Reading – Important for Autistics and Dyslexic

So, something I have come to learn is that my Autism can help my dyslexia. As a dyslexic I really struggle to read books.  I find it very hard to get into a book and as such I live by the rule, if the 1st chapter does not capture me then I do not read the rest. Why struggle with a book that could take you over a year to read when you have no interest in it.

Since my Autism diagnosis I have been thinking about my special interests which are:

  • True Crime; – specialists in serial killers and profiling
  • Super Natural
  • Mythologies
  • War
  • Native Americans

As such, I am focussing on reading books around my special interests. Whilst, some of them I would consider the short end of the stick in having I find that focussing on these areas with the books helps keep me interested in what I am reading.

My autism is helping my dyslexia. You have heard of disabilities affecting each other negatively however, in this instance, it is a very helpful and beneficial impact.

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“You must be dyslexic, you can’t spell”

I have spoken a lot recently about my autism and the struggles I have with it and the challenges I still face. Today, however, I would like to talk about dyslexia. I was diagnosed as dyslexic in 2002 when I was 16. This was a good 16 years ago. Hopefully, that will give you an idea as to how old I am.

One thing I have noticed is that it is something that some people still live in the archaic times when being dyslexic was akin to being dumb or illiterate. This view is something that I have found is seriously dwindling thankfully. Just because you are dyslexic, it does not mean that you are illiterate or that you are dumb. In fact, one of the most famous people in history was dyslexic, Albert Einstein.

If you are dyslexic, do not let people badge you in a negative light. Let your dyslexia be your superpower and you can do anything you would like to do if you put your mind to it. It may take a little longer than some but you can do it none the less.

Ahead of autism awareness week

Autism Awareness week will be here in 2 weeks and I thought that before that happens I would share with you all my Autism story as an Adult who was diagnosed at the age of 31.

Growing up was rather difficult. I never knew how to make friends and keep them, I was easily led into behaviors that were not correct, however, I knew certain things were wrong and I would throw a tantrum if someone tried to get me to do something that was wrong. I was also from a family who didn’t have much in the way of anything so I was unable to hide behind new clothes or fancy toys. I was seriously stunted in education due to my also being dyslexic as well and would say things that I just did not understand were wrong or I would be saying one thing out loud, but what I thought in my head was completely different. Peoples reactions to things as well always alluded me.

In the 90s girls, unless they were low functioning or violent, were not diagnosed as autistic and as such, no one really looked at girls very closely for autism. This is something I am now very thankful for (as a change) since when I was a child.

I lived in a world that I never understood and what was worse, I could see everyone else around me and they seemed to cope with it and yet I wondered why I could not. To protect myself, I would create personas of what I thought a “normal” person was. This never lasted very long. People would see the true side of me and then they would realize I was different. As such, I was bullied and teased. I carried the fake personas into my adulthood. I had an image constructed of what a person in the workplace was. This included:

Someone who was never late;

Someone who agreed with everything their boss said and didn’t say no to them at all;

Even when things went wrong you had to be someone everyone turned to for help and never asked for anything in return.

To be honest, the list could go on forever. This did not work, however. I would last in a job no longer than 5 years (sometimes less) before I would tire of always being this person who I was not. I had to hide everything and could not ask for help from anyone. I kept it all inside and I would follow a pattern, I would make my self sick, then my mental health would suffer, I would sign off sick and then quit. Because of this, my CV looks rather frantic at first glance.

That was until I got my diagnosis. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and honestly, I felt like giving myself an NCIS patented “Gibbs Slap” on the back of my head. Everything I had struggled with made so much more sense to me. An example, when growing up if my routine had been changed last minute I would get so upset I would start crying. This went all the way down to small things like getting on a bus which my mum missed and the conductor had to stop the bus so my mum could get on. The shear sudden change of her not being on the bus with me set me off. Now I have my diagnosis I know that is what is called a “Meltdown”.

SO in the last year, I have had my diagnosis, I decided to make the very most of it. I promised myself that I would be my true self even in the workplace. Case in point, when advertising an event my team was running, I sat in the Atrium of the building wearing my pug slippers. I just felt that day was something I wanted to do, so I did it. I have also learned that it is OK to ask for help. I regularly go back to people now when they email me and I don’t understand what they have asked and tell them that I don’t understand. This has been liberating for me. I didn’t understand how I couldn’t understand what people had been emailing me until I realized, the more specific people are with me the easier I find it to understand. Once I realized this I found that I was asking less for constant approval of work I was doing and actually getting more work done.

