, sincerely wish that this was a stance that everyone took about just about everything. I am VERY TIRED of people using their lack of understanding something as a reason to state that the thing they don’t understand is wrong or bad. Like, you don’t have to understand why or how I’m trans or transness in general in order to accept that I am. 

12: What are your hypo- and hyper-sensitivities?

I’m hypersensitive to sounds and food textures. And clothing tags. And clothing texture. And smells. 

My sense of proprioception (the ability to tell where my body is in space) and my interoception (the sense of the internal state of my body – for instance, am I thirsty? Do I need to pee? etc) are definitely impaired.

13: What is/are your current special interest(s)?

Crafting. It’s always been crafting. I have other, more minor interests as well – for instance, I REALLY like bags. Hip bags, backpacks, purses, duffle bags, all sorts of bags, and I have very strong opinions on what makes a good bag. But mostly crafting.

14: What is your daily routine like?

Get up. Do hygiene things. Take care of the cats. Read stuff. Eat lunch. Do working stuff (this has meant different things at different times. Sometimes it’s crafting, sometimes it’s writing, I spent several years transcribing for the National Archives). Feed cats. Eat dinner. Craft while watching TV and hanging out with my nesting partner. Have alone wind-down time. Go to bed.

15: How do you stim?

I do some of the stereotypical ones like hand flapping and rocking. Sometimes I like to sorta snap my foot back and forth because I like how it makes my ankle feel. Other times I make popping or other noises in my mouth or throat. 

16: Is there any media with canon autistic character(s) you like and would recommend to other autistic people?

OK, so there was this TV show called “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” which is a murder mystery (obviously) show which takes place in 1920’s Australia. Episode 8 of Season 2 was called “The Blood of Juana the Mad” and featured a one-off autistic woman character who was VERY well-done. I mean VERY. She is never explicitly stated to be autistic in the episode itself, possibly because they are staying true to the time and autism hadn’t been identified as a thing at the time, but it is made extremely clear in the episode itself. Seriously, it was fabulous. Now I want to re-watch it.

17: Which characters do you headcanon as autistic and why?

I recently wrote a post about the general idea of headcanoning fictional characters as autistic and now I feel weird answering this question. In any case, Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, for sure.

18: If you could make one accommodation universally available and 100% accepted, which would you choose?

Specifically an autism accommodation? I’d make public TV’s less prevalent. 

19: What, in your opinion, is the most ridiculous autism myth or stereotype?

Hrm. This is tough. Fair warning – I’m mostly answer these questions off the cuff, but some of them definitely deserve more thought than I’m giving them. In my defense – there are a lot of questions! Anyway, the first answer that comes to mind is the tendency of people to reduce all autistic people to a flat, 2D object. Now, that is not a myth or stereotype, and it is a thing that people do to any and all groups that are othered in society. Still, it’s the answer that came to mind first, so I’m going with it.

20: How would you describe autism to someone who knows nothing about it?

It’s like having a different operating system.

21: Do you have any happy autistic childhood memories?

I really enjoyed lining up my toys. Since no one pegged it as an autism thing, no one tried to stop me. It was just me being weird.

22: What, in your opinion, is the best thing about being autistic?

Even though I’m answering these totally off the cuff, I still skipped this one and am coming back to it. For some reason, the question itself is weirding me out and I really don’t know why. 

In any case, I guess it’s the fact that I have a unique perspective that people close to me have come to really value. I think differently, which gives me my own, atypical viewpoint, and that in and of itself has value. 

23: Do you think autism influences your identity, like your gender, sexuality, religious and political views or personality?

Just to nitpick part of this question – autism is absolutely part of my identity, along with my gender, sexuality, religious views, etc. Anyway, does autism influence those things? Absolutely, in that they are all enmeshed together into the entity that is Me. Also, there is a good chance that I will write posts in the future about the intersection of being trans and autistic, and see my old post about the intersection of being autistic and polyamorous.

24: Are there any internalized ableist ideas that you struggle with?

The idea that generating an income is what gives a person worth. (ooh, maybe this would make another blog topic)

25: Do you think we will achieve autism acceptance soon?

No. 

Maybe this could be another thing to elaborate on in a future post, but short answer? No, I really don’t.

26: Are you a no eye contact autistic or excessive eye contact autistic?

No eye contact.

27: Are you a “no food touching” autistic or “mesh all food up” autistic?

No food touching. One of the regular meals my family would make while I was growing up was a simple stew, and I always insisted on separating all the bits into their own piles, and then I would eat each pile one at a time. Once again, my family just saw it as me being really weird.

28: Are you a pretty rock collection autistic or soft stuffed animals collection autistic?

Stuffies collection. Can autistic people really be divided into this kind of binary? I like pretty rocks too, though admittedly I don’t really collect them.

