5 Things I Wish I Knew Were Autism Things

So I’ve been getting the urge to branch out from my twice a week posting schedule. Not that I don’t enjoy writing essays or putting together my 6 Word Stories from the week, but I guess I’ve been wanted something a little more…fun. I always enjoy when people make lists. It’s kind of a cool way to get to know them. And I think I’m going to give it a try. So going forward, I declare Wednesdays List Days! I’m aiming for a mix of Autism and non-Autism stuff, although to be honest, most of the things I write end up with a tinge of Autism anyway. I plan on opening the comments up so people can add their own stuff to the list. It seems like it’ll be more fun if it’s not just me talking out into the void. But please don’t feel any pressure! Also, if you have ideas for topics, bring ’em! I figure I’ll run out of topics eventually anyway. So here they are:

5 Things I Wish I Knew Were Autism Things

1. Getting Lost: I am terrible with directions. I once managed to get myself lost in the monkey house at the zoo for 45 minutes. Not even GPS can help me. My first semester of college, I had to drop a class because I couldn’t reliably find it. From what I can tell, no one’s really sure why Autistic people have a tendency to get lost, but it’s very common in our community.

2. Not Being Able to Make Lists: My wife has a superpower. She can take any situation, any task, any problem, and make a plan to solve it. No matter how big, no matter how steps it takes, give her a pen, paper, and 10 minutes, and she’s ready to approach it. I, however, cannot figure out how to make cereal. The process of breaking a task down into steps is so foreign, that I don’t even know where to start. This is a common experience with Executive Dysfunction, and for me, it involves post-it notes all of the place in hopes that one day they’ll be useful.

3. Being a Picky Eater: I fought this for a very long time. ‘I love Indian food!’ I thought. ‘But I put hot sauce on everything!’, I can’t be a picky eater! But looking deep into my heart, I know that I’m incredibly texture-sensitive, I make other people taste new dishes so they can describe them to me, and I will argue to the death that real Cheerios are NOT the same as the store brand ones. There is a word for this: ARFID. It’s listed as a type of eating disorder. And my therapist is ok with not pushing me as long as my diet stays varied and healthy.

4. Touching EVERYTHING: I am very slow when shopping. It’s partially because of medical issues, partially because I’m slightly overwhelmed, and partially because I have to touch all the new and exciting things. I love walking through the towel section at Target, and the yarn aisle at Michael’s. This makes sense, as I am hypo-sensitive to touch. I crave spiky pine cones and microfiber cloths and pulling dried glue off my fingers.

5. Repeating Things: I am not the best communicator. If I don’t have a script for it, I’m usually anxious about what to say. I am also a pop culture junkie. This totally works for me, because between movies and tv shows, I have a wealth of scripts! On bad communication days, I can go hours only reciting lines from various sources of media. Besides using these things as scripts, it’s also a form of echolalia. So not only is the repeating satisfying- it also helps me connect. I’d call that a win-win!

So that’s it! I’d love to hear if anyone else has any of these too!

What Do We Want? Language!

I was in my 20’s the first time I heard the word autism. I thought-hm, that sounds awful. And I didn’t really think about it again. It wasn’t until much later, when I learned about autism symptoms that I thought: that sounds like college when I hid under my bed all the time and had to drop a class because I couldn’t find it. When I lost it every time someone burned popcorn and the alarm went off at 2 am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Group projects were hell because I couldn’t figure out what my classmates wanted from me. All of these situations happened to me. I failed out of college. I knew my experiences weren’t typical, but without the words to describe what was happening to me, I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t even know that I needed help. I didn’t get diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder until I was 28. Lots of factors went into me being diagnosed so late in life. I am very book smart, which meant a lot of my social deficits were given a pass, especially since I have a strange knack for making people want to be friends with me. I also dropped out of school at the ripe old age of six and was homeschooled until I went back to public school in the 6th grade. Homeschooling was great for my little autistic self, but not having teachers or guidance counselors around meant that no one realized that my quirks might be a part of something more. I knew I was weird. I knew I was different. So how did it take another twenty years for anything to be done?

