Sorting My Priorities.

A photo by Mayur Gala.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Hermoine Grange comes to me, speaking words of wisdom–sort out your damn priorities.

Okay, it doesn’t rhyme and my apologies to Harry Potter and John Lennon/Paul McCartney.

Today’s blog post was going to be about either my three favourite words or five things to love about Dusk–a character from my upcoming mm novella, Found You. I tried. I gave a valiant effort on both topics. My heart simply wasn’t in it.

The world around me feels too fractured and divided.

Speaking as an autistic woman, all the anger and frenetic energy buzzes under my skin like raw electric energy. At times this weekend, I had to step away from social media and even conversations with friends/family. My blood pressure and anxiety spiked a bit dangerously, making self-care more important than anything else.

My father’s family is, for the most part, very American, very conservative, and very Republican. I am not. My mother’s side (the Canadian/British side) clearly rubbed off on me. Or maybe, being adopted, my genetics were stronger than my adoptive family’s questionable nurturing.

(We won’t get into the whole nature vs nurture conversation.)

No idea.

Needless to say, I’ve always been one of the odd ducks in my adoptive family. I’m liberal with libertarian leanings, certainly not republican. I’m more British than American, no matter what my birth certificate claims.

I get on with my immediate and extended family mostly when I smile and keep my opinions to myself.

In the wake of the past week’s election in the USA and the obscene gloating which followed, the rampant bigotry I’ve seen in my family, never mind the country itself. I’ve felt angry, disappointed, and heartbroken.

I cannot speak on a national or global level. I can and have spoken loudly to my friends and family. I won’t be silent. I won’t smile politely in the face of their vocal hate-speech.

Maybe the world wo n’t be changed by my actions.

I can offer love and strength to those around me who are as afraid as I am.

But, back to the word in the title, priorities. It’s one of those words that often evokes evil four-letter words like ‘work.’ I realised over the weekend that allowing my anxiety to send my blood pressure into a life-threatening tailspin wasn’t doing me a bit of good.

So, what are my priorities?

Love my friends and neighbours.

Continue to write inclusive and diverse romance novels.

What are yours?

The #AspieAuthor Guide to Travel


Or, how I make flying easier on myself as an aspie.

I’ve traveled a lot in m life, and have learned the hard way that it can be very painful for myself to fly. So here’s a list of things I do to help myself.  It’s not comprehensive, but…it might help you.

– Purchase ticket online early.

I know I find being seated either by the window or aisle works best. I don’t like sitting in the middle and I prefer to be in the front of the plane as opposed to the back.

By getting my ticket early, it means I have a better chance of selecting the perfect seat.

– Arrive Early.

It allows me to check in early, get to the gate early and get through security without a crowd.

– Getting Through Security

Take off all jewelry, things from my pockets, etc and put in the front pocket of my carry-on backpack.  Wear sneakers that I can easily slide on and off.  Don’t wear a belt.

– Check in online if possible(or at the kiosk inside the airport).

Means no lines, no drama, no having to talk to people at counter.

– Headphones.

Bring headphones and an iPod (or kindle or tablet).  Even if I’m not listening to music, it looks like I am.

– Distractions.

I always bring a back-pack on the plane with me.  I put a change of clothes (or all my clothes I’m bringing if it’s short trip), notebooks, pens, books and fidget toys.  If the flight is long, I’m going to need them.

– Clothes.

Dress in my most comfortable clothing.  I’m not there to impress perfect strangers.  I’m trying to get through a stressful thing without a meltdown.  Ensuring my clothing is comfortable is one less thing to worry about.

– On the subject of packing.

Check the TSA guidelines out carefully for carry-on luggage. Nothing stresses me out more than getting something wrong and having to throw stuff out to get through security.

– Food/Water

Wait to buy water/snacks until you get through security. There’s always little stores/restaurants near the gates.

– Reserve Energy

I know people are going to talk to me either on the plane, or at the gate.  It’s going to happen.  So have a quiet evening the night before, indulge in my special interests to recharge my batteries so I’m capable of handling it.

– Lotion

Keep lotion handy in backpack.  My hands get itchy and can cause sensory overload. Lotion helps that quite a bit.

– Remember to say Thank You.

It goes a long way with airline employees. Be polite.

Seems silly to remind myself of that, but I’ve found as an Aspie, sometimes I get lost in my head and social niceties don’t come naturally to me.  I’m not trying to be rude, I just don’t always remember that I should say things like good morning, etc.



A Friendship Guide


I think I’m going to start giving this out to my friends.

How to nurture a friendship with me, your friendly neighborhood autistic.

