Autism in Japan and US

I have a passion, obsession and strong interest in Asperger’s, which comes from my recent diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. I did not know anything about Asperger’s until my mom told me about it when she happened to be in a lecture by a person with Asperger’s last year. Then, I started to search and read everything I could find about it. The first book I read was “Aspergirl” by Rudy Simone, which described her life and other women’s lives she interviewed. The book was a little bit of a shock as I thought it described me.

I never thought I was autistic, but I knew I was different from everyone else.

In Japan, the schools allowed us a lot of freedom within discipline. We did not use textbooks, and instead we worked on one college-level math problem in class from different perspectives or we did research on our interests and presented them in class for social studies. It allowed me to be myself in some ways but I did not feel comfortable being in class due to sensory issues. Ballet, which I have been doing since I was three, also hid my autism.

I managed to make friends in ballet because all we talked about was about ballet and I knew what we were talking about unless they did social chit-chat.

I started my college education in Japan in 2013, where I was born and grew up, however, I decided to leave the college after 1.5 years of being there. I had a huge anxiety walking around the campus to get to class or being in class. My fingers or toes felt numb when I saw many people around me. I was also depressed at that time, and eventually could not go to class anymore.

Though I did not see it as a disorder at the time, I lost 15kg when I started college. Like many Aspies, I am strict to myself and a perfectionist, so I decided to lose some weight at first and it went beyond anyone’s control. I went to see a school counselor in college, I went to see therapists and psychiatrists, yet the solution they reached every time was I was severely depressed and was prescribed medicine. With the medication, I gained weight and my face looked swollen, so it made me feel bad about myself and my life again. Yet, at that time, I was thinking of studying abroad to make a fresh start because Japanese college did not seem to suit me.

In February 2015, I moved to Boston in the US to go to college. While I was studying in the  US for almost 3 years and using counseling centers, I noticed that students were using the service much more than in Japan.. When I saw a therapist in college in Japan, she was one of the only two therapists they had and I never saw other people coming in before or after my appointment because they adjust the time so students coming to therapy do not have to see each other.

But this is all about the college counseling experience, what about seeing a local therapist? I have to tell you that you usually have to wait for a long time to see someone in Japan. From my experience, the waiting list has been 6 months to 12 months long.

I always gave up on it because I needed someone to see me when I asked for help not 6 months later!

Many of my American friends told me that Japan was a clean country and very organized, and it is clean and organized, but sometimes I feel that rules takes over what really matters, such as mental health. In mental health, I believe, promptness is important because clients are suffering now not 6 months later. It might be the same as some autism support in the US, as I was put in 9 months-long waiting list when I first contacted to an autism center for assessment, but I ended up getting a diagnosis in a local clinic so it ended up alright.

It was good that the US had many therapists and clinics I could go to, but in Japan, especially for an autism diagnosis, there are few clinics that specialize in it. I have seen this as a problem in Japan, as well as the stigma around autism and mental illness. Furthermore, we do not have active autism communities in Japan. Community is a very important part of support and its absence is not good.

I cannot do much by myself to change that, but because I am autistic and have experienced challenges living with it due to the lack of support and understanding, I now strongly think I want to be an advocate to autism community.

 

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Feeling stuck: depression when you are autistic

I have learned what makes me feel better when I am depressed, but when I am feeling depressed, I can’t even force myself to do those things that are supposed to make me feel better. And the feeling, that I can’t do the things I know to do in depression, makes me feel worse. When I’m depressed, I feel so insecure and worthless that I have to hide from others, the world. Such feelings make me not to go to a yoga class or go for running which made me feel better the last time I was feeling down. In some severe episodes of depression, I feel numb and I don’t feel I am alive but I just feel my body is floating around without my feelings or emotions. When I’m severely depressed, even my favorite songs doesn’t cheer me up. Depression comes down on me like a giant, and I can’t breathe but cry with despair.  The only and the bravest thing I can do in the severe stage of depression is to write my feelings, which I’m doing right now. I first noticed I was dealing with depression about 4 years ago. I found myself stuck in bed with no energy to do anything in my dorm in my second year in college. I blamed myself for being lazy not getting out of bed, but no matter how much I blamed myself, such blame didn’t get me out of the bed. About 4 years later, I still have depression. The difference between now and then is that now I know I am autistic and deal with depression, anxiety, and eating disorder. I know my brain is wired differently from neurotypical people, and I know I get clinically depressed for several days in every 2 weeks. Still hard, still painful, still frustrating, yet it’s easier to accept myself as who I am after knowing the reasons behind my struggles. I still tend to blame myself not doing what I am supposed to do in depression, but I also know that I have to accept myself as I am.

