And Stimming With Rainbows of Every Design

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Somehow, I doubt that this is what the developers intended...

I just noticed when I updated all of my Firefox extensions yesterday that I have one I hadn't noticed before - SnarkNotes Fleck. Some of you might find it useful, for the purposes I've been using it for, or not.

It's an (IMO) nifty extension, designed to allow angry autistics people to safely make sarcastic remarks in response to curebies' writing annotate websites and blog entries, and allows users to put comments in the area of the page that they actually want to remark on.

Of course, I'm not strictly (or at all, yet) using it for its intended purpose. I'm currently finding it a really neat tool for doing the thing I struck out in the paragraph above. And yes, I *am* internally calling it SnarkNotes, despite the images of a study guide series directed at sarcastic high school students that that conjures for me.

Granted, this doesn't mean I *won't* use it the "right" way - I expect I will if I have something to say but can't get my thoughts in order for a comment. It's just that now, when I've been restricting myself from replying to a lot of questions about autism online due to the fear that I'll just become unnecessarily sarcastic, I finally have an outlet that helps me not end up openly insulting people!

BTW, I do the same to my assigned novels for class, write sarcastic/snarky remarks in the margins/between lines of text. (Sometimes I think I might have more of that than actual informational notes.) That's why I'm afraid to let others see my books. I'm already worried that some might claim that the stranger stories I've written in Spanish are indicative of a deep morbidness and desire for violence. :-P (My instructor hasn't yet, but that was *last* semester, before the paranoia about students' writings became even more pronounced.) I'm trying not to arouse suspicion among my classmates and teachers, as I really am quite harmless.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"No, the book is wrong. This whole conclusion is fallacious."

Some of you have probably seen this post already, but I'm posting this over here as well. It at least gives me something to put here for now. I should be able to update more frequently once I get out of school and have some time to rest and relax, plus don't have to spend all day in an overloading environment.

Anyway, the title quote comes from young River Tam in the Firefly episode "Safe." It refers, in the context of this post, to the wildly inaccurate conclusions about me based on writing and assumptions about people like me, or people that seem vaguely like me on the surface, but aren't really (i.e. non-autistic intelligent people.)

It seems like there's some conclusion that most if not all of my family members have made, that I'm just moving on to junior college and leaving high school because I'm bored. That's a gross oversimplification, and a highly inaccurate one at that. The real reasons are varied, and have been nearly impossible for me to articulate thus far, but it seems possible that I might at least be able to get them out in text, especially if the audience is comprised of those who already know a bit about autism and the ways our skill sets contrast with those of NTs.

Basically, it seems like the public school system is designed for one type of people, who fit statistical norms, as well as the preconceived notions of what skill sets people have. Most students do manage to fit these assumptions, and possess the right skill patterns to succeed. There are others who do, but don't succeed by the standard notion of success because of external situations (e.g. poverty, illness in their family, abuse, bullying for reasons unrelated to disability, to name the ones I can currently think of.) Then there are those who just present with an entirely different type of skill scatter, that is completely at odds with the typical 6-7 hours, 5 days a week, in a conventional classroom type of environment. (I've probably left a few other groups out, as I doubt it's clearly divided into three populations.)

My guess is that a large percentage of the people in the third group are autistic (most others are probably non-NT, but not autistic either), and that the vast majority of autistics, if not all autistics are in the third group. Conventional schooling requires being able to sustain a certain auditory and visual processing style that I can't hold for more than three hours at a time on a good day. It also puts enormous strain on us socially, plus encourages us to pretend to be something we're not, and focuses too much on authority for a group of people who tend to lack the social hierarchies of NTs.

I'm intelligent, and bored with the pacing in some of my classes that I'm strongest with (Spanish, Math, some aspects of English go slowly), but the challenge of holding the level of processing that I need to learn in class actually makes me fall slightly behind the other students comprehension-wise, and far behind my optimal learning and memorization speed. I know from experience that when I'm in an autie-friendly environment (like my private elementary school was for the most part), I greatly surpass most of my NT peers academically. I was bored in elementary school because I could actually *learn.* Now it seems like all others' interpretations of my current dissatisfaction and depression are based on that previous experience.

I've received very high grades in the past four years (since I've been in schools where we receive grades), and looked, on the surface, like a decent student. Internally, I've been coming closer and closer to crashing for almost four years now, and think I may have finally done so just a few weeks ago. I've been trying and failing to come back to a satisfactory level since then. I don't force-fit easily. It doesn't work, and has never worked to try to simultaneously squash and stretch different aspects of who I am in an attempt to make me succeed in an environment designed for standard issue neurotypicals.

Now the deceptive appearance of the surface is falling away, and I'm realizing that there's no way I'll ever be able to manage two more years in this environment. My father has been getting upset with me because I've been too overloaded to do my homework. I'm too exhausted to make sense of a lot of the at-home reading assignments for my English class, so I have a "B" in English due to not doing well on the tests, and have recently had several arguments culminating in meltdowns with my father, who, a few weeks ago, didn't think I was doing well enough or trying hard enough. I think we've reconciled, and that he understands better now, but it was highly stressful at the time, and still is to a degree.

I'm not a nice, convenient, easy-to-serve NT, and won't succeed in education designed for the masses. I know that college won't be designed for autistics, but it will, at the very least, give me a chance to take fewer classes, and have more space between classes to recharge enough for information and words to make some degree of sense, plus let me focus in on classes that fit within the areas of my perseverations.

Very little of this has to do with being bored. I know the big assumption is that the majority of my dissatisfaction comes from being highly intelligent and in a public school, because that's what the books and pamphlets about "gifted" kids say (and my parents do regard me as gifted in certain ways, despite me never having taken a standard IQ test). I just wish there were more literature about the problems with autistics and the public school system, not based on the idea that we're defective, but rather on the idea that there are major flaws in the system designed to educate us (and that goes even for special education, which from what I've seen, seems to be more focused on compliance and behavior programs than real learning.)

I'm currently in a cognitive state that I shouldn't be functioning at. I'm doing well enough to write this, but it's taking more effort than it does when I spend my days in an environment that is compatible with how I function. I've for the most part felt very depressed in the past few weeks, feeling like a burden for not fitting this system, even knowing that the educational system was designed with people very different from me in mind. I keep trying to convince myself that it's just laziness, that I wouldn't feel these emotions if I tried harder, that I could succeed if I were just a little bit better at working. But I know it's not, and I know I need to get out as soon as possible.

I *am* looking forward to seeing how I can function once I get out, and hoping to have the energy I had five years ago, when things were far better. I'm also hoping that in a few months I won't have near constant fatigue combined with exhaustion- and overload-related neurological pain. I don't care if JC is still easy like so many people around my parents say, I'll get to take some classes online, and definitely won't have to spend 7 hours every day in class.