Vertigo and Sensory Disorder

I’m writing this post from my iPad. I can’t use the desktop for long because I get car sick. Car sick?! Well, it feels like motion sickness, even when I’m doing no more than looking at the computer monitors. Because of the work I do, I have two monitors, but I suspect that this would be difficult just one one. The iPad, however, seems to be okay.

Why would the iPad and my Droid phone be okay even though I can’t use the computer? My guess is that because the screens are small, my eyes don’t have to move around so much. Even then, I can’t play certain games with a lot of movement (Bejeweled Blitz, for one). At least I can watch Blackhawks hockey tonight!

So, what does this have to do with spectrum issues? Vertigo can be debilitating for anyone. My, you’re full of questions today! Well, the answer is that I am experiencing this, it’s my

blog, and I feel like it.

It comes down to tolerance of an unusual situation. I cannot imagine how The Munchie would deal with this. She’d probably scream, cry, and throw up. A lot. For me, I’m only dealing this “well” because I have support in the form of the part time nanny who is dealing with the kids, and the same with Xife (the husband).

It’s extremely frustrating to be sidelined. I can’t even drive right now. I drove yesterday to pick up some Antivert from Walgreens. It’s not that far, but I already felt ill by the time I got there.

Well, I’m going to read to the Munchie. She has a cold and stayed home from school today. Hopefully that will not be a problem!

Video… AUTISM: It’s not what you think.

There are many stereotypes about autism. There’s some truth behind them, but that hardly tells the story. My daughter is right in the middle of the autism spectrum, and I appear to be on the spectrum as well. There are many aspects to the spectrum that are not understood by the general public. Please note that the website listed, Happily Eccentric, is very early in its inception. You can also look at it at https://happilyeccentric.wordpress.com

I created this video for a class I took in the Web & Interactive Media Associate’s Degree Program through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online.

Music is “Watermark” by Enya, Copyright 1988

My ADHD Mind

I’m just posting this to demonstrate how much my mind tends to skip around. It’s a wonder I get anything done! This is from my Facebook status:

Lots of things on my mind.

1. The Munchie had a blast at Chuck E. Cheese for her (late) b’day party. Her tummy hurt due to over stimulation (I think), but she was determined to have fun, and she did. She’s okay now.

2. Had a bad vibe while driving to CEC for the party. I think it was area-specific, because it hit and left in one town’s limits. It was a “something bad is gonna happen” feeling.

‎3. Dentist tomorrow morning. I hope The Munchie doesn’t puke again like the last time they tried to do x-rays (with those things in the mouth). And I hope the Dudeling doesn’t spaz out.

4. I really, really hope that getting acupuncture on Tuesday will help. The Munchie had a meltdown Friday that meant I had to carry her up to her room, because Xife wasn’t home from work yet. That aggravated the pinched sciatic nerve. I have work to do, Sciatica!

5. My three-legged cat seems to think she’s a dog. She acts like one!

6. I haven’t written in three days. I’ve been too busy trying to catch up with reading for my class. The eBook setup is NOT cool. Even if I had a Kindle, it wouldn’t work that way. It’s not a PDF download. It’s a “Digital Bookshelf” that requires its own software, and it SUCKS. So I had to order the print book. Which means I have paid for it twice.

7. I wonder how many episodes behind I am with “Eureka.”

8. I wonder how similar or different Temple Grandin is from The Munchie.

9. I’m glad I realized that one of my friends and I somehow got accidentally unfriended. Stupid Facebook.

10. I wonder if Google’s new thing will trump Facebook.

11. Does anyone use MySpace anymore?

12. I should get to bed so I’m not sleepy tomorrow.

13. I don’t think the Ricketts family should get blamed for the Cubs lame-ass performance this year. If they still look bad in five years, then yes, the should take the blame.

WELCOME TO THE ADHD MIND. 8^)

It will feel better when it stops hurting

I remember my grandpa saying that when I was little. If I called right now to whine about my back, he’d probably say the same thing. And he’d be right.

A pinched nerve due to herniated discs is no fun, but neither is it the end of the world. Most people have a good shot at recovery. Painkillers, muscle relaxers, cortisone injections, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and a handful of therpy options, when utilized properly, bring relief in four to six weeks.

Valium is on my agenda this weekend. The Curious Case of Benjamen Button is here from Netflix, as well as Coraline, so that may be interesting once the Valium kicks in.

Pain has been a constant for most of my life. I thought for a long time that it was fibromyalgia, and that could be. However, the more I learn about Sensory Processing Disorder, the more I realize that my sensitivity to pain could be related to that.

My family would tell you I always complained about things hurting. It got to be that they were only concerned when there was blood, bruising, or they saw an injury happen. That used to upset me something fierce, but now I understand. Of all the times something hurt, only a few pains were worthy of attention. Recognizing my feelings and fears would have been better than brushing them off, but I think the lack of education about SPDs in the 1980s and 90s had a lot to do with their handling of it.

