Yesterday, I wrote about how autism affects me still today, and how it does not. Today, is a follow-up where I will go into more detail how autism stil impacts me, and how doesn't still affect me today. I will also discuss some of the things that I am doing in the autism community to help empower other autistic individuals.
Perhaps, the two biggest achievements of my life has been quitting Star Wars and selling off my Star Wars collecting and learning empathy. I did not believe that either one was possible for me to achieve or for any autistic individual for that matter. You see, my Star Wars collection was my ultimate passion, my life. Everything revolved around Star Wars. So, when I did manage to overcome Star Wars that was a huge accomplishment in many ways.
And, empathy was something that I never thought I would learn. I wanted to learn empathy, but I did not know how to do so. Yesterday's entry goes into a little more depth regarding this.
Another autism aspect that I have overcome with time includes gaining a theory of mind. I used to have a hard time noticing that people were different from me, and sometimes I even thought people could read my mind. Around the sixth grade when my mom began telling me about me being autistic, I think that was when I began gaining a theory of mind because I realized that I was different from other people. According to the DSM-IV criteria, a lack of theory of mind is common for many autistic children, but I don't think this is completely true. I know of many autistic people that have developed a theory of mind as they got older. Perhaps, this theory of mind came to them, but at some point, I think many autistic people do learn that.
Also, tantrums are something that have all but diminished with time. The last major tantrum I had was when I was 18. My mom told me that I was an adult, and that she would press charges, and have me go to jail, so I made the decision to get my anger under control. Today, I find that I have very little anger towards others. I have found that meditation and journaling help keep me focused and curb my anxiety.
In addition, I am more accepting of people touching me. Now, I still don't like touch. It is hard for me to hug someone, even on a date. The only time I've ever liked hugs was when I was in an intimate relationship. I guess because I trusted her so much, I had no problem with hugs. But, today, someone can hug me, and I tolerate that. I am also more used to people patting me on the back, if for no other reason than so many people have patted me on the back these last few years. I am not the biggest fan of getting a pat, but I've learned to deal with it. More than anything, dancing has helped me the most getting used to physical contact. However, I find that I am more comfortable with physical contact in a dance setting than when I am outside in the "real" world.
Now, moving on, I also want to mention that I have overcome a lot of social hindrances relating to autism such as no longer speaking in monotone, speaking in front of people, engaging other people in small talk, etc. I won't go into much detail on this because I want to move on now and discuss how autism still affects me today.
Yesterday, I mentioned how I still have social anxiety at times, and I still stim. As well, when I get very excited and passionate about something, I need to learn everything there is to know about that something. Unfortunately, if I meet a girl that I really like, I think I get a little too inquisitive. You see, my latest passion has been finding my soul mate. So, if I meet someone who I think might be suitable for me, I tend to get too excited about her and then will obsess over her. :( However, though, I am getting better, and I am starting to realize when I am asking a little bit too much. I am starting to learn that people will reveal details about themselves freely on their own volition once they feel more comfortable around you. But, I do notice all the littlest details. So, if she is wearing something or carrying a certain book, I make a mental note. There is nothing that I don't notice.
But, by the same token, I can be oblivious to everything else around me. I have the detail to zoom in on something and discover everything there is to know about a certain subject or person that I find interesting, but in other situations, I won't have a clue as to what is going on around me, and feel lost.
Eye contact is also something that I'm still working on, but some people have told me that I have even better eye contact them! And, then other people will tell me that I really need to work on my eye contact. So, there you go. I still get some aniety when making eye contact, but I am getting much better at it. :)
With that said, these are just a sample of how autism still affects me and doesn't affect me today. Now, I want to talk about my other relationship with autism--my involvement in the autism community. As some of you may know, I run groups for adults on the autism spectrum. Overall, I would say that things are going very well. We have about 50 or so members at this point. I also give presentations on autism, about 3 to 6 or so a month, and for the most part in the Southern California area. But, I am always willing to travel if anyone ever has an interest in me coming and speak elsewhere in the United States or even overseas for that matter.
With my group, I want nothing but the best for the members that attend. I really want everyone that comes to be able and feel like they fit in. If they are looking for friends, I hope that they can gain good friends at my groups, and also find any answers that they seek. It is my goal to empower every group member to reach their full potential, so that they may live out their life as they so desire.
Moving on, I want to note that everyone that comes to the group is an unique individual. No two people on the autism spectrum are alike. Some people are more affected by autism than others and some are more mildly impacted like me. It doesn't matter though. What matters is that we are satisified with life. I see a lot on the WrongPlanet and throughout the Internet of people on the autism spectrum that are unsatisifed and want to commit suicide and that makes me very sad. You have no idea. I am glad that the people in my groups seem to be happy when they come. I do wish I could hold more meetings and do more activites, but that becomes quite strenous for myself, and maybe for them as well. Although, the strain is more financial for me than anything else. And, for anyone that wishes to donate for what I am doing, you are more than welcome to. If not, that's cool to. I just enjoy what I am doing. But, I will admit, at first, it was a bit of challenge getting my autism groups started up and getting myself dedicated, but now 3.5 years later, I'm really pleased with how everything is turning out.
With that said, that's all for today's entry. What is your relationship with autism? How does it impact you? What is your relationship between you and the community? What one improvement would you like to see in the autism community?
Thank you for reading. Please follow me on Twitter @armankhodaei And, share if you found this blog entry helpful or informative.