As of this moment, we are now more than halfway through with the #TakeTheMaskOff Challenge as we are now in Week 4. So far, we have talked about masking, stimming, and how these affect one’s mental health. For this week’s post, we will take an even deeper dive and talk about burnout, how it is related to masking, and my own experiences of this.
As of the moment, we are currently in the third week of the #TakeTheMaskOff Challenge, and the experience of writing about masking and stimming has been quite liberating for me, and it is also interesting to see how far I’ve come from when I myself didn’t understand my own diagnosis and myself, and I hope that these posts, which talk about masking from my own personal point of view, will allow the readers to understand what we go through, and at the same time, I hope that others like me are encouraged to speak out and make their own voices heard. So far we have talked about masking and stimming. So, for the third week of the challenge, let’s take a look at the physical and mental cost that masking has on individuals with autism, my own personal experience of how exhausting it can be, and what coping strategies I use now in order to lessen the physical and mental exhaustion and stress.
This week’s blog posts are a little bit different, as I posted twice for this week. However, that was only because I had a little “social report” that went hand in hand with a very recent event, and you might see “social reports” like that every once in a while, but, as a rule, I’m sticking to the current schedule of having one blog post per week.
Last time, I kicked off the #TakeTheMaskOff Challenge here on my blog, and talked a little bit about masking and my own experience of masking. This week (Week 2 of the challenge), we’ll be talking about stimming, how it’s related to masking, and my own experience of stimming.
Every year, I try to attend some fan pop-culture conventions and events during the year. As of this moment, the only one I have attended so far is this year’s Asia Pop Comic Con, which I do attend every year. However, this time, my experience was very different, especially as my social anxiety was almost non-existent as I experienced all the sights and sounds that the con had to offer, cosplaying as Ruby Rose from “RWBY”.
Interestingly enough, even before this challenge started, I had already written about masking and my own experience of it in a previous post. However, I couldn’t help but be excited to join this campaign as things like this aren’t that common to come by. So, from now until the week of September 3, 2018, every Wednesday, I will be putting up a blog post about masking. To either join us in the campaign, or to follow it to see what other content creators who specialize in this topic have to say about it, please follow the #TakeTheMaskOff on social media.
In the past few years, and especially in the past few months, there has been a lot of talk about mental health and wellness, and many have become a little bit more open to talk about it. In the Philippines, it has only been in the past few months in which I have really been hearing more people talk about it, and because of that, and the recently passed Mental Health Law in the local government, more and more organizations and groups have been creating discussions about mental health and wellness through events and talks in order to educate others, to spread awareness, and to create a safe space for people to be open about it. One such event that did this was the recently concluded “Head On: Let’s Talk About Mental Wellness” talk that happened on July 14, 2018, Saturday, at The Learning Child School in Ayala Alabang, and which was hosted by MAGIS Creative Spaces.
No matter what age you are, most people inherently feel the need to belong to something and to be accepted by society, and the same goes for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, in our case, this tends to be a little bit harder, so we tend to rely on a coping mechanism called “social masking” or camouflaging in order to keep up appearances. This can be emotionally and mentally exhausting for us, but more often than not, we feel that it is necessary in order to blend in with our colleagues and friends. Another coping mechanism that we also use is imitation, and I believe that this one is more prevalent in the teenage and young adult years, especially if you are still figuring out and finding your true self. In this post, I hope to explain both what camouflaging or social masking and what imitation is when it comes to being on the spectrum, and I hope that you will be able to glean some insight as I also reflect on my own experiences with it.
Unlike some, I have never really bitten by the travel bug hard enough that I really do save up to travel. The last time I traveled via airplane was two years ago, and more often than not, I end up going on day trips with either family or friends. These trips are usually food trips or cultural and historical trips, but more often than not, I go on day trips to just escape the hustle and bustle of the city and to spend quality time with people that I love and care about. However, regardless of whether its a short or a long trip, there will always be some issues that one ends up facing. It may be the same issue, or it could be a completely different one. So, because of the quick holiday getaway that my family and I just had, I decided that whenever we go on a trip, be it overnight or a short day trip, I will be writing about the experience here, and talk about some of the difficulties that I experienced and how I dealt with it.
