Tag Archives: autism

Autistic, Pregnant, and Anxious

As an autistic, the one energy that I carry around with me is anxiety. It is said that one in five autistic adults may have an anxiety disorder. Yay for me, I am the one in five. I’ve learned that anxiety doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Anxiety can help you plan for the what-if’s, it can warn you of danger, and it can be a guide. However, I believe there are different ways to feed and guide your anxiety. For example, first thing in the morning we are hungry. We satisfy that hunger with food. I could technically live off of Lucky Charms cereal and not starve, but I wouldn’t get the nutrients I need and I’d get a stomach ache, which is another issue to deal with! However, if I feed myself some scrambled eggs with sautéed peppers and onions, I’d fill my body with nutrients and I’d be satisfied with what I consumed. Think of anxiety as a form of hunger, because it festers and will become a problem if you don’t acknowledge it after a while. Things I do to ward of my anxiety in Lucky Charms fashion is to fill my head with distractions. I get on social media. I distract myself with games and apps on my phone. I do chores around the house. It may be great in the moment, but the anxiety truly doesn’t go away, it just gets shifted. And because I didn’t cope with the anxiety healthily, other things start to fester in my body: depression, anger, fear.

Since finding out I’m pregnant, I’ve become more of an anxious mess than usual. I have new and unfamiliar pangs of discomfort that are overwhelming to handle. Feelings of discomfort are often heightened for me since I’m on the spectrum. Because of this, I experience anxious thoughts. “Is this normal? Am I being dramatic?” The whole experience is draining. The frustrating part is dealing with infertility for so long and just wanting to be happy about pregnancy but just experiencing overwhelming fear instead. Needless to say, I’ve been handling the anxiety in true Lucky Charms fashion. Distractions, distractions, distractions.

Yesterday my husband was home sick. I went into the kitchen to clean up what had been destroyed over the weekend and immediately became overwhelmed (of course). Dishes, trash, food…where to start? I didn’t even want to handle it. Since the car wasn’t at work with my husband, I decided to go to the one place that I always find solace: the library. I spent a good hour at the library browsing the shelves and selecting books to take home that would fuel my soul. Books on subjects such as crafting, healthy pregnancy, working through anxiety, and spirituality. This was my first step to handling my anxiety in a healthy, sautéed scrambled eggs way.

When I got home, I had a video chat with friends from my autistic support group. We chatted about our struggles, our interests, our families, and followed-up with each other. It’s nice to talk with other people on the spectrum and know that you aren’t alone in your struggles. Sautéed scrambled eggs soul-fuel.

After my trip to the library and my discussion with my autistic friends, I felt motivated to do the things around the house that needed to get done. Not only did I feel motivated, but I had a desire to go above and beyond what needed to be done. I even made a healthy dinner!

After dinner, I started reading one of my library books, “The Mindful Mom-To-Be: A Modern Doula’s Guide to Building a Healthy Foundation from Pregnancy Through Birth by Lori Bregman. I’ve been struggling with the thoughts of “how can I care for a baby? I have a hard time caring for myself!” Lori puts an emphasis on learning to parent yourself during pregnancy in order to be your best self once baby comes. She states, “The more you show up for yourself, the more naturally and organically you will be able to parent your child. Parenting will become second nature because it will be such a part of you…..Pregnancy is a great time to really honor yourself and surrender to your needs.” She also gave some great nutritional advice and recommended prenatal yoga and other healthy-living options. I actually put down the book before I was finished with the chapter, changed into my yoga clothes, and turned on a prenatal yoga video on Youtube! The experience helped me gain confidence that I was in control of my body, not my body being in control of me, which is what I’ve been feeling a lot of lately.

Anxiety and autism can be a beast during pregnancy, but I know with the right tools, I can transform my anxiety and autism to aid me instead of derail me during this event in my life. I will fuel my anxiety with routines, rituals, plans, and allow for room and grace when things don’t go as-planned. I am in control of this pregnancy. This pregnancy is meant-to-be, and I will be a really awesome mother. Sautéed scrambled eggs soul-fuel.

Anything You Can Do, Autistics Can Do Better

Stay grateful everyone!!!!!!!! #blessed #grateful #strong #positivevibes

I wasn’t diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) until I was 25. Over the past 3 years, I’ve been having to dismantle the ableism that I grew up believing in and learn to look at myself and others through a lens of grace and understanding.

Right now as I write this blog post, I am struggling with the thoughts of not feeling “smart enough” to express myself. I’m struggling with having confidence to keep typing. I’ve been forcing myself to keep typing and not shut my laptop closed. As you can tell, I’m a person who really feels my feelings and succumbs to the negative thoughts in my head. Often times I tell myself that my goals are too out of reach. I tell myself I am not good enough.

In Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, she talks about the anxiety of failure and not feeling good enough. When Michelle spoke with her academic advisor in high school, she told her advisor about her goal to attend Princeton. Her advisor told her that they didn’t think she was “Princeton material.”

How many times has the autistic community been told that we can’t do something because of our disability? How many times have we been told to lower our expectations?

