IN THE JAWS OF THE BLACK DOG: Part 1

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129 Madrid Street the Wall — digital photograph – Michael Burns

This has taken a great deal of thought…

I present this in three parts. The first as follows. To expose oneself after so many years of masking, to let go of an internal conflict is both creating fear and freeing for me. I wish nothing from this, but I wish to enlighten those who ridicule, those who bully, those who are intolerant of human difference.

Being autistic is a highly volatile condition to be involved with as a human — of course involved would intend one’s participation, willingly, intentionally. That is both wrong and right. I have no choice really in the matter. I am autistic, it is me. But then again I know who I am, finally.

Autism is difficult to describe from a personal point of view. From that deeply personal point of view. Some days its world ending and others it is magic; an affliction sometimes, a life-long confrontation with reality — and if asked I would prefer not to have it — and yet again, I absolutely cannot see myself in any other way, and being autistic and different is something I would miss if I was neuro-typical (whatever that terrible term means). I believe it has something to do with linear thinking. Convergent as opposed to divergent in the thinking process.

Study shows a threatened and shortened lifespan in most cases for those with autism — ASD, Asperger’s. That is a considerably shortened lifespan. And what I mean by that is, that the high functioning autistic adult is averaged at a lifespan of about 54 years old, forty years old if that autistic is unable to speak or communicate.

Now when I speak here, I am not speaking about those who are so severe in their suffering that they are adults with a baby bottle, wearing diapers; flapping their hands, banging their hockey helmet heads, mutely imprisoned and melting down noisily every two minutes. With sometimes so much comorbidity that, life seems like penance or a personal hell than living. Many times they are blind or deaf, or both. Needing adult supervision for their entire lives. Those poor individuals who never make it to any semblance of a quality of life. What I speak about here is the Asperger’s individual, the one on the spectrum of autism, the highly functioning autistic, who at first glance appears somewhat unimpeded, who might even seem to be superlative as a human subject — many of these are highly intelligent and sometimes genius, but the average among them is above average intelligence, as long as they don’t open their mouth and speak, they seem as normal or should I say as neuro-typical as a major portion of society could/might be.

Many things are involved in the shortened lifespan of someone with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  In the study quoted in Matt Carey’s article:

“Where are all the old people with autism? Most of them are dead. Can we stop denying their existence and start trying to make a difference?”

There are many things that shorten the lifespan of an Asperger’s’ individual, from not caring about their own health and their own personal neglect to unfortunate situations that are caused by autists being rather clumsy and neglectful of their circumstances. Therefor more deaths from falls or mishaps and their risk-taking with their lives. And autists either have an over sensitivity to pain, or they pay it no attention at all. They fail to eat correctly and have, unusual allergies to gluten and casein, milk products and eggs. Sometimes they only like white food or blue food, or food with the same textures…it’s complex how they make their way through life.  They have unusual needs of food and textures of foods, colors and tastes. And food enhancers that are used by food manufacturers can have the wrong results for a person with autism, sometimes violent results. Stimulants like coffee and sugar can have adverse effects. And adverse effects happens, to be a weaponized phrase these days.

An Asperger’s male has a nine times greater chance of committing suicide than a ‘normal’ or ‘neuro-typical’ as it has become known in the academic. Females with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are the highest risk group in the study and because of their autistic, they suffer more sex crimes than the neuro-typical woman. Many older autistics are homeless, wandering around out there in the cities all over the world — pushing shopping carts up hills of misery, or living lives of terrible desperation, from one job to the next, one meal to the next; one rooming house to the next. An interesting statistic claims an 85% unemployment rate among college-educated autistic adults. That’s astounding don’t you think?  Some autistics are highly successful people and have thrived as can be seen in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Bill Gates is an interesting example of this success. Engineering and the maths and sciences especially computer sciences are great attractors for the autistic mind. But I am not talking about those success stories.

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Madrid Street – Digital photograph – Michael Burns

Autists are more likely to be in a fatal car accident than their neuro-typical counterparts. Not that I am saying they’re dangerous drivers. But they are more likely to place themselves in life-threatening situations than neuro-typicals. Autists are more likely to not pay attention to cuts and wounds, infections and neglect of illness and in the care of that…their likelihood of not being as financially successful in life places them at greater odds for having very little if not, no medical coverage at all. They are more likely to be abandoned — and abandon their family and loved ones. They suffer under greater physical abuse, bullying and street violence. They are taken advantage of by life partners, family and employers, and suffer under much ‘mate crime‘.  Mate crime, what a strange term, something relating to the innocence and gullibility that an autistic can suffer over decades, without learning the lesson. Because of a more timid nature. Because of a trusting manner.

