Friday, October 23, 2009

Empathy or Evil, I don't know.....

Watch out...I am putting it out there.  I may tick some of you off. I will try not to make an ass of myself! I'm just trying to understand.
I was so worried about Aspie-Web-Net.  At least we know he is alive.  What he was going through was horribly hard on him. I have been so depressed before I could have cut my wrists, in fact, I was thinking the yesterday that know I know why people cut their wrists.  Not because of the depression, per-se, but because your blood feels so thick, like it might be suffocating you.  I've only been that depressed once in my life, and it was  years ago, before Ben.
Just thought I'd let y'all know that, so my post wasn't mis-perceived.  Thanks, Ed. My brain is like a train---once it gets on that track and moving forward,  there's no changing direction.  I was obsessed that someone might die.  I don't even know Aspie Web Net.  But I'm glad he's alive. Depression is not a nice companion at times.  It is so 'effing' intense..

So, anyways, the other thing I have been obsessing about this week is how to change the "meme".  I'm sure you got the memo from Autism Speaks.  Autism is a MONSTER.

 And all I can think about is how  parents can use "self-abuse" and it just stands out there like the elephant in the room.

  It's why Lovaas nearly got away with murdering the soul.  (God knows...) He could say," look here" and justify abuse so much so that his methods hit the pages of a major publication, and he's a god-damn hero....Like a child who is beaten  into submission, you may not see the behavior you are trying to extinguish, but you have created something much worse because the child has two choices. The abuse will come out against others or against him/her self, unless they are blessed with great courage.  Abuse is not discipline, just like rape is not sex.

And I got to thinking about when I wanted to cut my wrists, to let the blood out, to ease the pressure.  I felt like my body was in a vacuum chamber, and the cutting would have only allowed the air back in.  It wasn't really to die, per se, but to obtain relief.  I don't know if I'm making any sense to you all.  I'm just saying, the only time depression nearly took over my was as though dying wasn't even a part of it, I just wanted to relieve the pressure!! 

Autism, it seems, can bring everything into hyper-arousal.  Thoughts, feelings, sounds, sights, smells, tastes...can be perceived as crushing, maybe, or like depression, just intense to a degree people who don't go through it may never understand.. And the impulse to relieve the pressure must be great. I think this is what is misperceived by parents.  It's not to "get even" or punish them,or even oneself.  It's just that the intensity begs relief.

I'm sorry, Kristina, but I think of Charlie.  That damn mask would have been suffocating to me. 

Ay, I'm full of it.

I remember a child who was in my PMD classroom.  I have been thinking of him every day.  "Spit Boy" sent the school in a tizzy because he would spit at people in order to be left alone. He had damn good aim, and could shoot it across the room, and he would just laugh as teachers scurried to get out of his way.
One day his mama forgot his pills, and I saw the suffering he truly went under. He shook, his overstimulation was so intense...he spit constantly, and there was no laughter.  He had a fear in his eyes like he was being overwhelmed, and his very life was at stake. He didn't cry, but he guarded himself as though the world would engulf him.  It had to have been exhausting for him, it was exhausting to witness.

Since I have been on the Hub, since I worked at a "institution", I have tried to understand self abuse.  This is the only time I have come close, in remembering something that happened 20 years ago, and only consisted of a few hours of my life. I'm sure there are many, many more examples in my life, but this one crystalized.  It's a good thing nobody reads my blog....


abfh said...

What stands out to me is that we don't even know if there is anything about autism, in itself, that makes self-injury more likely. The monster stereotypes are based on anecdotal stories, not scientific research.

I wrote in a blog post three years ago that as far as I know, there haven't been any studies comparing the rates of self-injury among autistics and non-autistics, controlled for age and education and income and other factors. And even if there were, it's impossible to control for the effects of the prejudice autistic people face in today's society...

KWombles said...

:-)Well, no such luck on the not being read. I don't see any evil here, either.

I get migraines from sensory overloads, essentially. Too much noise, too much or too bright of light, too much, really, of any combination of things, and my body lets me know with nausea and the whole works, with migraines that, even though the pain doesn't send me to my knees, thankfully, significantly impair my ability to function. And yet, I do. Is this similar to the sensory overloads my children deal with? Probably; their brains and bodies deal with it differently, perhaps.

