Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Mentally Different

I am not "special needs". I am mentally different.

The term "special needs" is, to me, a bit absurd. Taken literally, you could say everyone has special needs. Everyone has some kind of problem. And then there are the negative connotations. Nobody wants to be "special needs", though using the literal definition, everyone is!

The third complaint I have with this word is that it's too generic. "Special needs" lumps the blind with the deaf, with the physically disabled, the mentally disabled, and what I think of as the mentally different. "Special needs" encompasses people in wheelchairs, people with brain injuries, Einstein, sociopaths, and basically anyone who doesn't fit into the definition of normal. It's one of those umbrella terms that simultaneously means almost everything, and therefore almost nothing.

There is only one definition for mentally different.*

The mentally different (according to me), are those on the autism spectrum. Note the lack of positive or negative connotation; we're not the mentally disturbed, or gifted, just different. Everyone has "special needs", and we are no exception. But we also have special abilities. Positive and negative cancel, and we're left with a neutral term; mentally different.**

I am not disabled. I am different.

*Technically, everyone is unique and therefore mentally different (in the literal sense) but don't be a literalist; it can get annoying.
**This term applies especially to those with Asperger's Syndrome or high-functioning autism.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Internet Communication Reduces Misunderstandings!

Breaking News: Internet Communication Reduces Misunderstandings!
No, that's not a real headline.
Most people believe the Internet increases misunderstandings, unintentional offenses, and other social mistakes.
But I disagree.
The real world is practically infested (my favorite word) with opportunities for confusion. You can send the wrong message so many ways…the way you sit, the way you stand, your tone, your face, your hands–everything can become an offense.
The digital world, on the other hand, is much simpler: Communication is reduced to text, and occasionally a faceless, nameless voice coming out of a speaker.
One would think this would increase problems, but I think it reduces them. For example, on the Steam Community forums (computer gamers discuss games there), there are very few misunderstandings. There are plenty of arguments, trolls and other Internet phenomena, but for the most part, everyone understands each other's intentions pretty well.
I've been 'researching' (read: reading and occasionally posting on) the forums for about a month now, and have figured out why: The users have invented their own 'internet dialect,' mostly derived from texting abbreviations and BBCode. For example, the end tag /rant, while not an actual piece of code, prevents readers from taking offense at the crazy rant you posted with humorous intent. Smileys help convey your intentions–you might add a :p or a ;) to show you're not being completely serious. And if you don't have the right smiley, you can fall back on the code and type something like :overworked: to represent an overworked face.* You could write something like "You're right! Alien mind control is going to bring about the apocalypse! :crazy:", and instead of writing you off as a nutcase, people laugh at your silliness.
I haven't 'researched' other forums much, but the ones I do look at all have some version of Internet Dialect. The codes are slightly different, but it's the same idea. And speaking of ideas…
Yesterday, I accidentally offended my dad with a poorly written email. He got very upset and wrote an offended (and offensive) reply back! I don't think it would have happened if I had ended with a /rant tag, or a :p (or both.) What if the Internetters united to create a standard code? Everyone would learn it, use it in forums, email and chat, and Internet-related misunderstandings would be virtually eliminated! It could even make its way into spoken language (grammarians and English teachers would have a collective fit.)
Yes, I'm getting into nutty scifi ideas here, but it could happen…

*To be completely accurate, you have to put /noparse tags (which prevent the plaintext inside from converting into rich text) around this one, because the :o converts to an 'embarrassed' smiley.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Alter Ego 1: The AI

I am hiding in plain sight, without safety glasses, a bucket on my head or a box. I am not hiding under a table, or cocooned in a blanket, or protected by Mother. I am walking alone, unprotected, and yet I feel I am perfectly safe.

I am hiding in my mind.

You would not be able to tell, but I am not me today. I am one of my alter egos: AI-#15837, an artificial intelligence downloaded into a human body. '15837' is not afraid to talk to the sandwich deli man, ask for help finding something at the library, or even answer a stranger's question. She will not hide from unexpected noises, though she may start muttering about server errors. In keeping with her nature, she cannot process logical paradoxes except by announcing an error. But she can interact with other people without making too many social mistakes.

