Friday, August 29, 2014

Objects of Autistic Interest

Every now and then those who are on the Autism Spectrum will develop certain interests in things that connect to them in many ways, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically or even spiritually, and in my personal opinion, I find these stories to be some of the most interesting of them all. Autistic people will have those moments when they will see an object for the first time and they will develop a fondness towards that object.

I make it no secret that I develop a fondness toward many objects and I have done so throughout my life. I have went through phases of my life where I really liked this object or that object and I will hang on to that object for many years until a cutoff point occurs and I step away from that object. There are plenty of animals that I admire and these few animals are the typical animals that you would see in various forms of media. Turtles, dachshund dogs, cockatiel birds, bears, wolves and foxes... Those are the most basic examples of favorite animals of mine.

For any animal that I want to get to know better by way of knowing the traits of them, I am always fascinated by my studies. Turtles are obviously shy animals, resorting to hiding in their shells whenever things get too tough for them. Dachshund dogs are significant to me because I used to have pet dachshunds in earlier times of my life. Dachshunds may be small dogs but they are resilient and hardy, always willing to protect their owners. Cockatiel birds originate from the land down under in Australia, tropical birds that look beautiful in design. Although they can get as loud as bullhorns when they're not fed right away, cockatiels make such wonderful and pleasant noises when they are happy, singing tunes that they teach themselves to repeat whenever the happy moods return to them at a later time.

Bears are large and strong, intimidating folks that get in their way. Bears are very protective of their own kind, especially young cubs, and they are not afraid to swing their huge paws if need be. Wolves are loners in most cases and if they travel, they travel in packs of their own kind, not really branching out to willingly hang out with other animal species. Foxes are colorful and varied animals that are thinkers. Foxes are sly and cunning and if one isn't careful, then a fox may get a bit antsy and a tad bit too witty for its own good.

For colors, all of us, whether on the Autism Spectrum or not, attach ourselves to specific colors that we like above the others and the conversations about this are pretty interesting too. I have always had my interests in color like blue, green, silver and orange as those 4 colors are pretty much the kinds of colors that I can associate myself with. The shades of these colors stand out wonderfully. Clear Sky Blue represents the sky that we see up above on most days. Forest green is a bold darkened color that allows us to observe the beauty of most trees and bushes in the forest. Silver is unique to me in the sense that while gold may outclass it, silver comes across as more genuine in tone, at least in my opinion. The shining effects of silver appeal to me in many ways.

Orange is an interesting color to me. Orange speaks out to me a great deal. Orange stands alongside blue as a favorite color of mine and I guess that the glowing effects of certain shades of orange appeal to me as well. Truth be told, as far as vehicles go, I would love to one day own a burnt orange car so that I could drive it down roads with a content smile on my face. It has been a dream of mine to one day get a burnt orange car because that kind of color tells me "I'm a cool color. You should look at me in a more unique light."

When I mean objects of interest, I could mean just about anything. In my case, I value symbolism. I value the concept of having an object, no matter where it originated from, basically representing you in ways that you would want it to. This symbol may represent what you believe in and what you are about in personality, or it may mean something else. The symbol may have sentimental value in your eyes as it reminded you of something so near and dear to your heart in the past.

I have long adopted a symbol for myself simply because I find this symbol convenient. The fox. 

The fox is a clever and intelligent fellow, sneaky but cautious. Always willing to learn new things and always willing to make something out of nothing in order to progress. The fox is methodical in his approach of pursuing his prey. The fox looks like an animal of royalty, but only in subtle ways. The fox loves to burrow in his home, a hole in the side of a hill where he hopes that he won't be bothered by unnecessary distractions. The fox is always willing to plan ahead to prepare himself for what might come tomorrow. The Thought Fox, a poem written by Ted Hughes, is probably one genuine example of why I love foxes.

