Saturday, June 28, 2014

"I Just Don't Understand You"

"I just don't understand you!"

Often times I have felt that this was the basic response people would give me after I had done something that didn't appease them but rather angered them. The looks on their faces said it all at certain times. The looks of confusion, disbelief and disgust. Perhaps these looks didn't involve me as a person, but rather these looks involved my actions and my mentality towards certain things. The feeling of "How could you do this in that way, Steven?" was conveyed to me many times and it still goes on many times. When they react this way, they don't view me as a rotten person but they can and do view me as someone who just "doesn't get it", which couldn't be farther from the truth.

When I answer people's questions and I see their reactions to my answers, it always seems to make my eye brow raise. The answers I give appear to make sense to me but to others, something just doesn't click. Whatever I said, or in some cases, however I said it, doesn't seem to resonate with someone who is normal in comparison. After I have super technical conversations with people, and the kinds of conversations where plenty of things just fly over my head because it's hard for me to remember, these people come out of these talks either acting like they are upset at me or they end up taking their talks with me very lightly, and I don't feel good about that.

During conversations with people, I will use a sentence that will make a ton of sense to me because when I analyze it in my mind, I know for a fact what the purpose is for using that sentence. However, it will sometimes be a sentence other people have never even heard of before. It will be a sentence that, to them, will not have any bearing on our conversation whatsoever.

There will be times when people with Autism will shy away and back off because of the fact that they are just nervous. They are too nervous to keep talking or debating with other people because there will sometimes be an intimidation factor coming into play. Those with Autism are articulate and gifted in certain areas, but interacting with others on a daily basis is not one of them, I can assure you. When the other person gets on a roll and instructs the person with Autism what to do, how to do it and explain why, then a little intimidation can hover over the person with Autism.

When two normal people interact with each other and just chat away, it comes easy for them to understand what they are telling each other. There is no real condition holding either person down When one normal person and one person with Autism chat away, some barriers are bound to go up simply because of the vastly different mindsets involved. You may be looking out to the right, but I may be looking out to the far left. That's just an analogy.

"Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you, Steven?"

"Don't you understand that you can't do that, Steven?"

"I don't understand why you would do such and such a thing, Steven!"

The above statements are just a few examples of what I put up with from people in the outside world. Some people who don't even know I have Autism look at me as if I'm stupid or slow and they will treat me like I'm lower than dirt. They will use the above statements in some of the most rudest tones imaginable and throw in profanity on the side to make their points clear. When your mind is rewired in the Autistic way, be prepared to face problems with people who are so set in their ways that they will take their anger and frustration out on anybody. Some people just won't understand how you come to thinking a certain way, but other people are just so arrogant and obnoxious and vile that they don't want to change their ways.

Has an experience like this ever happened to you?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interacting With Others

It's one thing for someone with Autism to interact with someone else who has Autism, but how much does the dynamic change when someone with Autism interacts with someone who is normal by comparison? What are the gaps in conversations between these two? What are the key differences that we as Autistic people need to be aware of? How should we prepare to interact with someone who isn't of any part of the Autism Spectrum?

Just as much as you as an Autistic person are mentally rewired, viewing things differently as you go along, know that the person you interact with who is normal by comparison will be viewing things differently apart from you. You see things one way and the one you communicate with will see things another way. It really comes down to how you will handle these differences that you will notice. It is so easy for us to develop a routine, keep that routine close to us and refuse to break that routine until something of the dramatic variety comes up. Viewing things a certain way has its benefits, but in many cases, viewing things a certain way won't cut it if we are trying to establish proper communications with a person who isn't Autistic.

Dealing with our condition, we have to be able to understand where our interacting friends are coming from. We have to see their point of view and acknowledge it even if we don't agree with it. Our interacting friends will have a specific opinion about something and we think hard about that opinion and end up deciding not to agree with that view, but at the end of the day, that is the other person's view. That's all there is to it. Many people are going to have different opinions on all sorts of topics and it's important for us in the Autism Spectrum to take a step back and realize that people who are not Autistic are going to find our ways strange. They don't find our ways strange because they don't like us, but rather they can't comprehend how we arrived at certain conclusions.

