Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The time DARE convinced me my mother was a drug dealer

Did I ever tell you the story of the time that D.A.R.E. convinced me that my mother was a drug dealer? No. Well here's the story.

DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It is a program that was founded in 1983 to help keep elementary and middle school kids off drugs.As you can see, the mascot is Darrin the hip lion thing, whose job it is to tell kids to say no to drugs and alcohol. He also convinced me for many years that my mother was a drug dealer.

Would you like some Meth with that bacon?


During my early childhood we lived in a small town in the southwest. It was super small and had a problem with drugs and alcohol abuse, so they started to implement prevention programs as early as first grade. The problem was so bad the school had dedicated an entire week to drug prevention education. It was called red ribbon week.

Red ribbon week was awesome. We skipped some regular classes, were told to wear red shirts and red ribbons in our hair, and at the end of the week the whole school had a parade where all of the classes marched around the block shouting slogans about being drug free.During all of the programs we were told to just say no to drugs and alcohol. We were told drugs were bad and if you did drugs you wouldn't go to college.
Parades!

Now, I had never seen my parents, or any other adult drunk, and I had no idea what illegal drugs were. I had, however, just recently been diagnosed with ADD and had been prescribed perfectly legal drugs for it.

No one told me there was a difference between legal drugs that the doctor gives you so you can focus on math and drugs that creepy men in vans give you so can feel high.

I heard adults say that all drugs were bad, that if you started to take drugs you would end up homeless and toothless and that anyone who offered you drugs was a bad person. If an adult offered you drugs, then you should tell your parents or call the police.
They would take you away

Do you know who offered me drugs every morning, along with making me breakfast?

The Matriarch. 

My mother was a drug dealer. She wanted me to end up homeless. She wanted me to end up toothless. She wanted me to end up in prison.

She. Was. A. Bad. Person.
Bad Person

According to the curriculum, I was supposed to tell my parents that someone had offered me drugs. But I couldn’t do that, The Matriarch was my parent, and telling Capt. Dr. Daddy seemed like snitching. Besides, he had seen my mother take the pills out of the little orange bottle and hand me them at the breakfast table. He was in cahoots with her. 

What was I supposed to do? Should I take the pills every morning and risk end up being toothless/homeless? Should I pretend to take them so The Matriarch didn’t suspect I knew what she was up to? I couldn’t decide. My tiny brain was overloaded.

There was also another problem
I liked taking those pills.

They made my life easier. I could concentrate. I didn’t say as many strange, off topic or inappropriate things. I could get homework done. I had time to play.
Playing. Brought to you by Rx
I felt better about myself now that I was taking drugs. Taking them allowed me to be happy.
Was this the euphoria that all drug addicts felt before their inevitable demise into the seedy underworld of drugs, homelessness and bad dental hygiene?


Drug dealer, also gangster

Did that make me a bad person? Did I secretly want to be homeless/toothless? Was I going to become a drug dealer too?

Again, I couldn’t talk to The Matriarch, or Capt. Dr. Daddy. Because if I did, they would know that I knew that they were drug dealers.
Via Hyberole and a Half




It didn’t make any sense. 





So for many months, I did nothing. I took the drugs. I didn’t tell anyone I thought my mom was a drug dealer. The guilt was eating me up inside.

Until one day it became too much for my tiny brain to handle.

I broke down.  Teary eyed I told The Matriarch one morning that drugs were bad and that I wanted to have all of my teeth and that I didn’t want to take drugs anymore and that I didn’t want to be a drug dealer.

She looked at me.

I looked at her.

She took out the orange bottle. And showed me the place where the doctor’s name was printed on the bottle.
Inanimate objects shouldn't have faces

Then she told me that doctors wrote prescriptions and that I was SUPPOSED to take these drugs. That I wasn’t going to lose my teeth. That I would probably have a house when I grew up. That she was most definitely not a drug dealer. She loved me, and that she would never do anything she didn't think was in my best interest.
still loved me, also, not a drug dealer

The moral of the story is, DARE totally failed to teach me that my mother was not a drug dealer and that drugs prescribed by your doctor are totally okay to take.In fact you should take them in order avoid annoying everyone to death.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A much better conversation


So remember how earlier I had a really awful conversation? Well, I had a much better conversation today.