The human race is obsessed with language. More precisely, they’re obsessed with communication. We teach gorillas and babies sign language so they can talk to us more easily. We’ve coded bots to learn language and communicate in ways that seem eerily close to Artificial Intelligence. So here’s the question. What happens when you give people language? And even more, what happens when you give people the language to talk about what’s happening to them? For me, the first step was not one of relief or understanding, but one of confusion. How had I never encountered this before? How had not a single person in my life looked at me and saw these words? And lastly, and most importantly, how did these new words describe me so well?

From the professionals: sensory, sympathy/empathy, high functioning, theory of mind, ABA. From the brand new community I found online: stim, neurodiversity, ableism, samefood, hyper-empathy, Red Instead, identity first language.

My whole life I would all of a sudden seem to lose my words, especially when I was stressed. My wife and I tried to find the humor in what would otherwise be anxiety producing, so we turned it into charades. There’s a word for that you know: it’s nonverbal.

Another word I quickly learned was proprioceptive. Although it took me a bit longer to learn how to spell it. Proprioceptive is a sense, like sight or smell, and it measures where your body is in space. And since I’m heavily proprioceptive seeking, it’s really just a big word for I like roller coasters. And swings, and rolling down hills and spinning around in circles. So you see, all of these things already existed in my life. Everyone in my life knew about them. Meesh has quirks, and rules, and routines. That’s just who she is as a person. And I’m not saying that isn’t true. I’m a member of the ‘you can’t separate me from my autism’ camp, so yes, I believe all of my behaviors are because of who I am as a person. But I also believe that that makes it even more important for me to have the language to describe and discuss who I am and what I experience.

Of course, I don’t mean just me. I don’t even mean just autistic people. Everyone deserves access to language that allows them to communicate effectively. Just like access to medical and clean water, it is a human right. Put simply, if the vocabulary exists for a person’s experience then they should have access to it. And if one doesn’t exist, I’m all for making it up. I’m learning American Sign Language, and while I have the vocabulary of a preschooler, I’ve already encountered some words that are important to my life that don’t have signs. So, I made a few up. And honestly, in marginalized communities, this is how it works. An individual or a small group comes up with words that fill a space, and usually, nothing happens. But sometimes. SOMETIMES. Something magic happens and the words spread and grow like a beanstalk and sometimes they change. But. The magic can’t happen if no one’s planting the seeds. So let’s all remember: We all need language to describe our experiences. Sometimes the words don’t exist yet, but it’s ok; making things up is how we grow. Vocabulary gives us power, and because of that, it is a human right. And lastly, I hope you use your preferred method of communication to empower yourself, and your community.

Autism is Me

“Can you tell me something about yourself?” If you got scared that this was a job interview, don’t worry. I just wanted to get you thinking about the things that make you, you. Go ahead, take your time. While you’re busy, I’ll tell you some things about me. I like to knit. My favorite animals are llamas. I hate bananas. I love playground swings. I’m very sarcastic. Ok, I’m done. Do you have a list sort of like mine? Now I want you to think of your list…and throw half of it away. That’s it. Half of who you are, all gone. How are you feeling? Hold that feeling in your heart while I tell you that that’s how I feel every time someone suggests that it would be better if I cured my Autism.

There are certain groups of people who are very vocal about how autism is some terrible ailment that needs to be cured. And oftentimes I’ve noticed, that these people are rarely autistic themselves. Family, friends, partners, I won’t deny that these people have a stake in what happens to autism. And autistic people like me are often told that they need to empathize with these people, recognize their struggles; even validate their experiences. Which sounds reasonable. Until you realize that their struggles and experiences have resulted in them wanting you dead.

Ok, maybe not DEAD dead. Not physically dead. But in ‘curing’ Autism, they’re removing every part of me that’s autistic. Take that away, and I’m not me anymore! My autism affects every part of who I am. It colors all my experiences. Look up at the things about me in the first paragraph. If you remove every trace of my autistic self, the only thing left is the llama bit. The llama bit is just hard-wired into my brain. So the llama part survives. What then, am I losing? Knitting is gone because I use the soft yarn and the rhythmic needle clicking as a stim. And bananas? The worst texture you could ever imagine. The smell is pretty offensive too. Swings engage my proprioceptive senses. And my sense of sarcasm? I rely heavily on scripting and mimicry to get by socially, and my dad is the most sarcastic guy you’ll ever meet.

