Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Danielle Ryer

Danielle Ryer
New Jersey, USA

My name is Danielle – you may know me as the editor of UVoA.

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, but everything I’ve experienced has taught me to exercise caution, patience, understanding and love. That it’s okay to go for what you want, so long as you’re not doing anything unethical, and that you still consider others along the way. As you move forward, life’s about lifting others up with you. I’ve gone through a lot of difficult times, but all in all it’s taught me to laugh and be mindful.

I believe in being authentically true in what you think and feel. When you can help someone, do it, while still remembering that you and your continued existence is your first, but not only priority.

My philosophy in life is inspired by the Tao Te Ching. One of my autistic special interests is in Asian culture. I’ve been to Japan in 2018, and China in 2019, for study abroad (see picture above!).

I went to undergraduate school at Rowan University, where I earned two BA Degrees: Psychology, and a second in Philosophy & Religion in 2017. I am now a part-time Master of Social Work student at Rutgers University, and I graduate May 2021.

I have many dreams about where my life may go. While I am pursuing the path of becoming a social worker, particularly an outpatient therapist/coach, I’m also dipping into the path of entertainment. I’d love to someday have a television show where I satirize the mental health field. I also enjoy being a radio personality and talking about mental health where I can. As well, I’m hoping to publish a book in 2021 or 2022. I'll have a lot more to say then, and I hope you'll follow my work and consider reading once it's published. (My FB Pages are here: [comedy, mental health], [advocacy & coaching].)

I like staying busy. I have many hats right now: I’m the editor here at Unashamed Voices of Autism, The Aspergian, a freelance editor (if you want to know more, ask), and I am also a writer. I am a life coach for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, I also do motivational speaking on this topic and others (about my service, and my Facebook). I’m a counselor at Crisis Text Line (read my story here). I’m a former radio DJ (archive), podcaster, stand-up comedian. I’m also training in karate! Psst, free comedy about me being autistic!

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Anonymous 5

Age 30
Georgia, US

I am a graduate student.

I've made several attempts to figure out where I fit in this world that would also allow me to support myself and use my capabilities to my advantage. I feel much closer to that goal than ever. I am learning Project Management in IT and more advanced business practices. I enjoy it.

Something someone would be surprised to know about me is that I also like watching horror game play-throughs, but I don't like horror movies.

My biggest accomplishment thus far is making it as far as I have with my optimism intact. It hasn't been easy to hold on to.

I'm trying to incorporate more kindness into my life every day through my interactions with others. I want to be kind to others, even if that kindness isn't returned. I'm trying to get better at showing that same kindness to myself and trying to accept myself as I am right here and now, and feeling like I'm enough.

Something I wish neurotypicals knew about autism is that sometimes it's a subtle thing. The pressure to mask and keep up appearances is exhausting day in and day out. I'm doing my best.

Something I want to tell fellow autistics: It's okay to move at the pace that's best for you. It may not match what society says is "correct," but even neurotypical people might struggle with this. It's okay to take breaks and pace yourself.

I've only recently had access to a few resources, such as counseling and academic support for my classes. One of my biggest advocacy milestones has been talking to professors to let them know what's going on. If I had been diagnosed sooner then I may have had access to resources; especially counseling and classes. Online classes have been great for me, as I can do them at my own pace as long as I get it done by the deadline.

I noticed that I wasn't interested in a lot of the same things as my peers and had a lot of trouble recognizing and regulating emotions. I was bullied in elementary school and had a rough home life so I retreated into my imagination and played a lot of video games and read a lot of books.

Once I got to college, I started going to counseling in order to process a lot of the pain I was carrying around. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That diagnosis just felt...off. Like, it was close, but it didn't answer all of the questions I had. I had nothing else to go on, so I just went with it.

Looking at myself, I noticed a few different signs that I was on the spectrum, such as my fidgeting, stimming, masking and mimicking emotions/personality traits. I had immense relief when I was first diagnosed; like a question I'd had my entire life had finally been answered. Today, I feel like I don't have to mask as often and can be more authentically myself. Accepting it is hard sometimes, especially when I have to accept that there are some things that are triggering to me, and that would be unhealthy for me.

In school, I took theatre and chorus, and this helped me along the way.

After I graduated, I began working at a martial arts school with students and coworkers that were on the spectrum or had other neuro-divergences and I began to listen and relate to their stories and recognized their behavior patterns in myself that I tried my best to mask ever since I was a child. I began to research and self-diagnosed myself with ASD (Asperger Syndrome) and found out that women on the spectrum often get misdiagnosed and overlooked. I got tested by a psychologist, and I felt relieved. So deeply relieved. I also felt like I had permission to stand up for myself and advocate for what I need, rather than settling into what society says I'm "supposed" to do. I'm wired differently, but that does not make me invalid or lesser. To get through before I had the diagnosis, I just had to take it one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. I still use that now.

I'm 31 and from the UK I was born in southeast London I now live in Cornwall

I'm a full time career to one of my disabled children and I love it.