Mrs. Obama tells us, “failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result.” She tells us that there will always be people that tell us that we can’t accomplish our dreams, there are people who will put us down. Mrs. Obama instructs us to lean onto those who will help us get closer to our dreams and that we must push forward with our goals. She could have taken what her advisor’s advice and lowered her goals, but instead decided to use the doubt as fuel. And guess what? She got accepted into Princeton.

Autistics have had to learn the importance of self-advocacy. We’ve taken all of the doubt given to us and used it as fuel to reach our goals and break the glass ceiling.

Just this week, Jessica Benham was elected the first openly-autistic State Representative in Pennsylvania. That gives me hope.

Haley Moss is the first openly-autistic attorney in the state of Florida. That gives me hope.

These ladies are pioneers, paving the way for other women and non-binary autistics to feel encouraged and hopeful and gain the confidence to feel that we can change the world for the better, that we can live fearlessly and fiercely to make a difference.

I’m still struggling with thought’s of not feeling good enough. However, I’ve learned to lean on my support people, reach out to my resources, and remain hopeful that feelings are temporary and not sold truth. I continue to dismantle the ableism I have in my brain, and I look at the heroes paving the path for my success.

For this, I am grateful.

The one about trying to make friends at a new college campus

“You’re still wearing those earrings?” my husband asked me. It was late into the evening and we were watching our favorite shows together on the television before his very busy weekend.

I smiled my goofy smile to him, making a silly face.

I recently started the spring semester on a new college campus as a transfer student. Every morning I wake up, put some clean clothes on, try to do something with my hair, brush my teeth and I’m out the door. Some days I wake up with enough energy to make myself look nice, other days it’s jeans, a t shirt, mismatched socks, and my frizzy mess of hair hiding under a headband.

I never know how much energy life will hand me each day. Sometimes I’m up before my alarm clock, some mornings I’m tardy to class. I try my best to work with what I’m given. I give that energy to every task I am faced with and every person I see.

I am constantly giving my energy to other people daily. It’s not their fault and it’s not my fault. It’s just life on the autism spectrum. It takes effort and courage to initiate a conversation with people I don’t know, and I do it on a daily basis because I am new on campus and everyone is new to me. I recite the same script over and over in hopes someone might ask me to connect with them on social media (or, gasp, real life) instead of the other way around. I spend energy trying to create relationships with people because I need a friend. My husband works all the time so I am alone all the time. Going to classes and doing my homework help me pass the time, but finding a friend who shares mutual interests with me would be really great.

I’ve had a hard time creating friendships since I was 11. When you’re a kid you bond with people over simple things like finding someone who is wearing the same pair of shoes as you. It gets more complicated once you hit those pre-teen years and I’ve been trying to unlock the secret formula of friend-making like Plankton has been trying to steal the secret Crabby Patty formula. I think autism has a lot to do with why it’s hard making those connections because I’ve talked to others on the spectrum that ride my same struggle bus. But once I get off on the stop at Friendsville, the connections I make with people are usually really awesome.

Yesterday I went to take my test through the student services department. I used my script as someone was getting my test for me,

“Oh, I really like your earrings!” (always compliment an item of clothing because it might lead to a conversation of a store we both like, a color that brings us joy, or some sort of way to just connect with someone)

“Thank you,” She replied back, “would you like a pair?”

“Really?” I asked, surprised. I didn’t expect that answer.

“Yes, I love Valentine’s Day and I brought many pairs of Valentine’s Day earrings with me. You can pick out a pair.”

I spent my time choosing, feeling thankful, someone was finally giving their energy to me through their kindness, and refueling my faith in humanity. And just refueling me in general.

I wore the earrings all day, constantly playing with them as they jingled beside my head, reminding me that I’m not always going to be alone. The bus ride has to end at some point loneliness is just a phase I have to go through before I find and connect with my tribe.

So, when my husband asked me if I was still wearing the earrings I replied to him, “Yes, they were a gift someone gave to me.”

The Vague Poem

Wanting to change but fearing the future.

Wanting to change but clinging to the past.

Let go of the past,

Look ahead.

Hearing the voices who call me a failure,

My voice is the loudest of all.

I don’t want easy, I want possible.

But I want easy.

I want possible.

Emotions play such a vital role in change.

I don’t trust myself.

I look at the past and I see my failures,

I look at my present and see them as well.

Addiction is hard. Addiction is impossible.

Change is impossible…

Isn’t it?

Shame.

Failure.

Shame.

Hope?

Hope.

Goodbye to shame.

Goodbye to failure.

Hello to Hope.

Hello to Change.

Hello to Possible.

Goodbye to easy.

Goodbye to the past.

Welcome, my beautiful, bright, future.

Hello to Me.

“I smell snow.”

