I Promised

I promised a pic of my painting, this is a work in progress. I decided on a subtle tribute to Hannah Gadsby’s Nannette. Like I told instagram, it’s pretty ironic that this is what I chose to paint considering that I don’t like sunflowers decoratively. Love the seeds for a snack, but that’s about it.

No, this was about her talk on Vincent Van Gogh, and one of my favorite lines to ever grace the stage. “Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent Van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent had a brother who loved him.”

So eventually… when I finish this painting, it will be called “Because he had a Brother who Loved him”

If you haven’t seen Nanette, it’s on Netflix. Watch it now.

ASMR fan moment

Okay, if you have already read my posts on ASMR you know that Gibi ASMR is one of my personal favorite ASMRtist. Like I’ve said before, it’s very clear how much she loves ASMR as well. Around the 19 minute mark of this ASMR video, you can really see her immersing herself in the sound. It made me so happy to not only listen, but to watch her listen. I heart her.

And here’s another from my new favorite Taylor ASMR. This is a haircut role play, which if you’ve read my blog, you know that I typically do not listen to… but she is so flipping charming and funny, with some really calming sounds… I just love it. I’ve listened to it several times.

My Un-Finished Zombie Novel

I was speaking with a fellow adult diagnosed autistic writer, in one of my many favorite online support groups, and I told him, “looking back at my unfinished novels, I think I made almost all of my main characters autistic, without even knowing it. I think I was always searching for answers or connections with someone like myself.”

For those that might not understand that, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my “unfinished zombie novel” that I have been writing through my unmedicated ADHD for a good ten years. Writing with ADHD is nearly impossible, FYI. Sure, you get some good spurts with hyperfocus but for the majority of the time you are fighting with yourself to get some legitimate work done. Not easy.

In this untitled work, a young woman who left town due to a trauma at a very young age, returns home just before the zombie apocalypse. I should mention that this is more of a zombie-fantasy novel, with some complex religious themes, because, you know, I don’t do anything simple or easy. The following is from a study I wrote to get a better idea of the character.

She was a rule follower, for sure. The sheep of sheep. Which made her perfect for church. Jesus was a shepherd, was he not? 

But the thing about sheep is they are often frightened. And so was she. Frightened. All the time. Of everything. But most of all, she was frightened by no rules at all. Not anarchy, not a complete lack of rules. No, she was afraid of not-knowing the rules. Not-knowing the right things to say. Not-knowing the right thing to do. Not-knowing what would spare her the stares of those that did know what to do. A room of people where everyone knows the rules but her, like a stage she had casually happened upon during opening night. 

Which is why she avoided the post office. There were just too many rules to follow. Too many rules to know, rigid rules that she would never-ever remember. Air holes, fragile and not fragile, freight versus priority, thirty two cent stamps and those that supposedly lasted forever—  and the lines. Oh, the lines. She never knew which line not to cross. So, she didn’t cross any. She hand delivered her letters instead. 

It’s why she skipped adolescence too. She looked at the beautiful girls that her brother dated, and they were all the same. They all understood something that she didn’t. They all had read the same rule book: on how to dress, how to speak, how to speak to boys, and how not to speak to other girls. Girls like her. They would never tell her how to be, what to do, what to say. She knew that the instant she became a teenager, it would be like walking into a room with no rules to guide her. The post office, all over again. 

So she skipped it. She turned twelve, ran away, and became a teenage mother. The one thing she knew she was not supposed to do.  She simply skipped over adolescence, like a crowd she wanted to avoid. Now… she was the oldest seventeen year old she knew.

Yeah…

That almost makes me emotional to read. It was practically a cry for help. I wrote this particular piece of writing probably six years ago? It shows you that even though I had no idea about my diagnosis, I was still autistic. And severely suffering from that lack of knowledge.

Here’s an interesting bit of dialogue that shows one of my favorite “stims”, the ocean. As a bit of background, my main character is talking to a young man who has also returned home from a failed escape. As to any quality of the writing, like I said, this book has been a ten year process. I’ve matured since some of theses original drafts.

“I wanted out of the Midwest. It’s just so flat,” he gestured at the dark horizon. “I wanted to see something else. So I thought…” 

“You thought, California.” 

“Yes, I thought California. I thought of the ocean. I mean, is there anything more different from the Midwest? But what’s funny is that the ocean is so flat. You wouldn’t think it, but once you get past the waves it’s nothing but flat water. In the right light the ocean looks just like a wheat field. It looks like nothing more than grass for miles. And so much horizon—it goes on and on.”

“Only a boy from the Midwest would think the ocean looks like a wheat field. Were you disappointed?” 

“A little. I left to find sunnier skies but the skies were no different in California, because California is just a place like any other. Just like here. Same sky. But I loved the sound of the ocean. It looked like grass, but the sound—the sound was something else. It was so loud and so visceral. It was biblical—like it was pulling me back into the sea…this… push-pull.. push-pull… push-pull.. It was so…so…”

“Wet,” she blushed.

He grinned. “Yes. It was wet.” 

And again later:

“My whole life I had always worn a tie and stiff, lace up shoes. I was eighteen, and I had never worn sandals. So the difference was liberating. I spent two weeks just listening to the sound of the ocean. This slap, slap, sure,” he clapped his hands together twice and slid them together slowly. “Slap, slap, sure. Sometimes I would fall asleep right there on the sand.” 

