We are Lions!

We are Lions is an awesome new website dedicated to promoting the work of artists with disabilities. The artists get 50% of the profits from each product!

The work I linked below is from James Frye, an autistic artist with synesthesia, who recently gained national attention when he created this concert poster for My Morning Jacket. Only 200 were made, and each one of them is signed by James and the band! How cool is that?! View James’ work and learn more about him here.

mmj-poster-3

I love art! Who knows, if I get some extra time (what is that, lol?) I may just submit some work of my own!

Anyway peeps, go check this site out and save this site for purchasing Christmas gifts. I know I’m going to! No eye rolls, now, I know it’s still August, but I’m ready for pumpkin everything and boots, come on – who’s with me?

-Jama

Visual Thinking in the Autistic Brain

I always felt something was very different about my brain. In early elementary, I remember asking the teacher and my classmates if everyone else saw millions of individual pixels of multi-colored light as they looked up at their bedroom ceilings at night.“Do yours race in a circle?” I asked? I was laughed at. I have always noticed light ever since I was a small child. Most of my earliest memories are of light- light streaming through the window in my nursery as an infant; light reflecting in my blue stroller as I was being pushed; light full of dust particles at a neighbor’s house on a summer day. We were only at that house once, yet because of the orange light that was cast through the sliding glass door, I can recount details from this day – placement of furniture, clothing and smells of people, the fact that it was an odd time for me to be gone from my home (nap time through when my dad typically arrived from work), awareness that the landscape outside sloped downward to the right, and an awareness that someone named Dennis(?) who belonged at the home had just arrived home from fishing. I told my mother about this a few years back and she said I had been one. 

I was called dumb when I answered in fourth grade math class that one hundred minus ten was eighty. Because I am also blessed with grapheme-color synaesthesia, I saw green in my head when the teacher called upon me. My brain had subtracted twenty because I saw two items of tens groupings in the question when it was asked, not one. My two’s are all green, therefore I subtracted the incorrect amount from one hundred. Had the math question involved three operators, I would have seen blue and would’ve answered seventy.  I know that makes very little sense to someone without synaesthesia. Learn more about this (and take a quiz to see if you have this) hereClearly, my gifts lie in the arts and not in math!

Living with a visual and synaesthetic brain has been mostly helpful to me, even though I self-identified as “stupid in math” from that day in the fourth grade until fairly recently. I know now that I had what I think was synaesthesia-induced dyscalculia, which is sometimes concurrent with Asperger’s. I believe Touch Math would’ve been helpful for me, but I went to a small country school where I was unfortunately marginalized for a lack of natural mathematical talent, despite my active interest in the history and theory of math and a recorded IQ in the highly gifted range. Continue reading “Visual Thinking in the Autistic Brain”

Can’t Go? Constipation on the Spectrum

Fair warning: in this blog, I’m going to be open and honest. This time, about POOP. There, I said it! I feel relieved now. (I know, poor joke. Blame it on social skills.)

I have not informed my son, who is just six, that he has Asperger’s. Instead, anytime he asks about any differences he observes between himself and his friends, I refer to the elephant in the room as “the gut issue”. Mommy has the gut issue, as well as several people in our family, I tell him. You can usually tell by our moods whether or not we have gone numero dos. The gut issue, partner-in-crime to menstrual cycle hormones, has always been the key to my sensory issues. I just never realized this until the last two years, when I eliminated gluten from my diet, reduced sugar and salt, and began a fitness path that has made a serious difference for me!

I am still on this health journey, but I have lost 104 pounds so far and it has been the best thing I have ever done for myself! I went from a dress size 22/24 to a 4/6! I will post at a later date some more details on my diet, which has been the key to reducing so many of my symptoms. I think I can really help those struggling with similar issues with some simple tips.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but having put myself through this dramatic weight loss transformation, I feel I can pass along some GI related treatment and prevention info to other spectrum families.

First, let me talk about some of the many severe GI related symptoms I’ve had over my life: 

  • Frequent hospitalizations for impaction (yuck, I know). Read about impaction here
  • Constipation during stress, travel or schedule changes of any kind
  • Mood largely dependent on digestive system
  • Digestive woes severely impacting my ability to function in school, work, home
  • Highly sensitive to menstrual cycle hormones, which, in turn, cause constipation and extreme mood highs and lows
  • Extreme physical discomfort with a bogged-down GI tract
  • Constipation triggered meltdowns, stimming, irritability 

Everyone gets constipated, but when it impacts your life as severely as it has mine, it’s time to change something! Our bodies are trying to tell us that something is very wrong! When a hospital has to give you five IV bags of soapy water in order to get your bowels to move at age 20, there is something VERY wrong!

So what did I change? Continue reading “Can’t Go? Constipation on the Spectrum”

OCD Through My Life, Part One

Part One

For me, Asperger’s Syndrome comes with many advantages, especially paired withsynaesthesia. (Synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one of the senses produces an involuntary experience in another. Read more here.) I have always had an excellent rote memory, a love of and talent for research and an ability to recognize and speak the heart of an issue (that’s a nice PC way to say “honest to a fault”, isn’t it?). My hyper focus enables me to quickly synthesize information and unearth details. I have not historically been pressured by social convention, in fact, I’ve typically been happy to deviate from the norm. Continue reading “OCD Through My Life, Part One”

Female Spectrum Symptoms: A Start

There’s a saying in the autistic community that if you’ve met one person with autism, then, well… you’ve met one person with autism. It’s true that we are all very different. If you’re on the spectrum, you know we have a lot in common! And if you are a parent, friend or family member that knows a lot of folks on the spectrum, maybe from therapy, support groups or parenting co-ops, then you will also see some commonality in us all. You might be pretty good at recognizing those of us who are on the spectrum, especially young boys. I know every time I see hands over ears at a loud noise, despite the rest of the crowd not seeming to be bothered, it’s the first thing that crosses my mind.

Girls and women are harder to spot because we blend in more with the crowd. Some scientists think that it’s due to our evolutionary gender roles and brain wiring over time. Some think it’s due to cultural roles, for example, it’s more culturally acceptable for young girls to be sensitive. See this exhaustive Scientific American article for some great information.

Either way, girls on the spectrum turn mimicking neurotypicals into a fine art. Continue reading “Female Spectrum Symptoms: A Start”

Words

You will need patience with me because I am a poet.

And, you probably don’t suspect it, but I am a poet with autism.

I write down the sounds words make as they base jump off my tongue!

Often without my consent.

Occasionally, I might capture the shape of a word in my mouth

Just before it struggles free to descend.

Some of my words are round, like gumballs in my mouth, and spin right out. Continue reading “Words”

I am Pink on the Spectrum

I suppose someone should’ve known when I was a child that I had Asperger’s Syndrome. But in the 1980’s, you couldn’t cross reference a symptom list on your phone while your child was repetitively hitting herself  with a hairbrush or spending copious hours crafting miniature animal sculptures out of wood shavings. And a perseverating obsession with New Kids on the Block was just par for the course when I became a preteen in the 1990’s. Plus, just like the Hemophilia Factor VIII deficiency that I was also blessed with, at the time, doctors thought girls were safe.

It wasn’t until I was 35, two years after my oldest son was diagnosed, that I was myself diagnosed with autism. Continue reading “I am Pink on the Spectrum”