Blog posts, musings, and thoughts on life in general

I thought I couldn't be autistic because I didn't have any sensory issues.

Then I remembered how much I hate stickers. Thin, shiny bit of paper that stick to your skin. Urgh. And then they peel up at the edges and when you brush up against them they make a flicking noise... it makes me cringe. I hate going on training courses where they make you wear name stickers. I have learned to tolerate it, but I will take them off as soon as I can. The trouble is, taking them off involves touching them, and then when you try to throw them away they get stuck to your fingers...

While I'm on the subject on thin, shiny bits of paper, I also can't stand receipts. When I was younger I literally couldn't touch them without feeling a bit sick. Now I have desensitised myself enough that I can hold one with a thumb and finger until I can find a bin to put it in. Or I stuff them into a particular pocket of my handbag (which I can then steel myself to empty all in one go). If I'm shopping with my husband or daughter I will just get them to take the receipt. My husband is always telling me off for not keeping them, but, urgh, WHY WOULD I DO THAT???? I can't think of many things worse than a draw full of receipts. Actually, I can. Finding one in the bottom of a shopping bag.

I've chosen noise as my next topic to explore as it's one that fascinates me, and I haven't quite got my head around it fully yet.

I have a very mixed relationship with noise. I'm a musician by trade, and a music teacher. I LOVE noise. When I was teaching secondary music I could quite happily sit at my desk surrounded by a class of thirty kids playing keyboard while I marked my A level essays, and still be able to pick out the ones who were hitting the demo button instead of doing their work. My classroom was noisy and chaotic, and I loved it.

On the flip side, sitting in a restaurant trying to have a meal I can literally lose the ability to speak, because I can't process the level of noise around me. Or maybe it's the type of noise - people speaking, glasses clinking, plates and cutlery, waiters walking around... I remember feeling a complete failure because every time I would go out for a nice meal with my ex-husband we would sit in silence. I found it really hard to hear what he was saying, even though he was only just across the table, and it was such a gargantuan effort to me to get my thoughts in order to think of anything to say.

So here goes, the start of a self-exploration of what autism means to me. In this first blog I'm going to talk about stimming.

The term 'stimming' refers to self-stimulating behaviours that are often used by people with autism or other developmental disorders. The most common one you're likely to think of is flapping your hands - my son does this a lot when he's excited! Some people rock, some people jiggle, hum, bang their head, make noises; there's really no end to the variety of stims possible.

I have been thinking a lot lately about identifying as autistic, and why - especially as a person who thought I knew quite a bit about autism - it took me so long to realise that I have it myself.

There are still a lot of misconceptions about what autism is and how it displays, particularly in females. When I was learning about autism in the late 90s, the lack of theory of mind was an essential part of diagnosis, and we were taught that autism is much less common in women, but much more severe. As I've been doing more recent research, I've found I don't really identify with a lot of the prominent autistic female narratives that I've found in books or blogs. For this reason I've decided to explore this in a series of short blogs as I get a chance to put my thoughts down, partly as a way of making sense of it myself, and partly for any other women who feel different but don't quite know why.

I recently conducted a small survey to find out how school teachers felt about the issues that looked after and care-experienced children experience in school. I am working on developing some resources to help schools be better equipped to deal with the issues, so first I wanted to hear what the teachers themselves had to say.

The summary of results is below:

Page 6 of 8

Now available to order:
AAMA CD - a 14 track CD of songs written especially for adoptive, foster, and special needs families.
AAMA the book - an accompanying book explaining the science behind the music, and how to turn these songs from a bit of silly fun to a useful tool for supporting your child’s communication and development

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© 2019 Cat McGill