Tag Archives: Memories

First Appointment for My Second Opinion

Like I said on Tuesday, I had my first appointment for the independent second opinion I requested regarding my diagnosis yesterday. I had chosen to be referred to my province’s university hospital, where the psychiatry department has expertise on autism as well as personality disorders. I after all wanted them not to be too prejudiced for or against an autism diagnosis for me. I mean, I have had autism diagnosed previously and think I have this, but there must be a reason my treating psychologist doesn’t agree. The most important reason for this is her believing that, because I developed hydrocephalus as a baby, my diagnosis should be some form of unspecified brain injury. Since this isn’t in the diagnostic handbooks, I’m now left with “just” a personality disorder, a diagnosis I dispute.

I had a two-hour meeting with a clinical neuropsychologist and a medical psychology intern. Because I had somehow seemed to remember the appointment would take only 30 minutes, this was quite a change of game to me. I however handled it well and was in fact glad that I could explain things. I had thought they’d just rely on the questionnaires I’d filled out last week, which couldn’t possibly give them a complete picture.

First, the neuropsych said I’d come to the right place, as this psychiatry dept know brain injury, autism as well as personality disorders. I said I knew and that I’d requested to be referred here myself. She then asked me to explain my impairments. I focused on sensory and organizational skills difficulties, as my social impairments are not too obvious in my current setting. I mean, I’ve heard nurses say I can’t possibly be autistic because I can hold down a normal-sounding conversation with them. I can, but then again conversations like this aren’t meant to be truly reciprocal. I instead gave examples of sensory difficulties and problems with daily activities.

Then we went over my struggles and strengths throughout life. I started by recounting my elementary school experiences. I realized I remembered social isolation from as early as Kindergarten on. I also mentioned I remembered feeling practically burned out by age five, insofar as a five-year-old can have this experience. I forgot to mention that my parents have always said I was a cheerful preschooler at least and didn’t start having serious trouble until I had to learn Braille by age seven, presumably because I didn’t accept my blindness. I did however explain my difficulties in accepting my blindness. I explained that I temporarily accepted my blindness, or at least pretended I did, when I went to regular school at age thirteen, but never truly accepted it.

I mentioned having some friends in first to third grade, mostly older girls who babied me. I did have one friend in later elementary school too, but did experience more social isolation and trouble navigating the more complex friending process from age nine on. At this point, my behavior problems also became worse. I mentioned screaming, self-harm and physical aggression, though I only know I was physically aggressive because my mother reported it to my diagnostician in 2007. I also mentioned being good at academics. The psychologists asked about my interests. I mentioned drawing maps and calendar calculation. She didn’t ask about play, which was one area in which I was okay if behind. I mean, I still played with dolls by age twelve, but that may be considered a strength in the realm of autism, as it shows imagination.

My parents encouraged me to develop age-appropriate intersts when I was about ten. Looking back, I don’t think they knew what my peers were into either. I told the psychologist about the Backstreet Boys poster on my wall, that I only had for the purpose of fitting in. Another example that I only remember just now is my pretending to be an Ajax fan. Ajax is a major Dutch football club from Amsterdam. I am originally from Rotterdam, which has its own major football club whose fans hate Ajax, but I went to school in another city, so all my peers were Ajax fans.

When I was thirteen, I transitioned from special education to a mainstream secondary school. I mentioned feeling extreme stress then, being bullied and isolated. I did mention the four girls I was “friends” with for a few months in my first year at this school, explaining that I was way too open and clingy to them and pushed them away. I also mentioned clinging to my sister’s friends’ big sisters in later elementary school. I mentioned seeing friends in a more materialistic way than most older children see their friends. I mean, when one girl in late elementary school gave her friends candy, I believed I was her friend when she gave me candy too. I even imitated her friends by asking this girl, in the same tone of voice as they did, “Got something to chew on?”

