Relaxing weekend

A couple days ago my body decided to go back to being sick again. I’ve been dealing with a nagging cough and I’ve had a lot of drainage that has been causing it.

It hasn’t been fun.

Yesterday was my worst day. I couldn’t go more than 3 minutes without coughing like crazy.

Today has been a lot better. I’m able to function for extended amounts of time without massive coughing.

Luckily I don’t have to work today and I’m able to take it easy which helps.

With that being said, I was just going to have a day of watching a little tv and whatnot.

Well I found out that there is a Harry Potter weekend and my inner nerd/child came out.

I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter and haven’t watched a marathon in a very long time.

In fact, I was madly obsessed with the series, especially when the first 2 movies came out. So obsessed, in fact, that I have a crazy ridiculous collection of stuff from those first 2 movies.

I also happened to get diagnosed with autism around that time as well, which is somewhat fitting for me. My family will tell you my obsession was over the top for my age. It was a typical autistic obsession that most people hear about. Or know first hand.

But today is a day for me to relax and relive my childhood. I’m super happy to be able to take it easy today and watch this series again.

Hope you all are doing great! Have an amazing weekend everyone!

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Quite a week

This has been a different week for me.

Work has actually been relatively productive for me without much complaint. I had a 4 day work week. Had Wednesday off because it was a holiday in America, independence day to be more specific.

Having a week split up like that is a weird feeling.

But to end my work week, the air in our kitchen seems to have taken a crap again and we are coming up on another potential heat wave. And on top of it, I wasn’t exactly the brightest person and knocked a wall clock off with a mop handle, didn’t have time to react and it hit me right on the right eyebrow.

All I managed to get was a cut and some bruising which is pretty impressive, seeing as it came down with some force and is plastic.

The only downfall is I’ve had ridiculous mood swings. Not thrilled whatsoever, especially since I’ve spent most of today crying.

Hopefully my week off gave me a chance to recharge and have a chance to keep doing good things at work again.

As far as my cold goes, its been getting better. I’ve had some coughing left over from drainage but other than that its been doing well.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Back at the grind

As I sit on my break at work on my first day back, I figured I’d give another update.

I made it through the concert Friday, sore throat still an issue, but I made it. Little did I know that sore throat would turn into a cold.

The concert was decent. A bit of an issue happened, won’t go into details because it wasn’t a fun thing to deal with.

But other than that it was decent. Had a small issue with sensory that caused me, well more my mom, bought ear plugs and I now have to have them with me at all concerts going forward.

Lately, most of America has been dealing with a heat wave and this weekend was the start of it. I managed to survive it and am fortunate that I down water like its going out of style. Being sick made it easier to have as much of an excuse to down it as well.

Unfortunately, being back at work today with the heat has been hard. Apparently the air unit completely stopped working and we are waiting for it to get fixed. Luckily we have a bunch of fans and a humidifier unit to help a little bit with the air flow until then.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Well deserved break

So, for the first time in who knows how long, I was able to take some time off from work.

A whole nine days off.

I’m on day seven of being off work and man its been great.

I went to a concert Tuesday night and I had a fairly decent time. I had a mild sensory meltdown from the screaming, forgot I was attending a concert for Harry Styles from One Direction. Those fans get LOUD!! Outside of that I was good though.

It was quite an experience but fun.

Tonight I’m going to another concert. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with Foster The People or Paramore but they are on tour together.

I’m hoping I have a fun time but unfortunately I came down with a sore throat that seems like it may head to laryngitis. So I’m not gonna be too crazy tonight.

But unfortunately, a well needed time off work must come to an end and I have to go backnon Monday. The thing I did learn from my time off though was I need to start taking time off if I start dealing with some depression or I’m not being myself.

So hopefully in the future I can learn to make this happen.

Hope you all are doing great and for those dealing with a heat wave, stay safe and stay hydrated! Have a great weekend!

Autism and services dogs

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I had a conversation about services dogs and their uses.