I also dealt with a sensory related, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria meltdown, long before I knew what it was. Again, remember that this is a zombie novel, so I am about to mention said monsters.

Her head was swimming. It was like the church bell had gone off, right beside her. And the wave of it was ringing through her whole body, making her dizzy. Like the first time she heard a church bell chime. Everything faded away, their laughter, her shame, muffled under the vibrations of something so large and resolute. 

She stumbled to the high windows, once so beautiful, now boarded up and hidden away. Through the cracks she could see the sun dropping below the bell tower. Already there were monsters careening across the square, looking for others. Already she could hear their moans, calling to the other people locked safely away, calling to her.       

She felt trapped.

And these are just a few of the examples. There are so, so many more. But I don’t want to dump my entire novel into a blog post. Need to finish it first! But honestly, now that I am properly medicated, that is a legitimate possibility for my future, for the first time. It’s not some far off goal, some “someday.”

And that is a wonderful feeling.


As my lawyer, my husband would like to mention that all writings original to this blog or novel excerpts, complete or otherwise, are copyright to Holly Beardsley, 2020.

So, uh, don’t steal my book.

ASMR & Autism Part 2

So, it’s been a little while since I first wrote my piece on ASMR and Autism, most of that has stayed the same, but upon further immersion, I have a few more thoughts that I would like to share.

Misophonia can occasionally make ASMR a real crapshoot. I will be enjoying a particular video of sounds and then someone has a more explosive “P” sound in the microphone and it’s like a small landmine going off. And the “wet whispering” that some people love, makes me want to physically cringe.

I am not trying to insult any ASMR creator that uses those triggers. It’s just my experience as an Autistic person with ADHD and OCD who partakes heavily in ASMR to mitigate some anxiety and focus issues.

For a moment, I thought about making some reviews for people that both love ASMR and suffer from misophonia, but I imagined that misophonia can be triggered by many different things. And after doing more research on other’s experience with misohponia, I was right.

Read this quote from Neurology Times:

A number of sounds can elicit the agitation characteristic of misophonia. Chewing noises are probably the most common trigger, but other sounds such as slurping, crunching, mouth noises, tongue clicking, sniffling, tapping, joint cracking, nail clipping, and the infamous nails on the chalkboard are all auditory stimuli that incite misophonia.

Most of the sounds that trigger misophonia are produced by the human body, but some misophonics become annoyed by the sounds of inanimate objects, such as clicking of a remote control or the whirring of a motor, although the degree of irritation is not usually as severe. Interestingly, people who suffer from misophonia do not experience irritation when they produce the same exact noises themselves.

Now, for myself, I can agree with chewing, crunching, wet mouth noises, nails on a chalkboard, also fork on a plate (not listed here), and the whirring of a motor. The whirring of a motor is actually probably my WORST misophonia trigger, so it’s funny that they say the irritation is not as severe. Look at me! Bucking statistics everywhere I go!

BUT on the more positive side, I think I have narrowed down my most beloved relaxation triggers. Here’s the list:

  • Still love finger fluttering, super consistent and beautiful
  • scratching your nails across almost any surface (not chalkboard, obvs.)
  • brushing, with soft brushes on a microphone, or brushes in hair (If it’s a wig though, it has to be good quality. You can hear a bad synthetic wig, I know that sounds snooty but it’s true. It’s something about the netting structure, has to be soft lace, not acrylic that will catch on a brush.)
  • Painting! Oh my goodness, painting is my new fave! More on that in a minute.
  • Big fluffy micorphone windsocks. Ohhhhhh… they are the best.
  • Personal attention and affirmation. It’s just good for the soul.
  • Reiki is still a big favorite. Although I prefer kind of the “modified” reiki that most ASMR creators use, and call it “toxic energy pulling” or something like that. If I am gonna have full blown reiki, I want it to be in person. For some reason it feels like acupuncture by proxy to have a reiki session over the internet. So you, know, without the proper “punch” essentially.
  • ACTUAL hair cuts or hair dressing. Not role play. I will get into that in a minute, too.
  • Make up “on you and me.” Informative and relaxing.

I think that is a pretty comprehensive list. Of course, I am open to new triggers and mediation sounds. I’m really starting to enjoy the creators who put a low level of rain or some other traditional nature sound under their ASMR. It adds a level of consistent sound that is very soothing.

Here’s the misophonia triggers. Again, I am not trying to insult or rag on any ASMR creator or enthusiast who loves these sounds, I am just trying to warn other misophonics who need to know before exploring ASMR.

  • As I said in my last piece, chewing. There is a whole sub-category of the ASMR genre that is just chewing and lip smacking. Shudder.
  • Crinkling sounds. For me, crinkling is just too loud and inconsistent. I don’t know that it triggers my misophonia, but it’s not relaxing either.
  • Overly wet whispering and breathy speaking voice. Not only does this occasionally feel a little too phone-sex-operator for me (no judgement, for real) but this majorly triggers my misophonia.
  • Inconsistent repetition. This is actually more of an OCD thing than a purely Misophonia thing, but if you are gonna repeat words, they need to be consistent or have an appropriate rhythm and crescendo. Otherwise you’re just tweaking out your listeners who deal with this kind of verbal inconsistencies all day, every day.

So with all that being said, I’d like to go back to the positive part of this post. And that is I have found some new favorite ASMRtists to share. First up is Caroline ASMR.

