Continuum

Wow, a lot has happened since I started this blog a few years ago. It has been nearly four years since my miscarriage, which I think was about the time I started here. So here is an update on the life of Tracy.

In one year, I should be walking across a stage to accept both an Associate’s and a Bachelor degree. I graduated high school in 1999, and will finally have TWO degrees at the end of 2018. It has been a long road, and I truly could not have gotten here without my wonderful husband.

We now have two more children than we had four years ago. My daughter will be three in January, and my son will be one. My son has OMA (Ocular Motor Apraxia) and a few developmental delays. For a few months this summer, I thought he was blind, but he finally started tracking and making/maintaining eye contact. During those months, I learned so much about the blind/VI community, and made a few friends. I learned a lot about accessibility and advocating for those who need it, whether the individual is your child, your friend, or yourself. For those few months, I obsessed over blind accessibility, Orientation and Mobility, sensory rich toys, the possibility of learning Braille, white canes, and assistive technology. Because that is what I do, I obsess. I fixate on something and learn as much as I can until the feeling passes.

Eventually, I accepted that he could see, and that I no longer had to stress about learning about that particular topic. The timing was convenient, because the fall semester was starting, and I needed to focus on school. Then I had to choose a topic for a research proposal. This would probably be a good time to mention that I am a Psych major. I wanted to research a topic that I was interested in, since that makes researching a topic so much less painful. So I wanted to learn about sensory processing problems. This led me down a trail like this:

SPD–>Part of ASD–>SPD often seen in ADHD–>ADHD, I have that–>Taking meds for ADHD helped my Fibromyalgia–>Fibro is a lot like SPD–>DSM does not recognize SPD as a disorder, but it does include sensory issue as part of ASD–>Is Fibro a lot like ASD?…

It is.

So, that was around September or October of this year. Just a couple of months ago, really. In these last few months, I have learned a LOT about Autism and Asperger’s, Fibromyalgia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Alexithymia, Affective Spectrum Disorder, sensory gating and habituation, and the Autism Quotient. I have read studies. So many studies.

One study (here) concluded that ADHD and ASD could be one continuum. Just as Asperger’s is considered high-functioning Autism, ADHD could be yet a higher-functioning form, or however you want to say it. Another (here) found a higher frequency of ADHD in women with Fibro. There were others, but what I found was one puzzle piece after another which all seemed to fit my theory. Fibromyalgia seems so very similar to Asperger’s. Dr. Tony Attwood and writer/Aspie Rudy Simone both emphasize the fact that girls on the spectrum present differently than boys do, and so often, they go undiagnosed until much later in life. Most sufferers of Fibro are women. The pattern seeking part of me cannot help but put these pieces together to form a very likely picture of millions of women suffering with an invisible pain disorder that could be the result of living a life with a sensory disorder. Having hypersensitive everything can drive a person batty, especially if those around you just seem to think you are being whiny and demanding, or evasive and unsociable.

I started writing this as an update on my life and fell into my habit of over-sharing my current fixation. Sorry. That is just one of my many charming Aspie tendencies. I will share one more thing with you before I go. I read this thing today about tactile-defensiveness. I texted and asked my husband to read it as a favor to me. Later, after he got home from work, he asked why reading it made him think of me. I told him that was why I needed him to read it. I wanted him to understand that the way I behave sometimes is not a reflection of him or my feelings for him, that it is just my way of coping. I think it helped.

Please comment if you have any thoughts on my ideas in this blog. I will touch again on it at a later date, as I have much more to go into about the neuro-physiological aspect of all of it. Until then, good night!

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The real starting place

I hate that I haven’t written in a few days. I was so proud of my blogging there for a while. But one night I was online looking for jobs, found “free” online training. I took a whole course, tested and passed, just to find out that I had to buy the certificate. So much for free.

Since that took up a few hours of my time, I forgot to get on here. Since I missed one night, I fell out of the habit a lot more quickly than I like to admit. But I haven’t been idle.