Aside from finding time to relax and unwind, another way to unwind and recharge from all the stresses at work is to take advantage of vacation leaves or long weekend holidays. Whether it is just a day trip, overnight trip, or a fun trip abroad, traveling is a great way to take a vacation, even though it may be tiring at times. In line with this, I decided to compile a list of helpful tips that might help aspie adults when it comes to going on a trip for vacation.
In the past few years, there has been a big shift in the way people think about mental health, and there has been more conversations happening about it, and many are becoming more comfortable about talking about it as well. While those in the Philippines are not as open about talking about mental health as compared to those in an international setting, it is good that mental health is being talked about more today here. This can be seen in the fact that last Saturday, April 28, 2018, the first ever Mental Health Blogathon was held at the Art Cube Gallery in Makati City.
As Autism Acceptance Month is coming to a close, I will also be bringing my first Autism in Film series to a close. I had a difficult time choosing what my last film for this month’s series would be, but ended up choosing “My Name is Khan”, a movie that I have actually heard about quite a lot.
Most of my entries for this Autism in Film series for Autism Acceptance Month have mostly been about fictional representations of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in movies. This time around, let’s shift gears and take a peek at a documentary that is also quite special to me- “Asperger’s Are Us”.
For my third film review for this film review series I am currently doing in honor of Autism Acceptance Month, I decided to check out a movie that I have been wanting to watch when I first heard about it, and recently piqued my interest again after seeing a short scene and after realizing that the protagonist might be on the spectrum.
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer. The film was directed by Stephen Daldry, with an adaptation by Eric Roth, with cinematography by Chris Menges and a beautiful score by Alexandre Desplat.
Last time, in order to kickstart my little series on autism in film for Autism Acceptance Month, I reviewed Denzel Washington’s interesting character study “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”. This time around, I settled on the underrated claymation gem that is “Mary and Max”, as I have heard a lot of positive reviews about it’s portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome from other bloggers.
As April is Autism Acceptance Month, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at how autism is presented in different forms of media, and at the same time, I’d be able to to do this in tandem with my entertainment and pop-culture site, The Kat’s Cafe. Over there, I’ll be reviewing it as a movie, tv show, or book; and I will also touch upon the performances of the actors and how accurately autism was portrayed in it. Over here, I’ll be doing a more in depth analysis of how autism was portrayed, why I think it worked or it didn’t work, and how much I could relate to it as well. Aside from films, for this blog, I’ll also be highlighting neurodivergent characters as well, and giving an analysis on each of those characters.
I don’t normally talk openly about touchy subjects such as religion, but since we are currently in the midst of Holy Week, one of the most religious weeks of the year, I thought that now would be a good time for me to reflect and talk about it, and in my case, specifically, about Catholicism.
This week, all the way until Easter Sunday on April 1,2018, Catholics all around the world will be celebrating Holy Week. Aside from Christmas, this is one of those annual celebrations in which religion does come to the forefront of our everyday activities.
I am pretty sure that this particular week is celebrated with its own particular traditions around the world, but in the Philippines, Holy Week is a time in which many do practice age old traditions and it is also a week which is commemorated and celebrated with family. I mean, as soon as Holy Monday hits, many will be on their way back to their home provinces, and there is usually no work from Holy Wednesday to Good Friday.
More often than not, those who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), may have difficulties with movement or have poor motor skills. Discovering this made things make so much sense for me, as I always wondered why I was so clumsy and why seemingly simple things such as tying my hair up or unbuttoning a button can sometimes be tiring. In this post, I hope to be able to make sense of why motor skills are important and the difficulties and challenges those on the spectrum face with regards to this, and how it affects us.
As an extrovert, I do love being around others. However, because of unpleasant past experiences and as I face several challenges when it comes to being social, going out and actually socializing is pretty hard for me. Every year, I do set several “social challenges” for myself, but usually never get to keep them, except for going to fan conventions, which I do attend every year. However, I think that I will be able to get out of my comfort zone and actually be more social this year, and all of this thanks to attending the Best Buddies Manila March 2018 Dance Night last Saturday night, March 17, 2018, at the De La Salle Zobel School.
Social anxiety is no laughing matter, and unfortunately, this may end up developing in those with high functioning autism or those with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m not saying that everyone who is like that will develop it, but there are a lot who do end up developing it due to past experiences. In my last post, I finally opened up and talked about how social anxiety affects those on the spectrum, and what goes on in our heads, or at least, my head, when my social anxiety rears its ugly head. So, in line with that, I decided to list down how I cope with social anxiety at parties and events.
