Making A Difference

Someone wrote online today about how the trials and troubles of being an activist sometimes just makes them want to quit. It’s a shame to read that. Some people are pre-disposed to spur positive changes for different groups of people. They may not know what they are getting in to, but they want to help and push an agenda nonetheless.

Other people want to make a change because it is something they are effected by. That’s the group I would qualify with. I want to force changes. I want to make a difference. I want people of different neurotypes to not be shunned and to be given the ability to achieve things, just like the rest of the people on the planet. The more change I can invoke, the better.

But for myself, or anyone else in my shoes, this approach can be tiring. That’s when you must remind yourself of one thing. Who are you doing this for? What person? What people?

Me? I’m doing this for myself. I’m also doing this for my kid. If I make a difference for the two of us, I know I’ve been successful. If I am able to help others, then I’d be over the moon.


I wondered if I would have a good idea to write about today. I wondered if I would have something I could make sense of. I just came across probably the boldest, yet most simple statement by another autistic individual online that explains me well.

“I’m good at multi-solving, not necessarily multi-tasking.”

I know you’ve thought about what it would take to effectively multi-task before. Balance this. Take notes on that. Remember that one thing. Don’t forget that other thing.

Let me give you a peak in to my brain. I’m autistic. I have OCD. I also have ADHD.  In my mind, I start spinning on one thing. I NEVER spin on multiple things at once. But what I often do is jump from one thing to another in rapid succession. This happens with an autistic person. This happens with a person with ADHD. Can you imagine the combined effect of the two?

My brain must always be churning on something. Anything. The more I have to churn on, the better. By strict definition, I may be a workaholic. By the spirit of it all, I am not a workaholic. This happens whether I am at work or not.

So, the jumping between multiple items, let’s compound that with the OCD. I am obsessed with specifics. It has to line up a certain way. This makes me stick on one item longer to get it just so. This also makes me fight with myself to go on to the next thing.

You can tell at this point that, if I’m claiming to be mentally wore out, that I am down and out for the count. It’s not often I do that, but it is very legitimate when I do.

What is my goal in all of this? Get it answered. Get it finished. Wrap it up in a neat little bow. Keep it simple. Keep it concise.

My inner-workings are chaos, just like I feel this blog post is. But I am always churning outcomes. I am really good at multi-solving. Multi-tasking? Not so much.

It is fairly common that I can provide the correct answer (not always, but often). But as my Algebra 2 teacher always chastised me on, I never showed the work. Or at least the work I was “supposed” to show.

Awareness. Education. Acceptance. Inclusion.

We are in the midst of World Autism Awareness Week. The week ends on World Autism Awareness Day, which is the second day of World Autism Awareness Month. Needless to say, we’ve got a lot of awareness going on. But I tell you, awareness is not enough. There needs to be a model that starts with awareness, continues with education, followed by acceptance, and ending up in inclusion.


Awareness is a great thing. That means you know something exists. It doesn’t make you engaged in anything. It doesn’t make you a better person. There are a lot of people that are aware of things that do nothing with that awareness. You get an average person that ignores it all together. Then you get a celebrity that will throw money at it and put on a good face in public. We must go past awareness.


Education is a huge component in this model. Many people will shun an autistic person because they are not the same. This is called xenophobia. It is common for xenophobia to arise out of lack of knowledge. You don’t know about this person that is different than you, so you want nothing to do with them. We must educate people about what it means to be autistic. We must be willing to try and educate without antagonizing. People will learn at their own pace. People will learn if they choose to. You cannot control this outcome, you can only provide the information for them to use.


This is the next big step after education. Once someone understands you as an autistic individual, then they have the capacity to begin to accept you for who you are. I have various people in my life who are at different levels of acceptance. All I can do is stay consistent in my message and be patient.


A natural growth from acceptance is inclusion. Once people can understand you and accept you, they are often more willing to include you in things. They are willing to make adjustments for you. However, don’t stop the education process. I like to give the example that how an autistic brain thinks versus a non-autistic brain is like two different languages. You may be able to learn the language, but you will not always understand it.

(As a point of order, this model is a good one to follow for all different groups of people. Give people an opportunity to know you and understand you.)