People would be surprised to know that I'm autistic and ADHD but seriously most people would be surprised.

My children are my biggest accomplishment or the fact I got kicked out at 15 and everyone expected me to end up in prison or worse

I don't want to change me it's the world who needs to change be more accepting and less judgmental

I wish those who were not autistic understand that it most likely genetic I'm not selfish or weird and that not everyone has autism a little bit.

I want to tell fellow autistics: it doesn't matter what age your diagnosed. I was 31 so this year. Don't ever think it's to late because it's not! it helps put things into perspective or why things are the way they are! just do it! don't be afraid!

Funny story about me: When I first started dating my husband at 17 I got that drunk the night before & I wet the bed . I flipped the mattress and forgot all about it and invited my now husband over for dinner to my hostel.. I told him to sit down he said "oooo why is the bed wet?" I quickly said "oooo a cat must of snuck in through my window and wee'd on the bed!" not sure if he believed me but he said okay........ I told him what happened few years later he laughed and said "I thought that was it but didn't want to say anything to u"...

When I was first diagnosed I felt relieved and joy and anger all at the same time as I should of been helped growing up from my parents and school not chucked out and just called weird and rude.

I did not get the help I needed in school was put in the bottom groups for everything got kicked out at 15/16 due to being a naughty awful child who didn't want to listen supposedly then got no help from social services was placed in a council bed and breakfast (legally not allowed to stick anyone under 18 in these ) I did not know this then I couldn't afford rent didn't have a proper Job so was made homeless again ended up in national offenders hostels (I wasn't a offender and had not been to jail) I was just left to rot basically my mental health is a bit more messed up thanks to all that and those horrid places I lived the people I met.

I have overcame a lot of battles in my life. I had to learn to cook clean all at 15 years old. somehow feed myself with no money to pay rent or anything! which I learned in the end being attacked amongst other horrid stuff but I over came it all because I never wanted to be stuck in that life. I attended Prince's Trust Course was one in particular and met my now husband at age 17 (I'm 31). We have five kids all have special needs but we cope somehow. I'm happy although I am a mental mess most days but we get by with my husband's help.


32 from Ohio (cleveland area) but will be moving to Nashville TN soon) I work at tech support for Spectrum internet. It's alright. I actually make decent money now. something someone might be surprised to know about me is: Im really smart even if i seem not smart since im so forgetful. I pick up on objective information VERY fast. Like I remember my ex's home address and the college major of one of my former hs classmates

My biggest accomplishment thus far is: Admitting that I might actually be good at writing and then writing three novels, and self published two more and currently writing a third ABOUT an autistic woman

How I want to change the world? Simple. I want to have more people create found families. I want it to be normal to have a house with people you arent romantically involved with that arent blood related. i want us to all live in loving communities!

I wish more people were aware of autism. People don't realize that they already know autistic people. For example, the excentric professor trope is an autistic person. But no every autisic person is the same.

Here is where you can check out my books:

  My name is Elizabeth.  I’m 37 years old, and live in Rockville, Maryland (just outside Washington, D.C.).  I’m a paralegal at a small law firm.  I like the work because it’s mostly solitary, focused on small manageable tasks like preparing and filing paperwork, and proofreading and doing research.  That I have a steady job at all is a big accomplishment for me.  I struggled through most of my twenties.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I had no career plans after leaving high school, or college.  I liked writing, and doing things on my own.  

    My first excursions out into the working world were disastrous.  I didn’t know how to handle the social aspects or issues with my boss.  At one of my first jobs, I got in trouble for “slacking off”, because I’d finished my tasks for the day.  I didn’t know that I was expected to ask around if there was anything else I could do.  If that had been communicated to me, I would have done so.  But that I was just expected to know made me angry.

   My mother told me that when I was younger, a doctor thought I was autistic.  She put me in day care because she thought being around other kids would force me to become more sociable.  It didn’t work.  I didn’t speak to my teachers unless I wanted something (one teacher shrieked in surprise when I asked to use the bathroom, after being silent most of the year), and on the playground, I went straight for the swings, I think because they were solitary, and I could soar above the other kids playing, when I didn’t know how to join them, or was even sure if I wanted to.  Years later, when I was 18, my mother read an article in the New York Times detailing a forgotten subset of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, and said it described me perfectly.  I was officially diagnosed by a psychologist one year later.

   I found a book by Tony Attwood, and found that much of it described me.  I didn’t know how to respond in social situations, I “thought in pictures” as Temple Grandin described it (when reading, I always have an image in my head to correspond to the words on the page), I was sometimes “too honest” (my mother frequently yelled at me because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t supposed to say certain things), and I had obsessive interests that served as my sole conversation points. 
There were several signs from early in my life that I was “different.”  I stimmed (I still play with my hair and tap my fingers and pace when I’m stressed or need to process information), I had severe echolalia (I still find myself repeating words, only now after studying how to act I know to only repeat the words in my head), I loved routine, and hated surprises.  My mother said she used to have to count down when we had to go somewhere.  “We have to leave in ten minutes…we have to leave in five minutes.”  Otherwise, I would have a tantrum.

