My favorite teacher was the person who taught me how to letterboard, Elizabeth Vosseller.* She is a speech pathologist who led a training in Seattle in 2013. She changed my life, as you can imagine! She was the first person who treated me like I was intelligent and capable of learning. Within ten minutes of working with her, I understood what she wanted me to do, and I was so excited to finally – FINALLY – be able to communicate that I would have done it all standing on one foot if she had asked me to.
Never underestimate the power a teacher’s determination can have on changing a person’s life! Reaching for new horizons is something we can all benefit from.
(* of Growing Kids Therapy Center in Herndon, VA)
Right now, I like how I spend my free time. I come home from work or school, and after I go through my routine of putting away my lunch items, I go upstairs and cut paper. It’s the most relaxing activity I can think of. No one makes me stop or try something else. I might want to try something else some day, and hopefully I will get support for it should I need it. I feel lucky that I have a pretty busy life right now, and have little down time. Keeping myself busy with activities that feed different parts of my life it’s so important. School and work and the gym each feed a different need my brain and come together to make me feel complete. The only thing missing is a girlfriend.
I used to have such a problem making eye contact. I think it’s because I would be listening with such intensity that I had to focus my gaze at a point in the distance. It’s like with the words, I couldn’t have the intensity of the eye contact too. I’ve gotten so much better at looking at people’s faces that now I can maintain a gaze for several seconds. I have to admit that it’s incredibly intimate to look at someone’s face for so long and not be intimidated or creeped out. Why? Because I think that one’s eyes truly are the mirror to their soul.
Having a great memory system has also been somewhat of a burden. It doesn’t happen often, but I do get sudden flashbacks, and they can be very overwhelming.
One recent flashback I had was from school and the first grade. The teacher was very nice, but all her instructions were sung because it was a Montessori school. I was reminded of this at school when someone sang a little song in the same sort of way. It took me back there immediately, and I can’t say that it was pleasant. Thankfully, not all flashbacks are negative, and I get to enjoy lots of wonderful memories.
I have all of these so-called “symptoms.” Rather, I think of them as gifts. My interactions with my environment involve every waking cell of my body. This is why I shut down from time to time, and especially when I was a kid, I couldn’t handle all the connections and signals I was receiving from all the stuff around me. Over time, I learned how to turn some of those signals so I could focus like a neurotypical person. But I love it when I am home and can relax as an autistic.
I often don’t hear when someone says hi to me. It’s not that I’m ignoring them, but I simply have a delay in responding. People might think that I don’t know much or have rude manners, but I want to engage with them so much.
I get caught up and what’s going on all around me, and get distracted. Having sensory streams coming at me from all directions means I have to differentiate between a single person’s voice and all the background noises. It’s one of my biggest challenges still. I hope to get better at this so I can answer questions at work when it gets busy.