PANIC ATTACK!!!

I learned something new after like my third trip to the hospital this year (2019), I suffer from panic attacks. I think what frustrated me the most was I visited at least 3 different doctors trying to figure out what was going on with me. My heart rate and pulse would climb. I would get tingling in my fingers. I would feel disoriented. A warm feeling would race up and down my body. I would feel nauseous. There was no trigger for these episodes I was having because they would happen at different times of the day and not on every day. This was driving nuts on what was going on. When I went into the hospital early in the year, I had several blood tests, a CT scan, a sonogram, a brain scan with a weird mesh head cap. When I finally left, they told me that my potassium level was low and I was ‘stressing out’. I had a colonoscopy done were they did find 4 polyps. I met with an endocrinologist, but everything came back fine. When I had my most recent attack and [I hope] my final trip to the hospital. The emergency room doctor and my wife told me straight out…you have panic attacks. I did feel rather stupid especially after I went home and looked up panic attacks on Web MD:

What Are Panic Attacks?
It’s dramatic. Your heart begins to pound and you hyperventilate, sweat, and tremble. You fear you’re having a heart attack or something equally serious. Then, 10 minutes or so later, it’s gone.

What just happened?

You had a panic attack.

They’re fairly common, usually beginning between ages 15 and 25. If they keep coming back, you have a persistent fear of more attacks, or you change your behavior significantly because of them, you have something called panic disorder. Nearly one in 20 adults have it, and women are twice as likely as men to get it.

Many people with panic disorder relate an attack to what they were doing when it happened. They may think the restaurant, elevator, or classroom caused the attack. Then they’ll avoid those places. That may lead to something called agoraphobia — the fear of leaving home or being in public places.

Causes
What brings on panic attacks and panic disorder isn’t clear. Some researchers believe panic disorder may come from an oversensitivity to carbon dioxide, which makes your brain think you’re suffocating. There’s also an association between panic attacks and phobias, like school phobia or claustrophobia.

Some believe there are ties between panic attacks and:

Depression
Alcohol abuse
Cigarette smoking
Suicide risk
Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that happens in winter.

Panic disorder may start after:

A serious illness or accident
The death of a close friend
Separation from family
The birth of a baby
Attacks may come after the use of mind-altering drugs. Most often, however, they come “out of the blue.” One may even begin while you’re sleeping.

Some medications can cause panic attacks, including some antidepressants.

If you’re 40 or older and have panic disorder, you may have depression or another hidden medical condition. Talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on.

Symptoms
Usually, a panic attack comes with a few of these:

A sense of approaching danger
Quick, intense, heartbeat
Nausea
Chills
Cramps in your belly
Headache
Numbness or tingling
Shortness of breath
Throat tightness
Trembling
Hot flashes
A feeling that you’re apart from reality
If you feel like you’re having a panic attack, see you doctor right away. While they are not dangerous, they can get worse without treatment.

Symptoms of a panic attack are similar to those for more serious conditions. If you’re not sure if what you’re having is a panic attack, call your doctor, just to be safe.

The Autistic Club?

There is a wonderful article in Psychology Today that is written by John Elder Robinson. In his article, he puts a slightly different perspective on labels for our neurological condition. John offers the idea that instead of being labelled with autism or ADHD that we could be a community of Neurodiversity people. I will say that he does point out how diversity is good and bad. To me, I guess it depends on what do you want? To say that I have Asperger’s Syndrome was good because the diagnose finally explained why I was acting the way I was and why I had trouble in all parts of my life. Just for myself, I don’t ‘feel’ alone in my condition. I know I have it and I do my best to live my life being more aware of this diagnose. I like to help other people who are going through the issues I had, but I don’t feel the need to be a part of this ‘Neurodiversity’ community. I just want to be a part of a community with people of all sorts of things they may be dealing with. I realize when or if people find out I have this condition one of a few things tend to happen. 1. They don’t believe I am autistic. 2. They notice my quirkiness and try to stay away from me. 3. They except the difference and try to help if there was something I might have done and let me know about it. I know to feel accepted, we want to compartmentalize ourselves to give us an identity. I remember back in high school; kids would always try to do this even if we didn’t agree with the label. The jock, nerds, art crew, the goths, losers, bad boys-girls, etc. If you feel like putting yourself into a category, then go right ahead. I guess you have to ask what do want if you place yourself in this position? I realize this is a little cliché, but variety is the spice of life. For me, I try to help folks because growing up with this condition, but never really knowing what was going on, why was I bullied a lot? I believe the article is really compelling and thought provoking. I say you be you. Embrace what God has created in you. I invite you to join the Human Race, it’s an interesting club. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/my-life-aspergers/201906/the-convergence-neurodiversity-and-autism
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PRIDE, PTSD and AUTISM…oh my!