On New Year’s Eve in 1999 I remember lying in bed silently sobbing to myself. I was 7 years old and you would have thought someone took my Betty Spaghetti away from me, had spit in my ice cream, or did another terrible act against me. I don’t remember why, but I was so scared for the year 2000 to come! I think it had to do with the innocence of childhood and constant change I was experiencing at the time. I was an army brat, enough said. When you’re a kid, your imagination runs wild, you experience things with such emotion and everything is a storyline waiting to be played out with your friends. I think I had a moment of terror knowing that would all go away one day. The 90’s were fixing to be behind me, all of their great memories, and the future was a whole blank, scary page of unknown. Especially the adulthood thing.

At this point in my life, I pray this year to hurry and end. I experienced many great things and had a plethora of growing experiences. Growing hurts and some experiences can be painful. I acknowledge those experiences and thank them for the lessons they’ve taught me. However, I’m ready to move on and I’m so excited for the New Year!

I don’t know why it is so important for me to have a new “starting day” because I know logically that January 1, 2018 will be just another ordinary day. 18 years ago the big, blank, scary page of unknown scared my 7-year-old self. But what I perceived as scary then (the unknown) has introduced itself to me as exciting, new opportunities waiting to be explored.

I always make “resolutions” but they usually fade away from my memory and by December I don’t even remember what I “resoluted ” all those months earlier!

This year I was introduced to bullet journaling. I will have to blog about that sometime. Since keeping a journal, it’s been easier to keep up with goals and deadlines.

Here are just of few of my New Year resolutions-

1) Write that book.

I’ve been wanting to write a book for forever! Just something silly to gift my baby cousins and my friend’s children. I have a few story lines in my head and they just need to be jotted down. I’m wanting to write a children’s book about a couple of special cats in my life. We will have to see what this year holds…

2) Establish a morning and bedtime routine.

I stay up way too late hanging out with my “friends” Liza Koshie, David Dobrik, and Gabbie Hanna on YouTube. This results in becoming very familiar with the snooze button in the mornings. I’ve already written down an ideal routine (that I’m sure will need to be tweaked) for both my mornings and evenings to make those times go smoother.

3) Weekly yoga.

I love yoga! I only attend in spurts and I want to be more consistent. My plan is to prioritize yoga by paying for it in advance so that I won’t back out. Anxiety always takes over. Not this year!

4) See Taylor Swift in concert!

I wrote these resolutions in November and didn’t share them with my husband until last night. A couple of weeks ago he gifted me with Taylor Swift concert tickets for October 6, 2018 in Arlington, TX!!! My husband made one of my dreams, and resolutions come true and more attainable and he didn’t even know! (Thank you, Christopher for my Taylor Swift concert tickets!!!)

I see 2018 as 12 new chapters, 365 new chances, and a million possibilities to experience. I hope you feel that way as well!

What are you looking forward to in the New Year? What are some of your New Year Resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Your Lady on the Autism Spectrum

Christmastime. Hearing that word makes me both giddy with joy and overwhelmed. I love Christmas traditions being with family but I hate trying to come up with present ideas. If you’re anything like me, it would be great if the universe provided very specific gift lists catered to Retired Army Man That Is A Workaholic or Mother-in-law That Basically Has Everything Already or Sister Who Hoards Christmas Presents And Never Uses Them.

Well, for your convenience, I have come up with a specific gift list geared toward Your Lady On the Autism Spectrum. Here are some items I came up with that I feel are great for a woman on the high functioning autism spectrum:

1)      Sequins! My favorite item I purchased for myself was a pillow covered in reversible sequins. Obviously a pillow won’t fit into a stocking! I’ve seen some fun cell phone cases and stress balls covered in sequins that would make a great stocking stuffer. Sequins become a great stimming tool for me. I like the way it feels when the sequins change different directions under my hand and I also like that you can “draw” a picture in the sequins with your fingers and then erase it. Also, since the sequins are reversible, the pillow I have changes colors based on which side the sequins are facing.

2)      Peanut Butter! I know you’re probably thinking “Peanut butter, really? That’s weird.” Bear with me. Most autistic people have a favorite food or treat they “must” eat at least once a day. Mine is Creamy Jiff peanut butter. Pop your autie’s favorite treat into their stocking and they will be forever thankful, trust me.

3)      Essential Oils. One way I calm myself down after a long day or from a hard meltdown is through using essential oils. I have a hard time falling asleep and I use lavender oils to help me fall asleep. My favorite brands are DoTerra or Young Living Essential Oils.

4)      Stencils. I’ve really gotten into bullet journaling. It helps me to calm down and set some goals to work through meltdowns or hard situations. I’m not an artist by any means so stencils help me when I want to make my journal entry look a little bit more neat and exciting.

5)      Lessons/Sessions/Memberships. One of the tools I use to live in harmony with my autism is through exercise and meditation. The forms of exercise that I have found that work best for me are POUNDFit, yoga, and Rising Phoenix Yoga Therapy. If you know what your autie likes, get what suits her best. If you need suggestions, I’ll provide both the website you can find these places in the Oklahoma City metro and you can search for a class near you:

PoundFit

OKC Metro: Ariel Cullison at The Wherehouse

Near You: https://poundfit.com/find-a-class/

Yoga

OKC Metro: YogaLab

Near You: If you don’t have access to a yoga studio near you, you can utilize DVD’s, YouTube, or books. However, I find a class helps me to receive expert advice if I have questions or need help, and I feel more focused in an actual studio setting.

