“Looking for Louise!”

Me and Louise

The photo is of me and my cousin Louise.

I’m the one doing the kissing. :)

I found this old post of mine today and decided to share it again. I believe that my longing to find another girl who might be “like me” was what kept me hopeful as a child/teen. Knowing that there was a possibility that this girl might actually understand me and be able to enter into my world had a profound mystery about it. I grew up undiagnosed with ASD/Dyslexia and mild ADHD it was very lonely and confusing so I was ALWAYS looking for my Louise. I think in a way that search never really ended, I just grew into an acceptance of the social norm.

So this is my story…

Louise is exactly three months younger than me. My Mom and her Mom were best friends and our Dad’s are identical twins, both of our Dads have High Functioning Autism.

Thoughts through old photos

When I was growing up I very often caught my Mom upstairs looking through a box of old photos. There were SO many of me and Louise together as babies, toddlers. So many of my Mom with her best friend together smiling, laughing hugging one another and dancing. It was the kind of friendship I could only dream about.

My Uncle and Louise’s Mom *JK had a very messy break-up and Louise stayed with her Mom. It was so hard on my Uncle, with his lack of understanding, that my Nan and Grandad never talked about Louise again. I have never heard my uncle mention her once, it’s like she never existed.

I know most families have things they never talk about

BUT…As a child I really needed to talk about this and I wasn’t allowed to. Only when I was with my Mom and when we were alone upstairs in her bedroom.

I suppose knowing there was a girl out there that was probably just like me always kept me wondering. Every time I met someone called Louise I wondered if she might be my cousin. I remember being sat in a History lesson once and thinking, I wonder what Louise likes? I wonder if she can read good? I wonder if she has many friends? I wonder if she can draw? I wonder if she would like me? I wonder how tall she is? I didn’t like History much, the teacher was extremely boring…hehehe

When I was about 14 my Mom found out where *JK was living.

My Mom REALLY wanted to see *JK, she told me that she only ever had one best friend and she missed her, but she couldn’t go against the wishes of the family. She said to me, “I can’t keep secrets from the people I love.”

I REALLY thought that I would finally get to meet this cousin who I was so curious about. A message was sent to my Mom from a friend of a friend. This person said that Louise was not AT ALL like her younger siblings. She had brown hair and brown eyes and apparently was a lot like my younger brother, in many ways.

My Mom spoke with the family about what she wanted to do.

There was such upset going on in my Nan’s kitchen that Saturday night. It was decided and my Mom, as always, went along with what everyone else wanted. This is where I fail to understand the behaviour of my Dad’s family.

Yes, my Dad, uncle and my Nan, whom I loved dearly, all show/showed Autistic behaviour. But I can’t understand why they couldn’t see my Mom’s loneliness. She had lost her Mom and her Dad before she was even 30 years old. She was isolated on the other side of our City away from the rest of her family. She had three very demanding children who she gave everything for. She never went out because my Dad never socialised and didn’t like her to either. The only places she ever went were shopping and to Church, even then she got moaned at if she took too long.

I guess what I’m getting at is what is Autistic and what is selfish?

I really struggle to understand this, my Mom did her best to teach us how to put others before ourselves. I’m not always great at it, but I understand it. I saw her example. I have to think quite a lot about how to do this, it doesn’t come naturally for me with my Aspie wiring. I naturally think everyone thinks like me. I have to step out of this and really think it through. Praying it through is actually a lot easier than thinking it through. I’m more relaxed and I believe God helps me understand far quicker this way.

I’m not good with shallow relationships at all

I find them WAY TOO confusing. Those I am close to know who they are because I have regular contact with them. I get to know them because I love them, I think about their needs and pray for them every day.

I am very like my Dad in his Autistic ways but I chose to follow my Mom’s loving example of giving in whatever way I can. I don’t mean to sound harsh towards my Dad’s family. My Nan was one of my very favourite people, she totally loved me and she always accepted me. She was very misunderstood and I know she only ever did what she thought best for her family. This is why I still struggle to understand all this.

I still think about Louise regularly

I wonder if we would be friends as well as cousins? I wonder about her kids and what kind of Mom she is? I wonder if she knows about me? I wonder if she has Aspie ways? I wonder if her kids have ASD too?

What I do understand about all this!