I completely realize that June is the official month of PTSD awareness and PRIDE celebration. I’m glad to see that these two important things in our society are getting their just dues. I’m not here to knock the PRIDE people or the PTSD folks, my beef is with my own cause…Autism. We’re now more than half way through the month and this really feels like a TRUE month long party or ‘active’ educating the public on these causes. So my question is…what the hell happened to Autism Awareness month back in April?!!!!! I’ve noticed each year, this gets less and less attention. The month starts out great with the international day of autism, but after that the flame goes out and the meager smoke snakes its way in the air. It’s not like we have just have a few organizations. Unless there is a renewed story line about the absurdity of immunizations causing autism in children again, we get put back on the shelf until next year.

If we really want to change and create a stronger voice then we need to look at the Pride folks. I have to give them all the credit in the world, they know how to get a message across and hold it all the way through the entire month! They have parades, guest speakers, news stories with educational material, flags, and lots of merchandise. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other social media sites pour out all kinds of Pride and PTSD information and affirmations. The bottom line is we need to do better. I’m not sure if we’re fighting hard enough or many in main stream media tend to ignore us after awhile. Are we afraid to come out of our own closet? Listen, the bullying at work or anywhere else will not stop until people understand our condition. The public needs to be educated on us and our disability. I just feel like our cause has lost a lot of its steam. The only thing that seems to stick out are charitable run/walkathons for autism. That’s great we do this, but it just doesn’t seem enough. Again, I believe we need to steal a page from the Pride group and fly those flags, have all of that memorabilia stuff on, have those parades; get famous people who have our condition to step forward and talk to the people like the Temple Grandin’s, Darryl Hannah’s, Dan Aykroyd’s! We’re getting a bad wrap and our situation is getting worse. Health care, Life Insurance, the Job Market, are just a few examples were we are losing the battle. We need to better plan and execute OUR time of the month!

PRIDE MONTH!!!

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PTSD MONTH!!!

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Social Media Angst

Has you’ve already read, I’m on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). On social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, not only am I a part of these sites, but I also join groups that deal with autism and I am friends with people who are either on the spectrum themselves or the parents of children with this disability. Because I have to keep my true identity to myself for legal reasons, I’m having a hard time deciding how to respond to these people who are desperate for answers. There is some information I know that might help and I could give my real life examples as to why I tell them these things, but I don’t want to compromise everything I’m working for with my book. So I will share an actual experience I had to help anyone with a low-functioning autistic child.

So I’ve decided to give some rather helpful advice on my blog without trying to disclose my personal information. One of the main things I read from people are the parents who are dealing with a child that is lower functioning. To any parent who has a low functioning child on the spectrum is if their brain has not fully developed yet; meaning a female tends to fully develop by 21 and a male by 25, then there might be an answer. This is NOT a cure because, as of yet, there is no cure for a neurological brain disorder, but there is a medication that might help. First, I need to let you know that I’m not a doctor or a pharmaceutical rep, I’m a Special Education Teacher and I know as a witness what this medication did for my child. The medication is called Namenda (Brand Name) or memantine. If you look this up, you’re going to find a lot of information with this medication for patients of Alzheimers. The drug is to help people with memory issues which would be your neurotransmitters and the like. When my child was born, doctors told us that you will have to take care of your child for the rest of your life because she is low functioning. However, another doctor was doing a study on the use of Namenda for children that are on the lower end of the spectrum.