I didn’t go into that much detail about my secondary school struggles. Honestly, I barely remember this time period, even though I kept a diary throughout secondary school. I did mention feeling like I was out of my own body or living in a movie throughout adolescence. I am surprised as I write about and recall my meeting that I barely used technical terms. I consider this a good thing.

I went on to describe my increasing struggles with self-harm and aggression after high school. I described my crisis of 2007. I didn’t go into that much detail regarding my psychiatric hospital years. I did mention some of my current struggles, like with handling unexpected situations. The psychologist asked about my challenging behavior, such as wandering, self-harm and aggression. I said it’s a lot less frequent now that I’m on medication but still happens. The psychologist wants to speak to my psychologist at the institution regarding psychological treatments for these behaviors. I haven’t had any and have never had the impression that my psychologist feels any would be helpful. This got the neuropsychologist to say she may also write some reccommendations for treatment into her report.

At the end, she concluded she does see signs of autism, but wants my parents (likely my father) and husband to fill out some questionnaires too. I will also get a bunch of questionnaires. Since they are in print only, I said I’d need help filling them out. The psychologist offered to have the intern help me, as I would not feel truly free to be honest to my nursing staff or even my husband. I liked that. She also said she wants me to get some neuropsychological testing done to provide further validation for my strengths and weaknesses. I said my psychologist had not felt this would be possible or even necessary. Some tests may not be possible but others are and this psychologist does feel it’d be helpful.

I also got a bunch of questions regarding depressive symptoms. The psychologist at one point pulled out what sounded like the DSM criteria for major depressive disorder. She didn’t finish questioning me on them, as she drifted off a bit.

I had to have bloodwork done to rule out physical causes of psychiatric symptoms. The intern took me to the waiting room, where my sister-in-law was waiting. She came to me, but I didn’t recognize her and the intern had not seen her before, so she assumed my sister-in-law was the nurse for the blood draw. As she lead me out of the psychiatry department, I remembeed to ask who she was and to say I needed to have bloodwork done. We returned and a real nurse came to do the blood draw. I am extremely hard to draw blood from, so the nurse tried three times, then called a colleague. After he drew blood, he asked whether this had been an intake interview. Since that’s what it’s called, I said “Yes”. This meant I had to have my blood pressure (pretty high), temperature, weight and height (I’m still obese) and waist and hip measurements taken. I forgot to say I’m not going for treatment here, which seemed to be the reason the nurse wanted these numbers. I had not grown in abdominal measurements since they were last taken last year, thank goodness.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way this appointment has gone. I will get a letter setting a date for an appointment for the questionnaires and tests.

Spectrum Sunday
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A Thank You Letter to a Bus Driver

This is getting old, but I have been extremely uninspired lately. It’s like everytime I try to do blogging in Dutch again, I neglect this blog. It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to write, but I didn’t kow what to write about. A few days ago, however, I saw a blog post in which a person wrote a thank you letter to their genetic counselor. Other people were invited to write thank you letters to people you wouldn’t expect they’d be thankful for. This got me thinking. At first, I wanted to write a thank you letter to the psychiatrist who admitted me to hospital in 2007. While writing this letter, however, I thought of another person who was important to me that night: the bus driver who overheard me make a suicidal threat and called the police. I am writing a letter to him today.

Dear bus driver,

You may have forgotten about me. At least, I hope you have. Thhat’d mean you didn’t experience too much stress from what I did while on your bus. I haven’t forgotten about you. I don’t know your name, but I want to thank you anyway.

I was the person who threatened to kill herself while sitting on your bus on the evening of November 2, 2007. I told someone’s voicemail the details of my suicide plan. You overheard me, although a fellow passenger said you merely heard me cry. She probably just said that to quiet my mind. I heard you tell the police that you would be at the train station by 8:15 PM. By that, I judged I’d got onto the 8:01 bus at the bus stop near the training home I used to reside in. You dropped me off at the train station and the police took over and took me to the police station, where I was seen by the mental health crisis service.

