I Have Asperger's

The unique perspective of the world through the eyes of a girl with Asperger's Syndrome

My Blog

NOTE:
This site may experience downtime over the next several days.  Thank you for your patience.



Please click the link below to transfer to the new website.

I now have a new website.  Unfortunately, I was unable to make this website automatically transfer to the new one due to costs, so please click the link below.  Also, please note the comments on this site have now been disabled, and you can contact me through the new site. 

As someone on the autism spectrum, change is hard for me.  However, I feel this is for the best.  If change is hard for you, too, feel free to ease into the transition to the new site. Poke around and try getting used to it.

Thank you to everyone for helping to make my very first website a success.  I truly hope you like the new one!


My New Site




A unique perspective of the world through the eyes of me, a girl with Asperger's Syndrome.

PLEASE feel free to leave comments and ask questions. 
(Note: While I realize that not everyone has a Facebook or a Twitter, these are the best ways of getting in contact with me.)

Please note:  I am available for presentations on autism awareness/advocacy and can be booked and hired by contacting me as mentioned.

Twitter: FOLLOW! (@AspergerSadie)

Facebook:  Subscribe! (Erin Clemens)

YouTube:  Subscribe! (Erinclem)

My book, titled I Have Asperger's, can be found on Lulu.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and more in paperback or eBook format!

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Black and White Thinking

Posted by Admin on November 17, 2013 at 3:50 PM

A lot of people tend to believe that people on the spectrum can only think in "black and white".  That there is no room for a "gray" area.  Maybe some people on the spectrum are like that.  I can't speak for everyone.  But I see things differently.  It's not that I CAN'T think in "gray" terms, it's that I don't KNOW there are "gray" areas. 

Imagine if when you were growing up, you were taught that the colors green and yellow were the same color.  So when you are driving, all you see are the "stop" and "go" colors.  There is no such thing as a "slow" color, because you have been taught that it is the same color as "go" (Slow is yellow, go is green....but you have been taught that the two colors have the same meaning.)  Now, after years of knowing only the stop or go, someone asks you why you don't slow down.  Why don't you see that "gray" area?  It's not because you can't.  It's because you never knew it existed.  What is this "slow" color that they are talking about?  You never heard of it that way. 

It's not that I CAN'T see the "gray" area.  Sometimes, I just don't know that it's there.  Or maybe I just don't know specifics, like at what speed am I considered to be going "slow"?  So don't get mad at me for not seeing it.  Just teach me about it!

Getting Upset

Posted by Admin on November 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

It's just as important to teach someone on the spectrum to recognize when they are getting upset as it is to teach them to calm themselves down when they are already upset.  Being proactive about a meltdown can be the difference between a small bump in the day and the end of the day.  If you are a caregiver to someone on the spectrum, let them know if you think there may be a trigger up ahead.  Then help them to see the options on how to deal with it before they are too upset to do so.  You can even have them make a list with you!  When the trigger arrives, remind them of these options again and show them the list.  This process is a really important part towards independence!

Haircuts

Posted by Admin on November 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM

I don't like people touching my head.  It's just something that makes me uncomfortable.  This means I also can't stand getting my hair cut.  I can't really see what the person is doing.  I feel little hairs tickling me all over.  My arms are stuck underneath a cover that is keeping more hair from getting on my clothes.  I can hear the scissors.  I feel the heat of the hair drier.  I can hear the sound of the hair drier.  I smell the hair care products.  Top it off with the endless chatter, and it's just not my favorite event.


So this is what I do:  I get my hair cut once a year, by the same person.  This person knows me and knows that I like the same cut every time.  (Which makes them a pro!)  I have them cut off as much as I can stand while still being able to tuck it behind my ears.  I do this in the Spring so that my hair is nice and short for the warm weather to come.  Then, I donate the hair to Locks of Love, and I'm set for the year.

Facebook Down Is Like Nonverbal Issues

Posted by Admin on October 21, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Many, many people experienced Facebook's technical issues this morning.  Many people were unable to post, comment, or like anything on Facebook.  The community panicked.  How are we supposed to connect?  How are we supposed to communicate?  Lots of us headed over to Twitter or Tumblr instead.

Imagine if this was our life everyday.  Facebook wouldn't get a lot of business, would it?  But what if Facebook was the main way the whole world communicated, and you were the ONLY one experiencing the issue?  THAT is what it feels for me to be unable to speak as someone on the autism spectrum.  People are talking.  I can maybe get in one or two words, but then I freeze.  Everyone starts wondering why I stopped.  It's not that I don't want to talk.  It's that I can't.  My Facebook is down.