This had come up because of either my anxiety or my autism, but I can’t remember the exact details.

It did, though, spark and interest in learning more about servives dogs geared towards autism.

Well a few months, on and off, and finally finding a detailed site to help explain ways that a service dog can help with autism, I’m FINALLY getting around to actually making a post about it.

This is a topic I have actually thought about going through with and, after doing some research, I have been considering it more and more. Maybe not ready yet to fullt go through with it but its still a big consideration for me.

I’m hoping that after people read this, it can give some insight as to what a dog can do for those with autism.

I am not, however, trying to force people into getting one. More just hopefully giving whoever reads this some slight research into it so they are aware of what they are good for.

If you do want a little bit more detail to this topic please go here.

That being said, let’s get to the good stuff.

There is a very popular quote by Temple Grandin that is “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” The truth to this statement is that anyone who knows autism will tell you each case is different from the next. It also plays a big part in choosing a service dog.

What this post will talk is about is different things that go into training a service dog for helping those with autism. And I will be clear in stating that the quote by Grandin holds true all throughout this post.

1. Empathy: Those with autism, or those who know someone with it, know that empathy, or emotions in general, can be a struggle. People with a service dog, especially children, look at a service dog as a peer. Having the consistant and straightforward body language can be used to help teach a person empathy. Since people on the spectrum are seen as unempathetic, their reactions to animals prove otherwise. Encouraging this behavior with a service dog can help train a child or adult to learn and transfer this to people

    Recognising emotions: people with autism struggle with recognising emotions on human faces, difficulty learning to read and understand others emotions. While playing, a service dog will help teach children or adults simplier, easier behaviors (i.e. play, wagging tail, thursty). Mastering these can help the person learn visual communication and will be able to learn more complex cues in the future.

    Communication through body language: people with autism and dogs (in general) are highly attuned to body language. Dogs can learn to respond to verbal cues, they respond better to hand signals, which is a big advantage for those with non-verbal autism, helping them have an opportunity for direct, non-verbal communication. Those with autism, especially non-verbal, are able to create their own hand signs when training their service dog. Allowing them to teach these new cues can allow the person to have more interactions that are unique, resulting in a positive experience, but also improves self-esteem for the person training the dog.

    Nurturing: Those with autism are often more empathetic and sensitive than people realized from observing how they interact with a service dog. An example is a person who does not usually like being touched by people finds comfort in touching a service dog. Encouraging interactions, like this, will allow the person to learn positive behaviours and eventually be able to use them with people.

    2. Socialization: This is a difficult issue for those with autism. A service dog can helo serve as a social bridge. A recent study was done where participants with ASD were evaluated in the presance of either animals or certain toys thay were picked. This was done in order to evaluate the influence of animals independently of targeted intervention without therapy. The results were that these participants showed more social approach behaviors (including talking, looking at faces, and tactile contact) in the presence of animals.

    How a service dog can help: It’s believed that social interation is key to cognitive and linguistic development. For those with autism, normal and routine interactions with others can be difficult. This causes them to become introverted which makes withdrawing into their own world easy. When withdrawn, social interactions become limited, even into adulthood. However, using a service dog can help teach them necessary social skills to develop.

    One way is a social bridge. People who see well trained dogs are more inclined to start a conversation with you. This is helpful for those with autism because it allows them to interact with others, teaching them to socialize and talk about something important them that others can enjoy as well. A person with autism talking about their service dog will experience more social interactions and positive results from incidental conversations. This allows those with autism to talk and interact with others makes them feel less ignored and shunned by people. It also allows them to develop verbal stimulation and learn conversations with others.

    This social bridge allows children and adults alike to feel less lonely by interacting more with others. Since those who have autism are prone to depression ans anxiety from loneliness, allowing them to have conversations about their dog allows them to feel less lonely and makes them more likely to go in public and develop better interactions with others.

