Everybody Chill: The Rate is Better Diagnosis

Sorry, but I will not sugarcoat it. I don’t know how. By now, I’m sure you have heard that the new autism prevalence is 1 in 59, up from 1 in 68. And do you know what? I don’t think sugarcoating applies here. If we did not attach a stigma or hate to an autism diagnosis, as American society tends to do to the non-white-bread types, I would not have to warn you.

 Now, let’s get down to your real question: Why? What could be the cause of a higher prevalence than before in the United States? I just put a clue up above. It’s wider screening, especially among children of color. A recent article by the Associated Press cited closing gaps of diagnosis between Black (20% gap – 10% gap) and Hispanic (50% gap – 20% gap) children. It looks like we’re casting wider nets than ever to grab these children and propel them toward a new understanding.

 So, what are we supposed to do with this new information. Well, I’ve got a strange idea: Close your eyes, relax, and see this new rate for what it is: good news on better understanding your kids.

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How Christmas Went This Year

After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.

I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.

Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.

Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.  

Expectation vs. Reality: Valentine’s Day 2017 –

Via Daily Prompt: Expectation

Let’s get one thing straight: Often, reality does not meet expectation, let alone surpass it. I was expecting to be attached to somebody romantically this Valentine’s Day, but I’m not, for example. To me, though, expectation is no big deal. I can deal with a single Valentine’s Day. I have been for years. There is a no-worry plan to deal with Valentine’s Day, or as some singles like to call it, Singles Awareness Day.

1) Drop expectations – What do you have to worry about if you don’t have anyone to expect anything from? You’re totally free from it. I mean, sure, your friends or family may have something to celebrate or expect, but you, don’t worry about it. There is nothing to tether you to expectation.

2) Surround yourself with things and people you love – I’ve done it already this morning: I’ve got my new Doctor Strange Funko mug. I’ve already got my chocolate, my coffee, my favorite pajamas, and my later plans to go out to lunch with my mother, whom I love dearly. Love is the theme of the day; surround yourself with people and things for it.

3) Don’t get bitter – Why get bitter? Maybe you don’t have what they call a “soul mate.” Besides, the “soulmate” theory came from a belief that the human soul was divided into two genders, male and female. I’m not going to get into it, but I believe 1+1=2. You are a whole, complete person by yourself. Besides, would you really want to be in a relationship where the person abuses you because you don’t want to be alone? You know there’s various caveats to that, and that’s one of them. Besides, just because your life hasn’t worked out right doesn’t mean others haven’t either.

4) Celebrate others’ relationships – There are plenty of people to whom Valentine’s Day has a more special significance. For example, my own parents were married on Valentine’s Day. Find someone who has this kind of significance – like a birthday, perhaps? People were born today, too. But I digress. Sometimes you have to absorb another’s positive energy, sometimes you don’t. Don’t worry about it.

I hope I may have been helpful with some suggestions in dealing with this day, if you are having trouble.

ADDENDUM (8:15 p.m.):

My experiment actually worked. We went out to a pretty good place to eat, and I realized this: I could eat onion. (Onion curls, but I digress.) I survived this day just fine.

 

No More Self Hate 

Recently, I’ve been going over some of my posts. I’ve noticed a pattern of pity and self-loathing. Will I die alone? Am I pretty enough for love? Am I too fat for love? It has come to me what I have been doing, and what drives these posts. I have been listening to what the haters say, and not what the people who love me say. It’s a vicious cycle. The haters scream and shout, while those who love you are drowned out. It’s vicious what I’ve been listening to. Well, it’s time to make a definite change. I’ve come here to say NO MORE. It’s time I reverse my ears and listen to those who really love me – those who say that love is there, even if it’s not in a partner.

Autistic people find love. I have known a chemist/inventor who has been in Time Magazine, and she has been married for years. Of course, no one has to marry their partner, but isn’t that sweet? I have decided this: If I am bound to find a soul mate, they will come at the right time. If not, oh well. Maybe I can look at the other ways people can be loved – you know, without partners.

I’m going to go off script and talk about this – it’s related: Ashley Graham – yes, the plus-size Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model – says she’s not ashamed of her body. Why should she be ashamed of it? She’s a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model! Even now, I can hear the cracking and crumbling of the plaster statue of broomstick beauty dictatorship. I’m not a broomstick, but why does that have to shut me out of love and acceptance? It’s sickening.