I want you to know that I’m well now. I’m not fully recovered from my mental illness, but I’m a lot better than I was back then. I remembered you for years, which was causing me to find it hard to travel the bus in your city. I feared I’d run into you. Now, I know that you did your job and you did it well.

I could bore you with a long story of my mental illness and recovery, but that would probably stress you out. In case you’re wondering, however, I want you to be assured that I’m happy that I didn’t kill myself that evening. Now I know that, somewhere between the bus and where I wanted to kill myself, someone probably would’ve stepped in before I would actually be dead. However, you happened to be that person to step in. Thank you for that.

Astrid

A College Memory

Last week or the week before, one of the prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It was to write about a college memory. Since just yesterday I shared on my Dutch website about studying with a mental illness, I thought i’d write about it here too. It’s been 8 1/2 years since I dropped out of university, of course. For this post, I’d like to share about my first day of university.

My first day of university was September 3, 2007. I took a ParaTransit taxi to the building where I’d have my first class. As I approached what turned out to be a large lecture hall, I was immediately overwhelmed by the huge number of students. Until that day, my idea of a large group of students was my psychology class at college, where about 35 students were in the room. I had expected the same number of students in my university classes, because only about fifteen to twenty students enroll in the linguistics program each year. Turned out the class was a combined linguitics, business communications and language and cultural studies class and there were over 200 students in attendance. I had the most spectacular meltdown right there and ran off. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I think I called my home support worker, because the team manager, who also acted as my support worker, came to pick me up. She drove me to the office of the organization I received care from. This was the first time I was in such major crisis that the team manager decided to call mental health services. She later told me I was “not crazy enough” to be admitted.

I must say here that a meltdown whilst in a lecture hall is of course not in itself a reason for a mental admission. In this sense, the mental health agency was right that I was “not crazy enough”. Maybe if they’d knwon that I had meltdown after meltdown almost on a daiy basis, they could’ve offered some help. Now back in the day my only options were an admission or no help. Today, most mental health crisis services offer more varied help.

The professor for my first class – the only class I even attempted to go to that first day – was by the way one of the most supportive people in the university. He offered to have me listen to the lectures in a room attached to the lecture hall that is often used for recording lectures. I was able to attend his classes up to the moment I landed in my final psychiatric crisis in late October. His class was also the only one I took an exam for – three days before my hospitalization. This professor was the first to notice I wasn’t at university anymore and I don’t think it was solely because he was the professor for my Mondaya morning class. The director of studies E-mailed me the Monday after midterm that said professor had been missing me in his class, so had I quit my sutdies? I didn’t read this E-mail till I was home on a visit the next month.

I don’t have the greatest experiences with accommodations for me as a mentally ill, multiply-disabled student at university. I remember being told a number of times that I had a bad attitude and “we’re not a therapy center”. Though this is true, I badly did want to continue my studies for as long as I could. This one professor was, without even talking much to me, one of a few people who kept me going. He instilled a continuing interest in language composition and univesal grammar in me.

Transitions: Moving Out of Student Housing

One of today’s prompts for Friday Reflections is about moving out of your last home. I have not truly lived in a home since being institutionalized nearly eight years ago. Before then, I lived on my own for three months in a student housing apartment. For this post, I am going to write about moving out of that home.

I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital suddenly in the middle of the night on NOvember 3, 2007. I also couldn’t be sure then that I would never return to the student housing apartment, although the psychiatrist admitting me did say so more or less. The apartment, like I said, was from student housing. This meant you needed to be in college in that city to be allowed to live there. I formally quit college three months into my stay at the psychiatric unit, but persuaded the student housing corporation to let me keep the apartment for a while, then was never given an eviction notice. I held on to the apartment until I could no longer afford it, which came when my long-term care copay was increased in May of 2010.

I was by now relatively stable and had moved from the acute unit to the resocialization unit. I was sure however that I’d not return to this home. I formally left the student housing accommodation on May 3, 2010. It wasn’t a coincidence that this was exactly 2 1/2 years after my admission to the hospital, as long-term care copay started at one year in a facility, you pay the low copay for another year and my social worker applied for an extra six months of the low copay for “resocialization into the community”.

