Sunday, March 11, 2012

The weirder the better

Yesterday I posted about some struggles I am having, and how sometimes I have to do things that make people stare in order to keep my daughter safe.

This morning I was on my Facebook page and I saw something unusual. I noticed a couple of pages talking about being weird as though it was a good thing. I clicked over to their blogs, and found this post titled Weird is the New Normal and this post called Weird Apple. There are other blogs out there posting similar things, and it is all part of a community supporting each other that started when one mum asked for help encouraging her ASD son who was worried about being teased for being weird at his new school. I read a few of these posts, and realised something.
I am weird too.
I've been coming to this conclusion for a while now. I started thinking about it when I read a blog post called Aspergers Traits.  You see, up until then, I'd never thought of the possibility that I might be "on the spectrum". Yet there I was reading this lady's thoughts about being a woman with Aspergers and what it is like, and I was relating strongly to so much of what she said!!
Now- to be clear- I am not diagnosing myself with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.  I know enough about the diagnostic criteria for ASD to know that I would not qualify for a diagnosis. What I am saying is that as a spectrum of disorder the Autistic Spectrum contains a lot of behavioural symptoms that show up in a lot of people. To be diagnosed on the spectrum you have to have a large number of these behaviours and they must be impacting on your life in a significant enough way that they are deemed to be intrusive or detrimental. This is not the case for me, but I can relate to a lot of the "weird" things that people on the spectrum struggle with.
I count patterns on my fingers when I am a bit bored or a bit nervous. One place I do this a lot is in doctors waiting rooms.
I like numbers that end in 5, or even numbers. This is because they are easy to divide down to a smaller number.
I enjoy hanging the washing on the line by colour. With matching pegs. It gives me a sense of calm and control to see things flapping on the line in a coordinated rainbow of colour.
After I finish showering I have to dry myself with a washer while I'm still inside the shower cubicle, and then with a towel outside the shower cubicle. If I don't do this I don't feel like I'm properly dry.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Here's the thing. I am normal. Really. I do some weird stuff. But that's OK with me. The fact that I count my fingers and have to dry myself twice doesn't make any difference to anybody else. It doesn't hurt anyone, or even inconvenience them. They are just little oddities that unless I tell you about you'd never know.
For my 2 kids who have Autism their little oddities are more obvious.
L likes to play computer games to relax. So do heaps of people. The difference is that for him it is an obsession. More than that, even. Sometimes he NEEDS to play computer games to be able to relax. A bit like I need to breathe oxygen. So you can probably understand my frustration when someone says something along the lines of- gee, he plays a lot of computer games, it's all he ever talks about, can't you just tell him no and not let him play as much?
G likes to not be touched by people she doesn't know. I don't really either, but I can control my reaction when it happens. G can't. She feels that sort of touch as pain and it frightens her. So you can imagine my annoyance when, in order to keep her from running away due to sensory overload while we are out because of people walking into her personal space, I put a back pack with a lead on my tall, almost 5 year old, and people comment to each other about how I am "walking my child like a dog and should just discipline her better" (yes, sweet-looking-old-lady, I heard that).
G also cannot bear to be touched by anyone, even me, when she has hurt herself, and the sight of blood really freaks her out. I learned the hard way not to touch her until I have permission, but to wait until the initial intense reaction dies down a bit before trying to help her. If you are a parent you know how hard it is to stand by and watch helplessly while your child suffers. So you can see how I could be upset at the assumption that because I don't rush to her aid that I am cold hearted or uncaring.
But here's the thing. As much as the weird things I do that people don't know about don't hurt them, neither do the weird things I do that people do know about. What difference does it make to anyone if my daughter wears a lead while we are out shopping? Does it actually affect anyone else's life if I comfort  her now or in 90 seconds? I might look weird to some, but do you know what?- those people look weird to me. Because they will criticise me no matter what I do, without knowing the reasons for my actions. If I put a lead on my daughter they criticise me. If I don't and she ends up under a car, they'll criticise me.
Ultimately I prefer to be criticised for doing what is right for my kids. So- here's to the weird stuff my kids do and the weird stuff I do. Because if doing it makes our lives better, calmer and safer, I say.... the weirder the better!!


  1. Cheers to that! How can we get the whole world to read this??

  2. Ha!! Yes, well.... feel free to pass it on and encourage others to as well! ;-) Anything we can do to raise awareness is good.

  3. Amen! For doing what's best to keep your child safe, even when people don't understand and therefore judge. Do they ever come up and with genuine interest/concern ask why you're doing what you are? Just wondering if anyone ever thinks beyond what they see immediately and try to understand better.