The worst part of it is this: It recurs almost every now and then. It’s like a pain that flares up with this trigger or that trigger, and I want it to stop. I want to stop feeling like I am inadequate to find and give/receive love. I’m tired of being disqualified because of things I can barely control, let alone things I can NOT control. I can’t control that I’m autistic. I can’t control that I’m short and stocky. I can’t control your attitude, either. So why lament about it?

What’s Wrong With Me?

What in the world is wrong with me? Here I am, watching Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley and feeling sorry for myself. What makes me think I am in competition with her? She’s married, for God’s sake. There is no sense in comparing myself to other people. It’s shameful to think that my looks will hold me back or take me forward with any long term effect. But in some old fuddy-duddy circles, they do. I don’t have time to figure out which circles count on my looks and which ones count on something else. If it were only easier to tell these things. Maybe it’s better if they don’t. I mean, do I need to be only good for the children I bear? Genetics make even that a risk. (The autism again, I know.) But why am I even wondering about my looks at all? They haven’t given me a man yet…and what’s wrong there, thinking I need a man. I don’t need a man so much, but something draws me to wanting one. I guess I should not make myself miserable. I wish I had a man…but I really don’t need one. I mean, if I have God, then I have all I need. That’s what I believe anyway. But I always wonder: is there some divine purpose I am missing out on by not having a man?

Special Interest: The Dancing Princesses

I have always had a special interest in “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces,” or “The Dancing Princesses.” In giving the eldest princess the hero, it was always a special twist for me. I learned of the tale from Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. Since then, I have probably had an unhealthy obsession with it. I have decided to put my own twist on the tale – from the viewpoint of the eldest.

Maria the Cursed

My name is Maria. I am the eldest of twelve. Each one of us has been praised as beautiful as the next. We dance each night in our perfect dream world, where each of us is loved by the man of our dreams. Sadly, it is the only place where I can find this man. You see, anyone who would choose one of us would choose my youngest sister, Catherine.

One day, I was preparing to wed a nobleman in my court. I remember this well, for my youngest sister Catherine was only seven years old. I felt this was my last chance to find a nobleman. You see, where I come from, a girl was cursed if they were not married by the time she was twenty. I was nineteen.

The day came for me to wed a lord, who was kind and sweet. We bade each other good night, hoping for the day. I awoke…but that very day, my sweet nobleman was found dead in his bed. Instead of a wedding, I attended a funeral. The word came out that I was cursed. Was I cursed? I had lost the one man I had loved. Had I lost the chance to ever have a husband and family? I longed to dance at a wedding, but no one would invite me. I was cursed, they said. No one would let me come to their wedding.

One of these lonely nights, I heard a voice. It was a lovely, pleasant whisper.

“Come dance with me,” it said.

My sisters were fast asleep. How was it I was awake and they were asleep that night, I do not know. I found a rose and a key I had never seen before on the table at my bedside.

“Come dance with me,” the voice echoed again.

I quietly rose from my bed and wore my best dress, and my best dancing shoes. I looked around for the face that held the voice, but there was none. I looked at the door. Surely he knew I my sisters and I were locked in for our own protection.

“Come…” the voice echoed behind me, back at my bed. Moonlight shone upon a secret rose carving on the head. For some reason, I touched it…and it sank into the ground with barely a noise. There were secret passages in and out of the castle, as it was with other castles. My sisters and I explored them all. How could I not know about this one?

“Come dance with me….”

I went down the stairs, down very far, until I reached a locked gate. As if by knowledge, I put the key in the keyhole. It opened on its own. I entered a wondrous world, of untold beauty. The trees were made of pure silver! I could not speak.

“Come dance with me….”

I walked through the forest of silver, and then I soon learned the path was lined with trees of gold! They were even more beautiful than the trees of silver! I walked even faster, knowing the voice would be at the end of the path.

“Come dance with me….”

The trees were now made of glittering, bright diamonds. I could not wait to see the owner of the voice…

“Come dance with me.”

I then saw him. He was a handsome man. A very handsome man, indeed. He was sitting in a boat on a lake that reflected the diamond trees.