Friday I went to the university here in town to talk about my options. Since I was in Upward Bound in high school, I knew about the TRIO programs, so I asked if they were available here, and they were. So I talked to them and found out about some great programs and options available to me, as a first-generation college student, and even as a student who left school for a while and returned. I returned this morning for a meeting to go over some things.

As it stands right now, I have 78 credits and a 3.34 GPA. I think that’s pretty good considering that I have dropped out three times. They have two programs here for people who are returning to school after quitting. One if for a two-year break and one is for a four-year gap, and they both forgive and remove all F grades from your transcript, which can raise your overall GPA. So there’s that. Then the EOC, part of TRIO, paid for my application fee, and helped me with my FAFSA. I have a list of CLEP exams available if I want to study up and earn credit without taking a class. We discussed not only my major and minor, but also the possibility of picking up a few more credits and earning an Associate’s in Liberal Arts while I work on my Bachelor’s degree.

Having learned about many of these things last Friday, I approached my bestie on Saturday and made her fill out a transcript request so that I could see how close she is to graduation, and maybe even that Associate’s degree. That poor kid has so much stress, she could use a boost right now. Not only would it be a boost to her overall morale, but it would give her some options as far as her career. I’m afraid she’s stuck in a crap-hole now, and I feel like it’s dragging her down.

And I love that helping her excites me. Because for the first time in a very long time, I am excited about helping someone. It gives me hope for finding my own career. I want to help people. When I first learned about my ADHD, I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. The more I learn, the more I see those things about myself that were overlooked all these years. It hurts my heart to look back over my life and to see how lost I’ve always been. I want to help people find themselves sooner rather than later, like me. I want to work with kids, and help them learn to work with their challenges, in a way no one could figure out how to help with me. If not kids, then adults. I want to be involved in education. I’ve always said as much, but the amount of organization that is required always overwhelmed me before. Whether it’s helping kids in preschool, or high school, or college, or adults, or whatever, I want to be involved in that. I want to help people figure out how many more credits they need for a degree. I want to help kids master the technique of rising above their frustration and practicing patience. I want to teach them how to write a great story. Or how to get up in front of a class to speak. I want to help them succeed. I want to help people succeed. If I can do that, then I will have succeeded. That is what I want. I want to feel the satisfaction of having helped someone. I want them to look at me with gratitude and tell me how much they appreciate my help. I want to see them not walking away, but soaring away when I am finished with them.

I don’t yet know what I want to do with my life exactly. But I will get my BA in Psychology, with a minor in creative writing, and my certification to teach, and when I am ready, I feel confident that the appropriate opportunity will present itself. If I can work while pursuing a Master’s, I just might. If I can get a job I love without it, then I won’t need it.

I could teach elementary. I could teach middle school or high school. Maybe a Psych class, or a creative writing class. Maybe I can be a counselor, or maybe that requires a Master’s. I can tutor. I can be a special ed teacher, or an assistant teacher. I’m sure there are different types of therapy from a medical standpoint that I can work in. Speech therapy? I can work at the university, maybe for one of the TRIO programs. I can teach a class here or there for the university itself. Or any of the smaller schools in the area. I want to teach, advise, encourage and empower people, kids and adults. I want to show them the parts of themselves that shine, even when they can’t see them.

I don’t need a ton of money. My husband and I are doing alright. I just need an income, so I’m not trying to get rich. I finally feel like I want something more than just punching a time-clock and getting a paycheck. I want a career. I want to do it. I want to finish school, and this time I will. I won’t let myself get overwhelmed. I will look at the light at the end of the tunnel, and keep moving myself forward. I will make my husband and my kids proud of me. I will become someone that they can look up to, not just come to when they can’t find their shoes. I am so excited about my life for the first time in… well, ever.

This is what I’ve waited my whole life for. Goddamn, I better not disappoint.