Rising Phoenix Yoga Therapy:

OKC Metro: Sarah Bustamante

Near You: http://pryt.com/pryt-directory/

6)      Shipt membership. One of the things I loathe doing is grocery shopping. I try and do most of my shopping at Target but I usually have to go to Walmart or my local grocery store for lower prices and more variety. I could list all of the reasons why I don’t enjoy Walmart, so just trust me that I don’t like the environment there. With that being said, I’ve heard Shipt is a great service that allows others to do the shopping for you AND deliver it to your home! This is great idea and any autie would be ecstastic to find a Shipt membership as a stocking stuffer this year.

7)      Gnome. Most auties have something they are obsessed over and like to collect. My obsessions are gnomes and also Willow Tree Collectibles. I usually remember who gave me which gnome and I name them. Get your autie their favorite collectible item to add to their collection and they’ll be ecstatic!

8)      Earrings & nail polish. One of my favorite things I do to feel beautiful is to wear my favorite shade of nail polish or put on a favorite pair of stud earrings. I’m not a fan of dangling earrings so that’s why I specified the stud earrings, simple yet beautiful. I really like the Essie gel setter top coat because it feels and lasts just as long as gel/shellac manicures you can get done at the nail salon. Also, you don’t have to worry about the UV lights used. I found a cute shop named AspieNailPolish that donates a portion of their earnings to Autism Speaks.

9)      iTunes gift card. You’re probably thinking, “Why would you put this as a suggestion? This is a pretty generic gift!” Yes, it is generic, but hear me out. I use certain apps to help with stimming, especially if I’m in a public place. My favorite game is Best Fiends, for example. I really want to upgrade certain Fiends for my silly game.

Also, there are other apps and tools that are great for us on the spectrum that usually require a one-time purchase. Or, you know, we could just buy that new Taylor Swift album we’ve had our eye on!

10)   Autism awareness gear. This year has been a crazy one for me. I’ve had an amazing journey of coming to terms and accepting my autism diagnosis. All in all, I’m pretty proud to be an autie and want to spread awareness for others on the spectrum. Something like this necklace or this cute enamel pin from my favorite shop would be a great gift.

There you have it, some creative, fun suggestions that is sure to make your lady smile as she digs through her stocking this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

“Do you know any lesbians?” “Uh, uh, sure I do.” “How many?” “Three, maybe four.” “Maybe four?” “Well, waiting on confirmation.” “I like lesbians.” “Yeah, they’re, they’re swell.” 

A few weeks ago I attended the Pride festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks. I wanted to show my support to those who belong to the community. I had a friend I wanted to tag along with me but they were unable to make it. The reason being- they had attempted to commit suicide a week before the event due to them identifying with the LGBTQ+ community. They felt ashamed, as they were surrounded by people who did not show the support they needed. I’m sure there was more to it then that, but I know that is one of the feelings this friend had: shame. 
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of four. My parents or grandparents never shamed me for it, it was part of who I was. They let me know that I had ADHD and they helped me understand how to cope with it and what tools to use in order to be better in the classroom. When I was in the fourth grade, I had a friend, J, who was also ADHD. We were goofballs and loved helping each other find ways to get distracted in the boring classroom. One day, our teacher, Mrs. B, was having a classroom discussion with us. She said, “Raise your hand if you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD,” so, J and I raised our hands. “I remember when my son was diagnosed with ADHD,” she began, “it was so devastating, I cried all week when he was diagnosed…” and she rattled on and on about how ADHD had ruined her life. I was confused and embarrassed. That was the first time I had ever felt ashamed of myself; it was the first time I knew I had to be ashamed of myself. 
I remember the first time I was questioned about my sexuality. I attended a private, conservative, Christian school in the 8th grade. As an Autie, I wear my heart on my sleeve. As we were leaving class one day, I told my friend, “See you later! Love you!” and she looked at me bewildered, lowered her voice, and asked, “are you a lesbian?” 

“No,” I replied, “Why do you ask?” 

“Because,” she said, looking at me, careful judgement in her eyes. “I notice you only hang out with girls and you tell them that you love them.” 

Okay, I thought, sorry you live a loveless life and the guys at this school have pea-brains that I can’t stand talking to them. 

So, the running “joke” at school was that I was gay. 
A few weeks later as I was naively teasing my friends telling them I was gay, Mr. W, screamed at me and said, “Leah Whitehorn! I cannot believe you would say such a thing! What would your mother say if she heard you saying that you were gay?!” 

I looked at him, fire coming out of my ears, mad that being “gay” was something I would have to be ashamed about and confess to my parents in the first place. Then I laughed, and spit the words out, “She’d laugh,” I replied to that spineless, arrogant, teacher. 

He did not like that reply, and away I went, sent to the principles office. 
A few years later, in high school, I attended another small, private school. It wasn’t a Christian school but it was run by Christians. 

