Furry Things

Oliver aka “Ollie” the current resident rat!

Ever since I was a small child I was obsessed with animals. I loved every animal I saw. My grandparents had dogs, birds, and fish while I was in my toddler years, and I was convinced I could make friends with all of them, even if they bit me. I tempted fate with trying to play with the dogs, most of the time they wanted none of it, but I still tried. I tried to be friends with numerous birds and finally learned that I didn’t appreciate my fingers being the equivalent of cocktail wieners. I even tried to pet the fish, yes, you read that correctly. Now, most people would be a bit weary of animals after those experiences, right? Yeah, not me, I was still obsessed.

Just before my fifth birthday my parents took me to the animal shelter and I got to pick my first dog, she was my best friend! Then when I turned seven my parents let me get a hamster, and he was truly the coolest hamster ever. When I turned eight we got a friend for my dog, and they were the best of friends and my best friends too. My hamster died shortly before I turned nine, and I missed him dearly, when my mom took me to get another one. The lady at the pet store recommended a pet rat instead, and that started my never-ending hyper-obsession with pet rats, they have truly been a huge staple in my life. Over the last 18 years, I have never gone long without having one, and I can tell you almost everything there is to know about them.

Over the years I have also constantly had a dog, I firmly believe that they, and any animal can bring a vast amount of comfort to people.

I have also owned cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, mice, hedgehogs, gerbils, turtles, a tortoise, and a bearded dragon over the years. But, nothing has ever been quite like pet rats for me.

When I have a pet rat, it helps to keep me level. Some aspies escape with video games, movies, books, or music (to name a few), but my escape is with rats.

I have had many other obsessions over the years though. Beanie Babies, stuffed animals, Hot Wheels, dolls, various music groups, skateboarding, cooking, color guard, and various crafts. But, I am only ever really able to focus on one at a time, when I do though, I poor my heart and soul into it. When I was a child, I remember I would become so obsessed with something that I would literally drive my family members or friends nuts with it, and at the time I didn’t understand why. For example, I had a FurReal Friends life-size cat and I had small Beanie Babies cats, I would pretend the big cat was pregnant and was having the little cats, and every time, there’d be a surprise kitten. I would do this over, and over, and over again, until who ever was playing with me got so annoyed that they told me to play with something else, or they would stop playing with me.

I hope this offers some insight to everyone.

-Ashley Perisho

I’d like to add a disclaimer of sorts. I am a CVA (Certified Veterinary Assistant), and I have seen cases where people collect animals, either just because they like them, or they think they’re helping them. Do not ever take on more than you can handle (proper attention, cleanings, care, cost, etc). That is the point at which you are no longer doing yourself or the animals any good. It is ok to have pets, but if you have a tendency to be over obsessive/collective I offer a very strong word of caution against getting in over your head with them.

Strike 3, You’re Out!

I’m sure that many people can say that they got into trouble throughout elementary and middle school. But, me as a kid that didn’t know I had aspergers. I seemed to have a knack for it, especially in elementary school as I was adjusting to all the norms, testing my teachers and the boundaries of what was acceptable, right or wrong, and just generally having a curiosity of how much I could get away with, without getting into trouble.

I was one of those kids that couldn’t seem to find his groove along all the other kids. I would talk when I wasn’t supposed to, blurt out answers, call kids names, get into awkward arguments, and just not seem to fit into what the school deemed “Normal and Acceptable”.

The result of all this was those famous name on the chalkboard followed by the three little check marks that meant one thing. A trip to the principal’s office. And once my name was on the board, it seemed I was most certainly doomed that I would get those three little check marks beside it no matter how hard I tried not to. It could be an altercation with a fellow classmate (either physical or verbal), me talking in class, me blurting out answers instead of raising my hand because I forgot that raising hands was how we were supposed to do it.

I generally couldn’t filter what I wanted to say through the “Think about what you say before you say it or think about what you’re going to do before you act”. I couldn’t seem to organize my surroundings into the box they wanted to put it in. For me it created chaos out of their order. It meant a lot of time spent with the principal in his office and a time or two of them calling my parents about giving me swats, which my parents generally were ok with. They didn’t realize what was wrong with me or in better words, not what was wrong but, what was different. I went to many counselors from the one at my school to private ones. They were always putting me through little tests and asking me specific questions mainly to see how intelligent I was but missing the mark on the real reason. “He is incredibly smart” they would say to my parents, “If only he would apply himself”. My parents, teachers, counselors and doctors couldn’t figure out why I could be so smart but couldn’t wrap my head around the simplest of tasks such as tying my own shoes, managing my time wisely, and avoiding certain scenerios that would thrust me into social awkwardness.

