The Boyfriend

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A lot has happened in the past month, especially with the past week. I am officially off the market and am dating my first male partner ever (he’s an NT). Let me tell you, it’s very exciting.

I first met him (for the sake of the blog, I’ll call him “Mark”) at a small Super Bowl party at my support group leader’s house. Mark was friends with the leader because they briefly worked at one of the local Meijer’s. About a week later, we saw La La Land together for the first time. He hinted that he wasn’t straight during dinner before the movie which resulted in adding him to my list of potential partners. Thanks to my poor circulation in my hands, they got cold and he held them to warm them up. I think this was the first sign of flirting but I didn’t really catch on until later during a viewing of Sausage Party where we played footsie in bed. At that point in my life, that was the gayest thing I’d ever done.

Cut to a few weeks ago when we got together as a group for an afternoon IMAX screening of Kong: Skull Island (it was serviceable as a popcorn film). I noticed he was subtly holding onto my arm for half of the film. In the car, we both just said “YASS GURL” and other stereotypical gay mannerisms like the limp wrist, all with an ironic sensibility. The next day, the group gathered at an IHOP for movie night and he placed his hand on my leg. We sat next to each other on the couch for a screening of The Edge of Seventeen (underrated and humorous). Our hands touched and throughout the course of the film, they moved upwards toward the arms and eventually embracing.

Last Sunday, we met up again for a game night with the support group which, unfortunately, was a bust as the only people in attendance were the core group. We met up early to watch some movies and laid next to each other on the bed. The leader had left to go pick up some more people and left us alone. We embraced each other strongly and he kissed me on the forehead. I reciprocated and then kissed him on the lips. This led to more of the same and repositioning to get better cuddles. After thirty minutes or so, we made it official that we’re dating.

I’ll spare you some of the saucier details but what I can tell you is that we’ve had nightly video chats and just being all lovey-dovey for each other. Last time I saw him, he gave me his sweater so that I can sleep in it. To put this in perspective, I’m closer to a twink in terms of frame and he’s a bear, so I’m drowning in it. We’ve already held hands in public as we walked to Meijer’s to get ingredients for dinner and introduced me as his boyfriend to some of his friends. We’ve done some slow dancing (he led), something I haven’t done since my prom in high school. Hopefully this week, we can watch Moana together and then attend an art gala at my old college where he’ll get to see my connections. Months from now, he’ll take me to the local pride festival.

Now, we’re hoping this will last for as long as it can. We both have the same parental complications, so we’re trying to make it work as best as we can. Thankfully, we both value open and honest communication which makes things a lot easier. Half of our messages are either “I miss you”, “I love you”, or kiss emojis. We’ve told our own groups of friends who are receptive to these kind of relationships and they’re proud of us.

I’m late to the dating game myself. I only had one dating relationship back in college but we mutually split after a month. Most of my peers are married or have kids already and I’m just off to the side waiting for that special someone and he finally appeared. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

The Support Group

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I meant to blog about this last month but time got away from me. But, yes, I found a support group for autistic adults (technically Asperger’s but with the change in the DSM-5, I just call it my autistic adult support group).

I had known about this group for a while now but I couldn’t attend the meetings because I was working when they were held. I couldn’t just tell my supervisor “Yo, I’m going to take a half day today because I want to get some support from people like me.” Besides, I’d have to drive like I’m at the Indy 500 just to get there as it was an hour away from work if I went on the interstate. But, since I quit my job and haven’t had the social life that I used to have before my illness, I was eager to do anything to get out of the house.

I really had no idea what to expect but I was eager to check out the scene since I have a need to connect with others like me. I wandered into a room on the lower level of the hospital and sat down. Soon, a few others walked in and the meeting started, albeit twenty minutes later. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. Attendance was, I guess, lower than usual so it didn’t take long. Most of them were either in their early twenties like me or in their thirties. This gave me a chance to see what kind of progress can be made in my life. There was a neurotypical person who worked for the local Easter Seals chapter there who, I guess, helped formed the group years ago and just oversees what we do.

There was no set topic for the meeting. Everyone went around giving an update on what kind of projects they were working on or how they were doing living independently. One talked about eventually trying to get into Easter Seals for a job. Somehow it wandered into being able to drive and what kind of driving academies would be beneficial to people like us (I went through the mainstream method but that’s another story for another time). Then it fell into griping about reboots of Taken and McGuyver.

After the meeting, the head and his close friends approached me and invited me into their social circle. I was definitely pleased because I’m always looking to expand my social circle. A few weeks later, the head invited me to watch the Super Bowl with him which was a roller-coaster from start to finish. Later, I introduced him to his first silent film, Safety Last!, and we then saw La La Land. Just last night, a few of us from the group saw The Lego Batman Movie and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’m very glad that I can add this support group to my life and I can’t wait to see where it goes from there.

The Evaluation

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Monday was a mentally exhausting day for me. I was scheduled for a neuro-psych evaluation that would last for four hours. I wasn’t that stressed about it because the testing would be things I could do easily and would be stimulating.