I do believe that God in His loving wisdom used this upset in our family to help me to seek true friendship. I have looked all my life for those who are like me, or would accept me. As a child I thought that maybe Louise might help fill the gap. I know and I understand now, that no matter how hard I look, no matter how many wonderful friends I find, it will only ever be Jesus that can help me to feel whole. I believe that God used this in my life to keep me seeking, and as I write this post I understand that it is His will, His heart, His loving arms that I need to always be seeking.

Love and hugs everyone.

Lisa. xx :)

Chameleon

alien cameleonChameleon
by Alienhippy
I write when I’m emotional, it seems to help at times
But lately I have not pushed through to find my words of rhyme
I let myself shrink back in fear and forgot I had a voice
That who I am is not worth less but I have to stand by choice
~
I hide when I am trying to please the masses not my needs
And fear and dread turn into pain, my soul and spirit bleeds
Invisible, when in a crowd, a Chameleon act of protection
But still the aching void speaks loud, destructive self rejection
~
Being confident that I’m enough no need for validation
Just be myself not hide my shine, this traps me in frustration
Be strong enough to walk away and hold my head up high
Better alone living in my truth than to live my life a lie
~
So now I stand and raise my voice in rhyming words of verse
As images of dancing angst replay, rebuild, rehearse
And as I push me past the zone of comfort one more time
I take deep breaths and now my heart is good yet on the line

Who else is going to share?

Has anyone noticed that I’m not really blogging much these days? I want to, I really do, but every time I open up a fresh document to start typing I feel a bit lost. I don’t know why this has happened, it just has. I have been feeling like this for a few months, I have been finding inspiration in my old posts. I’ve reposted old posts and added a few new poems but nothing I feel I will look back on and say, “Oh yes that was a turning point for me!”

Writing helps me

I will keep pushing through knowing that this will soon pass. I have been having no problems at all with writing in my prayer journal and reflective journal. Also I have shared many deep thoughts and inspirations privately with my closest friends. Its just blogging I’m struggling with. I seem to have lost the effort.

I thought maybe it was because I felt hurt

I have been struggling to comment on blogs because of fear. I have been blogging four year this year and other bloggers have not always been kind. Some have taken me wrong; they don’t know me or see my heart. I stopped commenting a while back and only comment on my friends blogs where I feel safe. Where I know they will protect me if I get taken wrongly or if I get bullied or verbally attacked.

I thought maybe it was time to call it a day and make my blog private. I even thought at one point of deactivating my blog; thank goodness I didn’t as all 667 posts I have shared would now no longer exist.

My not knowing loop is a big black hole

Some time ago my lovely friend Fi, from Wonderfully Wired wrote a post called “The Spinning Question Mark.” In this post was a beautiful conversation that she had with one of her little boys. Both of her sons are on the spectrum and reading about them helps me to remember. They are so very like me in their aspieness, especially *Harley!

In Fiona’s post *Harley speaks to his Mum about seeing in pictures. To me this is my normal; it was only four years ago that I realised that my way of thinking is different. He talks about his spinning question mark when he doesn’t understand something.

Here is small piece from Fi’s post.

So I thought I’d take it further.

“Harley, what do you see if I say the word ‘Volkswagen’? Do you see that same car again?”

“No”. He said. “I see an empty box with a big question mark over it spinning around and around because I don’t know what a Volkswagen is”.

Wow. I knew I was onto something so I dug deeper and asked him: “Do you see a spinning question mark a lot?”

He nodded. “Yes, every time someone says a word that I’ve never heard before. It is what I see when I don’t understand what the other person is talking about. I hate it when I see that question mark. I feel stupid and that’s why I sometimes get angry”

My thoughts that I shared.

My spinning question mark is a hole, a black hole like in space. And yep, when people all talk fast or over each other the pictures make no sense. Talking with one person at a time is so much easier. When in a group of people I can’t really listen and will zone out, daydream on a tangent thought triggered by an image.

I just thought everyone thought like this. It makes so much sense now I know they don’t. No wonder other women can chat like they do. It really fuzzes my head being in a group of women all talking at the same time, way too many pictures bumping into one another…hehe

I cope by either being the quiet onlooker, the one that looks shy and listens. You know me better than anyone Fi; you know I am not shy or quiet. Or, I can cope by being the loud one that doesn’t listen at all, the one with loads of ideas who is a bit bossy. This depends on my confidence level and who the people are.

