Friday, March 31, 2023

Hello from Texas

Tomorrow begins autism awareness month. I much prefer focusing on autism understanding and acceptance myself, and I hope to have a month filled with posts focusing on understanding. Today, however, I’m setting up and preparing for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

18 Years Since March 30, 2005

With the hotel incident earlier in the week, I felt it prudent to share this post as one of the things I endure is an overly alert alert system. This post was originally shared last year, but is something I live with every day. 

Today is the day. I've been through many ordeals in my life, and I've written about a lot of them, but one incident above all others, well, I'll probably be writing about it for the rest of my life.

First off, if you've ever been in a life-threatening situation due to other people then you might want to skip this post. I do try and keep my blog positive and always try to look at the positive twist, and in a way the fact I can talk about the contents of this post are a positive within itself, but the feeling of pure helplessness may be a bit distressing.

Lastly, before I get to the story, every time on this day I try to find something in depth regarding PTSD and Asperger's/ASD and each year I'm left with a bit of bewilderment as to the lack of literature out there. I mean, if a person has a better than average memory to the point of having the memory be very much like a DVR, then moving past things can be a challenge. Anyway, to the story...

I will start the story by telling you that I was traveling with my dad to Kenya, and we were in Kisumu, Kenya on this fateful day. My dad was doing some video work for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod regarding the immense need when it comes to the high prevalence of AIDS orphans and homelessness. I went along to do some still photography and help my dad when possible. My experience up to that point had been one of self-discovery and this ordeal that occurred on this day surely had a hand in making me the writer I am today.

Yes, my trip was full of self revelations and this was aided by the fact that I spent five days alone in the room 312 at the Imperial Hotel. I had some sort of virus that made me sleep for hours on end and when I was up all I wanted to do was sleep. Exhaustion was given a new meaning for me because of this, but when I was up I wrote and it was in that hotel room I was in that I first thought that, perhaps, someone someday might actually read, and care, what I have to say.

My dad came back and the next morning we were out for my dad to take some town shots. The video on this page shows what we were doing, but what seems to be a quiet town quickly changes as the video will only give you a hint as to what was to come.
The video ends suddenly because my dad did not want the camera stolen. What you can't see in the front of the vehicle is the fact that the first two kids to get in front slammed their knees under the front bumper. They [the kids] knew that our driver was a pastor and that he would not run over the them. If our driver knew what was to come he may very well have.

Out of nowhere descended 10, 20, 40, 50, and then 75 kids. The mob surrounded us from all angles and we eventually had several kids with their knees under our front bumper. The car we were in was a 1982 Toyota something rather and had seen many a kilometer, perhaps a million. Because of this the power in this car was not enough to break us free. And as fate would have it, these kids were the exact reason we were there as these kids had all lost their parents to AIDS and had no one to turn to.

Now I know I have said homeless kids, but some of these kids were near 18 years of age and in very strong physical shape. They have to be to survive, and to survive they do things, like hold people like me captive for money. With a mob of this size no amount of money would satisfy all.

The kids demanded that our windows be kept down and they kept trying to get us out of the car, but our driver stayed calm and nonchalant about the whole mess. He may have been calm, but I was a shaky mess.

There are no words I can use that will let you know the terror I felt. I either wanted God to free us from this or have the mob kill us because the suspense was too much to bear. I fought back the tears, and really think this was because I was too scared to cry. The kid outside my window, who was holding a large glass shard and nice sized rock said to me, "What, are you afraid of? Us?" And then he laughed and my despair grew. It grew worse when he pulled a machete out and slowly moved it to my throat.

At some point in time our driver got one of the kids, and only one, into our car. I was seated in the rear left of the car, my dad the front right (remember, Kenya was a British country so drivers are on the right) and this kid was now seated to my left. He appeared to be weaponless, and the machete was still pointed at me, but I now had no safe haven.

Words made no sense as our driver slipped in and out of English with the kid that seemed to be in control, if control was possible in a mob of 75 homeless kids. At times an auctioneer would have been envious at the rate of conversation, but nothing was changing. We had kids on all sides, kids on the trunk, the roof, and the hood.

