ADHD and Hyperactivity (At Least Partially) Explained

Many of us with ADHD go from item to item, thing to thing, or/and wander about much to the dismay of out parents and the rest of society. We seem hyperactive and unruly when in reality we aren’t. So if we aren’t hyperactive, why do we do this? What the hell is going on in our brain?!

I can help answer that! When we first experience an activity, food, item, or other first time experiences our brains pump out more dopamine in order to assist in deciding whether or not we like an experience. This extra boost is specific to when we experience a new situation in life. First taste, first encounter, first experiences are a little boost in the chemical that ADHD brains are deficient in and that’s dopamine.

A person with ADHD will continually go from one first experience to the other in order to boost our dopamine output. This assists us in “calming down” and focusing. We aren’t compelled by being too active and energetic, instead, we are drawn to the boost of brain chemicals a new experience provides. We will go from on experience to another like a moth to a flame trying to correct the imbalance in our head. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got.

This post is brought to you by ADHD symptoms. I need to go find a new experience so I’m going to go now. Bye!

App Review: Loóna

Loóna in Google Play

Almost two years ago, before the pandemic, I started this blog and the accompanying Twitter account. One of my projects I said I was going to do was to review apps that I found to be helpful as far as Autism goes. I have finally found one worthy enough to write about! It was a long, arduous journey but I think this is worth it. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time falling asleep. I go over every interaction that I had during the day and then my mind goes 200 mph as soon as I lay down. But of course it does! I have no stimulation to hinder my thoughts as they come cascading out of every wrinkle in my brain. I have tried many sleep apps to help calm the storm so to speak. I’ve tried white noise, ambient noise, binaural beats, ASMR… All of it, I have done. None of it really worked. 

However, earlier this year I stumbled across an app called Loóna that you use before you fall asleep. It has what they call Sleepscapes and they can be very relaxing. How does this work? Loóna is an interactive app designed with the intent of helping you disengage from the day and relax and the Sleepscapes it takes you through are wonderful bedtime stories. The tales they weave are calming, they bring you back to those childhood days when someone read to you and you felt content. For me those days were the days I was with my grandparents or during quiet time in elementary school. 

Loóna For You menu that features the new Sleepscape of the night

The best way I have found to use Loóna is about 45 minutes before bedtime to get ready for bed. Make sure to brush your teeth and use the bathroom so you don’t have to get back up. Turn off all distractions and mute notifications on your phone. Get everything together you need to be comfy. Pillows, blanket, teddy bear and whatever else you sleep with. Perhaps make a cup of warm milk (there is a “how to” at the end of this article) or tea to sip while you’re doing your Sleepscape. (I love Sleepytime tea with Valerian Root in it. It’s a great choice as well as affordable.) Get your headphones and then get in bed and get settled in.

Loóna has a new Sleepscape every night. Calming music plays as you listen to the calm voice tell the story as it gives you items to tap on. As you tap on the beautifully done pictures they come to life with colors you choose at the beginning of the app. I chose pinks, purples, and blues. The interaction with the picture is just as important as listening to the story. It helps immerse you by combining physical repetitive actions, occupying your mind, and lulls you into relaxation with the rotation of the floating landscape. 

When you’ve completed the Sleepscape you can do another Sleepscape (up to three, the new one and two from the menu, before it warns you of screentime) or you can listen to one of Loóna’s Immersive Stories that accompany the Sleepscape. Immersive Stories are unlocked at the end of some Sleepscapes. An Immersive Story is a story without the Sleepscape’s visual and physical activity. You just turn out the lights and listen as you drift off. 

If you prefer music to drift off to, Loóna also has playlists of calming music to doze to. Loóna also has the option to turn off the audio bedtime story for those who need quiet to relax or just prefer to read. You can easily keep up with the story being told by reading it’s subtitles. For those that have trouble remembering (ex. ADHD) that they have the app on their phone, Loóna has a reminder option that notifies you when the new Sleepscape for the day is available. Last but not least Loóna had inspirational morning messages that include a playlist to listen to in the morning to help you ease into your day in a calmer state of mind. Bonus! Loóna is also a great way to calm down throughout the day as well.

Loóna does have a hefty for an app subscription price at 12.99 a month (cancel anytime). It’s more economical to pay for the year at 39.99 which, in my opinion, would be worth it. It does have a trial, as most apps do, in case you want to try it free for a week. I used the trial and purchased one month to try it out for an extended period of time before I reviewed this app. I suggest, if you have a spare $13, that you try it out for the 30 day trial. Everyone is different and it may not be for you but you may be pleasantly surprised!

