Autism – Pros & Cons of Early Diagnosis

Have you ever thought about the pros and cons of getting an early autism diagnosis? As someone who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in their late 20’s, I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I thought I would share a few of the pros and cons I’ve considered, but please be aware that these are my personal opinions and come from someone diagnosed with aspergers, so they may not apply to all situations or forms of autism. By the way, when I say “early autism diagnosis” what I generally mean is someone who is diagnosed in childhood, so they grow up knowing they have the condition and with access to services for the condition, as opposed to people who are diagnosed as adults and had to make it through childhood “blindly” in a sense.

Pros

  • Getting a childhood diagnosis opens up a world of support services and other helpful aids to you and your family. From school services to counseling and help with understanding social situations, the information and guidance offered can be immeasurable.
  • You understand from a young age what struggles you are dealing with. You have insight into where you likely have weaknesses and where you may need to work extra hard to succeed.
  • Your family, friends, and teachers understand your sensory issues and give you more leeway in how you react. In other words, you won’t get punished for being terrified of the sound of balloons popping and overreacting by yelling and crying, like I did in 4th grade 😦
  • A diagnosis of aspergers or high-functioning autism allows you to understand why you may feel so different from your peers. Growing up, I always felt like I was different, REALLY different, especially once I hit middle school and all my friends were into boys, makeup, clothes, and their social lives, and I couldn’t care less about any of it. It would have been nice to have known why I felt like such a misfit. To know that it wasn’t anything wrong with me, it was just the way I was made.

Cons

  • Being labeled with a disability from a young age can have a disheartening effect on a child. If the parents, teachers, and other adults around the child aren’t careful, the child can start to feel like they are “broken” or that they can’t do things that the “normal” kids can do. The worse cases of this I’ve seen personally are where the parents make excuses for their kids to the point that the kids never really have to work at anything. That isn’t good for anyone.
  • I wish it weren’t true, but being publicly labeled with autism can cause you to be bullied, mistreated, or left out by the other kids. I believe this is slowly improving, but we still have a long way to go. My husband is a special education teacher, and kids with special needs are still often isolated and can still be victims of social mockery. Unfortunately, it is somewhat human nature to exclude the “others” or the “outsiders”. We really need to work on that as a species.
  • Perhaps one of the best (and hardest) parts of growing up without a diagnosis is that you must learn to adapt. No one makes excuses for you. No one makes exceptions for you. No one medicates your problems away. I had to learn self-control, coping strategies, adaptive behaviors, and come up with creative ways to make life work. Was it hard? Hell yes! Was it good for me overall? Undoubtedly. It made me stronger and more able to cope with the stresses of the real world, which isn’t nearly as kind as school. With an early diagnosis, I would have missed out on those character building struggles.

So there are a few of my personal views on pros/cons of getting an early autism diagnosis. If you have any pros/cons of your own to share or want to share your opinion, please comment below! I would love to hear from you!

Autistic Bath Towel Sensory Issues

So here is a sneak peek into what it is like to live with autism and sensory integration issues. Recently we bought some new bath towels because some of our old ones are in pretty bad shape. I love the bright new royal and navy blue towels we bought, but I can’t stand to use them yet. Why? They aren’t coarse enough yet.

You see, if I use a towel that is fluffy and soft, my body doesn’t like the feel of it, and even worse, I never feel like it is drying me – even though it is. It makes the whole bathing experience feel incomplete and messed up. I have to use the old, ragged towels until the new towels have been used by my husband and washed enough times that they lose their fluffy softness, so I can stand the feel of the fibers against my skin after a bath.

It probably sounds minor to you, but it is hard for me to see those beautiful new towels and know that I can’t use them or it will drive me crazy. I don’t want to use the faded, ugly ones, but they do provide a superior drying experience. Ugh, I know – first world autistic problems, right? But it is annoying.

My First Weighted Blanket

This is the blanket I got. The pink is soothing too 🙂

I got my first weighted blanket today, and I have to say, I am loving it! It really is comforting and helpful to anxiety. It makes the chronic muscle aches of fibromyalgia feel a bit better too. I started with a 10 pound blanket, because I could barely lift the 15 or 20 pound ones without throwing my back out lol. Plus, I have always been one that likes a lighter touch rather than a super heavy touch, even with massage and things like that.

I think the 10 pound blanket will be perfect for anxiety attacks, but I might get a little lighter one (6 pound maybe) for daily use, just to sit around with while I work and such. These blankets might really be a game changer for me though! I can feel it already!

If you have anxiety or chronic pain, you might want to look into them if you haven’t already! Of course, they are great for autism too, which was another plus for me. I would also recommend the ones that come with the sherpa fleece covers! They are so soft and cozy!!!

And the Mood Disorder Strikes Again…

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I’ve had a really bad couple days. The day before yesterday I had a total meltdown because I couldn’t get a painting right. It was kind of the last straw, as I have been struggling terribly with irritability, anxiety, ocd, and anger lately. At first I thought it was just a phase or one of the mood swings that mood disorders bring, but it has lasted a long time now and I am starting to wonder if it has to do with the new med I have been put on (Lamictal). The irritability and worsening ocd definitely seem to have started as I began taking higher doses of the drug.