Sometimes, I wonder what if I wasn’t autistic… and think I would be able to keep my friends as friends and simply enjoy meaningful relationships with wonderful people around me if I wasn’t autistic. If I had the same mindset for relationships with others as neurotypical people, I might have friends to talk to when I’m depressed. Autistic people like to be alone, that’s “a desire for aloneness” as Hans Asperger described, but we are humans, too… We want and need relationships to be happy, and we feel loneliness. I have some great friends around the world, but I’m not good at keeping the relationships going because I am too scared to get emotionally close to other people. I feel stuck between my thought that I need human connection and my fear of getting emotionally close to others. I am confident to say I am happy to be autistic, but it doesn’t remove struggles in my life.

In depression, I feel small and I feel stuck in the feelings I can’t even describe, but I always pray and hope tomorrow will be a better day and I can smile again…

Autism is invisible, but real.

Unlike deafness and blindness, there’s no aids such as hearing aids or glasses for autistic people to be able to grasp what’s going on in the world. Often, I cannot see the right side of my sights because, as I realized recently, I selectively see only the left side and right side becomes out of my attention. Yet, I’m not blind, not even partially so. I often cannot hear what people are saying to me when I’m reading or when I’m in a crowd, but it doesn’t mean I’m hard-of-hearing. I like learning sign language especially singing with it, but I can hear. I just like the silence when I use sign language because small sounds others might not even care are often loud for me. I sometimes wish there is such an aid for autistic people like myself to be able to have a sense of what’s going on around us: why people do what they, how people keep conversations with others, how they make and keep friends, how to walk straight so they would not bump into someone on the street, why my behavior is often irritating to others, and how they make decisions easily including what to wear or eat for the day. I wish for a day to feel what non-autistic people feel. My life includes studying on autism, doing yoga, dancing ballet, some time in the barn and not much else. I feel comforted and at peace when I’m doing what I love, but I suppose other people would feel such comfort from human connection as well. I have some good friends, but even with them, I feel insecure and overwhelmed when we are too close. In general, too good is not a good thing for me. Too good for me means it gets bad. Many bad days and a few good days (but not extremely good ones) are the good balance, or at least the real balance in my life. I hope neurotypical people accept our difference as it is. I am different, and I know that and even when I try to be like others, I fail. Especially in undergraduate, I failed to be like others around me and even more I suffered from mental exhaustion. I am tired of pretending to be who I am not, so I stopped. Thus, I might look “more autistic” than ever to those who knew me in undergraduate, but I’m happier since I started to be myself. Because I enjoy my own company and basically don’t know how to keep friends, I don’t have many friends. However, because of that, I appreciate for my friends who stick around me so very much. What autistic people need is acknowledgement and acceptance in the society, and the society should never judge by how people appear to be. Behind their appearance, there is a person living every aspect of thier life. Some are good and some can be extremely painful. Please don’t estimate about the person from how they look or what disease or disability they have.

Sensory Issues

Sensory issues are common among autistic people, and from my own experience and hearing others’ views on it, I believe they are strongly related to the behaviors and moods in autistic individuals. I friendly want to ask you to know that sensory issues are happening even when you cannot feel them whether or not you are autistic! It’s impossible to feel exactly what the person is feeling, but it’s absolutely possible to accept their feelings.

