Traveling with the Aspie

We don’t travel much.  Actually, neither me or Justin have ever been on a plane (or a train).  We do love to explore, though, and we often go for drives just to get out of the house.  We start getting crabby with each other if we don’t.

Since we are childfree (by choice!), we can go anywhere at any time and explore the amazing state of Washington without any problems.  We love to just get in the car and go.  But traveling with Justin has its issues.

Justin has a routine before we go anywhere (even the store).  He probably doesn’t realize he does, but I certainly do.  They say the women usually take longest to get ready, but I beg to differ!  He has to make sure he has the right shirt and pants and belt on, make sure he has the right hoodie, get his shoes, put on cologne, then smoke.  I can’t stand and wait for him, or he feels like he’s rushed and it annoys him (sometimes I am rushed, which I’m working on).  Once he’s finally ready, then I usually get ready, because chances are, he’s forgotten something in his routine, and he has to do it or he gets crabby.

We all know by now autistic people have routines and they have to abide by them or they tend to get irritated and that’s when meltdowns can happen.  But I wonder if this is something that all adults with autism struggle with?  Just leaving the house–does that require certain steps or they just can’t handle it?

Once we’re finally in the car, it’s usually me driving (hello, no DUIs here).  I get comments from him–a lot.  He probably doesn’t realize it, but he will make a lot of comments on the way I’m driving or ask why I don’t take certain roads or why I’m hitting the freeway instead of going through town.  Sometimes it really irritates me–but I remember that this his brain is probably just a little weirded out because it’s part of his routine to go a certain way or drive a certain way.  It’s his Aspie routine, and that’s how he likes it!  It doesn’t piss me off or drive like an ass just because he commented, but I’ve noticed it’s usually every time we drive he will comment on something that’s unusual or unexpected of him.

travel

I know Justin stresses a lot about driving, and he doesn’t drive by himself much.  He’s constantly stressing that his car will break down (even mine, which is completely under warranty and only 4 years old) and it’s the unexpected-ness of it that really freaks him out.  We’re hoping we can find him a specialist to help with this stress and worry he tends to have.

At any rate, I’m curious what it’s like for other Aspies out there to travel.  What is your routine of leaving like???

–TARA–

Aspies + Weed = True Love?

I wrote a blog post about weed before, and how much it’s helped Justin’s life.  We were both anti-pot when we started dating, but since it became legalized here in Washington, we both tried it, and I cannot begin to express how much it’s helped both of us (I can finally sleep).  I asked Justin to write what it’s like from his perspective.

pot

Weed, marijuana, pot, green, dope, Maryjane, whatever you call, it I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. All my life I was straight edge.  I’ve never even been drunk to this day and I just turned 35. I had only tried weed twice before I really started smoking it regularly 2 years ago. I have recently been diagnosed with autism which doesn’t bother me; I am still me, but I stress 24/7.  I worry about shit I shouldn’t, but with weed, I take one hit, and boom–that worry goes away. Not only that but I am more open and can talk to people I may not know as well.

Weed has saved me, honestly.  I’ve lived in Washington state for my whole life.  It’s beautiful here.  Forests, waterfalls, national parks, etc, and so much to explore.  When I was younger, I never explored.  I stayed inside and just played video games.  Since I started smoking pot, I wanted to LIVE.  I wanted to get out and start seeing this state, and explore, and we want to travel.  It made me see that you should stop caring about cell phones, TVs, internet, and realize it’s bullshit that’ll just hold you back.

Before I started weed I had a hard time telling my wife she was gorgeous or that I loved her just because stress or just forgetfulness. With weed, I tell her all the time.  I tell her that she’s hot right to her face, which is hard for me and was hard for me.  Weed takes away my “What ifs.”   Since I’ve been smoking weed, it has improved my mood and helps control my melt downs a little.

Weed also helps me with my eating—which can be helpful for parents with autistic children or teenagers.  I used to be a really picky eater.  Since I started smoking, I realized there are so many different types of food out there and I love to try new recipes—something I NEVER did when I was younger.  I also discovered I love to cook. I also can realize talents I have like mechanical work that I never felt like I had confidence for.

It also helps me focus on tasks.  Before I started smoking I would want to cross stitch, play games, watch a movie, and about 10 minutes into it, I’d start getting distracted and start thinking about 10,000 other things and never finish what I started.  With weed, it keeps me focused on just one task, and helps me finish.

