My Autistic Experience – The Quest for Happiness

During a summer back when I was an engineering student at UofT, I learned a lot of interesting things about emotions and on how to control them. Many of these things are counter-intuitive, but in learning these things and in practicing the techniques I learned, I became better at controlling my emotions. I don’t remember what got me interested in this quest, but I must say that I am glad I did it. My emotions have always been difficult to work with, and the insight I have gained regarding emotions has made life much easier for me.

Perhaps if I had not found this resource and learn the lessons I have learned about emotions, I would perhaps be on a quest for happiness. It seems to me that everyone is seeking happiness, rejecting other emotions in their quest, seeking to control their emotions so that they can achieve happiness. It reminds me of the John Lennon quote:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy‘. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Continue reading


My Autistic Experience – Conflicted During Autism Awareness Month

Apparently it’s Autism Awareness Month… at least in the States.

Every time there is an event or month that has something to do with me, I find that I barely notice it. A year ago, I made a post on Ableism month that started with “So apparently this month is Ableism Month?”

So yeah. Apparently it’s a month that I should care about, but of course I don’t. Surprise surprise, right? It is an interesting, seemingly conflicted opinion that I hold that I think should be investigated.

When I look at society, I see its potential. When I look at people, I see their potential. It is why I hold people to such a high standard. If people were able to live up to the potential that they possess, the world would certainly be a more interesting place – if not better. In seeing the potential of myself and others, I also see how that potential is squandered – for as smart as I am, I could be smarter if I were more dedicated. For as hard-working as I am, I always feel like I am being lazy if I am not working all of the time.

For as good as things are, they could always be better.

Autism Awareness Month is similar in this instance. I have said multiple times that to bring about acceptance of autism, it is necessary for autistic people such as myself to reveal their conditions and share their experience openly. There is no better way to show the potential of autistic individuals than to have autistic individuals show their potential to the world.

I don’t know how many people with the autistic condition take my advice, but I cannot blame anyone who refuses to do so. It would be hypocritical for me to expect other autistic individuals to do what I have thus far been unwilling to do.

I am conflicted on this matter.

On one hand, I want to reveal my condition so that I can show people that there is potential for autistic people, that there is much we can do.

On the other hand, sharing my condition will cause people to think differently of me.

Every second that I remain conflicted on this subject is wasted potential. If I decide to reveal my condition, I can help build a better world for autistic people. It will be a slow process, but every piece of the puzzle matters. If I decide to keep it to myself, I can achieve some peace of mind. I can get by on my own for the most part. No one has to know my condition, and chances are that no one will unless I go out of my way to tell them. No one will treat me any differently in an attempt to accommodate my condition, nor will I be underestimated based on autism’s more difficult aspects.

Autism Awareness Month is a reminder of this conflict in my mind. It reminds me that I have work to do on the autism awareness front. It is a reminder that I have a decision to make that may have consequences that I am not able to predict. It is easier not to think about it, but I can’t even do that without feeling like a hypocrite.

There is much to be done that requires putting myself out there, making myself open to the public. It is a scary prospect, but someone has to do it. Perhaps there will come a day that I decide it will be necessary to reveal my condition. I hope that I will not have to, but I suspect I will if I do not want to be left feeling guilty and hypocritical.

My Autistic Experience – My Greatest Challenge Yet

Looks like I am back… at least for a little while anyway.

I’m not much into the whole trigger warning thing, and I suppose that this doesn’t quite count, but I will warn you that this post consists of me ranting. I am in the need to vent my frustration, and I think that the subject of my rant may be of interest to people. That said, it will still be written in my usual style of writing, so if you have read any of my past work, you should know what to expect.

There are many things that keep me busy these days. The main one is graduate studies. As I have said I very much enjoy conducting research and learning new things. There are some things I dislike about being a graduate student, but more often than not I enjoy myself.

I have another responsibility that I very much dislike. I don’t want to go too much into detail regarding what the responsibility is – as doing so would make it obvious as to who I am – but I will share that it is connected to school politics.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – Where My Focus Lies

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for this blog, and this is for a few reasons.

The first is an easy response. I have been very busy as a graduate student. I started graduate studies back in the summer and thus far I am finding it to be quite enjoyable. While it is hard work, I find that most of it is more suited to my skills. I like doing research and discovering new things. I also like teaching, although I have fewer opportunities to do so. In this case I will make do with my voice on this blog.

The second answer requires some thought and is far less flattering. I have tried a few times to write a post. I have even received a few ideas that I thought were good and attempted numerous times to write.

And yet – try as I might – I cannot motivate myself to write anything.

I’m not depressed or anything like that. I have read enough posts on this blog to know that I am not prone to the state of mind associated with depression. I am more prone to lashing out at an inanimate object in my room.

On one hand I am simply having trouble coming up with things to say on the subject. I feel like I have covered my past quite thoroughly, and I am not terribly interested in covering more recent events.

On the other hand, I think that I am just bored of this subject matter. Having covered everything, I feel like I have little else left to say. I don’t feel like we are covering any new ground. We’re just covering the same ideas over and over and over again like clockwork.

There are a lot of things that I would be interested in talking about, but I don’t think they are appropriate for a mental health blog. There are perhaps some mental health related subjects I’d be interested in discussing, and that began with my previous post (My Autistic Experience – What IS So Funny About Mental Illness?). It was my attempt to probe at a question that is asked too often but answered rarely – something that I find is rather unfortunate. I have lost track of the number of times I have said that in order to come up with a good solution to a problem, we need to understand its source.