1. Remember that my brain works differently, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all, and it doesn’t mean I’m not human.

2. Remember that I find you as difficult to understand as you find me.

3. Vaccines didn’t cause my autism.

4. You are not a little autistic, unless you are actually autistic.  You claiming to be what I am, isn’t showing empathy.  It’s brushing under the rug the things I deal with.

5. Don’t hug me unless you know for 100% certainty that I’m okay with physical contact from you.

6. If I’m not talking, it’s not personal, I might’ve just reached my social engagement limit for the day.

7. Yes, certain sounds really do bother me as badly as I act like they do.

8. I’m not throwing a temper tantrum.  I am having a meltdown because I have gotten so much input, my brain can no longer process anything.

9. I would love to talk about my special interests and obsessions with you.

10. Don’t promise me you’re going to do something then not do it.

And most importantly, remember that I’m an actual person with feelings and emotions.  I might not always understand them, but I have them.  I need friends just as much as a neurotypical does.  It’s just a little (or a lot) harder for me to find, make and keep them.

I need friendships which are reciprocal with people who are patient and understanding.




The frustrating thing about my sensitivity to sound is that nine times out of ten, I can hear something that my neurotypical family/friends can’t hear.

It leads to the most ridiculous arguments:

Me: Can you hear that?

NT: I don’t hear anything.  It’s all in your imagination.

Me: No.  I can hear it. Can’t you hear it? It sounds like a tapping.

NT: I’m telling you, it’s all in your head.

The frustrating thing about it is that it makes me feel like I’m losing my mind.  I’ll go thirty minutes hunting around until I can find the source of the sound just to prove I’m right.

I remember once it was the middle of the night and I kept hearing this quiet tapping.  It drove me batty, I had a meltdown because of it. All the while, my hubby was convinced I was either making it up or that it was just my imagination.

I finally turned all the lights on and located the sound–the bedroom fan was causing a small picture frame to bash against the wall, making a very slight knocking sound that my hubby could only hear if he got right up close to it.

It’s beyond aggravating to know you are hearing something, and no one believes you.

The moral of the story? Sometimes when a picture frame knocks in the night, it’s actually knocking.

Autism Acceptance

ebook and books IIApril brings along a time which many autistics find incredibly uncomfortable due to Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign.  While I am a very firm supporter of Autism acceptance, I am NOT a supporter of Autism speaks.  There’s a brilliant article here that explains far better than I could ever do:

From Neurotribes.

So…how can you show your acceptance of the autistics in your life without support an organization that has never shown acceptance?  Here’s a few tips:

– keep your voice low.

– include us in your invitations to parties & social gatherings, but don’t pressure us.  Take no at face value.

– ask before hugging.

– don’t wear strong perfume or cologne.

– understand we don’t stim to embarrass you, we stim because it is necessary.

– we’re not always aware of what conversations are socially acceptable, and we often forget how a conversation is supposed to flow.  We aren’t being self-absorbed or disrespectful, our brains jsut don’t trigger on the social cues which others do.

A Life Long Speech


Imagine every time you stepped outside or into any sort of social event, it was like giving a presentation in front of hundreds of people with no rehearsal time. Not only giving a presentation, but a Q&A session without having any idea what the questions or answers will be.  And no matter how much you attempt to prepare, the information refuses to stay in your brain.

That’s what it’s like in my head most days when I go through the ‘normal’ motions of simple social interactions and small talk.

I tend to socially script a lot, most aspies/autistics do.

There’s a great video that explains better than I ever could:

I do both kinds of scripting that she talks about.  I also tend to rehearse conversations in my head, things I think people will ask me and how I can respond.  It helps me feel less stressful about it.

When is a joke a joke?


Aspies tend to take things literally.  We tend to have trouble determine if someone is being facetious or not.  Satire is another thing that occasionally goes over my head, probably why I don’t care for sites like the Onion.

We also, unfortunately, get taken advantage of quote often.  We have a tendency towards naivety.  It’s compounded by the fact that without a diagnosis, it’s hard to understand that there’s something different about how our minds work.

Even those without nefarious (such a great word) intentions can accidentally confuse someone who is autistic.

Things I have learned to do to help myself:

– if a news article or report is forwarded to me, I do my own research before ‘believing’ it.

– I ask questions if I’m not sure if someone is teasing me or not.

– I also politely ask my friends not to tease me about certain types of things which confuse me.

– I wait to laugh at a joke until other people are laughing.  Nothing worse than laughing inappropriately.

– I unfollow(online) or step back from (in the real world) people who refuse to respect the boundaries that I need in my life.