Caroline ASMR

Caroline doesn’t really need my help in telling you that she’s a great channel to listen to. She’s highly sucessful in subscribers and views on youtube. You can also find her on the Zee’s app, which I really enjoy as a more comment friendly place to get my ASMR. (Zee’s was also produced by my original fave Gibi ASMR. So I legit use this platform out of loyalty as well, just being honest.)

BUT MY FAVORITE are her brain massage videos. They really helped me through my COVID-19 headaches. Which were the worst headaches I had ever had in my thirty odd years of life. No contest. She’s also got some adorable merch that I plan on splurging on when I am no longer in trouble from my last shopping splurge. (My husband is thrifty, I am impulsive. Together, we try not to have too many financial arguments.)

Here’s one video that helped me especially, it’s also good for focus:

Perfect headache cure.

Next up is a seriously under-appreciated young ASMRtist-

Taylor ASMR

Not to be confused with Taylor Darling of Darling ASMR. Taylor is someone I discovered when I was trying to find more painting asmr. She started with some very Bob Ross style painting ASMR videos and evolved to more of her own style. Does a lot of Palette knife painting, which I LOVE. I seriously love a good palette knife painting. (A good palette knife sound too.)

She is so flipping adorable. I almost can’t handle how cute and sincere she is. She also is a budding talent in both art and ASMR. She’s really triggered that loyal want to protect feeling from me. Which, honestly, is a sign that I am very moved by your work and want to support it. Not that I am like a creepy stalker or something. It’s nerd loyalty. If you are a nerd, you know what I am talking about. If you aren’t, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of comic-con. That’s loyalty, my friends.

Anyway, she’s really good at what she does, is super honest and funny, and is getting continually better and better. In a short time that I have been watching her channel, I’ve gone from charmed to super fan. (I also lived in Georgia for a short time, originally from Texas, so her accent is just like coming home sometimes.) From what I can see, she’s very authentic and should be on your watchlist. No matter what taste in ASMR you have.

Here’s one of her painting videos from about two years ago that just charmed the heck out of me:

She’s so cute. I seriously cannot handle how cute she is.

I’m on a very secret mission to try and get her to photograph her paintings and sell them on platforms like Society 6 or even Teespring. This secret mission usually involves me yelling at my computer screen, “Monetize your art! You deserve more money for all the good you are putting into the world!”

This is how most of my secret missions go. I know. I’m not a very persuasive person, not yet at least. My biggest compliment I can give to Taylor is that when I think about my ambitions to create my own ASMR channel and Autistic Vlog, I would study her for her effervescent quality. She’s that good.

So yes, look up these pre-approved ASMR creators but listen with caution! Misophonia is hard but it shouldn’t keep us from the things we enjoy!


OH! I forgot to mention why I only watch real haircutting ASMR instead of role play. Ok. It’s one of those trauma- RSD related issues. I am a big believer in getting your hair done in a salon. My sister is an Aveda trained master of hair and if I could only use her services, I would- although she does tell me what I want instead of asking me, but that’s older sisters.

You see, I tend to make hair stylists angry. I have A LOT of hair.

Let me show you a recent example of the size and thickness of my hair:

Fluorescent lighting is doing nothing for my almost middle aged face but you can see just how much hair I have. It goes on beyond the camera’s lens too. You can almost hear the sigh in my eyes. SO. Much. Hair…

I’ve tried to cut it all off, but then I end up looking like this squat mushroom type character. Very Mario Brothers, circa 1990’s. Oh, and by the way, my hair is not “teased” in that picture. It just hasn’t been brushed down. Eat your heart out, Dolly.

So, like I said, if I go to get my hair cut or colored, especially colored, hairdressers get VERY ANNOYED with my existence. This has always messed with my Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria qualities.

An example… One time I was getting my hair colored professionally, and the young girl complained, LITERALLY, THE WHOLE TIME. In trying to pacify her, I said, “I know that I have a lot of hair, I tip accordingly.” And she angrily huffed, “I would hope so.”

That was the last time I got my hair professionally colored by anyone other than my sister. I would rather make mistakes at home than be berated by a, well, I thought of a lot of unkind words here, but, by a young lady who apparently doesn’t like her own job. (I also paid WELL over a hundred dollars for that cut and color with a huge tip. Just to be traumatized for a decent job. It was not worth the tip I gave in compensation for EXISTING.)

SO, I don’t like haircut role play ASMR anymore because they bring up a lot of trauma memories. This is not uncommon for people who are either on the spectrum or deal with ADHD, or people like me, who are both. BUT I still really like the sound of scissors, and have had very relaxing haircuts in the past.

I have an ambition to one day create a relaxing haircut role play ASMR for people like me. But that’s way down the line. In reality, I think it would be better to just bring in my sister and record my own haircut. My brother in law is a professional in the film industry too. I KNOW! I keep trying to tell them they would be so good at ASMR. Maybe one day, they’ll listen and we’ll all benefit.

Again, my sister is also just very good. Even when she did that horrible highlighting cap on me when we were kids, I have less bad memories from that catastrophe than I do from strangers. And she was an untrained, bossy, sixteen year old girl. She also cut my face once, when she was about thirteen and using sewing scissors to frame the hair around my face. STILL prefer the face cutting to being judged for having too much hair. SO yeah, RSD is insane and thirteen year old beauticians probably need a little more practice. That’s why they have little sisters.