Playing ice hockey for the past year and a half seems to have eased many of my aches and pains. Sitting at the computer for hours on end has the opposite effect. I haven’t been able to skate since May because of my back, so I’m worried about the random aches returning.

I also wonder how a nuero-typical person would deal with my current situation. One of the guys I skated with at the beginning of the summer session had the same herniations as me at about the same time. When I saw him last, he was lacing up to go skate (just skate-not play) with his son. I am nowhere near that level of recovery. It seems like I always heal slower than people with similar injuries. Fibromyalgia or sensory issue? I don’t know. It’s probably both.

My daughter recently started complaining about things hurting. I can’t tell if she’s really in pain, or if she is trying to get attention. Mommy hurts, so The Munchie clearly must too, right? I remember being told I was just trying to get attention when I was her age. Telling the difference is difficult.

Well, it’s time to go pick up that Valium. Someone has just upset me, so I’m angry. Not helpful. There is SO much more I want to say at the moment, but I can’t. I’ll avoid the issue until 8 can properly address it. So there. (It’s my blog, so I’m allowed to be snarky once in a while!)

So… have a good weekend.

Why “Deadliest Catch” got to me…

I’m melancholy tonight. “Deadliest Catch” is waiting for me on the DVR, yet I can’t seem to watch it. I won’t be able to until tomorrow night now, as it’s going to be too much for my kids. The Dudeling likes the show about the boats, and The Munchie is pretty darned sensitive. In this case, I’ve gotten to be pretty sensitive.

Captain Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie became my favorite rather quickly. His rough, bristly exterior belied the depth of character beneath. Cliché, maybe, but true. For every bleeped word, his eyes told a deeper story, a story of pain, pride, and love for those he called family. For me, his spirit was epitomized the moment he learned that his son, Jake Harris, had a drug addiction.

Anyone who follows the show knows that Jake has been stubborn, outspoken, ambitious, and, well, a bit lazy. He and another Jake in the fleet (Jake Anderson of the F/V Northwestern) played boat swap for a while to help them learn their places. Upon his return, Capt. Phil was thrilled to see him. It didn’t take long until it was back to normal with Jake fighting with his brother Josh. It seemed like nothing was going to change.

Then Phil caught Jake stealing pills. The ensuing argument was ugly, uncomfortable to watch. Phil told Jake he never wanted to see him again. The rant ended when Jake leaned over and said, “I’m an addict.”

Earlier in the season, Phil told the camera he knew he wouldn’t be around a long time, that he’d done every drug known to mankind, that it caught up to him. He smoked at least nine packs of cigarettes a day and was lucky to have survived a pulmonary embolism two years ago. So when Jake let go of his secret, you could see the pain in Phil’s eyes. The memories. The man who, only moments earlier, had swore he never wanted to see his son again, told Jake, “I’ll go with you” to rehab. He was the dad again, one who wanted to make it right for his kid.

Real life drama. This time, the drama matters. Sure, fans of the show are grieving Phil’s passing. Sure, the producers edited hours of video to show things how they wanted. Sure, there’s a lot that we didn’t see. But what sets this show apart is the no-holds-barred rawness of real life. These people may live an extraordinary way of life, but they are still just like us. They are parents and kids, brothers and friends. They reflect the workings of our lives and relationships.

“Deadliest Catch” got to me this season. No doubt about it. But you know what? Sometimes, a punch in the emotional gut is just what we need.

Remember to appreciate the people who matter to you. Let them know how much they mean to you. You never know what the next day brings. You never know.

Another autism blogger

First, I just want to thank people for their support! I’ve been getting some great feedback!

I found another autism blogger with “My Autistic Life”: http://myautisticlife.wordpress.com I really like yesterday’s post called “Achieving with Autism”: http://myautisticlife.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/achieving-with-autism/

More to come about other things soon. A class started for me today (“Introduction to Audio”), I finished a project last night, my kids have been rambunctious, and oh yeah, there’s that herniated disc thing in my back. But hey, it could be far worse, so I’ll only complain a little. 😉

Thanks for your time today!

Mattel picking on the little guys!

Mattel is going nuts over a small company that sells pediatric therapy tools. Why? Because Super Duper Publications had several products that had the word “Say” in their titles. Mattel tried to block Super Duper’s attempts to trademark several items because they claimed it infringed upon their trademarked toys. You know, the “See ‘N Say” toys. Super Duper’s products, geared for speech therapy use, had names like “Sort and Say,” “Fish and Say,” “Fold and Say,” and “See It! Say It!”

