When People Still Don’t Get It After The 10,000 Time

Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it….

When you have repeatedly explained your disability, symptoms and needs to someone, in every way you can think of and they still aren’t getting it.

Breathe….

I know it’s tempting to want to strangle them or head butt the desk repeatedly or scream – actually screaming into a pillow is very therapeutic – but eventually you will have to accept it and let it go for the sake of your mental health.

Not everyone’s empathy works in the same way. Some people will instantly get it (whether they have experienced it or not) simply by listening and taking the info on board. Some people need to have experienced something similar for themselves so they literally know what you mean. Others, because it is different to their experiences will never, ever be fully onboard. Even if you have gone through something and they were witnessing it, they still won’t have learned from that past experience.

Now, that’s not to say they don’t care and don’t want to understand. It is entirely possible for a person to sympathise, yet manage to say or do something ignorant and tactless purely by mistake.

I guess what I’m saying is don’t take it personally and don’t beat your head against a brick wall (metaphorically I mean) by thinking you can change someone like that and enlighten them. Some people are all ready at their maximum capacity for understanding and empathising.

Essentially at that point, it is up to them to get their own head around what you need and how you function. I’ve arrived at the conclusions at the start of this post. Trying to make someone understand, isn’t always worth your mental health or your relationship with them deteriorating. If they obviously care about you, sometimes you just have to accept that no matter how much they try, maybe they never will really get it and you have to be cool with that.

Chrissie

10 Reasons Why I Love My Wonky Body

I’m going off when my body and energy levels are on good form because I’m trying to be nice to myself these days ^_^

  1. It’s got a lot of natural rhythm which makes it easier to dance without me really loving-yourselfover-thinking it.
  2. My legs are long and surprisingly strong, through them having to correct my balance constantly when I stand and walk. The Amazons have nothing on me lol
  3. I have a really fast metabolism which is great for never having to worry about getting overweight (just hangry) and it means I can totally justify ordering sides with my main meal.
  4. Being tall is pretty handy to not feel claustrophobic in a crowd and to see where I’m meant to going if it’s somewhere new.
  5. My immune system may attack me but cold and flu viruses beware, it’s effectively coming for you too!
  6. I tan quickly which is awesome after a grey winter – I mean my skin, not the weather.
  7. I have weirdly good balance if I really concentrate.
  8. Being hypermobile is actually really handy when trying to reach past a load of clutter or when the lid off something has rolled under furniture.
  9. I’ve gotten some interesting scars over the years but I also heal surprisingly quickly.
  10. I’m going to be inhabiting my body for the rest of my life so I might as well appreciate it!

Chrissie

Note: Incase you wondering, the conditions I have are Demyelination (similar to but not actually MS), Dyspraxia, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Disorder (relating to the latter three conditions), allergies, PCOS (suspected by GP), Hyperthyroidism, Hypermobilty Syndrome (including food intolerance), which can all have the symptoms of chronic fatigue/brain fog in common.

More ‘Funny’ but Very Earnest Things I Said and Did as an A-typical Kid

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I remember the Dr’s making a fuss that I wasn’t crawling yet and thinking I was ‘backward’ – a supposedly acceptable medical term in the 80’s. My Mum called my name and I noticed the new Dr and shouted “Hiya!” as I determinedly pulled myself up onto my feet and stood up.

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Another time the Paediatrician asked me “Can you draw me a picture” with a little frown I replied incredulously “Yes!?” My Mum had to explain to the Dr that he needed to ask “WILL you draw me a picture?”

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I got sent to speech therapy as a kid as I wasn’t saying (repeating parrot fashion) the ’normal’ amount of words for my age. The therapist who had a thick London accent said “Lorry” and pointed to a truck. Little Northern me said “No silly, it’s l-u-r-r-y! Mam, the lady needs school!”

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Apparently on my first day of nursery, it didn’t occur to me to play with another kid at the table-height sand pit. I just queued up behind them and patiently waited my turn!

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Also at my first day of nursery school when the teacher announced it was story time I headed straight for the beanbag, curled up and closed my eyes. It wasn’t until I heard everyone laughing that I realised they were all sat on a square of carpet cross-legged. Feeling totally embarrassed I guess I decided to style-it-out and just dragged the beanbag over onto the carpet and curled up on it again.

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In junior school the dinner lady brought out the big skipping rope but got distracted talking to another kid. Knowing that when you mess up – which I usually did after only three jumps – you have to join the back of the queue all over again, I saw my chance. I got my mates to hold the rope and began awkwardly skipping. When she noticed, the dinner lady freaked and told me to form a queue. I stopped and asked “So you’ve stopped me taking my turn skipping, to form a queue, to be the first one in the queue, so I can start skipping again?!” She waited until a big queue had formed and then sent me to the back of it – the cow!

