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Indefinite Hiatus

It is with deepest regret, sadness, and apologies that I make this announcement. It is not something that I relish doing. I do not make this announcement lightly. However, unless reader numbers increase to an acceptable point by Monday, I will be placing this blog on indefinite hiatus until such time that I see numbers have increased and are remaining consistent. I thank those of you that continue to come back and read the posts. Thank you all. You have my deepest regret, sadness, apologies, and thanks.

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OverextendingMyself

I would like to start this off by saying that this post does not mean that I am going to quit posting. It just means that the frequency of the posts will be decreased. I have overextended myself with this and my two other blogs. I have started to see a reduction in the quality of the posts that I am placing on the blog.

I am going to continue posting, it will just be on a less-frequent base. I am going to try posting at least two to three times a week (MWF). It will allow me more time to think my posts through before posting, and allowing them to be of a higher quality. I apologize greatly for this sudden change, but it needs to be changed, so that you all get better posts and I do not find myself facing burnout.

Thank you all for being understanding of the situation. Our next post will be this coming Monday.

CBD Oil-Does it Help? My Experiences, Thoughts, and Opinions

This subject is a touchy and controversial subject that is often mired in debate, conjecture, and political correctness: but I am the farthest thing from political correctness. That being said, this post is primarily based upon my personal experiences, views, and opinions. Now, let’s get down to the meat of it.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been at the center of arguments for the treatment of different ailments for years. Arthritis, glaucoma, muscle aches, headaches, panic, anxiety, adhd, and even some symptoms of autism. At least, that is what is claimed.

Before I go any further, I must stress that most CBD oil does not contain THC. There are some forms that contain the psychoactive component of the hemp plant, but for legal reasons, the majority of it does not. I cannot say this enough. Straight CBD oil, without THC, is perfectly legal from what I have seen.

You can purchase this “wonder oil” from online retailers and Vape Shops in most areas. It can be made and taken in a tincture, pill form, powder for drinks; edibles (lollipops, hard candy, etc.), and e-juice for personal vape devices (this is the quickest and most effective method-and the one that I use). The choice is yours on which delivery method that you use.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical when I first found out about it. “Yeah! Right! Like it really works.” The owner of the vape shop I was visiting also sells natural treatments. “Do some reading on the subject. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find out,” he told me as he rang up my purchase.

Read, study, gather information, and think about it I did. I was surprised at the claims and information that I was reading! Some of it was obvious garbage and more of a sales tactic, but there were other claims that really made me think.

First discovered in 1940, this extract is claimed to account for up to 40% of the hemp plant’s extracts. Since then, studies as to the uses and benefits of CBD oil have been ongoing. The primary conditions studied in these trials have been panic/anxiety disorders, headaches, arthritis, over-excitability, cognition, insomnia, and general aches; and pains.

Now, I cannot speak to the veracity of the claims of results. However, I can speak to my experiences. That is precisely what I plan on doing.

After some weeks of debate, I decided to go through with purchasing my first bottle of CBD oil. This particular brand had made theirs in such a way that it could be used in vape devices, or as an oral tincture. It was billed as 10X (whatever that means in terms of milligrams.

I was advised to not put any nicotine-containing e-juice in my tank with it that was higher than three milligrams. Luckily, I had just such a bottle in my pocket along with my normal six milligram bottle. However, wanting to get the full effects of the oil, I filled the tank with zero milligrams and put in the five to ten drops that the shop owner advised.

The second that I got to the vehicle, was buckled in, and heading down the road; I let loose. I thought that the harder and faster that I hit it the faster I would feel results. That’s just not so. I found myself coughing at the musky, earthy, slightly grassy flavor of the CBD oil.

I’d been in the middle of a strong panic attack and stimming episode from the attack and having too many stimuli bombarding me at once. The effects were almost immediate (almost meaning roughly five to fifteen minutes). I was simply blown away by how it was affecting me.

As the oil took effect, I felt my panic attack begin to ebb away into nothingness. The tight-chested, panicked feeling was gone within minutes of it taking effect! My stimming slowed to practically nothing and was gone by the time that I got to Wal-Mart.