New Girl as an Autistic Cipher For Women

Okay, I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that autism just makes you quirky or “adorkable.” That’s not at all what I am saying. This is about me. So, take that disclaimer with everything that I am saying…

New Girl, the Zooey Deschanel show on Fox that came out almost ten years ago, is one of my favorite shows. When I started binge watching it by the third season, I kept yelling at my television, “WHY ARE YOU WATCHING ME?! AM I BEING PUNKED?” That is because I AM Jessica Day. I know, I know. Every girl thinks they are the hero of their favorite TV show, but no- I AM Jessica Day.

(I have to have another disclaimer here. My sister is way cooler than me. She told me to watch it like two Thanksgivings before I started when she told me she named her parakeet “Schmidt.” And I was like, “the beer?”)

For those of you that were like me, so obviously uncool. Schmidt is one of the characters on the show. There is also Winston, Coach, and Nick Miller. Interestingly, I am also Nick Miller. More on that later.

If you need some evidence on my Jessica Day-ness, here is a picture of me BEFORE the show ever started…

Okay, I know bangs aren’t Zooey Deschanel specific-
but I rocked those bangs PRE-New Girl folks. I also rocked a lot of polka dots.

There are a lot of things that I have in common with the character of Jessica Day (and yes, I know, she’s fictional.) BUT despite the probably seventy pound weight difference, we both love a skater dress (cute little vintage numbers that are modeled after figure skaters.) We both ADORE patterns and bright colors. LOVE, love, LOVE cardigans. Colored tights and flats, yes! Shorts with tights, yes please! We love crafts and teaching children. WE’RE both super awkward. WE hate conflict. And just want everyone to be happy. (I might have projected the last one.)

It made me an INSTANT fan. And of course, that might be the universal appeal that New Girl has- she’s the cute and awkward “IT girl.” But there’s more to it.

Now that I’m post diagnosis, I wonder if Jessica Day had just enough of the autistic traits that I had to make me feel that blue streak of recognition.

Still not convinced?

She has obsessive interests, like books, and crafts, and knitting. She often doesn’t understand social cues. She has terrible balance (She falls down from just standing there. That’s me and my proprioception, all the way.) She’s inappropriately empathetic and compassionate (She breaks for birds.) She over prepares for social situations. It’s easier for her to be friends with the opposite sex. And finally, she uses escape tactics to get away from uncomfortable situations (that Christmas episode where she runs into a large glass window, and says she feels like a bird. I’ve done, literally, that.)

I’m not totally sure that she’s on the spectrum. (Because, obviously, she’s fictional!) But she really resonated with me, mostly because of the LACK of autistic girl representation. And if they are female characters, they often present in a more typical male representation of Autism, like Bennet on Dollhouse, or Elise on The Tunnel, or even Dr. Brennan, Zooey’s sister, on Bones. All male presentations of autism, dressed in a skirt. Metaphorical skirt, that is.

Don’t take my word on it, just check out this 2013 blog post written about three fictional characters that the author deemed likely to be on the spectrum. Almost proving my point, they denied Jess, and went with two men, and a cartoon. And even went back on their own idea, saying that cartoon Tina was too “normal.” Still showing the weird gender bias in diagnosing women autistics. I should give the blogger credit in that Abed Nadir from community is the best portrayal of Autism I have ever seen. So yeah, good point there.

Speaking of, I’m super excited that there is NOW a show on Freeform with a teenage autistic girl living with her gay brother. It’s like my worlds combined! It’s called “Everything’s Gonna be OK” and I haven’t watched it yet because I want to binge it when the season is over. (My ADHD won’t let me watch episodes one at a time.) BUT-BUT- there is actual autistic collaboration in the writers, and the actress herself is on the spectrum! BADASS REPRESENTATION! She’s still a child, but YEAH! STILL! GETTING BETTER!

Anyway, back to New Girl-

I’m also honestly, a little bit Nick Miller. And this does actually have to do with the autistic thing. Again, I am not diagnosing a fictional character. But I had SO MUCH in common with him as well. As the obvious love of Jessica Day, he has some similar neurodiverse traits, perhaps a little more ADHD but he has- intensive interests that change quickly, misunderstandings about interpersonal relationships (you gave me cookie, I got you cookie), immature (you don’t wash the towel, the towel washes you), anger issues, and problems following through (law school, the zombie novel. I also have an unfinished zombie novel and I’m a college drop out.) Oh! And seriously into masking (the thing with Russel where he literally starts mirroring everything that he says. That is a thing, people!)

Now all these traits were exaggerated for comedy purposes, of course. And I haven’t seen any of them really stim, or have intense sensory issues that require accomodation, but still it was interesting. And with Nick, they always portray these traits as just being “manly”, but that is how you end up with the idea that only men are autistic, and boys more commonly have ADHD.

I don’t know. It just blew my mind.

Perhaps it’s that thing when you are so starved for representation that you start adopting characters into your tribe just because you have some need to. Or maybe it’s because pink wine does make me slutty.

Either way, I still rock a good polka dot.


For a REAL cipher on autistic women, read this article on how Women with autism Hide Complex Problems with Masking. Yes, they use person first language but they also admit right away that it’s just a style choice. It’s still a great article, with great information.

HAPPINESS INVENTORY

Some of the therapies or tricks involved with mitigating the shortcomings of being autistic often involve a form of happiness distraction. It’s hard to regulate your emotions when you are Autistic or have ADHD, let alone have ADHD while being Autistic, so this is something very important to me.