I was called back by a nice gentleman around 1:15, trying to weave my way around a very disruptive child having a bad session. The room was small and windowless. It was also quite warm but I grew acclimated to it. He explained that there’d be three tests: the WAIS-IV (IQ), the MMPI (psychopathology) and a third one that was on the computer. I was allowed to have drinks and snacks during my break because I couldn’t sit there for four straight hours.

First, there was some block arrangement. Match the pattern in the book as fast as possible. Simple enough, up until the last problem where I ended up taking a bit longer than I’d like.

Next was some short-term memory recall. I struggled with some of the number sequences once they became longer. I tried to mimic the BBC Sherlock and visualize the numbers as they appeared but I wasn’t successful. Then I had to do the same thing backwards. As the sequences got longer, I noticed my ADHD kicking in despite taking my medication earlier that morning.

I was asked how two items were similar. This was to demonstrate the ability to think abstractly or something like that. He then showed me a list of words and asked me to define them. I got all but the final one; my etymology skills failed me in that moment.

After that, he asked me what kind of problems I was having. I gave him a CliffNotes version of the past four months, saying I had no clue what or why it was happening to me. He assured me that the doctors would eventually find an answer to what’s going on (apparently it’s not conversion disorder like I thought).

Next came some mental math questions. All those times in school I thought mental math would get me nowhere came back to bite me as I slipped up on an embarrassingly simple subtraction problem but then worked my way through the rest. It stung a bit because I couldn’t change my answer even though I usually come across as an intelligent man.

I was then asked some general knowledge questions. As he worked his way through the list, he paused and chuckled at one question: who was Martin Luther King Jr.? We both laughed because it was a coincidence that this would be asked on MLK Jr. Day. A few questions later, he asked what the importance of the freedom of speech was in a democracy and why it’s important to maintain good relations with other countries. We both smirked because we both knew why but some higher-ups clearly didn’t.

Then came some more recall, this time with stories. In grade school, my reading comprehension was terrible. I dreaded taking the computerized tests that asked for specific details that I didn’t think were important. I listened to the story and had to repeat as many details as I could remember. Some more tests came later and then he asked some long-term recall questions from those stories.

Towards the end, I was given survey after survey asking about my mood and desires. The MMPI in particular was exhausting because it was over 550 questions that asked me things ranging from whether or not I had a compulsion to steal, if I drink to feel better about myself (never had a drop), multiple questions on suicide that were phrased the same way, if I ever wished I were the opposite sex (clearly written with a gender binary in mind), and others.

After I finished all of that, he took me out of the office and told me it’d be another five to seven weeks before I heard back. At this point, I’m used to waiting. I left with a substantial hunger in my belly as I needed dinner. The testing gave me a glimpse into the future in terms of a career in psychology. With the cursory understanding of the abnormal, I was able to pick out what the questions were specifically asking. I knew I could mentally eliminate some diagnoses because I had no inclination towards them (alcoholism, kleptomania, pyromania). The rest, I’m not sure.

All I can do is wait.

And a Flappy New Year

I’m not the first one to say it but 2016 was awful. Between the numerous high-profile celebrity deaths, the turmoil from one of the ugliest elections in history, and having a freak illness take me away from work for a few months, I’m glad to see it go away. But what good came from it?
I’ve had a few good things but they’re rather small in scope. I saw some friends welcome their firstborn children. I saw a friend publish his autobiography that I helped edit. I was a guest on a podcast three times, tackling subjects like the state of Christian films to how well Rain Man holds up. I saw Zootopia with my best friend several times. I saw my youngest brother graduate high school and start college. I voted in my second election. I have two long-term projects I’m working on that I started this year. Finally, I found a purpose.
I’d be remiss without recounting some of the disappointing things. I had a friend move away. I attended the funeral for my high school principal at the start of the year. I internally panicked when I got pulled over for the first time. I’ve had to constantly train new people for my job because they kept quitting or were transferred elsewhere. A mix of bad medicine and the conversion disorder sidelined me. I tried applying for jobs and was turned down. I saw a nation become incredibly divided and revealed its ugliness.

I want 2017 to be a better year but “better” is a relative term. Each new year is unpredictable in its own way but this time it’s different. I’m going to enter a period that has only been described between the pages of history books and hardback fiction. I don’t know how the future will play out but I’m going to do my best to make it better.

For the longest time, I imagined myself as being in the movie business. Maybe I’d make it big and use my influence to bring positive representation of autism to the screens. Or be an independent filmmaker, having more control over my projects to make what I want and say what I want to say without compromising. I do have some projects on the side but I’m concentrating on going back to school.

I only have a vague idea of the path before me. I’ll be going well outside of my comfort zone. Hoping that I’ll make something of myself, I look toward the future despite its grim appearance.

Flappy New Year everyone.

An Autistic Christmas

Winter has definitely arrived in northeast Indiana. I look outside and the snow and a blown tire have sat for days in our front yard. I still have a few things to prep for Christmas Day but I’m torn in my loyalties toward family and friends. I also find myself a bit more distant even though I try not to be.