During class, my principal/teacher often went on rants. She would tell us that gay people became that way because they were molested as children. She also told us about a movie that she went to go see in the theater. She reported that there was a scene where two men started kissing each other. She said she was SO disgusted that she got up and walked out of the movie theater. 

The sad thing about this teacher and her stories were that she told these stories with the students she knew were part of the LGBTQ community sitting in her class. 
My senior year of high school I joined the LDS church. It kind of felt like “coming out” to family and friends. I know it’s not fair to relate my story in this way, but bear with me. I lost a few friends, and I definitely had a few family members show disappointment in me. I was told “have a nice life” and “you’re going to hell for your decision” and it was a hard time. But, I also had so much support as well.

Then, the church that I loved so much made a official, public statement saying that children of same-sex couples were not allowed to be baptized until they were 18, only after they admitted that their parents relationship was wrong. Their “official” statement rocked my world. 

I have family and friends who are dear to my heart that are part of the community that the church was officially showing opposition to. They can preach love and acceptance all that they want but if the actions do not count, I’m not buying it. 

So, I wear my rainbow pin to church every chance I get, in hopes that an LDS member of the LGBTQ community sees it and knows they are not alone, they are loved, and they have an ally. 

But, I’m also considering changing to a more accepting congregation of church goers. 
All of this to say, LGBTQ community, I’m so sorry for the hate that you endure. I understand, to a very small extent, the hate and shame that is aimed your way. Please don’t end your life. If you need someone, I will fight for you. I love you and I will fight for you. Always. 

“Tell us more about this racquetball…what are the clothes like?” “Can we wear cute outfits?” “I do.” “I think racquetball sounds great.” 


At the beginning of this week, I didn’t know where the week would lead me…little did I know that I would get a lesson in self-love. 

It’s no mistake that I’ve had issues with my autism spectrum diagnosis. Accepting it has been a pattern of grief, relief, understanding, and confusion. I had been focusing on all of the struggles that have been in my life due to autism. I didn’t know how to embrace autism and let it define me in a positive light. 

For the past 2 weeks I had been looking into forms of exercise that would appeal to me. I found some methods that worked for me and some that didn’t. 

This week was very successful in finding what I love. 


I had seen an event in my area being advertised as “farm yoga.” I was incredibly excited for this! I’ve tried yoga in the past and fell in love. One of my special interests is animals. Put both interests together and you get success!!! 

Farm Yoga was hosted by Garden of Edens Massage Therapy in south Oklahoma City (Moore). The instructor was Kyleen and she was extremely friendly! Upon arrival, I pulled up to a big red barn in the countryside. I was welcomed by a small group who welcomed me in! I paid $5 (I love cheap deals!) and received a free chair massage, some feed for the animals, and I put my name into a drawing to win some free stuff! As I was enjoying my massage, Chewy the goat came up to me and asked me for kibbles! It was so much fun. 


After my massage I decided to feed the goats and donkeys that were in the same pin we were doing our farm yoga in! The donkeys were a little skittish and Chewy was a food hog. 

During the yoga class, there were a few moves I couldn’t do whether it was due to coordination or working around the extra fluff I have going on. The best part about yoga is listening to your body and asking it with what it wants, what it’s comfortable with, and what it would like to try or hold back on. When my body asked to hold back on certain poses, we stopped and pet a goat or donkey. Sometimes it was hard to keep my concentration. Every once in a while a goat would come up to me and lick my toes!!! 

The most memorable moment of farm yoga, for me, was at the end of our cool down. At “namaste” I looked over my shoulder and one of the donkeys was kissing my shoulder! It was like he could feel my happy spirit and was encouraging me to keep going. Animals are so magical. 


At the end of the class we enjoyed new friendships, conversations, and refreshments! I, of course, decided to feed some of my furry friends some more kibbles!!! 

As if my day couldn’t get any better, I also won a gift basket containing a charcoal face mask, Epsom salts (which are always a need in my life after yoga), a bath bomb (I LOVE bath bombs! Especially Lush), an eye mask, candies……and…..a gift certificate to a free one-hour hot stone massage!!!!

Farm yoga=no regrets. 


One of the most exciting things about learning that I am a member of the autism community is making new connections. I met my friend Ariel on a Facebook group for the Aspie Adults of Oklahoma City. She is also part of my Facebook group named Oklahoma Women on the Autism Spectrum. I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting her in-person yet and when she announced her fitness class on her personal Facebook page, I KNEW I had to meet her and befriend her! 

Ariel Cullison is a Pound Fit instructor and leads classes at The Wherehouse OKC located in Del City, Oklahoma. She is so much fun, she’s friendly, and has an amazing energy. The class is extremely welcoming to all ages, races and sexes. She provides modifications in her fitness routine to those who would enjoy more of a challenge or those in need of a more gentle method of movement. 

Sounds great! But what exactly is Pound Fit?! Glad you asked! I was introduced to Pound Fit when I watched the show This Is Us. Kate participated in a cardio fitness class that involved drum sticks, music, rhythm, and I KNEW I had to find a class for myself! 