In fact, today, it’s really important. I’m having a rather raw day. Between the death of my grandmother, and general mental health issues, I just… can’t.

In that vain, I like to take an inventory of the things that make me happy. This isn’t just for fun. It’s a cache that I keep tucked away in the back of my mind for emergencies. When you are stuck in an emotionally volatile state, you can’t suddenly think, “What would I be doing if I were happy?” No, you need to pull that happiness out of your mind like a switchblade you keep in your boot. Ready to be used at all times. This is basic self defense.

That being said, I would like to give you an example of my Happiness Inventory. So that you can make your own- or get that switchblade, whatever works for you.

An important note before you start. It’s true that things like “hanging out with friends” or “making out with my husband” might definitely make me happy, but they depend on another person. For quick happiness distraction, I like to focus on things that I can do at a moment’s notice.

Holly’s Happiness Inventory

In no particular order:

  • Watching ASMR videos on YouTube.
  • Binge watching “The New Girl”
  • Shopping for skater dresses and skirts. Oh! And cardigans. Shoes made for big girls as well. Those are hard to find.
  • Wearing colorful tights- that fit! Fit is very important for plus size girls like me, not to mention autistic big girls like me, who have sensory issues with clothing.
  • Watching great plus size fashion vloggers, like Sarah Rae Vargas, I love her!
  • Taking a nap.
  • Making jewelry. I haven’t done this as much since the birth of my son. He tries to eat my supplies, and pull my earrings out of my ears. (I actually haven’t worn dangle earrings in four years, one of my holes has actually healed over. One of these days I will have them re-pierced but due to slightly hilarious childhood trauma, I have yet to even consider how I will do that.)
  • Organizing. Not cleaning! Organizing. Big difference. I like having things clean but do not enjoy the actual maintenance of cleaning. (If you do, nourish that love. It’s something special.)
  • Shopping for original art online. Check out Society 6 or my favorite contemporary artist, Jess Franks.
  • Making and eating the dish I stole from my favorite local Mexican restaurant. It’s so good, with chorizo, bacon, onions and pineapple! SO, so good.
  • Making homemade aiolis and mayonnaise. Yuuum.
  • Pinterest binges WHILE netflix bingeing.
  • Listening to amazing podcasts like Getting Curious, Radiolab, Nancy, and This American Life.
  • WATCHING “QUEER EYE”! That was in all caps because I love it THAT MUCH. All five of those men are my role models. Helping people while being entertaining, I can’t imagine a better way to live.
  • Painting. Sometimes I can get caught up in the perfectionism of painting, but it is something that I have always loved. Still life is the most relaxing painting. Portrait, the most stressful. (Bob Ross is also the OG of ASMR.)
  • Planning or studying. I like to study examples of the projects I am working on and taking notes. SO, since I have ambitions to create my own Vlog, I research great vlogs or YouTube channels, and take notes. If I am writing a show that I want to have a little bit of “Chorus Line” flair, I will watch the musical online, and take notes. Take notes, people. This doesn’t just make me happy, it’s good advice.
  • Playing with make up. Because of how I grew up, my make up skills really only came to pass because of the theatre. So now that I want to do it more for myself, I like to play with it on my own. Practice makes perfect, but it also makes for some giggle inducing mistakes.
  • HGTV! I don’t have cable anymore, but I will still pick up my favorite decorating shows on my streaming platforms. “Dear Genevieve” was an all time favorite, love Erin and Ben from “Hometown”. Could do that ALL DAY.
  • Doing DIY projects, like making light fixtures or painting furniture.
  • Watching my hero Hannah Gadsby, do literally anything.
  • Going through family photos, especially of the little prince.
  • Oh! And my new and undying love… Instagram. I’m all about the gram!

That’s it!

Of course a Happiness Inventory will change with the literal weather, like “look at fall leaves” or “safely sunbathe” or “go skinnydipping!” I don’t know your life.

The point is, to survive the lows, sometimes you have to force a high. Or at the very least cognitively try to distract yourself with happiness. You never know when you’ll stop trying and just be happy!

Happy ASMR day!

I did not know there was a national holiday for ASMR, but I am in! I’m celebrating by showing you my favorite ASMR video yet. It’s a GIBI video that she released at Christmas of last year. Little did she know that 2020 was going to be a stressful year…

This is my favorite ASMR video of all time.
I listen to it multiple times a day, like some face attention mantra.

Hold on, let me fangirl a moment, I was listening to one of Gibi’s ASMR vids while doing some writing (it helps me focus and calm my ADHD. That, and my Adderall.) And I realized that one of the things that makes her so great is that she uses what is most likely her “normal” voice, only softer. It makes it so much more genuine than some of the other ASMR affirmation videos.

I think you know what I am talking about. In the theater I used to call it “poetry voice.” (A brilliant poet friend of mine might have actually coined that one, or I heard her say it and then adopted it as my own. Can’t remember.) Anyway, to me, “poetry voice” is this affected, kind of false voice. It’s sing-songy, occasionally over dramatic, and sometimes, way too precious. When I hear anyone use it, well it just makes my skin crawl. (And not in the good ASMR way.)

Look, I know that I am extremely discerning when it comes to ASMR. And that may have a lot to do with my sensory issues. But I see my loss as your gain. If I love it, and you also have sensory issues or misophonia, I’ve done the skin crawling work for you.