It is a double-edged sword to see things that others do not. My condition is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. For every social situation I struggle to grasp, there is another sort of problem with a solution that I see as obvious, yet a problem that I see as obvious is a problem that others have to think about. Perhaps in my ignorance I think they are shallow – my instinct is that others who do not see what I see must not be thinking about the problem honestly and openly.

How does someone like me bring about the solutions they have in their mind that no one else sees? I suppose by reaching out to people one at a time – showing them what I see and being patient.

I have read through the post introducing the Student Advisory Committee and I am fascinated by how much they care about the issue of mental health. I am also fascinated by the differences between their approach and mine. On some level it is probably the reason that they are the members of the Student Advisory Committee. I am interested in seeing what they do, and I hope they see the merit of what I have to say.

Will I continue to post on the blog? I suspect I will on occasion, if I can think of something to say and overcome my lack of motivation. I will continue to read what people have to say and I will comment when I have something to say.

My Autistic Experience – What IS So Funny About Mental Illness?

So about a month ago, this video was posted on the UOIT Student Mental Health Services Facebook Page:

“Diseases of the body garner sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax — except those of the brain. Why is that? With dazzling energy and humor, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.”

I saw this and in doing so I was inspired. I wondered “Yeah, why is that?”

Ruby Wax urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness – and it is certainly a good thing that there are people like her to champion this cause – but she never addresses the reasons why there is a stigma in the first place. While I enjoyed the video, I was disappointed that she did not answer the question that she asked.

It seems to me that everyone wants to try to solve a problem without understanding the cause, but what we have to understand is that there is a reason that people hold this stigma. If we’re going to bring an end to the stigma, we’re going to have to understand why it is that there is a stigma in the first place. With this understanding, it is possible to come up with a solution that reaches the core of the problem, instead of just treating the symptoms or preaching to the choir.

So what is the cause of the stigma? This is what I hope to answer, at least partially.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – Dungeons, Dragons, and Ideas

Turns out I have something to say. Perhaps my ‘extended break’ will not be as long as I thought. Maybe I’ll just have to take it later…

Awhile ago I made a post where I suggested I would discuss my experience with Dungeons and Dragons. Finally I have been able to link it to my autistic experience, and I figure it’s best to open with that before I decide to go off the rails.

It begins with this: Real life is either boring or depressing.

Real life is boring. Everybody goes about their business and nobody talks about anything particularly interesting. People focus on what they are doing at the moment, and I suppose it makes sense that people would do this. All the same, I find it boring when the only thing people want to discuss is what is going on at the moment.

Real life is depressing. Events in the world today fill me cynicism, and I find that the way people try to solve these problems is laughable. It’s as if they either have no idea how the world works and come up with simple solutions that are obviously wrong, or that they are okay with the way things are going and maliciously come up with ineffectual solutions that don’t actually solve anything.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – Answering Questions

Today marks one year from the day that I made my first post on this forum, and I have decided that I will use this time to answer a bunch of questions that have been left for me by KStar21 that I have had trouble answering. They are not necessarily difficult questions, and yet I have tried answering them separately with minimal success. Instead I will answer them together.

I mean I must be fair. I received these questions a while ago, and so it would be rude of me to leave them sitting there unanswered, but since I don’t have too much to say on either question individually, I’ll just answer them all together. It is unfair of me to keep asking for ideas when there are ideas right in front of me.

After this, I will be taking an extended break to focus on my studies and to hopefully come up with other ideas (but probably not).

So let us begin.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – The Shadow of Friendship

Before I begin, I would like to extend an invitation to anyone reading to try the challenge that I posted in my previous post. I will post it at the end for your convenience. Remember that it is the mind that considers ideas openly and with suspended judgment that is necessary to come up with effective solutions to the problems of the world. We must think with patience and understanding to develop long-term solutions to complex problems.

In the meantime, let us begin.

Every once in a while, I find myself thinking about the subject of friendship. In these times, I notice that my interactions with people have a certain distant feel to them, something that I find I am having trouble putting to words. As an exercise, I would like to see if I can get to the root of the distance between myself and others.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – More Than Just A Label

So apparently this month is Ableism Month? I don’t follow this kind of stuff all that much, but with some thought, I do have something to say.

This post was originally going to be an angry rant, but after some thought, I was able to think of a way to inspire people, a lesson I may pass to people who mean well but whose actions have unforeseen consequences. Perhaps I can reach people who are not so well-intended and convince them to change their mind and act in a better way. I won’t know unless I try, I suppose.

What I want to do is give a message of caution to those who profess to be on my side.

If I were to take social justice at face value and not investigate the actions of those who preach it, I could understand why it has so much traction and can even agree with it. The problem is that the way people act is important too, as are the consequences of their actions. When social justice takes the Marketplace of Ideas that is university and changes it into something else, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed just to let them take the university environment I love and turn it into the complete antithesis? The answer is no.

Continue reading

My Autistic Experience – Every Other Day

During my 6 years of experience at university, I have always lived in residence. If I had lived at home, it would take me 45 minutes to drive to university. The reason I live in residence is because it I prefer the easy access to university. I like that it only takes me 5-10 minutes to walk to school and class. This year in particular I find that living so close to school is good because my thesis project sometimes requires me to be in the lab at difficult hours of the day.

This is not what I want to talk about, though. I want to talk about the “Autism Acceptance is…” sign that I see more or less every other day as I enter the residence building.

Continue reading