General interacting with other people can come across to some of us as a daunting task, and depending on our situations it can range from being mildly challenging to incredibly challenging. Eye contact isn't really our specialty, is it? I've had that problem plenty of times. Making eye contact is something that I don't do for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I don't make contact because I get upset and frustrated over something. Sometimes I don't make eye contact because my mind just simply wanders off and gets preoccupied with something else. Sometimes I don't make eye contact because I just don't have an answer for what other people are asking me, and yeah, I find that part embarrassing to say the least.

For me to not have a definitive answer to what others are asking me, no matter how easy or how hard, it will make me feel a bit down and defensive. When I don't have an answer for something, I feel bad about the person asking that question because I want to help him or her. I will sometimes feel as if my confidence abruptly leaves me for being clueless. I will be riding on emotional highs early on in the day, and then someone will just stop by and ask me a question that throws me completely off course, causing me to dig into emotional lows.

I believe that there is one thing people with Autism tend to forget when it comes to general interacting, and it would have to be the fact that interactivity provides opportunity. With every event that involves you to interact with other people, Autism or no Autism, it is up to you whether or not you want to embrace those opportunities. In the one life that you have, you will have choices to make and you will have to choose wisely. When you choose, you have to factor in other variables aside from yourself and your own interests. Something that may interest you may not be in the best interest of a family relative or of a close friend, and things get complicated as a result of you choosing only for you without taking others into account.

Any interactions you have with other people shouldn't come across as events that only exist to intimidate you. Believe me, I have been in numerous spots when I have had to interact with other people, and there have been people in my life I just didn't like being around. The angry tones of voices that I have heard from other people have come across to me as very unsettling and bothersome. Knowing that I wasn't intentionally trying to hurt these other people and to hear these people raise their voice as if I did hurt them so bad has deflated me.

I once interacted with a group of people in a simple party game. I remember sitting down at a rectangle table and I was like one of around 20 people at the table. We would play a variant of a card game where we would pass around the deck of cards and we would discard here and there. Honestly, I forget how the game went so that part isn't important. The point behind this was that when it came to my first turn to act with my cards, I stumbled. I didn't know it until someone informed me about it, but I was stalling the entire game with the fact that I was reviewing my cards for too long, ignoring the deck of cards that I set aside.

This is only a subtle example of what I'm talking about. Something that you do in a big interactive event may not be so consequential to you considering how your rewired brain works, but to everyone around you who has to deal with you, it may very well be consequential. I've experienced harsh realizations of this time and time again. In a party game of any sort, I have to follow the rules of that game just like everybody else. The rules never automatically change for me just because I have a condition related to Autism. I have to keep up the pace with my actions even if my thought process is different. Just because I have Asperger's Syndrome, I have to adjust so that the flow of the game will be fair for everybody and not just for me.

Interactivity provides opportunity in more than one sense. Interactivity with other people is like sharpening a metaphorical sword. You don't get good at interacting with others unless you work on it. Without working on interactivity, you may find yourself lacking certain skills to progress in such fields. Again, we only have one life to live and it is up to us what choices we are going to make. Will we choose to interact with others? Will we choose to stay put inside our little bubbles and not interact?

Even if you are terrible with interactivity, there is nothing that is stopping you from attempting to get better at it. You have to dig deep inside you to interact with others. It isn't until you have interacted with people time and time again that you have developed an understanding as to why certain parts of interactivity have come very hard for you. The more you interact with others, the more you will get to know about yourself and your own habits.

In closing, have the courage to go out there and just be you. Interactivity provides opportunity and you never know where those opportunities will take you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Overwhelming Feeling

There are times when I feel that I can take on the day having the knowledge of how to complete a task. There are times when I feel comfortable knowing exactly what I need to do in order to move forward. There are times when I am in a good mood and I just want to be silly around my family members, just playing around and having fun. However, there have been plenty of times when I felt that many things just didn't make sense about the day I was having.