A short history is available at the “Speak Up for Say!” website: http://www.speakupforsay.com/History.php

I plan to gather more information about this. When I do, I’ll be sure to post it. There are various calls to action, the most prominent being to contact Mattel through traditional methods, as well as through Facebook. I’ll provide that information soon. Thanks.

Evaluation: Part Two

This and the next two updates to The Munchie’s evaluation process will be short. Her cognitive evaluation was yesterday, and it was just her and “Miss C,” the doctor who met with Xife (the husband) and me in June. To The Munchie, it was all fun stuff. She told me about a doll house, but that’s all I could understand from what she recalled. That’s okay. Miss C told me she does the evaluation using games, asking questions, and such. All I know is that The Munchie laughed and laughed–her happy-relaxed laughter, not her nervous laugh. She was a happy camper.

There are three more appointments. She will have a speech evaluation, O.T. (occupational therapy) evaluation, and one more hour-long appointment just before Xife and I meet with the team to discuss their findings. There are clear delays, as well as what might be considered “typical” (if such a thing exists) autistic behaviors.

My question, open to readers, is this: If you (or someone you care for) have gone through an evaluation process, what was it like? How did having “answers” have an impact upon your life?

Feel free to comment and discuss on this thread. Just keep it PG, please. I’ll be watching! 😉

Subtitle Change

It occurred to me that it might be presumptuous to have a subtitle of “Being a Woman with Aspergers…” when I haven’t been officially diagnosed. There is a more than middling–but less than certain–chance that I DO have Asperger’s Syndrome. What it comes down to is that I am not normal. Never have been, and never will be. I definitely do have Sensory Processing Disorder (which explains how I can have near perfect hearing yet have difficulty understanding what people say!), and I most definitely have a different perspective than the average human.

We’re early in the process of getting The Munchie thoroughly evaluated for where she falls on the spectrum. With her, there is little-to-no doubt. As a mom, this saddens me beyond belief. It’s not because she’s different, but that her differences make it hard for her to interact with people. She is a treasure to all who know her. Yes, I’m biased, but you should see all the staff and students with broken hearts at her school of the past three years, now that she’s moving on to a different school. (That is a story for another post.) She’s the sweet kid everyone falls in love with in spite of themselves. This is a gift I am grateful she has.

I’ll post more later. I had some ideas for useful information I can share through the blog. Really, it’s about more than me and my experience; it’s about embracing differences both within myself and with others, and providing information to help other “weird” people to be “happily eccentric”!

Yes, I’m Picky. What’s your point?

Don’t expect me to get anywhere near coconut. If you cook onions in the house, give me fair warning. Keep those damn beets away from me! ::shudder::

It always drove my parents to distraction. Today, my long-suffering husband can’t make dinner without wondering if I’ll eat it. I am your classic picky eater. Some food literally make me feel sick to my stomach. And when I say “literally,” I mean it. As a young child, I would not put certain foods in my mouth, and if anyone tried to trick me, I would taste the offending stuff. I was the only one who noticed a faint trace of coconut when a popular cereal included it for a while. This pattern continued throughout my childhood and, to a large degree, it continues today. In fact, I believe there is something inherently evil about coconut…

“Selective eating” seems to be common among children on the autism spectrum. According to one article, “While most children outgrow their tendency to be picky about what they eat, children with ASD often carry the trait into adulthood.”1 As one might imagine, unchecked pickiness can lead to nutritional deficits. Studies cited in the same article suggest that levels of Vitamins A, C, and D, as well as zinc, calcium, and fiber are lower in these children. If the pickiness persists into adulthood, one might infer that these deficiencies will, too.

I can attest to the deficiencies, as I have to be conscious to get enough calcium and fiber. Low levels of calcium can result in muscle cramps in the short term, and osteoporosis in the long run. When I don’t consume enough milk or take calcium instead, my calves and feet start cramping. Fiber can be another issue, but I’m too nice to get into that in this setting.

One article suggests an interesting correlation between an ASD child’s pickiness and the family’s regular menu: “…their food selectivity may be due to restrictive familial diets rather than to the severity of their autism symptoms… findings indicate that children with ASDs eat a more narrow range of foods that includes high-energy dense foods. Eating a narrow range of foods with high energy density may put children with ASDs at increased risk for excessive weight gain and chronic diseases, as high energy dense diets are typically high in fat and low in fiber.”2

Is selective eating a nature or nurture issue? Taking from these two articles and my own experience, I say “both.” I still don’t like for certain things to touch on my plate, but at least I’ll eat many of those things. I’ve even learned to try new things–without making a face! One of the things my parents did do right was to insist I try foods I “didn’t like.” Most of the time, I truly didn’t, but I tried them. My keen sense of smell is generally on target, so I have a fair idea of whether I’ll like something or not. There are a few exceptions. I love the smell of gourmet coffee, for example, but I definitely do not like the taste. I know this because I have sipped these flavors even though I know I don’t like coffee in general. If I have to choke the stuff down, I’ll take it either black or a French vanilla cappuccino.

