Monday, December 29, 2014

Exploring Other Places

At one point or another everyone goes out to explore certain parts of the world. In some cases, people can only go to certain parts of their home country and explore what's out there. There have been many places in the past where I have wanted to go to, but sadly I haven't been able to obtain the opportunities to go to these places. In the past I have been able to go to places like the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Reno, Tulsa, Oklahoma and even Southern California, especially that ghost town called Calico which was a nice treat, but some places have eluded me in my travels. In this final post of 2014 I will review some of the places that I would like to go to in the future, and I promise to tie this in with the theme of this blog.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is definitely one place I would like to go to in the future. What's so special about Myrtle Beach? Well, for one thing it can be a nice beach resort paradise along the Atlantic Ocean coastline at the right time and it's a place where you can go to relax. That's pretty key for someone like me who has Asperger's Syndrome. Sometimes I just feel like I need to be in a place where I can relax, kick my feet up and not worry about any of the troubles that overly preoccupy me in Ohio. Going to Myrtle Beach would be a unique experience for me because it would introduce me to the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time.

Cleveland, Ohio
Now this is definitely in complete contrast to Myrtle Beach, but there is a bit of significance behind this choice. I would love to visit Cleveland, Ohio because it is the only big city in Ohio that I have never been to. That's right. I have lived in the Buckeye State for most of my life but I have never been able to go to Cleveland. I would like to complete the "Ohio Trifecta", so to speak, and be able to say that I've been to Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. I have been to the first two and now all there's left is the latter.

Cleveland has always been a city that has caught my interest dating back to when I was a kid. I always wanted to know some things about Cleveland, some unique things that I didn't previously know. I have heard plenty of stories about Cleveland and it sounds like they have plenty of things to offer as far as restaurants and entertainment go. I would like to catch a glimpse of Lake Erie too.

Boston, Massachusetts
"You ah in Boston! Beantown! Go to the bubbla and take in the New England experience!"

The above line was something that I would imagine saying in the Boston accent. I am also motivated to go to Boston, Massachusetts because of the fact that some facets of this city's culture are interesting. I wouldn't say every facet, but some facets. Preparing myself as a voice actor, I would like to get a better grip on the Boston accent, and what better way for me to do that than to go to Boston itself? To be sure, there are spots in Boston that I would like to see, such as the Boston Harbor and the beautiful parks. If it's in the middle of baseball season, I would like to attend a Red Sox baseball game but that's probably wishful thinking since tickets for those games are super expensive at times. 

It also wouldn't hurt for me to see Cap Cod if I had the chance. Aside from that, though, Boston holds an annual video game convention called Pax East and I would definitely jump at the chance of going to Pax East if I were given a cheap or free ticket to that event. I love playing video games and Pax East would be my chance to take in the experience of a gaming convention for the first time.

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington looks like another interesting place for me to visit because it would be the furthest up the Pacific Northwest that I would ever get to. In the past I was only able to make up to the Pacific Ocean shores of Oregon. I believed I stopped by Medford, Oregon once specifically. When it comes to Seattle, I would love to take a look at all the different restaurant joints here, considering that not all food is made the same way. I would also like to take a look at the fish markets and see how the people who work there handle the fish.

As far as entertainment goes, this is where things get interesting. Like Boston, Seattle also has their own gaming convention called Pax Prime and if I were to receive an opportunity to go up to Seattle for Pax Prime, I would definitely jump at the chance. It is one dream of mine to finally attend a gaming convention like Pax. Aside from the gaming experience, though, I have heard good stories about the local zoo, the patches of forest lands around Seattle and of course the Space Needle. I will be sure to bundle up if it gets cold, but rest assured this is an ideal destination for me.

Sydney, Australia
The land down under... What an interesting tourist detour for me to take! This choice is similar to Boston in the sense that as an aspiring voice actor I am trying to learn how to use the Australian accent. There is just something intriguing about the Australian culture that I can't take my mind off of. Whether it's Sydney, Melbourne or any other city, I would definitely love to travel to Australia and take in a few days of this beautiful land. I believe it would be a nice change of pace for me to visit a country (or continent) completely different from the United States way of life and I believe there will be some things about the Australian culture that I will get to know more about if I were to make the travel.

If I have time to see kangaroos and other outback animals, then I'll do what I can to take a picture of them.

Tokyo, Japan

Although I wouldn't want to live here because of how crowded this large city already is, I wouldn't mind spending a few days in Tokyo, Japan. There are a few motivating factors behind me visiting Tokyo, with one of the factors being gaming-related. I would like to better understand the Japanese culture of gaming because most of the ideas that are transferred and translated to the United States come from Japan. Oftentimes people do experience culture shock when they move to Japan and permanently live there, but I don't think I'll experience that just by visiting. You take advantage of your surroundings in one sense as a tourist. You just have fun and be respectful and you will be just fine.