Then I saw it! Two police officers were walking toward us and I felt like I was going to be safe. Hope had arrived and not a moment too soon. When one is facing death there is no feeling like the feeling of freedom and life. However, this feeling of hope was fleeting as the police looked at the mob, looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Once again we were just one step away from a vehicle from death.

The minutes, seconds, and tenths-of-a-second were being counted. I thought of everything I wanted to do and see that would not happen. I thought of the girlfriend I had but lost after my diagnosis. I realized I was alone, and then I thought of the fact that I really wanted to know if I'd develop as a writer.

This mob that was all around seemed to be more interested in blood rather than money. Money was the talk at the start, but negotiations with the mob leader revolved around my dad and I getting out of the car. Getting out was a one-way ticket to being stoned.

We once again caught a break and I noticed it through my hyperventilating. Slowly, say, about every five minutes, one of the kids at the front bumper was wandering off. Eventually there was just one. This kid was the kid holding the cap that you can see in the video nearing us near the end of the video.

The look in this lone kid's eyes scared me. It was of hate, rage, and sadness that screamed that he wanted our blood and/or money in no particular order. His knees were firmly under the bumper, but when the leader of the mob was off talking to one of his minions, our driver took out a 100 Kenyan Shilling banknote (about $1.50) and waived for the kid to take it. The kid took the bait and we had a clear path and our driver gunned it and that Toyota something or other leaped forward, well, lurched forward with all the might it could muster.

Instantly our car was pelted with the rocks the kids were holding for the stoning they were hoping would occur. One rock came through the rear window and just missed my head. I took this as a cue to duck, as did the homeless kid that was still in our car.

We made it one block and now the homeless kid, who I must say had been very confident until we made our break, had the same look of fear I had moments prior. The fear, once again, was reversed when we made a turn at the end of the street and a pickup truck was backing out.

The eager mob had been throwing everything they could towards our vehicle and was chasing us. This blockage of the road was bad, VERY bad because what was a friendly blood thirsty mob was now an angry blood frenzy mob. If they got to us it was over.

It's good to know that drivers the world over only care about their car in parking situations, but bad when you learn this when you MUST get by. The pickup backed out, pulled in, backed out and re-angled all the while ignoring the constant tone of our horn (the horn had seen better days too).

We were a quarter block from the turn we made and the mob was rounding the corner. There wasn't much time left, then, all of a sudden, a private security guard from this shopping strip saw the mob nearing our car and he took three quick steps and flashed his long sword. All at once the front of the mob slid to a stop. It looked like an orchestrated slide, but the kids behind the front didn't know they were stopping and many kids took a tumble.

When it comes to blood thirsty mobs a small tumble won't stop them. Our driver had had enough with the pickup that couldn't decide if it was coming or going and as it was backed out our driver shot between the pickup and the curb and made the sidewalk our road. The pickup driver showed his disapproval by honking his horn at us. If he only was aware of what was behind.

The road was clear and five blocks later we threw out the kid that was still in our car. I say throw out but he was more than willing to leave as he certainly knew there are strength in numbers, and this time he was out numbered.

Afterwards I was in a shaky state. I say shaky because I literally was shaking, sometimes violently. I could not believe I was alive and uninjured. I kept processing and reliving the ordeal and I could see it, truly see it. I still can because of this video-graphic memory. I didn't have to put the video on here because I can still see it in my mind.

An hour passed and I was making no headway with my emotions. I was slipping away, drifting into my mind where no one could hurt me. I wanted nothing more than to never be around anyone again, but as we got back to our hotel my dad suggested I write, so write I did. It wasn't much, but I wrote about the event on the forum of the Saint Louis Karting Association and it was then that I realized the power of writing and when we returned home my rate of chapters being written grew and grew. I was blessed to have survived, and I was going to make the most of it.

