October 19

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Is Autism Really Three Times More Common in Males Than Females?

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It’s been too long since I wrote a blog post. Since the last time I posted, a few things have happened that I did not feel inclined to share online in the present tense. My husband broke his ankle, and my daughter started her last year of high school. While I haven’t felt overwhelmed by either of these events, I’ve definitely had some bittersweet, melancholy days because both are proof that the past is slipping away.

My daughter will soon turn 18, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about which path she’ll take in the transition to adulthood. For those of you who don’t know me in real life or are new to this blog, I will add that my daughter has autism. She was not diagnosed until age 14, despite inquiries on my part to mental health professionals, speech therapists and the like that began when my daughter was two.

I think there’s a strong bias against the diagnosis of autism in girls and women. Perhaps this is the case because it is possible that autism is defined by how it manifests itself in males. Has anyone taken the time to study females with autism to see if they share symptoms in common that aren’t seen as often in males?

As time passes since her diagnosis, I have a growing confidence I myself am one of the uncounted women on the autism spectrum. This is not a case of a mother’s desperation to empathize with her daughter. I can think of several individuals in my family tree who likely lived their whole lives unknowingly on the spectrum. My daughter and I are just the latest ones who carry this unique way of perceiving and relating to reality and the people we encounter in it.

I will close this post with a picture I took of my daughter while she waited for the bus on the first day of this school year. Notice the smile. When she was two and was in speech therapy because she hadn’t spoken a two-word sentence, the staff told me that it was unlikely that she had autism because she could smile at me and hold my gaze. Maybe this is a another example of a gender bias in how autism is defined. My daughter has been able to mirror the gaze and facial expressions of a few people during relatively brief encounters.  I’ve experienced the same thing myself. I can enjoy the company of a particular person for a limited amount of time, and then I’ll need solitude to recover.

Autism in girls and women is still an undiscovered country.

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Downtown Lima Photo Walk, August 3

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While I have started a photo blog devoted to images of my community in Lima, Ohio, I think that Intensity Without Mastery will remain the home for my photo walk posts. Yesterday my husband and I took an afternoon walk through downtown Lima. The streets were mostly empty, but a few of the stronger downtown business were open with customers.

My husband, who is my favorite male model, stopped at a secondhand store on Main Street:

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He loves “picking” for treasures at garage sales, flea markets, and the like. He found an antique micrometer in the store on Main Street. He bought it mostly as a homage to the early days of his career when he worked as a machinist at GM and later Textron. Once we were home, he discovered that the micrometer had actually belonged a man he knew while growing up in the 60’s and the 70’s. He wondered aloud if the man had passed away.

My husband has mentioned that one sure sign of getting older is the declining probability that people one used to know are still alive. By the time he turned 50, he learned to be cautious when asking about people he hadn’t seen lately. It’s strange for me to consider that I’ll be 50 in just a few years. As far as I know, almost everyone I once knew well is still alive, but this won’t always be true.

On the more youthful side of life, there was a chalk art competition downtown, and I posted a few photos of the chalk creations on my Spotted in Lima Facebook page.

I will close with more images from our walk. I was intrigued by the kegs of mystery in the first storefront. There’s a fairly new restaurant in the adjacent spaces, so it’s possible the empty kegs belong to it. If so, the establishment must be growing in popularity.

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Summer Photo Walk, July 27

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Today’s photo walk occurred at McLean Teddy Bear Park, which is a short drive east of Lima and full of delightful flora. The forest looks a bit different this year because we’ve had so much rain. Usually there’s sporadic orange jewelweed along the short forest trail at the height of summer, but today I saw long puffs of that wildflower that rivaled a small hedge in stature:

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I also spotted a few of a wildflower that I hadn’t seen before in the forest, and I’m not sure what it’s called:

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There are many pawpaw trees throughout this park’s forested areas, and noticed that one of the trees I passed had fruit on it:

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The prairie was also lush with yellow wildflowers like prairie dock and oxeye sunflowers. I’m pleased that I saw a few butterflies flitting about and was able to get a picture of one of the monarch butterflies.

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