It also acts as a mood elevator. When I would be having a panic attack and it had me feeling down; I would find myself moving back toward happy. In fact, it put me back in the frame of mind to bond and play with my children.

I also suffer from insomnia. CBD oil helps me stay asleep once I manage to find it. Does it affect my dreams? If it does, I haven’t noticed any change. Particularly when I already have vivid dreams. However, some have claimed that it has caused the occasional dream to be far more realistic and vivid than they normally have.

ADHD? Not a problem with CBD oil. Especially when it is a co-morbid diagnosis with autism. Although I have seen some parents on different forums claim that they have tried using CBD oil on their autistic children, that is something that I advise against at all costs…and would never do. However, if your child has reached the age of 18 (or older), then feel free. I have found that it has greatly reduced my occurrences of meltdowns (on the occasions that I have them); and the severity of them when they do occur. My mind is not racing from ADHD as often when I use CBD oil. Stimming is still there, but it is greatly reduced. My insomnia, while still there, is also reduced. I highly recommend CBD oil to anyone looking for a more natural alternative to medications to assist with CBT and other methods to deal with their autism; or to provide relief for a family member with autism.

Why Do Some Aspies and People With HFA Self-Medicate?

This is primarily going to be based upon my experiences in life and widely be conjecture. It is not the end-all, be-all; Gospel on this situation. I want to make that quite clear before I build-up some steam and get going.

For those of you that do not have Asperger’s Syndrome (often confused with Kanner’s Autism), or do not fall anywhere on the spectrum, I’d like to try and break it down for you the best way that I know how. We all know that Autism is a spectrum. Asperger’s used to be a part of that (and it still should be if you ask me).

Some of the issues that these individuals with these conditions (myself included) face have to do with sensory processing disorders and difficulties. Visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste. It can get downright painful!

Be it the ticking of a manual clock, sunlight, neon lights, television brightness, singing, foods, any one of those things could trigger a reaction. The ticking of a clock can be maddening! In an otherwise silent and pleasant room, the tick, tick, tick, ticking can eventually become painful. Is the food being eaten the wrong texture? It can start to hurt your tongue and mouth; or even make you gag. Lights the wrong color, or too bright? It can go as far as causing migraines and triggering stimming, or meltdowns.

It is my belief that this overstimulation causing so much pain is what causes some adults with ASD and Asperger’s to self-medicate. Cigarettes, booze, pills, weed and so on. The drugs numb the pain of it all.

Before I was diagnosed the first time around, I was in the Army. I was young, dumb, on my own for the first time; and having sensory issues (among other things). I had already had a few beers/shots/glasses of wine when I was 21. With my own money and ready access to booze and tobacco, I went wild. I could do what I wanted. I had already been smoking for a few, short, years at that point. I continued my smoking, started dipping, and using loose leaf chew like Red Man and Levi Garrett. That’s when I added booze to the mix (especially since I was going through my first divorce).

The lights in the office hurt my eyes that day? Tobacco and booze. Certain sounds hurt my ears that day? Tobacco and booze. It was my answer for everything. Not only did it numb and make me forget the pain of the divorce I was going through it numbed the pain that I felt I was experiencing from sensory issues. I knew that I was different, didn’t understand/process things the same way, but not why.

It got to the point that I was smoking 1.5 to 3 packs; going though upwards of a can of Copenhagen, and who knows how much booze a day. I would enjoy a cigar and a strong glass of scotch before changing and going to the chow hall. I’d get back to the barracks after chow and start in on the “real” drinking. Rum, whiskey, tequila, scotch, bourbon, brandy, wine, sparkling wine, champagne, mead, port, sherry, beer, malt liquor, you name it. I would drink myself into a mind-numbing stupor and the pain of the sensory overload would go away.

One night I found myself wearing nothing but my running shoes and a smile while carrying an empty handle of Jack Daniels. Not my proudest moment. I had no clue how I got there, or why.

One night I had gotten tired of listening to a soldier in another room screaming and cussing at his girlfriend; and his video games. The sound was starting to make a painful thudding sound in my ears every single time it kicked in. The texture of the nachos I was eating were making it feel like small knives were cutting the roof of my mouth. My blanket was too rough. It was on a weekend, so the drinking I did that night wouldn’t affect my work on Monday. I drank myself to the point that I was hallucinating.