That's the story and there will be a moment about, say, once a month that will take me back there in that state of helplessness. Later in 2005 when I saw The War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise, I had an absolute flashback when there was a mob wanting the van. Then, earlier this month when I was catching up on episodes of The Blacklist, there was an episode with a character with the name of "The Chairman" which was the name of the so-called leader of this group of homeless kids. Hearing the line in the episode "I want to speak to the chairman" brought back memories of hearing the driver and my dad say that. I forgot that it was said, until I heard it in that episode, and I had to pause the episode and regroup my emotions.  

I've written about this event many times, and in the unabridged, original version of my book Finding Kansas, I went into great detail about the whole trip. I've had questions at presentations that have brought this story up. In the telling of this story the room always goes quiet, and I tell it with great detail because, usually, a question that brought it up had to do with a traumatic event of some sort that is not just haunting but is so vivid it's like it's in the present and for me the events of March 30th, 2005, were just that for many years.

In a way I have felt as if I've been on borrowed time since then. I do think about the place of Kisumu frequently and I hope someday, in some way, to be able to help somehow. Being from the United States of America I never knew desperation like this. I hope to be able to do something because I am who I am today because of what transpired on that day. I said I try to always find the positive angle from something and here it is... I know for a fact that I would've given up on writing if this even had not happened. The book that was being written then has sold over more than 12,000 copies. From that I became a speaker and have given over 1,050 presentations to almost 100,000 people. I had a YouTube series that had almost 500,000 views. I've had two national speaking tours to students which the impact of shaping the future is immeasurable. I've always called March 30th, 2005 the day I was "lucky to survive" but what if it's more than that? What if it truly was the day that I grew into a person that realized I was capable of something because there had to be a reason I survived that wasn't just "lucky". Yes, what if that day was the day that made me fearless to tell my story? It might just be and while I'm sure there will be things that bring me back to being in that Toyota, and feeling helpless, but for once I'm understanding that it might not have been possible without March 30th, 2005.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Barometer in the Room

"People on the autism spectrum are aloof to social situations" is a common thing stated. I know I am often oblivious to such things. However, to one thing I'm often overly in tune with is the heightening tensions between two people that has nothing to do with me. There's this overly sensitive warning system in my body that doesn't take much to get activated, and when it does there's usually something bad about to go down, as I witnessed yesterday leaving my hotel.

Yesterday was awful. My flight got delayed so the only way I could make it home was to rent a car and drive from Houston to Saint Louis. As I was awaiting my Uber to take me to the rental car place, a lady was checking out of the hotel. She mentioned to the guy at the front desk that there were charges on her room she did not recognize. Instead of inquiring, the man instantly became combative and defensive. I braced for the worst.

The woman didn't appreciate the attitude, naturally, and called him out. The man triple downed on the attitude and told her that she didn't run the hotel. She somehow regained composure and said, "I'd like to discuss where these charges came from." The man then said, "You'll have to talk to the manager." She replied, "When can I do that?" and he responded, "Not today." The volcano, I was sure, was about to erupt.

She just wanted to know when, so she asked that question and the response was one of an belittling beratement. He took offense to this and said, "You have no right to talk to me like that dummy." She heard this as she was walking out in anger and she turned around and said, "You don't have any right to talk to me like that." and he then responded with vulgarity and misogynistic words. I was in a state of shock. 

I don't understand situations like this. I don't understand cruelty by either physical or verbal abuse. To witness this spat of hate for no reason confused me, and made me want to withdraw from society completely. If it happened here, it could happen anywhere at any time and I feel sick when witnessing this, so why would I want to subject myself to the possibility of an event like this occurring? Sadly, the situation wasn't over.

About a minute later the man's husband came into the lobby and yelled, "No man is going to speak to my wife like that!" The worker had left the front desk and was now watching TikTok videos on a couch in the sitting area. I could see the man, but the husband could not as he was around the corner from him. The husband made eye contact with me in a way that spoke, "Where the !#$@ is he?" I froze, and yet I felt like I had to respond because the worker was in the wrong. I did the worst clandestine nod with my head and eyes and had to do it three times before the husband understood where he was. 