This is why it's SO important to have other ways to communicate.  For times when I crash.  I may not always need to use Twitter, but when Facebook was down, I know I wasn't the only one to headed over there.  I may not always have issues with speaking, but when I do, please be willing to communicate with me in other ways!

 

The Puzzle Piece Project

Posted by Admin on October 1, 2013 at 4:25 PM

There is a saying in the autism community that “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”  It’s another way to say that no two people on the spectrum are exactly the same.

 

As an autism self-advocate, I’m always looking for ways to spread awareness.  Entering the photography contest in the local fair inspired me to delve further into the art.  It wasn’t long before I took a photo of a puzzle piece in hopes of combining the advocacy and photography into one.  (Puzzle pieces are recognized as a symbol of autism awareness, representing the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum.)  However, my end result wasn’t quite what I had imagined.  My goal was to show how everyone was different.  I thought about the idea of coloring in each puzzle piece a different way.  Even better, I thought about letting others color in their own individual pieces to make one giant collaborative puzzle.  Thus, The Puzzle Piece Project was born.


The Puzzle Piece Project is a way to show everyone just how unique each person on the spectrum is.  It is one large puzzle made of many individual pieces of artwork, each created by someone on the autism spectrum.  Each piece is as unique as the individual who made it.  Some use words, some use photos, others use drawings or other forms of creative expression. While each one is different, they are all connected in one way: each one is on the autism spectrum.


(Special thanks to Kelli Belarde for her help with the puzzle piece outline, and to Frank Louis Allen for his help with the final project assembly!)


 

Everyone Has A Stove

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM

I think parents need to see the struggles of autism as they would see a child burning themselves on a stove.  Yes, it can hurt.  But you can't keep them from burning themselves all the time.  Eventually, the child will just have to learn the hard way once in a while.  At the same time, getting rid of the stove (the "source" of the pain/ what parents would see as the autism aspect) leaves you unable to cook meals for the child.  It leaves the child hungry.  Do not try to get rid of the autism, but try to help them cope and use it in a way that helps them.  Teach them how not to burn themselves, and how to cook!  THAT is what autism is about.


And don't forget, the stove doesn't just represent autism.  It can represent any difference in a person.

Hard Work

Posted by Admin on September 30, 2013 at 9:15 AM

You know, it's not JUST that I don't understand the world around me.  It's that the world around me ALSO doesn't understand me.  It's a two way street.  And one of the issues is that society doesn't realize that in order to meet in the middle, I have to work HARDER to get to the same place.  So rather than meeting in the middle, society meets me after I'm PAST the middle (thinking they have done the same amount of work), and then wonders why I'm unhappy with the amount of work they are doing.  It's like having a race between a monkey and an ant climbing a tree.  Even though the tree is the same height, the ant needs to work a lot harder to get the same distance in comparison to the monkey.

Why I Have Trouble Speaking

Posted by Admin on September 17, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Are you one of those people who has a fear of public speaking?  It's not that you can't talk all the time.  It's only when you get up in front of a crowd.  Maybe you have clinical depression, like me.  You aren't ALWAYS feeling depressed, but when you do it's debilitating.  This is all similar to my inability to speak due to my Asperger's.


 

I can talk, most of the time.  I can write very well.  People always tell me how articulate I am.  However, there are times when I literally cannot say a word.  And people think I'm ignoring them, mad at them, or just didn't hear them.  They get impatient, or they get confused.  THEN I have to try to explain to them what's going on....but I can't.  Because I can't speak.


 

Sometimes, I get really anxious in a new situation, and I don't know how to talk.  There are NO words that I can form, because I don't know how to apply things I've already learned to current situations.  So the other day, when I was at the doctor's office, and I had to go up and give them my form to check out....I didn't know what to say.  They asked me "What would you like to do?"  Well, I was supposed to get lab work before I left.  But this thought didn't come into my brain right away.  I was trying to figure out how to form the sentence, when they said "Are you checking out or do you need a follow up visit?"  Well, NEITHER of those options were my answer.  What was my answer I was going to give?  I had forgotten.  By now, it felt like a full 10 or 15 seconds had passed and I hadn't said a word.  People were waiting and getting impatient.  Now I was under more pressure.  I looked over to my Mom, who thought I would be able to do this on my own, and gave her a look of sheer panic.  I could barely even say the word 'Mom' to get her attention in the first place.  My brain was going a million miles a minute, trying to figure out my next move and what I needed to say.  Finally, after another few seconds of my silence, my Mom took over.