The fox is a symbol that I feel mainly represents me, Steven Vitte. The loveable appearance of a fox's face and muzzle, welcoming guests to talk to him. The fox's ability to pay attention to detail certainly helps too. Although he is shy and has his troubles breaking out of his shell, the fox is a helpful fellow, only looking for help of his own. It sounds much like the average Autistic person to me.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where I Want To Be - Part 2

Continued from the Gaming Journalist Gazette...

If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, then refer to the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog which I also run. You can call this series a bit of a crossover since this covers numerous parts of me, Steven Vitte. One of the things I listed when it comes to my goals once I enter the Video Game Industry would be to become one representative for the cause of Gaming and Autism Awareness. It's a topic that isn't out in the open and it rarely gets front page attention, so to speak. I know that there are plenty of people working in the Video Game Industry right now in some capacity who happen to be on the Autism Spectrum. The thing is that many of them haven't stepped forward and revealed themselves to gamers.

I don't know the exact numbers of Autistic game development workers currently in the industry, but I do know that there is a general interest from the Autism community when it comes to becoming involved in the process of game development. It comes natural to those who are Autistic to use critical thinking methods in implementing certain features for an entertainment medium like a video game because that's how Autistic people operate. Even when I was a young toddler, I was showcasing my analytical mind whenever I analyzed the simplest of toys. I would stare at a toy for a long time and then play with that toy.

Autistic people are always planning and they are always trying to come up with creative ways to arrive at the desired result of a project. Not all creative ways may be the right ways to achieve certain things and there will be editing and correcting along the way, but Autistic people have a gift that sadly not everyone embraces. Just because Autistic people have problems in being social and outgoing doesn't mean that they're lazy and that they don't care about the thinking process of topics.

In recent times I have decided that it would be best for me to step forward and be at least one person who has a form of Autism (Asperger's Syndrome) to say that "Yeah, I contribute to the Video Game Industry and I don't let my condition hinder me." I have decided that I am capable of being that guy, of being an ambassador to the issue of Gaming and Autism Awareness because I feel like it's something that someone who is on the Autism Spectrum should openly address to the public in some way. I'm not afraid of what people are going to say and what they're going to ask me in the setting of a gaming convention. I really don't have anything to hide at this point in my life. I have this condition, I'm willing to admit it and I will be honest when answering questions about it.

One big reason why I want to enter the Video Game Industry is that I want to help open the door a little more for others who are in similar positions to me. I believe that if I do my part in raising that Autism Awareness on a platform such as the Video Game Industry, then it could make a difference. I mean, donating to charity is one thing, and that's not a bad thing, but getting to know people who are on the Autism Spectrum carries such significant value and it helps people to better understand how Autistic people are. Unless you have witnessed it well enough how an Autistic person acts, then you may be left in the dark on a few things.

I also believe that the Video Game Industry as a whole needs to hear what I, as someone with Autism, have to say on certain topics such as receiving equal opportunities in fields where I want to be a part of. While there are a good amount of Autistic people who play a role in game development scenes, there hasn't really been strong enough representation for these people and the platform hasn't been there for Autistic people to just show up on a gaming convention stage and speak out.

I look at the current scene of the Autism community and it saddens me as to how we as a whole are treated sometimes. I mean, some people will acknowledge us for our mental sharpness and for our quick problem solving methods, but in return these same people will brush us aside and tell us that we aren't useful for certain things in person.

I read countless stories of children who are Autistic and they get mistreated by their parents or by their teachers in school, and these Autistic children go down a path of trouble that they themselves didn't want to have developed. Some Autistic children simply go missing because they are unable to handle everything wrong that's going on around them. Many Autistic children can't even talk. They can't speak for themselves like other kids would.

These same Autistic children end up developing an interest in playing video games and they relax themselves by playing games knowing that they can't express themselves through talking. Video games allow us gamers to identify with certain parts of our imagination, and Autistic people often use their imagination to create new and interesting things. We get new information about video games through playing them and we get inspired through our favorite games to develop something that are creations of our own, no matter what it is.