I am proud to be autistic, so I try to embrace my strengths, and raise up my community. But I don’t want to give some idealistic impression of what goes on in my brain or my life. I can be proud of who I am. Autism or not. Embracing myself as a whole doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Some things about autism suck. It sucks that to be accepted, I have to change the way I communicate, every time. It sucks that I have to spend mental energy managing my sensory input. And it really sucks that sometimes I lose my words. I get stressed and all of a sudden the words in my head won’t come out of my mouth. These are all very legitimately terrible things. And while, when asked if I would take a magical Autism-B-Gone pill, my answer is an adamant NO, if given the choice to temporarily dull, or block some of these symptoms, I may, depending on the day, say yes. Just think, if I got to be the one to set the communication tone. If I could go see bright fireworks or loud concerts. If maybe my words could come out 100% of the time…

A lot of this is hypothetical. There is no magical autism erasing pill. Nor is there a symptom reduction/eradication pill. And as much as I hate speaking in hypotheticals, I’m doing it because this is an important topic, and it needs to be discussed. Not just by doctors or therapists or parents. Autistic people need to be a part of this conversation because the future is coming. Magic pills are coming. And if we’re not actively discussing the morality of things like this, they’re going to become a reality before we know what to do with them. So please, neurodivergent types, make your voices heard; make people listen. And parents, partners, professionals. Just listen.

6 Word Stories pt. 6

If last week was a week of changes, this is a week of new things. New physical therapist, new volunteer opportunities, and new projects. I took a few days off from writing, partially because I didn’t have much ambition, and partially because I had some other stuff to do. Luckily, I had enough posts queued here so that taking a writing break wasn’t so bad. These stories are the only writing I do some days, and while I’m not in love with all of them, they’re still a record of my days, which is good enough.

  • Phone’s ringing. Ignore! Guilt. Sigh. Accept.
  • New physical therapist understands everything. Score!
  • Using person-first language is uncomfortable.
  • Of course inanimate objects have feelings!
  • Doing self-care requires self-care.
  • Matching another person’s energy is exhausting.
  • Saturdays are for cartoons and crafts.

Signing off. Stay tuned next week for another episode of 6 Word Stories!

6 Word Stories pt. 4

It’s been a month! These stories are becoming part of my routine, which is really nice. I’ve always liked the idea of daily journaling, but have had trouble keeping up with one, mostly because I don’t have the time, but also because if it’s been a dull day and I have nothing to write, I feel pressured to fill the space anyway. This format is much more doable. Even if I stayed on the couch in my pajamas all day (everyone does that sometimes, right?), I could come up with 6 words about that.

In other exciting news, I’ve had a couple of submissions to my 6 Word Tumblr blog! It’s really exciting to know that people are reading and trying this on their own! If you want to check it out or submit your own, head over there! I hope people keep sharing- I think the whole thing is more diverse if it’s not just me rambling. Speaking of rambling, here are this week’s 6 Word Stories!

  • She He They. Pronouns are…complicated.
  • Look, I’m not stubborn, I’m autistic!
  • Break my routine, I’ll break you.
  • My piercing. My favorite stim. Gone.
  • Sent ableist article-Rant and ignore.
  • Recharge at home is way overdue.
  • Reorganizing is exciting, but everything’s wrong.

 

 

Stream of Consciousness

So WordPress does a Writing 101 in their “Blogging University” thing. Have you seen it? I tried out their first prompt, which challenged me to write nonstop for 20 minutes, creating a stream of consciousness piece. And then they suggested that I publish it. Which I immediately called BS on. No way was I going to let the world see something straight out of my brain. But after letting the idea sit (and consulting Jess to make sure it was readable), I decided to put it out there. So I present to you today, with only spell checking and structural edits (you’ll appreciate the paragraph breaks), here it is: My Brain on Writing.

This is a prompt to make me a better writer. I don’t need to be a better writer I think? I write like I talk, and that usually works out for me. But I need to write in a way people will like. Jess likes the way I write. She thinks I’m funny. And my therapist thinks that I explain things well. Autism things. She thinks that that is something that is unique to me, but I know a lot of wonderful autistic writers who explain things at least as well, if not better than me. And I wonder, what with all the great autistic writers, why most of the books out there about autism suck. Some of them suck because it’s a neurotypical person trying to explain autism for the masses. That’s an understandable reason for it to be bad. But I’ve also read books by autistic authors that are almost unreadable. At least that’s what I think. Neurotypical people seem to love them. I wonder where the editing moral line is there. You want these books to be reasonable to read, but you don’t want to get in the way of a neurodivergent writer.