Self-aggrandizing can place them in the most unlikely of places and dangers. They are less likely to obey the danger signs, that most will pay attention too, and are more likely to suffer under the misunderstandings by police and authority figures who are ignorant of their frustrations and confusions — their autism. Autism is not physically apparent. Autistics suffer more murder and rape, and violence in greater numbers than the ‘normal’, they have larger numbers of divorce and higher rates of addiction.

In overall life-threatening dangers resulting in premature deaths of ASD individuals — these are 2.5 times greater than neuro-typicals, and the rest of the population and those many neuro-tribes that seem to have become popular as we divide into groups.

In a study which was the largest of it’s kind and gathered data from some 27,000 individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Much information was given to direct one to the abuses and neglect that autistic people suffer daily, without society’s notice. Granted much has been done in the area of bullying in school. But employers bully and governments bullies, and we as a whole are becoming a bully society, rather than a talking society. A society that listens and talks with respect of the freedoms of the individuals, that we all are as humans.

Autists as a general rule are caught in the fight or flight response continuously — this sometimes is an overwhelming physiological response to external stimuli, is interpreted as an attack, a violation, a threat, a confrontation that needs to be addressed or fled from — a state of hyper-arousal, or acute and debilitating stress that can plunge an individual into a looping replay in their mind of what went wrong or a rehearsal in defense of preconceived outcomes of threat. Which is really a misjudgment driven by the hyper-real. Sound, smell, and fear ruminating through the autistic mind after the situation has subsided. Autistics suffering violence in a specific sound or smell can trigger theses events later on in life, and the reason for the malady is not apparent now as the genesis of that is now long past. Autistics are gifted/cursed in way with a nature called ‘Synesthesia‘.

“Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.[3][4][5][6] People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes.”

This is a complex nature that needs an article of its own. Let me say that, it involves all the senses, sometimes in a nature that is paranormal. Smells and sounds connected to memory or situations. Sound as color, and music as words or letters…

Autism feeds back into a polyvagal theory of existence, where the body’s feedback to the brain and vice-versa. Your stomach has been described as your second brain, in fact the serotonin and much of the brain hormones and chemistry are produced in the stomach, so gut health and the natural stomach biome are pertinent to a healthy autistic.

The fight or flight response deals with hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and the infamous fear hormone, cortisol a hormone stressor beyond all, that is many times raging through an Asperger’s endocrine system. It affects the production of those hormones testosterone and estrogen — in greater or lesser degree depending. It affects the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in the body’s production of or misuse as in the constant state of hyper-arousal. Fight or flight response results in hormonal cascades of these and norepinephrine and epinephrine, also known as adrenaline which causes the heart to beat faster, it results in heart palpitations and an excited state. One can develop a heart condition over time because of this nature…

Cortisol is involved in the immune system and deals with many physiological effects in the human. It can stop the immune response to an infection and retard the body system from dealing with inflammation which is a warning sign of illness.

Cortisol reduces bone formation; it transports potassium out of cells resulting in metabolic shock if not watched. Cortisol counteracts insulin, and Autists who are also diabetic are in jeopardy when this happens. Cortisol reduces calcium absorption in the stomach, it interferes in collagen production. Cortisol increases sodium and water absorption in the intestines and the potassium excretion. Therefor many times fear can result in loose bowels. Cortisol stimulates gastric acid and can lead to stomach problems and a nervous stomach. Long term exposure to cortisol impairs the hippocampus resulting in impaired learning.

An autistic living in fear can have a debilitating effect on general health and vitamin and nutrient potency within the body. Cortisol in its proper place like running from a tiger, or grabbing that root stuck out from the side of a cliff as one falls off, is a good thing, but as a steady course through a fretting autistic it is not good for their general health.

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Michael Burns – Ink on rag paper -2015

Sustained fight or flight stress can lead to higher levels of cortisol circulating in the blood and create an overload. This can lead to a modification of the normal body regulatory networks. Mood disorders; anxiety disorders; psychological stress;  hypoglycemia; illness, fear and pain and temperature extremes of hot and cold. The complexity is exponential.

