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Posts from the ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ Category

30
Jul

Friendships/Relationships and Women on the Spectrum

Friendships pose unique challenges for women on the spectrum

BY   /  16 MAY 2017

For most adults, having friends is key to happiness. The stronger a person’s friendships, the happier — and even healthier — that person is likely to be1,2.

Many autistic people have trouble making and keeping friends. This has led to the myth that they don’t want friends3. In reality, they long for friendships just like anyone else. But they face unique challenges in forming and maintaining them.

Autistic women, in particular, may have difficulty interpreting the social subtleties friendships entail4,5,6.

Our work reveals that they have difficulty responding to social conflict, understanding unspoken romantic innuendos and dealing with social anxiety. We need to develop interventions that help prepare them for these challenges.

Most of what we know about friendships in autism comes from studies in children, whose friendships are far less complex than those of adults. The few studies that examine relationships in autistic adults focus primarily on men.

We sought to understand how autistic women differ from neurotypical women in the challenges they face in forming and maintaining friendships, and the satisfaction they glean from the relationships. This understanding could point to specific strategies to help these girls and women navigate their social worlds.

Safe space:

We interviewed 15 autistic women and 15 neurotypical women, aged 20 to 40 and living in England, about friendships and other relationships. Our results are unpublished. The women are enrolled in a larger study exploring the social experiences of girls and women on the spectrum.

We asked open-ended questions such as “How do you choose your friends?” and “What is it about friends that is important to you?”

We found that autistic women tend to view friendships like neurotypical women do. They value the opportunity to share their thoughts and emotions with friends, responding with answers such as, “I can tell them anything at all and they listen.” They welcome the support that friendships provide, saying things like, “She’s always helping me a lot or I’m always helping her a lot.” They also appreciate the freedom to “be yourself” in a relationship, and say that friendships offer “a safe space.”

But we identified some important differences. Whereas neurotypical women tend to have large groups of friends, autistic women tend to have a few close, intense friendships. Sometimes these intense friendships became similar to a “special interest,” one woman told us. “My friends are all-consuming, the only thing you think about,” she said.

Women on the spectrum also differ from their neurotypical peers in how they respond to acts of social aggression, such as gossip or being suddenly cut off by a friend. Many of these women experience social anxiety as a result of such challenges, which causes them to limit socializing.

This anxiety can color how these women then approach all social interactions, regardless of whether they expect a conflict. For example, one woman said that because of her anxiety, she needs to keep her interactions with others brief. This can damage friendships over time.

Autistic women use the internet to maintain friendships more than typical women do, we found. Some women seem to rely on online messaging almost exclusively to keep in touch with friends. “That’s pretty much all my social life is, the internet,” one woman said.

Intense interests:

Women on the spectrum reported romantic relationships of similar lengths and levels of seriousness as those of neurotypical women, and said these were the most important friendships in their lives. “My husband essentially became my special interest,” one autistic woman told us. “I wouldn’t really say that I have friends apart from my partner,” another said.

One woman described romantic partners as “the ready meal of friendships,” because a partner comes with his or her own social network. Taking on a partner’s friends can alleviate the stress and anxiety of making new friends, but it can also leave a person isolated if the romantic relationship ends. Although some neurotypical women also make their romantic partners the center of their social network, this tendency is marked among autistic women.

Autistic people sometimes have difficulty understanding the implied meaning of a conversation or their friends’ social expectations, which can strain friendships7. For example, one woman described an incident in which a friend asked, “Does this dress make me look fat?” “Don’t be silly,” she responded. “Your fat makes you look fat, not the dress.”

The difficulties women on the spectrum have understanding other people’s motivations could also leave them vulnerable to harm — particularly in romantic and sexual relationships. More so than typical individuals, these women tend to interpret statements literally and assume other people have good intentions. “I thought we really were just having a coffee, and that isn’t what he meant at all,” one woman told us. These tendencies could explain why these women reported higher levels of sexual assault to us than the neurotypical women did.