Interestingly, I don’t remember much about letting go of my student housing apartment. I remember the packing. Because we packed rather inefficiently, some boxes were over 10kg and others were just five. I sent them to my parents, so this matters, because you pay extra for sending boxes over 10kg. I remember the argument with my parents (and especially my sister) because I wanted to get rid of my old keyboards that I’d gotten from my grandma. I also remember getting a friend of a nurse to take the stuff I no longer wanted to the garbage collection place. (I can’t believe I trusted that man, whom I had never met, in my home even with the nurse accompanying him.) I didn’t want my husband (who was still my boyfriend then) to help me much, so he did some packing and lots of cleaning. We probably left the apartment cleaner than I’d gotten into it.

Moving out was a bit emotional of course, because it meant, or so I thought, letting go of the idea of living independently. Roughly at the same time that I handed in the keys to my student housing apartment, I handed my parents my key to their old home, which they were selling. This signified my letting go of the home in which I’d grown up. It also signified my letting go of the idea that my parents would always be there for me. Not that they were. After all, since I’d moved into the student housing apartment and especially since I’d been institutionalized, they felt I had now grown up and should take care of myself. I almost said it signified that my parents were no longer the most important people in my life. This is true in a way, because a month after this, my boyfriend proposed to me.

In many ways, moving out of student housing was bittersweet. It was freeing, because it helped me let go of the requirement that I be in full-time college. It also in some ways made me sad, having to let go of the hope of being in full-time college again. The same goes, to a lesser degree now, for living independently. Of course, I plan to go live with my husband, but I didn’t know this back then. Moving out helped me let go of the requirement of living independently, but it also sort of crushed the hope of my living independently again, at least until my husband and I got our current apartment.

As you can see, my moving out of student housing was in many ways a transitional point in my life. It helped me make the transition from daughter to girlfriend and eventually wife, but more so it helped me become my own, independent self. This seems a bit paradoxical, but what I mean is, I no longer held my parents respnsible for making my decisions, and I didn’t hold my boyfriend responsible for making my decisions either. At least not yet. Unfortunately, now that I’m married, I have fallen a bit for the habit of holding my husband responsible for my decisions. I don’t believe in the submissive wife type of bullcrap, so I need to let go of this habit.

Reflections From Me
Everyday Gyaan

Back-to-School Memory

One of the prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to describe a back to school memory. Usually, my first days at school were quite eventful, and not usually in a positive way.

I remember the day I started in seventh grade at a new school for the blind in 1998. It was my first time taking my laptop to school on a weird-looking troller, because I couldn’t carry the backpack myself. In elementary school, we’d all used braille typewriters. We started the school day with a talk from the principal, and then everyone went to their classrooms.

For my first class, we had computer education, for which we didn’t use our own laptops, since not everybody had one. In fact, I was the only one who had a laptop not provided by the school.

Our next class was either biology or English. We’ll say it was biology, and there, I had to use my computer. And it wouldn’t start up. I had my teacher take a look, but she couldn’t figure out the problem either. Neither could my English teacher for the next hour. I had an utter meltdown, fearing i’d ruined my entire school experience because I couldn’t even figure out my own computer. As I usually do, I refused every opportunity at finding a solution, such as my taking my schoolwork home to do it once my parents had figured out the problem. I was in total panic.

As it turned out when I got home, my parents had set a password on my computer which they hadn’t told me, and had forgotten to have my computer bypass the password upon startup. They’d set the password to prevent teachers from doing stuff with my computer they weren’t supposed to, and they hadn’t told me for fear I’d let it slip off my tongue.

Recently, I related this story to my husband, who is quite computer savvy. He got a post-secondary certificate in computing at age twelve, so he knew a bit about the computers of the late 1990s. He told me that the way my parents had set up the password was not a safeguard anyway.