Autistic individuals tend to be more sensitive than non-autistic counterparts because they receive most of the sensory information happening while non-autistic (or neurotypicals:NTs) receive only a reduced amount of sensory information as they have the filter system that only take as much information as they need or want. This filter process seemed to have been proved with brain scan studies, but this information was retried from Dr. Luke Beardon’s speech in a conference.

Sensory issues include touch, smell, taste or auditory sensory of people, clothing, food, vehicles or etc. Having some sensory issues are seen in many autistic individuals, but the degree of their feelings and kinds of things they are sensitive are different in each individual. So, here, I will share my sensory issues to show an example for this matter.

My sensory experience

  • Hairstyle – I never liked my hair touching my face and forehead, so I often wear hairband that is loose enough not to tighten my head. I used to put up my hair in a ponytail with no bangs or anything everyday in school when I was younger, and hated to put it down.
  • Tip toe walking – I didn’t realize I was tip toe walking till one of my friends in elementary school told me that I was doing it. I still do without realizing it. Well… think about it, walking is a lot of sensory information from the soles of your feet, and tip toe walking is very soothing somehow.
  • Liking walls – I like walls, and I almost always choose the seat that is next to the wall whenever it’s possible. I also lean against the wall when I’m standing if there is a wall. I liked lean to the ballet barre when I was watching others dancing in ballet school, too.
  • Simple clothes – I only choose to wear very simple clothes with no design, but with soft and loose fabrics.
  • No make-up – I’m 23 this year, but I don’t wear make-up. I don’t like how it feels on my face and I basically don’t like anything touch on my face. I only wore make-up only when I needed to such as ballet performance and coming of age ceremony that is a big event in Japan.
  • Touch and smell of horses – This is something I like. I like the touch of horses a lot. I like to feel the warmth from the touch and to feel the life inside them just by touching them. I especially like their noses and ears:) They’re absolutely gorgeous and lovely! I also love smell they have. Their eyes are beautiful, too. So, all in all, I like hugging them!
  • Food – I eat fish and seafood, but I don’t eat meat because I found meat make me sick. I also started to eat gluten-free as much as I could because gluten-free diet certainly help my IBS related issues.
  • Earthquake – Living in Japan, we experience earthquakes a lot. I feel a tiny earthquake that happens a far from where I live and that is small enough not to show up on TV.
  • Haircut – I’ve hated haircut whole my life. I feel the pain when I have a haircut and it doesn’t depend on the hair stylist’s skill because I tried many of them. I also don’t like haircut because hair stylists often talk to customers and ask questions about what they’re not very interested to listen. Very honestly, I hate that so much that I don’t like to go to have my hair cut. I wish my hair would cut itself naturally whenever its’ needed…!

etc…

I can go on and on about these, but these are some examples. When I don’t have a proper hair day or proper clothes, I’d most likely to have a bad mood, get depressed and extremely anxious because something is not right in my feelings. I know I’m complicated to deal with, but I believe autistic people like myself can be very creative and different in a great way that contributes to the society! And thank you for bearing with me to read this post till the end…!

A Christian with Asperger

As I mentioned in my introduction in ‘about’, I’m a christian and as you have noticed by now from other posts and the blog name, I have Asperger. So, I thought I would write my testimony of becoming a christian and a little bit on how I see my life as a christian with Asperger.

I met God about 4 years ago when I was 18. I joined a summer program in Indianapolis with other students from my college I attended for the first half of my college career. I went to a local university to study English and Leadership, and while I was there, I stayed with my host family. It was my very first time of studying abroad and also my first time to try my English in a real setting. I was so excited, anxious and worried if people would ever understand me, I mean, my English. It was only a month program, but living there and meeting people there literally changed my life, my view of seeing my life. I met God, I met Jesus because of my beloved host family, and I am forever greatful for them. My host family in Indiana is a big family and they’re filled with love. I could tell how much they loved each other from simple daily conversations, smiles and their actions led by love. During my stay, they treated me as if I were their family, and I felt so loved. I didn’t know how to describe it back then, and I wrote on my journal that they were ‘warm-hearted and open-hearted’. Yeah, sure they’re warm and open-hearted, but now I know that they know God and so they know what love means. They took me to the church on Sundays, and I loved the atmosphere there which made my foreign self feel welcomed. Gradually, I became interested in Christianity and what being a Christian meant. I believed there was God since I was little because I felt there was something greater than human beings and something out of our control, but I didn’t know who it was. I guess I am a little spiritual just like some other Aspies would say. I feel God in nature so much, especially horses which I love being around.