I have yet to find someone as good at this particular skill than Gibi. A very, very close second would be Gentle Whispering ASMR or Frivolous Fox ASMR.

Do you know any others I should listen to?

Why do I know this baby?

ASMR, Youtube, and Children on the Internet

My son is really cute. I understand the want to post every picture of his adorable face. More than that, my son had a dermoid cyst on his nose when he was a baby. A dermoid cyst that started to grow in through his cribriform and into the lining of his brain. Which resulted in a pretty terrifying surgery before he was even a year older. But he left the hospital with a BEAUTIFUL nose that, yes, nearly bankrupted us, but was totally worth it because our baby boy was alive to rub that beautiful nose against our cheeks.

So, we more than many, had reasons to show off our little boy’s face. But still. We did’t. Why is that?

Because we wanted him to live past his second birthday.

Continue reading “Why do I know this baby?”

How We Talk To Each other

I have been on a horrible journey, my friends. I have been… to Twitter. As a neurodivergent person who has incredible anxiety around social situations, digital or otherwise, I had avoided Twitter, well, until today. So basically, for as long as it has existed. (There was about five seconds back in 2013 where I signed up for an account and then immediately left due to being uncomfortable with its interface- but I went back!)

In my want to help people, I thought I should really try and stretch my abilities and get on to to Twitter.

Oh… my… god…

My head is still pounding. I haven’t unfurled my brow for like 20 minutes. I’m listening to an ASMR stress relief video in hopes of EVER AGAIN releasing the muscles around my neck and shoulders.

You see, there is a war going on. And it’s just about everything, and everywhere, but especially in the autism community. It is rife with anger, pain, and miscommunication. I thought it was just the LGBT community that acts like this, but NO! The Autism community is just as a big of a clusterf*ck.

This is not advocacy. This is a cacophony. And worst of all, it’s just another form of assimilation. Both sides want all of you, or none of you. Moderate voices who just want to make things better for themselves or their loved ones are drowned out by the immense wave of politics and rhetoric.

Of course, I am not talking about all advocates, for either end of the “advocacy spectrum.” I still have my favorites, like the wonderful Sarah Turner aka Autistic Barbie or Dela with her Happy Hands comic, both very lovely and articulate women with strong voices. And for the other end of the spectrum, I have found my son’s “preschool” clinic, The Place, to still be a rational voice of support in the ABA field. Spectrum- Autism Research News, as well, has shown to be a good source of information thus far.

As I said before, in one of my previous posts, when I reasonably tried to talk to another mother about the good and the bad of ABA, I was jumped on by several autistic advocates. No matter what I said, they called me an ableist and a child abuser. It was beyond confrontational, and despite my repeated requests to respect my limits, they harassed me into a meltdown. This was not the first time I saw this going on, but it was the first time it happened to me.

While I have problems with ABA therapy and person-first culture, I still support rational conversations. And will continue to reach out to anyone who is brave enough to ask a genuine question on social media, with no judgement or anger. Because harassment does nothing accept shut down any prospect of diplomacy or collaboration.

For example, because of people like this, REAL advocacy groups like Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network get shut out and blocked when asking important questions. Like when this author tried to correct a factually inaccurate article in Autism Parenting Magazine. They just assumed she was one of “them” and immediately plugged their ears. Because they had learned to ignore Neurodivergent advocates.

In all these… blaring arguments… this blinding disorder… I really started to question what I could do as an advocate myself, against all this misinformation and vitriol. I found myself wanting to cover my ears like my son does, and then scream until it all stopped. Until it was finally silent.

But you can’t do that.

Because there are people that still need help.

I’ve lived a life as an autistic person in hiding. I’ve lived with ADHD, OCD, and severe anxiety. My life and my experience have value. My authority as a parent with a high support autistic child, has value. My first hand account of the difficulties experienced by children with Apraxia and other sensory communication disorders, has value.

So, I will probably wade back into the horrible land of Twitter from time to time. And I know that I will experience the harassment from both sides of the neurodivergent/autism divide. But I can take it.

(Well, my therapist, my meds, and I can take it, together, I hope.)

My point… Oh god, my point is so important on this one people. Stop arguing about us vs them. The world is not this binary. I know that person first vs identity first language, is important to many people. The argument of therapy vs abuse, is important to many people. Supports vs a cure, is important to many people. But there is so much more important work to be done!

There are children who are being forced to ingest bleach. There are insurance companies denying autistic people support and causing families to go bankrupt because of overwhelming costs. There are people being denied diagnoses because of outdated practices. And there are eloping children dying alone or abducted.

I’m not saying that your causes aren’t important. I’m asking for civility and a little bit of empathy.

Or is what they say about us true? Are we truly without empathy?

I don’t think so.

Stick to the rules

Another quick lesson for you guys. When you have rules, stick to them. I have a “No flame wars” rule for online interactions. Some of the hardest ones I have are actually with fellow autism activists. It’s not often, but I see people laying into parents who are just uninformed and need someone being kind to them to help them understand what it is to be autistic, and that injustice rage starts to boil. I can’t stand bullies, even when they are technically in my own advocacy group.

I saw one such parent, tried to help her. Tried to be kind to the other advocates. They kept picking at me, then finally accused me of being a child abuser, and my conflict anxiety boiled over and I hit a wall in my attempts to communicate.