It really bothers me when people who smoke weed are labeled as lazy.  What about people like me, with a brain issue that I can’t control?  With weed, I’m the opposite of lazy.  I can finally focus on things and relax and be myself.  I can also tell you this is not a “gateway” drug.  Tara & I have both been using pot for our issues, and neither of us have had a desire to start shooting up heroin or snorting coke.  She gets high and goes to sleep (wow, dangerous), and I get high and start being creative.  Yeah…really a scary drug, for sure.

I’m not saying everyone should start smoking pot, but from this Aspie’s point of view, pot honestly saved my life, and probably my relationship.  If you or a loved one is struggling, try it.  It might save their life, too.

Justin and Our Relationship

I love Justin.  He is my everything.  I asked him to write a blog about our relationship, and here is what he’s got to say.

Relationships

Yikes.  This topic is harder for me, because it’s more emotions, and as I am learning, I don’t know much about most emotions. I look at my relationship with Tara, and I feel like it’s something completely different from every other relationship I’ve ever had.  I can’t explain it, really–I guess it’s the knowledge she was the one to marry maybe?  Insert barfing noise here.

I guess I am not normal in the terms of how I view my relationship. With Tara I don’t feel like we have a relationship—it’s deeper than that for me.  She is my other half and I mean that in the way it sounds. There are days where I have to go to the doctor’s or counselor’s, and I hate it because I don’t want to speak and I don’t want to deal with society. With Tara, I am not scared at all.  If I go somewhere and I am feeling a little overwhelmed, I don’t have to say anything to her at all.  She can tell by my posture and my ticks that I’m overwhelmed.

A lot of people wonder why we work together so well.  We have only been in two fights ever. My past girlfriends–no offense to them this is just how they work–wouldn’t say how they felt or what they wanted, and that’s hard for me, so we fought constantly.  I don’t mean to be cold, but if you don’t tell me or show me you’re upset, I can’t tell.  With Tara, she’ll just tell me when she wants a hug or to be comforted, and it doesn’t bother her.  She doesn’t expect me to be a mind-reader.  Physical touch and hugs can be uncomfortable for me (more on that later), but I’ve gotten a lot better with her.

I use this story as an example: I was at my now wife’s house when we were dating.  It was close to my birthday, and she was framing my present.  I went over to her house and apparently it was on the ironing board right when I walked in.  Her heart sank and she thought for sure that I had seen it.  Well I was so focused on my phone or the floor or whatever that I didn’t even notice.  I had no idea and never even saw it.

I don’t think I could put my finger on just one thing in our relationship that makes it so successful; there are a lot of ways that we work. I want to expand my world, and she helps a lot with that.  I used to be one of those people that stayed in my house all the time, I never went to parties or really did anything outside of family camping, but Tara makes me want to get out and explore the state.  She helps me feel safe.

Another thing that’s hard for me is finding or picking something out. For example if we are going out to eat if Tara says where do you want to go my brain immediately things of every restaurant within 100 miles of us and that is insanely overwhelming, so it’s easier for me if she says what she wants or narrows down the choices.  Sometimes if I can’t decide where to go or what to eat I just don’t go out or I end up eating the same stuff I’ve had for a week.

I just love her.IMG_8749

The Aspie Speaks!

For the first time ever, Justin wrote a blog post.  I want to share with you the view that we both have about autism and vaccines.  From someone with autism, here’s a perspective that I’d like you all to hear.

“I cannot stand the whole anti vaccine issue when it comes to autism.  People they say it causes autism, but if you ever research Andrew Wakefield (who said that they are linked), not only did that article get pulled and found to be fraudulent, but it also stated that he had facts.  Not to also add that he was banned from practicing medicine in the UK. So why would you listen to a man who lost his license?

Being Autistic, I find it horribly offensive when mothers say they won’t vaccinate their kids because they think it causes autism. It’s like saying I am a broken toy.  Should we be discarded just because we have autism?

I know that’s not what their point is, but think about it.  I have autism.  But I’m married and have been in a relationship for close to ten years with the same woman. I have worked multiple jobs, and my last job lasted for five years.  I didn’t promote or ever go too far within the jobs (counseling would’ve done wonders but I didn’t have health care) but I am a normal citizen who contributes to society.

So you’d rather your kid die from polio than have a kid you have to teach differently (and we’re learning new ways to teach all the time).