I have had countless more back to school experieneces ever since and many more bad experiences with computers at school. Once I went to a mainstream secondary school in 1999, I was lucky to have my father work in computers there. At least, I was lucky when my computer acted up. I wasn’t so lucky when I acted up, because inevitably my father would find out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Parent Appreciation: Realistic Limits

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – so that
it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV)

It’s Mother’s Day today. I am a bit late to post for it, as I couldn’t think of a theme to write on. Then I read Nicole’s post over at One Picky Chick, in which she lists ten reasons why she’s the meanest Mom (and wouldn’t change it) and I thought of the ways in which my parents set rules. The above Bible quote only popped up when I chose a memory verse for a Christian women’s group I’m a co-admin for. My parents are atheists, so they’ll probably not like it that I start a post honoring them with a Bible quote, but it’s fitting. This post isn’t focused specifically on my Mom, as my father was my primary caregiver, but I still want to say I definitely appreciate my Mom.

My parents weren’t perfect, of course. When I was in schema-focused psychotherapy and reading up on the things children need from their parents in their upbringing, I had negative comments on about everything mentioned. However, the last one was “realistic limits”. Though I had some negative experiences with those, most times my parents in fact provided me with good enough realistic limits.

My parents had some non-negotiable rules. School was pretty much the most important thing in life and always came first. We didn’t get to stay home from school unless we ran a fever, because, if we didn’t run a fever, we weren’t sick. Of course, there likely would’ve been exceptions to this rule, but at least it was clear that seeking an excuse to stay home in a slight tummy ache was not acceptable.

What rules like this taught me, is to be quite a rule-abiding person. I only learned in my teens to early twenties that you could actually get away with not doing your chores, but even now, I don’t like to break rules like this one. When I don’t do chores, it’s usually because I flat out forget.

On other rules, my parents were more flexible. When I was young, bedtime was bedtime. However, as I had trouble sleeping, my parents eventually relaxed this rule. I still had to go to bed at a certain time, but I didn’t have to go to sleep right away. Particularly once my sister had moved to a room of her own, this meant a lot less stress and less bothering of my sister and parents (at least at night).

I was an irritable child, but, thanks to my parents’ realistic limits, I didn’t become a defiant child. It also caused me to gradually learn self-determination. For example, the above example about bedtime taught me to regulate myself re sleep. I had my own rules about how much sleep I needed so when I needed to go to bed. I never slept in on school days.

When I think of what I’d do if I were a parent, I think of setting rules in a similar way that my parents did. Some things are non-negotiable and a child will just have to obey. When things are not that important and particularly the child isn’t a threat to themself or others (physically or psychologically), I’d be more flexible. My parents had a hard time with me sometimes, because, though I wasn’t openly defiant that much, I did have quite severe behavior problems. It must’ve been a tough balancing act between giving me too much room for self-determination and not allowing me to develop that sense of self-determination. I thank my parents for setting realistic limits.

Equipping Godly Women
Found Love. Now What?

A Favorite Childhood Memory: Sleepovers at My Grandma’s

Today, I decided to check the Blog Everyday in May announcement and saw that it isn’t a requirement to post everyday. You are free to participate whenever you like. Not only did I decide to add the badge into yesterday’s post after all, but I think I’m going to try to join in with more prompts.

Today’s prompt is “a favorite childhood memory”. This is a tough one, since I tend to dwell on the negative aspects of many memories. A few days ago, however, I saw my sister had posted a picture of the two of us on a sleepover at our grandma’s. I was immediately tempted to write about that. Not only does it allow me to use a picture in my post for once, but sleepovers at my grandma’s were happy moments in my childhood and, for once, they don’t have a bittersweet connotation to them.

Sleepover at My Grandma's

I wrote about my grandma before. She is one amazing woman and I cherish the days spent with her. Particularly, my sister and I loved going for sleepovers. We went on a sleepover at least once a year until I was around fourteen.

Our grandma had saved many of her children’s toys and also still quilted stuffed animals. In the above picture, you see my sister and I playing dress-up.