While Kate’s class takes on more of a therapeutic feel, don’t let that scare you. Ariel’s class was definitely more cardio-based and fun-filled and had some fun jams that went along with it! I struggle with coordination and there were a few times I got lost on the rhythm, but Ariel was encouraging and didn’t let me get too far off the beaten (haha, get it?) path! 

Even through the sweat and sore muscles, I had a smile on the entire time and really felt free, energized, and empowered. I’m incredibly grateful toward Ariel for helping me embrace that side of myself and her class members for helping me feel encouraged. If you’re in the OKC area, I HIGHLY recommend you check out one of her classes! 
This week is only half-way through and I’m loving the opportunities it has had in store for me and the lessons it has taught me. I have found confidence in myself, I’m learning to take better care of myself, and I’ve found a few new hobbies and friendly faces to become more familiar with. I am grateful and my heart is full. 

Aspie Meeting update and Autistic Burnout topic 


Autistic burnout. It’s rough. It’s tough. But it doesn’t have to beat you down. 

I’ve been trying to blog on this subject for a couple of weeks. The truth is, I’m learning that burnout takes a longer amount of recovering than I realized. I’m still experiencing burnout even as I type this. It’s also a never-ending cycle. 

Let me start from the beginning.

I had a dream a few days ago. I was walking and running with all the energy in the world, my body wasn’t holding me back and I wasn’t huffing or puffing. I love those dreams. When I woke up, I decided I wanted to try training for a 5k. I usually hate exercise. I associate it with people yelling at me and it being a scary, overwhelming experience (we’ll touch on that another time). I really enjoy yoga but I haven’t done it in months so I haven’t felt comfortable going to a class. So, I decided to download the Couch to 5k app, go to the lake’s walking trail, and do a little training there. I decided on this because I would be in control of the pace of the workout and the intensity. As I began my walk I was encouraged by Britney Spears’s “Stronger” telling me that I was “stronger than yesterday.” I started reflecting on “yesterday”. “Yesterday” I was stuffing my face in an ice cream sundae from Braum’s and today I was on the running track. I was both mad at myself for the choices I made but happy that I decided to change the name of the game.

As I started my routine, the sundae (and the extra bowls of cereal, the poptarts, and ice cream all from the past 2 weeks) started catching up with me. Let me put my body image into perspective for you- as I was doing the two-minute running portion of my exercise, my body fat was clapping against itself. I didn’t know if I should feel encouraged because it sounded like my body was encouragingly applauding me along, or if I should feel humiliated because all of this excess fat was swishing around in the air, banging against itself, and creating a siren that rang “LOOK AT ME! I’M ATTEMPTING THE THINGS!” 

I didn’t last very long. I only did half of the routine. I became discouraged, found a park bench, sat, and sulked. I’m the master of sulking. I looked over the horizon of the lake and thought to myself, “here’s another thing I’m attempting at that I’m quitting. Again.” Then I thought, “Why do I have to quit? Why am I quitting? Is it just because it’s hard?” I decided to get up from the park bench and make the long (to me) trek back to the car. As I was walking, one of my favorite songs from middle school came on Pandora, “Fly” by Hilary Duff. In her encouraging fashion, Hilary sang to me, “When you’re down and feel alone, just want to run away. Trust yourself and don’t give up. You know you better than anyone else.” So, I decided I wouldn’t give up, I would just adjust my workout to fit in a way that better suited me. I decided I would do water walking and water jogging instead. My knees still hurt but not as much.

Moving on….

I recently reached out to a local group in my area, Aspie Adults of Oklahoma City. The group usually meets in Norman once a month. I asked the leaders if they could have a group closer to where I live in OKC and they said that was great- if I wanted to pull it together. I struggled with the decision for a couple of months but decided I would give it a go. A wise individual (Okay, Hilary Duff) once told me ““Fly, open up the part of you that wants to hide away. You can shine. Forget about the reasons why you can’t in life and start to try. ‘Cause it’s your time, time to fly.” 

So, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I would start a North OKC chapter for the Aspie Adults of OKC.

 At first I decided I would have the meeting at a local library in the middle of town. I found out that the public library in Norman lets the Aspie Adults of OKC reserve a room for free. The public libraries in OKC have rooms that cost anywhere from $30-$100 an HOUR. It may not seem much to you, but that’s much to me. So, I reached out to a local LDS (Latter-day Saints) Facebook page for my area and asked if anyone had any ideas on where I could go that was fairly cheap or free. I was hesitant about using an actual church building in my congregation because I know some people feel triggered by religious environments and wanted to keep the group neutral. I would stay awake at night and worry about where I was going to have the meeting. Finally, someone in my stake (Mormon term, look it up) reached out to me and said they would let us use their conference room, free of charge! So, if you’re in OKC and ever need a place to get your electronics fixed, go to Digital Doc off of May and 59th!!!!!! They are great people. They said it was alright with them if I held a meeting every 4th Saturday of each month. Thank you, Digital Doc!!!

