Not picky, anxious

C eats a croissant

Last week, C ate things he’s never eaten before. Strange, exotic things like pancakes, chicken, a croissant, some bread, and a few leafy greens. Maybe this doesn’t seem like big news, but it is.

Prior to last week C ate approximately five things: nuts, crackers, yogurt, fruit, and protein bars. But he’s not a picky eater. Scratching your head? It’s true.

Enter anxiety

Anxiety is far more prevalent in people with autism, and C has a lot of it. Tons of it. It manifests itself as rigidity, a fear of the new or unexpected, phobias and perseverations about things he can’t change like his age, gender or skin color. Yup, it’s true.

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What I’ve been reading – January 2015

C relaxing

Here are some things I’ve read this past month that I found helpful, informative, or inspiring. If you like this and find it helpful, please share with others. Thanks!

Opinions and insights

Diary of a Homeless ASD Sibling A reader asked me if I would share her powerful, poignant post. Please give it a read, and check out her blog and her book. An excerpt of her post here: “My brother has been angry with me since I’ve been homeless. He barely speaks to me. I don’t fully know why but I can guess that he feels like I’m no longer there for him. If I could talk to him, I would ask him to please not be angry with me.” Read more

Batman | This American Life. This podcast episode is about blindness, not autism, but it relates. It’s about how the expectations we have for ourselves and for others can have a profound impact on outcomes. It’s perfectly aligned with the concept of presuming competence. It’s pretty astounding. Listen to the podcast or read a transcript.

Adult With Nonverbal Autism Shares What Sensory Overload Feels Like for Her. Excellent read.”Sensory overload is the worst feeling in the world! I get it when I see too many people walking past me or if I hear too many noises at one time. For example, in a room of people talking, my brain tunes into everyone else’s conversation, and I struggle to filter the voices out and listen to the carer I’m with.” Read more

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Small victories

C's fingernails

C’s fingernails are a little long. Mental note: trim them during bath time tonight.

But wait. I haven’t trimmed his nails in a long time. I haven’t needed to: he’s been chewing them himself. In fact, he was even chewing his toenails (flexible little bugger).

Anxiety.

The past couple of years brought a lot of it, and along with it came things like head-banging, shirt-chewing, licking (everything in sight!), and nail biting.

Most of the more obvious signs have abated since he’s settled into his new school with its smaller, quieter classes. And now the nail biting is apparently gone.

So tonight I’ll trim those little nails, and I’ll picture the anxiety falling away with them. And I’ll remind myself that progress isn’t usually measured in big leaps and bounds, but in victories as small as overgrown fingernails.