Whenever I know that I’ll be going to an event, whether it will be held at my house or at a different venue, and regardless of whether or not I will be going with a friend or if I know people there, I always have the same sinking feeling of dread that settles down to the pit of my stomach and refuses to leave until after the event is finally over. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, it is not surprising that I have developed a little something called social anxiety or social phobia. Now, having this isn’t a marker of having Asperger’s Syndrome, but is something that I think ends up developing naturally as the years go by based on all the experiences a person accumulates over time.
Compared to before, there has been a lot of progress when it comes to women empowerment and equality, even though there is still a lot of work to be done in those regards. Today, women have more of a voice, and stand up for their own rights, as seen by recent movements such as #Time’sUp and #MeToo, which has become a big thing lately, especially in Hollywood. However, I do feel that there’s still a long way to go for progress with the inclusion of neurodiversity, and in particular, for female autistics to feel empowered as well. So, for this year’s International Women’s Day, I decided to reflect a little bit about my thoughts as a female autistic, and how I feel as one living in a country such as the Philippines, where there is still a long way to go for those who live on the spectrum and are high functioning.
If you live near or in a city, it is inevitable that you will have to commute, one way or another. Commuting itself is pretty stressful anywhere, even for neurotypicals, so you can imagine how hard it would be for someone with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. This becomes doubly hard for those who live in a third world country like the Philippines, where trains do break down in the middle of your commute, and the heat can sometimes be unbearable.
When it comes to life hacks, I have noticed that there are a lot of posts that give tips on how to make an autism friendly party or how to prepare to attend events and parties. Even I have made posts on the subject- one on how you can make an autism friendly party, another on how to survive social events, and going more specific, one on how to prepare and to attend a wedding. However, I do not see a lot being said on how autistics or high functioning people can plan and throw a successful party or event. Interestingly enough, I’m the type of person that really loves throwing events and parties from time to time, and I have also planned several family related parties in the past. Because of this, I decided to compile a list of my own tips and tricks that I have been using over the years on how I plan events and parties.
Whether you are part of the entourage or not, weddings are always beautiful and wonderful, from the ceremony all the way to the reception. Aside from weddings being wonderful and joyous celebrations of love, weddings also sometimes end up being mini-reunions, especially if you have friends in common. Of course, there are some occasions in which you might not no anyone there at all save for one or two people. Nevertheless, for a high functioning autistic, preparing to attend a wedding and even attending the wedding itself can cause a lot of anxiety and nervousness- especially when you think of how much you also have to prepare as a guest, the anxiety of being social, and the sensory stimulation you might receive during the day itself. However, just like any situation, these things can be survived if you know what to do, and thanks to a recent wedding I attended, I have come up with a few tips that might help you before, during and after the event.
It’s normal for everyone to get tired. However, when you have some form of high functioning autism, it seems as if we are tired ALL the time. And it’s not just the normal kind of tired that most neurotypicals experience after a hard day’s work or a day out in the mall, it’s double that. For a long time, I really never thought to figure it out as I thought it was just normal. However, as I began to truly accept my diagnosis and as I became kinder to myself and my needs, I became more and more aware that me feeling tired a lot was a recurring thing, and it did come hand in hand with me being an Aspie. It was only later on that I discovered that the reason behind this is because our brains are working twice as hard as compared to neurotypicals when we are out.
Everybody, from time to time, has particular moments in their lives in which they have no motivation or drive to do anything at all. Sometimes, it is caused by too much stress; and other times, it is accompanied by depression or waves of despair. Both neurotypicals and those on the spectrum experience these moments, but I do think that in some ways, that having no motivation and giving into despair hits us harder, and that we have more episodes in which this happens. So, in line with this, I decided to compile a list of tips on how I cope with those particular moments.
No man is an island, and we all gravitate towards others who have the same interests that we do, or those we get along with. Along the way, as we get older, we both lose and gain friends, in different stages in our lives, but in the end, you know that there will be a handful of people whom you know will have your back all the time, and that you have their backs as well. For most people, making friends and maintaining these relationships is easy, however, for people on the spectrum, both making friends and maintaining them is quite hard.