I think I want to be published someday. I’d love to help explain autism to parents and researchers and educators in a way that they understand. Because if they don’t understand, things aren’t going to get better. So for the sake of autistic people to come, I’ve got to find a way. People like when you explain things to them in a personal way. So I add stories to my writing. I talk about my favorite blue bowl and my love of roller coasters, and it makes people more comfortable, more relaxed, and more willing to listen to what I have to say. It makes them realize that I’m a person. Which when you think about it is kind of terrible. If I was to stand in front of them, and just start talking, maybe hand them a flow chart, they’d be in the mindset of “wow, look at this girl with autism, she sure has a lot to say. It’s such a shame that what she’s saying is being distorted by her autism. If only she had the ability to present something that came from a more normal mindset.” Blah blah blah, white noise.

Eventually, they’d stop listening. They’d shred up my flow chart with their bored hands. And nothing I had to say would get through. All they’d remember about me was autism. And I’m more than that. I have things to share. I am going to do everything I can to be an advocate for myself. Hopefully for other people too. Here’s my promise to myself. I’m going to write. I’m going to communicate with people in my community. I’m going to find a way to talk to professionals, and maybe even parents. I can volunteer with kids with disabilities. I can make stim toys and coping skills tools. Maybe even find myself a career. Prove that I don’t have to be more than my autism. That I AM my autism.

 

Crude but Effective

The ability to use language is deeply embedded in the history of autism. When the general public pictures an autistic person, they generally think of someone who is nonverbal. Or, thanks to popular culture, someone who is 100% literal 100% of the time, or someone who has no concept of sarcasm. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people who experience one or more of these types of communication divergences, but to say that all autistic people experience all of these at the same time, or in the same way, is to have a very narrow view of an incredibly varied picture.

Communication is something your average person doesn’t think much about. They spend their days talking and writing and making subtle movements to their body, not even realizing that they’re doing it. And because they’re able to do all of this without thinking about it, they assume everyone else has the same experience. Which clearly is not the case. When you start communicating with autistic people, one thing becomes clear. There are lots of types of communication, and that everyone experiences them differently.

Let’s take a walk in my communication shoes. I tend to divide up my communication skills into categories. Which sounds complicated, but it’s not. (In case you were worrying.) Here’s the exhaustive list: verbal- the physical act of talking, nonverbal- facial expressions, and body language, autistic nonverbal- flapping, bouncing, spinning, social- being polite and active in a conversation. Ok, so maybe I lied; it is a little complicated. But here’s the thing, if I wasn’t able to break down communication like this, the weight of trying to figure things out on the fly would ruin me. Because the act of communication is a profound drain on my energy sources.

I didn’t really think much about communication until I was a teenager. Somehow I lucked out and most of the people who I interacted with didn’t really mind that I was socially awkward. It was nice. I didn’t really know about things like empathy or tone of voice, so I wasn’t trying to emulate it. Which meant I wasn’t exhausting myself every day. Ah, childhood. I can chalk some of this up to poor theory of mind. Most people develop this when they’re very young. They seem to have an innate knowledge that other people think and feel and experience things differently than they do. I don’t have this. The idea that other people weren’t thinking exactly what I was thinking never even occurred to me until I was a teenager. And even then, the concept felt very foreign. It was bafflingly uncomfortable, and it forced me to accept that things between me and others were different. It forced me to realize that I was different. I processed this the way I process everything; through observation and analysis. And the more information I absorbed, the more the sheer amount of content began to pull me down. I felt the need to use this information to change how I interacted with people, and not for good reasons.

I know now that there are some types of communication that are worth me investing in, but it wasn’t always like this. At first, when I was learning about communication, I felt incredibly guilty. I felt like I was letting people down by not conforming to a standard form of communication. I reasoned that by not communicating in a “normal” way, I was lessening their experiences with me. I thought that it was my duty to put all my energy into appearing like someone who was neurotypical, to ensure that other people would be more comfortable. I know now that that belief was unhelpful. I shouldn’t have to put all my energy into maintaining communication styles that aren’t natural for me. Now while making sure I’m polite is important (my autism isn’t an excuse for me to be mean), it isn’t my job to fake it 24/7. So what do I do now?