Gandalf was having anal sex with Dumbledore. Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Frodo were dancing on my ceiling. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala were having a threesome with Rosie Cotton while Bilbo sat back smoking a pipe and playing my video games. This was, of course, a result of my drinking that night. Bacardi 151, Vampire Vodka, Captain Morgan’s Private Stock, Cuervo Silver, Jack Daniels, Guinness, and a beer called Irish Death.

Yes, I was stupid enough to think that that amount of drinking would solve the problem for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Three days later, on Monday morning, I was still hurting. Still had cotton mouth. Still Stunk like a distillery. Stomach was still upset, but mercifully empty.

A random soldier whose name I cannot remember asked me what was wrong with me and why I stunk of stale cigarettes and liquor. I remember telling him that I had gone into sensory overload on Friday and started drinking to numb the pain that all of the sensations were causing. He expressed some concern and asked me if I had other sensory issues and things. I told him yes and that I had been using booze to dull it since I had gotten to the unit. “You’ve got to quit doing that shit, man. A few drinks here and there are okay. What you did was suicide! You are lucky to be here! Have you considered the possibility that you might be autistic?”

Until that point I had not. My knowledge of autism was limited to what I had seen of Rain Man, and the late Savant, Kim Peek. It was then that a light went on in my head.

I was self-medicating. I was doing something that I promised myself as a child that I would never do. I was showing a weakness that I had refused to show when I was younger. I was using destructive methods to deal with my sensory issues instead of being constructive, getting help, and finding ways to deal with the sensory issues I was facing.

From that moment on (except for two occasions), I never had more than three drinks in a night. Those drinks were only socially when I would be doing karaoke (a loud event that for some reason, actually helped ease the pain of overstimulation). It eventually came to the point that I am at today.

I am lucky if I have one beer, one shot, one tumbler, or one mixed drink every three to twelve months. Even then, I have to be in the right frame of mind and it has to be for the right reasons. I can no longer stomach booze the way that I did when I was a raging drunk. It is usually one drink after the kids and wife are in bed and I have that urge to have ONE DRINK. ONE. Even then, it isn’t because of sensory issues. It is because I just want one. To experience the complex flavors and relax with a good movie, digital book, or music while I write; and have a good vape since I no longer smoke.

My opinion is that the reason some people with these conditions self-medicate are the same reasons that I used to do it. To dull/numb the pain. The pain from too much noise. Pain from wrong textures. Pain from “bad lighting.” Pain from the wrong tastes. Pain from intensely strong smells. They become too strong and people may think that they are being weak if they seek help for dealing with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. It shows a great strength to seek out help.

It took a conversation with a soldier that couldn’t stand me showing concern for his brother-in-arms to see this. His concern and show of camaraderie even though we didn’t get along really opened my eyes. The way I was dealing with my sensory issues was wrong and unhealthy. Were it not for him, I would never have found out that I am autistic. There are countless ways that are far better than self-medicating to deal with these issues. I turned to rubbing the pads of my fingers across the velcro on my uniform when I was nearing sensory overload. Not much better, but still better. Since leaving the military, I have found solace and release from overstimulation in writing. Poetry (I have been published a few times in the past), fan fictions, novellas (always throw them away before submitting them…same with my novels), novels, short stories, children’s books, and journaling. I also have a fidget cube that is hiding somewhere that I use when I get overstimulated.

It is my opinion that those are at least a few of the reasons that some with ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome self-medicate. It is also my opinion that there are other ways that are far healthier to deal with overstimulation. If you find yourself struggling with booze as a way to dull the pain, feel free to share your stories. I am sure that we can help each other find ways to get through it. Maybe we can even give each other new methods to cope that we haven’t tried yet.

Fidget Cubes-Inconspicuous Public Stimming

The title explains it all, folks. Fidget Cubes make excellent tools for not only the individual with ADHD, but those with Autism as well. Think about it.

If an individual does not have sensitivities to the textures on and sounds made by fidget cubes, it is an excellent tool to help them remain calm in public. An excellent tool to use for surreptitious/inconspicuous stimming in public.