I feel that there is a lack of representation --at least out in the open-- when it comes to the Autism community regarding the Video Game Industry. Support? Yes, there's support. Representation, though, isn't out there and I want to help out that department. I would be willing to be interviewed by gaming news outlets about my Asperger's Syndrome lifestyle and how I go about handling my condition. I would be willing to discuss how someone like me views video games and how an entire community tackles video games.

We just have to look at the pioneers of the Video Game Industry and learn from their experiences; their successes, their failures, their interesting moments, their revealing moments, etc. We have to understand what was exactly the thing(s) that made these pioneers stand out in their own times. We have to know what measures they took to keep their own Video Game Industry dreams alive and kicking.

Nolan Bushnell, Alexey Pajitnov, Shigeru Miyamoto, Yuji Naka, Warren Specter, Mat Kraemer... These are just a few of the names I consider to be pioneers in some distinct way when it comes to game development. What do they all have in common? They had plans and they had backup plans. They knew what they wanted to do with the visions they had. They put a ton of care into their projects and they presented these projects to the masses once they knew they had them complete. 

If I receive that chance to enter the Video Game Industry, I do plan on pouring out every inch and every ounce of what my love and passion for video games means to me. I want to be able to showcase my knowledge of video game structure to gamers who may be interested in a project that I am working on. I want to change things for the better in the Video Game Industry. I want to be one voice for Autistic gamers out there. I want to have that experience of being on that stage knowing that I am in part representing a certain demographic of gamers out there who have a hard time speaking for themselves. I am hungry for that opportunity. I am too driven to not see it happen.

There is that term used in the United States called the Pursuit of Happiness and I am in deep pursuit of obtaining that happiness for something that I know I can do. I believe that I can write an adequate, fun and interesting game story, provided with edits of course. I believe that I can spend time in the QA Game Testing market, and this has actually been proven by Autistic people as far as testing out technology for bugs. I can put in UX related material as I am good in listing down many things and discussing them. I even have the urge to put in some voice acting on the side. The Video Game Industry is something that I know Autistic people can become a part of if they put aside their weaknesses and only focus on their strengths as well as the benefits that come along with their special abilities.

It's funny in one way. For the longest time in my life I didn't really know what it was I wanted to do with my life for the long run. I had ideas of doing this thing or that thing, and I tried some options out but they didn't pan out for me. Some options just never became available for me. I had trouble finding my niche. I had trouble finding that specific avenue where I knew I would do well in. I believe I found that in the Video Game Industry. I believe that if I continue to be taught the ropes of the Video Game Industry, then I will be good to go.

I want to be a team player. I want to be loyal to a video game company. I want to do my best regardless of what department I am in. I want to help others through game development and through the video games that I would help put out on the market. I want to be able to thoroughly listen to what fans have to say about a project that I associate myself with and come to a conclusion as to what I can do on my part to make it a better product. These are the kinds of challenges I want to be taking on.

I understand that it can be daunting for anyone with Autism to explore certain fields such as the Video Game Industry, but I assure you that there is nothing to worry about here. While it is a business, the Video Game Industry is about having the freedom to brainstorm and gather up ideas for games. Game developers are like artists, their ideas are the paint and they use their paint brushes to make their games (or paintings). An Autistic person wants to be comfortable and he or she wouldn't want to be bogged down doing something that doesn't at all catch their interest. Making video games gives Autistic people that chance to be creative and to utilize their minds for innovative purposes.

Overall I just want to contribute. I want other people, game developers, gamers, critics, etc. to see what I have to offer and I want them to see my ambition for progressing in the same field that they work in. I want to be doing something creative on an official platform and I want to somehow make my progress known to other Autistic people. I am thinking about the Autism community when I think about my own pursuits. I want those people to wake up in the morning and have that feeling that they can do something productive with their lives as long as they step out in faith and make it happen. I want to set such an example for them.

To be continued... (Maybe)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Why Are You Not Social?"

Why are you not social?

I get asked this question often after people get to know me enough. There is no clear and direct way of answering this question because of everything that I have to take into account when I am out there in the world. When people ask me this specific question, some of them will blatantly give out a tone that is representing of their stance on socializing and how one should go about socializing with others. They will blatantly send me the message that there would be something wrong with me if I didn't socialize enough and do as they do.