Actually, the circumstances were almost the same. It was at the cafeteria. I was eating with a group of Co-workers. The conversation came up around what high school was like for us. I took a deep breathe and I started to say that my experience was pretty was pretty awful because I was NNT and that I was really helped by therapy and pills. I was expecting them to look at me like I was crazy. But that's not what happened. Instead it started a conversation around what it meant to be NNT and how that has changed our lives. 
it turns out, I had nothing to be scared of.





It was awesome

  
As it turns out, this group of friends also had similar problems in high school. 
Problems focusing. 
Problems with teachers who needed a high five to the face. 
Problems with people not believing you when you said you were NNT.
Problems getting homework done.

It burst my bubble in the best way possible.


You see, up until this point, I assumed that everyone I worked with had the same view: that if you were NNT then you were clearly wrong/broken.

We had a great conversation about what it means to be on the spectrum. We talked about how not all drugs work for everyone. If the drugs work for you, you go Glen Coco. If they don't, then find something that does. Keep working until you find something that works.
I heart Mean Girls so much.
We talked about how when you get accommodations, sometimes teachers start to teach you like you're retarded. We talked about how frustrating it is.
How teachers look at you when they find out you need accommodations. 

It wasn't the perfect conversation, there were still some issues. My co-workers still said that they thought that ASD was just a fad. In fact, one of them said almost verbatim what my co-worker said last time.  But I can't educate everyone, I can only educate myself.

But they were willing to listen to me and hear what I had to say. It was marvelous. Taking the leap turns out well (sometimes)




PS. Today is Easter, being a heathen, I wish you a happy Zombie Jesus Day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Very Scientific Explaination of Non-Neurotypical Brains


I will explain everything about brains to you.

How information gets to the brain


So before anyone is born, they are issued some very important equipment by Men in White Lab coats. You get glasses, hearing devices and oven mitts.

Imagine that The Men in White Lab Coats gave you glasses, they are super cool glasses with lots of different lenses.  Like this:
These are Awesome Glasses


In a NT brain you can use all of the lenses anytime you like, flicking them back and forth to give you the most accurate way to filter incoming information. NNT's have different lenses, some of them weren't issued to NTs. There are other lenses that NT's have that I don't. Some of mine are stickier than NTs and it takes more effort for me to use them.
The worst kind of people get these glasses

The Men in White Lab Coats have also put a hearing aid in your ear that plays a low, annoying ringing noise that occasionally gets turned up louder when you are stressed, or sometimes it gets turned up randomly. Or sometimes it turns off and you can hear EVERYTHING anyone says within a 50 foot radius.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

It is not just a transmitting device, it also has a small recorder which stores incoming sounds and words. Some people are issued high quality recorders and can remember exactly what people say. Other people not so much, they can only remember certain words or phrases. Most NT's can adjust the level of noise coming out and the quality of the recording. Most NNT's have really good control over one aspect but maybe not both.

Recording level: 11.


Over your hands, Men in White Lab Coats have placed these giant heavy oven mitts. It’s hard to hold pencils or catch balls with your hands.
Micheal Scott: Probably not NT

Again, NT's get more options here, they can change mitts, or take them off, often they don't even know that they're wearing them.  My oven mitts also allow me to hyper focus on small, fine motor skills. I can knit for hours without thinking about what my hands are doing.

 
Men in White Lab Coats: also known as Genetics.

This is only part one. It explains how information can get "lost" on the way to the brain, but it doesn't explain how the brain processes the information once it gets to the brain. 

How the Brain Processes Information

The information is filtered through the Awesome Glasses/hearing device/oven mitts  into the series of tubes known as The Internet The Brain. So, in a NT brain things are wired "logically" meaning that mostly they take the shortest route between the incoming information and the what the information is getting used for. I imagine they look like this: 

This is someone else s brain


However. 

I am non-neurotypical 

My brain is wired to look more like this:

This is a NNT Brain
It takes me longer to process information that gets through the various filters.The distance from A to B here is much different and is considered less efficient by general population. However, it is this less direct line of thinking that creates innovation, produces beautiful works of art and makes the world a better place.