Once again, it’s that time of year where couples make plans to do something special for each other, and that time of year in which those who are single lament their non-existent love lives or decide to celebrate another year of being single with other singles. Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner; and this year’s Valentine’s will be a little bit weirder for Catholics as Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent for this year, falls on Valentine’s Day.
In my previous post, I wrote about my love affair with books and specifically, with fantasy literature, something that is still going on strong until today. So, in line with that, I thought that it would be a good idea to list down my personal favorite fantasy series or books of all time. I also decided to write a little bit more about my special interests to encourage others like me to celebrate who they are and their special interests as well.
When I first started this blog, one of the first few things I talked about was that Aspies and those on the spectrum often have what is known as special interests. Special interests or obsessions are certain topics that we are drawn to, and once we begin one, it becomes all encompassing to the point that we do enough research on it to become experts in those particular topics. Special interests may come and go, and some accumulate and stay with us over the years. (If you want to know more about special interests, check out my blog post on it over here.)
I’ve always found solace in my fandoms, as I usually end up making new friends with people who enjoy the same things that I do. To be honest, aside from that sense of belonging that one feels when you encounter others who like the same things you do, having similar fandoms with friends or with people I meet allows me to be a more confident person, as I know exactly what I’m talking about, and I can immediately start feeling a little more comfortable with that person. It has also always been my dream to cosplay, because, let’s face it, going to a fan convention is more fun when you dress up. Aside from that, just like how talking to someone in the same fandom as me allows me to be more confident, I find that actually cosplaying at a fan convention for fun allows me to be more confident in meeting new people and interacting with them. This year, I have decided to go all out with my cosplay, and to test run it, I started making my costumes last year.
Meltdowns are a regular occurrence in an Aspie’s or in an autistic person’s life, as it is our brain’s way of “rebooting” itself and starting anew after the brain becomes too overwhelmed by a build up of triggers. These meltdowns, once it starts, cannot be stopped, and it usually comes in different forms, depending on the person. It is very different, however, from a tantrum, as a tantrum is a child’s way of seeking attention and the child can actually stop at any given notice. Now, there have been many articles written about what others should do when their friend or loved one has a meltdown, but very few that give tips to the one’s experiencing the meltdown themselves, which is why I decided to list down my Top 10 Tips For Meltdowns.
At one point or another, those around an autistic person, especially their family members, will see their loved one going through what is known as a meltdown. However, not many people know what it is, and sometimes, many think that the person in question is just being a spoiled brat or is throwing a tantrum. When I was in high school and in college, before I learned my diagnosis, that is exactly what I thought it was, and wondered why I still did it, why I couldn’t control it, and why it was always intense to the point that I ended up being physically and mentally exhausted. Now that I know what it is, I hope to be able to explain what a meltdown is, what it may look like, and what steps can be done in order to help someone going through a meltdown.
At this point, most of us have already gotten over the post-holiday hangover and have settled back into ordinary life, from work all the way to the daily things that we normally do. And one of those things that is part of ordinary life is running errands.
For most, running errands is just another that just needs to get done, and isn’t a problem at all. However, for high functioning autistics and aspies, sometimes, it’s not so easy, and situations may arise which end up becoming big problems for us. So, in line with this, here are ten tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years in order to make errands day something to look forward to.
Every new year, everybody starts going on self-reflection mode and begins to create goals and plans for themselves for the new year. More often than not, though, these goals end up on the back burner, and are once again recycled for the next year. For high functioning autistics and aspies, however, while we do have our own goals and plans, our impaired executive functioning ends up getting in the way of things. So, as we are still in the first month of 2018, I decided to come up with a few tips that can help in setting goals, creating schedules, creating plans and keeping them this year.
Welcome to the first post of “Understanding Aspies” for 2018!
I originally wanted to give some tips first on how to set goals and keep them, but then I realized that one of the ways to help Aspies and High Functioning Autistics stick to their plans, schedules, and goals that they set for themselves for this New Year is to understand about executive function and the problems and challenges that they face with it.
First off, I know that this is a week late, but HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
No matter what season or time of the year it is, it is not uncommon to organize little reunions, get-togethers, or host a party. For those on the spectrum, like myself, actually organizing a party and getting through it is definitely a big challenge in itself; while parents and friends of those on the spectrum might wonder what is the best way to host a party or to throw a party for someone on the spectrum. I am hoping that this list of tips and tricks will help those on the spectrum throw or host a party, and I hope that these tips will also help those parents and friends who want to throw a party for someone on the spectrum.