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As a kid my Dad tried to engage me in math homework by asking “If you had nine oranges and you gave three to Mum and three to Nanna, how many would I get?” I replied “Two.” “No love, I’d get three.” With a rather perturbed expression I replied “Er, I’m really sorry Dad but you’d only get two otherwise I wouldn’t get ANY and you said they were my oranges!”

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Do you have any examples of you or your kids wonderful logic? I’d love to hear them!

Chrissie

My Lifestyle Lately – May 2017


Obviously as I’m Mancunian there has been one big event for me which has separated May from any month surrounding it. The terrorist attack. I have so many things to say about this, how upset and angry I am, the social and religious politics, the possible ramifications and what actions could be taken now, but I’m emotionally exhausted by it so I won’t. What I will say is that the resilient and empathetic spirit of my fellow Mancs and the support from people around the world has been amazing. I’m actually writing this to the sound of The Courteeners concert drifting over from Old Trafford Cricket ground and they are doing a cover of Oasis’s Don’t Look Back In Anger, with all of crowd singing their hearts out. Aw shit, I’m filling up now. I really do love Manchester.

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Food & Drink

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Have you been drinking lots of water but still feel more thirsty, brain foggy or fatigued because of the heat? I’d give this a go. It tastes like blue ice pops (you can get other flavours like strawberry and tropical) and because of the aloe (i.e electrolyte) content, it hydrates better because our bodies use it more efficiently, rather than just rushing it through our system like it would with water.

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As the weather has been so warm I’ve only been able to manage very light meals. I’ve discovered that Original Sheese spread can be broken up and used as a creamy feta cheese alternative.

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I’m starting to see why people mistake me for a vegan but it’s actually my wonky body that can’t cope with dairy and egg white for gastro and auto-imune reasons. I miss having omelettes though so I was pleased to come across this. If you use it with a small amount of say, mushrooms and are sparing with the cooking oil and leave it alone to cook, rather than harassing it with the spatula, this comes out brilliantly! Unfortunately I was too hungry to take a photo of my perfect first time attempt. Then I fracked it up something terrible the second time – doh!

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At the begging of the month it was my birthday so me and the bloke hopped on a bus and then a tram and went to our fave Indian restaurant of all time, Lilly’s in Ashton-Under-Lyne. You can read my review of Lilly’s here. We also got a lot of takeaway which lasted us for around three days!

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I’ve been making cold mocha’s every evening so there is one waiting for me as soon as I get up. I actually take it back to bed with me. 1 heaped tspn dark cocoa powder (mixed with a little cold water), 1 heaped tspn instant coffee, 2 rounded tspn sugar, 1 tspn vanilla essence, a little hot water to mix, fill up beaker with unsweetened almond milk. Chill.

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I compiled a dairy and gluten free shopping list and reviewed each item to make it easier for people who are feeling a bit overwhelmed with this kind of dietary transition.

Fashion & Style 

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I put this Romwe wish list together right at the start of the month and managed to resist buying anything for myself. op

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It’s funny that in the same month that I’ve stopped approaching any brands, two brands have asked me to collaborate with them on Outfit Of The Day outfit reviews. However, the items (around six of them) are taking ages to arrive so those will be live on the blog next month. I’ve also ordered stuff from EMP, yet again and opted for everything to arrive together but apparently it’s not all available (even though they weren’t ‘Out of Stock’) so that hasn’t arrived either. Only just realised last week that my fave jumper works really well with my fave skirt, both of which I’ve had for ages, ha!

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Even though I don’t rent a place I can call my own, I still love compiling homeware posts every now and then like this In The Tropics one.

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I made a Stylish and Sensible Summer Shoes post because I like alteration and not falling over when I walk in summer.

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No, not me going for a job as a waitress at a sports bar but me melting in this fracking horrendous heat. My feet still get cold in the evening though due to circulation issues, hence the Uggs. I actually love this basic look but haven’t been brave (crazy?) enough to leave the house in it yet. I’m managing to keep weight on these days but my muscles tone is disappearing fast so I’m getting a cross trainer for less fatigued days (I’m being very optimistic here) as it will give me a whole body work out but the machine gathers it’s own momentum quickly so you can put as much or as little effort into it as you want.

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I’m a firm believer in wearing what you want no matter what size or firmness you are so I gathered together the 15 best shorts. There is a style here to suit everyone. I’ve bought the denim scalloped hem one’s from H&M and wear them with very sheer black tights and they look great! I keep meaning to get some black fishnet tights to wear with them and with my ripped jeans for a grungy feel (like I used to in the 90’s) but I keep forgetting.

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I would stagger around blindly in summer if it weren’t for my sunglasses. Some of these are off-the-shelf but some are designer so they should be widely available in options if you need prescription lenses like I do. I suggest getting polarised lenses to decrease glare if you are light sensitive.