I am a sixty-six years old Asperger’s man; I am self-diagnosed. And many might say well, how do you know for sure that you are autistic? How can you, without proper diagnosis, without the informed knowledge of a ‘trained professional’ know you are autistic?

I have always known — I might not have known its name. But I have always known since I was a child, the difficulties I experienced, the prejudice and hatred. The misdiagnosis by untrained psychiatry in the early days of the ’50s, 60’s and 70’s. Those numerous labels applied by them, which ill-fit a singular nature, because they did not know, and because autism was a dark secret for so long hidden. Many autistics spent their lives in asylums with the insane. Or were locked away from the world because of their nuisance. Many think that there is an explosion of new autism in the modern era — there is and there isn’t, I say, that you were looking at my kind all along and failed to see through ignorance what was happening. Saw these people as unruly or defiant.

The bullying and failed attempts at so many friendships; the arranged friendships by family members in the hopes of me connecting with someone my own age. The difficulties of a tragic education in Catholic Belfast, in schools run by bitter priests and nuns, that misunderstood the autistic mind, that brought a darkened sense of the world of education rather than enlightenment to that mind. The quirkiness and brilliance of the mind that I am. The aversion to smells and noises, the Tinnitus and HyperacusisThe failed employment records, the ‘mate-crimes’ suffered by pseudo-friendships, partners and employers who saw a mule that they may hitch their wagon to until deep thought and advice from those concerned brought a semblance of fairness to the deal for me. A social affliction that made it difficult beyond explanation to converse and establish a meaningful conversation and relationships. The suicidal ideation throughout my life, and the many other identifiable sufferings of a neuro-typical world which sees autism as a mental disorder.

I could write a paper on the mental disorder side of this alone!

The many signs and symptoms of an Asperger’s individual? The adage goes that “if you have met an autist, then you know one autist”. They are all different. There is not enough space here for me to talk about my own personal journey as an Autistic, and the many talents and quirks and misgiving that would ensure that diagnosis in the reader. And besides, I care less about how you feel about that, what I speak about here is the journey in, that I started so very long ago.

The lowered Executive Functions of my mind, the increased neural activity of the prefrontal cortex, too many solutions, or obsession with solution, being driven by the need for control, biased in a different theory of mind as divergent, a ritualized life seems to be the easier path.

Mate-crimes are situations were an unrealistic concern or understanding of the results of certain relationships is taken advantage of by an employer, a lover, a partner or a friend. In business; a relative or caregiver who exploits the naivete of the person suffering under Asperger’s or ASD.

We are perfectionists by nature and are terrible team players when working for an employer we prefer to be left alone, once the nature of the task is grasped. Mate crime is being taken advantage of by predators that look to the innocence and exploit it. There are always those who will take advantage of even something like autism. As can be seen in the young climate champion Greta Thunberg taken advantage of by environmentalists and mate crime parents who aim to ride her to their own success. There are many websites making money on autism, and several high ranking people in the public mind, of autism activism, but many of these are the fraud that exploits autism.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what I feel about this, the sense, and feelings of the grieving of a child who was scorned so many years ago. The pariah who was cheated, by an ignorant system that saw me as something bad or unruly? By love which abandoned me many times, for another. For love for which I have abandoned when in pain. It is late in my life, and I write this for those like myself who have been unfulfilled in life, who have reached an elder age and feel the loss and the bitter taste of that arrested development. for those who have excepted the results as water under a bridge, and wish not to go over those regrets of a past.

If only I had known fully in those past days I might have found a way to overcome it earlier and lived a much fuller life. I have felt less in most part for being autistic and have felt cheated. But I have survived, and that is not good enough anymore, to survive. I ask more of myself and others, shame and embarrassment of sometimes being awkward in social engagements have hobbled my chances at relationships.

Am I feeling sorry for myself? No! This blog, this piece of writing is sent more to me than you, I am no victim, and will not play that part, do I seek recompense? Only from the vaccine makers who seriously think it’s fine to violate the rights of the child and jab them in the arm and put toxins and heavy metals where they don’t belong. Only to warn you if this vaccine madness continues what to expect from children of the future. Vaccines are chaos unleashed in society, they damage the individual and the individual damages the world  It has taken a long time to even except that conclusion.

All images and writing are the copyright of Michael Burns.