    3. Soothing Meltdowns: People who have someone living with them who has autism knows meltdowns are worse than tantrums and can cause the person to lash out physically. The best way to define a meltdown is it’s a total loss of behavioral contro, and desperately needs help to regain control. In a lot of cases, a service dog is there to help soothe during a meltdown, when a parent, caretaker or teacher is unable too. And when the dog is unable to help during the meltdown, they are there to help after its over.

    These are some ways a service dog helps.

    Tool: Lap: When the person is starting a meltdown, caretaker, parent or whoever is present, tells the dog lap (dog is trained to do this) to which whoever is around will encourage the person with autism to pet the dog. This gives the reassurance and allows them to be calmed by the pressure and warmth of thr dog. By doing this, those with ASD will learn to be able to do thid on their own.

    Using Touch: Although people with autism are tactile, often not liking touch, touching their dog gives them a soothing effect that a parent or caregiver is unable to directly give.

    Unlocking Free Time: Having a family member with autism is demanding causing caregivers and parents to be overworked, especially with children. Having a service dog allows a calming mechanism, a genuine caregiver and a reassurance that the child, or person, is never alone while the parent’s or caregiver’s is elsewhere.

    Frequently Asked Question: What happens if my child hits or thrashes out at the dog during a meltdown? The more aggressive ones would hit or thrash, startling and causing the dog to move away from the source. Fortunately, thr dog has learned sense of when to move in for distracting or comforting and when to move away to avoid child’s anger.

    4. Educational Tool: Service dogs allow children and adults a way of learning.

    1. Teaching Tool: Can be used in class or in general life. Helps a child focus: helps child stay focused on lesson being taught. Capture attention: those with autism are very often focuses on inanimate objects rather than people. Since a service dog is something that moves that someone with autism can focus on, the dog gives the person many opportunities to learn. Calms anxiety: ability to learn drops under stress and when a person can be calmed with a dog. Learn empathy: person learns to take care of and teach dog.
    2. The dog as a teacher: Those with autism often struggle qith pulling attention away from inanimate objects. Pulling them away is a difficult process. Since the person is bonded to an service dog, the person is able to pull their attention away from these objects and brought out of their “mind blinders.” Interruptions: instead of the parent pulling them away/interrupting the person’s obsession, a service dog does it in an unforced manner with a natural good nature. Becoming part of a group: those with autism struggle with being in a group, but having a service dog teaches them they are part of their own group with its own rules. Experiencing forgiveness: thr service dog’s natural ability to forgive a person’s mistakes serves as a model for the person. Teaching forgiveness (2-way street): Dogs are simpler than humans. When a dog needs forgiveness, the dogs actions and reactions are easier to understand, therefore allowing the person to learn to forgive simple mistakes.
    3. Motivation: Even if thr person doesn’t understand the long term benefits of a medical procedure, the dog’s comfort is invaluable. Physical Therapy: This is difficult, but there are two ways a service dog can be used. The dog can be used at the end of the session and in the therapy by rewarding the person when they complete a set of tasks. Procedures: whether its through distraction or comfort, the parent or caregiver can use the dog as a tool to help get through difficult procedures. Waiting rooms: for a person on the spectrum who has trouble making appointments, sitting in a waiting room can be difficult. Having a service dog will help make appointments more bearable and they will be able to get to them easier. Travel: trips that had been impossible before the dog end up becoming possible since the dog is able to come.

    5. Gentle assistance with self control: For parents and caregivers raising someone with autism, wandering is something very common and belt leashes have a special purpose to help this problem. Because touch is a common problem, hand holding won’t work, which is dangerous because a child can bolt into traffic. With a service dog, a parent or caregiver can attach a regular leash to the dog’s collar, and the child can war an anchoring belt leash attached to the dog’s vest. This combination is effective because it not only keeps the child from bolting, but also pleases the child since they enjoy being near the dog. It also helps the child learn to stay in the habit of being near their parent.

    6. Extra Benefits: Although a servive dog for autism has certain skills and has been trained for certain tasks for an individual, other benefits can come up later. These behaviors are so common, but not guarenteed, they are worth talking about.