At the time this picture was taken in 1994, my grandma lived in a family home in a quiet neighborhood in Zeist. She’d frequently take us on walks. We nicknamed the neighborhood “poo place” because of the proliferation of dog shit on the pavement.

As I said in my earlier post, my grandma would often take us on “expeditions” to explore the town and countryside. There was an “expedition” to the parking lot once she’d moved to a senior citizens’ home down town (to figure out how many stories it consisted of!)) There was also an “expedition” to the wildlife garden and an “expedition” alongside a ditch. The ditch had waterplants growing in it that looked just like grass. We joked that you can’t walk on this type of grass. Now that I look it up, the English Wikipedia has a picture of a ditch in the Netherlands. Wonder whether they don’t exist elsewhere. But I digress.

My grandma, as I said in my other post, volunteered for the local environmental conservation charity. I had lots of fun going to the activity group (the “activigeese” I mentioned), where my grandma would make quilted blankets, animals and such for the charity shop. I didn’t do much while at the activity group, as I’ve never been good at sewing, but I did enjoy chatting to the other ladies going there.

After we stopped going on sleepovers, my grandma did take us on a vacation to Paris in 2001. My sister had just finished her first year of secondary school and I had finished my second, so we both spoke a bit of French. We spent the week at one of my grandma’s French acquaintances’.

Of course, I still had my meltdown moments even when at my grandma’s. She was firm with me but never lost her temper. As I may’ve said in my other post, I just plain admire my grandma’s positive attitude. This is probably one reason that, growing up, I had the best relationship with her of all my grandparents. I undoubtedly drove her crazy sometimes, like I did most people in my life, but she handled it so amazingly. This is one reason why visits to my grandma as a child don’t have a bittersweet meaning to me now.

Found Love. Now What?

Memorable Date

My husband was my first partner. I never dated before meeting him. Our first date, of course, was the most memorable, though not for the reason you might think.

We met on September 19, 2007 at 3:00 PM at the bus stop near the dentistry department of my city’s university hospital. This was the only bus stop near the university that the bus that drove by my neighborhood did stop at. Since my now husband had decided to meet at the univeristy, this was the easiest.

I arrived at 2:55. He was already there. We walked to the coffee bar in one of the universisty buildings. I ordered a coffee and he ordered tea. As we walked outside, I tripped over a step and spilled my coffee. I panicked and almost went into meltdown.

After I drank the remaining coffee, we sat on a nearby bench. We talked music. If you know me, you know that I have zero knowledge of and hardly any interest in music. I mumbled that I liked world music. My now husband had no clue what it was. When, much later, I played him a CD with Latino music I liked, he joked that if he’d known that this was world music, he might never have asked me on a second date.

He obviously did ask me on that second date. Later, he told me that he’d felt uncomfortable about our first date, but had envisioned us meeting many more times if he asked me on a second date. He was totally right. Here we are 7 1/2 years later, married for 3 1/2 years. We got married on September 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM, so exactly four years after we first met.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Memories of Summer: Traveling While Blind

I haven’t participated in #theprompt in many weeks, but this week’s prompt appealed to me. It is “memories of summer”. My husband and I are currently planning our vacation for this year, which will be in September, and we’ve run into some problems finding things to do that I actually enjoy.

When I still had some vision, I enjoyed camping out, although I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I remember. I liked going to the beach. My family used to go to Vlieland, one of the Dutch Wadden Islands. Up until I was around eight, I liked it there. I was in fact sad that, from my age nine on, we skipped a few years. That could just be my insistence on sameness though.

When we went back to Vlieland when I was twelve, I had a pretty horrible time and so did my family due to my almost daily meltdowns. I had pretty much lost my use of vision but still clung to what sight I did have. As a consequence, I was extremely dependent on my sister. We went back the next year and it was even worse. I think this may be one reason my parents stopped taking us on vacation after that year except for a trip to Berlin in 2002.