Yesterday all the anger, irritation, and anxiety turned into depression and I cried a lot, felt helpless and hopeless, and entertained some pretty dark thoughts. I was in one of those moods where I felt utterly worthless and felt that no one liked me or cared about me, I even felt like my husband was sick of me. That was probably projection as I’M sick of being around me in this state.

Today I’m a bit better (no crying yet), but still feeling low and exhausted. I haven’t been sleeping well lately at all, which isn’t helping. Just not in a good place right now.

Covid Masks – What’s Your Experience?

The whole covid mask thing has been a struggle for me. Probably for several reasons:

#1 – I have bad asthma, especially in hot weather and wearing a mask makes it much worse. Sometimes to the point that I have to escape a store or building immediately so I can breathe again before I have a full-out asthma attack (masks are required in buildings in our county).

#2 – I’m autistic. I have sensory issues galore and masks drive me crazy. I don’t like the feel of them and for me, I never really adjust. Of all the kinds of masks I’ve tried, the only ones I can even kind of stand are the surgeon ones, but even those bug me, and I can only bear them for a short time.

#3 – I have a little piggy nose, so I can’t keep a mask up, it is always slipping below my nose. It has gotten to the point that sometimes I quit pulling it up because it will just slip down again in 2 seconds, and it is easier to breathe with my nose uncovered anyway.

#4 – Anxiety. I think this plays into the asthma and the sensory issues thing. The more my asthma and sensory issues worsen, the more my anxiety kicks in, till the point where I’m not even sure if I’m having trouble breathing because of the mask and asthma, or because of the anxiety.

At this point, I pretty much just try to do outdoor activities or if I do have to go to a store or something, I get in and out as quickly as possible. Thank God I don’t have to work at a business. I don’t know how I would survive.

So what has your experience with masks been? Do they bother you? Did you adjust and get used to them? Are they required where you live? Do you have any of the same issues I have with them?

I Wrote a Letter to the Air Force about Aliens…

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Last night I was talking to someone online when my memory was sparked about an amusing email letter I sent years ago to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, located here in Dayton. The letter was semi-serious and semi-trolling I suppose. I wanted it to be ridiculously humorous and maybe make the office staff who ended up reading it chuckle, but I was serious about the fact that I have always had an interest in the topic of aliens.

To my surprise, I found that I still had the email letter in my archive, so I thought I would share it now, just for laughs. Here is what I actually wrote and sent to the Air Force question box years ago lol:

“Hello! I know this might sound kind of like a joke, but it really isn’t. I’ve always been interested in aliens, UFO’s, and other paranormal stuff, and I hear you probably have aliens and/or UFO spacecrafts hidden on your base in underground tunnels or hangars or whatever.

I wanted to offer my services if you could use them in regards to your alien research/projects. I would prefer to work with greys I think (I hear they are the more intellectual and non-violent of the known alien species). Reptilians seem a bit hardcore.

I’m not sure what I could actually do to help, but maybe there is something? Perhaps I might be able to understand or relate to them since I myself am an RH Negative blood type and there seems to be some belief that we may be descended from aliens ourselves.

Also, I have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, which some people think is some alien-related kind of human evolution. I don’t really like people much, so am great at keeping secrets.”

I never did get an official response, but I’m sure this probably got me put onto several lists…

Maybe I should contact Trump’s new Space Force?

I’m Back!!! (with new blogging insights)

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Hi everyone! So, I had a nice week off from blogging. I needed the break to give myself some time to relax and focus on other things.

While I was away I asked myself some hard questions. Do I still enjoy blogging? Why was blogging stressing me out so much? Should I change some of my blogging habits?

I came to the conclusion that while I do still enjoy blogging, my “routine” related to blogging was wearing on me. By routine, I mean the OCD things I felt like I “had” to do every day. You see, I had gotten into a pattern where I actually spent more time trying to keep up with everyone’s else’s blogs than I spent on my own blog work!

Don’t get me wrong, I love supporting other bloggers. But I would often put unrealistic expectations on myself for how many blog posts by other people I needed to read, like, and comment on. It had become a habit and like the autistic person I am, once a habit is established, it can quickly become a taskmaster.

From now on, I’m going to try to change that habit. I will still support other bloggers (especially those who support me), but I’m not going to assign myself quotas! Honestly, some people I supported regularly I never hear from anyway lol. I’m ok with that, but why stress myself out for people I don’t even really communicate with?

Maybe you all can give me your insights and methods for supporting others. Do you mainly try to return comments/likes? Do you try to keep up with too many other bloggers like I was doing?

(Want to help support this blog?)

Holidays, Routine Changes, and Anxiety

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Been feeling stressed. I don’t know if it is because I am autistic or just part of my personality, but even the smallest changes to my routine tend to throw me off and cause a lot of anxiety…and the holidays seem to be filled with those kinds of routine manglers.

For instance, tonight I have a friend’s Yule party to go to and tomorrow I am supposed to meet my mom for an early Christmas dinner/present exchange. Part of me is looking forward to these events and even wants to go, but part of me is stressed out and just wants to go back to bed and hide under the covers until the weekend is over.

All the anxiety takes a physical toll too. It turns my tummy into a wreck and brings on headaches that can easily slip into migraines if I’m not careful. The anxiety last night about the events this weekend was so bad that it did give me a migraine, so I had to take my migraine prescription. Hoping that won’t happen again.

I often tend to think depression is worse than anxiety because its symptoms are more obvious and immediate, but I think I underestimate the compounding ability of high anxiety.