I’ve finally developed a system that works for me. It is at times crude, but effective. It reserves energy when needed, while still allowing me to communicate. My very logical brain has sorted communication skills into what I call programs. Sort of like a computer, communication skills are sorted into groups, with sort of loose guidelines for when I use them. My base programs are me naturally. They run intuitively, and I don’t even have to think about them. Its outputs are minimal. I’m often not very verbal, and when I do, my voice doesn’t modulate much. My only body language is stimming, and I don’t even try to fake body language. This is what I default to during a meltdown. It’s natural and low energy, but not very useful outside of the house. My politeness program is running most of the time. Being nice to others is important to me, and this program run in the background, and once I get it going, I don’t have to worry about it, unless a crisis occurs (in which case it drops, because I need its energy to deal with other things.) The upper-level programs are more complicated. They’re more situation oriented, and take a lot of planning and energy to keep going. Not only do I have to suppress most of my natural communication, but I also have to replace it with things that I don’t really understand. I know they’re appropriate, but I’m not usually sure why. And everyone does this, to an extent. If you’re going into a job interview, you’ll use your most impressive vocabulary, and refrain from cursing. The difference is, in your case, that your base communication skills are mostly socially acceptable. My base communication involves a lot of repeating words and sign language, and jumping and spinning and flapping, and not looking at someone when they’re talking to me. And I’m pretty comfortable with this now. As long as I’m being polite, I let the rest of my individual communication shine through. And this has proven my teenage-self wrong. The majority of people I interact with regularly don’t really care. And even if they think it’s a bit weird at first, they quickly accept that this is just how I interact with people. This makes me incredibly lucky, I know, but I hope that the more types of communication people see, the more open they’ll be to normalizing all types. Verbal speech, nonverbal communication, sign language, stimming, AACs, all of these bring people together and they let us share our experiences and our world. And how can that be a bad thing?

Hard Reset

It happens to all of us. We have a long week, a stressful day, and eventually we notice that we just feel…off. Everyone has their own way of resolving it. Some people do take-out and a movie, some people go for a run. And all some people need is a pet to cuddle. It’s a universal experience, but as I bet you can guess – the autistic experience can be vastly different than that of a neurotypical person. As usual.

The ‘off’ feeling I keep mentioning usually comes to me as sensory oddities. A noise registers as much louder than it normally would. Something that should hurt me doesn’t even register. It all feels wrong. And the wrongness grows. Soon I start losing my words, and communication turns into a frustrating game of charades. And the ability to be flexible that I’ve cultivated? Gone. And left in its place the rigidity of routines and schedules. I am uncomfortable and frustrated and confused. I need a solution. I NEED to make it stop. So what do I do?

Before I knew about autism, before my diagnosis, before I started figuring myself out, the inevitable result was a cascade of meltdowns. It was like my system had to hit its peak over and over again, until it became so overloaded that it crashed. Believe me when I tell you; that was a VERY unpleasant experience. Luckily for me (and everyone around me), a lot of trial and error has given me two things: One, the ability to recognize the ‘off’ feeling shortly after its arrival, and Two, the concept of a Hard Reset.

Bear with me for a minute, and imagine your brain as a computer. For the most part, it runs smoothly enough. And any problem you encounter can be resolved quickly and easily-with a little help from Google. It works fine. Until it doesn’t. You realize your problem is bigger than ctrl-alt-del. This is where the Hard Reset comes in. Sometimes you just have to shut everything down, let it rest, and hope that things look better when you boot it back up.

There are infinite ways to do a Hard Reset, and I can only speak for myself. I find for me, that focusing on my senses is usually a safe bet. Eyes and ears, touch, smell, and even taste can force a reset. All of these are good, but in my case, the magic word is Proprioception. This is a sense that isn’t mentioned a lot, but that refers to knowing where your body is in space. Kids love this 6th sense; it’s why they love spinning until they fall over, and swinging on swings. They fulfill their need for proprioceptive input without even knowing it. And these are great sources! Swings are my go-to emergency tool. It’s not hard to find an empty playground and swing until the world is right again. As good as they are, swings take second place in my sensory toolkit. My true love you ask?

Rollercoasters. My heart belongs to rollercoasters. And how could it not? By the end of my first ride, I’m laughing like a fiend. A special laugh, my wife says, reserved only for the beginning of a successful Reset. A few more rides, and all of a sudden, the lights, the crowds, the screams; things that had been unbearable an hour before are suddenly ok. It’s all ok. I’m ok.