The pictures are so strong they can stop me from eating. I tried to explain this to Mr Locoman the other day. I cooked a soup and couldn’t enjoy it without my soup spoon. It just didn’t seem to taste at all. I told him that all I could think of is my soup spoon because I am at home and when I am at home eating soup I need to eat it with my soup spoon. I did try a different spoon but the size was wrong and all I kept seeing was my spoon with the pretty engraved roses on it. As a kid I would have refused to eat. As an adult I try to fix things, I try to fix me. So many of my past experiences can be explained by understanding myself and how I tick. Understanding why I am different and why people have treated me the way they have.

I have hope that things will change

I believe that it is when NT parents and adult aspies combine their journeys that we will bring true awareness of Autism. I only know my spectrummy ways but having a friend like Fi (who is NT) helps me to understand the way others think. Also me helping her to see it through my aspie eyes has helped her to understand her boys, she told me so and that has got to be helpful…right?

So, why do I keep sharing?

I share because:

  • I have a head full of thoughts that might just help someone.
  • I have a life time of history on the spectrum.
  • I love all people even when they show very little love in return.
  • I hate the thought of any child going through school unnoticed.
  • I hate the thought of any child sitting thinking of space because of all the black holes in a day. Then being told they are stupid, ignorant, thick or a nuisance.
  • I hurt inside knowing that there are kids whose parents want them fixed.
  • I believe that maybe my life has a purpose and me sharing is a good thing.
  • I know that through fighting my fears I grow and I want to grow and learn.
  • I want people to understand that Autism doesn’t mean lacking empathy.
  • I have traits that are unnoticeable but every day I struggle, writing it out helps me.
  • In writing I have found connections, I no longer feel alone.
  • I have a need to communicate; most people are not interested in what I have to say.
  • I can’t always talk; sometimes I go for days without talking at all even though I want to. I share to release a build up of stored away expression.
  • I need an outlet and writing is very freeing for me.
  • Also…One day I won’t be around to tell my kids about this journey.

I share because it’s the right thing to do even when the fear of being me to the world keeps me awake at night. Even when I know there is a possibility of waking up and finding comments on my blog that are full of hate and manipulation. Even when I know that something I share might not be what someone close to me wants to read.

This is my journey and I will jolly well write about it.

I’m sick of hiding behind a mask, I’m sick of walking on egg shells. I will keep writing and I will probably get it wrong a few more times yet but I will not be sitting in a corner with my coat pulled over my head. That was me at school. I am not a child anymore, I have found my words and I will use my words. People need to know and little aspies can’t speak it out for themselves. I remember and I can write about it, it’s up to others if they want to read. Who else is going to help? Textbooks given to teachers and a few lectures is NOT enough in my opinion. I have lived it and my life is not worthless, it is worth sharing.

Who else is going to share?

perfectlove

Filtering (Autism Awareness)

WIND-jpgsFiltering (Autism Awareness)
by Alienhippy
You would not believe the filters I have to use to free
The processes I go through so I can truly see
The rehearsing and the questions, constant battles in my brain
If I attached a loud speaker, you’d think that I’m insane
~
It will start with something simple, an interest that gives safety
Or acceptance from a person who likes me for being me
Then that safety forms a blanket that covers all the crap
That the world has thrown upon me, sealed me in my trap
~
I document my way out through journals and through rhyme
Reflect on change to routine and re-organise my time
Then make plans to share the burden that I feel I may become
Praying to rebuild any damage I have done
~
I cannot change this process I have lived and I’ve obsessed
I have walked this path for many year alone and left depressed
I have to fight right through it, calling out to God above
Held accepted in His wisdom, His Guidance and His Love
~
I don’t know how to be any other way
I collect and filter everything so I can have a say
In what goes on within my life, it seems my ways are strange
‘Cause no one else collects these thoughts to interpret every change
~
I don’t like sitting still too long I feel I will stagnate
I keep my mind and spirit calm avoiding strife and hate
I feel this hope inside me, even though I feel a mess
And in His love I understand my ways are NOT worth less

