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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The End of an Era, Schedules, and Transparency

So, the end of an era dawns on me. The ending of my spring term, my second full term in college, ends in a few weeks. I've been making good grades (I probably have the lowest grade in anthropology), and I can't complain. Now that I'm contemplating my summer schedule (in which I will take about three or four classes), I need to figure out not only what subjects I'm taking, but also which teachers I will be instructed by.

Needless to say, I'm very specific about my teachers. I either "click" with them, or I don't. If I do get along with the professor, I usually get good grades, participate in the subject matter/class, etc. However, if I don't get along with the teacher, my mind tends to wander, I get distracted, I fidget, I draw... you name it. Hence, I flunk out.

This semester, I have found two great teachers at my college. My math teacher, Mr. Flax, and my biology teacher, Mr. Mann. I have signed up for Mr. Mann's biology II course over the summer. Both teachers are very passionate about the subject and very thorough in their presentations and lectures. Now, I'm not a fan of math, but Mr. Flax is very aloof and carefree and makes the class very funny and relaxing. But, he's actually serious about math and gets his message across. Mr. Mann is also awesome, and it helps that I'm very interested in biology, as it is my college major.

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On another note, I've been thinking about my transparency lately. I would absolutely love to be a "translator" for autistic behavior, exposing things that "set me off", delight me, etc. Would this help any of my followers? I don't know how revealing I'll actually be, but I'll reveal as much as I feel appropriate.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Church is Bad for Autistics

I've been going with my mother to church for quite some time now. However, I really don't seem to be getting in "the jive" of it. Unlike my mother, who is "on fire" for the Lord, I guess I could say that I'm agnostic, at best. However, I go to church, and I'm not talking about just the once-a-week-on-Sunday-morning church either. I go on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and Friday evenings. Thankfully, on Friday, I am in the back, working a sound board, and I am left alone for the most part.

Why is church bad for Autistics? There are a number of reasons, well, there are for me.

  • People... strangers... who you don't even know... come up and touch you. I have two prime examples of this. The first, and most distressing one for me, is when people "lay hands" on you. It's one thing to have a close friend touch you on your arm, but when two or more people are touching you all over your body, it freaks me out. The second example of this was last Wednesday night. My mother told the church that I was autistic and didn't like to be touched by strangers. However, my mother's group leader, someone who I didn't know, came up and hugged me from behind when I was sitting, taking biology notes, and "in my zone". I about wanted to reach back and punch the daylights out of the potential predator, but my morals told me to resist temptations.
  • People smell funny. This may not seem like a big issue for most neurotypical people, but for me, it can arouse anxiety. On Easter weekend, I was at Sunday morning church, and I sat where I always sit, back in the upper booth corner, where I copy my biology notes (which is my "polite" way of saying "leave me alone, I don't want to be touched or talked to). It was a full house, so instead of me being alone up there, people had to sit next to me. The couple who sat next to me looked like they were straight out of a 1970's used car commercial, with the husband being the used car dealer. However, he smelled heavily of new carpet. Furthermore, they didn't take Communion, give an offering, or do anything that the church asked them to do. So, I have no clue why they even came to the congregation... maybe it was just to irk me. Upon telling my mother about this, she had quite a laughing fit, and didn't sympathize with me. The same goes for one of my church leaders.
  • Emotional gauge overload, to put it lightly. When people go up and get prayed for, they start crying, when they were perfectly happy a second ago. They don't look like they were crying out of joy, or even sadness for that matter. As an autistic, I have difficultly gauging people's emotions, so to see this put me in overdrive, and therefore stressed me out and gave me anxiety. This was also the same night that strangers had laid hands on me.