29: Are you a get along with kids autistic or slightly afraid of kids autistic?

These binaries are getting weird. Also, I’m a ‘slightly afraid of kids’ autistic.

30: Are you a soft, gentle touches autistic or a deep pressure autistic?

LAST QUESTION! Oh boy, it’s another binary. 

Deep pressure. I seriously cannot handle soft touch. It hurts.

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All About Me, Part III

Me, very young.

Ok, final set of 12! Overall I would say these were the most difficult to answer. In fact, a few of them required some honest soul-searching before I could come up with the right words. I am so glad I was able to do this in my own time, instead of in person with lots of pressure to answer things right away.

  1. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

Ok, all my readers are my partner for this one. You can make your own “we” statements in the comments (and that would be awesome!).

We are all reading this blog right now.
We care about autism, mental illness, or disability enough to read or write about it.
We are mammals.

  1. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

I wish I had someone with whom I could share crafting knowledge. I could teach what I know, and they would teach what they know, and we would both come out with more crafting power!

Actually, I kinda already do, but more would always be nice.

  1. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

Much of this is on my blog already, but here goes. Anyone who is going to be a close friend of mine should know any number of things about me:

I struggle with depression and anxiety, and am much better with them medicated.
I always have cat hair on me. ALWAYS.
I am on the autism spectrum.
I am pagan.
I am androgynous.

  1. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

This is a tough one. My “partner” in this is all of you, and we’re not actually interacting as I’m writing this. Though really, how would you do this with a stranger, either? I guess you could reference the answers they gave to the various previous questions.

  1. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

Just for the record, I am really glad I am writing these ahead of time instead of trying to answer them with a partner right on the spur of the moment. I do my best to forget my embarrassing moments, it’s not super easy to deliberately remember one.

Going with my usual thing of answering conceptually rather than specifically – I am very clumsy. *Very* clumsy. I am forever damaging myself by walking into walls, clunking my arms, legs, elbows, toes, hands, etc into anything that happens to be around.

I recently had a fairly embarrassing injury that involved walking into a wall (I was trying to go through a door, but I missed) while I was rubbing my hand through my hair, and my elbow went BANG! It took over a week before I could do things without pain again. All because I missed a doorway.

  1. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

I last cried by myself the night Genzi died. I was alone in my room, with only my thoughts and feelings to accompany me and nothing to occupy myself with. I cried for nearly an hour, getting my pillow all wet.

I recently cried in front of another person one night, when I was feeling the loss of a previous connection particularly acutely.

  1. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

Wait, wasn’t this question 28? What’s going on?!

  1. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

Rape. Ok, this is a little bit tricky (but not really). It’s ok to make jokes intending to laugh at rape culture, or the way people defend rapists or blame victims, and things like that. It is never ok for rape to be the punchline of a joke, or for rape to be treated like something funny.

The same can be said for any number of other things. You can joke about the surrounding culture, but don’t act like the thing itself is funny. Because it isn’t.

  1. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

I’ve been thinking about this for days and I’m having trouble coming up with much. I don’t have any secret loves that I have yet to confess or anything like that.

Part of me thinks I might regret not telling my dad about how I was in the hospital last year. He believes that poor people should not have/do not need health insurance, and when I – a poor person who lacks health insurance – wound up in the hospital, I just could not deal with him anymore. Especially given the financial aftermath involved and how utterly awful that was – I just cannot get past his politics of “no, let’s totally NOT insure all Americans” nor can I just “agree to disagree” because my own life and health are at stake here. I don’t tell him because I know it would wind up being more about my own anger and feelings of betrayal than any sort of reconciling, and I just can’t imagine any good coming from it. I don’t think he’ll change his mind, I am entirely uninterested in being the special exception among poor Americans, I am certainly not going to change *my* mind, and I’m pretty sure I would just end up even more hurt and angry than I already am. But if I died, and were capable of feeling regret after death, it’s possible I might regret not trying. I’m not sure.

  1. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

Hmm. My important documents are in a fire-proof safe, so I guess I won’t worry about those. We’ll say that my wallet is on me at the time, so I won’t worry about that either. In which case, I think that I would save my computer. It is hugely important in my life, is one of my primary vectors for communicating with the world at large, and contains many pictures and other things that I would not want to use. My back-ups are also in the house, so they would get burned up too, so it’s definitely worth saving the computer.

  1. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

My mom or my brother. Both are people I’ve been slowly reconnecting with, mostly via phone calls which is not the best way for me to do things like that. They are both very far away from me which further complicates matters. I would be really sad that we never really managed to be closer.