I found that instead of hiding who I was and that is an Autistic Woman I was able to have conversations with people and tell them when I was struggling. Just ask my line manager, she will tell you this is true. When I am getting nervous or anxious I go to her and I said, I am struggling and she talks me through what the problem is. I know if I need support I have it from her and my entire team. And, because I am more open about it I can honestly say, I have never felt better in my life. No longer is the facade that I had built up tearing me down, I was embracing who I was.

I often get asked by people “How can an Autistic person enjoy being a Civil Servant”. The truth is, I have always been one for a challenge and that is what I tell them. I know there are things that are beyond my control which I am unable to cope with and it can lead to meltdowns but the truth of the matter is, I am still able to wake up every morning and love going into work. Part of this is because I have a job that I love but also because I work somewhere that realizes that I have differences and difficulties and allows me to embrace them. What more could an Autistic want out of life if not to be accepted for who they are? You may think this is me sounding like a recruitment poster for the Civil Service but honestly, I have never had so much support to be my true self than in the Civil Service.

Now you may now be asking what does that mean, do I come into work with a label that says I am autistic deal with it. The answer to that is no. I know there are things that I am unable to control for instance the way that I twitch my legs. I never realize I am doing it. However, I do tell people who work around me, if you see it happening and it is annoying you tell me and I can try and find a way to make it less annoying.

My Autism Story has only really started as I look into how I can improve myself and I use it every day to find ways to help others with autism get on better. So, what is the moral of this then? The answer I believe is that you must always be true to who you are. When you deny who you are you get tired and that leads down a road that is not good to be on, believe me I know. You do not need to be something you are not, with the right support you can do anything you set your mind too. It may take a little longer to get there, and there may be a few bumps in the road, I sure as heck know this all to well but you will get there.

My advice to anyone in the workplace who has autism and is not happy in what they are doing;

  1. Be true to who you are. Find ways to make sure you can bring your true self to the work you do, even if it is wearing pug slippers in the atrium of your building;
  2. Don’t shy away from opportunities that come your way for fear of a meltdown. By trying we learn and once we learn, we can grow.
  3. Do not feel ashamed of who you are and what you go through. The shame will keep you in your own facade which will pull you down eventually.
  4. Make sure you do what makes you happy and do not let people stand in your way by using your autism against you. Autism is its own superpower.

I am still learning about my autism super-powers but I will continue, no matter what to stand there and say, “So what if I am autistic, doesn’t mean that I can’t do that”

Autism and surprise

Well, as we all know, Autistic people are not very good with sudden change. That is why this one particular autistic person feels the need to say this as it was a good surprise I got. On Wednesday I went to go and see Giovanni Pernice, which I have already had a slew of people telling me “your autistic, you can’t do that” so please no one who reads this please say it to me as I will honestly find a way to block you.

The surprise came when during the intermission, I went to get a picture with one of the Strictly stars who had been on this current season who I thought was soooo amazing and I loved watching him with his professional dancer Janette Manrara. Can you guess who I am talking about? Obviously, Dr Ranj.

I was getting very overwhelmed and was almost at full meltdown mode when I got to him. I asked if I could take a picture with him and started to cry. Embarrassed by it, I told him I was autistic and that I was getting overwhelmed. He took me to one side, ( a quiet space) and stayed with me and talked about dancing and what I liked and stayed with me while I calmed down. I had explained to me that I was diagnosed last year and that I was still learning how to cope which was hard for me. I then fretted that I got a picture with him and my friend who was with me didn’t… He came back in with me when the intermission was over and went to my friend just so she could get a picture with him as well.

This was a surprise to me as I have been having meltdowns at least once a week and have had varying reactions. The good ones came from very different places. He did not have to help me. He did not have to stay with me. He certainly did not have to make sure my friend got a picture with him as well and yet, this celebrity, who I have adored watching on telly took the time to make sure I was ok. He made sure that I was able to go back and watch the rest of the show which I did. I was able to stave off a full meltdown until the very end because of him.

Dr Ranj had never met me before and will probably never even see this but his random act of kindness was so important to me as I was getting quite low about the lack of support I am getting in some areas of my life that it really has inspired me to continue in my quest to make sure that anyone who is autistic and wants to be able to do things others say that they can’t because they are autistic have the courage and the support they need to be able to do it.