I do at times get frustrated with my autism, but I also look at it as a blessing.  Ask me about any horror movie and I am pretty sure I can talk your ear off about it without looking anything up. Same with my memory because of my autism I can still recall what my wife wore to our first date. Plus I know because of my autism I look at things from a completely different perspective, and I notice patterns and other things most “Normal Neuros” don’t see.

I just don’t see the whole point in avoiding these diseases like measles and that can spread just because you’re scared of one disorder.  Because I got vaccines, I can live to be an old man.  Some kids that don’t get vaccinated might not live past 40.

It just really pisses me off when I hear someone say that they won’t vaccinate their children and they don’t do the research.  They just go off the first TV show or article that brought it up.

Before you decide, go talk to a family or someone with autism.  Don’t judge, and don’t make a decision based on BS medical reports.”

Justin and I both have talked about this.  We don’t want children as you know, but if we did, we would vaccinate without question.  I’d rather my child be autistic than get measles or some other physical disease that could cause them to die at any time.

What do you think?

Vaccines

The Intimate Details

“Autistic people can’t have intimate relationships.”

“Autistic people can’t feel emotions or love.”

“Autistic people die virgins.”  (Yes, that’s legitimately a real statement)

I’ve talked about sex on here before…it’s a topic people avoid, but I don’t.  For some reason sex is given this “hush hush” attitude, when we should be celebrating it.  You’re trying to tell me that the closest you can get to someone is something we should almost be ashamed of?  Well, sir, I disagree.  This is something that we should celebrate.

When we first started dating, as most of you know, I didn’t realize Justin had Asperger’s.  I didn’t think he liked the hugging, kissing, snuggly stuff, and I was totally fine with that.  Just because someone doesn’t smoosh you with their lovey stuff doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.  A lot of people thought that we weren’t really close or comfortable with each other, but that certainly wasn’t the case.  I was comfortable with Justin after the first hour (and my dog also approved).

When it comes to intimacy, part of Asperger’s and being on the Autism spectrum does mean they have a hard time connecting and being able to display affection.  It made so much sense when he was diagnosed, because he does have a hard time with affection.  He doesn’t randomly hug or kiss me, or snuggle me, or that stuff (did I say I’m okay with that?  I promise…I am).  Since he started smoking pot, though, it’s really helped him with his confidence, and now daily he is more able to show his affection for me.  He kisses me and hugs me more, and I can’t support it enough (obviously).

Sex is something different for people on the Autism spectrum.  I see portrayals of Aspies and ASD people in relationships and sex is some foreign, weird thing for them.  Oddly enough, Justin said he’s never had problems with that aspect of a relationship.  I think because he can focus just on that, and it’s the easiest way for him to show his love.  How much more intimate can you get, really?

I will spare you the graphic details of it all (but it’s GREAT), but I want to get the word out that just because you’ve got an Aspie or ASD partner doesn’t mean that intimacy needs to be some foreign thing.  And even those without Autism.  Everyone should celebrate the joy that comes with being in one world for a minute with someone else.  Nothing else matters but that.

How awesome is that?

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Marriage Advice from Someone Who Never Thought She’d Get Married (and still can’t believe it some days)

It’s true.  When I was younger, I was never asked out on dates.  Guys didn’t pay attention to me.  I was never told I was beautiful, attractive, etc.  I was always just “smart.”  I was awkward, plus size, and didn’t have a pretty face.  I still don’t think I’m attractive (sorry babe–I know you’ll be mad at that!!!).  My first boyfriend wasn’t until I was 19, and then he dumped me the day after he met me for the first time.  So safe to say, I was over the whole “marriage” idea.  I was going to be a career-driven woman, with a few fun flings along the way, and I was completely cool with that (though I don’t think my mom was!!!).

Then Justin happened.  Most of you know it wasn’t love at first sight, sparkles and cutesy love music in the background, kissing me and my foot popping up, chick-flick style love.  It was natural, it took a little while, and it wasn’t very romantic–no flowers were involved in the courting process, and he didn’t stand outside my window blaring music.  But it was absolutely effortless, and that is why it was so amazing.  It was just so natural and meant to be.  It was just hey…here’s Justin…here’s Tara…yeah, you guys belong together.  We didn’t fight or wonder if we liked each other.  It just was, like it was our destinies.  And I couldn’t have been happier.

Anyway, now that we’re a year into our marriage, I want to share some thoughts about why our relationship works so well.  I’ve gotten questions about how we manage to never argue after living together for 3 years, and how we don’t drive each other crazy.  I thought I’d share how our simple love is made possible.