    And Amen! to everyone being a bit 'weird'. I've gone through life and many a time felt or was called weird, and was an outsider because of it. Partly because of my MK upbringing and the effect of that on my experiences, partly because of the different sets of friends - home (mainly Australian), boarding school (mainly American), I remember being that kid that showed up for a test without studying and acing it (that was mentioned in one of the posts you linked to) and being negatively labelled a cleverclogs for being intelligent and being made to feel 'less' because of this, and finally, just because I'm me. I like certain things "just so" - numbers in my excel spreadsheets always need to be comma formatted and right aligned and formatting has to be consistent, my archive folders at work and home have to be neat and orderly (though I'm not generally very neat), knives and cooking utensils go in the left/eating cutlery in the right bit of the sink drainer tray, I never know what to say in small-talk situations, my mum is the only other person I'll let do my laundry because I know she'll do it in such a way that I don't have to go and hang it up all over again, in my own kitchen I'd rather do the cooking and washing up myself because then it's done my way (or I have to go away and not be able to see what's being done)...I could go on. (My counselling therapist broached the subject of OCD many a time, though we agreed that I was not OCD, just borderline this side of it.) I take comfort in and need my routine, need time to get my head around changes so that I don't become overwhelmed....and yet, from what you say in your blog post, I am considered "normal". Now that's weird in itself. :-)

    I am getting such insight from your posts, Michelle, a real eye opener! And I sincerely hope that next time I see a Mum doing something that seems "wrong" or out of the social norm, I will stop and consider that there's probably a very good reason she's doing what she is.

    (Sorry for the very long comment!)

    1. I've not had anyone come up to me with genuine interest/ concern. I've never had a blatant negative comment either- just overheard them as people pass and talk between themselves.
      Thanks for coming out with your weirdness!! If you want, you can join us in our awareness raising by blogging yourself on the issue as you are beginning to understand it. Rebel Mommy (who posted below) is one of the bloggers I was inspired by and linked to in my post, so you can find out more about what's happening by checking out her blog. :-) Be sure to link back here if you do, so people can follow the tail so to speak!
      And thanks for your feedback about my blog. Bigger thanks for reading it with such an open mind and heart. If everyone was as willing to learn about others as you are, there wouldn't be such a need for us parents to work so hard to help our kids be understood!

    2. You're very, very welcome!!
      There's been a blog entry 'stewing' in my mind for a few days now, just waiting for enough time to get fingers to keyboard...will definitely link back to here! Though don't have that many followers of my blog, every little helps, I know.

  4. Fantastic! glad you were as inspired as I was! Thanks for joining!

  5. I'm glad that my post on 10 traits enabled you to make some connections. You can have Aspergers and still function quite well. There are more and more women recognizing the traits in themselves. Soon there will be more "weird" than not weird, and then what will happen? lol It was a joy reading your post and your inner discoveries. ~ Sam :)

  6. Thanks Sam!! I wonder if the world will be a better place when there is more weird than not? :-) There are so many wonderful traits that go along with Aspergers and Autism that I suspect so! Imagine if everyone was as persistent, honest, inquiring, justice-minded and just plain wonderful as our Aspie friends?

  7. AMEN!! I too am a mother of a child with Autism and he's 6....been diagnosed since 2...I do not have any other children and am in a position in life where i can dedicate a lot to him and his needs. I get the looks and stares pretty much every where we go about how weird we are and the things he needs to keep him calm and feeling safe. It is what it is...and people can stare all day long but i refuse to let my child get hit my car to avoid a few judgmental people who would judge me regardless of what i did, cause that's just what they do....

  8. Rebekah, you are absolutely right- it IS what it is, and no amount of staring will change that! :-) Good on you for being strong and prepared to do what it takes for your son!

  9. I am so glad my sister the artful imagineer sent me here,I so get you.People judge you andf they dont have a clue of the life you lead or what issues your children have.My son with Aspergers has caused his fair share of stares and it just makes everything worse.I say walk in my shoes a while.I didnt even know untilk yesterday that April is Autism month i have been too busy recently surviving.Had to laugh at your blog title as my eldest son the pther day said to me is this the life you have chosen (because he thought i should kick my youngest the one with Aspergers out on the street ,is he kidding My son wouldnt even g near teh street without me and he is 18) i replied no its not the life i have chosen its the one i was given and im doing the best that i can with it.See even your own children can judge you ugh

    1. Hi Jules, thanks for visiting- I'm glad Jen told you I'm here- there's a lot of comfort in hearing others stories and knowing you are not alone. We do just have to do our best with what we are given, even if we may not have chosen it. When we persist, though, it IS worth it, and even though it is hard, we do love our kids, don't we?


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