The next plan was to come up with the discussion topic. I wanted to do a get-to-know-you activity, while celebrating our diversity, but also acknowledging that we can all come together as one. The first thing that popped into my head was puzzle pieces. I was really hesitant with this thought because puzzle pieces is usually associated with Autism Speaks and that particular organization is very triggering to a lot of auties. Basically AS doesn’t have any auties on their board of directors and also things autism is a thing that needs to be cured. They have used the puzzle piece to represent autism as something that is puzzling and a cure (the missing piece) needs to be found. That’s a very butchered version, but that’s the gist. To me, the puzzle piece represents something I have been trying to find all of my life. I’ll speak on that another time. For this exercise I was preparing for my Aspie meeting, I was wanting to use the puzzle as a way to show how each other in the group were different but could come together and find their place in our meeting-it wasn’t even related to autism at all. So, I reached out to an autism women’s group on facebook and asked their opinion. They suggested I make the pieces in a shape that didn’t look like traditional puzzle pieces. It was a very helpful comment and I took the fellow-aspie’s advice. I decided to buy some new coloring crayons and some markers at my local Target. I already owned coloring pencils. I wanted to make sure there were different “artistic” methods of creating a personal “all about you” puzzle piece that would speak to each person. 

I arrived about 30 minutes to the meeting. I had brought name tags. I’m really bad at names. I either remember your name or your face, it takes me a long time to connect both. I learned that some aspies at my meeting had a disorder of some sort that caused them to not ever remember names so the name tags were a great idea. Good job, me. Digital Doc did a great job setting up the tables and chairs the way I requested, and I arranged all the art supplies and puzzle pieces the way I wanted to.

I ended up having 6 people (excluding myself) show up to the meeting! Some of them were leaders and members of the group in Norman and I believe a couple were new. One of the members told me “one fact about aspies, they’re either really late or really early.” So, in true aspie fashion we started 30 minutes late! It was fine, though.

 I prepared a few questions that we could discuss. My first question was “What was life like for you growing up with autism? Did you feel like you fit in or did you feel like you were an outcast?” I heard stories that were like mine- a few members were diagnosed later in life and a few were diagnosed in childhood. They all had feelings of isolation. 

The next question I had was “What advantages do you feel come with being on the spectrum?” Aspies are known for having special interests. Some suggested that their special interests helped them be self-reliant. For example, one of my member’s special interest is religion and he has been able to be a pastor. Therefore, his special interest of religion has helped him make a living. My favorite, and I feel like the best comment was made by one individual who said, “Once you harness it, you become a great anthropologist.” So true, the one thing that has gotten me through the NT (neurotypical) world is copying behaviors I’ve seen by others. 

The last question I had for them was, “Do you feel like you have a place or have found your place in the neurotypical world?” This is the question that I was most anxious to get answers from. I wanted to know the secret of fitting into the world around me. However, everyone answered a big ole “NO.” It was both discouraging but comforting to hear that I wasn’t alone in my feelings of isolation. 

After our discussion, I asked those who felt comfortable to tell us what they put on their puzzle piece. I received a round of applause when I mentioned I had written “Weight Watchers” on my piece because I had lost 50 lbs on the program. One person had shared with us a drawing on their bearded dragon, I think it was, because they collect amphibians. Another person was a truck driver and shared a drawing of a truck. My favorite one was an individual who said “I like Star Trek.” and held up their drawing of a Star Trek space ship thingy thing, for lack of knowledge of technical term. 


I ended the meeting by having us put the puzzle together. My parting statement was, “Although we may feel different, we fit in somewhere. Just like any puzzle, it may take time to find the spot where you fit in perfectly, but I promise you fit in. Especially here, at Aspie Adults of OKC.”


All in all, it was a very successful meeting and I had a great time. I was told by the members that they enjoyed the meeting as well. That was very encouraging. 

However, it took a lot of energy. I was high on energy after my meeting and wanted to do a lot of things, I didn’t want to go home. I think I was running on adrenaline. My husband had been called into work that morning unexpectedly and didn’t have the energy to go on a date with me so I went by myself. I ended my evening at a coffee shop, listening to a live performance. I was the only member in the audience, which was fine by me. It was a man singing and playing his guitar. He asked me what I liked to listen to and I told him “pop.” Poor dude. He tried, unsuccessfully, to play Britney Spears for me. I later told him a song by the Black Crowes would suffice. So, he played “She Talks to Angels.” I think my dad would have been proud of me. (Don’t tell him I had to do a quick Google search first.)

Saturday (meeting day) was great. The day after was a whole other story. When I woke up Sunday morning, I already off. I felt incredibly guilty because I didn’t have the energy to get up, go to church, and teach my primary class that day. I woke up with a sore throat (battling a sinus infection, which is NOT sensory friendly) and I was just overwhelmed from the start. I was mad because I was in a bad mood and didn’t know why (Oddly enough, I still have a hard time recognizing burnout at times) and ended the day in a meltdown. The meeting went great but the weekend didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get to spend time with my husband in the way I had planned all week. We were supposed to go fishing that weekend but so many other things came up that we didn’t make it. So, disappointment and exhaustion ended with a mild meltdown Sunday evening. 