“Princess Maria?”

“Yes.”

“I know you have longed to dance for years. Come.”

Something pulled me into the boat, against my better judgment. He took me out to a lovely palace, where music was playing. I was finally going to dance. There was music, and dancing. I danced all night long. I danced to much that my shoes were ruined, but I did not care. It was so wonderful. So many handsome men, and so many dances to do, and such delicious foods to eat.

I was tired, but happy, when he led me back to the forest. I was falling hard and fast for this man. Where did he come from? And how did he love me? He barely knew me. It did not matter. I swore I would come again the next night.

These revelries continued for a few more nights. I kept ruining a pair of shoes each night.

Then my sisters found out. I was getting ready to go when my sister Hildegarde came out of hiding, dressed as for a ball. I discovered that the others were already dressed as well.

“We have seen you doing this. We want to come too.”

“No, Hildie. I cannot allow it.”

“But you always seem so happy as of late. We are coming too.”

“Why would you want to do what I’m doing?”

“We’re coming, or we’re going to tell father.”

And that was it.  I could not tell my father what I was doing, because how could I explain? Then he would take my only happiness away, and I would become cursed again. Even little Catherine was dressed and ready to go.

“Alright, but it will take the prince a long time to take us out on the boat. It is too small for more than three people.”

But when I got there, there were twelve boats waiting! Had I revealed too much to my prince?

We all danced, night after night. It was a wonderful time, or so I thought.

*****

One day, our father asked us about our shoes. He asked how we could go dancing every night. We had no answer, for I was not about to give up the only real pleasure in my life.

He then dismissed us for a time, but I found out from the baker’s wife that he issued a proclamation for men all around that one of us would be given as a wife to the first man who found out our secret.

*****

Not long after, a prince came calling. He was set in the room next to ours, now open for all of the world to see, and he was stationed outside. This was not to help assuage anyone’s fears, especially Catherine, who feared being discovered the most.

I gave him a sleeping draught given to me by my prince. I also had to assuage Catherine all night, the first night he stayed.

He was sent to prison after three days. He lamented, as he went, that he would have rather died than do this. He said as he left, “It’s Maria. She’s cursed, I tell you.”

Some time later, another prince came, and another. Twelve princes in all…and all of them cursed me as they left. I was still Maria the cursed.

*****

One day, after all this was over, I stepped out to the balcony of my room and saw a soldier talking to the cobbler’s wife. This was no significant thing; there were soldiers roaming the countryside from all the wars raging around our peaceful land, begging for whatever they could have. This one was receiving a cape from the cobbler’s wife. She was always a kind soul, I presumed. He looked up at me, and I saw his beautiful eyes. He was rough and dirty, like most soldiers were, but his eyes struck me like the vivid blue sky that day. I shook it off, and simply went about my day, caring for my sisters.

*****

A few days later, we were introduced to our next prospect. We simply stood there, as we normally did, with our heads down in respect. I, however, took a small peek at him. He was not like the young princes. He was older, more mature. Of course, as it seemed the custom, he would surely pick Catherine as a bride. Catherine was barely fourteen at this time. People say she was ready to handle the vigors of being a wife, since she was of marriageable age, but I knew better. Oh, the madness of the age!

We lifted our heads up to greet him, and I looked into his eyes. It was the soldier from before! I knew it, since I had seen those eyes before. They were the ones I had seen with the cobbler’s wife. He was certainly handsome, in a way, but I wondered…was he like me? Was he discarded after his service, like I was discarded after my curse?

*****

The soldier, whose name was Thomas, did not drink an ounce of wine at dinner. I thought this was strange, since I did not put any of the sleeping draught in it. The cobbler’s wife must have instructed him not to drink it. This was going to be a hard one to conceal. He then looked into my eyes again. I could have looked into his eyes forever, but Catherine broke my gaze. She needed a little help with something, I could not remember what. Oh, that sweet innocence is what most men crave. I knew I had no chance.

*****

I went to his room, with the wine I had prepared at bedtime. I gave it to him, as he looked upon me with a curiously lustful gaze. He seemed to drink it, were it not for that silly sponge tied under his chin. Did he think I could not see it? How insulting. But I could not tell my sisters, for they might panic. So, I took the cup and acted as if I saw nothing. He soon went to sleep, snoring loudly. We all laughed, and I said, “He, too, could have spared his life.”