There are some things that I found out, many years later, that I don’t hate after all. These are the foods that had the misfortune to be improperly prepared by my parents. Iced tea, for example, should never, ever, ever be despoiled by sugar! I don’t mind some fruit flavoring, but sugar?!?! Considering my impossibly sweet tooth, this is remarkable. I love iced tea, but not sweet tea, and definitely not that Nestea crap my dad always mixed!

By now, you should get the idea: I’m picky. However, it could be worse. My parents did a good thing by refusing to indulge me. I ate what they made or went hungry. Of course, I learned to sneak food later–often white bread that I’d decrust and ball up to eat like a lump of Play-Doh (no, I didn’t eat Play-Doh, but I wanted to), or I’d sneak Nestle Quick and dunk 4-8 slices of bread in it like a donut in coffee. I digress.

From my perspective, I can tell you that there are degrees within the selectiveness. There’s the “I’m not familiar with this” type of pickiness. Then there’s the “I really, really hate this” kind of pickiness. If you are caring for someone with this issue, I encourage you to insist they try new foods, but don’t force it on them. Offer a payoff if they refuse: “You can have FoodA if you try one bite of FoodB.” And it has to be bigger than a sand grain. I tried that one frequently as a kid. At minimum, make it the size of a pea. A spoon- or forkful would be better. If your picky eater won’t do it still, they don’t get FoodA, or their sticker, token, whatever incentive. Plain and simple. Okay, not so plain and simple in some cases, but you’d be surprised what will happen with consistency. Muchie (my daughter) can usually be bribed in this manner. So can I. 😉

If you can get a handle on picky eating on your own, there are dietitians who can help. Don’t let the picky eater win, because, in the end, you both lose.

.

works cited

1 Reynolds, Denise. “Picky Eating Risks Autistic Kids.” Emax Health. eMax Health.com. 19 April 2010. Web: 21 June 2010. <http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/picky-eating-common-autistic-children-may-be-nutritional-risk.html>

2 Evans, Erin Whitney. “Selective Eating and Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Behavioral Health Nutrition. BHNDPG. Web: 21 June 2010

Getting annoyed when people “get it wrong”

From my journal today. It seemed appropriate. I didn’t edit it like I usually do when writing for the blog, as I feel like I want to keep it genuine.

As a kid, I got annoyed when people got things wrong. I got in trouble for correcting adults. Mom and Dad hated that! But it REALLY bugged me, especially when people mispronounced words or used poor grammar.

Eventually, I had to learn that if it wasn’t important to let it go. Today, I’m much better with this. If I can’t stand it, I at least try to remove the sting.

Why does this bother me? Who cares if another person butchers a spoken sentence? I think it’s because I want them to get it right, so they don’t sound less intelligent. Of course, they probably don’t see it that way. It’s hard to remember that. Read the rest of this entry »

Being Happily Eccentric

What does that mean, “Happily Eccentric”? After feeling out of place all of my life, I have finally come to accept that I am who I am. I will never be “normal.” In fact, my interests are so eclectic that it’s hard to pin me down to one category. I stopped trying.

“Asperger’s Syndrome” seems to be a trendy diagnosis. Whether it is or not, it looks like it is one of the few consistent categories to which I can be pinned. The official diagnosis is yet to come this summer, but I’m pretty smart, and it’s not hard to point out how I fit into the symptoms. I’m lucky that social interaction isn’t nearly as painful for me as for most “Aspies.” I can talk with just about anyone. So how can I have Asperger’s if that’s the case? Let me try to explain.

differences among the different

I haven’t done enough reading yet to speak with any authority. What I do know is, like everything else in life, every Aspie is an individual, with her/his unique interests, strengths, weakness, and levels of functionality. A NASA engineer may have Asperger’s and benefit from their massive ability to focus on complex problems, whereas someone like me is very artistic and good at writing. It often comes down to what holds a person’s interest. In my case, I’ve always believed that if I wanted to learn something, I could, no matter what. Life has taught me otherwise, as some of the things I wanted to do had physical demands that I couldn’t meet. That said, when I decided I wanted to learn how to do web and graphic design, I never looked back. I love it, and I get it. Coding isn’t as evil as I feared. I’ll never be a genius with coding or scripting, but I can make things work! Of course, if you give me a choice between coding and creating art, it’s a no brainer: art! Read the rest of this entry »

CONGRATULATIONS BLACKHAWKS!!!

One thing you will get to know about me is that I LOVE hockey and LOVE the Chicago Blackhawks!!! Congratulations, boys!!!

Welcome!

I am Happily Eccentric. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and have a daughter with autism. This is about my family’s journey. It began in 2005 when we learned The Munchie’s diagnosis. It REALLY begins now.

More to come!