Accepted, Loved Unconditionally

Inspired by Psalm 40

Patiently I wait on words spoken to my heart

I listen through my noise and hear the still small voice

My heart yearns but my spirit calls peacefully

I feel raised from the unknown and set on solid truth

That truth is I am loved unconditionally

An inner peace fills me and my heart sings

My lips have a new song of praise

Fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the one I trust

I look to the heart of the one who gave His life

I know that He is the one to fix my gaze upon

Blessings are at my step as I follow His lead

When I fall I know he will always catch me

When I fail to trust and when I lose hope He remains

His gentle voice spurring me on

Holding me in His love, His light everlasting

Whispering soft reminders of His hopeful, caring promises

He has no desire for sacrifice, but a willing heart

He just calls my name and wants my love

He has me in His heart and He is living in mine

So many do not see or feel this love

They feel that it is not real but I stand in His love

I received His gift and will call out Jesus is Lord

When troubles rise and the waters are deep

His hand is upon me guiding and teaching

So patiently He is always loving

Helping me grow in all I do for Him

His plan for me is always better than my own

Bringing me ever nearer to the image He sees in me

Refining me from the inside starting in the heart

Always providing just what I need, I rest under His wing

Exposed and humbled I stand in His presence

Quickly I am covered by His grace and mercy

New every morning I am washed clean in His love

Accepted and loved, created in unique design

Crafted by the master’s hand

I am enough because He loves me

I can be loved because He loved first

I can love because He shows me the way

He will never leave me, He will never forsake me

I just need to call

Then…Be Still And Know

~

Listen to my cry for help, O God. Pay attention to my prayer. From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the rock that is high above me. You have been my refuge, a tower of strength against the enemy. I would like to be a guest in your tent forever and to take refuge under the protection of your wings. Selah ~Psalm 61:1-4 (by David)

My daughter loves to draw

Some of *CAL's stories

Some of *CAL’s stories

*CAL has always loved drawing.

As a small child she would make her own story books. She would draw all the pictures and tell me what words she wanted to write. Then we’d sit and write out her stories together. I still have all those little books; they hold such wonderful memories for me.

Art has always been something she loves to do. So learning art doesn’t mean sitting still and being told about it, for *CAL it means doing it. It’s about her living it, feeling it, seeing it, molding it, shaping it, mixing it, finding it, creating it, imagining it.

For me it’s about capturing it and being present in that moment when she calls out…”MOM!!! Do you want to see what I’ve made?”

One thing that my *CAL is able to do more of now (because of home education) is focus on what she enjoys doing. Focus on her talents, her gifts, her special interests. She is enjoying the journey of everyday in this amazing adventure of learning.

While she was attending mainstream school she was unable to tap into this gift. Even in her art lessons she found it hard because of the noise and movement of the other children. Also the demand to produce work that she wasn’t always interested in, or she felt totally uninspired by, didn’t stimulate her joy for art. Meeting targets, ticking boxes and the overwhelming sensory experience she went through daily was actually switching off her love for art and switching off my little girl. However, she does have a few fond memories of her art lessons at school. Art was the only lesson she looked forward to, it’s a shame it was only an hour a week.

I’m not going to blog anymore on this post about the damage done. It’s in the past, it’s behind us now. This post is about the success we are having. You can read my previous post if you need to fill in any of the background.

In our short time of de-schooling, unschooling/autonomous learning *CAL is really flourishing. Her confidence is coming back along with her words, she’s communicating again now. She has a gallery of over fifty 3D compositions. She attends pottery classes and has created amazing sculptures. We have recently found a home education group for structured and unstructured art where she is able to work with a small group of home educated children in a professional art studio.

salad spinnerShe also has a little friend (4 years of age) who she enjoys creating art with on a regular basis. This is a piece of art they did together with poster paint and a salad spinner. I love this painting and have it hanging in my living room.

This week *CAL has started to research, learn and apply her knowledge to computer animation. There is no stopping her, she just loves to learn. My child who just a few months ago told me that reading is boring is now constantly reading because she WANTS to learn.

I’m so excited today because my *CAL has given me permission to share one of her wonderful new drawings. It has taken a while for her to want to share her work and that is totally fine. I understand her need to have her own special place and I will always support her with this and respect her wishes.

This drawing of Amy Rose is a redesign and *CAL created it on her 3DS using colors 3D. To some people my child may look like she is playing on a gamer gadget, but what she can create freehand on that gadget blows my mind. Did I mention that on the 3DS it can actually be seen in three dimensions, she built it up in layers…it really has the WOW factor!

Amy Redesign

Amy Redesign

NOTE: *CAL is only just 13 years old, she is diagnosed with ASD/Dyspraxia/SPD she has fine and gross motor delay. None of this will stop her from achieving her full potential. The diagnoses were needed while she was in mainstream school to try to get her extra support. The confusion of too many people and too much change on a daily basis was causing her sensory overload and constant shutdowns. I’m not at all against the education system in my country; I just understand that the structure and environment of school isn’t always beneficial for everyone, especially a person with sensory processing disorder.