    1. Retrieving a child: Dogs are able to learn to retrive a child who has wandered, but this is mot taught because gentle behavior is encouraged.
    2. Sleeping together: Most children with autism have night terrors. Having their dog sleep with them makes them sleep better and allows the parents the relief of not having to sleep with their child.
    3. Anticipating meltdowns (not taught but able to learn on its own): The service dog may start noticing when one is about to happen, causing the dog to be able to distract the child. The more often this happens, the more the dog recieves positives reactions, and the more the dog is willing to do it.

    Yes I realize this is a long post but if you go back this link, at the end of the site it has frequently asked questions that will help go into further details on whether or not a service dog is right for your child or adult with autism.

    Lack of posts

    Hi everyone!

    I know I haven’t been posting much lately. I’ve been working on putting one together (taking longer than I thought it would) and work has been taking its toll on me the last few weeks.

    Although I’m finally getting some well needed time off in a couple days and my mood has been really good because of it.

    I’m hoping in the time I have off I’m able to get my one post up and I am able to think of a few more ideas I want to talk about to get those kickstarted.

    I promise I’m not meaning to lack on posts. Its just been difficult being pulled left and right at work and feeling like there’s no end in sight.

    As far as work goes, things are starting to really look up again, now that we are starting to get more people hired in.

    As far as personal life goes, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. My autism hasn’t been working too well with me on certain days. My anxiety has been ridiculous on others. I’ve been struggling to get through some days. It hasn’t been fun at all.

    I hope everyone else is doing great!

    I can’t wait to get back into blogging again. I have to say, I actually miss doing it but taking a break is always good too.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to post more in the next few days or so and that I have some decent topics to talk about that.

    Fortunately blessed

    Struggles.

    Everyone’s got them.

    Sometimes they only last a couple days. Others last for what seems like forever.

    But every single person on this planet has them.

    Yesterday was definitely not my day as far as autism goes. I have had on and off bad days with it for a while but yesterday was somehow a harder day for me.

    I wish I knew fully what triggered this, but for some reason my mentality just didn’t want to cooperate.

    Its like when you wake up anxious or depressed.

    Like turning on a light switch.

    For me, when this hits, its hard. I’m so used to seeing fairly normal that I usually don’t know how to handle when I have a bad autism day.

    Somehow I made it through my work shift as if nothing was “wrong” but my head didn’t feel right.

    I was on the verge of a meltdown near the tail end of my shift that I was wondering how I’d make it home.

    Everything worked itself out thankfully but this morning made me realize, I am very fortunate I don’t have major struggles on a daily basis. That its a once in a while thing.

    Nothing compared to what it was like for as long as I can remember.

    But this also goes to show that I am just one of many stories that fit into a puzzle of autism.

    One of many stories coming together to create a greater one.

    One that hopefully gets the recognition it deserves from years of making it known.

    All I can do is take one day at a time.

    Autism and mental health problems

    So, as I have seen a lot of people talking about mental illness lately and listening to an album about mental illness it got me thinking about how much those with autism struggle with them.

    I’ve been having on and off struggles with anxiety and depression lately. A lot of it has been a result of burnout. But nonetheless I still deal with it.

    Part of my problems have also stemmed from how society, and sometimes how I am treated by people at my job, that have given me a reason to try and understand why those with autism are more likely than most to develop mental health issues.

    So I decided to go to this site and check out why those with autism are hit harder with mental illness than others. Turns out, it was a very interesting read.

    It starts out by talking about a former college student who is on the spectrum. David Share-Strom, am autistic motivational speaker, shares his experience of college with autism. Share-Strom had lived on campus and talks about the added anxieties and stresses of trying to live in the real world and how hard managing life and school is for those with autism.

    The thing that was stated after this introduction was how young adults on the spectrum are more likely than those without autism to be diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

    There isn’t any clarity on how much biology plays into this but a huge factor, that I agree with, is the environment in which we reside. Whether this be college, work, or simple everyday life.