Our child was one of those selected back in the 90’s. So we decided to give the medicine a chance and though it took a few years, we started noticing an increase in activity in our child. So much so that her NEW diagnoses changed from a lower functioning to a higher functioning autism. The medication worked. She had started taking the medication at age 6 and kept taking the medication for 7 years. This was finally stopped because our daughter had made such huge strides that she didn’t need the medicine any more. You must have 3 members on your team to make this work – 1. A Child Psychiatrist who understands autism 2. A Child Psychologist who understands autism and 3. A Pediatrician who understands autism. YOU MUST TALK TO THE TEAM OF DOCTORS BEFORE TAKING ON ANY MEDICATION!!! Remember that boys and girls on the spectrum are not the same! The symptoms are not all the same for each gender. We still have our rough days with our daughter, but she has graduated high school and college! Do your homework…check this out for yourself.

Ready Player One: the Sad Life of a Billionaire

I will admit that I enjoy the movie Ready Player One. I haven’t had the chance to read the book because I’ve been too busy writing, but I would like to read it at some point. Since I am a child of the 80’s, I really did enjoy all of the references back to the 80’s and 90’s. One thing that really stood out in the movie was one of the main characters from the film, James Halliday. I really don’t know if the author Ernest Cline patterned James after this glaring disorder, but I have to give him all the credit. James Halliday, in the movie, clearly was a character who had Asperger’s Syndrome and I say very, very clever! Think about it. James Halliday didn’t care about the riches and fame that he deserved. Most normal humans would not ‘act’ that way. Heck, in one scene he was cleaning up after what seemed to be like a company party. The man is a billionaire and he’s the one cleaning it up! James did a lot of remembering about how life used to be and all the fun. His whole demeanor was very anti-social. Of course we’re not sure, but he might not have been at that company party. The most clear answer on his social angst was his one and only really ‘relationship’ with the opposite sex. James Halliday couldn’t take the ‘leap’ because this was a choice; he couldn’t take the leap because his disability held him back, basically he just could not express his feelings correctly. Many people with autism have a really hard time developing and maintaining a good relationship because of general lack of communication and letting loved ones know how they felt. Things got so bad for Halliday that he eventually lost his only real friend, Ogden Morrow…which was mentioned in the end of the movie. I believe if the friend knew that Og, his best friend, had autism, he might have understood him a little better. James knew that life was ‘terrifying’ for him. So the one thing that James Halliday did understand quite well, which was also mentioned, has much as he felt more free in his made-up world; real live can never be truly substituted with a gaming world. As he said in the movie, “It’s also the only place were you can get a decent meal.” I felt so bad for the James Halliday character because I know, in real life… over all, this does happens to a lot of real good people with autism.

Ceremonial Etiquette is DEAD

Obviously in the months of May and June, graduation celebrations are happening all over the United States. Thus the gathering of parents, family and friends congregate to show their support for that person or persons who be receiving their certificate they earned through the hard work in their particular school. Now, I will need to define my terms, ceremonial you all get as I just described but, Etiquette is defined by: (noun) “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” [Dictionary.com] Having sat through a college and high school graduation this year [2019] my observations on this lost art will be grim.

Since I have Asperger’s I need you to note that I’m not fond of loud noises, having a routine, making sure everyone is doing the job they were assigned to do and large crowds. Witnessing the two celebrations, I can truly say that this lack of etiquette is not an economic status or a racial one; I believe this is due to lack of education. At this point, I can only speculate as to why we ended up with a full generation of people who have a lack of respect for those who are trying to run the ceremony. I am completely for cheering on your graduate when their name is called, but a prolonged screaming or chanting is just a little over the top. I’ve also noticed more people just shouting out the name of their graduate during a time of information or a certain speech that has nothing to do with the person. I find attending these functions to be more difficult every time. I really want to be there and support my graduate but, people standing up right in front of you to take a picture and stay standing or the random shouting is starting to take it’s toll on me. I find myself having to take medication just to keep my nerves in check because remember, it’s not just all of the annoying chatter, but there generally tend to be a lot of people stuffed into either an arena or an auditorium. I believe we’ve come to a point were people don’t care about the manner in which that behave. Maybe this is one those ‘entitlement’ things that they have a right to act like this even though every program I’ve ever read clearly states the proper behavior that needs to be followed. The root of the whole ceremony is respecting those who earned this moment. Not a time for people to try to steal away the graduates time to miss getting to hear their name called.