I hated P.E. because it meant I had to interact with others in a physical way, feeling like I was different than they were. I felt as if I had a spotlight on me and stood out in the crowd like a fish out of water, or a black sheep in a flock of white sheep if you will. I would pick my nose and eat my boogers when people were looking not knowing that, that wasn’t ok, I would go to daycare after school and hide my homework in various places around the daycare, so I could say I didn’t have homework to go play, among many other odd behaviors.

No one that was around me could figure out why I was like this. They would shrug it off to he’s just “acting out” for some reason. Parent teacher conferences were a big thing for my parents and teachers to get on the same page or, so they thought. That is where the misdiagnosis’ began. One of my teachers thought it was a focus problem, so they suggested going to a doctor about it and that’s where “ADD” came into my life with a dose of Ritalin to go with it. It didn’t help me focus like they thought it would. I already had all the focus I needed with subjects that would go with my interests. I could obsess over my interests, hyper focus is what they call it. That’s where they saw me really apply myself but wouldn’t in other subjects that didn’t interest me. I would excel in Art, Library, Math (most of the time), English/Writing/Language Arts, and I was amazing at spelling. I was just a round peg trying to fit into their square holes. Until next time friends, take care and keep a smile on your face because you are brilliant in your own way even if you don’t fit into the square holes of the world.

I hope you can relate to this part of my story and once again thanks for reading.

-Matthew Perisho

Stranger Danger

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember being incredibly shy and untrusting. My mom watched a few children in our home before I started kindergarten, and sometimes I did enjoy playing with them, but most of the time I felt misunderstood and would end up trying to hide from them, often times in my closet.

When we would go out places I was very shy and wouldn’t speak to people even if they spoke to me. It made me nervous to be around people I didn’t know and I would often times cling to my parents and/or hide behind them. But that was ok, because of ‘stranger danger’, right? Well, it might have been had it stopped there, but it didn’t.

When we would have family gatherings I would be very nervous, not that I did not know who my extended family was, but it was still a crowd, and I still didn’t like talking to people, especially when they asked me questions. I would cling to either my mom or dad, or my Nonny (grandma) pretty much the entire time. Those were the people I was most comfortable with. It would take some serious coaxing for me to talk to anyone else and be anywhere near comfortable with it. And honestly, to this day there are still some family members that I am more comfortable with than others. This was always awkward, but even more awkward, was trying to make friends…

When it came time for me to start kindergarten, the nightmare truly began. Every morning when my mom would drop me off for school, she would have to stay with me until the bell rang, and even then I would be hysterical when she had to leave. Most of the kids thought I was super weird and nobody really wanted to be my friend. I eventually made two friends, and those two friends were the only friends I really had until seventh grade. Even then, I was very overwhelmed by birthday parties, or any other social events, and I would often not go, or leave early from such things. When I had to change schools and districts for junior high, I lost touch with the two friends I had, and I was mortified of going to a new school and having to try and make new friends again. And again, it took a while to make any friends, all through junior high and high school, I had a total of maybe five true friends. I didn’t got to parties, I was forced to go to four school dances, all of which I had to leave early, and I absolutely hated assemblies.

Here’s the thing, even my ‘friends’ never understood me and my strange quirks, and I can honestly say that all of my childhood/teenage friendships have completely disolved. As it stands I have very few true friends, but that is ok, because it’s not quantity, it’s the quality. To this day I struggle with basic social skills and have a very hard time making or keeping friends, because of my awkwardness with people. I have slowly learned to adjust, but I know it will always be a struggle for me.

-Ashley Perisho

Friendships don’t come easy…

As a younger child I had no idea that my feelings of being different than others equated to me having aspergers having been misdiagnosed first among many times in my life with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder/In my early grade school years) before finally being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at the age of 30, a year ago. I wasn’t truly aware of the idea that I was that much different until I started kindergarten. I started feeling a weird sense that I was just not on the same level socially and at that time I didn’t have any perception as to what social status’ or cliques were but I perceived it as feelings of unworthiness, being misunderstood, not being as good as others and just overall not fitting into what seemed normal. I knew something was not quite right even from a child’s perspective.

Making friends never came naturally to me, and because I didn’t understand what a friend was I ultimately failed at maintaining any friendships that I was able to put a label on as a friendship.