I Don’t Care

Three little words.

“I don’t care!”

The combination of these words are connotative of the ideas of insolence and insubordination. This statement belongs to rebels and ne’re-do-wells. This is a sentence that has NO PLACE IN SOCIETY!

Let me debunk that. Casting stones at people that make this statement, or statements like it, is just a sign of attempts to be controlling. Control is necessary in some instances. If you’re trying to instill discipline in a child so that way they have some needed structure, or if you’re in charge of a military unit that must operate of one mind otherwise the risk injury and death, control is necessary. Where it is not necessary is in modern society where a plebiscite rich in creativity, curiosity, and independent thought. These are things that are championed as valued traits. Yet, when we shut down “I don’t care,” we lock those traits up.

“So how does this apply here? Do you ever say I don’t care about something?”

I like making sure I’m doing my part to make sure my family is taken care of. That is one thing I will hold sacred. Otherwise, I’m starting to make myself say these three words almost as a mantra.

“I don’t care!”

Yes, I am off and quirky. My thoughts may not match yours or anyone else’s. But, I get the job done.

“I don’t care!”

Your perfume or cologne is overpowering. I don’t have to sit there and endure it. It doesn’t offend me, but it does physically distract me. Sometimes it even hurts me.

“I don’t care!”

Yes, I always do it this way. If you would like to see me do it a different way, please show me what you have in mind and be willing to have a conversation about which way is better.

“I don’t care!”

I understand you have feelings, and I will do my best not to hurt them. Conversely, please understand that my questions and statements will rarely have feelings or intent attached to them.

When it gets down to it, I am happy to help educate you about working with and interacting with autistic people. It’s not all the same, but many of the basics line up. I’m not the only autistic person out there. There are lots of them. But I do not care to pretend to be something I am not. I try harder than most people do every day just to try and seem “normal”. That’s not even adding on top of the situation everything else that I need to do during a day.

I don’t care about social conventions. I do care about being genuinely social. I don’t care about what you think should happen. I do care about educating you what can happen.

I’m autistic. So are a lot of other people.

I don’t care! Neither should you!

Just Make It Stop

We’ve all been somewhere we didn’t want to be. We’ve all been in situations we didn’t want to be in. In life, we have to ride certain situations out. But can I share a secret with you?

Even though I find ways to appear ok in times like that, I’m not. In times like that, my greatest strength becomes my biggest weakness. I am always analyzing possibilities. What can I do here? What can I do there? What can I get away with on this? Can I squeeze by on that?

When I run out of feasible options on something, I start doing this to other things. My brain analyzes and assesses things. Sometimes, it creates a vortex that I feel like I am getting sucked in to with no control.

I want it to stop. I can’t make it stop. It won’t stop. I present well to others. But I get both physically and mentally tired more quickly

Pancake Day!!!

This is a favorite day of mine. It’s known as Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras. Sure we all know about Mardi Gras. That annual carnival in New Orleans is legendary. (I’ve never personally been.)

A little background…

Since tomorrow is Lent, that means it is the first day of the fasting period remembering Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. So people often give up, or fast, something during Lent. Traditions of a Lent fast originated in the giving up of certain food.

Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, is the day that you traditionally receive absolution from your sins before going in to the fasting period.

What often happened is that many cultures would gorge themselves on rich foods the day before the start of Lent, hence the name Fat Tuesday, which in French is Mardi Gras.

Where the pancakes come in is that pancakes are a food that allowed the cooking up of richer ingredients that a family would have at home.

A tradition that grew in Great Britain on Shrove Tuesday is racing while holding a skillet with a pancake in it. Depending on who tells you the rules, you must flip the pancake at least at the beginning and the end of the race. There is even an international competition that happens between the town of Liberal, Kansas and Olney, Buckinghamshire since 1950. Olney is the traditional birthplace of the legend behind the pancake races.


My posts came to a screeching halt there for a little bit.

“Oh no, he’s flaky!”

No. I was just hit by a figurative one-two punch. So before I tell my story, let me tell you a little about suffering burnout as an autistic person.

“Tim, everyone can hit a rough patch every now and then. You can get past this!”