The husband rounded the corner and pointed at the worker. "You have no right!" I panicked now as I could not calculate to what level this could escalate. With my nodding, I was now a party to the event, or at least I felt that way, and as the husband neared the man the wife came in and said, "Honey, it's not worth it. Let's leave and leave a 1 star review." The hotel worker thought this was hilarious and said some more vulgar words which led the husband and wife to realize that, perhaps, something more was going on with the man and it simply wasn't worth the oxygen to argue. So they left, and the man went back to TikTok.

The next twelve hours saw me driving home, and I couldn't quit thinking about this incident. I get the rivalries that can occur on a racetrack or sporting event; the heat of the battle spats and such. But this? What was this? Why this sudden and explosive situation? 

I fear events like this. This is the reason I fear the random social event. Any unknown social encounter, in my brain, could end up like this. I need to know a person before I can interact. Yes, I understand that most people never will behave like this worker did in their entire life. However, when I'm in the middle of the encounter and it's me in the middle and not being an observer, I'm socially blind to the possible upping of tensions. I've learned I may say the wrong thing, which can lead to tensions, so I've learned the best policy is to avoid the random social encounter at all costs.

It's a survival instinct, I'm sure. When walking in public, and if you ever see me in an open situation where I'm not working a race or presenting, watch for it. Eye contact is avoided, and I move in a room as if everyone has a magnetic field that repels me. Truly, the feeling in my bones is of such that, if I don't do this, I may not make it out of the situation in one-piece.

It's not easy living like this. I have no idea how others live without this constant barometer in their body, watching and waiting for the next eruption. And when it does occur, I have no idea how others move on so quickly. It's been 26 hours, and I'm still puzzled, befuddled, and perplexed as to why people can be so cruel and mean. I don't get it, perhaps never will, but for the time frame in the near future I will be extra-vigilant on the next occurrence of random anger.

Monday, March 27, 2023

A change in plans

I had a great blog idea today that I was going to write at the airport, but instead due to flight changes, I’m having to drive home from Houston. A story about today, will be coming in the coming days. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Book Preview: If Kansas Fails


I heard, what was to me, a tragedy a couple months ago. This person was describing their stepson who loved basketball and the only thing he wanted to do was to play it. Sadly, he has what I have and, unlike me, has no eye-to-hand coordination. This person was frustrated and said he was constantly telling the kid to give it up and there was no chance he could ever play with anyone because it would be too shameful for him.

Let’s use another example. Every four years, the world turns its eyes on the Olympics (yes, I know it is summer/winter two years apart, but we will just be using the summer games). While the sports of swimming or badminton only get the spotlight every four years, for the athletes competing, it is the culmination of their life’s work. Think about it. For them, they have tried for years, and for most of them they only get one shot at it. If you don’t know, the Olympic team is determined by the trials. What that means is that for the foot races, the top three go to the Olympics and everyone else is going to be watching from home.

If you were one of those athletes competing for a shot on your country’s team, imagine the pressure. Your entire life has come down to that one run. If you run like the wind, you go to the biggest sporting event in the world; should you have any type of bobble, you have wasted years in training and also any chance you had at being on a Wheaties box.

It is sad when people come so close to their dreams, but fall an inch short. I can’t imagine what it is like to be that last person not to make the team. All the training, all the hours, all the sweat was for naught.

For those athletes that fall short, it must be devastating. They put their entire life into something, only to have it fall short. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m trying to get a job as one of those writer’s that do the human interest side of the Olympics, and maybe I should, but I do have a point I must cover before I go on that venture.

Anything I put my mind to is the only thing that matters, as the chapter with that title said. Even though something might last a month, or a year, it is as important as life itself. How then, as that kid that wants to play basketball, can one deny them of it? The step-dad mentioned that the kid knew everything about the history and all the great players and anything about the sport. If something means everything to a person, how can one deny them?

I will say I got lucky that I discovered this oddity that is my writing ability. It probably saved me, as racing was the only thing that mattered. Unlike that kid, I did have talent on what I wanted to do, but nevertheless I was not racing at a professional level. Thankfully no one ever denied me of what I wanted to do on the basis of talent.