Random Stuff

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As a fellow geek I decided to join in with the The Geeky Girl Tag after I enjoyed reading other bloggers answers.

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I wrote this post as I wish my parents would have come across something like this when I was a kid as they and they and my paediatrician and my teachers where clueless as to why I was struggling so much and therefor how they could help me to help myself. Actually my Paediatrician barley noticed. *giant face palm* As a child I was very aware that I was different. Things didn’t come easily to me, yet the other kids magically seemed to instantly know what to do and how to do it, without constant mishaps. As a teen I realised I had a rather different thought processes going compared to my mates as well a lot of the time. Like what is the point of over analysing the way that cute guy said “Hi” to you for hours. Just be glad he said it and maybe even have an actual conversation next time. Reading something like this would have made me feel a lot less like an alien from another planet.

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I made a Funko Pop! of myself, which I’m pleased with.

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May has been Ehlers Danlos Syndrome awareness day, which is so important as it’s one of the most misunderstood and miss represented genetic disorders out there. I’ve been given a verbal diagnosis of EDS but several Rheumatologists are still refusing to put it in writing on my medical records. Preferring instead to say instead “Christine is having it that she has EDS” er, I’m ‘having it’ because I was TOLD that I have it FFS!?!? It’s important to mention that all of this stubborn ignorance and arrogance from specialists (and I do use that term lightly) makes dealing with EDS so much worse as it’s a constant battle with people who’s actual job it is to know better. It really does make us emotionally exhausted and just adds to all the other shit we have to deal with. I’m so lucky to have received support from an amazing online community of fellow zebra’s here, otherwise I would have been questioning my own sanity.

Beauty and Skincare

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I reviewed e.l.f. Studio Tone Correcting Powder and Studio Flawless Foundation and was impressed with both products. In fact their foundation was the best I have ever used!

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I arranged my lipsticks in colour order and had a general makeup clear out. I just kept on buying the same 3-4 shades of lippy over and over again, having forgotten that I already own them. I’ve thrown out any shade that needs mixing with another to create the colour I bought it for in the first place and any lipsticks which are either too drying or slide off after ten minutes. Same with foundations as I don’t have the time, storage space or patience to have to mix several together to get the right colour or consistency. No more making-do with crappy makeup.

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I reviewed Soap & Glory Perfect Ten Shadow Palette but wasn’t that impressed with it for some unexpected reasons.

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I finally found a use for my old metal heart cage. Storage for all of my mini’s and free samples.

Well that was quite a catch up! Let me know if there was anything you found interesting.

Chrissie

 

Signs of Dyspraxia/Aspergers in Females and My Own Quirky Examples

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I’m approaching this post from my point of view of being female with Dyspraxia and Asperger’s – a high functioning (sometimes) version of Autism. It’s really difficult to tell where Dyspraxia ends and Aspergers begins as symptoms overlap regularly and quite often people have both. Here are some behaviours which are related to Dyspraxia and/or Aspergers that are only obvious in children/teens/young adults if you know what to look for. Clearly no one in my life new about these and were just totally perplexed as to why I was so different, including myself. Hopefully this post will make things easier for parents who are confused or anyone who can relate personally.

Skipping the crawling stage

Lots of babies with Dyspraxia/Autism/Developmental Disorders go straight from sitting and reaching out to walking. It’s like we just don’t have that crawling instinct in us so we just copy what we see: Lots of people walking around! I used to pull myself up and wobble my way around the room going from couch to couch at a really early age. My parents and Paediatrician thought this was astonishing progress but it’s actually more of a red flag of a hidden condition.

Sensory issues (SPD) with food, clothing, noise, light, touch or movement 

This can just be Sensory Processing Disorder in-and-of it’s self but I find it’s often related to Dyspraxia and/or Aspergers. Sometimes it’s the texture of the food that the child might struggle with or too many flavours in their mouth at once. I used to eat everything on separate fork-fulls as it never occurred to me to mix them but I didn’t mind if different foods touched on my plate.

I was highly sensitive to the texture of fabric (and still am). Anything vaguely rough i.e. not soft, used to make me itch and squirm like crazy! Also sitting on cheapo carpet for story time, I’d have to sit on my coat. I also need weight on me to feel snuggly and calm. So even in the middle of Summer I can’t sleep without a duvet on me. I remember my Mum telling me every time I’d be upset I’d wrap myself in this really soft and (more importantly I realise now) rather heavy blanket, and I’d instantly calm down. That way I could ‘feel the outside of my body better.’ Google ‘proprioception’ for more on that.

As a kid high pitched noises or unexpected alarms were totally debilitating for me. Even slightly high pitched sounds cause me physical pain so I have to wear noise cancelling ear plugs to concerts.