In 2000, I went to a summer camp in Russia organized by the Janusz Korczak Foundation. It was one big disaster. Formally, it was for both blind and sighted youth, but I was the only blind participant in the Dutch group. I was also the youngest Dutch participant at fourteen. I was pretty dependent. The other participants consequently treated me like a chore, and I reacted to it with frustration and tantrums. I liked some of the Russian staff, but the Dutch staff and participants saw me as a pain in the butt. Probably the only reason I applied to go to the same camp again the next year, was that I wanted to fit in somehow. The Dutch participants who had gone with me the previous year were consulted, in line with the Korczak philosophy of having children be judges over each other, and I was turned down.

In 2002, I discovered the International Camp on Communication and Computers (ICC), a computers and technology camp for blind students. I applied to go there and, even though I was honest about my experience in Russia, I was accepted. I went to England in 2002 and to Switzerland in 2003. Particularly my experience in 2002 was interesting and in a way it helped me accept my blindness, along with some other experiences I had that summer. Unfortunately, most such camps are for children and youth only.

I haven’t particularly enjoyed visiting cities. I went to Paris with my grandma in 2001 and, as I said, to Berlin with my family in 2002. While the experience in Paris was okay, I was often very frustrated in Berlin. This isn’t necessarily a blindness thing. I just didn’t like the unpredictability of not having a clue in the morning what we were going to do during the day. I also didn’t really like sightseeing, because, well, there’s just not much I can see.

This is a problem when planning my upcoming vacation. With my husband, I’ve been to Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerlnd so far. None of the experiences were particularly good, but they weren’t bad either. I liked going for walks in nature, but the surface couldn’t be too rough or I’d fall over. I liked trips where it was clear what we’d be doing, such as going on a train into the mountains. In the evenings, I was usually bored.

One of the positive things, hopefully, about the upcoming trip, is that I’ve decided I’m taking my computer. I’m not planning on staring at the screen all day, but at least this will hopefully cure some of the boredom I experienced during the evenings.

mumturnedmom

“Rules Are Meant to Be Broken.”

mumturnedmom

About eight years ago, I read an article by Stephen M. Edelson of the Center for the Study of Autism that said that autistic children usually don’t lie. And no, that isn’t always a good thing. I don’t even mean that autistics don’t lie convincingly, but that they usually learn to lie at all at a much later age than neurotypicals do. I thought of this article, as well as my own experience with inappropriate honesty, when I read the prompt for this week over at mumturnedmom, which is “Rules are meant to be broken.”

I was a bookish, nerdy child in school. I remember learning that you could get away with not doing your homework in ninth grade – and frequently using my newly-acquired knowledge. Before then, I’d not only always do my homework, but I’d remind teachers of assignments if they’d forgotten.

Even though I learned to break the rule of always doing your homework, I can count the number of times I actually cheated in schol on two fingers. Once was on a Greek test in eigth grade, when I looked up how to type a certain character. I knew what the character looked like, and I rationalized my behavior by saying that if the sighted kids knew what a character looks like, they could write it too. (I know this is not completely true for students with say dysgraphia, but that’s beside the point.) The other time was in eleventh grade, when I had underestimated the difficulty of acquitting enough U.S. respondents to a survey on their ideas about the Netherlands (this was before Facebook). I got seven I believe, and needed at least twenty, so I cheated in a horrible way by pretty much making up the other results, multiplying my survey responses by three. I don’t even remember whether we were graded for the project or just had it checked off, but it still feels weird.

I didn’t master the skill of applying rules flexibly till after high school. Still, I find it hard to know when I can get away with breaking a rule and when I can’t. I still probably feel more insecure when breaking a rule than neurotypicals. This isn’t because I have higher moral standards, but because breaking a rule creates unpredictability. I also have a hard time putting a breach of rules into context. For example, how many high school students cheat on exams and projects, and does it affect them later on? I still worry that my high school diploma is invalid because I cheated in eleventh grade. In this sense, rules are meant to be broken, but when and when not, well, I don’t know.