I thought a friend was simply someone that you perceived as interesting or having limited common ground that you could walk up to, not knowing them very well or at all, and say “Hey, will you be my friend?” which I know is common in younger kids but, I truly couldn’t grasp what a friend truly was all the way up until highschool. Even in highschool I still didn’t quite grasp it but, I had observed others and noticed that they weren’t asking people to be their friends over the course of my school years. In other words I had learned this over time, I mimicked other’s behavior that I had seen to try to seem more normal. It was learned, it didn’t come naturally.

The friends that I did have, and were able to maintain I never felt like they were above me. I seemed to be drawn to kids that were under me in intellect because they weren’t intimidating for me to hang out with, or socialize with. I also recall I could never have more than a couple friends at a time or I couldn’t maintain the friendships. I also never wanted to have friends over to my house and I didn’t want to go over to their houses either as it caused me great anxiety to have that change of scenery.

As I grew older and became more aware of what the normal way was. I became more efficient in gradually making friends that shared common interests with me that were more equal to my intellectual level.

I have lost many friends over the years because of one misunderstanding or another and those losses still haunt me to this day because I wonder if I would’ve known what I know today being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (specifically aspergers) would they have had more understanding and patience with me. I’m not really sure, some won’t talk to me to this day and that hurts. But, I now also realize some of the friendships that I lost worked out better for me and my own well-being. I’m sure most aspies would feel my pain on this as well as a lot of NT’s (Neuro-typicals/Normal people). But we’re looking at this from the inside out from an aspergers lens.

Hopefully fellow aspies will relate to this story. And I apologize if you think it’s derogatory or offensive to be called “Aspie” but, it’s a term that I use with pride and feel no offense towards it.

Thanks for reading,

-Matthew Perisho

Don’t Take Flight…

Ever since I was a little girl, I have known that I’ve acted ‘different’ from others. From a very young age I would flap my hands and my arms like a bird, make a buzzing sounds with my tongue when I would get excited or be overstimulated by something. I was very shy and had a hard time making friends, I was even incredibly nervous around some family members, and I was always very emotional. Everyone thought I was just this spastic, overemotional introvert, and nobody ever understood me, not really.

I did not like going to crowded places, I did not like super loud noises, especially depending on the pitch. I was very obsessive with my interests, to the point of annoying people. Florescent lights bothered me, especially if they would flicker, forget strobe lights, and forget 3D movies.

I was always extremely clingy to people I felt safe with, and would hide from people I was uncomfortable with or didn’t know.

Ready for the catch? I used the word ‘was’ a lot in the above text, truth is, I still do all of these things. They’re things that have always been a part of me and they have affected some pretty major aspects of my life, and still do… But I didn’t know I was an aspie until this year, I lived 27 years of my life not knowing why I was ‘different’, but now I do.

In future posts I plan to go into more detail on these things and I hope to offer some helpful insight along the way.

Sincerely,

Ashley Perisho

Hiding in Plain Sight…

As many others before me I’m sure, I didn’t always know that I was autistic, specifically an aspie. I grew up in a small town in Southern Missouri where people are simple and sometimes jump to the simplest of conclusions when it comes to why people are the way they are. In my case I always knew I was different, I just didn’t know why. At times I felt like I was not comfortable being in my own skin. The feeling would come on suddenly, consume me and I would immediately want to hide from anyone or anything. Knowing what I know now I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

We would go to family get-togethers for Christmas or fourth of July and I would always want to cling closely to my parents or grandparents. I didn’t seem to want to socialize because as hindsight is better than foresight, I was scared. I clang to what was steady for me, what was known and kids, even though family members I saw them as unpredictable and judgemental. So I would stop cold at the front door, sit down in the corner and just quietly observe without conversing, staring at everyone as they socialized which I wanted no part of. My family just shrugged it off, saying that I was just shy, not knowing what went through my head and the fear that was inside me.

I would sit there until one of my Great Uncle’s would come coax me out of the corner of solitude and safety into the kitchen to the many party platters and snack trays. Food was my weakness and comfort, other than the comforts of someone I knew and trusted.

Eventually after the night’s events had mostly passed by one of my 3rd cousins would come up and get me from downstairs to invite me to play. Finally getting some attention from kids my age I indulged their requests and would go play for the 30 minutes or so that my parents wanted to stay past that. Then I would start having fun only to be told that we were leaving and not wanting to go home thinking “I’ve just started to fit in and now you wanna go home?!”

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling alone in these feelings, fears and chain of events. I will be writing more about my experience of growing up with undiagnosed aspergers syndrome as well as all of the misdiagnosis’ I’ve had along the way to where I am today. If you have any comments or if my post helped or touched you in any way positively, I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Matthew Perisho

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