My eyes have always be light sensitive so these days I have transitions lenses in my glasses and a great pair of sunglasses that are polarised and anti-glare.

I’m mostly under sensitive to touch and movement, meaning as a kid I loved my hair platted, brushed and cut but I know some kids find this painful and stressful even when it’s done gently. This also worked both ways so my version of tag usually involved clumsily and accidentally rugby tackling people to the floor – oops!

I loved swinging, bouncing, jumping, rocking motions, anything with speed and movement. I found it really exciting and calming in equal measure. I’ve gotten more sensitive to movement as I’ve gotten older though.

Questioning and Analytical Personality

From a young age, maybe seven or eight, I started wondering about EVERYTHING. What is the meaning of life? Why can’t we feel the earth spinning and why don’t we get dizzy? If we evolved from Apes will we evolve into something better than human or is this as good as it gets? If fate existed then who would decide it? Why do different people around the world all think that their god is the real one? Are there aliens out there and would they think that we were the aliens if they saw us? I’d contemplate these things with my best friend for at least half of playtime each day and then we’d go home and ask our parents these baffling and sometimes amusing questions.

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Issues with Co-ordination, Balance and Spacial Awareness

Our bodies internal compas and steering tends to be badly calibrated, making it hard for us to do things like throw and catch a ball, ride a bike and swim. I only learned to ride a bike when I was 7 and my mate lent me hers (mine still had stabilisers on) and pushed me down a gentle grassy hill. For once, momentum worked in my favour. When I’d try to throw a ball my hand would open to late and I chuck it at the ground in front of me. Same for catching, I’d react too late because my brain couldn’t process the fast movement and it would just hit me.

I tend to use the word ‘proprioception’ instead of ‘spacial awareness’ as your body’s proprioception helps you judge the objects around you, your own limbs and how much space both things occupy and the space between them. A person who cannot automatically judge this will end up bouncing off things, walking into things, falling over things, tripping up over their own feet or throwing drinks at their face when drinking from an over-sized (and therefor unfamiliar) cup etc. I get bruised daily from having poor proprioception. I also do not possess the natural reflex to put my hands up when I fall or if someone suddenly throws something at me, so I’ve amassed a rather wonderful collection of scars.

Difficulty with Spontaneous and Unstructured Play

At the age of around three Mum dropped me off at a play group to learn social skills and how to exist separately from her. The assistant suggested I might like to go on the slide after me pointing at it while jumping up and down enthusiastically the moment we got there. When my Mum came to pick me up it turned out that’s ALL I had done. For an hour. My Mum was a little annoyed that the assistants hadn’t suggested to me that I do something else because she knew that it wouldn’t naturally occur to me, even though I was surrounded with other things to play with. I hadn’t talked to any other kids either, again because it hadn’t naturally occurred to me that this is what I was meant to be doing, simply because no one had explained this was an option.

No Idea of Boundaries or What is Unsafe

Oddly enough, considering my lack of communication with little kids my own age, I would enthusiastically say a loud “Hiya!” to any adult within 12ft. As I was getting older I started acting fearlessly when it came to jumping off stuff that was too high or climbing giant trees or standing up on swings and wondering if it might be fun to let go of the chains (it really wasn’t). Oddly enough, I was stupidly scared of going on fairground rides with the theory that if I couldn’t cope with it, I’d essentially be stuck on the bloody thing until it finished. Having tested this logic a couple of times as an adult – with literally sickening consequences – I now stick rigidly to it!

At the age of 10 I got chatting to one of the keepers at the zoo we were visiting who was around 18 I reckon. When I say chatting, it was more strolling and chatting to the point where my parents where tagging along behind. My ability to make this guy laugh and to ask questions that he actually found interesting, both pleased and worried them equally and I think they were very glad that he was a zoo keeper and not some random man! I think this behaviour also ties in with being able to communicate/feeling more comfortable with people who are much younger or older than ones self.

Not Getting the Natural Rhythm and Impulse Control in Conversations.

I would butt in constantly because a) I would mistake someone taking a breath or pausing to think, as them finishing their sentence. b) It would take me so long to process what someone was saying and think of a response, that they would have moved onto another topic. I’d suddenly blurt out (but actually I’d been waiting for a gap in conversation and missed many of them) what my thought on their previous topic was and they’d look at me like I was nuts. c) I’d be constantly saying “Oh I did that as well.” or “Well, when I did that…” not because I was self absorbed but because I was delighted to have something in common with some one (proving I was normal) and I really empathised with them. Not the best idea though when someone is trying to tell you something important that’s bothering them or what they did well etc.

Sometimes I blurt out something which is meant as a compliment and certainly sounded like it in my head but seems to get lost in translation between my brain and my gob. As a teen I enthusiastically said to a lad I fancied “Your hair gel makes you look like Sonic The Hedgehog!” I thought Sonic was The.Best.Thing.Ever at the time but everyone laughed and the poor kid just looked mortified. Oops!