 

It's not that I didn't WANT to do this on my own.  It's not that I didn't know that I needed lab work.  It's that I didn't know how to explain to the person that I didn't want to check out, even though I was AT the check out spot.  It was that I didn't know HOW to answer her question which gave me two options, neither of which I wanted.  It was that people were waiting and I was not finished.  I had barely begun.  It was that I literally couldn't speak.


 

It's not that I can't speak ALL the time.  But when I don't know what to say, I can't say it. 

 

Shout Out

Posted by Admin on September 11, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Posting this because it seems like a good cause.


"Hello, I found your blog because you talk about having Aspergers. Could I ask a favour?

 

My friend's young son Fynnjan has Aspergers and, to cut a long story short, has written the music and lyrics for a Christmas song called The Spirit of Christmas.

 

It has been recorded as a single. We hope to get it to the top of the music charts (in the UK anyway) this Christmas. The money raised will go to the National Autistic Society with a small proportion going to support his local school's special needs team (the people who managed to get him to come out from under the table and socialise a little bit).

 

The favour is this. Could you mention Fynnjan's website between now and Christmas? Basically help spread the word? It's at www.fynnjan.com

 

We hope people will go to the website, register an interest and download copies from iTunes. It's all a massive leap of faith, but hey - it's fun too.

 

Thanks."


Well, everyone, you heard what they said!


Experience the Difference

Posted by Admin on September 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

I remember that I found this back in 2006!  I wish I had remembered to share this sooner, but I'm glad it's still available!  It's meant to show what it's like to have ADHD, but honestly, this could apply to ASD as well.  Just IMAGINE having to go through nearly an entire day with this issue.  PLUS, you are GRADED on it.  This is one of the MANY reasons why I struggled in school.  Now, include sensory issues like touch and smell and sight, then top it off with the fact that there are already difficulties in communication.  PLEASE, just open your minds.  (And turn on your speakers!)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/experiences/attexp2a.html 

How I Clean My Room

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I have struggled with this one for YEARS!  But I THINK I've finally figured it out!  My friend let me have his tablet, and I've been playing around with it.  Then, I got the idea! 

 

I'm SO excited! I think I have finally found a way to clean my room! I take a picture of it on the tablet, and then use the doodle tool to circle the items I want to tackle. This works because it helps me to remember everything and slow down my thinking so that I'm not jumping ahead while cleaning the first item, and helps me to see my plans again! I can even use different colors for different situations, such as if there are multiple items that need to be grouped together, or if I need to ask someone about something.

 

This can also be used in other ways of organizing.  For instance, take a picture of your child's room.  Use one color to circle the art supplies, another color for books, and another one for trash.  (Keep it simple, don't go all rainbow on them!)  Then, use the same colors to show where the items belong in the actual room.  Put one color on the desk for art supplies.  Another color label can go on the bookshelf.  The trash can even be its own full color! 

 

Below you can see a picture of my room (I know, it's a HUGE mess.  That's the point.), with items circled.  This isn't my "quick fix" for the whole room, but it will certainly help me to tackle the 5 minute daily cleanings!  Give me another week or two, and this room will be lookin' good!



More About Communication

Posted by Admin on August 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM

For teens on the spectrum:  If your parents/teachers/supports say that they want to have a talk…ASK THEM WHAT THEY ARE PLANNING TO TALK ABOUT.  Try to prepare for the conversation ahead of time.  Ask them what specific questions they will be asking you, and see if you can come up with your answers before they start the actual conversation.  Sometimes they will need to be reminded that you may not be able to answer their questions right away because it takes time for you to process them.  It’s may not be that you don’t WANT to have the conversation, but that you need extra time to get your thoughts together.

 

PARENTS:  NOT ALL TEENS WILL BE ABLE TO DO THIS!  Help them learn!  They may need to have a reminder to take a break when they are getting too emotional (as this leads to difficulty in making a mature decision based on logic facts rather than emotion).  They may not WANT to take the break, because that means they have to come back to the conversation AGAIN, and they just want to get it over with.  (It’s VERY emotionally and mentally draining.)  EVEN IF THEY GET UPSET, remember to stay calm.  Getting upset WITH them will NOT help the situation to move forward, rather only drain them faster.