Often I have felt overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can come in many forms, but for those who have any form of Autism, the feeling of being mentally warped and emotionally rattled can result in getting lost in the shuffle. There have been times when I felt like the day just zoomed by me way too fast. I have felt that things went past me in the blink of an eye and I'm left to figure out why I didn't catch onto it sooner. I can see what's in front of me but I will only see a few things on the surface. I will see the beginning and the ending of a situation but I won't see the middle parts of it. I have been reminded of this often.

It isn't a matter of being lazy. It isn't a matter of being rebellious. It isn't a matter of intentionally messing up anything. I continue to ask myself if there's rhyme or reason for the things I do once I consider how many times I do something, but only to mess that something up in some way. I certainly feel like a broken record when I perform a task and I know that there will be a possibility of me doing some part of that task wrong simply because of how I perceive that task. I go on assumptions thinking that the way I did the task was okay enough. Of course, I get proven wrong.

It is in my character and personality to help other people. I want to help others. I want to be there for others. I want to be able to remind myself that I can be useful for a task as long as I know how to perform that task. Having Asperger's Syndrome, it's a Rule of Thumb for me to inform people that I need to be shown what to do before I actually do it. Otherwise I'm going to feel left in the dark and it's not going to feel like a comfortable experience.

Why do I feel overwhelmed? It's never just one thing that contributes to this feeling. It's always a combination of things that lead to me feeling out of sync with what's going on. One part of it is the pacing of everything happening around me. In general, I don't mind a fast pace, but if the pace is the kind of fast where it can't be controlled and it takes anyone and everyone for an emotional ride, then I am not going to feel okay about it. If everything around me is going so fast that I'm finding myself spinning and turning around to see what's developing, then there are going to be problems. One minute one thing happens. Two minutes later 3 things happen together. Three minutes later 5 things happen together, and so on.

After a while I just need to slow down, stop and gather my thoughts again. I catch myself thinking "Lord, please stop this madness already. It's going too fast for me." There have been times when this incredibly fast pace of handling things gets to me more than just emotionally. Physically I will start to feel at least somewhat ill. I will sweat like a dog and start doubting what I can do. I know that I am needed and I know that I need to pick up the pace, but I can only pick it up so much. Not everybody can go at the same pace, Autism or no Autism. Since I have an Autistic trait, it's harder for me to manage the stress.

Over the years, I have had jobs in the field of Morning Stock for stores and it really hasn't been easy for me to assess every situation the stores have thrown at me. The stores specifically want tasks done one way and I view it being done another, but still being acceptable by their standards. Naturally there is miscommunication between an employee who has Asperger's Syndrome and a manager who is normal. I've had my fair shares of managers or district managers get annoyed with me (or even angry at me) because of the way I went about performing a task, and their frustrations with my work didn't help me in the confidence department.

I've been in these stores and I know how it's like. There is a demand for action, and almost at the snap of the fingers. Your managers need you to do something and you better do it or else they will think something is wrong with you in character and in personality. Maybe in light, personal chats they will flatter you to make you feel good, but in the back of your mind you truly believe they hold a grudge against you, what you believe and whatever it is that you assume. Business is like that. It's a dog eat dog world out there.

I don't find it helpful to have co-workers around me who have poor attitudes and who don't have the desire to work as hard as they should, or as hard as I want to. I don't expect people in a field like Morning Stock to be thrilled about their jobs. I'm never really thrilled about the job neither. However, I do expect them to not try to bring others down with them and be discouraging in a sense. When someone with a form of Autism sees someone else doing the same thing as them, but has a poor attitude, it can eventually become tiring and discouraging. At first, when I started a job I felt like I was going to be around for some time, but after a while, the grind of the job gets to me.

For those of you who have a form of Autism and you either have a job or are seeking to get a job, my advice is simple. Try to stay positive as much as you can. Try to stay loose while performing a task. Don't let the bad eggs of the employer influence you. Don't allow anyone, co-worker or manager, bully you around and tell you that you did something wrong when in fact you did the job correctly. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't try to go too fast if you can't handle that kind of pace. Be yourself. Understand the main objective of your job; You're helping your family.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Being Mentally Rewired - Intro

Welcome to The Autistic Help, a blog that digs into the general experiences of one who has been diagnosed with a part of the Autism Spectrum, Asperger's Syndrome. This blog welcomes those who have any part of the Autism Spectrum and this blog encourages those with Autism Spectrum diagnoses to speak up and share their thoughts on their own experiences. The Autistic Help intends to reach out and help those who are in need of reassurance in whatever issues they are dealing with.