I’m sure there are thousands of kids out there like the one whose story I heard. Whatever their Kansas may be, someone is telling them that it is hopeless, stupid, or unattainable. This is nothing short of a tragedy. Even if that kid was horrible at the sport, let him try. Don’t destroy the love of the game. I think the kid was 12, so don’t destroy the sport for him. Perhaps, he will become a ref or a coach of it. Whatever the case, I’m sure, for that one athlete who was one position short of making the Olympic team, they would much rather try and fail than to never have gotten the chance. Kansas may fail, but don’t be the one who’s to blame.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Preview of chapter from my 2nd book



            I never took high school chemistry, but I have always seen, in television, the art of chemistry performed. I guess the simplest chemical reaction is soda and vinegar. From what I understand when the two are mixed fizzy stuff happens. This is fine and all, but what would happen if, in a normal environment, nothing happened. Let's say you mix the two together and nothing occurs. Let's say you've seen it done 1,000 times, but when you try nothing happens. What was supposed to be a reaction, turned into a big letdown: a chemical inaction. Welcome to my world.

            The key thing here is that let's say you've seen the reaction done over and over, but when you try nothing happens. Imagine how frustrating it must be. All you want to do is get that reaction so you can be like everyone else, but the only thing you get is a lot of wasted vinegar.

            The metaphor here is relationships. I see friendships start and friendships maintained with members of the kart team I travel with. They all joke with each other and it is almost like they are speaking another language with each other. Some slang, some joking words, and it's a language I can't mimic. I'm very precise with my words and can't just, “be free” so this is the start of the inaction and I remain, off in the corner, trying to start the reaction.

            “How is it done?” I often wonder as people make it look so easy. “What do I have to do?” often rings throughout my thoughts. “It looks simple, why can't I get it?” is the way the train of thought always ends.

            I try in the best way that I can to try and get a reaction. There's a block though. It's much like those logic puzzles that are given sometimes, or rather number sequences. Let's use this “4,8,12,16,X” In that sequence 20 would be the logical number to follow, and then 24, but for me the 20 is never there so therefore the rest of the sequence can never materialize.

            I believe the inaction is a two way street. I know I behave differently in public as I look nervous and uncomfortable most the time. This, I'm sure, would create a bit of tension for those around me as they don't fully understand what I'm going through. On the other hand when people do make the effort to try and get to know me all that is allowed is up to number 16, meaning going back to the number problem that I am only programmed to let it go so far. I don't know much about chemicals, as I've said, but it would be like putting very stale and flat soda with really bad vinegar (can vinegar go bad? I don't know much about vinegar either so just work with me on this metaphor and don't get all literal. Thanks!)

            This whole process is very tiring for me because I do try. But with between the coma, the privacy, the fourth wall, and other terms not yet defined how is any reaction supposed to occur? How is any reaction out of either party possible? Going back to the number sequence, using numbers divisible by four; I said mine cut off at 20. To translate that into meeting any given person, that would be about as deep as allowing 4 questions to be asked. If it were a scoring system, friendship would start at 80.

It's rough trying something over and over and always failing. What hurts, what truly hurts to the soul is how easily others can make it seem. How can a person go from bowling team to bowling team year after year and make a new set of friends every year? How can someone just walk up to a person, ask them how their day was and end up getting a new best friend? What's the secret to getting a reaction?

            I wonder if everyone faces this challenge, a little bit. Is it like riding a bike? If so, can I get the one with training wheels because I need help? But maybe my balance won't even be good enough for that. When does attempting the impossible become futile?

I pour away always waiting for that chemical reaction. And you know, sometimes while in Kansas I feel as if I'm close. That further adds to the relevancy of Kansas. The deeper the Kansas, the more I feel as if I'm about to create some fizz and live out every aspiring high schoolers chemists' dream. Perhaps I try too hard, thus making me over think everything and then I look even more uncomfortable. I think anyone would if they saw everyone else easily getting a chemical reaction out of life.