    Share-Strom goes on to say that mental health issues for those with autism don’t happen from birth. Things like depression and anxiety develop over time because the world isn’t built in a way that’s meant for people with autism.

    That those who don’t deal with or understand autism, whether their intentions are good or not, will find a way to make you change who you are to fit society’s needs. Sadly, this causes higher rates of depression, anxiety, and sudicide to sky-rocket among those with autism.

    The biggest key factor is providing resources during the transitional period into adulthood. This important piece of the puzzle will be explained throughout this post.

    Yona Lunsky, a senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, says “when it comes to mental health diagnoses and use of psychiatric services, there’s a really strong need for the developmental disabilities community but it’s an even bigger need for folks on the spectrum”

    Lunsky was the coauthor of a study done on those with developmental disabilities and neurotypical individuals developing mental health issues.

    This study isn’t the first one done that finds a higher rate of mental health issues in those with autism compared to others with typical development. The results that were found though actually shocked me because I was unaware how badly those with autism were affected.

    The data they collected was from two different groups, aged 18-24, and the study took place in Ontario, Canada. The first group had 5,095 young adults with autism. The second had 10,487 people who either had other developmental disabilities and no autism or a random selection of 20% of young people in Ontario who had no type of developmental disability.

    This study showed that those with autism were five times more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis than neurotypicals (individuals who develop normally) and two times more likely compared to othere with developmental disabilities.

    To put that into an easier perspective, 52% of those with autism had a psychiatric diagnosis, 39% of those with other developmental disabilities had one and 20% of neurotypicals had one.

    Eight percent of those on the spectrum were more likely to visit the emergency department for psychiatric reasons. Those with developmental disabilities were 7% more likely and neurotypicals were at 2%.

    To contrast with that, non-psychiactric visits were similar bewteen autism and those not on the spectrum. Twenty-six percent of those with autism and 25% of neurotypicals went to emergency rooms compared to 34% of those with other disabilities.

    Lunsky had stated that when this study was conducted, they didn’t intend to look at mental health. That was what happened to emerge and that the unmet needs of physical and mental issues should be recognized so the right help is provided.

    Given this information, I never realised how hard it is for those with autism had it in society. I mean, I knew it was hard for me as well as others but this opened my eyes to how many are affected.

    Knowing this information, the rest of this post, and the article I got this information from, I will be giving reasons as to why these numbers are so high and ways to help diminsh them.

    Something that is very important for caregivers and providers of people with autism is that we show signs of anxiety and depression differently than neurotypicals. Understanding and recognising the symptoms is very helpful.

    Although the article I read doesn’t go into detail about this, I would say that this information is based off of each person has a different way of showing the symptoms. Getting the person you care for the proper help should be based off that.

    The most challenging process of caring for someone with autism is being able to help them with the transition into adulthood. Its a very doable thing to achieve but not an easy road. Teaching those with autism the basics of living, like laundry and cooking, around ages 12-14, can help ease them into being independent and how to be an adult.

    Lynn Davidson, a pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics executive committee of disabilities, says that in order to achieve this independence, autisic youth need repeatitive modeling and experiences so they can gain the independence required.

    The problem though is that families tend to do tasks for adolescents well past an age they can do them themselves. The best way to help with this is having parents and care providers have those with autism learn boundaries and use the skills they have to do the tasks they are learning.

    In order for this to happen though, as well as learning to help them manage school, is getting a proper diagnosis.

    One family in Toronto had their son originally diagnosed with social anxiety until he was diangnosed with autism at the age of 6.

    Like I stated earlier, mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, develop later on in life.

    Here’s why.

    The one thing to remember, that most don’t know, is that you should never be in denial of your child having an autism diagnosis. Instead, embrace who they are.

    The family from Toronto said getting that early diagnosis was a big help for them. It gave them the chance to get the services they needed to help their son get the help he needed when he transitioned to college.