Why does this matter?

Now imagine that no one sees any of these things and they are reluctant to believe you. Because, you see, NT's may assume that The Men in White Lab Coats gave you the same set of equipment that they have. It helps to explain to people in terms that they get how your brain/your kids brain/your partners brain work.




I don't believe you.



Both images of the brain are beautiful, and there can be some instances when you would want to have a less "linear" kind of brain. My brain isn't wrong, the same way that there isn't a wrong kind of art. There isn't a right kind of brain out there. The best kind of brain doesn't exist.
It's useful for something, just not eating.

The differences are that the way that my brain is wired seriously different from the way that other people's brains are wired. It makes life harder. It makes getting homework done and being sucessful harder. But it doesn't make it impossible.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Amused by Your Ignorance



So I just had a very disturbing conversation.  The person I had this conversation with is smart, well educated and interested in social justice. They are particularly interested in mental health and wellbeing. The conversation was going well. We talked about the need for more acceptance and understanding of those who are different. It all went really well until I brought up the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Then it became one hot mess.


Me: I think it’s interesting that people with mental disabilities are often overlooked because they appear “normal” This is something that happens with people who are high functioning autistics.

Them: I mean, I don’t know about autism. It’s like, you know, just a fad. 


STOP THE RECORD.

This person is college educated and interested in being a councilor for people who have mental disabilities.So they don't really have an excuse to be so ignorant and backward about Autism Spectrum Disorders.

If you have a basic understanding then you would know that:

Autism isn’t the same as parachute pants and side ponytails. 

ASD is a real, under diagnosed, misunderstood condition that has an impact on the lives of not only the people who have the condition, but also their friends and family.

If Autism is a fad, then the discrimination I face for having an ASD is also a fad right? In a few years it will be totally passé to discriminate against someone for having a mental disability? 

NOW PUSH PLAY. 


Them: Well I mean when we were kids it all started out as everyone had ADD or ADHD and I no one had Autism, it just wasn’t talked about. And now everyone has Autism.  Everyone is different, it doesn't mean you have autism. You shouldn’t be medicating your three year old because they’re bouncing off the walls, I mean they’re three. That’s what three year olds do. I think if you have a problem you shouldn’t solve it by taking a pill, you should solve it through talk therapy.

So, do you know what talking to three year old with ADD is like?  It’s like talking to Dug from Up! 


Do you know what that is probably not going to help solve this child’s attention problems?
Talk therapy. 

CUE THE TUMBLE WEEDS


Conversations like this aren’t a rarity, they happen often and they don’t get less disturbing. It saddens me to see such ignorance and backwards thinking in a peer. It especially upsets me when this person could be working with someone in the future who would probably benefit from a proper diagnosis and maybe medication. 

I don't have any real way to combat, or fix, or solve this problem. It's just frustrating. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tales of Job Stupidity

This is totally what my job looked like.


It was a bright and shiny afternoon. The sun was out but I couldn’t see it because I worked indoors. So it very well could have been dark.

I was working at the chlorine/child infested waterpark. I was in charge. They gave me a clipboard so you know it was official. Everything was rocking.

We were just about to do the changing of the guards, which looks nothing like this:


I had a lifeguard who was about to start work come up to me.

Me: hey, how’s it going? Have you swiped your time card yet?

Him: yup.

Me: gone to the bathroom?

Him: yup.

Me: okay, looks like you’re ready to go.

Him: I can’t get in the water today.

Remember how I work at a waterpark? Generally there’s a lot of water there. It comes with the job. 


Me: what do you mean you can’t get in the water today?

Him: I can’t take my shirt off.

Me: Why?

Him: because I got drunk last night and fell asleep with my shoes on and people drew on me.

Me: let me see. 

 Not what it looked like.

The images that I saw were totally not appropriate for work, or home, or school and included the most graphic phalluses I’ve ever seen rendered in sharpie. 

                                                                 This is the face I made.
IT. WAS. AWFUL.

The moral of the story is, that job was awful and working with teenagers is about as rewarding as herding cats. Herding cats would have been more satisfying.
 Also, I made that lifeguard sit in the water with his shirt on for most of his shift. In the kiddie pool. 

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