After the program in Indiana, I came back to Japan and didn’t get a chance to deepen my understanding in Christianity. About a year later from the program, I lost about 30ibs and my health got worse physically and mentally. I also went through a surgery to remove a tumor found in my tummy around that time, and at the same time, I was severely depressed and felt hopeless. I took a break from college, and eventually quit the college I attended for 1.5 years. It was one of the toughest time of my life so far, but it was also a new start of my journey. I decided to transfer to the college in Boston because I realized no matter how much I tried to fit in to the college in Japan I could not and suffered. I was getting a great grade there and had wonderful professors, but it was just not for me unfortunately. So, I gave it lots and lots of thoughts and decided to transfer to another college in the US.

On my first day of college in Boston, I had an orientation and there was a girl who is now my close friend. She and I talked in the orientation, but that was it. I was trying in the college I transferred to fit in and more than that to be socially active because I isolated myself when I was in college in Japan. So, I checked out many kinds of club activities I might be interested and also went to the gym for my physical health and for me going out of my dorm. One day in the fitness class, I ran into the girl I saw in the orientation, so I talked to her and she asked me if I wanted to go to see Red Sox game that the university program was holding, so I went. Then, next thing happened again in another event. We ran into each other again as she was working as an ambassador for my program there, and asked me if I wanted to come to a picnic on the college lawn by the Christian Fellowship she was in. I was excited to hear about the Christian Fellowship as my curiosity to it never ended since the program in Indiana. There, I met the fellowship members and they reminded me of my host family in Indiana. They were so warm and unconditionally welcomed me regardless of everything. I always think I can see good in people just by seeing their faces because faces reflect so much of your inside. When you’re filled with love and act by love, you’re surrounded by warm orange lights that are gentle and never hurt anyone. That’s what I see. I see the pictures when I think of vague words like ‘love’ and ‘warm’. So, this would be one of the examples. Anyhow, I decided to join the Christian Fellowship and started to go to church. All started with the girl I met in my first day of school in my alma mater, and she is now my close friend I trust and rely on. Because of the community I had in the fellowship and church, I could graduate from college last year with honors. I would never be where I am today without meeting them.

I am sure God had all planned it out and so it happened. I still often feel it seems all is unclear about future, but looking back and what God had done for my life and reminding myself of the great love He is, I am sure my Father in Heaven takes me where I am supposed to be at any time. Being a christian does not mean you never become anxious, and it definitely does not mean you’re weak and you need something to hold on if that’s what you think because I’ve heard many people say that. Being a christian means knowing what God has done for you, yes you, everyone of us. He gave up on His only son, Jesus to save us and Jesus took His command and died in our sins because He loves us so very much. God is Love:) I still struggle with being autistic, having adhd, depression, anxiety and eating disorder, but I know that I am loved no matter what. I hope you readers also know that.

Also, please know that I have a total respect to your faith whether or not mine is different from yours. I believe we could help and support each other by respecting our differences in anyways because in the end we are all humans!

