Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Unhelpful disability resources

October 21, 2009

My state’s vocational rehabilitation department is full of it.  It’s clear that they were founded to only address very limited attributes of disabilities–namely physical mobility ones, and not the other problems that people get discriminated for having.  I get treated differently due to NLD more often than I care to realize, yet there’s very little understanding of the challenges NLD creates in my life.  I just met with a state vocational counselor who was completely uninsightful.  It outrages me that the state funds this incompetent work, that someone with a high school education could do.  The agency’s location took me an hour and fifteen minutes to reach on two buses.  The counselor had no sympathetic words for my transportation struggles and didn’t even talk about this issue with me, even though it is a functional limitation and special need.  I was asked if I have trouble dressing or need help from a personal attendant.  I felt like saying if this was the case, would I be here by myself, but was trying to be civil.  I was told that our state’s vocational rehab waiting list has about 5,000 people on it.  I’m not sure why the appointment couldn’t have been done on the phone.  I’m back to the drawing board with my job search.  I’ll have to see what my therapist says about whether or not we should continue to work with the rehab program.

The funeral

October 21, 2009

I did go to the funeral, even though it was really hard, even though I debated with myself about whether to attend.  It went OK.  It was very typical for a funeral, and seeing the old office crowd is something I have mixed feelings about.  Then I spent the days after in bed with a cold, which I have only recently gotten better from.  Due to the cold, I slept a lot and also obsessed about things people said at the funeral, which were really everyday comments, but NLD confuses things.  I have since been in email contact with some of my old work friends, just casually chatting.  It doesn’t feel that great, but I think I’ll never have real friendships with them.  We met at work.  They’re saying I should stop by the office sometime.  Yet what would I do there?  I want to be done with my math class first and know what my grade is, which won’t be until near the holidays.  At that point my brother will move home from college.  He generally refuses to drive me places and eats the food I buy with my own money, plus doesn’t clean up after himself.  I hope I’ll be able to move out before I go crazy, but I’m in a rough spot.  I’m unemployed and have no income beyond a volunteer stipend.  This isn’t enough to cover living costs.  I want to live alone because I feel the most comfortable, but without a job this goal is delayed.

Never knowing how to deal with social situations

October 8, 2009

A friend’s close relative just passed away, and I read the notice in the newspaper. I’m debating whether or not to attend the service tomorrow. We both know people who I was once in conflict with. Since then I’ve done everything I could to amend these conflicts, but it’s very awkward. This friend has taken the time to hang out with me in the meantime, but recently we’ve been out of touch. I would like to go and express my respect for the process she is experiencing, but I don’t want to exchange friction with the conflict people. I counter with the fact that it’s been a long time and I tried my best to make up. I wish one of my friends could help me translate this social situation, but I don’t have anyone except my therapist, who I can’t talk to every time once of these awkward times faces me. My gut is I’ll be welcome at the service, but I’d like inner confirmation. NLD interferes with following my heart sometimes. It’s a big challenge to constantly deal with.

NLD and the struggle to reach out

October 8, 2009

Just wanted to share another anecdote about my former grad department.  A few weeks ago, I got the courage to send an email expressing interest in talking about NLD.  He never responded.  For awhile I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but now I’m a bit angry, and my therapist says the failure to respond is “pathetic.”

Always a little frustrating to put effort into something–particularly helping others–and not even have that effort recognized.  I’ll give him some benefit of the doubt–maybe he’s bad at emailing (even though he told us all to email him), maybe he forgot to write back, maybe since we never met face-to-face he’s not sure, and other reasons beyond my current imagination.  Still, I very firmly feel that faculty should take interest in students’ social and scholarly development.  I did something unnatural for me–reaching out, and it did not work.  I’m not discouraged, just disappointed.  NLD includes some disappointment, and the best thing parents, friends, et cetera can do is be helpful listeners to us as we try and sort out a visual-spatial world.  More on this later.

P.S.