            I think it's a simple wish really; to feel that sense of friendship once out of life. I know I am capable of it, but so far only my pets have given me that feeling. Okay, so maybe I don't know if I can share that feeling with another person. It's sad really, to believe that I will always be in the corner of the room, silent, uncomfortable, and just wondering how everyone else can mix soda and vinegar with such ease and here I am on my 10,000th case of soda still expecting a reaction, one that never comes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

My second book release?

I'm working on a book that'll look at my professional life in the workplace and as I went back to look at a chapter from my second book about my first SKUSA Supernats, I noticed that I didn't recognize the author from then. I've advanced as an author writing in the narrative form so this led me to wonder if a full release of that book would fit who I am now? With that said, I'm contemplating releasing the book, chapter at a time, on this blog. If you think this is a good idea, let me know in the comments or on my facebook page!

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Large Impact of a Small Pencil

 As I've said many times, I don't remember people in my memories. Because of this I need to remember people through other means and the #1 way I do that is through physical items. In 1993 my family moved from Indianapolis to Saint Louis. A lot of people were lost in my memories, but I had a couple pencils that I remembered them by. The pencils were from the school I went to and had the name on the side of the pencils. Through this item I still felt a connection with where I came from.

On my second day of school in this new place my classmates wanted to "test" me. I had been warned that this group always played some sort of small prank on a new kid, and I thought I was prepared, but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.

For one reason or another I had to leave the room, and when I came back all my pens and pencils were gone. Normally I could have cared less as the best way to prank a prankster is to not give them the benefit or acknowledgement of the prank ever taking place. However, my pencils from what was still home to me were gone.

At that point in time, I was not diagnosed, and I probably couldn't have explained to anyone what was going on or why, but what everyone saw could only be classified under one word, "meltdown."

I became so frantic and irate that no one wanted to claim responsibility. I tore that classroom apart until I found my pencils which someone had placed under the teacher's podium. They say a person can't make a good second impression as everything is based of the first impression and this was true. From that point one I was a social outcast in my class because no one was able to understand why I reacted the way I did. I mean, what if my classmates had been able to understand that I didn't just "flip out" over an irrelevant pencil, but rather my means of remembering a place I no longer lived at as well as the friends that were there.

See, spectrum or not, we aren't that different. Everyone has those items that remind them of someone, someplace, sometime, but for me it can be a seemingly irrelevant item. Those items, whatever they may be, become highly valued and to simply lose an item, like the day I described in 5th grade, creates a sadness that can only be described by explaining it would be like someone deleting your memories. On that day I felt as if that had happened and that's why I had my seemingly overreaction.

As with most things like this it was a misunderstanding on many levels, and this states my purpose and passion. If there's just a little bit more of understanding in the world perhaps an incident like what I went through can be avoided, or at least better understood. I wasn't given a 2nd chance by my peers, but I'm okay with that now because it motivates me because it doesn't have to be that way. By you writing this today maybe I've come a little closer to creating a better understanding and for that I thank you.

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Words in Solitude

Writing is an odd thing. At times, the words can flow with the simple ease as one can turn a faucet on, and then other times, no matter the effort, there's simply nothing. When wanting to produce words, this can be extremely aggravating.

I recognized that the environment had to be perfect for me to write. Finding Kansas was written primarily between the hours of midnight and 5AM. During those hours I was alone with my thoughts, and it was as if the only two items in the universe were my brain and the computer. 

As the years progressed, and I started to blog, it became odd that my best material was written when I was traveling. I'm trying to deduce as to what causes this. I write better when alone and when on a plane I'm alone in a group, but it still works, and I'm not sure how although I do have my suspicions. 

When I began writing, I absolutely could not have someone read it as I was writing. Well, for that matter I couldn't even see a person because, with the I think therefore you should know concept, if I saw them, they knew what I was writing and all the thoughts that came along with it. So how does traveling with a group of strangers change things? I'd have to think that everyone else is registered as a single entity so there isn't that personable interaction such as exists with seeing a person I know. 