When I am asked this question, I already know the variables of why I am going to answer it in such a way that wouldn't relate to others. It is not a matter of me not willing to become more social. It is not a matter of being afraid to socialize. It is not a matter of me just being locked up inside my house and being depressed all day long. I have plenty of good days when I am doing my own thing and I feel happy doing it, and there will be no socializing involved for a good chunk of the day.

There will be times when I am content with the activities that I am preoccupied with that doesn't involve heavy socializing with other people. When I don't socialize at certain times, I wouldn't consider it to be a matter of "Oh, Steven must be in a bad mood if he's not out there socializing. He must be feeling down in the dumps if he won't talk to anybody. Is Steven okay? I haven't seen him around other people lately."

So now you would have to ask what exactly is the matter. What exactly is it that makes you not want to socialize with other people, Steven? I know I'm talking in the third person a little bit, but my response would be this. You should expect something like this from someone who is a part of the Autism Spectrum. When someone has Asperger's Syndrome, which is my case, that someone is going to cut off communications from people, not to be malicious or anything of that sort, but rather to establish comfort for himself or herself. It's not often that someone with Asperger's Syndrome is going to want to thrust himself or herself into a large crowd of people that contains at least 90% of which that are normal in comparison. There is the factor of being overwhelmed, which I have mentioned in an earlier article.

Finding the right words to say in a conversation can be tough for anybody, but it's incredibly hard for someone on the Autism Spectrum to find those right words. A person with Autism is going to second guess himself or herself many times as to what he or she should be saying at the peak of a conversation. Sadly, though, whenever someone with Autism does get bold and says something that he or she thinks is okay to say, that is where the conversation takes a turn for the worse and other people in the conversation will easily misinterpret what that Autist meant.

"What do you mean by that? Why did you just say that? What are you trying to say? Why does that involve me? Is that what you think of me? Explain yourself!"

In society today, it is sad to see that many conversations are picked apart by even the most subtle and minimal of errors made by one party, and when you read into certain stories you find out that there wasn't anything monumentally horrible about the one error that one person made in his or her speech. However, it was that one error that led to the eventual breaking up of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship or it led to the abrupt ending of a tight friendship between supposed best buddies, or it led to the crashing of a once promising career of a future CEO of a company.

Socializing can be complex depending on the situation. You have to be careful with what you say and how you say it. Socializing is meant to be a firm advantage for some people who are upbeat and engaging in personality. Socializing to Autistic people can sometimes present itself as a burden that has to be reluctantly dragged along the dirt path. Autistic people don't handle others who are angry well. Guilt easily sneaks inside the Autistic person if he or she realizes that the other person in the conversation just got ticked off by what he or she said. Upon realizing what specifically made the other person angry, the Autistic person will usually have a tough time digging himself or herself out of that mess.

When you are asked "Why are you not social?", plainly answer how you truly feel and properly explain to others your answer. You don't have to tell them a huge story about why you are not social, but you do have to give others enough information to let them know why you operate in ways that don't engage in the socializing department. You might just be surprised in how people could help you after you give them your answer. Other people will have a better understanding of where you are coming from and some of them will be compelled to help you in ways that would comfort you but also getting you out there and socializing a little bit.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Threat of Worrying

I admit that I am guilty of this. I admit that when things get out of hand, when they get too crazy, when they don't go the way that I hope that they go, I tend to start worrying about all sorts of things. I worry about how I am going to bridge the gap between Point A and Point B in my life. I worry about where I am going to be in the future if not enough people (or no people at all) provide me with the help that I am looking for. I worry about how my perception of things will get in the way of what I truly want to accomplish for the rest of my life.

I have Asperger's Syndrome and for those that have studied this condition in particular, it should be known that the perception/assumption problems we "Aspies" go through on a daily basis serve as some sort of anchor for us. We assume that something should be done one way, a way in which we feel will be sufficient enough for others to comprehend, and we end up missing the train, so to speak. We assume that something is going to turn out one way, but it turns out to be something completely different in reality, and so different that we don't really know how to handle it.