Before my toddlers lost mine, I made frequent use of it. It helped me to remain calm in situations where I found myself over-stressed and overstimulated. I found it a useful tool to stave off my panic and anxiety attacks.

The dice buttons, light switch, roller ball and combo lock switches; flat depression, and other features are perfect. They give individuals a variety of sounds, textures and sensations to experience and focus on when they are stressed (or whatever they may be feeling). Especially if those sensations become too much for them.

I usually made the most use of it while I was shopping in Wal-Mart. The crowds, the sounds, the sights, the smells, the textures, the lighting. Sometimes it can get to be too much. Besides having autism, I am also claustrophobic, severe general and social anxiety disorder; agoraphobic, and severe ADHD.

My fidget cube allowed me to focus on the stimuli that it provided and helped me to remain calm while I had it. It is still in the house, I just have to figure out where the kids put it. That’s for sure.

Think about it. You are walking through a store and you, or your child starts stimming. You are worried that it could result in a full-blown meltdown. Something you would like to avoid until you get home at the very least. That’s when you remember that you have the fidget cube in your pocket.

You pull the device out and hand it to your child, or start using it yourself. The soft depression for rubbing, the light switch’s clicking, it takes your/your child’s mind off of the assault on your/their senses. Within moments you begin to see a huge change and calming effect take place. The motions and actions are so small that no one would notice unless they were looking for it. That’s exactly what we want.

No one likes being stared at, or made a mockery of. Instead of large motions like rocking and hand-flapping, you find yourself grateful for the almost imperceptible motions of using the fidget cube. With no extra attention on you/your child (which could trigger a meltdown), you are able to complete your trip and make it home without incident, where you can praise your child/self for a job well done.

People may argue and say that it is only a band-aid and avoids the crux of the problem, but while you are working with your child on proper behavior and reactions; the fidget cube can help until they have learned what you are trying to teach them. It also acts as a fast-acting calming tool when the sensations become too much for you if you are an autistic adult and the stimuli becomes too much for what you have learned to deal with it while you are in public. It really is a blessing and inconspicuous way to stim in those situations where it is unavoidable. That good, old, fidget cube.

Meeting Dr. Grandin

Almost six years ago now, I had the honor of attending a presentation by Dr. Temple Grandin. Before the engagement, she was kind enough to mingle with the crowd and meet as many of the attendees as she could. She spent almost twenty minutes signing autographs, posing for pictures, and offering kind words to everyone she met with.

I have met my fair share of celebrities during my short time on this planet. Each one as gracious and kind as the next. Each one making an impact. Yet, I never found myself getting star struck as I met them. That all changed when I met who is likely the foremost autism and animal activist on the planet.

I was already worked up being among the crowds and my fellow individuals with autism. I was nearing sensory overload. That’s when I noticed an open avenue toward her. Standing tall and proud. Her eyes ever sharp, taking in everything around her. Cow pins displayed like an award rack on a soldier’s ASUs. Doctor Temple Grandin.

I was still dating my wife at the time and she knew that I was as star struck as I was in sensory overload. So, my wife grabbed my hand and drug me over to Dr. Grandin, explaining my issue and they both gave me a pointed look like, “Are you going to say ‘Hello’ and ask for an autograph, or picture?” I eventually caved and asked. The good doctor was the consummate professional.

While she seemed slightly perturbed by my shyness and behavior, I could tell by the look in her eyes that she understood. We held a short, two-minute conversation before she signed my books and was off like a flash to meet the next group of people. I was too slow to get a selfie with her. I was too star struck! Me! A person who had met the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation (including John de Lancie) and Sylvester McCoy of The Hobbit and Doctor Who fame. I didn’t have a problem with meeting them. Yet, I found myself so start struck and nervous that I was shaking!

Several minutes later we were sitting in the auditorium where Dr. Grandin was giving her speech on autism, autism advocacy, autism awareness, her latest book, and animal husbandry. It was quite an informative lesson. I had watched dozens of videos of her giving her speeches and talks. Nothing could have prepared me for the mind-blowing experience of listening to her in person!