I think the most frustrating thing is that I need so much downtime to recover mentally from all the activities I put myself through. I don’t give myself the time I need, mainly because, sometimes, there’s not time to give yourself. 

Needless to say, I think this week is going to be low-key and activity-free. Although, I’m planning to go to Farm Yoga. Stay tuned for a blog post on that. I already have an idea planned for my next meeting on the subject I want to talk about. I’m very much looking forward to that!

Thank you for making it to the end of my blog post. I apologize if any of it was confusing to follow. Writing while experiencing burnout is pretty interesting and exhausting but I wanted to give you guys something!

Take care!

Expectations, Infertility, and Autism


I think the main entity that causes anxiety in life are expectations. The anticipation at the results of an event or the sudden change in plans drives my anxiety through the roof. It also happens with good things! The planning and excitement leading up to events leaves me exhausted. The exhaustion isn’t always bad, and I’ve even learned to welcome it, give it a warm hello when it knocks on my door, and offer it a room to have a nice, comfortable stay until it’s visit is over.
Expectations require a little more planning on my part. Scratch that, they require a lot of planning. I’ve learned it’s important to have a Plan A, Plan B, and even accept that there is no plan at all.
Alongside my parents, I was also raised by my grandparents who I loving refer to as Granna and Poppy. G&P adopted my Aunt Martha who has several mental and physical handicaps, all of which don’t keep her from smiling the biggest smile you ever witnessed and demanding hugs at every turn. Martha taught me the importance of ability in disability. Granna taught Martha she could pretty much do anything she wanted, if she put her mind to it, and tweaked a few things. Aunt Martha lives an independent life in a group home with other ladies, she has a job, and she even has a boyfriend!
I feel that when the media includes autism in its programs, it only illustrates one side of the spectrum, and it is usually the side I don’t entirely relate to. There is an entire other half of the spectrum that Hollywood doesn’t explore near enough, and when they do touch on it, it usually showcases the “classic,” male-sided idea of autism. The truth is that people on the spectrum, and all differently abled people can live healthy, productive lives and be part of society.
With all of this in mind, I know how important differently abled people are to the community. I know they can live successful lives, I know they can over reach impossible standards placed before them. Even with this knowledge and witnessing it first hand, I’m ashamed to say that upon receiving my Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis…I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to be put in the same category as these types of people, handicapped people. Then I felt ashamed of myself for having these thoughts and feelings. I was raised to include everyone, different or not; to embrace them as equals. So, why did I have these thoughts and feelings? One answer…expectations.
Expectations followed me into my marriage. You know the saying, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage”? Hello, expectations. I was determined to get pregnant right after I got married, in 2014. I just assumed my Momma’s prayers reached God’s ears with more force than mine because my husband and I were stupid-broke newlyweds who could barely afford to live ourselves much less care for a kid, and that’s why there was no success in conceiving.
Earlier this year, after much discussion and prayer, we decided to contact my OBGYN and get the process started, for real. My expectations were that the doctor would figure out what was wrong, she would give me some medicine, we would do The Dance, and we would get the results we wanted. HAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, it doesn’t happen that way.
One morning I decided to take my one millionth pregnancy test of the week. Guess what?! It came back positive! I showed a few friends who confirmed that their eyes saw a positive, I showed my husband, I texted my sister, then I called the doctor. As I waited for the doctor to call me back to confirm my blood pregnancy test, I calculated that my due date would be December 24. Christmas had been such a bad time of year for my family since my Mammaw, Nana, and Granna had passed away a few years earlier on or around Christmas. I began to refer to the holiday as Doomsday. I was so ecstatic that I would get to give my husband and the rest of my family the best Christmas gift ever and make the holiday season happy again, and associate it with LIFE. I even tried to convince Christopher that if the baby was born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day we would name her/him Noel.
Then I received The Call. Along with autism, I also battle with Polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s pretty common for people with PCOS to receive a false positive, or a chemical pregnancy, due to imbalanced hormones, and that is what happened in my situation.
Expectations out the window, I was crushed. I was bombarded with anger, shame, guilt, jealousy, just to name a few. I had “all the feels,” if you will. Those feelings are overwhelming to anyone, especially to an autistic.
Here I was, struggling with both my mind and my body not working “correctly.” It was embarrassing. I questioned my self-worth. Why was I on this earth if I was going to be “retarded” and barren? I questioned my worthiness of motherhood, if I would even make an “acceptable” mother since I had autism. Surely God thought the same thing and that’s why he didn’t send me a baby.
The truth is there are plenty of women on the spectrum that have successful careers. There are many women on the spectrum that live an ordinary, everyday life and blend into the crowd. There are many women who live amazingly funky lifestyles and are noticed for their talents. There are plenty of women on the spectrum who reach motherhood and excel. There are also many women on the spectrum that let life take them on a journey and learn to embrace their travels, heartaches, and joys.
My goal is to open the door to that discussion, to break down the walls and barriers that are autism. It all starts when we begin to open our mind to the great and numerous possibilities. It starts when us aspies begin to believe in ourselves. Most importantly, it starts when we change our expectations.