  • SPEAK.  The biggest issue with relationships is communication.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I really can’t stress it enough.  Does it piss you off when they leave their socks everywhere?  SAY IT.  Do you love when they fill your gas tank (Justin does this for me–it’s better than flowers)? TELL THEM.  If you’re afraid they’re going to get pissed, oh well.  If they do, really?  You’re going to get pissed about that?
  • Encourage each other.  This is one in every marriage advice article you’ll find, but it’s true.  It’s really important for people to hear that someone has faith in them (besides parents, because parents always think you could rule the world), and having a partner who keeps telling you this is the best feeling in the world.
  • Don’t use sex as a weapon.  Apparently people do this.  They will reward their husbands with sex or intimacy if they take out the trash or do household chores.  And in reverse–they won’t have sex with their husband if he misbehaves.  This is TERRIBLE.  Sex is the most intimate you can be with someone, and it’s a form of showing how much you love someone, and using it as a weapon is so harmful.  Just don’t!  Along these lines…
  • Have sex–a lot.  Don’t be shy about this part.  Sex is super important in a relationship, and being able to share this with someone is amazing.  It’s not dirty or shameful or “gross.”  How much closer can you get to someone than this?  Do it (literally) a lot.
  • Compromise.  I hate going to the store.  I hate going places after work.  It just sucks and I just want to come home and chill after a tiring day at work.  But if Justin has been stuck at home all day and he wants to take a mini trip, I will do my best to go.  It’s not fair that I make him be bored just because I’m tired.  He’ll also compromise for me.  He doesn’t like going to doctor’s appointments with me, but he’ll do it.  Because we will compromise.
  • Don’t tell them they’re not allowed to do things.  I’ve seen this happen a lot.  Wives will tell husbands they can’t buy something when they can afford it, or that they shouldn’t buy something just because they said so.  Granted, if you’re broke and an ATV s on the top of someone’s wish list, yeah, don’t do it.  But if your husband wants to start a new hobby and you just don’t want him to buy it because you think he has too much stuff or he’ll fail, this is pretty shitty.  Encourage–remember.  Let them explore and grow.  It’s part of being alive.
  • Leave the house.  Get out together.  Go for a drive together.  Go see and do and learn new things.  Staying inside in a cramped space drives you crazy (and makes you irritated with the other person) and is very damaging over time to your relationship and brain.  Hop in the car and go drive and take loads of selfies (Justin loves them–haha!!).  It’s worth it.
  • Have fun together.  Part of being with someone is just enjoying and having fun together.  Justin makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful every day–regardless of how I think I look.  Nothing makes me happier than just being around him, and this is how it should be.

Besides being married to someone with autism, I think this advice is helpful in any relationship.  Finding someone that you never thought you’d ever find is the best feeling in the world, and it takes work to keep it–but it’s worth it in every sense of the word.

How to Talk to an Aspie

I have been thinking a lot (yes it hurts) about my relationship with Justin.  We have been through so much together that I often wonder why he puts up with me, and how I put up with him.

A friend recently told me her boyfriend was diagnosed with asperger’s recently, and we spent a good half hour talking about our struggles and issues with how our guys are. But the thing is…we spent more time talking about how amazing they are rather than focusing on their issues and problems. That got me thinking.

A lot of my friends bad mouth their husbands and significant others constantly.  They complain about their bad habits, the way they sleep, that they never help with housework, etc. So why are you staying with these people who irritate you 99% of the time? Why do you stay if you are that unhappy??? And are you even telling your significant other your problems with them? For that matter, when was the last time you spoke to them without bitching???

I realized that’s what it comes down to. I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again. COMMUNICATE.  I don’t hold back when I’m pissed at Justin.  I tell him. My friend does the same thing with her Aspie. And you know what the best part is? They don’t get defensive or make excuses. In fact, they’re usually shocked because they just don’t make that social connection to us that makes them realize what they said or did was inappropriate or hurtful. So when we tell them it was, they’re grateful that we told them so they don’t do it again. Subtlety is not a symptom of Asperger’s.

I think even in “normal” relationship, this should be standard. Don’t hold back from telling someone they’re upsetting you. That just makes it worse. If you’re that worried they’ll leave you over it, well, would that be so bad if they can’t even listen to your concerns? 

Think about it.