We were heartened to find that all the women in our study reported becoming more self-aware and self-assured with age. As a result, they were increasingly satisfied with their friends — perhaps because they had learned how to end harmful relationships and focus on genuine friendships. One autistic woman explained, “I am now more picky about who I spend time with and who I trust.” Perhaps targeted support early on can accelerate this natural process.

Liz Pellicano is director of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education at University College London. Felicity Sedgewick is a graduate student in her lab.

Download PDF here for full copy of this post

 

https://www.spectrumnews.org/opinion/viewpoint/friendships-pose-unique-challenges-women-spectrum/

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23
Jul

Keeping a tidy home!

Found this interesting, considering I am Autistic with Severe OCD and tend to want to clean and micro organize (understatement of the year).

Living with other people who are the complete POLAR OPPOSITES!!!!!!ARGHHHHH….

But, patience is a virtue right? Le sigh…

5 Things People with Tidy Homes Don’t Do

http://thenester.com/2016/03/5-things-people-with-tidy-homes-dont-do.html

10
Jul

Congratulations Meemaw!

It was a great day this last weekend. My grandson decided I would get to see his special place when we went fishing. I have one grandson and 4 granddaughters, all of which I enjoy equally. I went with the grandchildren to this spot fishing and yes the children were there too, after all I guess I needed the kids to get the grandkids. Not all of them this day but 4 of the 5 and 2 of my 3 so as far as percentages went in my book that was pretty good.

It was not too far of a hike back to the river and no one told me about the rocks you had to shimmy down to get DOWN to the river? So as I shimmied down the rocks, did I mention DOWN? I was very nervous about this part, I have a bit of a clumsy streak, and I held breath hoping I would make it to the bottom without need of a medivac lift out. My grandson was already at the bottom, first one there waiting for me to arrive. He said, “Congratulations Meemaw”. I had never heard him say anything like this before. It made me smile so big. He was obviously pleased I had come to his beach area on the river, he loves that spot, and he had talked about it to me many times. He went there the previous year and I had not been able to go due to my health. This time, not the case. Here I was available for him and off we went. He showed me around his private little beach (not really private). He stopped though as we got to the area that he was used to because things just didn’t look the same. I could see this right away because I had seen many pictures from the previous time and had memorized the lay of the land on the beach just not the trail to get to the beach area. There had been recent heavy rains that had caused flood damage widespread in our area and it had really tore up the beach and still the waters had not receded enough to uncover his favored rocks.  There were still some trees down on the beach and lots of dead branches and roots still in the ground in sand. Trash laying around and clutter.

why does everything look different

(Mom ‘aka’ Auntie explains why the water is higher and clutter and trees are down to children around her)

By this time the rest of the crew had arrived with us and we all assured him we could pick up and clear it up some to make it more comfortable and that it was only because of the water that it looked different. It would go back eventually to the water level he was used to when the river returned to normal and although the beach would not look the same due to the trees the rocks would be there again. We picked up the trash and put it in bags we had and put chairs out to sit on and he took a while to calm down and settle but he did settle in after a bit. It took me a while to settle in as well due to knowing he was agitated and I cannot settle if the children aren’t settled and the grandchildren are restless. When things are disorganized and children are unhappy I am distressed and agitated, not to mention sand is an issue for me, one I was overcoming for my grandson and didn’t mention to him. This sand is soft which was good.

I sat and watched my grandson as he dealt with a myriad of issues that day. His Autism is moderate to severe (mine is moderate) and he has Amniotic Band Syndrome, which resulted in his right hand not having fingers when he was born. Couple that with Autism and he does not want a prosthetic, or does but can’t handle the texture of one or the feeling of having it on.  Add into that, he lost his grandfather just a few months ago. They were very close and he used to come here with him, they would go on nature walks whenever they would go fishing together or hiking together or anywhere outdoors together and find snails or turtles or things like that. His grandfather and he were both very much into going on walks in the woods together and they bonded close and when he passed away it broke his heart and he has not been the same since then which has broken my heart.  When my grandson was little he never would touch a tree, or grass or a plant. It took him years to be able to do it, so this was truly a huge loss to him – he does not let people in easily and he does not try new things easily. But he is so brave and so loyal and so loving.

