Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Day in the Life of...Relations, Friendship, Accommodations...

My one wish is that my neurotypical friends could spend a day in my shoes...no...in my brain.  I'm afraid that if that were possible some of them would be crawled into a corner of the room in terror for that 24 hours.

By this, I don't mean that to me my mind is that particularly terrifying (although it can be at times), rather that what I experience as an ACCer is so vastly different than a neurotypical's brain they would likely be in shock trying to cope with it.

Having been thoroughly tested, it is apparent to all my Drs, neuro-psychologists and the like that I do not share a set of skills that the neurotypical person finds second nature.  For one thing, I do not read/predict social cues from facial expressions, body language, and voice inflections the way they do...If I do so at all, it is hit or miss in its accuracy.  Even when I've known a person for a long time, I have trouble interpreting the intentions of their conversations...are they serious, are they joking, are they using irony?

Prior to my diagnoses, life was more difficult, because I had no way to relate to friends and acquantances these differences I share.  Even the most loving, well meaning friends, would become shocked, insulted, put off, irritated, exhausted at what they saw as unpredictable, innapropriate behavior/speech. Because of this, for many years of my life, I simply stopped trying.  I didn't understand WHY I couldn't understand, WHY I was deemed "innapropriate."  People that even loved and cared for me deeply often giving up, shunning me and wanting no further part of me.

Post diagnoses, there is still a lot of the same, with those I am not close with and do not know about my diagnoses.  Yet armed with the knowledge of why I am the way that I am, I have been able to educate those closest to me.  And while they still get exasperated at times, if they truly care, they are willing to look past these differences, or even accept them and embrace the way I am, even celebrate it.

Having the diagnoses though, has helped only marginally, in the case of navigating the world at large, dealing with and meeting new people on a daily basis.

Whenever I meet someone new (and very often even with those I know well) I am always in a process of second guessing whether or not what I said was appropriate, whether it would be recieved well.  I have a great deal of difficulty in knowing when it is appropriate to start conversations, end conversations...blissfully (or not) unaware if I am getting under someone's skin until after they fully implode and vent in my direction.

I often wonder if I had been properly diagnosed at a young age (and that they understood ACC and ASD back then) how I might be different today?  Might my coping skills and strategies have developed differently?  I cannot help but believe this is true.  The unfortunate matter, though, while there is elasticity of both brain and behavior, many of those skills can only be learned early in life during developmental periods.  This is why I stress with all my heart that ACC and/or ASD children be told about their differences, and early on.

Many parents of ACCers are under the illusion that there child is fully or "high" functioning (whatever that really means.)  Yet, the research done by Dr. Lynn Paul Kerling and others has shown that no matter what the IQ or "functionality" of the individual, those with ACC absolutely share certain cognitive differences, that are always present, even if coped with in a different fashion.  We have differences in our cognitive abilities, our memory processes, our social function...

Theory of mind
As an adult of 53 years old, a large part of my life remains personal development.  I have a meditation practice; I exercise Theory of Mind on a regular basis. ToM is something that both ACCers and ASDers can have great difficulty with, but when grasped and understood and worked can have profound transformative effects, for neurodivergent and neurotypical alike...Having said that, the basic "problem" will always be there, I cannot "grow" a Corpus Callosum, neither can I teach myself skills that are not inherently part of my neurology.

By the end of a typical day, I have expended far more brain power than a neurotypical, with far less accurate results...In short, life is exhausting.  In order for me to function optimally, I have to build rules, rituals, routines that I must stick to, any deviation in them means that I will not meet my needs and even at minimum my ADLs.  If any unforeseen event occurs to alter the rhythm of these routines, I can be thrown off for weeks, or even months before I can function optimally again.

So if you have a loved one with autism or with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum or any other neurodivergent condition, please be understand, please attempt to view the world through their eyes with compassion, we are worth it!



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