It's important to try to understand behavior from the point of the person engaging in it. You're working hard to do that, to relate it to something you've experienced. I'm going to go with empathy, not evil. :-)

Mrs. C said...

I'm reading and hurting with you. SO many things cannot be said, but I can tell you that there is such a hard balancing act between telling others so they will understand... and knowing some people use things we say against us.

I struggle with that, anyway. I would hate to give fodder for some of these people who equate autism with the MONSTER, but I wouldn't want people to think it's just a plain lack of speech thing going on either, the way it affects families.

Hopefully you know what I mean. It's just hard.

r.b. said...

Thank you, abfh, I'm looking to set it truthfully in my avoid the scare tactics totally, and get to the real.

It's a relief, KWombles, to know. But, you are a parent. I didn't think I'd tick you off!

Mrs. C--I'm not hurting...I was just able to look back 20 years and remember that feeling, as though it was yesterday. I definitely understand about things being used against you, but I just consider the source.

I was looking for a book I read in about 15 years ago, about a psychiatrist at Menninger Clinic in Topeka where we lived. He treated a woman by really listening for schizophrenia, another scary monster thing, and she came out of it enough to be happy. Then he talked about his own bout, strangely enough, with the debilitating side of his own schizophrenia. He said Menningers was full of shit once he saw things from the other side. I can't remember any more about it.

Patrick said...

I hear you, even if I don't comment very often. For the most part, I agree with what you place in these posts. And yes, depression can really be bad, and other sensory differences can also make life Really uncomfortable.

Glad to hear that it isn't a current hurt, but a past recollection.

I don't have the intense form of skin picking that some have, but things do get picked at (or pulled in anxiety too), just because they are there, in some cases, just because they can be felt.

I can't say why some people seem to feel relief from biting into themself, or other things that should be painful. Sometimes it's like what Susan S has recently written, that we can't always know what another persons sensory world is.

And yes, harsh or strong discipline can backfire too. I believe it is/was part of my current problem set.

Ali said...

I tend to bite myself when I'm very upset. I've always felt the urge to bite, but it wasn't until I saw a child doing it (I work in an acute inpatient psych hospital for kids) that it occured to me that might be comforting. It is. It doesn't hurt, but it relieves some of the pressure.

Yeah, I get it about the feeling of pressure. I always feel like my bones need to snap when it gets really bad, but haven't ever injured myself that badly. Cutting doesn't do it for me--I tried that as a teenager. It's bone-deep, not just blood-deep.

r.b. said...

I'm sorry, I may have inadvertently deleted some posts. I get 2 emails, one for the message and one for the posting of it, and I thought they were different. With Ali's post, I realized they were not.

r.b. said...

Patrick, thanks. I'm sorry you were disciplined harshly. Spare the rod, spoil the child is taken literally by too many. A sheperd uses a rod to guide his sheep. I wonder if he used it to beat the crap out of them, too.

I had to grow up some to lay off Ben. I never beat him, but I used to slap him. I KNEW mother was a very gentle woman and always used to say the face (head) is the very essence of ones being. It is very disrespectful. There, you see? I sure aint perfect...Looking back, I was a real bitch. I know I am better now, but I'm still human.

Thanks, Ali, for your post. The intensity of the pressure must be very acute with you. I've been trying to figure it out a little on pub-med....I'm not sure but a release of endorphins, the "feel good" compounds. The body may not distinguish between physical and mental pain. The body may just cry for a release from the "pain"...and causing acute physical pain would release the endorphins. Like it's saying "I know you feel awful bad. Try this, it may help!" We are wired for self-preservation.

Or again, I must qualify these statements: I may be full of shit.

Stephanie said...

"I think this is what is misperceived by parents. It's not to "get even" or punish them,or even oneself. It's just that the intensity begs relief."

Emotions can be very intense. Even when we're articulate, sometimes the words fail us when trying to express our most intense emotion. How much more so when one's expressions of emotion go unrecognized? We all need a release or outlet for the emotions that are just too intense to handle.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to intervene with self-injurious behavior, but understanding is necessary to effective, beneficial intervention.

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