  1. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Ok.  A personal problem that is not completely private that I am open to advice on. This is a toughie. Let me think about this…

Actually, I’ve been talking a lot in this series of posts about my crummy relationship with my dad. Now, there is a lot more backstory involved than I’ve gotten into, but I am quite interested in outside perspective and “what would you do” feedback specifically about the hospitalization and insurance thing that lead to my refusing to speak to him anymore.

And there you have it. All 36 questions, so hopefully now you know (and like?) me better than you did before. Once again, I would super love it if you answered any of these yourself. Or even left your own problem that you would like my, or other commenters, perspective on.

Part I

Part II

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All About Me, Part II

This is part II of that list of 36 questions that are supposed to encourage vulnerability and intimacy.

Since this is all about me, here is my first selfie ever (I do not expect this will become A Thing for me) taken with my brand new brainyphone. I am beginning to enter the future!

See Part I here.

And now, you get to learn more about me! And once again, I’d love to see any answers you want to give.

  1. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

This is a tough question. I’m torn about knowing the future. I’d be afraid that I would see something terrible and then would spend my life fearing whatever I’d seen, dreading the passage of time.

  1. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

I would like to get a college degree.

My first try was, as briefly mentioned in my previous post, a failure. A disaster, really. Since then my obstacles are part money, and part a fear of failure. A fear that I won’t be able to do the work necessary to earn that degree.

That said, if Obama’s thing about providing free tuition for two years at a community college goes through, I like to think that I would absolutely run out and try my hardest, no matter what I feared.

For a while transportation was also an issue, but that is one that has been largely resolved.

  1. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

I hate to say it, but I honestly don’t see myself as having any particular accomplishments. I guess this blog is an accomplishment. 400 likes on facebook, over 100 people following my email. That’s not too shabby, really.

  1. What do you value most in a friendship?

Connection.

  1. What is your most treasured memory?

Memories of my grandfather. I loved him very very much, but he died when I was young. He lived in Tennessee and raised chickens (and other birds, but I mostly saw the chickens) and visiting him was always the highlight of my entire year. Even now, I still miss him.

  1. What is your most terrible memory?

By and large, I’d say the deaths of those I love are consistently my most terrible memories. The recent death of Genzi (my cat) definitely tops the list right now.

  1. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

I think I would do a lot more going out and meeting people. I am lonely and isolated and I don’t like being that way. Right now I am in a down-cycle, not trying to expand my social circle, because of circumstances in my life right now and the high cost of trying. But if I knew I only had a year left, long term consequences wouldn’t really matter anymore, so high cost and high risk would be more worth it.

  1. What does friendship mean to you?

Closeness. Spending time together. Sharing our interests and passions, some of which will likely overlap, others of which will not. One-on-one social contact. Caring about each other.

  1. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

I am having trouble answering this question. I do know that when I am close to someone, I feel that closeness very intensely. Yeah… I’ve gathered that I do tend to be intense. When I love, I love deeply. As it is, love and affection mostly exists between me, Nee, and our cats. er. Cat. Genzi died.

  1. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

Positive characteristics of Nee:

They work to make our house better.
They like it when I ask lots of questions and get nosy about their computer games.
They work to support us both.
They are a cat person.
Their sense of humor is compatible with mine.

Positive characteristics of my readers:

You read my blog (yay!).
You leave comments.
You contribute when I ask for help with things.
You care about autism.
You are all individuals, beautiful and flawed in your own ways.

Nee’s list of positive characteristics of me:

intelligent
creative
caring
good with cats

Your list of positive characteristics of me:
I don’t know. I guess you’ll have to answer if you want to.

  1. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

Really not warm and close at all, actually. My mom was deeply unhappy in a marriage where she felt (and was) taken for granted. My dad is emotionally distant, shows very little affection, and never, ever gives praise (or at least, he never gave ME praise). My mom would sometimes vent to me about my dad when I was very little, and then get angry with me when I did not understand that it was all supposed to be secret. When they finally divorced it was profoundly stressful and difficult for me. At the time I was incredibly angry with my mom, but it did not take long for me to learn why she could no longer live with my dad. Really, a bad situation all around.

Though on the plus side, my mom generally tried to support and encourage my creative side, and my dad sort of supported my intelligence.

Now, though, my mom and I are reconciled, though not actually all that close. My brother and I have also reconnected and try to keep in touch, but also are not super close. I no longer speak to my dad.

  1. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Oh. Well I kind of already answered this one. At this point I think it would be nice to be closer, but I’m not really sure how to do that. Just chatting on the phone is so awkward for me. Maybe we should try to write each other letters. Or take up texting.

See Part III here.