He handled the area not looking the same pretty well, then he handled the fact that there was a snake near the area and that got announced by his father. He and I do not like those snakes very much. Both of us were very agitated for a while. He got over that faster than I did. I paced much longer than he did. {Laughing out loud at myself while I’m typing}. He is forming a new bond with his other grandfather which I am glad he is doing. His other grandfather is not used to being in touch with his emotions very much and is learning to do this as a person and then with his grandchildren. I think this is terrific and he is doing a great job. He spent time with his grandson digging in the sand and playing with him which made him happy and he was laughing and I have no clue what they were talking about when they said something about the “foot” but yeah they dug something out. All I know is he was smiling and that was terrific. The others were in the water playing and he was watching them and looking at it like he was thinking about it. I was looking at it like no way am I doing that, the last time I did that I fell on a snake and two time in a row, NO WAY AGAIN, NO THANK YOU, NOT GONNA GET IN THERE NOPE.  But my grandson, he had different plans.

Next thing I know here he goes, he gets his mom and she looks at me and smiles and says ok Mom its time he wants to. I get my camera out and start the pictures going. Had to get it on the camera. I wanted to see him do it, how amazing it was to behold as he went out into the water, right out into the river with his mom. No he didn’t just jump right in. That would be a neurotypical child likely like the oldest who got right in. He cautiously with his Mothers help got in slowly one toe at a time, then one foot, then one leg and then one toe at a time and the next foot and the next leg and then on from there, and eventually he was in, and he was walking slowly headed for a rock where his sister and cousin were sitting, he was going to go there and sit with them and his mom. And I am sitting in a chair on the sand with my camera, watching my 7 year old grandson able to go in a river and do this thing and overcome his issues, what an amazing boy he is, and sure enough there he was, he made it to that rock. I told myself if he did I would go there too.

Made it to the Rock

Meemaw, ” and afore-mentioned famous mother, and Bravest Grandson on ROCK …. TOGETHER!!!!!!

So I got up and prepared myself mentally and emotionally for what was coming. I knew I was going to hate what I felt on my legs when I sank down into the river. I had water shoes on, but I knew I would feel things on my legs. It would really be bad for a bit, but I could do it, I could get through it, I knew I could, if he could do it, that brave, loyal and loving boy, then I could do it too. So with help from my family I got into that river, I hated everything I felt on my legs, trying very hard not to think about anything that might be down there swimming or biting or thinking about biting and I stopped and waited and then kept on going while I looked at my grandson and smiled at him each time I thought I wanted to go back. When I got to that rock, I told him, “you are my inspiration, you are the reason I could do this. Thank you for giving me that reason. You are brave and I love you, thank you for bringing me to your beach and your rock”.

brave-grandson.jpg

Congratulations

Grandson!  most patient mom and daughter in law of the year and life

4
Jul

Happy 4th of July to all

 

I woke yesterday ready to start my day, or at least I thought I would be ready and yet I awoke in pain and could not start my day the way I had anticipated. It reminded me again of all I have to be thankful for.

Today, on the 4th of July, I am thankful that I am alive and living in a place where I can get out of my bed and leave my house without fear of being accosted by anyone,  at least most of the time. Of course there is always a  small risk, but he risk is very small where I live, compared to many others.

I am thankful that I have access to medications which can help me, doctors–hat although I may consider them to be idiots much of the time–are likely much better than what many of the people in other countries have access to. Even some in the country where I live cannot see a doctor because they cannot afford insurance and do not live in a state where there is expanded Medicaid and therefore cannot get insurance if they do not qualify or meet certain criteria.

I am thankful to be alive today, because I know how close I came to not being alive just in the past few years; and I know that in the next several years I may again come close to not being alive but I have access to Doctors, hospitals and medication that will likely help me to avoid that outcome. I know this because I received that news yesterday I am still processing this information now and until I do process it, I will be unable to sleep.