It is time….

Ross MountneyI want to thank all my readers, all who leave me comments or send me emails. I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing much lately. I’ve wanted to. I’ve really, REALLY wanted to. To be honest, I haven’t known where to start. I’ve sat many times with a blank document trying to find the words and then switched off the pc and blocked out what I was feeling.

I made a start today

“I want to encourage you to keep going on your path. You have amazing gifts to reach people with ASD, like me, like the children of those parents in the group you have come to dread. We need people who understand us, and you are one of them. May God reward your faith and perseverance!!!” (Sent to me by a reader)

I made a start by going through the emails that had accumulated for my blog. The words above are from one of those emails and it was those words that helped me to decide that “It is time.”

Time to tell where I’ve been hiding. Time to tell why I’ve been so quiet. Time to tell what’s been going on and why I couldn’t write. Time to tell a bit of our story.

We started homeschooling *CAL

You may remember a post I wrote back in March. It was called, 7 packs of hardwood. It was during this time that I had come to realise I had no choice but to find alternative education for my daughter. I was hoping and praying that she would settle and she would thrive in the mainstream school, as my *AJ had. But her transition to secondary school had not gone well and I could see that it just wasn’t happening. The environment was not kind to her sensory system, it did not suit her at all. In desperation I wrote the following lines in my post.

I am more than Autism, I’m an encyclopaedia of my own Aspie traits. I don’t need lessons on how to parent my Aspie kids, I love them more than life itself. I will always find what is best for them.

What is best for them

*CAL had been at her new secondary school for six months and in that time she had become a selective mute. Just simple decision making had become too much and her shutdowns were constant. Our only reprieve was weekends and even then Sunday afternoons she became so quiet as her anxiety took control. It was agonising to watch as my little girl disappeared into her shutdown Aspergic shell that I know the depths of all too well. Sunday nights she couldn’t sleep and Monday mornings she would wake up limp and unresponsive. By the time we were at the school gates she would be rocking backwards and forwards in the front seat of the car trying to regulate her overload of emotion and fear. I can’t even say that I saw her moods changing; it was like she just switched herself off. At only 12 years of age she stopped smiling, stopped chatting, stopped doing the things she loved and just went through the motions. On her really bad days she couldn’t even do that.

It became my routine to walk her into SEN

Each day I would sit with her and wait for a teaching assistant to walk her to her first lesson. I would collect her after school and by the time the school day had finished *CAL was so drained from the constant over stimulation and rush of lessons, the bombardment to her sensory system (of over a thousand pupils) not to mention the demands on her for tasks, performance, assignments, tests, time management and socialising with no aid and only minimal support. When she got home all she had energy to do was sit staring at repetitive DVD’s or non-stop children’s programs. They say welcome to high functioning autism; I say it was the hardest 8 months of my life watching my daughter being chipped away.

We started home education in May

We saw the difference in a matter of weeks. Within a month of *CAL being de-registered from mainstream schooling her clinical psychologist was happy to discharge her from CAMHS. After two months of homeschooling, Elective Home Education paid us a home visit (optional) but they were happy with the education we are providing and they are happy that *CAL is happy and thriving.

Now I’m not saying this is the answer to all ASD related problems. *CAL still has difficulties with many things. Her sensory processing disorder, Aspie traits and her difficulties from dyspraxia are all still very real. Just that now we can help her find her own way of coping. She gets one to one tutoring and her “curriculum” is set around her interests. She’s not constantly drained and switched off anymore. She’s not just the invisible child in a mass of a thousand. She is the center piece, the hero and the gift of my new full time job that I totally love. She is my focus and I want what is best for her which means I have to do a lot more reading than I used to do.

Home education is our answer

We are constantly researching and finding ways to help our daughter to reach her full potential. And she will reach her full potential because I believe in her, love her unconditionally and accept all her ways. I love her in all her colours, all her moods, all her achievements and all her failures.

Alienhippy’s blog is no-longer just a place where I can be me.

It’s a place where I will share our journey in home education.

Love and hugs. xx :)

(If you are considering home education and live in the UK this link is a good place to start)

Educate Otherwise…. education is compulsory school is optional

CAL BKGW

Out for the day on a home ed meet up. Happy and smiling again.