Expectation Levels for People with ASD: Square blocks do not fit into circular holes

AuTalkz: Fitting the Mold

I’ve encountered a lot of people who hold me on the same expectation level as people without Asperger’s (ie, “normal” people). I don’t want to be treated too differently, but the general analogy is that if I’m a square block, I’m not going to fit through a circular hole.

Fitting the Mold

The first step to any sort of progress is for parents to admit that their kid has ASD; same with employers and teachers. They have to be made aware of it and accept it. Unreasonable expectations come from ignorance or even ignoring the truth, which puts stress on everyone and is very frustrating to the person with ASD.

By Nikki J.

Aspie Artist Nikki J. is the creator and artist for “AuTalkz.” We are proud to display her insights into life on the  spectrum by way of comic strips. You can see more of Nikki’s work on deviantart.

AuTalkz: The Big Picture and Hyperfocus with ASD

Hyperfocus is common in folks with ASD. This happens when someone focuses on one thing so intensely that the rest of the world is blocked off. Normal folks can also do something similar to a certain extent but when I hyperfocus on something, it’s pretty much all I can see and hear.

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That does mean being able to identify small details over the overall “big picture” of a situation. I’m not completely sure if it’s related to hyperfocus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. I enjoy detective stories and the clue gathering, but have trouble putting together the motive and any larger plot which might be occurring at the same time.

By Nikki J.

Aspie Artist Nikki J. is the creator and artist for “AuTalkz.” We are proud to display her insights into life on the  spectrum by way of comic strips. You can see more of Nikki’s work on deviantart.

AuTalkz: Meltdowns

A common mistake some people make is comparing an autistic meltdown to a temper tantrum in younger children.  Often when someone is younger, they don’t know how to properly express or work out frustration which occurs during the meltdown, so there could be screaming, crying, and even thrashing.

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It might look like a temper tantrum, but it’s not being done for attention or to get something like a temper tantrum is done for.  It’s done because the child is overwhelmed and-or frustrated, and don’t know any other way to express it.

Societal Pressures and the Mask of Fitting In

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This comic actually touches upon two things (though, I hadn’t intended to do that). My main point is the “mask” we put up, and then I realized that it also lightly touches upon taking things/expressions literally.

On the shorter note, people on the spectrum have difficulties distinguishing between normal tones and sarcasm. There’s also trouble understanding expressions (like “two birds with one stone”), allegories, and metaphors. When I first heard the expression “apple of my eye”, I pictured someone’s eyes reflecting apples, for example.

When I had to read stories in high school on allegory and symbolism, it all went over my head. “Watership Down” is one of my favorite novels, but I still don’t pick up on the symbolism which is apparently in the novel. I’ll explain all that in further detail when I do a comic which actually delves more into the subject. The main subject I was trying to explain with this comic is autism vs society.

AuTalkz: Wandering

Wandering is perhaps the least understood behavior of autism, and the most dangerous to the person with autism. Before I worked on this issue, I thought back to any instance where I wandered off, and what caused me to do so.

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I came up with the three listed in the second panel:  Boredom (or lack of stimulation), Interests, and (over) Stimulation.

AuTalkz: Stimming

“Stimming” is one of the “stereotypical” autistic behaviors. Many people think of people with autism as folks who constantly flap their hand or rock back and forth. Those behaviors are called “stimming”, which is a motion that interacts with the senses to help calm an autistic person down (self calming) if they feel overwhelmed by the environment.

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Stimming is harmless, and isn’t just hand flapping or rocking. It can manifest in many different ways, but again, is all harmless. There have been a couple cases where a child was reported to bite, and another who pinched…but those behaviors can be redirected away from other people (like pinching a pillow or even biting one’s shirt; I actually do bite the collar of my shirt if I’m really freaking out, but would never ever hurt another person. Rather, I wouldn’t want the germs XD ).

AuTalkz: Emotions

An amusing moment I recall is when I was home from school once in high school, and had the TV on as stimulation in the background.  It was running an episode of “Blue’s Clues”, and they were covering emotions.  I actually got one of them wrong on the section of matching up body language with an emotion.

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However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t comprehend or understand emotions, or what other people are going through.  In fact, I tend to use some of my experiences to help other people if they’re having a rough time.  I enjoy helping people…that’s one of the biggest reasons I started to make AuTalkz, in fact!

AuTalkz – “Mainstream”

Though it can be inspirational to hear that a celebrity has Asperger’s, it tends to be more annoying than anything else, especially in the cases where someone admits it and was diagnosed long ago, but hasn’t come out and said it until now.

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There are a lot of breakthroughs being made in autism research, and psychologists are starting to understand it more and more.  I feel it’s become “mainstream”, even.  The diagnosis rate is going up, and people are either getting diagnosed as adults or coming out and saying they’ve had it all their lives.

AuTalkz: The Big Picture

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By Nikki J

“I’m an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome/ASD…and I have a lot to say! It’s both a blessing and a curse; and I don’t mind finding humor in it while teaching folks who aren’t autistic about it, and allowing others who have it to feel they aren’t alone.”

AuTalkz

“Autistic”? – Don’t Insult Me!

by : Nikki Jeanette/creator of “AuTalkz” 

For the longest time, the word “retard” was used as a horrible insult.  In fact, that’s partially the reason why the DSM changed it to “Intellectual Disability”.
Hang on, I’m going somewhere with this.
So, the place I saw this word thrown around the most as an insult was the gaming community (as that’s pretty much my social life, and not many people actually call someone a “retard” in person…cause, you know, safety of that computer screen).

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“AuTalkz” by Nikki Jeanette

At the time when I first began to play MMOs (which was shortly before WoW came out), it wasn’t used often.  As WoW and other games grew, I noticed that the word “retard” was used more and more often as an insult.
It completely blew up to the point where practically everyone was using it, and moderators (in MMOs or social chatrooms) just didn’t care or did nothing.

These days, I’ve been seeing something new used in place of “retard”.  It’s, you’ve guessed it, “autistic”.