October 7, 2009

I spent several hours on my math homework, but am almost done with it now.  Then I went home, walked my dog while it was still warm, sent in my complaint letter to my former department (see below), and then did some cooking.  One thing I like about NLD is it gives me more appreciation for time alone than I would probably have otherwise.  I think this results in better independence skills and more patience, perhaps also better concentration and reading skills.

A Rainy Morning

October 6, 2009

I am getting ready to go somewhere and do my math homework, as I don’t concentrate as well at home.  Then I will get some groceries and return home for my dog’s second walk.  Earlier we found a cat trying to escape the rain.  My dog and the cat didn’t hit it off, but even as they argued, I remembered how much easier it is for me to deal with animals (than humans).  I’ve thought of becoming a vet tech but wouldn’t want to subject the animals to my chemistry mistakes.  My math class meets tomorrow night.  The following class is our first test.  I already understand most of the material we will be tested on, which is a miracle.  Someone in the class is getting on my nerves.  I understand the person’s math anxiety, but I also don’t feel qualified to help, and am sick of the nagging.  Last time we met to do homework together, I found out the person hadn’t done the homework and has been absent a lot.  I used to be skip school myself, so I understand the cycle, but I think I will just do homework by myself from now on.  I woke up with signs of a very minor eye irritation, maybe pink eye, but just in one eye.  The lid is swollen.  I’ve been sleeping more lately.  I’m not really sick or anything.  I think NLD impacts how I experience and communicate medical symptoms and changes.  I wish more doctors and nurses were understanding of NLD features.  Then it would be easier to sort these problems out, but also if my parents were more involved in my life, but they’re not.  If I have a problem, they usually just imply that it’s too bad for me.  It got a little warmer today, which is a huge relief.  I left one of my coats at my old internship and need to stop by and get it back tomorrow–an event that’s made more complicated by NLD.  More later.

Much-needed update

October 5, 2009

To my wonderful Readers,
It’s a great joy to start writing again. I didn’t disappear. I was busily attempting a grad program, but have now realized that it isn’t the right one for me.

I’m not comfortable in a social work setting, unless the whole program can be research or policy. Could someone with NLD have a social work career? Absolutely. I have no doubts, but I’d say the program must be NLD-adaptable.

Sad to report that mine was not. I remain enrolled in a statistics course at my local community college, and am pleased that it’s going pretty well. This course is based on inferential stats rather than heavy calculations; excel is saving my life.

I did the right things in communicating with my grad program. I heavily documented NLD and its effects on the number of classes I could take, and on internship work, but the department’s initial “we’ll work with you” song and dance was just that. When I needed help, it was not provided. I tried out a social work internship where it was my job to help clients find social support, kind of like being a case manager. This meant doing interviews by myself, and while I could, it definitely capitalized on my shortcomings. People say “Are you OK” to me all the time. On an individual level, I can take these comments, albeit with some annoyance. Yet social workers are expected to be relationship-builders, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

My public university department would not allow me to cut back my schedule sufficiently and gave no option except to withdraw. They also didn’t show empathy as to my inability to drive.

I’m glad to be planning new career directions now, and hope to finish some of my projects, but it’s never fun to try something and have it not work out. I’m planning to apply to some library science programs instead, and to add on a second degree or certificate to enhance my employability. I also plan to finish a certificate I started awhile ago, in paralegal studies. All are better fits than social work for me. However, if the department had supported my learning needs, I may have reached a different conclusion. Some ways a program can help a student with NLD:

-Allowing a student to take 2 courses only if the student is taking a math course (and include the math course as one of the two)
-Modifying client service internship expectations so that student has team rather than solo client contact
-Having internship director or professor in close contact with office supervisor from the get-go
-Allowing student to make up internship and/or course hours in the summers as a routine practice

My program offers many of its courses just once a year. If I could do it again, I would’ve picked a different one!

Emotional Competency site

July 28, 2009

This website appears to have some helpful techniques for recognizing emotions:

http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/recognizing.htm.

If you find other ones, please comment.  Thanks.