From pretending to fit in to being self-compassionate

When I first started college in Japan where I grew up, I tried hard to look, talk and act like everybody else. It was exhausting, but I could make many friends in my freshman year by joining an English speech club and simply taking many classes. When I got home from school, I was so tired everyday. I always had a headache when I had a full-day of classes. This headache felt like a belt so tightened around your brain that you can’t think and breathe well. I set goals for a short-term and long-term since the time I remembered and I did so in college as well, and it helped me to keep up with things though things were hard and were getting harder because all the stresses from pretending to fit in just overwhelmed me. It was only this year as a 22-year-old when I realized I was pretending to fit in so hard that I exhausted myself and stressed out myself. I learned to fit in to survive in school and not to be a target of bullying there. Fortunately, I was not bullied much in school and even when I had some bad experiences with peers, there were always those who protected me from them such some of my good friends, my mom and teachers. Also, the school I went to had a lot of freedom within discipline and it allowed the students to be themselves and most of them were individualistic and independent from peers. Moreover, looking back there must have been some Aspie students among my peers other than me, so it helped to hide my quirkiness in many ways for sure. However, college in Japan was certainly a big struggle for me. I found myself lost in the crowds even though the college I went to was a comparatively small one in Japan. I could not form peer group like most students there did. I did not know to how to form my secure friendships with my peers and I did not even want to make that happen really. You know, that’s the thing, when you’re an aspie, you’re not desperate to have friends or friend group even when people around you do. Even when I could become friends with others, it was difficult for me to keep the relationships going. Now, I know that I tend to let the relationships go when they’re getting too close in my definition of ‘closeness’, whether this applies to all aspies or not. I also analyze a lot in relationships with other people because I don’t always know what people exactly mean by talking or acting in certain ways. I don’t have a clue unless they tell me what they feel and think exactly as it is. I know that it can be tiring and burdensome for a lot of people wihtout Asperger, yet we aspies often want a clear indication of what you’re thinking and feeling because we care about you. Years ago, people thought those of us who have Asperger don’t have empathy, but recent researches showed and I believe from my own experience that aspies feel even more empathy towards others than those without asperger, actually we feel too much of it. We just have no idea how to show it, and how to feel an empathy when you neurotypicals don’t tell us clearly what you are feeling.

Now that I know what I am and what Asperger’s is, I could finally start to think I do not have to pretend to fit in. However, it took 22 years to figure it out, and I still don’t know how to socialize in a proper way, but I started to feel okay with it. I still have a bad headache after being in a lecture with many other students, but now I know the situation like being in class is hard for me and I don’t criticize myself for being so sick after every class as much as I did before.

 

Depression and Asperger

‘Depression’, ‘depression’ – people seem to use these words easily these days to express how blue they are feeling, but I am talking about clinical depression that makes you feel the worst and not to feel worthy to live. I was first diagnosed with depression when I went to see a psychiatrist as a freshman in college about 4 years ago, and I still have it though I am much better at dealing with depression.

Asperger Syndrome is a neurological difference that makes it difficult for the individuals to communicate with others by the definition of DSM5. When connecting with others is hard, it’s hard to make friends and have people to talk to when we need. So, it’s easier for us to save up all the feelings and emotions inside us without telling anyone. There are many factors that involves to cause depression and different for each individual, yet we know from scientific evidence that people with Asperger have a tendency to have depression.

Now that depression has been with me for 4 years, I know what depression feels like for me. I feel heavy and stuck, cannot sleep and cannot get up in the morning, when I have depression. I feel my mind is off somewhere that is not here with my body. I cannot think straight, I often stumble over nothing and don’t even feel things much even when I fall down.

I am writing this blog, and today I’m not so good because I feel depressed and feel not present much. Although the feelings I have now in depression are the same as I had 4 years ago, the coping skills are completely different. 4 years ago, I just slept in all day and could not get out of the bed, and did not even want to go to the bathroom to fresh up or take a bath for a day. Yet, today, I know that I am the only one who can help me from this worst feelings eventually and that nothing is great when I am stuck in bed all day, so I start a day anyway by getting up and fresh up first. Then, I do some yoga to feel any bit better. And it always does make me feel better. I also have a ‘self-care’ list on my bullet journal where I wrote the things that make me feel good and warm, so I try to do some of them when I feel depressed. I am not taking any medication because I had some bad experiences with it, but the coping skills I have now seem to be working for me so far.