This is such an unfair thing to have; both for me and anyone else that's been around me when trying to write. I can remember the blogs I'd try to write while at USAC races and my hotel roommate would make a noise, or come back from dinner, and the ability to write was strongly hindered.

Maybe this will get better over time, and then again, perhaps, this is the key to writing things that go that extra bit that will make someone want to read and share. I'll be thinking about this over the next few weeks, and I hope to have some more insight on this because it has more to do than just writer's block. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Cause of Burnout

A follow up to Monday’s post in which I talked about autism burnout. First, I was exhausted when I wrote that and I don’t think I did all that good of a job explaining that the burnout is from autism which creates the burnout of external things. Secondly, and more importantly for today, one of the things that could’ve caused my mindset of that last week is that I was coming down with Covid. The exhaustion and extreme fatigue I experienced was obviously influenced by the start of that. With that said, I’m trying to take it easy today so I can get back healthy as soon as possible. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Autism, Burnout, and Exhaustion

Last year, I wrote this post about autism and burnout. This past week, I have a newfound understanding of how pervasive and destructive burnout is, and it happens quicker than you think.

Burnout, when I think about it, is something that takes a long while to achieve. As a child, it was explained as a new hit song; sure, everyone at first loves it, but if gets overplayed and eventually people get tired of it and the next new song takes its place and the cycle repeats. I didn’t fully understand this because, when it comes to things I enjoy, they never do get old and I’ll play the same game or same song on repeat until those around me are on the brink of tears. 

So yes, I may not have understood the direct meaning of the way it was explained, I did learn that there are some things that are manageable at first, but as time goes on my ability to fend off doubt, anxiety, and the sensory bombardment of the world decreases. When I wrote the post from last year I was thinking of a long term event such as a school year (at least I think I was. I don’t read what I write so I may be remembering wrong). From this past week I now know that burnout can happen in an instant and I attributed it directly to exhaustion. 

Why burnout? Why can it come on suddenly? One thing that is difficult for me to grasp in any given moment is that yes, I am on the autism spectrum. Living in a “normal” world doesn’t often give time to stop, breathe, and assess that the reason why a place, activity, or task is difficult is because of the challenges that come with life on the autism spectrum. What this means is that there can be no “self-break” from the onslaught of a typical day.

Everyone, autism spectrum or not, may get snippy when they get tired. This is where understanding could be tricky for those not on the autism spectrum to understand, because they’ll say that it’s, “part of being human.” Yes, I understand this, but I must counter with the fact that those not on the autism spectrum cannot possibly imagine the strength it takes to forge onward each day. It’s impossible for me to describe how much mental strength it takes to fend off doubt, fend off the symphony of dissonance that is the daily barrage of sound, and to not become overwhelmed with every bit of random eye contact. 

The moment burnout creeps in, everything becomes even more difficult than it already was. Then, with each subsequent day that burnout mode is reached, it becomes easier and easier to traverse into that realm of languish and then there’s little respite from the crushing weight of the daunting, seemingly impossible tasks that come along with daily life. 

Looking back on my life, and the more traditional longer term events of life such as school, burnout was the antagonist of my story. My inability to cope through the exhaustion was far worse than any potential snide comment my classmates could ever give me. 

It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? This burnout can hit in an instant and last much longer than the time that preceded it. Other’s understanding of this is difficult because I don’t believe it’s possible to understand something unless one truly experiences it, and the anxiety, and for myself, the overly sensitive senses, lends itself to something I feel is impossible for others to empathize with. 

I’m going to have to think of this more on how to combat this. As of now, I’ve got nothing, but I just identified this two days ago so the thoughts are new and fresh. In the least, I was able to put thought on screen and could relate to you the challenges of it. Hopefully soon I’ll have something, but for now I hope I got you to maybe be able to understand the challenges some of us may have living life on the autism spectrum. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

The season begins

The INDYCAR season is about to begin! Coverage begins today on Peacock, with the race on Sunday on NBC. I can’t believe I begin my fourth season this weekend.