 

Why am I saying this?  I’m 24 years old, and I JUST fully understood this communication issue now.  It would have REALLY helped had I been guided through my teen years with this information.  It would NOT have changed the emotions I felt, but I wouldn’t have felt SO BAD about them.

How To Make A Temporary PECS Book

Posted by Admin on August 14, 2013 at 6:55 PM

HOW TO MAKE A TEMPORARY PECS BOOK

by Erin Clemens



Materials needed: File folders, clear packing tape or contact paper, Google Images, string, a hole punch, masking tape (or Velcro)


Step 1: Open the Paint computer program and make the page size 2178 pixels (width) by 2903 (height)


Step 2: Find your PECS images by searching for free PECS on Google Images and copy and paste them into your Paint computer program. You will want them to be ABOUT 630 pixels wide and tall for a 2 inch square PEC.


Step 3: Print out your PECS and cut off excess paper. Use the packing tape or contact paper to "laminate" PECS.


Step 4: Unfold file folders and cut along the main fold. Cut these pages in half again width wise. Use packing tape or contact paper to "laminate" these as well.


Step 5: Line up the laminated folders evenly and punch 3 holes with a hole punch along the top edge. Tie them together with string.


Step 6: Use masking tape and a pen to label where the PECS go (so if you lose one, you will know which one is missing, and so that the user will always know where to find their words.)


Step 7: Use masking tape (may need 2 or 3 pieces rolled up sticky side out, on top of each other) or Velcro to stick the PECS to their correct places in the book!



Let me know how it works for you! Here is a picture of a finished one that I've made:


Communication

Posted by Admin on August 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I think people forget that verbal communication is NOT the only form.  There are movements and patterns and pictures and emotions and writing and SO much more.  I just don't understand why people keep saying that those who are non-verbal don't have a voice.  They just don't have the same KIND of voice.  Just because someone isn't able to speak out loud, that doesn't mean that they have nothing to say, NOR does it mean that they do not know how to communicate.  Maybe YOU don't know how to communicate with THEM.

I've Joined Tumblr

Posted by Admin on August 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I decided to go ahead and give Tumblr a try.  (I'm still getting used to it!)  I figured that it's just another way for me to get out there and advocate. 


For those of you who don't know what Tumblr is....think of it as Twitter, but with longer posts, and a LOT more photos!


If you would like to follow me on Tumblr, you can find me here:  http://aspergersadie.tumblr.com/ ;

My Wandering Experience

Posted by Admin on July 31, 2013 at 11:15 AM

For the first time, yesterday, I finally understood what it felt like to be someone on the spectrum who is "wandering".  My Dad brought me to the fair, but then I had to meet up with my friends.  My phone wasn't receiving texts well.  This threw my WHOLE plan out the window.  My senses were completely overwhelmed.  Smells of cigarette smoke, food, and exhaust filled my nose.  Sounds of kids screaming, bells ringing, announcers talking, and MORE assaulted my ears.  All I could see was MOVEMENT.  Rides moving.  People moving.  Spinning wheels from game tables.  Lights flashing.  It was enough to make me disoriented and unable to focus on finding my friends.  However, it doesn't end there.


The worst part of my "wandering" experience was being stuck.  Being unable to figure out how to find a quiet, open space where I could sit and collect myself.  I didn't WANT to have a meltdown in the middle of public.  I didn't WANT to have people staring at me, a grown woman, crying and hyperventilating in public.  I KNEW people would laugh, or give me weird looks.  It would be the most embarrassing time of my life.  I ALSO didn't want my friends to show up and feel bad for not finding me sooner.  (It's not their responsibility.  I asked THEM if I could meet them there in the first place.)


So now I get it.  Now I understand WHY a person on the spectrum wanders.  WHY it's so difficult for them to get help for themselves.  How can you get help if you can't even figure out where to move to?  What I needed was for a police officer (or SOMEONE who worked there) to come over to ME and ask me if I needed help.  But I probably looked like just another person in the crowd.

 

Shopping For Clothes

Posted by Admin on July 25, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Shopping for clothes is AWFUL.


Start out with the fact that I've been wearing my current clothes for AT LEAST half a year, if not longer.  (And the older you get, the longer to can make them last, since you stop growing.)  When I find something I like, I try to buy AS MANY of that exact same item as I can possibly afford.  I mean, if I COULD, I would probably buy them out of stock.  But I can usually only afford up to 2...MAYBE 3.  (And sometimes, that DOES mean that I buy them out of stock!)  But it's never enough, as I tend to wear out my clothes after 6 months to a year.  (Usually from being so active; stimming, playing on the floor, just moving around a LOT.)  So, let's face the fact that I am pretty much already comfortable with what I currently have on. 