Also, keeping the same schedule and meal plan everyday help me to have lower waves of emotions and to control depression better. I used to have up and a big down, but I feel that the ‘down’ is not so deep down now, but a slightly lighter ‘down’, and that small thing is a big difference for me.

If you feel depressed today, you’re not alone. Trust yourself that you can feel better. I’m with you.

Self Care#1 Yoga -calming body and mind-

Yoga has been helpful to clam my body and mind. I started yoga in December 2014, when I was struggling with many things in my life and was trying to get things together. That year, I made a big decision of my life and quit college I attended for 1.5 years in Japan, and applied to college in the US to continue my education. At that time, I had no idea what I’ve been struggling all along was Asperger, so I believed the doctors who told me I was depressed and was taking medication accordingly which just made my situation worse with the side effect. My mom introduced me to yoga during that time, and I went to yoga class along with her. At first, I even struggled with Down Dog, which seemed to be coming easy for many other students. I didn’t know anything about yoga and did not particularly liked doing it for the first several times. Yet, after going to classes some times, I found myself to be more connected as ‘one’ with my own body and mind. Yoga seemed to bring my attention to my own body, and it felt good to have a control over my own hands, limbs and body as a whole. I continued doing it for 2 months before I left for college in Boston, and I kept going there literally everyday in that 2 months. I have an intense interest in what I like and like to have a routine, remember? haha. While I was in college in Boston, since the program was an accelerated and intense program, I could not find enough time to bring myself to the mat… well, I guess there must have been some time I could find for yoga, but my mind was just off from yoga and more concentrated on school and all the new things I was experiencing in the new environment.

Then, another stressful season came when I was applying to grad schools in the winter of 2015. I always thought of the wonderful things yoga has brought to me and put ‘yoga teacher training’ on my bucket list. After I finished applying to grad schools, I did not feel as good as I thought I would be because now I was anxious about the results… So, I searched about yoga teacher training to do it during that time to tackle with my anxiety of waiting for the grad school decisions. In January, 2016, I started yoga teacher training with amazing teachers and other wonderful students! It was challenging because we had a day long weekends for 16 weeks and it surely was tiring though it definitely was one of the best memories for each of us who joined in the training together. I was shy at first, but gradually opened up and became more natural with the environment, and the experience of taking yoga teacher certification gave me a little bit more of a confidence in believing myself.

As I graduated from college and started grad school in the summer, 2016, I moved to a new place around Boston, and there was a yoga studio walking distance from my house. I went into there and I liked the atmosphere they had, and I signed up for 30days for $30 yoga for new students. So, I tried to go there everyday for 30days because I gotta make the most of it, right?:) I felt more and more connected with my body in that 30days, and as doing yoga became my habit, I started to doing yoga everyday.

I still keep doing yoga everyday, but as I find myself being at home all day being unproductive when I am having a bad day, I started to use Youtube to do yoga at home on the bad days. When I am having a bad day, it’s usually because of a meltdown or shutdown, and it feels pretty awful. However, I know that I always feel better when I move my body. So, I try to do yoga even on a bad day, especially on a bad day. On such days, I choose easy and calming type of yoga to just feel my body and mind connected, and most importantly to feel any bit better.

I know that being autistic makes you unique and wonderful, but at the same time, it is a real pain particularly when you are having a bad day with meltdown, shutdown or with any other reasons. I also know how difficult to bring yourself to do something on those times, but I promise you yoga will only make you feel better. I know how hard it is, trust me. You just have to trust yourself that you can overcome those bad times because you have before! (like I’m saying to myself haha) If you would like to start home yoga practice like me, I recommend the videos, ‘Yoga with Adriene’:) I like her yoga and talking very much and I think you will, too! (like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2LnW1gF6Eg) When you keep doing yoga, the mat will your safe and comfort to place you can always come back to!:)

Yoga will teach you to be present and keep breathing especially in hard time! I’m rooting for you, my friends!

Attention Issues

Undiagnosed ADHD?