As we got dressed, Catherine was especially fearful this night.

“I don’t know how it is, while you are so happy I feel very uneasy; I am sure some mischance will befall us.”

“You simpleton,” I said, for this was how I teased her, “You are always afraid; have you forgotten how many kings’ sons have already watched in vain? And as for this soldier, even if I had not given him his sleeping draught, he would have slept soundly enough.” Hopefully, this was the case.

I then went to the bed, as I normally do, and opened the secret passage. We all went down, down I our passageway, and soon I was at the gate.

Catherine cried out, “Something is wrong! Someone has stepped on my dress!” It was Thomas! I was sure of it!

But I could not alarm my sisters. “You only got caught on a nail.”

We then passed through the trees of silver, where a loud noise was heard through the trees. Again, Catherine was afraid. “That hasn’t happened before!”

“It is only our princes, who are shouting for joy at our approach.”

This happened again in the golden trees, and then in the diamond trees. But I had to let my sisters stay ignorant of what was happening, because somehow Thomas began to invade my thoughts. His eyes were wonderful to think about.

At the nighty ball, there were more curious happenings: every time I put a glass of wine to my lips, it was empty. Of course, Catherine was afraid, but I could not let her in on what I surmised, for what if it was not Thomas, but somebody else? What if somebody else came down and found out our secret?

At the end of the night, our shoes were worn, so we had to go again. As we left, I was sure there was somebody beside myself and my prince in the boat. Oh, if only I could bring Thomas down here-but he would tell everything, and I would dance no more. As we climbed the stairs back to our bedroom, we began to hear a noise in Thomas’ room. He was snoring. Catherine was finally relieved. Even Hildegarde was laughing at it-and she rarely spoke about anything besides her plants.

All the next day, Thomas spent time with each and every one of us princesses. At least I had some time to go on an errand with him, to the cobbler’s wife. She and I were good friends; I try to make friends with those who serve us every day. They are good people, most of them.

“How are we today, dearie? Have you found love yet?”

“How could I find love? I am cursed.”

Then the cobbler’s wife shook her head. “You are not cursed. Sometimes, people die for reasons we do not know.”

“That is even worse, to not know why people are dying.”

“Maybe they will know someday, my dear.”

Thomas was conversing with the cobbler all this time, but he kept looking back at me, with a smile. He was so nice. Maybe he could think of me as marriageable, maybe not.

“How are your boys, dear Brunhilda?” Brunhilda was the name of the cobbler’s wife.

She smiled. “They are very good. Their apprenticeships are coming along well. One of them, in Hamelin, told of a strange tale of a pied piper getting rid of the rats in town, and then getting rid of the children. But he was always the sort to tell wild tales.”

“And your daughter?”

“She is doing well. She is married to a baker, and they are having a child soon. I shall travel to Berlin soon to help her.”

“I can assure you safe passage when you do.”

“Oh, my dear, thank you. It will be much appreciated.”

We both laughed, and then Thomas looked at me again. He was smiling.

When we rode back, Thomas tried to get information out of me.

“I wonder, why, with such beauty and wit, you do not find a handsome man.”

“I am cursed.”

“Why would you say that?”

“The man I was supposed to marry died before we were to wed.”

“That does not constitute a curse. I would say your mysterious dancing is more of a curse than that.”

“Why would you say that? I am never allowed to a wedding.”

“My dear, that will change soon.”

“I am afraid I am too old to marry.”

“I would not say that.”

We soon got to the castle. Thomas’ words rang in my ear throughout the evening. If only it were true.

*****

When we went to the dance that night, my boat was slow, but it set the speed of the other boats. Catherine was not afraid, at least. She was always worried about being discovered. But I wished somebody were there. I wished Thomas could see this.

*****

Thomas, however, was not to be deterred. He asked more questions about the dancing, as in where we went, how could we worry our father, why dance all night. I told him again that I was cursed, and too old.

“How could you say that? You are still of childbearing age.”

“Why do you care? Would you rather be with Catherine?”