Japan has a different way of distributing products compared to the United States, so I would have to be careful when I see a vending machine that I'm not exactly used to, for example. Also, I don't speak Japanese and I don't know how to read Japanese symbols, so that will be a communication barrier I will have to get around. I do believe this would be a fun place to go to for a few days overall.

Dublin, Ireland
I make no mistake about it when I say this. I love Ireland. I love the Irish atmosphere. I love the beautiful lands that are featured in Ireland. This is a country that is very green, and I don't necessarily mean the energy-conserving kind of green. I mean Ireland is literally filled with green patches of land that you can observe with a smile on your face and say "This is just beautiful!"

I wouldn't be surprised if I were to bump into Irish soccer fans who were passionate about their favorite teams, and that's cool because I can relate to them in being a sports fan. I don't regularly drink alcohol, though, so you can rule me out of most Irish pubs (unless they serve good food there). I believe I would have fun in Ireland even if I were to hear classic Irish music, especially if it were Gaelic. I have a pen pal who loved to practice speaking in Gaelic. Most importantly, though, some of my family roots direct back to Ireland, so this would be a prime opportunity to get in better touch with my family roots.I am also curious to know the artistic side of Ireland as well the entertainment side.

Jerusalem, Israel
Finally, this destination probably carries the most significant value to me on a spiritual level. The land of Israel. The city of Jerusalem. This is the place that I always have a soft spot for in my heart and in my spirit. I love everything that is genuine about Jerusalem. I love the history of this place and I would do anything to go to this place for even just a few days. As a Christian, I would never get a truly proper visual of what Jerusalem was like in the days of the Holy Bible unless I were to go to Jerusalem one day. This destination is way up on my list of places to go to ultimately, and most likely it is at the very top.

Having said that, though, there are ongoing threats of danger in Israel. It's well documented that there is an abundance of hostility and disputes that I believe will never be resolved, which is a sad truth that we need to accept at some point. There are more significant spots in Jerusalem than I can count, but that doesn't matter. Whenever I get the opportunity to go to Israel and develop a better understanding of what my Christian faith is all about, I will jump at that chance without hesitation.

So... how does this tie in with The Autistic Help?

Now why am I describing these places to readers of this blog? Why would I be discussing this to an audience that would mostly be in the same boat as I am in, being on the Autism Spectrum? I believe I can simply say that there are times in our lives when we feel like we need to do something outside of our comfort zones to aid our self-esteem and give ourselves a better perspective on life in general. I know that being in your comfort zone has its benefits. I won't deny that. For a stretch of time I felt that way too. I felt that if I just stayed in my comfort zone and stayed isolated from the rest of the world I would be fine. However, I feel that at some point in life I have to be willing to step out in faith and explore places that I feel like are meant to be explored.

I find it really sad when I hear or read stories about autistic people not being able to leave their houses or being completely unwilling to even leave their rooms because I know they are wasting their time staying in such bubbles. I understand why fellow autistic people do this. I understand that the world we live in today is a cruel, mean and rotten place and that some people are just waiting to knock us down without hesitation. I understand why autistic people would be concerned about such dangerous surroundings, but there is a difference between being concerned about what's out there and being outright afraid of what's out there. This is only my opinion and belief, but we were not given the spirit of fear to begin with. We were not meant to live a life where we isolate ourselves 24/7 and never do anything productive. I don't think that's the kind of life God would want us to live. Look at the pictures I have posted here and tell me how beautiful and interesting those places are.

We have one life to live and we have opportunities to go to places that we would like to visit. If given those opportunities, I won't look back. Here's to 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finding Your Own Way

Life has many twists and turns and it's sometimes hard for any of us to know beforehand when those twists and turns are going to occur. If you happen to be on the Autism Spectrum, things can especially be difficult for you. Since we are initially hesitant we tend to pause for longer periods of time compared to others. We don't initially commit to making a choice of where we are going to go, why we are going there and how we are going to make it work once we choose our paths in life.

Maybe this picture I have posted above properly represents most of our situations in life? I have no way of knowing how easy or how difficult it is for my readers have it when they exit The Autistic Help blog and live life the best way they can off the internet. I don't have all the answers fellow autistic people are looking for. I can only speak on my own experiences as someone with Asperger's Syndrome. There have been many times in my life where I felt like I have chosen the right path, the smooth and clear path that was easy for me to see. There have also been many times in my life where I felt like I made mistake after mistake and I was miserable because of those choices. Going up that rough road, filled with tree branches, rocks and potentially mud, I could only shake my head and ask myself "Why did I choose this route to begin with?"