I am not the type to wallow in self-pity or cry and whine about things. This is not a death sentence, but there is a long story behind this and in time I will make sure to tell all of you the story. I am not contagious and this has nothing to do with my lifestyle or past history choices. But I must first inform all of my family and this will happen soon, after that I can go into more details and then maybe even some of you will be able to help me through this one. I am in what you would call shell shock I suppose. It is really surreal to have a diagnosis like this. It was surreal to me to get a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder which I received just 6 months ago roughly. Not like the family or others didn’t know that I wasn’t a bit “off” or “odd” or “strange” or as some others called me “batshit” or “nuts” or my least favorite word “crazy”.  I honestly think “batshit” was the funniest one of all, that one cracked me up. I always considered myself to be a rather intelligent ditz. I could always come across as rather ditzy but I seemed to be able to keep up intelligence wise anyway. My IQ was not lacking at least it wasn’t back in the day. a few years ago it took a bit of a hit and my cognitive ability suffered. So I am in slow motion now, which is really okay by me.

So another thing I am thankful for is the ability to realize that regardless of diagnosis, I am still me and no diagnosis defines me, I define who I am. I do not react, I act. The things I live by are these:

  1. Honesty is import always, So be honest with yourself and others at all times. It has cost me a few jobs, sorry to say. So try to be tactful when you do it. I am rather blunt.
  2. Act and don’t react. Always take time to think before you speak and think before you do, that way when someone does something or when you read something or hear something you are acting on it, rather than reacting to it. This will create a much better result in the end, at least from my experience.
  3. Forgive when it feels right to forgive – It is okay to forgive someone who you hold near and dear to your heart. Humans make mistakes at times and because they are dear to you, you should forgive them. It is when they continue to make the exact same mistake over and over again repeatedly without care for your suffering that they are not someone who should be in your close family/friends circle. It may be time to look and see if that relationship is toxic to you, love should not hurt you repeatedly over and over and over again. When you forgive someone, you let hate out of your heart, but that does not mean that you forgot what they did, it also does not mean you harbor that memory in your heart. It is a fine line there to walk. Understanding that line takes balance, and that balance is where you will find yourself the right perspective. When it feels wrong it is wrong, always trust your instincts.
  4. Believe in yourself – Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you cannot believe in yourself or in your instincts. For many years I was told that I could not trust my mind, that I should not listen to myself because I was “crazy”. They were not correct. My Doctors now and for the past few years have been affirming that I am indeed not crazy and that I need to listen to my instincts and trust my own judgement and my mind, that they are sound and I am smart. I do believe I like these Doctors a lot more than the other ones.

So on this July 4th, as I get ready to celebrate with my children and most of my grandchildren I am thankful for the opportunity to share those things that I live my life by with all of you. I hope that some of those things help some of you. Being Autistic means that I live by a set of rules, they are excessively important to me, my oldest son, although not diagnosed is Autistic also and his son is diagnosed and is Autistic. My oldest son, his first goal on his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in school was to learn Empathy. His only empathy was for cats. My daughter and my youngest son both have Bi-Polar type 1, although my youngest son was originally diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder at the age of 15 and his first goal with his IEP in school was at the age of 4, it was to be able to make eye contact. He has not been evaluated as of yet for Autism. All of my children and I have ADHD. It is a hoot when we all get together. It will be a great July 4th, I hope all of you will have a terrific one as well. Be safe and Happy.

Yasi

30
Jun

Arrogance…a dish best served with Autism?

Do you agree or disagree? You fill in your answer please leave me a comment. So… Arrogance, a dish best served with ………. and you would tell me what you think.

I would love to hear your opinions. I have heard many about autism and how we are viewed on this topic. I also understand that each of us is different.  I would love to hear from all of you. Leave me a comment let me know what you think it should be…..

Yasi

17
Jun

The invisible link between autism and anorexia | Spectrum | Autism Research News

https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/the-invisible-link-between-autism-and-anorexia/

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