“Catherine is too young, and can have any man she wants.”

“Including you?”

“I have no idea how to run a kingdom. I would think that you would know the ins and outs of such matters.”

“That is all you want? Someone to run a kingdom?”

“No! Listen to me, Maria. You are not a cursed woman. You may think that now, but when you are old and gray, you will realize that you were wrong.” And he roughly kissed me on the lips.

I had to slap him; he was rude. I would be glad when he was sent to prison!

*****

That night, I talked it over with my prince.

“Soon, he will be gone. Why do you matter what he thinks?” replied the prince.

“I just don’t know. I…don’t know.”

“You will soon be rid of him, and soon you will spend all night with me-and all day.”

I welcomed this news with mixed emotions. Where was Thomas when you needed him? What had I done?

*****

That morning, I was waking up, tired again. We had just finished breakfast when my father and Thomas came into our room.

Thomas was holding three branches in one hand: one of silver, one of gold, and one of diamonds. In the other hand, he held a goblet-an amethyst goblet from the ball downstairs.

“Ladies,” said our father the king, “My associate Thomas tells me you have been spending time downstairs dancing all night-with trees made of silver, gold and diamonds. Is this true?”

Catherine burst into tears. “I knew it! I knew I was right!” She nearly fainted.

Hildegarde and my other sisters were unwilling to speak.

Thomas looked into my eyes, this time a knowing look.

Knowing I was defeated, I simply went to the bed, and tapped on the secret rose carving. The bed, as before, sank into the ground with nary a thought.

“This is how we leave our chambers. Go, see if you must.”

My father’s face turned white. “But…but why? Why must you go dancing in the underworld?”

It was then that surprising things poured from my mouth. Tears flowed from my eyes.

“I am a cursed woman, unable to get somebody to love me! One of these days I will be alone while all of you will be off with someone else.”

My sisters had to calm me for once. It was a strange position.

“So, since we have found out why everything happened, which one of my daughters would you like as a wife?”

Catherine, I’m sure he would say.

“I’m no longer so young; give me the eldest.”

Those words might have insulted another woman; but for me, they were the most magical I had ever heard.

“Will you have me as a husband, my dear Maria?”

I had confessed so much; another confession would not hurt.

“I hoped you would find me out. Yes, I will marry you.”

I took the key from around my neck, and tossed it under the bed. And then something strange happened. The bed came back up, and the stone under it sealed shut, as if nothing had ever happened.

*****

The wedding was held that very same day. We danced and danced, my sisters and I. I danced with Thomas almost through the night.

After we had gone to bed, my shoes worn through once more, I could not help but realize that the wedding I would finally dance at would be my own!

Autism Positivity 2015

Autism Positivity? That was a new one for me. Sometimes, I myself need to step back from the battles I fight and see what I have gained. Certainly, most people say I have gained nothing and lost everything because I am autistic. However, I can see some gains I have made. Here are a few:

1) Perspective: There is a beautiful world out there that other people cannot see. I wish I could explain it to you, but I experience things differently. This is a part of who I am. Also, when I reveal I am autistic, most people’s stereotypical viewpoints of autism are broken, and broken soundly as I continue to contribute to their experience. I like to break down walls wherever I go.

2) Compassion: I gain more and more of this as I see the world through the eyes of an outsider. These days, everyone can be an outsider, because of so much discrimination, but with autism, the world is especially unkind to me. I have trouble making friends, and keeping friends, so I will treasure anyone who stays around me. I treasure my mother for this very reason.

3) Knowledge: My special interests have helped me gain knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. Maybe because I am a girl I have had interests closer to neurotypical people, but I have always gained something from a Special Interest. Here are a few:

Rainbow Brite (but mostly Indigo): I have gained tolerance, love, and an appreciation of theater from this one.

Sailor Moon: This is where many of my stereotypes of female power have been broken.

Some Fairy Tales: I have learned to love books and research through this one.

4) Jerk Detection: I have learned who really loves me, and who is just there to exploit me, by how well they tolerate my stimming. For instance, my sisters, who robbed and exploited me for a money source, hated my stims. Those who really love me, however, can either tolerate them, or perhaps help me figure out why I am stimming.

So, being autistic, I can love myself in a way that is unique for me.