No matter where you are on the Autism Spectrum, you should never expect to go through life 100% smoothly. There is no such thing as facing no adversity whatsoever in life. There is no such thing as going through life and never having brutally tough battles that challenge your characters and your principles. On the same hand, though, you should never expect to go through life and experience bad things 24/7. There are positives in life that you need to take along with as you go on your long journey. Everyone has weaknesses but everyone also has strengths. What is your strength? What is it that you do best at? What do you like to do? What calms you down when you are having a bad day? Answering those questions is key.

Sometimes having forks in the road could be the best thing that ever happened to your life. Why is this? Sometimes not all forks in the road are terrible to deal with. There are some forks in the road in your life that don't contain a "wrong" path. You may face a fork in the road where you can either experience a short-term gain or a long-term gain, and regardless of the path you take, you will gain something out of that experience. Are you looking to learn something critical just for now, for a few months? That's a short-term gain. Are you really looking at the big picture and you want to learn something that will benefit you for years to come? That's a long-term gain. With choices like these, how exactly can you lose?

One of the things that helped me get out of my shell would be the fact that I loved to play Chess. It was something that truly interested me when I was a teenager. I wanted to learn how to play the game of Chess and it didn't matter to me who else would be learning alongside of me in my Chess classes. I had that desire to learn. I wanted to get good at playing Chess and I did get good at it. I played in a simul competition against a Master Chess player along with a class of around 20 other kids, I think, and I ended up being the last kid eliminated by this Chess Master. I held my own and watched the other kids around me get eliminated first. That is one example of resiliency.

Writing in general has always been an interest of mine and it shows with each blog post that I make here and on my other blog the Gaming Journalist Gazette. ( Writing relaxes me. Writing is something that I know I am good at because I developed great writing skills when I was being home schooled by my mother, who I give a lot of credit to. It all began with simple written reports on home school topics that I had to complete every day, and slowly but surely I got the grasp of it. I grew very interested in writing and today I truly believe that I have what it takes to write for companies worldwide. I am an established and published freelance writer. I have a portfolio to speak of. I will probably go into more depth about that soon enough.

^ Good Question
For fellow autistic people who are at this point in their lives where they are facing a fork in the road, you are probably asking yourselves "What now?" Believe me, I have been at this point numerous times. I have second guessed myself and sometimes third guessed myself, if that's even possible. I definitely regret making some of the choices that I have made, but I also cherish the better decisions I have made as well. You can't look at things from a completely arrogant and overconfident standpoint, but you also can't look at things from a completely "Woe is me" defeatist standpoint neither. You have a fork in the road and you need to address it. Make a choice. Don't be afraid to do so. We won't always win in life but we can't be afraid to make the tough decisions in life. I hope you make the right choices in life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Autism and Romance

Words from Dr. Seuss that don't need to rhyme.
Now here's a topic I don't really have experience with, but not on the account that I don't want to have experience with. I do find this to be an interesting topic to study on because it really isn't discussed at length. What exactly does an autistic person feel when he or she falls in love? What happens when an autistic person actually goes through a romantic period in life? How differently do autistic people approach romance compared to those who aren't autistic?

I have had only very few occurrences where I felt like I had a real crush on a woman, and mainly because of the fact that I find that woman to be so nice and kind. When I find a woman to be so helpful and thoughtful of others around her, I develop a respect for her and I get curious as to what she's like, what she represents and what her views are on life. Basically I will want to know more about her and I will want to find out how she conducts herself. What I mean is I don't just look at a woman and immediately go "She's awesome! She looks pretty, so she must be the one for me!" Um... No. If I viewed a woman like that, I would probably be given the label of "jerk" and she probably wouldn't want to talk to me for much longer. That's not how guys should approach this.

What I mean is that there are more factors I have to take into account. I have seen plenty of women who looked pretty, but they ended up doing things that I didn't agree with at all. There have been some women who ended up revealing to me that they had big egos and that their attitudes weren't anything at all to write home about. I can simply observe some women when I walk by them and find out where their minds are at. Especially considering that I have autism, I wouldn't want to find myself in a relationship with a woman who has a big ego and is demanding that she gets things done her way all the time. I don't want to get the feeling of being overwhelmed in general, and the same certainly applies for relationships, so no dice there.