Here is the link.

Warm Milk: 

Vanilla
Milk
Sugar or other sweetener
Microwave or saucepan
Coffee cup

Heat the desired amount of milk (or if you’re a Vegetarian or Vegan your favorite unsweetened plant based milk would work too) in the microwave for a minute and check the temperature. If it’s not warm enough then microwave it in 30 second intervals until the desired temperature. You can also heat it up over low heat on the stove. Make sure you don’t scald it (burn the milk that is). 

When the milk is heated, take it out of the microwave carefully or if you heated it on the stove gently pour it into a cup so it doesn’t splash. Add one cap full of vanilla. If you don’t want the alcohol content then use imitation vanilla. (It’s also cheaper for those who have limited funds.) 

Then add one teaspoon of sweetener. I like good old fashioned white sugar but Stevia or another sweetener would do well too. 

Stir until the sweetener dissolves (mostly dissolved is good, it doesn’t have to be perfect). 

Sex Stims!! (Just not too loud!)

Recently it’s been debated in the Autistic community, possibly due to one of my Tweets, on whether or not sex is a valid form of Self Stimulatory Behavior aka Stimming. (Spoiler Alert: It is!)

While the concept was met with mostly positive feedback there are some that do not see it that way and for those who do not see sexual activity as a stim, I feel it would be helpful to break it down for you so you are more apt to understand sex stims even if you don’t adopt the concept yourself. Keep in mind that Autism is a spectrum of differences that we may or may not share with other neurodiverse people. One person’s stim may be another person’s sensory overload and that is okay too! No one has to be the same. It’s a rule!

Before I continue I wanted to speak up for the neurodivergent that rely on sex stims to be able to function. Mainly the female among us. I have a hypersexual sex drive that is stimulation based and, as a result, I have been slut shamed for much of my life and, regardless of whether or not I was monogamous and faithful, I’ve had a bad reputation. I’m tired of this! We need more understanding and compassion for those of us that respond in a sexual way to carry out their stims. I’m not a slut or someone out of control. I’m not even particularly promiscuous. I like sex. A. Lot. I prefer long term trustworthy partners like a spouse or, in the past, a long term friend. However, that all has always been overshadowed, simply, by my liking sex. This is an attempt to bring levity to a situation that desperately needs it.

To start with I think we will answer what is a Stim? The word Stim is “Autistic Slang” for Self Stimulatory Behavior. It is very common for Autistic and Neurodiverse people to stim. You have most likely seen Autistics or other neurodivergent persons tap, rock, spin, snap their fingers, flap their hands, and other repetitive movements. These are the most common and more obvious of SSB’s but there are a plethora of other stims too!

There are also auditory stims (stims that you hear) such as words and how they make you feel when you say them (a good example is when swearing makes your stubbed toe hurt less) or humming. Grunting, clearing your throat, and shouting are also vocal stims. Some auditory stims are repetitive like striking a certain piano key over and over and some are whimsical for example enjoying wind chimes as they dance in the air currents. ASMR could even be considered an auditory stim!

There are tactile stims. For example, my husband likes satiny cloth that feels slick and silky when rubbed together. Petting your cat or dog, running your hand over a brick wall (I did this as a kid) are all tactile stims. I like how the hot water feels on the tips of my fingers in the shower. Walking on the grass, playing with fidget toys, sitting on your hands (also me) are all, yes, you guessed it! Stims! We have proprioceptive (where you are in space and in relation to other objects, body position, and movement), vestibular (sense of balance), Gustatory (taste), Olfactory (smell) self-stimulatory behaviors.

So we know what stims are but why do we do them? It’s all in your head, literally! Autistics stim in order to produce the neurotransmitters they need to function. (Non-Autistics stim to just not as much as we do.) Proprioceptive stims will improve your sense of where your limbs are. Some Autistics have a service animal to help them stim, such as Drea in Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, by having her service dog apply pressure to her body. Running or pacing can burn off extra energy and anxiety while flapping your hands can achieve the endorphins you need to be happy and in the moment. Feel good stims, like satin pillowcases, are there to help relax. Happy textures, warmth, water, they are all sensory-stimulating interactions that will boost the feel-good chemicals in your brain and help you get through life. My husband will squeeze me tightly when I’m being overwhelmed. It helps by calming my nervous system. My asking him to apply pressure, while assisted, is still me seeking the stimulation of a squeeze much like Drea and her dog, but my hubs isn’t a dog, he’s a human.