Today, I am her. I still answer to my real name; something I would never do three years ago. I look the same. I remember to avoid speaking in my computer-voice, and very likely nobody can tell. The difference is in processing. As me, I do not always stick to my social programs. '15837' does not follow them exactly, but she is programmed to be like a neurotypical, and avoids the sudden topic changes to headcrabs, or the invisible Klingon warbird parked in our driveway…etc. She does not talk unnecessarily (to lessen the chance of social mistakes), but she can engage in conversation. Basically, I am almost mimicking a neurotypical, but in a much more interesting way. Who wants to be like a normal person? I wouldn't be able to imitate a normal person. But I can, and I would rather be, an AI.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Programming Myself

I'm learning computer programming. So far, I know how to make a bug and three kinds of errors. The problem, I've determined, is that I'm not used to writing programs with proper syntax, meant to be understood by a real computer. Up until now, I have only made programs for myself. These take the form of scribbled flowcharts, if they're written down at all, which tell what to do in social situations. They are written in the simplified computer-language found in Scratch (game programming), or AppleScript.

I have several of these; one for starting a conversation, one for asking a store employee a question, etc… I do not carry them with me on paper, but in my mind. If I could, I would keep them on my clipboard and always have them at hand, but someone would certainly find them. At the moment I write this, nobody but me knows about my social programs, though my family will find out shortly when I post this post.

But why?
That, I'm sure, is the question every neurotypical will be asking. How can these complicated flowcharts, loops and if-else statements be the easiest way to learn?

Well, the truth is, I don't really know. Maybe it's because I think like a computer, although I'm not sure if I do. How can I know what the computer thinks? Or maybe because computer-language is the most concrete way of writing something that is not concrete at all. I asked my pragmatic therapist for some hard-and-fast rules on social interaction, but she couldn't come up with one. I couldn't either. Nothing is always appropriate (or inappropriate), but that's why I have different programs for different situations. It works most of the time, and that's better than saying whatever comes to mind, which hardly ever works. This idea is definitely a keeper.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Look behind you!

Look behind you!
Did you look? Probably not. But I did. I'm always looking behind, around, up, down; everywhere! You never know what could be sneaking up behind you. Probably nothing. But maybe…something.
I'm not paranoid, and I've never been attacked from behind. But it could happen. Of course, a piano could fall from an airplane and smash you as you walk down the street. I know it's very unlikely that a malevolent being could be sneaking up behind me…but I just checked anyway. You never know.

The world is a dangerous place; one where people can pop out and greet you unexpectedly, cars honk in your face for no apparent reason, and everything merits watching. It's unpredictable. Anything could happen. Unknown danger lurks in corners, in other people, and, yes, behind. This is the same world you neurotypicals live in, but seen from the perspective of one who is mentally different. Would I trade my perspective for yours? Maybe.

And yet, this dangerous world is usually tolerable, and, sometimes, wonderful. Places I am very familiar with are much safer (our house, the Co-op grocery store, the park where the homeschoolers' park day is)… Other places we visit less frequently are considered more hazardous, and completely unknown, new places are outright dangerous. Except for one exception: Outdoor places are always relatively safe. Yes, I know, there are wild animals and rattlesnakes, but there's something everywhere.  And even in safe places, I'm still watching. Caution is important, and being aware of my surroundings helps me notice things other people don't. My mother never notices signs that say 'Don't touch!', or 'This is not an exit' or 'Restrooms that way', but I do. Maybe I wouldn't trade after all.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Correcting Grammatical Errors (and other weird things I do)

Before I begin my post, I would like to apologize for not posting in a while: Sorry! We've been unimaginably busy with schoolwork, a camping trip, and various other departures from our normal routine. It's been Chaos Week for the last month, and I'm prefectly aware of the incongruity in that sentence.