First, I threw up. Next, I started bawling. Then my hands went numb, and I lost all ability to speak. I tried to message my counselor but I couldn’t see because I was about to pass out from hyperventilation.

This is called a meltdown.

Lights became painful, noise became unbearable, the world closed in on me and I could feel everything. I made my way slowly to my pills in my medicine cabinet, and took a klonopin (my doctor calls them emergency emotional pain pills.) Slowly, I went back to something more like “normal.”

I wrote down what was happening to my husband (remember, I had lost all ability to speak. That lasts a little while.) And he suggested that I give facebook a rest for the night. I agreed.

This is all physical. I perfectly understand the perspective of those advocates. I understand why they feel the way they feel and I am compassionate to their cause. But they so needlessly pushed a person that they claimed to be supporting into a meltdown by bullying and refusing to listen.

Now, having said that, my meltdown is still not on them. I have to use the tools that I have learned to try and regulate my emotions so that doesn’t happen. I made two big mistakes in my estimation.

#1. I’m sick. I shouldn’t have tried to make any kind of controversial fight while I’m sick, especially with something as rough as COVID-19. And as controversial as ABA therapy.

#2. I can’t control what other people do, only how I respond to them. I wasn’t going to change those women. After all, no matter how clumsy it was, they thought they were doing righteous work. They thought they were educating me, despite my already extensive knowledge on the subject. And there is merit to the argument that ABA is harmful. They weren’t doing a great job being persuasive, or kind, but at least they weren’t peddling nonsense.

I have to respect my own boundaries. I don’t have the privilege of being careless with my anger, because it will destroy me. That is apart of being the kind of person that I am. Autism has wonderful strengths, but it also comes with rigid constraints and repercussions.

Like meltdowns.

Mostly, I’m just worried about the fever my husband just spiked. I don’t know what we’ll do if we both have coronavirus at the same time. Our sweet four year old won’t understand why his Mommy and Daddy can’t hold him. And no one else can come to our aid with the quarantine in effect.

It won’t matter if I made my point to strangers then, because he still won’t understand.

The point I’m making to you, reader, is we like rules for a reason. Stick to the rules. And be kind. Please, be kind.

That and don’t let the only healthy caretaker of your child too close to you, even if he is your husband. Stick to the rules.

Right Now

This probably won’t be a very well written post. But it will be honest. That is because I am going through a crisis… right now.

You see, I forgot to take my medication yesterday, because of the general lawless quarantine- no routine- life we are all living at the moment.

And even though I remembered my meds this morning. I am paying for yesterday’s mistake… right now.

I feel like crying and throwing up all at once. My sensory overload is almost unbearable and my ADHD is in overdrive, which means that my Rejections Sensitive Dysphoria is also in overdrive. So all the progress I’ve made in the last few months, has just disappeared.

Fortunately, I have been doing a lot of studying in those properly medicated months. With my counselors, and on my own. I am especially interested in something called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which deals with regulating emotions and living in the moment. Or you know… right now.

It feels a lot like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, if any of you are familiar with this hobbit-like genius. (I have always felt that Eckhart looked like either the spirit that helps you find the true meaning of Christmas, or a super villain. Don’t know why. He’s really awesome, so I’m not trying to make fun. Anyway, ADHD, like I said…)

My father went through a Power of Now phase, I think, in the early 2000’s? It was a big deal for us in our house. Unfortunately, my father was a little more in-tuned with his issues than we were at the time, so we were like, “Ok, whatever Dad, I’m gonna go watch the Gilmore Girls, with the power of fast talking.” I wasn’t very enlightened. I was also suffering from severe ADHD, so yeah. Not my fault.

(Okay, as an honest observation here, I think you might be able to see what an un-medicated ADHD mind is like. It jumps, and jumps, and jumps. So even if the person themselves, is not jumping about, that does NOT mean they do not have ADHD. I’m sitting perfectly still as I write this, but my mind is doing somersaults.)

So, honestly, being without my meds is a good reminder that you need more than just pharmaceuticals to get you through the hard times. You need tools. You need methods and tips to reason with the parts of you that are simply unreasonable.

I’m gonna look more into DBT, because I think it might be good for ASD people as well. I know that it works well for people with Borderline Personality Disorder and that’s something of a cousin to Autism Spectrum Disorder. (I think BPD is more trauma-based where ASD is a neurological type. Don’t quote me on that. It’s just my understanding.)

Honestly, this might also be an anxiety hangover.

I was saying to my instagram buddies yesterday, I have severe, SEVERE conflict anxiety. And Autism Awareness Week always puts me in a state. Letting people be wrong, is very hard for me. But having the conflict to tell them they are wrong, is excruciating. This is also hard on my self esteem because I find this part of me to be something like cowardice. And so I am not forgiving in this aspect of my mental illness.

What is cowardice if not being afraid of a fight? But fights- just destroy me.

My Enneagram type is Type 2- The Helper- Or the Caring, Interpersonal Type- Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive. Which means that I literally just want everyone to get along. And for me, that “posessive” quality transfers to a fierce, FIERCE loyalty. Meaning that I am often drawn to fights because of my intense emotions and need to protect what is “mine.” And as deep as my social anxiety is, I will go to WAR over loyalty. Basically, I’m the “Leave Brittany Alone” guy, crying under a blanket. I just don’t film it and upload it. My sensibilities stop that kind of public self destruction, most of the time.