Something that amuses me is when I’m deep in thought with an imaginary scenario going through my head I might end up saying a bit of it aloud or doing the corresponding facial expressions. I swear my imagination has a life of it’s own and not just in my really vivid hyper-real dreams. Something that drives my bloke mad is when I don’t answer him because I’ve thought the answer in my head so strongly that I’m sure I have said it aloud already.

I tend to take people with dry humour very literally, even though I’m quite dry humoured myself. With expressions that I might not have heard before, it never occurs to me that it’s a tern of phrase and I take those literally as well.

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Memory and Concentration and ‘learning difficulties’

I’ve put ‘learning difficulties’ in quotes because I think a lot of people with Dyspraxia and/or Aspergers are usually fairly bright but struggle to learn things because of short term-memory, recall, sequencing and concentration probs. As a kid in class I would have this whole amazing adventure in my head and I mean an epically long adventure. What completely escaped me was the fact I only had just under an hour to get it down on paper so a) It should be a manageable length and b) I should start writing as I went along, not think it all up first and then start writing five minutes before the end of the lesson. When these two things were explained to me I attempted some vague time management but again and again I disappeared into my own thoughts where it was like time stood still.

My recall is useless, it’s like I know I know something but I can’t figure out where my brain has stored that piece of knowledge. In Junior school my hand would fly up and I’d look chuffed that I knew the answer but when the teacher picked me I’d just sit silently with a very confused look on my face as the answer slid away the more I tried to think of it. I confidently told the teacher once “Give me a minute, It’ll come back to me.” and everyone laughed, apart from the teacher who frowned and told me “Question and answer time doesn’t work like that as you well know!” I didn’t know or should I say I hadn’t remembered how structured it was. After that, I didn’t put my hand up again until I was well into high-school many years later.

When you notice absolutely everything it’s hard to filter out what’s not relevant to be able to concentrate. The sound of the clock ticking, the smell of someone’s deodorant (or lack of it), what the weather is doing outside, how tight the neck of your top is, what you’d like for dinner, that joke about the llama you heard last night, why is there a stupid silent ‘gh’ in words like ‘night’. Ah, right, what was I doing again? Why is this in my hand? Ooh, I can use it as a clue!

Sequencing (thinking straight) and Logic

My thought processes seem to go from A-B-D-A-E-D and then No! Now it’s ALL slipped away! Those logic questions like ‘If Suzanne had 12 apples and she shared 3 with Bobby and…” Bloody Suzanne and her frickin apples! Why’d she have to share them unevenly anyway! Even as a teenager I would physically have to arrange my pens and pencils into groups as if they were the apples (using them as counters essentially) to be able to answer these questions. My logic does not work in a straight line. I’d think myself into a loop with the same two bits of the equation going round and round yet I’d manage to miss out the third part entirely and I’d go straight to the last bit, then be utterly confounded as to why my answer was wrong.

In high school I started making notes for maths. Notes which looked nonsensical to anyone else. I was utterly delighted when the teacher said we had to show our ‘working out’ to show her our logic. I made my copious notes in a circle all around the sum and crossed out each one as I used it and proudly handed it in. Her face was an absolute picture! It turned out I had to show my working out in a way that everyone else worked things out or even that part was considered wrong as well. I learned how to write my notes to keep track of all foggy, sum related thoughts on a separate piece of paper, then I’d neatly write down my fake ‘working out’ in the style that they wanted to see in my text book. This meant I took three times as long to do every sum/problem and never finished the page, making the teacher think I didn’t understand the questions in the first place. *face palm*

Not the case at all. I found a lot of questions in high school – not Science or Maths related – to be mind numbingly boring. Not the actual subjects just the textbook questions so I liked to ask my own, which drove teachers crazy, partly because they didn’t always have the answer and partly because they had a lesson plan to follow. I’d also just go onto the next page of questions which I didn’t realise were supposed to be for the next lesson. Seriously though, four painfully simple questions (where the obvious answers were in the first four paragraphs of the text) were supposed to keep us busy for an entire hour. Oh my gosh the boredom!

A lot of the time I loose the point of my sentence and then just try to wing it but end up coming to an increasingly quieter waffle that just trails off. It helps to quickly loosely plan the structure of my sentence before I open my mouth when I’m around new people. Sometimes when I’m listening to someone, by the time they’ve come to the end of their sentence, I’ve already forgotten what they said at the beginning. Sometimes when I’m telling someone something I don’t start at the beginning of the sentence so there’s no context to what I’m saying. I tend to recognise that specific confused look on people’s faces these days and quickly (almost as if it’s part of the original sentence) add on what should have been said at the beginning. This makes me backwards like Yoda talk.

