Bridging the communication gap between high functioning autistics and neurotypicals.

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A New Start

The desire to please other people is a potent way to distract yourself from what you are feeling. ~ Gary Zukav

Autism does terrible things to relationships. Especially undiagnosed autism. The most damaged relationship was the one I had with myself.

I was trying to make my life work. I was also trying to make my husband’s life work. (Try being responsible for two adult lives at once.) I was being a mother, a translator, a mediator, a psychologist, an anthropologist and a job coach. All while unknowingly being thrown into a foreign culture with a foreign language (Autism). I was learning while I was teaching. Every moment of my life felt like survival mode, because that is where he was. No rest from the fight or flight. None. Except when he went to sleep. Which I would at times hold my breath until he did. Then I could remember that I loved him.

The rants, the rages and the meltdowns – this was my every day. I had to shut off my own emotions to keep from sparking more.

When I got to my 30s, I had been doing this for a while. I was worn down. I had nothing left for anyone else. Hell, I didn’t have anything left for me. Migraines,  pain, joint dysfunction, depression… I was barely getting to work and playing music.  (Music and teaching music was the only thing keeping me alive.) It became obvious that I couldn’t continue relational dynamics in the manner I had before. My responses to crises, traumas, and happinesses had changed. I couldn’t fulfill my relational obligations. So what inevitably happened was isolation. Just what I didn’t need.

Or so I thought.

It was through that isolation that I started to get acquainted with myself. Without input from how others saw me, I became more clear on the me who was. The quieter I became; the less external noise I experienced, the more I could hear the small voice of I Am.

I wouldn’t have known I was in that state, and I couldn’t have written this if we hadn’t tried the gaps diet. Now that his autism symptoms have disappeared, I have gradually gotten a life and given his to him.

It has been most difficult to turn my emotions back on. They were buried under years and years of non-expression. With the help of friends, who probably don’t know they are in this role, I’ve opened more and more. Such freedom! (I love you friends!)

If you can relate to this message, know that you are not alone. If you have been a “victim” to my absence in the past, know that I was too. It’s time for a new start.

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Happy Robot Coaching In Person!!

That’s right!

Just to let all you Happy Robot Fans know! 

On April 24th, 2014, Happy Robot Coaching (Michelle and I) will be speaking at the monthly meeting of the Autism OKC support group starting at 6:30 pm. 

We will give a talk on living a life with autism, how to interact with your high functioning autie, living while married to an autie and many other FASCINATING subjects related thereto.

So, join us on April 24th at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 15th & Harvey in Oklahoma City for an informative and fun evening with your’s truly, Happy Robot Coaching!

See you there!

~Mark @ Happy Robot Coaching

The Cake and the Icing Too

I liked Mark for 19 years, through the autism, even before we knew that’s what was going on. The last 9 months on this diet, being able to connect with him, has been pure gravy. ~Michelle

Happy Robot Coaching Speaking at Autism OKC

Attention Happy Robot Fans!

On April 24th, 2014, Happy Robot Coaching (Michelle and I) will be speaking at the monthly meeting of the Autism OKC support group starting at 6:30 pm.

We will give a talk on living a life with autism, how to interact with your high functioning autie, living while married to an autie and many other FASCINATING subjects related thereto.

So, join us on April 24th at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 15th & Harvey in Oklahoma City for an informative and fun evening with your’s truly, Happy Robot Coaching!

See you there!

~Mark @ Happy Robot Coaching

What Autism Feels Like to a Neurotypical

The past two days have reminded me what autism feels like to a neurotypical (NT). Mark had not been getting good sleep and may have ingested some sugar, sending him back into Aspieness. It wasn’t a complete reversal of NTness, but enough to make my world uncomfortable. Enough to remind me of the pain I endured all of these years.

I know there are a lot of people out there who never get a break from their autistic loved one. You don’t know what a break feels like and may be angry that I’ve had one after 20 years. You may not even believe that Mark is autistic or that a diet can reverse autism. Believe what you wish as I tell you my experience.

Autism
It is never happy.
It is never peaceful.
It is always searching.
It is never finding.
It is forever frustration.
It is never satisfied.
It is never present.
It is never connecting.

I feel bad.
Very, very bad.
This person is in agony.
I cannot help.
I try anyway.
I wear myself thin.
I have nothing.
I give more.

Autism doesn’t know.
It can’t see.
It has no eyes.
It has no ears.
I don’t exist.
It’s not their fault.
It’s just what is.
I hate it so.

~Michelle

Connotations and Communication

How do you use connotations in your communications? To give you a sense of the autistic world vs the neurotypical world, let’s look at a fictitious text, without emoticons or punctuation: “where were you last night”. If I just read the words, I would answer where I had been; the autistic answer. But in our complicated NT world of emotion, I have to consider who is asking, what had happened in the past between us, and the possible connotation(s) behind the question.

Let’s say the person texting was my band leader. The question could be expressing genuine concern over my well-being. It could also be surrounded by annoyance and disgust that I missed a rehearsal. Perhaps there are sarcastic undertones, hinting at being let go. I could go on and on with the emotional possibilities behind the text.

When communicating with autistic people, we must remember that they are only getting the words of the text. To communicate better, we have to say our connotation as well as the words. Our new text would be, “I am really disappointed that you weren’t there last night. What happened to you and why did you miss?”; “I am really angry that you missed rehearsal without telling us. We are considering finding another person. Where were you last night?”; or “We were really worried that you missed last night. We didn’t know what happened to you. Where were you?” These sentences are tedious, but that is what is necessary to avoid confusion with your Autie. In my experience teaching NTs and Auties, I use many, MANY more words with the Auties. Emotions are a much more efficient way to teach, but only if they can be received.

~Michelle

Shifting Relationships

Since Mark has lost his autism, I have been forced to ponder relationships. My relationships. For 19 and a half years of my life, I relied on emotional support from people outside my marriage. That’s a lot of years in a dynamic, depending on how long each person has been in my life. And looking back, some of the defunct relationships were probably overwhelmed by my emotional need.

So now that I’m suddenly getting emotional support from my husband, ALL of my relationships are changing. I feel the shifts. I’m calling less, texting less, and emailing less. I even feel myself responding differently when I do have contact. My entire life has shifted in a short period of time.

The shift has been wonderful for me as the last 20 years have been painful. Between trying to keep Mark happy and finding an emotional outlet for myself, I felt like I was alone. Always fighting an uphill battle. To suddenly have a Mark who understands his world AND my world is a pleasurable shock. I’m lost in this new world.

So dear friends and family, I’m sure I will come back around at some point. I wouldn’t have allowed you in if you didn’t mean something to me. Right now I’m overwhelmed by a new life… and I’m loving it.

~Michelle