Virtual Adult Game Night

For now, we can’t bring you to OurTism Pizza & Game Night, but we can bring OurTism Game Night to you! If you are an adult with an Autism/Asperger profile and you’re developing a case of cabin fever, join us for an evening of interactive games.

We will be hosting this as a Zoom meeting. The Zoom link will be provided after registration.

***Please note that Ourtism reserves the right to cancel this event if the minimum number of registrants is not met by the deadline. Online ticket sales end 24 hours prior to the start of the event. Please contact us with any questions. ***

Round Table Talk hosted by Chloe, Dillon, and Mary

Join us every 4th Tuesday of the month as we discuss a new topic. Share, learn, and grow from each other’s life experiences.

This month’s topic is Autism Awareness. Join Chloe Estelle, Dillon Mosier, Mary Mosier as we discuss:

  • How to help others understand you as an individual 
  • Explaining how my brain works 
  • How my honesty work 
  • How vague language can cause confusion 
  • Feel free to ask how I’m feeling 
  • It’s not offensive to me to ask (Know your self)

 

***Please note that OurTism reserves the right to cancel this event if the minimum number of registrants is not met by the deadline. Online ticket sales end 24 hours prior to the start of the event. Please contact us with any questions. ***

Virtual Adult Game Night

For now, we can’t bring you to OurTism Pizza & Game Night, but we can bring OurTism Game Night to you! If you are an adult with an Autism/Asperger profile and you’re developing a case of cabin fever, join us for an evening of interactive games.

We will be hosting this as a Zoom meeting. The Zoom link will be provided after registration.

***Please note that Ourtism reserves the right to cancel this event if the minimum number of registrants is not met by the deadline. Online ticket sales end 24 hours prior to the start of the event. Please contact us with any questions. ***

Gaslighting

As a child, I was constantly told that what I was experiencing wasn’t real, so much so that I questioned my reality. Not knowing I was autistic, my world was so vastly different from most everyone around me. A fact that I now know, that I didn’t as a child, is that pooping can cause a sensory overload. Yes, you heard that right. Pooping can be a painful sensation for those who are autistic. For me, pooping is a painful sensory experience and I end up feeling sick and tired afterward. I tried avoiding pooping at all costs- this left me chronically constipated.

I was told over and over that if I pooped I would feel better- by doctors, parents, family members. Trusted adults in my life and those in authority told me that I was going to feel a way that I didn’t. When I explained that is how I felt, I was told what I was feeling could not possibly be. To be put simply I was gaslit. Gaslighting is a form of physiological abuse that makes someone not trust their own experience and in turn themselves. This is done by denying someone’s experience and invalidating their feelings over and over again. The word originated from a play called “Gas Light” in 1938 where a husband dims the gas lights in the home and convinces the wife nothing has changed.

I was in so much pain. I had an x-ray done eventually that showed poop all up my spine. Yet, I was told that I was too young to have back pain. I was told that I wasn’t helping myself when I refused to go to the bathroom or take the medication that helped me make it easier to go. I started to believe that I was not in pain when I was. That everyone experienced what I did. I believed that I was not tough enough. It wasn’t until my diagnosis at 16 and years of educating myself that I finally learned that what I had been experiencing was real. That it was in fact painful to poop.

I have had to learn to trust my body again. The few times I have been constipated since has blown my mind how much pain I was constantly in as a child. I was going to class, to physical education, to sports, taking tests, all while chronically constipated. I had insane stomach aches. I had chills. My entire body hurt.

My experience was not what those around me had ever experienced and so they told me it wasn’t real. It’s important to remember how powerful words are. That your experience is not everyone’s experience and to really listen.

As a member of the Giving Back Fund of Charities, Tax ID 04-3367888, not-for-profit corporation with Federal tax-exempt status from the IRS under section 501(c)(3)

Autism & Authentic Representation On Television

Ground breaking show, Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, casts three autistic actors as autistic characters. Kayla Cromer (not pictured) is the first female autistic actor to portray a female autistic lead in a television series. Joining her will be reoccurring co stars Lillian Carrier as Drea and Carsen Warner as Jeremy. Included throughout the series are autistic background actors authentically cast as autistic characters. Lillian Carrier consulted throughout the production of the show in order to accurately represent the autism community. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay premieres on Hulu and Freeform Thursday, January 16th.