    The even more important thing about all of this and why those with autism have higher rates of mental health issues is that people need to actually listen to those with autism. Even more important than getting professional help.

    The reason being that each person with autism requires different needs for care and planning when transitioning to adulthood.

    When a caregiver or parent is helping, you have to remember NOT to tell the person how they learn things or how they feel is wrong or that their instincts are incorrect. Doing this causes them to not trust their own judgement.

    From my experience, it can cause a lot of issues later on in life. I struggle most times to trust my own judgement and decision making because anxiety convinces me I’m wrong. Even if what I’m doing is right.

    With the right help, it is very possible to make sure a smooth(ish) transition to adulthood can happen. Although adulting can be hard, making sure you’re there to help a person on the spectrum makes it easier.

    Aside from what the article gave me, I feel like these higher rates of mental health issues also stems from those on the spectrum being forced to live in a way that isn’t meant for them.

    This was briefly touched on earlier and I wanted to elaborate more on it.

    From what I’ve been through, especially lately, is that a vast majority of society is brainwashed by the media of what autism is. The media tends to portray autism as being the severe type. They don’t elaborate on the fact that there are 3 types. They don’t tell you each case is different from the next.

    Which in return makes society think that those who aren’t severe are making it up because they aren’t acting in a way that’s expected of them.

    I’ve had many people tell me I don’t have it because of this reason. Being female doesn’t help it either. Over time, I’ve developed anxiety and depression because people have told me I’m “too normal”, that I shouldn’t use the word disability because I’m too intelligent to have anything wrong with me.

    Unfortunately, this type of treatment has forced me to not only feel like I can’t tell people I have it, but also forces me to not fully be me without fear of being judged.

    This in return has made my depression, anxiety, and stress levels sky-rocket. So I do think this world is forcing those with autism to be something they aren’t meant for.

    Whether my opinion is part of the reason behind the mental health increase in autism is just a guess. But time will tell if its true.

    Strange Change

    So today starts a different thing for me. For the next 3 weeks, I am not going to be as busy as I used to be.

    This is due to the fact that my boyfriend is actually out of town, well actually out of state, for an internship/class he has to take for him to officially get his degree from college.

    This is a huge change for me since I’m so used to actually doing stuff. But at the same time, its a bit of a blessing. I was so overwhelmed from working 5 days a week and not having much time to relax that I was getting to a point where I was dealing with bad burnout.

    So now, I actually get time to try and recharge. Which is gonna be hard. I don’t actually remember how to relax that its different trying to find stuff to do.

    This is definitely a mixed emotions type of ordeal. I know things are going to be fine its just an adjustment that I haven’t dealt with in a long time.

    Finding the Strength

    Many days have passed where I’ve questioned what God’s plan was in giving me autism.

    Several of those days were hard. I couldn’t stand having autism on those days. I had moments where dealing with everything that cane with it was too much. Moments where I wished I could do all the things most people take for granted.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to change that mindset and start learning to accept that I am who I am for a reason. But finding that reason will take time.

    But the struggle that comes with accepting that is questioning whether or not showing my autism is something I want others to see.

    Lately, its even harder. I’ve had so much stress from work that its been harder to keep my autism under control. Trying to keep up the persona of a girl with everything under control is hard.

    The struggles I battle inwardly are in every way real. But the sad part is, I am struggling to keep myself ok lately.

    I’ve had days I’ve cried from keeping it together all day. Or at least attepmting too.

    Whether it attributes to my autism fully is a different story. But I know stress isn’t making it easier. I keep praying that one day this crazy will end and the light at the end of the tunnel is coming. Unfortunately, it won’t come in the time I want because God has it already set in stone.

    I just have to wait for His time to come and as hard as that it, I know its the right thing for me to do.

    Until I can have that day, I will keep trudging through and finding ways to help myself cope with everything. I know its not an easy road, not much in life is ever easy for that matter, but I know I can make it through.