Doctor Grandin was charming, funny, witty, and a supremely eloquent speaker. It was easy to see why she is the most sought after autism awareness advocate and speaker. She was able to explain things in such a simplified manner that people who had little to no understanding of the topic could comprehend it. She conveyed an excitement about autism awareness and spoke with such deep passion that it was infectious. One could not help but be drawn in by her.

At the end of her presentation there was a question and answer time. My wife, then girlfriend/fiance, began warning me that she was going to ask her a question I might find both embarrassing and funny at the same time. I kept asking her not to, but she said that she wanted to see what Dr. Grandin had to say on the subject of her question. There were the typical questions about her squeeze machine, how she learned to deal with colitis, and if she really did what she did in the movie about her life when the cowboys covered her truck in bull testicles.

The next thing that I knew, there was a spotlight on my wife and a microphone being held in front of her. I couldn’t help but start stimming. The embarrassment and overstimulation showing on my face.

That’s when I heard her question: “What advice do you have for someone married to, or in a relationship with an autistic person, and how to deal with them when they start stimming in public?” She just had to go there. I was gazing at Dr. Grandin from beneath the hand that wasn’t flapping like crazy. Waiting to see what she had to say. I know that it was a genuine concern and question. I still couldn’t help but feel a little exposed.

Doctor Grandin got a bit of a mischievous smirk on her face and that’s when she unloaded both barrels. “As long as it isn’t too bad, I would let it go. However, if it is too bad and noticeable, here’s what I want you to do: Reach over and pop him on the back of the head. Tell him, ‘No. Not right now. This isn’t the time, or place for that. Wait until we get home. Then you can stim all you want for as long as you want.’ Is that him slouching in the seat next to you?”

Hello spotlight! Hello blushing in embarrassment! That was one hell of a salvo! At the time I was incredibly embarrassed. I chuckled nervously, but was still a little irritated that she had actually gone through with it and asked her. I knew that they were both trying to lighten a fairly sensitive subject to try and make it less embarrassing. At the time I was less-than-pleased.

Looking back on it, the question needed answering, and the response was epically hilarious! Once I had calmed down, I was able to find the humor in it and found myself incredibly grateful for the advice that Dr. Grandin had given her. I was also a very happy man for having gotten the chance to meet such an amazing person!

I attribute the inspiration for this blog and my own mission of autism awareness: Sharing my experiences and so on; to meeting Dr. Grandin and attending the talk that she gave. If any of you ever have the chance to meet her and attend one of her talks, DO IT! It is one of the best things that you can do. You will be inspired, educated, and left in stitches by her uplifting and humorous speeches! To this day I count myself lucky to have met Dr. Temple Grandin.

“Look Me In The Eye”

The book, “Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison, made quite the impact on me the first time that I read it. Right from the off, much of what he writes about speaks to me and feels like I am seeing small bits of myself in what he describes.

It was awe inspiring to see what his childhood was like, what his talents led him to, and where he ended up. His words resonant deeply each time that I have the chance to read his book. Seeing what he went through and how his life progressed from birth to diagnosis and beyond is a major source of inspiration.

Finding out about his work with KISS in the seventies was shocking, but with talent like his, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. That’s for sure. Quite an interesting individual, don’t you think?

Being on the autism spectrum and not getting my diagnosis until adulthood, I find myself drawn to his life story. Growing up knowing that I was different, but neither how, nor why. Not fully understanding other people, but wanting to. Eventually overcoming the past, finding areas where one could be successful, and running with it. Having a family. My son is showing signs of being on the spectrum…and now my daughter is starting to show signs as well.

Seeing what he had to say about having children, particularly one that is on the spectrum as well, has helped me immensely when it comes to my own children. For those of you on the spectrum with NT children, or on the spectrum with children that are as well; I highly suggest this book. It is a source of inspiration and proof that different does not equal less. It is proof that regardless of your background and past; so long as you continue to press onward and upward, you can achieve anything.

I would likely to apologize for the brevity of this post, but today is incredibly busy and while I would liked to have gone into more detail about J.E. Robison and his incredible story, I find myself quite pressed with more than one blog to manage (along with a home, children , cat, and several other things to take care of today). I apologize profusely and hope that you, my readers, will forgive me for it. Thanks for stopping by.

AIHFA