Sequencing issues also apply to the order of letters in a word and the order of the words in a sentence, which is why it’s taking me forever to write this post! If I left this utterly unedited, some words would be unrecognisable and some words would be left out and some words would be repeated twice etc. As well as everything mentioned in the paragraph above. It would read as jumbled up as I think basically.

Just not getting stuff

It used to be really difficult for me to weigh up new situations. I don’t naturally have the ability to asses what I’m supposed to be doing or how I’m meant to be doing it straight away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just blundered straight into a situation and someone has said “Excuse me! Can I see your ticket?” and I’ve looked at them blankly, having walked right passed a very obvious illuminated ticket office. I remember being totally sensory-overloaded one summer after being stuck in a huge, noisy, meltingly hot cue at the post office, only to find out it was the wrong cue! I was told I’d have to cue up all over again in the right one. I tried to reason with the lady that it wasn’t fair but ended up bursting into tears. It was a really good lesson though as it taught me to just pause for a moment and assess situations first before throwing myself into them. I’m actually really quick at assessing stuff these days because of that.

After saying all of this I need to state that Dyspraxia/Asperger’s does not effect intelligence unless there are other developmental problems.

Honesty, Naivety, Tactlessness and Manipulation

My honesty meant that I was blunt to the point of being tactless. Often if someone was avoiding saying a certain thing or they’d messed up in some way and were trying to wriggle out of it I’d assume that I mustn’t have understood the situation properly (pretty average occurance for me tbh) and so I’d say “Yes, you did! You told her that blah blah…” or “I thought you knew you were supposed to do blah blah because I was there when they told you to.” That made me really popular in the first years of high school!

My natural in-built honesty meant that up until I was around 11-12 it never occurred to me that people lie. They lie to make themselves look good, feel better, to get ahead, to stir things up or simply to see if you are daft enough (or naive enough) to believe them. I was. Even aged 12-13 I believed that if someone was your friend then they wouldn’t play a joke on you or manipulate you because that’s a mean thing to do and friends are never mean. Wrong! It would take someone else to notice what was going on and point it out (practically bang me over the head with it) before I’d realise. Luckily this stopped when I got friends who were more mature and kind and realised that I had ‘difficulties’ in certain areas that they shouldn’t take advantage of.

Oddly enough I became a really quick study in reading people as I got into my mid-late teens in order to fit in and appear ‘normal’. I think this is why Dyspraxia/Aspergers is so overlooked in females as we can be great chameleons at blending in enough to pass for being Neurotypical. I’d never just go along with stuff to be popular but I was good at staying quiet and observing peoples tone of voice, or little gestures or how they would back track and subtly change their meaning if what they were saying wasn’t going down well with others. I started to notice people’s pride and the need to be popular and the fact that they were more prone to agreeing to do something if they thought it was their idea in the first place. I also learned that people like people who listen and give just enough advice that’s helpful but doesn’t entirely go against what they ultimately have already decided to do anyway.

I was becoming, without realising it, a little manipulative. All those years of studying human nature to be able to understand it was meaning I was now able to predict it and use it. I’d say 80% of the time it was just to talk my way out of forgetting something yet again or to hide something quirky thing about myself or to pretend I’d listened to or understood what was being said but the other 20% was to get my own way. I found it easier than people respecting me enough to take my opinion seriously, especially when I was struggling to explain it properly. Plus, when I couldn’t mentally keep up with group conversations to be able to give my input at the time, manipulation was a handy short cut to steer things the way I chose later on. I was only strongly presenting the pro’s of what I wanted to do and none of the cons but still kinda manipulative.

Turns out I was so emotionally guarded (to make sure I didn’t get my very fragile emotions hurt), sarcastic (sometimes I was being serious), ironic (again thanks to my many observations of situations), totally calm in stressful situations (naturally detached) that my group of friends thought I was actually kinda cool. Bahaahaa! No. Apparently I was also cool because they (mistakenly) thought I didn’t care that much about social norms and had a strong sense of self. It was more that I just didn’t get them. Like when someone dies and you say “I’m sorry” to the relatives. My reply was “I’m not saying sorry. It’s not like I killed them!” Dark humour right? Nope. I did know exactly who I was but that was someone who was clearly from another planet. I had been getting the distinct message from teachers and society in general that I was wrong in some way, which was upsetting and so confusing. It was due to my amazing friends and in-part to my parents unconditional love and patience that I managed to cling onto my sense of self. Although I have to say, some days I was genuinely praying for the spaceship that must have dumped me here, to come back for me!

My naivety still effected me into my mid 20’s as a travelling temporary Admin Assistant where I wouldn’t be able to tell if groups of people were just humouring me and letting me hang out with them, as they felt too mean to ignore me. I would think I was genuinely friends with these people until others strongly hinted otherwise.