I have a pen pal who is now a friend of mine on Facebook and she is a very nice lady. She isn't autistic but that doesn't matter to me. I find her to be very interesting and she tells me some unique stories. We have always had great conversations where we talk about our lives, what we're doing and what we plan on doing. We keep our conversations simple and we we have kept our friendship for some time now. It has only been a friendship, though. We have a long distance relationship where we live in opposite parts of America, for one, and really I have never been one to ever jump into the mode of quickly establishing a romantic relationship. I have things in my life that I want to accomplish first before I can seriously start thinking about romance. As a male, I need to get my ducks in a row, so to speak, establish what I want to do for a career, and then think about things related to romance down the road.

I don't know what it's like for an autistic guy and an autistic lady to fall in love with each other, and there isn't much to rely on when it comes to documented events of such relationships. All I can believe is that such a couple would have a mutual respect for each other because of the fact that they are both on the Autism Spectrum, but also that they genuinely love each other because they can relate to each other on more trivial things. Perhaps there are obstacles to overcome when the guy is autistic and the lady isn't or vice versa, mainly communication issues, but as long as the love is genuine and not fake, then I don't see why these relationships can't work.

There are plenty of couples where the husband is permanently disabled and in a wheelchair and the wife is healthy in comparison, but this difference doesn't separate them from loving each other. It isn't a red flag. There are couples where the husband has a condition that is much worse than autism, such as significant brain damage, and the wife is just fine. Even though there is this functional difference, the wife stays loyal to the husband. Why is this? It is said before the husband and wife are married that "'Til death do us part", and that should hold true. I believe that loyalty, respect and trust are key components to establishing true love, but these aren't the only components.

I also want to know where a woman is spiritually coming from first before I can consider expanding my friendship with her closer to relationship territory. I am a Christian and I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ my Savior, and I know it is important that I find a woman who believes in God and accepts Jesus as the Christ. There is no way that I can associate myself with a woman who is an atheist because she will be stubborn and she will try to dismiss and belittle my Christian beliefs. The Holy Bible warns us not to be unevenly yoked and I don't want to be spiritually unevenly yoked with a woman. For example, it wouldn't make sense for me to marry a woman who is either a Catholic, a Hindu, a Scientologist or a Buddhist because that woman just doesn't share the same beliefs as me. Unless she converted to Christianity, then there would be no way for me to continue on in a relationship with her.

In closing, I believe that if I get the opportunity to have a romantic relationship with a woman, I will do everything I can to make her happy. I know that I will show my girlfriend respect and show her the love that she deserves. Whether she's autistic or not, the point is that both of us would need to be in love for the right reasons. Love is something that you just can't fake. When a guy falls in love with a lady, he should no longer think only about himself. He should be mindful of what the lady wants and he should remain strong and firm for his lady. Women appreciate men who have backbones. I won't let Asperger's Syndrome get in the way of having a backbone and defending the love of my life. Love takes precedent over any condition.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Your Condition Doesn't Matter"

"So what if you have autism? Your condition doesn't matter!"

One clear example of people not understanding how serious it is for someone to have any form of autism would be if they told you anything similar to the tagline I posted above. So what if I have autism? My condition doesn't matter? What exactly are people thinking when they respond in such a way? What prompts them to react in obnoxious ways when it comes to someone like you or me announcing that we are on the Autism Spectrum? Sometimes it's easy to explain and at other times it's really difficult.
For anyone to tell me that my condition doesn't matter, I would have to say that they need to really educate themselves on the Autism Spectrum, what it's all about and how impactful it can be on society because I don't think these people 100% grasp the severity of this. Perhaps it doesn't matter to you as much as it does to me because you don't have to live with autistic conditions. Perhaps it doesn't matter to you so much because you can avoid being labeled "out of tune" when it comes to situations that directly effect autistic people. 

So why should you tell me that my condition doesn't matter when I have to deal with it every single day? 

There are certain crowds in society that we just don't belong in, and it doesn't matter how hard we try to "fit" into these crowds. No matter what we do, there will always be people in these certain crowds that will try everything to kick you out of their groups. They didn't agree with the way you thought out things initially, they didn't agree with your mindset during your stay in the group, and they never will. There are just some people in the world that can't be bothered to understand what makes us autistic people tick, what negatively effects us and what bothers us. They have their own habits that they are used to and they don't feel the need to change their habits just to accommodate to your needs.

Don't get me wrong, as a fellow autistic person I often feel the sting of not being accepted even after I tried my best to adapt to situations that are best handled by people who aren't autistic. I feel the hurt of not being able to advance with people who were experts in certain fields and be able to learn with them in certain crowds. Sometimes it truly does suck for me to know that there would be something that I would really like to do, but because of the overwhelming negative attitudes of other people putting me down and basically "barring" me from continuing in their presence, I have to stop right there. 