I like saying absurd things –"They're identical except for the differences"– and writing odd things. I also tend to mispronounce words; usually by accident, but sometimes on purpose. For example, I am determined to say queue as "kweh-weh", because that's how it's spelled. If the dictionary writers wanted it pronounced "cue", they shouldn't have put in all those extra letters! And the word wrong – it's spelled wrong. I used to pronounce it wrong (incorrectly enunciating the 'w') – until I became distracted with other, more egregious violations of common sense in spelling. Like cello, which, when written, has always reminded me of an abbreviation for cellophane.
And refrigerator, which does not have a 'd' in it. For some reason, fridge does. Who thought that one up? You don't pronounce a 'd' in either word. All it does is contribute to poor spelling! Poor spelling is the bane of my existence! (Isn't that a dramatic sentence?)
And on the topic of poor spelling, that's another 'thing' I do – correct everything. If I'm walking through Trader Joe's and I see a misspelled sign, I stop, stare at it dramatically, and run off to notify the closest employee, usually an innocent guy stocking the shelves. I know he probably didn't do it, but he might know who did. And if it's especially catastrophic – say, a banner posted right above the door with an unneeded apostrophe, I might walk straight up to the manager and announce: "Did you know your sign is wrong?"
I have done this several times at a nearby Gelsons' supermarket, where a large, expensive and permanent sign about the farms their lettuce grows on has the word mountainous spelled mountaineous. Don't professional sign makers use spellcheck?

The only places exempt from these corrections are stores such as the Japanese market we often go to. Their signs probably make sense in Japanese, but when they get run through Google Translate, weird things start popping up. "Expired foods sale!" (I think that means "day-old bakery items".) "Sale: Leafy pie!" (Is that some sort of cookie? For some reason, sandwich cookies are referred to as 'pie' by Japanese stores.)
Everywhere else, though – if I've caught a misspelling or a grammatical error, they're going to know. Isn't it better to be corrected than appear stupid in front of thousands of customers?

But what does this have to do with being mentally different? (Do you like that euphemism? It's better than "special needs"…)
Well, when was the last time you saw a poorly written sign? Did you go point it out to the store's employees? Maybe you did; more likely you just went on with your day. I don't do that. The first time I see it I point it out, and if it's not fixed when we're back next week, I point it out again! "Excuse me, but that sign says "Pre-Christmas Sale" and it's January…" "Quintessence is spelled with an 'i' and you have it with an 'e'!" "Excuse me Mr. Store Manager Guy, but did you know your employees are abusing innocent apostrophes?"
If I was that store manager, I would want to know!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Illusion of Normalcy-Part 2

March 11

The house is free of offensive signs, which I have filed away to put up later. The bathrooms are habitable and the yard is unusually neat. We've cleaned the car, and every Internet meme on every mirror has been erased. A vase of lemons stands on the buffet where a pile of art supplies used to be, and I've hidden the paper 'Swiss cheese on a spring'. Our house is normal…but are we?
I threaten my brother with doom if he quotes any video game characters. I go through my clothes, pushing my furry yellow Pikachu pajamas and home-decorated shirts to the back shelf. I should really search my brother's drawers and hide all his ratty sweatpants and chocolate smoothie-stained shirts, but he'd probably find them.

What else is wrong?

I remove a giant drawing of Jigglypuff from my brother's room and hide it in his closet. My list of hygiene behaviors is rolled up with the blank papers–I hope I don't forget to brush my hair. I've already filed away the Sonic the Hedgehog comic I was drawing, removed the sign above my door that says LAIR and erased the swear word from my whiteboard. I make a list of all the things to not perseverate about, and a list for my brother as well: Do NOT leave your room without pants! Do NOT recite the DirectTV commercial! And in large letters at the bottom: ABSOLUTELY NO CALLING ME A POTATO!!