Ever since I was a teenager, birthdays are something that I look forward to and dread at the same time. As I have just turned another year older and decided to throw a birthday party again this year, I decided to take a step back and look back at previous birthdays and birthday parties, and analyze what happened and what I was feeling during those moments.
As someone who never grew out of cartoons and anime, finding a really good animated show that isn’t too cheesy can be sometimes hard to find, especially when that particular show is really aimed at a very young demographic. However, sometimes, there are brilliant exceptions to the rule that not only kids can enjoy and learn from, but adults as well. “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” has definitely been that exception to the rule, so much so that it has gained a massive fandom, spanning from young kids, to adults alike. Aside from this, I do believe that watching this show also has an audience with high functioning autistics like myself, as it has helped me learn and process different friendship and life lessons more easily, and it has also imparted some important lessons that I can apply when I socialize with others. Read More »
Parties and social gatherings are definitely big challenges for those who are on the spectrum. Meeting new people and going to events to be able to socialize are difficult as there are a whole bunch of worries, anxieties, and challenges that we have to overcome, even though sometimes, these gatherings include people that we do know. And as much as we sometimes would rather not go to these things, we do know that these events cannot be avoided, and are great opportunities for us to be able to socialize with others. Due to this, I decided to make a list of ten tips that can be used to survive social events.
In my last post, I mentioned that people on the spectrum or those who have Asperger’s Syndrome easily get overwhelmed by everything that assaults their senses at the mall. This is actually true wherever we go, although it differs in what we feel and what sensory inputs overwhelm us. This is due to the fact that we have a lot of difficulty when it comes to processing everything that we see, hear, taste, smell and touch; and sometimes, this can also cause us to become overly tired when we go out as our brain isn’t processing all this input at the same rate as neurotypicals. However, even though we all experience this, just as every individual is different and unique, this affects each autistic individual in a different and unique way.
Malls, shops and stores are quite challenging for those on the spectrum and Aspies as they present a smorgasbord of external sensory stimuli and anxieties that end up overwhelming an individual. However, going to the mall or going shopping in brick and mortar stores is something that is unavoidable. Sure, there is the alternative of shopping online instead, but sometimes, there are just some cases in which you do have to go out to one of these establishments, either to buy something, or to meet up with family or friends.
Ah, it’s that time of the year again. Time to go shopping for presents, attending family reunions, and reconnecting with old friends. The Christmas holidays, and any holiday in particular is something truly special. However, along stuffed bellies and awesome parties come along with the stresses of the season as well, from picking outfits to gift shopping, to preparing and hosting parties. For those on the spectrum, and for Aspies, the holidays can be overwhelming at times, and are very tiring. This can bring about meltdowns, shutdowns, and uncomfortable situations. So, as I sat planning how I would survive the holidays (which technically started in October, for me), I decided to compile my very own list on how to survive the holidays.
Ever since, I’ve wanted to make the overdone “What’s In My Bag” blog post. However, now that I have a blog that is a little bit more personal, I’m grabbing the chance to do exactly that.
One of the things that comes hand in hand with being on the spectrum and being an Aspie is the fact that we have our special areas of interest or obsessions. These are specific topics that we feel strongly drawn to, to the point that we will become a little bit fixated on it, and actually learn every single thing about that particular topic whether it be an interesting fact or a trivial one. These areas of interest may come and go at times, but for the most part, these areas of special interest do accumulate over time. However, they are usually pretty narrowed topics, and we usually have a very intense focus on them. These areas of special interest are very much a core part of someone with ASD or is an Aspie, that you can actually learn more about us by taking a look at what we obsess over.
As I mentioned in the welcome post, I will be doing some posts in which I share some the tips and tricks I have learned over the years as to how to survive in Metro Manila, and for my very first one, I decided to take a look and talk about something I have acquired recently that has definitely been a great help over the past few months- a PWD (Persons with Disability Card).
At this point, I’m pretty sure that all of you must be wondering about my particular story, and how I found out about my diagnosis, and how I’ve been coping with things since then, so here goes.
Welcome, everyone, to the Asian Aspergirl!
Doing this blog was something I had been contemplating for some time now, and fortunately, I had some time on my hands to make this a reality, so here goes.