Empathy and Highly Sensitive Emotions

A lot of females with Dyspraxia and/or Aspergers feel emotions really deeply so things like a situation being unfair, involving us or another person can really bother us. When we empathise with some we really empathise with them to the point of feeling upset because they are and crying and we might end up crying with them! It took me all of my teens and 20’s to realise that even nice people don’t always behave in a fair way though, and just because you may have massively gone out of your way for someone many times does not always mean that will do the same for you.

Me: You didn’t do that really important thing for me that you said you would.

Friend: I was a bit busy with, er, something.

Me: But I did that thing for you that time, even though it was really inconvenient for me, which you knew.

Friend: I didn’t make you do it, that was your choice.

Me: Whaaa?????!

I realised that however that a) It’s not fair to expect everyone to be as emotionally involved and intense with everything as you are, including your friendship b) There is such a thing as being too nice to the point where people take you for granted or even take advantage. c) Self respect comes from setting boundaries with yourself and others. d) EVERYONE makes mistakes or forgets things, or stops paying attention, it’s human nature and it doesn’t mean they don’t care. However, it’s good to keep in mind just how regularly this occurs as they might be trying to tell you something!

Coping with Change and Unexpected Situations

I’m still getting there, day by day. However, I no longer have a melt down over takeaway orders being wrong – even if I’ve looked forward all week to the one thing they’ve forgotten to include. Recently my bloke suddenly suggested we go to a Thai restaurant in town which we’d literally just read about and which closed at 11.00. It was 9.30 so we had to go right away. I was in my PJ’s and in relaxed slob mode but I calmly said “Yeah let’s go”. I acted (notice I say ‘acted’) like a serene in control person the whole time I was putting together my outfit and tidying my hair and applying concealer all within a 20 minute time slot before the cab arrived.

That would have been completely out of the questions 6 months ago. The mere idea would have been ridiculous to me because I would have immediately felt anxious. Anxious because I hadn’t expected and therefore gotten my head around what was happening. I’d have been in the totally different mind set of “Of course I can’t.” It also helps that I have a little black dress which looks great with leggings and black boots. Simple.

It’s also about things not happening. Looking forward to going clubbing all week and then people saying they’re not in the mood. I’d be gutted. I’d planned it. I’d gone through scenarios in my head about it on a loop. ALL WEEK. I’d skip straight over distraught onto determined – determined that the person would go! Now I realise that’s selfish and slightly insane. I deal with unexpected situations a hell of a lot better these days. It’s all just part of life and no big deal most of the time. The unexpected can even be a good thing. That Thai place was great!

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I hope this has helped people to feel a little less weird or to be proud of how weird they are. Remember that your neuro-diversity means you are just different (to Neuro-typical people) and not inherently wrong. And as comedian Francesca Martinez says “What the F**k is normal anyway!?”

Chrissie

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My Personal Examples of Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms

 

I’m going to write this from personal point of view and although maybe not as comprehensive as an objective list of symptoms, I’m hoping it will be more interesting and add a bit more context. Staggeringly, I was only recognised as having difficulty with my sensory processing by a Neurologist around 2 years ago (age 32) and even though I’ve read a lot about people with SPD and chatted online, I’ve not met anyone else with it yet.

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Things I’m Under Sensitive To….

Touch. I love the feel of smooth shiny things like those posh granite work tops and PVC handbags.

Speed and Movement. I could travel in a sports car and zoom around corners at incredibly high speed or do doughnuts and it would just be so much fun. Yay – speed in a horizontal kind of way!

Pain. I can bump into things or fall over and it’s more annoying and frustrating rather than painful. I’ve dropped things onto my foot and crashed into things, had injections and blood taken and the people around me have cringed more than I have. Saying that, paper cuts and mild cramp feel so painful to me!

Pain. ‘Shouldn’t this pan be hotter by now?’…. …. …. ‘Shit it really is, ouch!’

Touch and Pressure. I like big hugs and I cannot lie (sorry for the Sir Mix-a-lot ref), big giant bear hugs that squeeze me. Usually I’ve barley comprehended the lighter hugs before the person steps back, so it’s like I’ve just missed it. Strangely, it also relaxes my muscles and calms me down almost instantly if I’m stressing out. Cows also like this as well apparently – but I’m not going cow hugging just yet.

Taste and Pressure I like my food either savoury and spicy or rich and creamy. I was in my early 20’s until I learned to appreciate subtler flavours and textures. As a kid I always smothered everything in HP sauce!  I also love crunchy food and as a kid I was quite bitey – objects not people!

Touch and Pressure. When people go to the hairdressers and complain that they were getting quite head-sore because the hairdresser wasn’t gentle enough. I have no clue what they are talking about. Again that kind of thing relaxes me so much I feel all floppy and sleepy.