Breaking down the term Self Stimulatory Behavior is the key to deciphering what SSB’s may include.

The word self is pretty self-explanatory (weak attempt at a pun intended) so on we move to the word stimulation. (Yes, you can giggle at the following paragraph. I did!)

“(transitive) physiology to excite (a nerve, organ, etc) with a stimulus”

A few of the definitions I found for stimulation and stimulatory are:

“(transitive) physiology to excite (a nerve, organ, etc) with a stimulus”, “The condition of being stimulated. The application of a stimulus to a responsive structure, such as a nerve or muscle, regardless of whether the strength of the stimulus is sufficient to produce excitation”.

Then there is the word Behavior which I’m assuming we all know what it means but just in case I’m going to say it may be defined as an “observable activity in a human or animal, the aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli”, “a stereotyped, species specific activity, as a courtship dance or startle reflex”, “Often behaviors or behavior pattern.”

Oh! What just happened! We are talking about the senses, and the stimulation of organs, getting excited, and application of a stimulus to a responsive structure! All of these apply very well to SSB’s, and all of them sound very satisfying. Matter of fact masturbation is known and recognized as a stim, is it just me, or is it getting a little hot in here!

The act of sex stims provides a very intense sensory-stimulating experience. It engages the entire body. The proprioceptive repetition of thrusting. The vestibular input of heavy breathing and vocal exclamation of delight. Sex also comes in an array of tactile input (take that however you want to, no judgment) that increases the neurotransmitters in your brain.

During sex stims, important neurotransmitters are produced, that boost the functionality of the brain and nervous system. Dopamine is known for making us feel good, it’s in charge of movement, propelling your personality up and out. Dopamine also is in charge of motivation and focus.

Sex is also a fantastic source of oxytocin, another neurotransmitter that important for us to stimulate, yet, it’s difficult to do on our own. Cuddling, sex, hugging, nursing, and childbirth can stimulate oxytocin. The hormone facilitates trust, bonding with a romantic partner (as well as bonding with a newborn after a mother gives birth). Social behavior and anxiety are also linked to oxytocin. Studies show that sex also stimulates prolactin, noradrenaline, serotonin, and endorphins (endogenous opioids), all of what a brain needs.

The Autistic Nervous System is deficient in many neurotransmitters. Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Oxytocin, are only a few neurotransmitters that come to mind that have been indicated as being contributing factors to how the Autistic mind functions.

Not a brain just a cool pic!

Sex is the one Self Stimulatory Behavior that not only stimulates the brain in its entirety and neurology all at once but the cervical stimulation that comes (okay the pun is totally intended here) with deep penetration can calm down the vagus nerve and help reduce anxiety.

Last, but far, far, from least, is that when it comes to sexual behaviors, in Autism, we have hyposexuality, hypersexuality, and paraphilia’s (such as BDSM) just like we do in the majority of the population. In psychology, however, they hesitate to diagnose these as sexual disorders even when it fits the description. This leads me to believe that sex, even when occurring in excess, thankfully, is seen as they should be seen. These are Self Stimulatory Behaviors, aka sex stims, that have been stigmatized as deviant behavior when they shouldn’t be. If it is consensual and everyone understands the meaning and purpose of the act, then we need to accept sex as a stim. To add stigma to something that is enabling Autistics to function better is not the way to go.

Sex stims! Safe stims!

Instead, may I suggest education on safer sex practices, instruction on sexual health, teaching consent and legal age limits, point them in the right direction towards age-appropriate information on sexuality. Most importantly we need to teach Autistics about telling people when they are violated. We need to teach people about replacement stims (age-appropriate instruction on “personal massagers” is good) and alternative sexual stims to, well, sex!

Personal massagers, in case you needed to know.

The fact is, we are sexual beings just like any other human, and many of us find sexual interaction to be a fantastic stim. Regardless if it’s an interactive (with someone) stim or not doesn’t matter. It’s a stim that brings focus, balance, and a slew of other health benefits. Sex is a stim.

Note: I did have all the links for references for this however I had them on a micro SD I was forced to reformat. Please, forgive me for not having all the pertinent information on hand. It was not intentional. In addition, I am not interested in anything sexual, so don’t message.