(Disclaimer, I completely agree with “Leave Brittany Alone” guy. She’s bipolar and should not have been photographed in the middle of an episode. Her attacking a car with an umbrella after shaving her head? Duh. That was an episode. An episode that allowed her family to come in and take over all her finances. I’m not saying that they did that to her. I’m hoping that they did it for her. But who knows?)

One of the best portrayals of this feeling I have ever seen came from Silver Linings Playbook. Honestly, that was one of the best portrayals of Bipolar Disorder I have ever seen, anywhere. Especially when he has an episode in the middle of the night looking for his wedding video. I’ve been there. But mostly I am talking about the scene while they are tailgating and someone goes after his therapist and then punches his brother.

The fear and anger is this overpowering wave of “fight or flight” but mostly just “fight.” Like extreme, red eyes, nose flaring “FIGHT.” Because I’m only 5’3″ and very soft, it probably seems laughable that I want to fight people. But I want to DESTROY them. And that kind of uncontrollable anger is scary. Hence, the severe, SEVERE conflict anxiety. Thinking about it now, it’s probably the opposite of cowardice. It’s barely contained restraint. And anything that is “barely contained” is going to be uncomfortable.

And some might say, just get angry! Start that flame war! Tell them off! But I’ve been down that road and it does nothing to help anyone. More than that, they haunt me. Those moments will haunt me forever. So even if it seems simpering, if I offend someone on the internet, or god forbid, in real life, I will apologize almost immediately. Not to admit fault, but as a ritual to spare me the pain later. I have to make peace, or I will never have peace.

Huh, well that was a little bit cathartic. I feel better. That or my Adderall is finally kicking in. (I’m also listening to ASMR as I write this.) Whatever, it is. I’ll take it.

The point is… I started this blog to help. Not because I have it all figured out, but because I am a deeply flawed human being who tries to learn from her mistakes. If you can learn from my mistakes before you make them yourself, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. So, thanks.

Also, don’t forget to take your meds.

Who Am I?

While being sick in my bed, I don’t have a lot to do but daydream. Sure, I’ve watched some movies (Oh Greta Gerwig, your Little Women makes my heart ache it’s so good.) I’ve listened to a lot of ASMR. Done some writing, of course.

But mostly I’ve slept and daydreamed.

And in all this dreaming I’ve begun to wonder, Who am I?

No, the coronavirus does not also include amnesia now in its list of symptoms. No, just now that I am post Autism diagnosis so late in my life and I am living without a mask for the first time in years…so I’m wondering who I am, for real.

Well, for that, I think I should start with what I was. I was definitely a performer. First in the theatre itself. I spent a lot of years in semi-lead roles and secondary parts. Nothing to sneeze at. Performing throughout high school and the years in college before I dropped out. Then after I dropped out, my mother’s school failed to pass a referendum. So they cut the middle school play due to financial reasons. This didn’t sit well with my mother, so she brought me in as a ringer to direct a show. When I say ringer here, I mean “for free.”

But that decision turned into a program between my mother and I that spanned almost two decades. I wrote and directed several shows, published one with an international publisher and continued to publish the rest on my own. I’ve created online courses on directing, costuming, and set design. My shows have been performed by schools all over the world, and I don’t mind saying, have made many, many children happy.

So, I’ve done things. I was successful despite my difficulties. But I was still not completely myself. Part of that was being queer, but by in large, it was because I knew I was different.

And because I was different, I was also just a little bit lying. That’s why the subtitle to my blog is “honestly.” Because even before my diagnosis, before I knew what I was, I knew that I was tired of hiding who I was. Tired of performing a reflection of what people thought I should be.

That kind of performance, that kind of masking, it tears you apart. You begin to fracture your personality for the consumption of others. Carve away at your soul, just to make sure that you are palatable to everyone. So no one sees the truth. So no one is angry with you, for being yourself. (It’s a lot like, a less evil version of horcruxes, only the person you are murdering is yourself. You do it to protect yourself, but in the end, it destroys you.)

But that kind of brings me to a different, more hopeful thought. Once you reach the realization that you have been masking for a very long time, or in my case, three decades, you start to grieve for the time that you lost. (It’s interesting that parents often grieve an Autism diagnosis, not knowing that without that diagnosis, their child could be grieving a misspent life. Maybe if they knew that it wouldn’t be so hard.) In grieving the lost time, you can go down a really dark hole. I was really starting down that hole when I came upon a post from Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, it was a quote and a link to a blog from another adult autistic woman.

 “Despite my late discovery of being autistic, I am learning to flick on the switch of possibility and reinvention, instead of obsessing over lost time”

Possibility. It was so simple. Now that I was aware and open about who I was, everything seemed possible. I could be who I really wanted to be, an open, honest, person, who helped others by example.

It is literally all I have ever wanted. To help others. It is my calling. More than theatre, more than writing, I want to help. All the children, my students, that I failed to connect with on a deeper level because of my mask. I will devote my life to overcoming that regret.

I will still honor the person that I was, the innocuous nuggets of truth that managed to surface over the years. Like the fact that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd (see horcruxes above) or my love of science fiction and comic book movies. My years teaching in theatre. My love of writing and reading.

But I will also eat more pineapples. And wear more tights. I love tights. I might even perm my hair. Color my hair more! Pink! It’s gonna get wild folks. More than anything, I’m not going to live afraid.

Because this is a rebirth. This is who I am.