Watch Trailer

Are The Holidays Something You Dread?

 

Are the holidays something you dread?  Maybe it’s too many people, high expectation placed upon you or even worse low expectations?  You’re not alone.

I can tell you that I approach holidays from a very different place now that I know better.  What do I mean by know better?  I mean listening to my own body and being honest about the capacity I have for celebrations, as well as listening to my twins Lillian & Chloe.

Before I understood what Asperger’s/Autism was, I took my daughters behavior personally.  I thought Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s was a direct defiant behavior. When she had a meltdown at the dinner, I thought she was trying to make the day about her and get her way to make us go home.  I was wrong!

Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner was because she knew she would be in a good amount of discomfort. She may not have realized why but she knew it would happen and when it did, she just needed to leave.  The noise of everyone socializing, the smells of all the food, and the expectation that she needed to participate in these conversations was too much.  So yes, she screamed to make it stop and for me to take her to a safe place.  I did not hear or see this at the time and for that I have apologized profusely.

Today we talk about the events that are coming up and build a strategy to make it possible for Lillian and Chloe to be there. I am now okay if being there is not an option.

Each event is different some examples of what we plan for could be a clear exit strategy. Whether this means I or my husband leaves with them or now that they are old enough to Uber home themselves. We see if there might be a quiet room where they could just chill for a little while if they start to have too much stimuli. We have found sometimes when they just remove themselves from the chaos for a little while they are able to return for a bit more time.

Just knowing that there is a plan and that I will listen to Lillian & Chloe has made a world of difference.

Lillian & Chloe were not trying to make the holidays about themselves, in fact it is most likely the opposite.  They did not want to bring attention to the difficult time they were having.

As parents we need to listen to our children.  They are telling you what they need even when they don’t have the words.

My Diagnosis

Ever been to middle school, a school filled with people between the ages of 11 and 13? Everyone is growing up, but receiving more and more restrictions because their parents are scared of things such as pregnancy and drugs and death. I don’t know why we look at 11 years olds as getting into some kind of trouble that could cause way more horrendous consequences than that of a 10 year old. On top of that there is puberty. That’s a fun thing, hormones racing through your body that make you insane. People start socializing in ways others aren’t ready for. Topics get more mature and in a way we get more immature. School takes on a level of intensity that no one can prepare for. It’s just a whirlwind of a time. On top of all of this insanity that everyone is experiencing- I had autism. I also had no idea that I had autism.

I didn’t have trouble making friends. Well, maybe I did- but I had friends. I didn’t feel friendship was an issue. I had two really close friends in middle school. I had one and a spare, so I was on top of the world when it came to friends. It was my grades that put a damper on my life, at least at first. I would study for hours. I spend so much time working on projects. I didn’t understand how anyone had time for extra curricular when I would get home and immediately start my homework and barely made a dent by bedtime. I would then be exhausted in class and unable to pay attention even though I was staring directly at the teacher trying my hardest. I would miss when it was time to hand in work and not turn in assignments that I actually did complete. I began to fail out of school.

My parents got me tutors. I met with councilors. I had meeting after meeting to figure out what was going on. I was pulled out of class to see the school therapist. In other words, I was failing school so I was pulled out of class to be asked why I was doing poor in classes that I wasn’t attending. I do remember being pulled from Spanish class, that was helpful.

My birthday came around. Finally a day that I didn’t have to cry or stress out about school. Finally break from all the stress. Not one person showed up. My friends all had other plans. Not knowing what else to do, I switched schools. This school was set up the way I learned. My grades drastically improved. Although socially, I remained stagnate.

This school did an amazing job teaching me how to learn. So I turned things around and decided that I wanted to go back to public school because they had a film program. In order to continue with accommodations the way this private school was allowing, I needed a diagnosis. I was told by a therapist at one point that I had ADD, but I never had it confirmed. My twin sister was in the process of being diagnosed and wanted me there for support. So I joined in.

