I tried this and it actually worked! If you have autism, try it too.

N.B.: I am not a paid spokeswoman.  Besides, TED is a non-profit.

We with autism, children included, can feel bad about who we are.  We can interpret when someone doesn’t like us, doesn’t listen to us, or doesn’t associate with us.  Children can get repeatedly told to act like someone else other than who they are, such as in school.  Other kids can be mean.  Adults can be mean or in most cases, unwittingly say things that are rude.

Our bodies can close up around us, being small like we feel or from what we interpret from the world around us.

You are not small.

You are a big, “out there” person who has much to offer the world.  To do that, as talked about in the video, fake it ’til you make it.  In more concrete terms, change you body language, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first, and the body’s signals will change how you feel about yourself.  Your body language will open up, literally with your stance.

In the video, Amy Cuddy talks about how our hormones actually change as a result of your body stance to bring about a change in thinking or feeling.  I ran across this because I am working on a book about weighted blankets, which also brings about a change from being on the body, though for different purposes.

When you are feeling small, or if you notice your body language being small, do the two-minute “opening up the body” exercise. Your new body language will also be interpreted by people around us, usually for a big, good result.

It has been a great help for me.

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Autism, Change and Routines

by Eileen Parker


I can deal with change, but changing my routine is darned difficult.

Routines are healthy.  It’s when a routine turns into a rut, that the routines turn unhealthy mentally and physically.

Using the physically fit concept, good fitness requires cross-training, which is doing different types of exercise to turn your physical fitness up to the next level.

Mental cross-training is also important.  Get out and seek new experiences and ideas.  I really notice this when hubby and I go somewhere, whether it’s to the Walker Art Center, the Hennepin County Fair to watch a demo derby, or day-tripping doing antiquing.

Mental cross-training can also be easily achieved by talking with other people.  “Talking” is not quite accurate though.  If you want to gain new ideas or ways of looking at the world, don’t be the one who does all the talking. Save that for people you know who are super interested in the same passionate interest that you are.

I like to think of changes as chaos.  The chaos is new, not ordered, and not assimilated ideas and information.  Once you have the chaos, your mind in within your routine, can turn it into new order.

So, you are in essence creating stress by inserting these new things in your life.  Stress is not inherently bad.  Stress can be created even for things that are new and positive.  Once you start to feel “settled” into the changes, it becomes a new or adapted routine.

Non-autistic (neurotypical) people, need routines.  In this article the author writes, “Successful people have the discipline to stick to routines that enhance their creativity, lower their stress, and increase their energy. They engage in things such as daily exercise, steady sleep habits, prayer and meditation, and regular meals, even if they don’t feel like it.”

My hubby encourages me to get out of the house by taking a job or going for coffee with a potential friend.  But, I can only do so much, then I need to immerse myself in a solitary activity, or be around others saying very little.


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office autism work

Since publishers pay authors twice a year, I have gotten a J.O.B.  I like it, but the social learning is ramped up.  Fortunately, I have coworkers who tell me how to navigate some of the social mores.


1.  Like others and they will like you

It takes effort to like someone, but positive attitude toward others is important.  For example, find something to like in every person you work with, even if they have some qualities you don’t like.

2.  To tell or not to tell

I have chosen to not reveal that I have autism.  Even when a coworker commented that on of the customers must have autism because of his process type of thinking and asking for literal explanations, I just nodded my head.

People have assumptions about autism including that they view autistic people as having a lower IQ.  And, I don’t want to hear yet again, “You don’t look like you have autism.”

I have an autism awareness magnet on the back of my truck, so if a coworker ever asked about it, I would say, “Autism runs in my family.”

3.  Learn body language

Yes, observe from others, but also observe how you display your own.  Here is a TED talk on body language that is illuminating.  At work, my boss told me that more than 50% of communication is body language.  Tone of voice is second, and the third, what you say, is a small portion.

So, learn how you want to communicate and what others are communicating.  I found this handy dandy article with brief lessons.

4.  Eye contact  

Sometimes what I do is look at people between their eyebrows, so it still looks I am making eye contact, without the visual distraction of someone’s eyes.  I have been practicing looking then looking away.  If I am taking notes or viewing a manual while interacting with a coworker, I look at the paper, with only a short look at her face, which can appear normal.

5.  CYA

I had made a mistake, so my boss told me to CYA.  It is an acronym for “cover your ass.”  My notes on a customer’s file were usually too blunt, so I had to write out more about who told me what, what I did with the customer, the customer’s issues, customer’s feelings, etc., so I wouldn’t get blamed.

6.  Avoid gossip

This fantastic little article says a lot about how to get along.  Avoiding gossip is worth noting.

Gossip is almost always negative.  Say nothing and get back to work.

When someone is gossiping about something positive, then join in.  For example, “Have you heard that Suzie got engaged!  They are setting a date for the summer.”  Say how wonderful that is.

7.  Take a shower

At a past job, a coworker who had come in to the work place was rumored as being “from a program.”  He rarely showered.  He smelled, and his hair was greasy.  He also didn’t clean or cut his nails.  It offended other coworkers, so I can assume customers didn’t like it either.  Take a shower!

Good article with a bit of humor.

A guide book from the Autism Society of Minnesota.


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Newly Diagnosed with Autism

by Eileen Parker

happy girl autisticHas your child been newly diagnosed with autism?

After a diagnosis of a developmental disorder, your mind must be whirling.  I was diagnosed as an adult, and that is how my mind went.

I read and read about it.  I joined every group I could find online.  I talked with my family incessantly.  It was the only thing on my mind.

The sense of community with others like me really helped.  In the autism community, I am not an outsider or a disorder, I am normal.

Seek out other parents to talk with online.  But, going to an in-person parent support group may help more, especially if you don’t have autism.

That is another thing.  Autism often runs in families, so you may be recognizing symptoms in yourself, or your child’s father, or both.  (I say “child’s father” because I see online that the primary caregivers are women.)  If one of you sees the symptoms, you may choose to get diagnosed.  If you also have autism, it will give a window into your child’s mind.  On this blog, I do my best to show what’s inside my brain.

From other parents and professionals, the round of therapies starts pushing you into a new world to learn about.  There will be sensory integration therapy at an occupational therapy clinic.  Perhaps ABA therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis) might be needed.  Then there is equine therapy, skills training, special needs summer camps, and more.

You probably already know about unkind comments from strangers.  If your child has meltdowns in public places or while visiting family or friends, you know either the well-meaning or rude things people say about “controlling your kid.”

At some point, you will empower yourself perhaps by volunteering or to raise money or help out at an autism organization.  You will feel empowered with the support of other parents.  You may work on autism awareness outside of the autism community.  Perhaps buying an autism awareness car magnet may be the start.

Then there is medical insurance to deal with.  You may have to do some fighting with your medical insurer to get therapies covered.  You will also be working with schools on your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  The school will have a special needs classroom, and they often have an occupational therapist who floats at many schools.

Lastly, every day, you will love your child even more.

This post was spurred by this article.


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