However, I will never accept the response of "my condition doesn't matter" because that response just doesn't make any sense. I am officially diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, paperwork and all, and it does matter to me. When I was diagnosed it changed my perspective on life in one way, so how doesn't it matter? I am not afraid to be bold and defend myself and my condition if I need to. Yeah, I struggle with responding sometimes as I will get nervous, but there are times when I do feel bold enough to respond, and I just let it all out. I don't swear because I don't believe in swearing, but thoroughly describing how I feel is something that feels like an option to me. 

Don't be afraid to speak up and defend yourself and your condition if you are able to, but don't go overboard. Keep your message consistent with what you believe in and stick to what brought you to the dance, so to speak.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bright Lights and Loud Sounds

Bright Lights

This is a known fact about people who are on the Autism Spectrum. We don't take to bright lights well and we don't take to loud sounds well neither. I have mentioned this at least a few times before on The Autistic Help, but I haven't really gone in depth about it. Why is this the case with us? Well, we also have to consider that we can get overwhelmed by things that don't normally overwhelm people who aren't autistic, and since our brains function differently in comparison, we view things differently. When I see bright lights in general, it's not like I have any phobias pertaining to them. If I can handle them, I like seeing bright lights. Let me repeat that. If I can handle them... There are times when the bright lights become too annoying and excessive and I have to turn away from seeing them because I don't feel like my eyes can take to these bright lights like other people can.

Migraine headaches also play a factor to my sensitivity to light. I suffer from migraine headaches, the type where I see flashes of light that float around in my eyes. I have suffered from migraines my entire life and I have had this hope that one day I would clear myself from them. It seems to me that as the years have gone by and as the migraines have stayed with me, it does make me wonder if they will ever go away permanently. For some people it's just a matter of time until they age out of their migraine phases. When a migraine hits me, I get hit pretty hard by it and I have to lay down to rest. I have to be in a dark place. Taking chocolate helps too along with migraine relief tablets.

In general, though, I just don't like it when I have bright lights flashing in my face every 5 seconds. I don't want to intentionally put myself into a position where I can get a migraine headache, which is why I favor going into darker places from time to time. While the sunlight can make outdoor scenes look beautiful, I would never dare to look at it for more than a few seconds. Like they always say "Don't stare at the sun," and they are obviously right.

For the Autism Spectrum, I suppose bright lights have that sort of effect on our eyes that triggers something in our rewired minds. We are given this notification that "This (bright light) is bad for me. I need to get away from it before I look at it for too long," and we acknowledge that. The brain receives signals through seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting, the 5 senses, and the brain is always processing information about things. I suppose my brain processes the conclusion that bright lights are setbacks of some sort.

Loud Sounds
It is also hard for autistic people to handle loud sounds. By the way, I chose to use this picture above to see if I could get a laugh from my audience. Believe me, our reactions aren't always of this magnitude. I don't always cover my ears whenever I hear brutally loud sounds, but they are unpleasant and hard to bear nonetheless. I definitely cringe and shake my head when I do hear loud noises, especially if they occur in the early morning. I just find obnoxiously loud noises in the early morning to be completely unnecessary.

Why is there a need to be so loud in the morning? The majority of people are sleeping around 5:00 AM and they surely wouldn't want to hear continuous beeping sounds (Example: construction vehicles) go through the streets. The only acceptable occasion where loud noises are necessary would be the sounds of an emergency siren, as in if there is a real threat of a tornado hitting an area. I can understand why you would need loud sounds there.

Loud sounds don't always need to come from objects to be considered annoying, and I have plenty of experience dealing with these other sounds. I have had people, young and old, raise their voices at me for no apparent reason. Perhaps they want to feel like they have control over me? Perhaps they are just insecure and love to make loud noises just to feel relieved? Perhaps they are just silly and goofy? Whatever the case may be, people need to know when to be loud and when to quiet down a little. I don't like it when I have some random person who bumps into me give me the verbal business and tell me to watch where I'm going. Accidentally getting in the way of people happens all the time. It shouldn't be a big deal, but sadly it is.

However, some people on the Autism Spectrum simply can't deal with either bright lights or loud noises at all and they will do everything to shield themselves from these things. Covering one's eyes with or without sunglasses or covering one's ears and crouching down because of discomfort... I do believe that people need to be respectful of the space that they should give to autistic people. I do believe that if people intentionally offend autistic people by putting out (way too) loud music or break out distracting bright lights, then they deserve to be blamed. If it's accidental, then no harm no foul, but don't make these actions intentional. As an autistic person I have my own space that I need to protect and I won't have a "party pooper" ruin my day with intentionally distracting actions. Respect an autistic person's space and there will be no problem.