Did I mention that I hate tests? Well I do. They are meant to trick you. It doesn’t show what you know. You have to sit in such a stressful environment for so long. Do you know how they diagnose autism? A test. A test that takes a few days. I don’t even remember how long it was, but I remember putting my head down on the desk willing it to be over. So I received the diagnosis “autism.” Funny thing was, they never explained to us what autism actually was.

My mom kept telling me, this will only help us understand you. There is nothing wrong with you. I don’t know, it felt like some bullshit way of comforting me that I didn’t ask for. I was just happy to go do my film class. I knew whatever we were doing at my old school worked and wanted to continue doing that. My parents seemed to get much too excited about all these autism programs they are supposed to help me. So, I was forced into ABA for a year. Which sucked so bad!

My mom kept telling me “I wish you had been diagnosed earlier so we could have helped you more.” No, I was glad I wasn’t diagnosed until later. Since the diagnoses, I was told all of these things that I can’t do and that I needed help with. I never heard any of that before autism came into the picture. Suddenly I was treated like I was broken even though everyone told me that I wasn’t. I would not have been happy growing up being treated like that. I was 16 when I was diagnosed and capable of saying no. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel being a young child without the capability of fighting back or defending myself. It took my mom a long time to come around and see what I was seeing.

She first realized that I understood myself better than the so called experts who treated me like I was incapable of making decisions for myself. It took her until I was 18 to really start listening to me, but she did and I am so grateful for that. It took until I was 21 for her to stop saying, “I wish we knew earlier” because no, I don’t wish that at all. The way the world treats those of us with autism is a huge problem. Without having that label on me, I was able to decide for myself what autism means to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love having autism. What I don’t like is the way the rest of the world treats those of us with autism.

My dad on the other hand struggled with accepting the diagnosis for a long time. He eventually came around. I had the ADD label for a few years before receiving the autism one- it was just replacing one with the other that took a while for me. I was just glad there was some sort of answer to why things were harder for me and that now we could do something about it. I hoped that in having the diagnosis, I would be listened to more. It didn’t actually go that way. I felt heard less. We need to remember that the person living with autism will always know more than those standing on the outside observing.

Stay A Sprinkle

Stay A Sprinkle: High School Speech (2015)

Written by Lillian Carrier

Being an outcast is something most people fear. I have never had an issue with it. My mind has always put the strange and weird into a category of great things. I feel complimented when people call me weird. This may seem strange to most people, but take for instance the term “Normal”. I don’t think anyone wants to be called “Normal”, or any synonymous word like typical or average. No. I think everyone, even if it’s buried deep inside, wants to be different. Something that makes them special and gets them noticed in a crowd. Like the girl who always wears a crazy hat, or the boy who loves big-wheeled trucks.

Being weird has always come naturally to me. I was born with an identical twin sister, and my whole life I have been trying to find ways to be different from her.

My parents raised me on the belief that my differences were a gift rather than a quality I should hide. I mean if you have ever met my family you would know we don’t fit into a perfect box. I have a dad who never runs out of energy and leapfrogs from one activity to the next. I have a mom who needs order in a house that has none. I have a cousin who would rather study in his dorm than go out partying with a group of girls. And a grandfather who once tried to get out of doing chores by pretending his arm was broken.

In elementary school, no one cared what people wore or if you didn’t like the same things. Our little minds accepted everyone and didn’t see weird as bad, but something new to learn about. The kid who brought in a rock collection for show and tell wasn’t called a nerd but an explorer. The kid who wore hand me downs and had used school supplies wasn’t thought of as poor, but as the kid with a treasure trove of stories about their stuff. The kid in the wheelchair wasn’t thought of as sick, or helpless but as a kid who was part machine and gave others rides to class. And then we grew into middle schoolers and weird was no longer cool but shameful.

I started sixth grade with three friends. They were weird and fun and didn’t care what people thought of them. As a group we hung out in front of the math classrooms. The first week of school I met this girl in my PE class, she didn’t talk to me. She just nodded yes or no when I asked her questions. I later found her sitting by herself at snack time. I invited her to sit with me and my friends that day. She then sat with us for the rest of the week not saying a word. The girl who didn’t talk became part of our group and we accepted it. Then one day as we were joking around the girl tapped me on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. She asked me if we were friends. I nodded in response and her eyes lit up and she smiled. I would later find out that the silent girl’s name was Rayna and she had never had a friend before. I was her first friend in the world. She was weird yes. But just because someone doesn’t talk, that makes her someone no one wanted be friends with.