How My IQ Proves I’m Utterly Inept

I hear and read comments on IQ all over the internet that range from prideful (I have an IQ of 150!) to the defensive (You just think your smarter me.) to very disrespectful (You’re just stupid!) to blunt logical truth (You know your IQ doesn’t make you better, right?). The comments go on and on and things can get pretty tense between those with differing opinions. As someone with a higher IQ I want to set the record straight with this humorous anecdote on how completely unintelligent I can be but first a little background!

I am a late DX Autistic woman who was given an IQ test during my assessment. They do this to rule out intellectual disability that may be mimicking Autism. I was okay with that as it makes logical sense to rule things out that may be a differential diagnosis. During my ASD evaluation, I discovered that IQ is on a spectrum as well! My IQ at the time was 113-122 giving me a median IQ “score” of 118. 

It was explained to me that IQ can change in a person from circumstance to circumstance and it’s completely subjective. Since I had taken the IQ test during the Christmas Season (major stress), recently melted down from sensory overstimulation that the Holiday Season brings, and didn’t sleep the night before I possibly could improve the score if I were in a more optimal situation. (I have not attempted to do this and don’t intend to do this just for ego-boosting reasons if I am given one again for DX purposes, so be it!) However, I was also told that if I were put in a more stressful situation then I may score much lower. From that I know for a fact that IQ is never static.  

Now, in the recent past, my whole house (dogs, husband, and myself) had Norovirus. During this time in order to keep hydrated, I had gotten a bottle of Gatorade. When I was finished with the Gatorade I refilled the bottle with Mio and water and drank it. Refilled it and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I was being a responsible patient and doing what I needed to do, no problem, right? Wrong. 

I forgot about that water because my ADHD causes me to forget about everything and went on about my Autistic existence. A few weeks later I’m throwing up more than a puppy with motion sickness on a roller coaster. I ended up at Urgent Care on an IV and sent home with a pocket full of anti-nausea meds so I stopped throwing up. It was very worrisome as I had been fighting a UTI in the previous month. 

I got home and popped into a chat room to let some online friends know how I was and it dawned on me as I was talking to a medical professional in the group. I had drunk the water in the fridge on a particularly hot day after I had run out of ice. It was chilled and I didn’t think anything of it and I drank it mainly because I wasn’t thinking. I cringed! It was far, far from an intelligent thing to do but it made perfect sense as I was the only one to be reinfected in the house! 

I, of high average to superior intelligence, had given myself the worst case of vomiting to the point of dehydration with the full knowledge that the bottle of water was contaminated. I felt completely helpless and surprised I could even keep myself alive but I had simply forgotten because while my IQ may be impressive my section scores revealed more. 

My first section, Verbal Comprehension, was 114-125 which is Superior. I accredit my desire to communicate effectively on my high vocabulary and knowledge of what words mean. The second score I received was on Perceptual Reasoning was 104-117 which is High Average which probably is common in those that have a high pattern recognition in Autism. Now the bump in the road that took those two amazing scores down was my Working Memory which came in at a towering 83-96. This was the kink in the hose, the wrench in the machine, my Achilles Tendon. My working memory was Low Average. I take twice as long to learn something than my peer group.

My ADHD prevented me from getting a higher score and that was in a quiet office with no distractions. If I had taken the IQ test at a food court in a busy mall my scores could be drastically lower simply because of the overstimulation that would undoubtedly occur. My answers may be sound and intelligent but my response time and inability to ignore the surrounding noises due to Sensory Processing Disorder would make me seem like there wasn’t anyone home. Not to mention my ability to get the information out in an order way would be negatively affected.

Remember, that ditzy blonde that you make fun of could be a brainiac that can shame you under the table when it comes to “intelligence” and it’s only her ADHD that gets in the way. If you put her and you in a different environment you could easily be calling her boss. However, there may be a guy that doesn’t have much education or knowledge but his memory and ability to retain information on one topic could easily lead to the same outcome. That brilliant composer may be at a 10th grade reading level. You never know!

In a nutshell, IQ means little in the bigger picture, as long as you treat everyone with dignity and respect you are succeeding more than you will ever realize! It’s a hard thing to admit that I didn’t live up to my IQ but it needs to be said so people know the truth about what makes people intelligent and what doesn’t, like my attention span and memory!