Rules Glorious Rules

My favorite cereal bowl is blue. I got it from Target, and it is the perfect size to eat my favorite cereal for breakfast. Which is Honey Nut Cheerios, in case you were wondering. There is something very safe about my bowl. I use it at the exact same time, in the exact same place, in the exact same way, every time. Because of this, my bowl is safe. It follows the same rules every time. But this is a temporary safety. Bowls break. So then what happens?

 

Autistic people often have a need for sameness, which shows up as a need for routines, inflexibility, and have rigid rules; like my cereal bowl rule. These things can be both a blessing and a curse. When sameness is adhered to, everything is great! Knowing exactly what’s going to happen takes a great deal of stress off my day. The more things that I can automate with rules and routines, the more energy I have to get through things that might be new or unpredictable. This lessening of stress also makes it easier to handle any sensory issues I might encounter.

 

Let’s walk through a morning with me. I don’t know about you, but most mornings I’m pretty groggy. Luckily, I have a morning routine. It’s simple, and it looks something like this: get out of bed-bathroom-kitchen routine. Hopefully, by then, I’m awake. By condensing my morning routine into rules, I can get through it without too much mental energy. Which is good, because without it, I have to try and conquer this pre-coffee:get out of bed-bathroom-walk to kitchen-find a bowl. Or a plate. Or both?-what am I eating again?-THIS ISN’T MY CHEERIOS BOWL-I meant to get a spoon, this is a fork-Eat. Finally.-Does this go in the dishwasher?… I missed the dishwasher…it’s broken…Quite a difference, right?

 

The creation of rules is full of strange phenomena. I very rarely have any control over the process, which can be frustrating. Having to trust my brain to make rules that are functional for me, well, you know how irrational brains can be, right? Even if I don’t have much of a choice in what becomes a rule and what doesn’t, there are predictors, which keep me from being blindsided when a new rule shows up. One of my biggest predictors is stress. If I’m experiencing a lot of stress, one of the ways my brain tries to deal with that stress by attempting to simplify my life. Like my breakfast routine from earlier made my morning more streamlined, my stressed out brain tries to use that same technique on other situations. This usually leaves me with some fairly straightforward rules. Which is more than I can say for some other rule-making processes.

 

Enter in patterns. My brain, like a lot of autistic people’s brains, is wired to see patterns. Everywhere. Whether we want to or not. Don’t get me wrong, it can be useful. It makes some people good at math, it helps people make beautiful art, and it even helps me sometimes. For example, I like to knit complex lace, and being able to see the symmetry in the pattern makes the whole thing faster and more enjoyable. So, while patterns aren’t good or evil, when it comes to rules, patterns make thing more unpredictable. Because when my brain makes a rule based on a pattern? Anything goes. Did I wear the same sweatshirt to church two weeks in a row? Now that’s a church only sweatshirt. Maybe I ate lunch at the same time for a whole week. Great! Now I can only eat lunch at that time. Forever. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing when something is entering into rule territory. There’s this niggling feeling that if I’m not careful, I’m going to end up with another blue cereal bowl. And what I’ve resorted to is selectively letting rules pass. I prevent the problematic rules from forming (when I can) and trying to make the best of the ones that are left. But really, why do I even put up with this? My life would be less restrictive if I was a rebel rule breaker.

 

So I mentioned sameness earlier, which is a nice way of saying that I don’t do well when things aren’t as they’re supposed to be. According to my brain. And my brain is very black and white about things. They are either Same (rule complying), or Not. I use the word rule to indicate a situation that feels ‘right’, and when situations aren’t ‘right’, I become distressed pretty quickly. Here I am, a perfectly normal person, having a perfectly normal day, and suddenly something unexpected happens. Everything is suddenly Wrong. Confusing. My brain is swirling and the only thoughts I can pick out are the ones telling me that if I can get back on my routine, if I make things the same, then it can be ok again. So say my bowl gets broken. Worst case scenario. My morning routine is broken. And unless I can replace my bowl, every morning routine until I find a new bowl is also broken. Luckily, I have enough life experience now to have a backup bowl. Backup everything. Autism Rule #42: Always Back Up Your Life.