Dr Ranj you are amazing and this random woman who you have never met before and probably never meet again is so very grateful to you for everything 🙂

Review – Giovanni Pernice & Luba Mushtuk – Dance is Life

On Wednesday I went to a show. I saw Giovanni Pernice’s show called Dance is Life. I brought the tickets after a horrible year in 2018 where I was diagnosed as Autistic and broke up with my boyfriend of 9 years. SO, this was a treat to myself as I love Giovanni on Strictly Come Dancing to the point I wish they would let normal people on the show so I could possibly have a chance to dance with him.

So here is what I thought of the show:

Giovanni’s show was AMAZING! From an autistic perspective, where I had been sitting was not great as I got overstimulated which did eventually lead to a meltdown however the show its self was fantastic.

Giovanni is an amazing dancer and his partner Luba Mushtuk was so elegant and graceful. He really did tell a story with his performance. It was helped along by the other dancers on stage who were Gordana Grandosek Whiddon, Kylee Vincent, Sylvia Radziejowska, Trent Whiddon, Stephen Vincent, Krystian Radziejowska.

These 8 people took my breath away. All of them danced with a passion for what they were doing and it was so great to see Strictly style dancing off the screen and in person. As someone who at a young age and into my teens wanted to be a dancer – fate intervening and stopping me, I appreciate when you see true artistry in dance and that is what I saw on Wednesday. Even with the audience participation where two of the dancers picked up a chair and was swinging the member of the audience in the air hehe made me giggle.

I recommend to anyone who loves to watch Strictly or even loves watching the dance that watching a Giovanni Pernice performance is a great way to spend a night and for any Autistic person who is worried about a meltdown, it is well worth the after effects for this amazing performance so do not miss out!

Faith, Autism, Gender, Sexuality and Gender Identity, Disability

So, I bet that this has really got your attention. It is not something you would usually see in the same sentence however I feel that it is something that should be shown. This all falls under the term of intersectionality. Intersectionality shows where people are not just one thing, you are part of many different communities.

Sometimes, however, this is something that could be in conflict with each other. Take for example faith and autism. I am a Christian, and I believe in Jesus and God however, the literal side of my brain (the autistic side) raises up questions. For instance, whilst I wholeheartedly believe in the Lent story, however, how can a man survive 40 days and 40 nights without food? Surely Jesus must have eaten at some point? 5 whole weeks with absolutely no food, physical impossibility even if he drank water.  Gandhi was able to survive 3 weeks without food however I just can’t understand how Jesus survived 5 weeks. Nothing in the bible explains how he survived 5 weeks without food. Surely as a human, he would have died as the body would not have had any fuel to keep it going.

As a woman, I have a lot of issues with the world today. I am subject to norms that society choose to put on me i.e. mother, wife, caregiver however for me this is something I rale against. I am more than a typical woman however I know I always have to fight about what people expect of me. This is very hard to deal with in today’s society especially when you think in religious terms. Christianity has had issues over women being in ministry which for me is something I don’t understand with my autistic brain because I really do not understand how on the one hand, we are made in Gods image, yet the Christian faith said that women are unable to preach his message. How can God really be against anyone who feels like they have been given the ability and the mission to preach his message to the masses?

Again, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is something that I feel is something that is impacted on the life of things. I have come to know that I am gender fluid.  It means that depending on the day, I identify as either man or woman. I do not think I am a man in a woman’s body I just feel more masculine on some days and more feminine on other days. I used to deal with this by buying men’s clothes however, my last relationship made this something that was impossible for me to do.  With my disabilities, this can be a little bit more tricky as I have to wear clothes that are suitable for my needs but it still is not to be ignored. One of the things that I do however to show the side of me I want is let the hair on my top lip to grow. I am not as concerned about keeping that area clean and the same for the legs. It is important to me that I am always true to who I am and yet, I am a Christian who believes in God, yet, the Bible does not recognize the difference.

So to sum this up. I am A Christian Woman, who has disabilities, who is heterosexual and Gender Fluid… SUE ME!

Faith and Autism

I am struggling with my faith. I have some issues because I take things very literally.  Because of this I am struggling with some things that I see around me and I have to wonder, how can God choose some people to ministry when their hearts are full of less than virtuous thoughts. How can this be the case?