    I still have meltdowns.  Sometimes at work, I get overwhelmed by too many tasks and too many noises that I have to hold my head and make everything still for a moment.  I want to scream, but I know I can’t.  I’ve gotten in trouble at work because I forgot where I was, and started cursing under my breath when I was in the middle of a meltdown.  But I’m learning how to handle them.  I now know to leave the building if I feel one coming. 

  The idea that there are things that everyone is “just expected to know”, and how frustrating those expectations are for someone with autism, is something I wish more neurotypicals understood.  My father once yelled at me because I didn’t hold the door for someone coming in behind me.  I thought they could open the door for themselves.  I didn’t know the rule about holding the door for anyone behind you.  I don’t understand why eye contact is the measure of sincerity and good communication, since all it does is make me uncomfortable.  Looking at someone’s face actually makes it harder for me to process what they’re saying.  All my life, I’ve had my sincerity doubted because of my voice’s “tone.”  I didn’t understand why my tone mattered.  I still don’t.  I thought all I had to do was say the words that corresponded to the message I wanted to convey.  I always thought my words were enough.  I didn’t realize that I had to attach a corresponding emotion to each word, like neurotypicals need color coding on each word to attach an underlying meaning. 

  I also wish neurotypicals wouldn’t claim they understand how I feel when they clearly don’t.  When you claim you understand, your confused and hostile reactions to my atypical reactions to a world that confuses me are all the more jarring, and insulting.  If you don’t understand how I feel, but want to, just say so.  If you’re honest like that, I can tell you’re coming to me from a place of genuine curiosity, and I will be happy to explain how I see the world as best I can.
In addition to autism, I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life.  I’ve wondered if the two conditions are related.  I was born into a world that rejected me for not fitting in, and not understanding it when they didn’t bother explaining anything to me.  So I thought I was fundamentally wrong, leading to my depression and isolation.  I’m quiet not necessarily because I’m shy (though I can be), but because I feel I was shamed into silence by people who told me, either explicitly or implicitly, that everything I said was wrong.  So I stopped speaking.  It wasn’t until I found people who understood and were patient when I took a social misstep that I felt comfortable talking again.

  So I lost potential friends, got in conflicts with bosses, didn’t forge connections to people who could have helped me navigate through life, all because I didn’t know the “right” way to communicate.  So the fact that I have a job that pays well, and can live on my own, is something I never thought I would achieve.  Sometimes I feel like I’m behind.  In my late thirties, I’m proud of being at the spot where people ten years younger already are.  But it feels good that, after years of the world telling me I did everything wrong, that I was defective, I can live my own life, do things for myself, and even make friends.  It just took me a little longer.  Because I did not start from the same place as everyone else.  I had to learn social cues and rules like someone else has to learn a foreign language.  I knew the words, but not the meaning imbued by a shared social context that I got left out of.  As a teenager, I remember thinking that I must have missed classes at “life school.”  But I feel like I’ve finally gone to life school, and though I’ll never know the social language with the depth of a native speaker, I picked up enough to get by.

I am 27 almost 28 and I was born in Michigan but was a military kid so we moved a lot. I currently live with roommates in Florida USA. I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks and I love my job. It is the best. I love what I do. I have been with them for 5 years and am a certified coffee master through my company. Something someone might be surprised to know about me is that I also have epilepsy and I am adopted. How do I want to change the world? I would like to cure epilepsy.

Funny story about me: I am super gullible. So one time, my boss told me there was a pool on the roof and I believed him for two weeks until I realized it was sarcasm. He felt bad but I thought it was funny.
I wish non-autistics were aware that I have emotions. I care sooo deeply. I am human. I am not a freak and I am not trying to make anyone “uncomfortable” there is nothing I can do about this. I was born like this.

I want to tell fellow autistics that: It’s okay to be you. Don’t worry about pleasing other people.

I was not diagnosed until I was an adult and my parents didn’t really believe anything was wrong with me. But once we sat down and got diagnosed they were like “Oh that habit makes sense now…” etc. So I never got the help I needed in school or anything. I did pick up sign language and that helps for when I cannot communicate with the outside world. I have awesome understanding coworkers who get it.
How did I get diagnosed? I was curious after doing some research and unfortunately being in a mental health setting for self harm and suicidal tendencies. They made the diagnosis along with my psychiatrist I was seeing at the time. Once I was diagnosed I found it Scary. But it told me a lot about myself and why I do things the way I do. It was good and bad. Today how I feel about my autism is the same as before. I am just more aware of what's happening and able to calm down much faster now that I know what is going on.
It was hard to make friends and I was very lonely. I tried my best but it was also hard to get through school. I needed more time and help. Honestly, my friends and my job gets me through the day