Our circle grew as kids began learning that the kids who hung out by the math rooms were weird. We were a safe zone for weird kids. The silent girl by the end of year was now joining in on the conversations with inside jokes and amazing opinion. She was no longer the silent girl, but she will always be part of our weird circle.

Coming here to my new school, meeting all the kids in my grade. I immediately felt at home. The weird was overflowing out the classroom windows. I want to remind everyone: Weird isn’t bad. Weird shouldn’t be feared, but embraced. I will finish off with a quote my friends and I would say to each other in elementary school that I still say today: “Weird people are the rainbow sprinkles on top of the vanilla ice cream. So stay a sprinkle.”

The Land of Fear and What Ifs

The Land of Fear and What Ifs

Co Authored by Chloe Estelle and Gail Carrier

So, first day of school. We all remember that right? The importance of that first impression, leading to picking out the first day outfit. All the effort going into what things could possible go wrong. What if I walk into the wrong classroom? What if I sit with the wrong people? What if I forget my pencil? What if I get lost? What if I say the wrong thing? What if, What If, What If. You can go wallow in What If land forever, the land of fear and everything that could go wrong. What good does that do? You can’t possibly prepare for every disaster that might spring up. And what really is so bad if you end up in the wrong classroom? Is that really the end of the world? Look back on the last first day you have had; how much do you remember of what anyone else did that day?

As a child there were countless times where my parents acted out of this land of what ifs. I was punished for something that I may do in the future. I couldn’t spend so much time on the computer because I may end up wasting my life behind this screen and not end up getting a job. You know, because middle school me who didn’t have friends to hang out with would end up a deadbeat for pretending to be an elven warrior online too often or raising a virtual animal. Oh, I shouldn’t wear suspenders because I might be bullied by my peers. Also, I probably should get home before dark because statistically speaking murders and rapists only come out at night, like vampires.

Now, hold up- Chloe, people do get bullied and murdered and rape. These aren’t irrational fears. These are cold hard facts. Sure it could happen. There are so many things that could happen. I could also win the lottery. I could also go on my first audition and become a star on a television show. So many things could happen. Do we have to prepare for every single one? I mean, sure if that was possible. It’s just not. It is a waste of energy and not only that but a hurtful waste of energy to be sending out to another person. It’s okay to be scared, but remember that it distorts your reality and acting upon that fear will never have a good reaction.

Hey, Chloe’s mom here! Yes I did those things, but in my defense- the experts were all telling me that was what I was supposed to do. Was it working? No! And yet, I kept trying over and over again- until I finally stepped back and saw: this wasn’t working. Now what? I soon came to the realization that I was parenting out of fear- my fears. I parented under the cover of wanting to protect my baby from all the bad things that could possibly go wrong. Of course, my fears never actually came to pass. All I did was end up putting my anxiety onto my daughter. She felt the opposite of what I intended. With lots of work, I began to look at each situation as it was instead of what it might be.

Parents of those on the spectrum have this fear to a more extreme. Seriously, sometimes you all act like it’s the end of the world when I am just having trouble with transitioning out the door today. We all have bad days. No need to jump to the worst possible conclusion. I’m not going to become sickly because I like to eat the same meal everyday. I am not going to live a life of solidarity because I need to stimm by flapping my hands in public. Not just parents, teachers do this to. Have you ever heard of that rule that only one student at a time can go to the bathroom because you know what might happen? The entire class could just up and leave and wander the school when they claim they are going to the bathroom. I have never heard of such an irrational conclusion to come to, yet so many teachers have this rule to prevent mass chaos.

We as parents have so much noise in our heads from friends, experts, teachers, school officials telling us that we are bad parents. You have to get your child to school more, off the computer/TV, exercise more, eat better, etc. When I finally said: shut the fuck up and listened to my heart, I knew what to do. Listen to your child. She was telling me what she needed. I just wasn’t hearing her. Be in the present by teaching to to what is in front of you, not what might be. Most of all accept and love your child for who she is because she is amazing.