Growing up Catholic, my family always goes to church. As a kid, we went to the overcrowded 5:00 service on Christmas Eve just so that we wouldn’t have to get up early the next day and go then. It was a nightmare because I had to wear uncomfortable clothes and endure the noises: screaming kids, families who only appeared a few times out of the year, priests that rambled, the church organ and choir. I wanted to be in there as little as possible because of all of those factors. As I grew up, we went to the shorter midnight Mass at 10 pm (there has to be a better name).

Getting gifts for others was another challenge. For family, I knew what their interests were and what they owned so as to avoid duplicates. This was easy. All I had to do was hide their presents in my room until that day. Currently, I still can’t drive so I’ve had my parents take me shopping; not ideal but necessary. I know what emotions I can expect when they open their gifts. With friends, I also know their interests but I have to do some guesswork because I don’t generally know what they already own. I hope the end result is happiness but I can’t tell from year to year. However, exchanging gifts with friends feels more rewarding to me because I get there’s a sense of genuine unconditional care. With family, it’s expected and feels forced at times. 

On Christmas Day, it takes about an hour for everyone to open their gifts. After that, everyone goes their separate ways until lunch and dinner with some socialization inbetween. I take my spoils to my room and start to make a dent in the candy.

When I’m with friends, yeah, I know I have to socialize but it’s more relaxed because the way we socialize is different. I have more of a voice with them than with family. There’s more spontaneity because I don’t see them as often as I see my folks. I almost wish I’d spend the day with them but sometimes the closest I get is via text.

My mood is more or less calm during the day. After all, it’s a day of celebration; why should I worry? Why should I care? It really only changes if I’m asked to do something I don’t want to. At that point, I’m more or less annoyed until I return to whatever it was I was doing.

As I grow older, I find myself wishing to spend the holidays with other autistics. So far, I can only do this online. Just the idea of celebrating in our own way with no need for pretense is a grand idea; one that may be possible in the coming years. For now, I just do what I can.

The holidays can be stressful for any number of reasons but that shouldn’t mean going through it alone. I want you other autistics to know that I’m here for you. Merry Christmas and flappy holidays.

Not Throwing Away My Shot

Over the past few months, I’ve done quite a bit of soul-searching. Between being put on medical leave for conversion disorder and the recent election, I’ve noticed that I there’s a lot of work that I need to do if I want to make a difference in this world.

I had a serious medical episode at work back in September at my job, an insulated window factory. The best I can sum it up is that I had a dissociated state and couldn’t move or speak. I was transferred to a more secure and less stressful part of the factory. At the same time, my doctor gave me Lexapro which eventually proved to be extremely detrimental. This eventually led to me being placed on medical leave for a few months.

During that time, I had several appointments for new meds and an EEG because these episodes continued. Each day was a nightmare since there was no way of knowing how or when they’d happen. I even had a therapist involved that I still see because I had no idea what it could be (eventually concluded it was conversion disorder after meeting).

With the time I had spent recovering, I thought about going back to college but wasn’t sure what for. It was in the back of my mind for many months but I didn’t want to go for the sake of going. It wasn’t until after that fateful day in November that I needed to give it some serious thought.

I went to visit family for Thanksgiving, a move that I didn’t want to do but it the decision was out of my hands. In preparation, I borrowed the soundtrack for Hamilton from my library because I had never heard it. As I rode the Ohio landscape in the backseat, I let it wash over me. Then this lyric struck a chord with me:

I am not throwing away my shot. No, I’m not throwing away my shot. Yo, I’m just like my country: young, scrappy, and hungry. No, I’m not throwing away my shot.

In the back of my head, I was thinking about how I can be a better advocate for autism and LGBT rights. I knew I needed to help but wasn’t sure how. I found out that a local college had a certificate in LGBT Studies. I thought it could help me gain a better understanding and meet others involved the community. This became more apparent as the cabinet slowly filled up with more and more dangerous people. As for the autism side, I’m doing the best I can to stay up to date with the latest news. I would like to see what the scene is like in northeast Indiana, see if there are any support groups for people my age.

I’d say that’s all but there’s the fact that I’m still living in a home where my preferences will need to be made known and it won’t be easy. I was raised Catholic and my parents stand by their beliefs. I’ve had to hide my sexuality from them for years but will eventually come out in the coming weeks.

I can’t stand on the sidelines any longer. I still have a chance to do some good. I am young, scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot.

The Fox Wakes Up

Greetings readers, although for me it’s a return to blogging.

I’m Thomas. I’m a twenty-something queer autistic guy. I used to have a film-centric blog a few years ago but abandoned it due to work and time. Since graduating college with a film degree a few years ago, I’m currently pursuing a return to college for a psychology/human services kind of thing so that I can become a therapist or a fighter for disability and LGBT rights. It’s kind of hard to explain but that’s the path I have in front of me.

This blog will be autism-centric. Most of it will be either personal experiences or on something in the news. I want this to be a safe space for other autistics. I’ll do the best I can.

(Why a fox? They’re my favorite animal, that’s all.)