If It Looks like a Duck…

As an educator and having taught for a long time, we strive to help students understand the material that they need to learn. Of course, not all students learn the same way, in education we call this differentiated learning. Some students are visual, some are auditory and others are self read. Many students need the actually doing of, to grasp the understanding of a concept; hands on activities. Many times, there will be students who have a hard time learning the material like other students normally can. These, learning disabilities, are just a part of any teachers awareness for their students. As of late, I have felt that autism as been a little bit over diagnosed. Even though the student may have OCD or ADHD, this doesn’t qualify them as autistic. I can say though since I do have the actual diagnoses of Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s not too difficult for me to spot another person with the same disorder. There was a time when I had to have this talk with a parent about my concerns for their child because he had all of the calling cards for Asperger’s but, the father was refusing to get him tested. So, I turned to mom who had her suspicions but, she wasn’t too sure if she should have had her son tested or not. I told her she really needed to get him tested so he could receive the proper support he would need to be successful in school. I don’t know if she ever followed through but, I’d like to think she probably did. I’m noticing there really is a fine line between people who really are autistic and those who only have maybe one disability thus slapping the wrong label on the person to inflate numbers. Yes, there have been times when I had a student who was labelled autistic but, after hours of observation in the classroom I had some serious doubts about the diagnose. We really need to be careful.

Review: Neurodiverse Relationships – Joanna Pike and Tony Attwood

Eye-opening and really helpful because my wife and I had already started a pre-write on this very thing, but at a slightly different angle.

Books on Autism

NeurodiverseRelationshipsTwelve couples with one autistic partner and one non-autistic partner featured in this book discussing areas such as Family, Socialising, Meltdowns and Change. Each chapter contained a section from the perspective of each person within the couple followed by a discussion/question and answer style section from authors Joanna Pike and Tony Attwood.

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Avengers and Asperger’s

I realize this might be a bit of an odd title but, I’ll explain what I mean and remember; this is an aspie talkin’ here. Back on May the 5th, I was shopping at Target and to my excitement, I found a fidget cube. Not just any cube but, a Spider-Man cube! I’ve seen the spinners and I thought those were pretty cool but, really impractical to me. The fidget cubes have been around however, they were rather expensive. I really liked the cube and knew it would be very useful to me since I feel like I need something in my hand all the time! Once I spotted the Spider-Man there was no turning back…plus it was rather inexpensive. Ironically, late that evening I had the chance to finally go see the movie Avengers: Endgame. When you grow up from a child to an adult and only getting to see DC comic heroes on the big screen with no Marvel in site, it was a bit depressing. Ever since Marvel finally came on like a massive bulldozer, they have just crushed the competition. So I’ll have to admit when I saw the first Avenger’s movie, I was prided up with joying knowing this was something I had wished to see when I was a kid.

Teacher and Nurse Apprehension Week

For the week of May 6th to May 10th, 2019; both important but, often forgotten professions celebrate Teacher and Nurse Week. There is some slight irony because I’ve had to deal with quite a few Nurses and Teachers these last couple of weeks. Last week, my wife Gaby had surgery and so I had to interact a lot with Nurses. I find my need for a nurse seems most prevalent is when either my wife or myself find ourselves in a hospital. I’ve experienced amazing nurses and not great nurses. I know one thing about both professions, they both are very difficult jobs and their salaries are terrible for the education they have to achieve. How do I know this? I’m an educator myself with a Master’s degree and my years of experience with the degree I have does not add up to where a ‘typical’ person makes with this combination. A little recognition isn’t too bad. Yes…I’m an aspie teacher. With my disability, this job can be extremely difficult. Standing in front of a class, communicating with lots of students is hard; not impossible. The nice thing about the students is they adapt well to whatever little quark I might have at any given time. When I deal with nurses, they might not understand my odd demeanor but, they’ll pick up on my OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) in a hurry though! To all the Nurses and Teachers out there…Thank You!