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All About Me, Part 1

Thanks to youtube, I recently learned about a study by Arthur Aron (and others) that explores vulnerability and intimacy, and involved 36 questions that are supposed to help speed along intimacy between two strangers. I’m pretty bad at allowing myself to be vulnerable, so I like the idea of tools to help me along. And really, vulnerability with a bunch of internet strangers can actually be a lot easier than vulnerability with someone I already know. So I figured I would answer the questions here on my blog. Part practice at being vulnerable, and part all my lovely readers getting to know me. an autistic adult who likes to write. Now, these questions are intended to be done with a partner and some of them really reflect that, but I’ll just do my best answering them myself.

The questions come in three sets of 12 questions each, and I’m going to give each part it’s own post. So here we go with part one!

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Ugh. I always feel really awkward having dinner guests. My house is always cluttered, I don’t have a proper dining room table, eating happens in the living room. But that’s not really the point of the question, I think. It’s about who I’d like to have a meal with. So taking out the “dinner guest” part of the deal, then… um… I don’t really know, actually.

I’m not super interested in dinner with famous people. I imagine that it would just be a performance on their part. So I’d want to dine with someone I could connect with. I don’t know who that would be, though.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Sort of. I want my blog to be more popular. When I started it, I had a fantasy of eventually reaching an audience of hundreds, or even thousands. I think being blog-famous(ish) would be pretty cool.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Not exactly. I used to – I would rehearse out exactly what I wanted to say – but that always went badly because no one else followed their script. Now, I never, ever call people on the phone just to chat. Of course, with the rise of texting it would not surprise me if talking on the phone just to chat is going by the wayside anyway. Right, so when I make a telephone call it’s because I have something to say to someone. Before I call take a notebook and write down all the points I want to make and all the major things I want to say. I also write down my phone number and, sometimes, Nee’s phone number as well. If I think I’ll need it, I’ll even write down my home address.

Every phone call gets it’s own reference sheet.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

It would start with having gotten a good night’s sleep. I would wake up rested and ready to do stuff. I’d spend my day crafting and creating, maybe learning a new craft in the process. At some point towards the evening I would get to spend time with someone I am close to, complete with cuddles and conversation.

Only this is a really broad “perfect” day. It’s a day I could have every day and still feel really good. However, if we get more infrequent, I would want to include things like going to museums, seeing more of my friends, and connecting with new people. Those are things that are wonderful, but I always need recovery time from. I couldn’t do them every day.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

Ooh. The closest I get to singing to other people is singing to my cat. Which I do a few times a week, I guess. To myself? umm…. eesh. Close to never, really. I really like singing in groups, not so much by myself.

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

I don’t think I can answer this one. I mean, my mind is housed in my brain, right? My mind ages because my brain ages. Only my brain is part of my body, so if my body is of a 30 year old, then my brain is of a 30 year old, and thus so is my mind. I’m sure someone will tell me I’m nitpicking this and that it’s supposed to be about outward appearance or something. However, I am who I am, I answer how I answer, and the answer you get is overly literal. You can blame autism if you want.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

Honestly, I used to think I would eventually commit suicide and that was how I would go. Now that I’m on these antidepressants, I don’t so much think that anymore. I haven’t replaced it with any other thought on how I’ll die, though.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

We both enjoy crafty-type things.
We can both be very analytical.
We’re both terrible at remembering dates (holidays? anniversaries? birthdays? all terrible).

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

This is going to sound cliche, but I’m honestly really grateful about where I am right now. Sure, there are things I would improve if I could, but I’ve been with Nee 10 years, I’ve managed to control my depression and anxiety, I know I am autistic and can understand myself better, I am slowly pushing my comfort zones, and all of this is really wonderful. I’m not sure who I’m grateful too, exactly – it would include Nee, my psychiatrist, my horse riding instructor, the people who helped me find the aforementioned individuals, and probably others.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

I really wish I could have been properly diagnosed as a child. Growing up autistic when no one knows it is really awful. I wish my difficulties had been treated as actual, real challenges, rather than as personal, moral failings.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

Well, I’m doing this for all of you, so how about I give you a really quick run-down of my life so far? I was born and raised in Wisconsin, in an extremely conservative Christian family. I totally bought into all of it because I generally figured that if someone presented something to me as a fact, they must have strong evidence behind it. It took me a long time to learn that people don’t always work that way.

I went to a super conservative christian college, where I learned that I was REALLY not ready to be out and independent like that, until I got kicked out of college for self injurious behavior.

Then I lived on a sheep farm for about a year.

Then I went back to WI for a few weeks or so, before heading off to central PA. I lived in Gettysburg for about two years.

Then I went off to the Philly area, got together with Nee, and we’ve been together ever since. Sometime last year we reach the 10 year mark together!

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Oh, goodness. Um. The ability to drive on highways. Seriously, how do you do merging? It’s so awful!

And those are my answers to the first 12 questions! I would soooo love it if you answered any of these questions in the comments. Let me learn things about all of you lovely people who read my blog!

Continue to part II.

Continue to part III.

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