Add in the idea that I HATE both change and discomfort.  They make me feel SO anxious that I could have a meltdown.  When I am shopping for clothes, I'm facing both.  I have to accept the fact that the feeling of the clothes on my body will change.  THEN I have to try on a million uncomfortable pieces of clothing until I find one that I can deal with.  Nothing itchy (that includes the tag!).  Nothing too tight.  Jeans need to have pockets big enough to fit my hands into (I always forget this part!)  Shirts have to have the right neckline.  And I must like how it looks, otherwise I will never wear it.  (In other words:  Absolutely, positively, NO pink...ESPECIALLY no HOT pink!)


So, after spending hours trying on new, uncomfortable clothing, it's no wonder that I would get upset.  And I had better pray that I find something on the first day of trying.  Shopping for clothes is just SO exhausting.


And don't get me started on bathing suits...... :roll:

Stim

Posted by Admin on July 23, 2013 at 7:20 AM

If someone told you, "Don't you move!"

"For one whole hour!", what would you do?

Would you kick your feet?  Would you spin in your chair?

Would you clench your fists, or twirl your hair?

Would you take out gum and start to chew?

Or tap your fingers?  How would you get through?

If this thought makes you panic, or nervous to hear,

Then let me explain why there is nothing to fear.

EVERYONE STIMS!  It's okay, I swear!

I do this, too!  Though, more than twirl hair.

I don't JUST chew gum, don't JUST kick my feet.

I have my own drum, and dance to my own beat.

Sometimes, I rock.  Sometimes, I will flap.

Sometimes, for seemingly no reason, I clap.

Maybe I stand, and start spinning around.

'Till my body feels better, and I fall to the ground.

But this is okay!  This is just what I do!

I have less common stims, but it helps me get through!

Yes, I'm autistic.  But, it's the same thing, you see...

EVERYONE stims, not just you and me.

More About Meltdowns

Posted by Admin on July 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


After watching my video on YouTube on how to deal with my meltdowns, some new questions came up from a few people on Facebook.  Here are the questions and my answers to them:


Are you able to move yourself away from a meltdown - do you know when they are coming on and you need some space?


I can't ALWAYS tell when I'm about to have a meltdown, but usually it's when I start to feel panic.



Do you work and, if so, do you have a place that you can go at your workplace where you can "chill" if needed?


I do work, but only part-time.  I don't really have anywhere I can "chill" at work, but I try to do activities that are more calming instead.  If worse comes to worse, I will go into the bathroom for a few minutes.



What is the process that you go through to calm yourself and do others help you to do this?


I just need time and space.  When I get that, I can let everything go through my mind and get rid of all of the negative thoughts and emotions.  I will stim, I will cry, I may start to hyperventilate, but I usually try to do some breathing techniques.  (Breathe for 2 seconds in through the nose SLOWLY, and out for 4 seconds through my mouth SLOWLY)  Nobody usually helps me through meltdowns, other than my parents when they are around.  If it's a full blown meltdown (and sometimes, they just can't be prevented), my parents will give me time and space until I calm down enough for them to re-assure me that everything will be okay.  They talk in a very soft, calm voice when they do that.  They also help re-direct me towards something that I may find comforting.  Such as watching my favorite show, swinging on the swing, etc.  Anything that never fails to make me happy, they will suggest.

New Places? No Way!

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Why don't I like to change places I go to, such as supermarkets, gas stations, regular stores, etc?  Because it takes me FOREVER to learn how to cope in these places.  When I pull into a gas station, I like to use the same pump so that I can line up my car perfectly and I don't have to get frustrated with the hose.  When I go to the supermarket, I know that the exit tends to smell like cigarette smoke, so I need to be prepared to cover my nose.  When I go to a regular store, there are SO MANY different paths and sections, that it's visually overwhelming.  I like to know if the cart I use is likely to make a noise or not.  I like to know if the intercom systems are really loud.  My car mechanic tends to keep their offices a little cold, so I need to wear a jacket.  They also have a loud door that bangs, so this may startle me.  But the point is, I ALREADY KNOW these things.  I can PREPARE for them.  I KNOW what to expect.  And when I change up the routine and go someplace else instead, I have NO idea how to cope or what to expect and it's so disorienting that I would rather not go at all.  Because I would probably have a meltdown.


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