Hello. My name is Steven Timothy Vitte, and I have Asperger's Syndrome. There was a time a few years ago where it was very hard for me to admit that but in more recent times, it has become apparent that this is something that I shouldn't be hiding from others. I have been more open about it around other people and I don't feel the need to hide it anymore. I have Asperger's Syndrome and it's not an easy thing to deal with. There isn't a set in stone blueprint as to how we can deal with our setbacks in the Autism Spectrum, nor can we even attempt to find one, but there's one thing I do know.

There is that saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade", and some of us learn that the easy way. For those of us who learn that the hard way, it can come as a surprise. It's hard to communicate with others. It's hard to make general eye contact with others. It's hard to establish common ground with others when it comes to interests, friendly chit chat, or just asking questions. Pressure gets to some of us with Autism and it can be overwhelming, and my experiences will clearly describe why things get overwhelming for people in our situations. Life has a funny way of telling us where to go and where not to go, what to do and what not to do. It's hard for us to make important decisions even when we have an idea of what we should be doing.

Compared to other people who don't have Autism, certain mundane things in everyday life come across to us as more difficult. When you have any part of Autism, you are going to view things differently, you are going to think things through differently and you will react differently. Embrace that fact. Just because you are going about something differently doesn't mean that you are wrong for doing so. Of course, if it turns out that you are doing something wrong, then be prepared to be corrected by someone and don't let it blow you out of the water. I admit that I have let things blow me out of the water when they shouldn't have, and my attitude wasn't exactly what it needed to be.

I have read countless stories of other people's experiences with Autism, whether they themselves have it or if they have relatives or friends who have it, and it doesn't surprise me what I end up reading. There are many clues to determine whether or not you have any part of the Autism Spectrum, and you just need to prepare for those moments when you are introduced to that possibility. I have read stories of some people with Autism that are ashamed to have it. Some people out there with Autism heavily question themselves and wonder what it is they're doing wrong in their lives. I can relate to that and I understand the feeling.

There are days when I just don't feel motivated to go that extra mile, so to speak. I sometimes feel so bogged down and overwhelmed by everything happening around me that I lose focus of the task at hand. It isn't about acting maliciously or intentionally messing around. Asperger's Syndrome and Autism in general are no jokes and they shouldn't be treated like jokes. Mental illnesses aren't something to laugh at.

Being mentally rewired is challenging to say the least. We have our good days and we have our bad days. We have days when we feel at peace with what we do and then we have days when nothing is going right and we just don't feel like talking to anybody. Depression often kicks in, and this is purely a natural emotion that anyone can show. I suppose we get it in our minds that our walls or barriers have caved in and that our whole day can get ruined when we see things unfolding the wrong way. It's what my family and I keep saying, a term that we use at home. "One thing after another..."

I'm sure many of you know what I mean by this term. What I mean is we'll develop a plan to have a good, enjoyable day, and then something will pop up abruptly to put a dent in our plans. Next, we try to go out and put our plans in action for the day and then something else will pop up, making another change to our day. Once something like this starts, it often feels like to us a Domino Effect is settling in. When one thing goes the other way, contrary to what we wanted, then another thing does the same, and then another, and another, and so on. Before we know it, our day has completely changed and we wonder what exactly happened.

I have made The Autistic Help blog in an effort to welcome in other people who either have any form of Autism themselves, or people who know other people that have Autism. The Autistic Help will be here to allow commentary from readers, to allow them to voice their experiences as well as reply to my experiences. This blog is my attempt to reach out to others that are in similar situations such as mine and I hope that you will understand the intent behind this blog. Come read this blog at any time. You are free to come and go as you please.

If enough people want to join in on The Autistic Help, then perhaps we might have something. Take care.