Oh boy, the good ol’ “rub dirt in the wound” statement. I will tell you right now that autistic people encounter the same things as non-autistic people. But, they just don’t process things the same way. It’s a fact of life that doesn’t change.

For anyone, burnout happens whenever you are able to do self-care less and less, until you can’t do it at all. At some point, the dam overflows and you just can’t take it anymore. For most people, you can avoid this by watching a good TV show, having a good meal, or go out for an evening on the town. For autistic people, it may not be that easy. One of the toughest things is, for many autistic people, the ability to explain the burnout to someone else might have gone away. Since talking is a good therapy for anyone, you can see how that would throw a wrench in the works.

So for me, that burnout happened last month. After it was suggested to me to play hooky the next day, my good sense took leave and I did just that. It was good for me to live life on my terms for a day. Among all the possible fixes, that was the best relief valve available to me.

Unfortunately, flu came knocking at the door within a few days of that. I haven’t had a flu shot since public school. I also haven’t had the flu since public school. So it was a sock in the mouth to be hit with it.

I was the first person in the family to get it. I wasn’t the last.

I also was dealing with my web host not keeping my website up regularly. They were in Houston, and so I don’t know if their troubles had anything to do with the extreme weather suffered there, but I was done. So I had to shop for a new host, get things transferred, and make sure things were working.

In among all of this, I was still having problems with the effects of my burnout. I had lost the ability to put anything on paper. No blogs. No novel. Diminished social media posting. I just had nothing.


Some days it just feels like it would be easier to move to Norway. I would just need to find a job and learn to speak Norwegian. Then I ‘d be a shoe-in.

But I’d need to speak Norwegian first.

Does anyone remember the saying that “Rome is burning”? That talks about when Nero set fire to his own city, blamed the Christians, and made no effort to put out the flames. That’s what I feel like right now. We elected Nero. He’s set fire to Rome. It makes me just want to move somewhere like Norway.

But I’d need to speak Norwegian first.

We can’t just find a formula and stick with it in our country. We have approached the point where every new group is reinventing the wheel. Not because the wheel went away. But because they want the by-line. Meanwhile, the citizens of our country are trampled over because of the actions of a few. Too bad we couldn’t just move to Norway.

We’d need to speak Norwegian first.

What place will take me if I speak English?


Not every autistic person is Rain Man. Let’s just get that clear right now. That includes me. But there are some of us who are really in love with patterns. I believe my catch with patterns is what allows me to sit down and pour through spreadsheets and find the holes and trends. I love analysis, probably because I have a love of patterns.

But let’s get one thing right. Patterns aren’t always about numbers. Even when it involves numbers, it’s not about numbers.

My wife and I finally had enough of our phones that were four generations back. They were paid off. We were settled in to them. Had we known the trouble we were in for after the iOS upgrade, we probably wouldn’t have done it. But here’s the problem with that. Eventually, all those nice apps we love to use will eventually no longer be compatible with our phones. So we had a good deal available to replace the phones. But I had to change my phone number to do it.

Everyone said “finally, you can get a local number”. But of course we all know area codes don’t mean what they used to. Since that was the case, I was looking at the pattern of the number. Not the pattern of the numerals, but the physical pattern on the dialer. I picked my area code. Then the customer service rep showed me some available numbers. I was sitting there air dialing each number. There was one that felt correct, and I chose it.

Some people have said it was weird. In a nutshell it is, but it is me. But something I will tell you is that, for the first time ever, I don’t have to go checking every time I tell someone my new number. I just tell them.

It sometimes surprises me…

People who have known me for quite some time (mainly family) don’t always process some things that are problems for me. That’s ok. I still have problems understanding my problems and the source of them as well.

I help maintain some things in a call center environment. Yesterday, I had to spend about 90 minutes in that environment. About 20 minutes in, I was really starting to wish I had brought my earplugs with me. First, I noticed I was getting physically on edge. Second, I started realizing it was the noise. It wasn’t the volume (I’ve explained this effect before). It was the many voices talking about the same level. It was the lack of moving air. I remembered my earplugs for a visit to the store later in the day, but I was having trouble the rest of the evening after that.

It surprises me, still. So it’s ok that others still have issue understanding.