Smell. I often think ‘This perfume smell nice, I’ll just add a bit more of it so I can really smell it.’ Then I wonder why people practically faint when they enter the room. At least I never fell foul of the old “Who ever smelt it dealt it” fart rule.

Touch and Pressure. I absolutely love tight clothes because they are against my skin (unless the weather is incredibly hot) why would I want my body to feel awkward and ‘lost’ inside my clothes?

Auditory. You can be chatting with me and I’ll be interested but then almost subconsciously I’ll tune out your voice and pick up on some other noise instead. The tone of mens voices and traffic noise just blend together a lot of the time for me – sorry guys! I do listen but don’t always understand the word someone just said even though I heard it, especially if they speak quickly and change subjects rapidly or with a sudden short sentence. I’m really bad at remembering what was said as a result.

Touch and Pressure. Don’t give me a wine glass if you are expecting me to get progressively drunk as I’ll put it down too hard and break the stem and most of the glass probably.

Touch and Pressure. When I’m struggling with something – for instance closing a door that’s a little un-aligned – and I loose patience and try really hard that door will accidentally be slammed loudly and with a ridiculous amount of force. “Gaaah!”

Touch and Pressure. I tend to drop things because I’ve forgot how tight I’m meant to be holding the bloody thing according to it’s weight and shape.

Touch and pressure. Y’know those kids in junior/high school that were definitely not bullies but they always went too far with practical jokes or play fighting? That was me – oops!

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Things I’m Over Sensitive To…..

Touch and Texture. I want to punch the manufacturer who started the trend of sewing nylon labels into the back of jumpers etc. Why not just use pokey, scratchy sandpaper instead?

Light. Have you ever watched the film Gremlins where little Gizmo is saying in an adorable little voice “Bright light, bright light!” For me it’s more of an “Argh, I can barley see anything. My eyes have a headache. Are you blind? No light needs to be that bright surely?”

Noise. Things that are high-pitched like unhappy babies screaming and tram and bus brakes, children and/or drunk people with whistles and loud screechy or very ‘busy’ music like acid jazz. Horrendous, like it’s right inside my brain!

Temperature. My Kryptonite is THE COLD or the false sensation of it on certain bits of exposed skin. Even on a mild day, if I have a centimetre gap between my boot and jeans I feel cold, even when I’m in doors! I know it’s not real but tell that to the rest of my brain. Brrr!

Touch. OK this part is kind of nice- in small doses. All of me can be ticklish but in a goose bumpy way – not a ‘stop this strange and unusual punishment!’ kind of way which most people get.

Movement. Rollercoasters or high-spead lift that suddenly drop, or even small trampolines.

Processing and understanding. New situations I have to suddenly adjust to and intuitively pick up on are pretty bewildering to be honest. I mean how the hell am I supposed to just know what I’m meant to be doing? Some signage or instructions are always welcome!

Texture. It took me until I was in my late 20’s before I could eat rough ‘foresty’ foods like steamed broccoli, kale or rocket. I also hated ‘squidgy’ food, primarily cooked mushrooms. I love them now though but had to practice to get used to the texture.

Visual. Spiky things. Luckily for me who’s A/W wardrobe is mainly inspired by punk and rock it’s only increadibly fine spikes that I find freaky. Spikes that are pushing through something make me want to throw up. Yup. Or the sound of creepy crawlies, y’know that popular sound effect they use in sci-fi and horror films far to often? OMG when a TV screen goes half pixelated so you can still see a distorted image of the person, my skin just crawls!

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Where SPD Overlaps With Dyspraxia

Judgment of Speed, Height, Weight, Mass. My judgment on these things tends to be laughably incorrect a lot of the time. Not great for crossing roads quickly but good for accidentally flattering people – or insulting them.

Spacial Awareness. Mine is bobins! This effects knocking things over, tripping over things, forgeting what is behind me in the room, missjugding how close I am to an object. Which way I am facing in the building in relation to where it’s positioned (hospitals and colleges are fun for this.)

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SPD – Who and Why? 

A person can just have SPD without having any other disorders, however it can be difficult to diagnose someone with SPD (especially if they are under and over sensitive to different things) so a lot of the time it gets recognised in people who have other conditions such as Autism, Asperger’s, Dyspraxia, Mosaic (high functioning) Downes Syndrome or nuero-degenerative conditions such as MS.

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Resources

Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation website Helpful but USA based.

Amazingly the NHS website had no info on Sensory Processing Disorder only Auditory.

Wonderful Facebook Group for Adults with SPD UK and US

Here is a very informative site created by a Mum of a child with SPD.

I hope this helps someone to understand someone with SPD a little better or themselves even!

Chrissie xx

Note: Credit to Kelly Dillon & Rachel S. Schnieder for this fantastic poster!