Today, it has been one year since I got my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at age 21. Before I sought a diagnosis, I had already known for a few months that I was indeed autistic, but I needed the official paperwork to get the care I require. Since then, a lot has changed in my life.
I’ve slowly been lowering the dosage of my antidepressants for over a year now because I no longer wanted to be dependent on medication. I no longer wanted the struggle of making sure I took the right brand of apple juice with me to wherever I had dinner so I could mix the 20 drops of escitalopram with the strong taste of Appelsientje. I no longer wanted to have to take it late in the evening — when my IBS is at its worst — because I forgot to take it during dinner, when I’m supposed to.
But most of all, I wanted to see whether after 4 years of taking this same antidepressant it actually made a difference.
I have an eating disorder.
No, it’s not anorexia, or bulimia, or binge eating disorder. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s called avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. ARFID for short. Also known as Selective Eating Disorder. It was first recognized in the DSM-5, the most recent edition, which came out in 2013.
ARFID makes me unwillingly restrict the types of food I can eat, based on the food’s appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation, or a past negative experience with that particular food. You could say I’m ‘a picky eater’. You could also think of it as a food phobia. It has nothing to do with body image and everything to do with anxiety and sensory sensitivity.
A simplified version of this post was originally posted on Service Dog Nugget on November 12th, 2017.
As most of you know, I’ve been working on getting a service dog. Unfortunately my first attempt didn’t exactly go as I’d expected & hoped…
You may have already noticed a change: I stopped talking about training, I temporarily closed Nugget’s blog, and I included an emotional montage in my March + April + May 2017 Document Your Life video. I didn’t want to keep quiet, but I needed time to process things.
The Nugget you know from photos & videos has been rejected as a service dog and no longer belongs to me. Some dogs just aren’t fit to be service dogs. It was extremely difficult for me to let her go, but I’m finally at the point that I can live with it and focus on the future again.
In the meantime, I’ve gotten the diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder, which has luckily opened a lot of doors for me. I now have an autism coach who helps me with a lot of things I struggle with. I’m on a waiting list at an autism center for therapy.
Autism can’t be cured but there is a lot I can still learn, like learning to deal with sensory overload and meltdowns.
I started looking for a service dog organization specializing in autism service dogs, so I know for sure that they can take into account the difficulties of autism. I am now in contact with an organization to see if it’s possible to start working with them.
Your donations are safe & sound on Nugget’s bank account and will be spent only on the purpose you donated for: a dog and my mental health.
This review was originally posted on my Tumblr blog in September 2017.
Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one, at last, have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
Oh, dear. I knew that when I started reading about autism, I was going to eventually find something horrific. I just wasn’t expecting it to be this one.