I mentioned I have undiagnosed attention issues in the “about” section, and I am struggling with it more and more these days. I am going to take GRE soon, so I gotta study, but I cannot concentrate on studying because my mind goes to different places whenever I try to study. Especially in reading in general, I always lose myself. I start reading with curiosity, but only after some lines, my mind is already in different places. Yet, I still like books, so I listen to audio books, and if they don’t have audio books, I read them aloud. The problem in the exams like GRE is that you cannot read aloud… though I used to in junior high and high school in a subtle voice so I would not lose myself in the exams. I searched how people with ADHD study for and take GRE and other standardized exams, and I learned ETS (the organization that prepares the tests) accommodates applicants with ADHD with the submission of official diagnosis report, which I don’t yet have. When I got the diagnosis of Asperger, it took me four therapists to receive the diagnosis. The first psychologist, who did my neuropsychological testing, first thought of my diagnosis as ADHD, but then went towards autism. As I was so focused on learning more about autism personally and academically, I have not learned about what ADHD is, but from the DSM5 criteria which I have on my desk all the time and from hearing from the people with Asperger and ADHD, I seem to meet the criteria. Some psychologists asked me why I wanted to have Asperger diagnosis, but I simply want to understand myself better and want to connect myself and the world better because for whole my life I have not fully understood why I struggle so much with the things most people do not. Now, I feel the same way about my attention issues, and moreover, I wish I had it because it would give me the proper support I need in GRE. When you want to concentrate on doing something and when you know you have to, it is so frustrating that you brain does not work along with your will.

Asperger and ADHD?

I have been having the same attention issues for a long time, but when I was doing my school work, it had its deadlines, so I managed to do it on time by the extreme concentration in a short time right before the deadline. For example, I usually wrote 10-page essay within 5-6 hours, of course, non-stop. I could not pay attention on writing or any school work unless the deadline is some hours away that would be enough for me to finish those works. Although I could successfully complete Master’s program this year, it was possible with a lot of support from the university, and also it came with endless struggles and patience with myself. Most of the time, it took me longer to understand the topics in class and I was often lost in discussions because I have to understand the things in my own way in my own pace. So, when I study the same topic at home, I can understand it well and I could talk about it as well, but in class with a lot of noise, light and people, it is harder to understand the topics as it is uncomfortable for me to just stay in class. These of my mixed Asperger and ADHD traits make things so complicated, and even my neuropsychological report says, “Kana displays complicated traits” in the end…

Coping with Attention Issues

  • Cut the pages in textbook you need right now

– I learned this tip when I started learning English in junior high. I cut the just section in a vocabulary book that I need to remember for the week, and it made me more concentrate on studying. In college, Psychology textbook was destroyed because of that, but I could learn in this way!

  • Pomodoro Timer

– As I searched about the techniques people with attention issues use to concentrate, I came across with this one, the technique that repeats 25-min concentration and 5-min break. I have not tried this, but this might be helpful.

Complication of having both Asperger and ADHD

Although I am not officially diagnosed with ADHD, I am pretty sure I am. I first thought it was dyslexia because I have had such a difficult time reading and my teachers in elementary school even came to see my mom to discuss my troubles in reading. When you have Asperger, you have a strong interest in some areas, and for me, it has been autism for over a year and I can concentrate on reading some autism-related books by using audio books, but not all of them. I have also liked to dance ballet since I was 3, and when I dance, I am in my happy state and I am concentrating on what I am doing. Sometimes, or very much often, I go into too much concentration and cannot even see or hear any other things other than what I am doing. For example, when I concentrated on writing paper in the library in college, I found myself alone in a big library floor at 2am because I did not have a sense of time and did not even notice people were leaving as time went by.

Well, I am trying to get some professional insight for this and will try to cope with this attention issues alongside with Asperger. If you have any advice from your experiences, comment below!

The pic is from the time when I was writing my Master thesis. I like to pile up books and papers and also to surround myself with them so I could feel like I made a tiny comfy space for myself! IMG-0421