Gluten

July 26, 2009

I have been on the gluten-free diet for the past few days, and so far I like it. I had all kinds of symptoms for many years, and finally I feel like I may have recovered from them. Whether a gluten-free diet has a positive impact on my NLD issues is still TBD. That said, I feel less anxious and a little more energetic. Some things that caused me to realize my difficulties with gluten:
-Itchy throat
-Sore throat
-Stomach havoc
-Iron malabsorption
-Constantly running nose
I am interested to hear about people’s experiences with gluten intolerance, celiac, wheat allergies, dairy allergies, dairy intolerance, et cetera. I’m interested in knowing if these symptoms are more common in the ASD sub-population? If so, do gluten- and/or dairy-free diets help? If they do help, are the benefits physical, psychological, or both?

Article on girls and AS

June 10, 2009

I’m just reading this article in Newsweek, “Why Girls with Asperger Syndrome Might Not be Diagnosed” by Janeen Interlandi:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/168868.

Some things that struck me are quoted or paraphrased in green, and my thoughts are blue:

-AS presents itself “less obviously in girls . . . that factor is also causing them to slip through the diagnostic cracks . . .. Some specialists predict that as we diagnose more girls, our profile of the disorder as a whole will change. Anecdotally, they [specialists] report that girls with AS seem to have less motor impairment, a broader range of obsessive interests, and a strong desire to connect with others, despite their social impairment.” -I could see this turning out to be true, though with individual differences. Not that NLD and AS are identical, but I know of some NLD males who really want to connect with other people socially, too. I’d also want to know more about the “broader range of obsessive interests.” I suspect lots of individual variation on this issue, too. And also differences in how people perceive others’ interests (i.e., whether or not someone can tell if someone is or isn’t interested in a topic,et cetera). I’d like to learn about examples of the strong desire to connect with others, and compare/contrast with studies of NLD males and females of different ages, if possible.

-Girls tend to be more focused on copying and imitating the behavior of others: “When social settings change, this can spell disaster. ‘As you move from high school to college, or from one group of friends to another, you have a whole new set of rules to learn,” said one Aspie woman who asked not to be named. ‘Not only do you lose your own identity, but if you end up surrounded by the wrong people—mimicking their behavior without understanding the motivations behind it can lead to big trouble.'” -I agree very much. I’d add that this can be a problem in the workplace. Women with NLD or AS might not see the signs of workplace negativity upfront.  This may cause them to get manipulated by negatively-focused coworkers–and due to not being able to hide feelings and behaviors as easily–receive the consequences someone else should have gotten. Social pressure in general–whether from peers or older people–is often impossibly seductive to many with NLD (or related issues). Wanting to be included and accepted is a basic need. Even if a peer’s idea to do something is wrong, the accompanying illusion of acceptance is very hard to resist. It’s like trying to imagine saying no to being asked out by whomever your favorite movie star (or celebrity or person you most admire) is. This feeling doesn’t go away just because you become an adult. The desire for acceptance and meaningful relationships with others follows and haunts us at all ages.

-According to Ami Klin, director of Yale’s autism research group, girls’ “desperation for human interaction–combined with their inability to gauge the intentions of those around them–can make girls with AS easy prey for sexual predators.”-This message is an important one. I do think, though, that with guidance, mentoring, and appropriate social coaching, girls can learn the signs of manipulative behavior. When a girl with AS, NLD, or a related condition has a safe person to discuss concerns with, she can learn to build safety skills and stay away from difficult people. Of course, if someone isn’t diagnosed in the first place, this problem is a really horrible one. A good, if somewhat exagerrated, example occurs in the Hannibal sequel Red Dragon, where a blind scientist named Reba McClane (played by Emily Watson) who also may have some learning differences, is depressed and falls for a psychopath, nearly getting killed. Though I saw her vulnerability in the movie, I could see this happening to a younger version of myself. Sometimes in the past, I’ve overlooked signs of trouble because of wanting a relationship (both friendship and romantic–different poisons that appear to be pleasures until something bad happens) so much, then gotten hurt.

It is imperative that more studies on gender differences and learning conditions be completed. More on this as I learn more.


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