I worry about many things. I worry often. I am worried that I might be dragging my feet through things and that I am just not going to be able to get to where I want to go considering all the circumstances that affect my life. I worry that no matter what I do to get closer to my dreams being achieved, I will forever be so far away from crossing that finish line and that it will never be good enough for people to see.

I worry that even after I plan so many things out that I will still overlook a detail that will hold me back and cost me valuable time of my life. I worry that I will completely botch the concept of Point A to Point B and think about Points C, D, J, K and so on instead. I worry that I will become useless around others and that I won't be able to provide any help to people who really need it.

I bring these things to light in this article because of the fact that I now have this blog, The Autistic Help, and I am attempting to help people who are in similar situations to mine. I am sure that some of you who reading this right now have felt the same way when it comes to worrying. Some of you may have worried over the most simple of things. Some of you may have worried over the more difficult things in life. Some of you may have worried over issues that are out of left field or just very unusual. I just want to let you know that I have been there and at times I still dwell there.

Is it something that I'd want to be doing? Of course not. I want to be happy about my life, what I'm doing in activities such as posting content here and elsewhere, and I want to be reassured that what I'm doing in the field of writing actually matters to people one way or another. I don't want to spend my whole life worrying over a multitude of things. There are cheerful things about life that some of us do get to experience often. For me, though, and I can only speak for myself on this, I rarely feel cheerful and happy about the things that I am doing. It has been this way in recent times.

I just feel that there is a visible void in my life that is yet to be filled, something in my life that has gone unaddressed and cleared, and it represents part of the pain that I go through in the core of my soul. It partially represents my act of worrying. It's like a cloud that hovers me, reminding me that I haven't gotten over this obstacle and that it will be nearly impossible for me to overcome it unless I get some help.

The act of worrying in general isn't healthy for anyone, Autism or no Autism. Worrying is an anchor in itself. I am aware of that but this act has been like a habit of mine, to resort to worrying when things just get too overwhelming for me. I suppose in some cases worrying feels like a defense mechanism. I wouldn't say that I am in fear of anything, because I am told not to live in fear, but worrying is in a similar breath to fear.

I know that some of you who are reading this now may actually be in fear of something in your lives. There may be this one giant issue that has affected your life in such a way that it has pulled you down to the abyss, and that every time this giant issue is mentioned, you show fear. You are in fear of it and you may not know how to address this issue. You not only worry about it but you are scared of what might become of this issue if you choose to make a bold move on it.

I am only speaking for myself once again, but I know that I must remember that I have not been given the Spirit of Fear when I was born. I am given a spirit of love, power and of a sound mind and I am supposed to use these particular qualities that can help me move forward in my life. Fear has a way of getting to people. Fear is a spirit that isolates people from the reality of their situation. Fear has a blinding affect on people. Fear has a way of turning people away from the solutions to their issues and just keep them at bay to dwell on their problems. Fear is basically negativity that is elevated in the emotional context.

Worrying isn't that much different and it's also something to get away from. Autistic people have a harder time of getting away from their worries and their troubles because they receive these things differently. They deal with the act of worrying differently than someone who doesn't have any condition on the Autism Spectrum. Sometimes we have a habit of dealing with things harder than what they should be and what they really are. We let certain things blow us out of the water that wouldn't blow normal people out of the water so easily.

My advice to you on the issue of worrying is simple. Let the worrying go. Try as hard as you can to let it all go. Forget about the worries that have been piled on top of you in your life and try to look past all the obstacles. Move on. Move forward. Find a way to keep swimming, as one friend of mine has been telling me. Forget about the half-empty glass. Look at the half-full glass. Look at what you do have. Look at what you can accomplish and for the things that you haven't accomplished yet, fight for those dreams and aspirations. Don't let those dreams and aspirations intoxicate you, as another friend of mine told me once, but let them remind you of one thing; Keep everything in perspective.