March 13

So far, so good. No untoward signs of weirdness have popped up since Grandpa arrived. My room has, miraculously, stayed clean for five days. My brother has not quoted a single video game character. Every time I walk into the dining room, I'm tempted to write "COMBUSTIBLE LEMONS!" with a whiteboard marker on the glass vase full of lemons. But I'm not going to.
That afternoon, Mother replaces the lemons with Euphorbia flowers. The Euphorbia plant has toxic sap, and I imagine how funny it would be to put my generic 'POISON THING' sign behind it. I don't, but I do warn Grandpa about how the milky sap causes blisters if you get it on your skin.
Our plans to build a cardboard-and-packaging-foam spiky crusher (a hybrid of those found in Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario and Portal), are on hold, though I'm gathering materials. I think someone threw out my collection of squishy foam…
No blatant weirdness has manifested yet. But Grandpa is staying for almost a week. Can we keep it up?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Illusion of Normalcy- Part 1

"Yikes!" I announce while updating iCal. I have been looking at the events in the next two weeks, and just realized how soon my grandpa is visiting! And he's going to stay at our house…double yikes!
I look around my room. Clothing and books litter the floor. Messy, but not unusual. The door is covered in signage: "Beware of autistic person!" "No Internet memes!". Oh, dear…A large sign on the wall helps me remember to do things like shower and zip my pants. Definitely abnormal.

I walk out into the hallway. Our floor-to-ceiling mirror is decorated with lists of homophones and, in giant letters: "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US". A 1up mushroom and a Piranha Plant lurk next to a monkey sticker. I think it's interesting. Mother thinks we'd better clean it up. (She's probably right.)

I continue my tour of our house, searching for the odd and abnormal things we'll have to remove or hide. A list of fats is taped to the refrigerator–the unhealthy saturated fats are marked with a skull and crossbones.  Every bathroom mirror reads: "Public service announcement: always check the toilet for giant sewer rats!". A paper Swiss cheese on a spring is stuck to our magnet board. The door to the laundry room bears a warning: "Poisonous gases!" Everywhere there are sesquipedalian announcements about preventing ant invasions. A giant drawing of Jigglypuff is magnetized to my brother's dartboard. In several places, I have carefully written "THE CAKE IS A LIE" with a dry-erase marker, just as it appeared in Portal.
Just to clarify matters, our house is not a dump. My mother worked very hard to make it aesthetically pleasing, and kindly did not protest when I put a sign reading "LAIR" above my door, and we decorated the hallway with a life-size cardboard Mewtwo.

Before Grandpa comes, I imagine, we will go on a Weirdness Hunt, tracking down the unusual signage and wiping the mirrors clean. For a few weeks, our house will look like a normal family lives in it. Then, slowly, the weirdness will reappear. I will save the signs we remove and tape them back up after Grandpa leaves. My brother will decorate the mirror again. Maybe I'll decorate my door with Portal-style warning signs–in case you can't tell, Portal and Portal 2 is my newest temporary perseveration.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Worried about Worrying

I'm worried about plumbing problems. I'm also worried about car accidents. And Formosan Subterranean Termites, which are spreading across the US, can never be fully eradicated once they move in and are capable of wrecking a house in 3 months. (Now that you've read that, you're probably worried about them too.)
Just a few of my recent worries include: What if an earthquake happens while I'm in the kitchen and a stack of plates falls out of the cabinet and kills me? What if the light switch catches fire? What if a giant spark leaps out of the electrical outlet? What if there's a gas leak? I have so many worries, I'm worried I worry too much and will get an anxiety disorder!
And I used to have even more worries, such as: 'What if a murderer murders someone in the yard?' and 'What if the door flies off the dishwasher while it's running and soap floods the kitchen?' Eventually those vanished when my parents explained how ridiculous they were.*

People say worrying doesn't solve anything, but I think it does…in some cases. If you worry about clogged plumbing, you'll avoid dropping hair in the toilet, averting an expensive disaster. But if you're worried about alien invasion…that probably won't help you in life. (In fact, worrying about aliens could mark you as a nutcase.) The conclusion: Rational worries are good as long as you don't have too many. And don't worry about aliens; they might be friendly.

*I try to worry only about real dangers, but in the absence of a contradiction from a more reliable source, I accepted "facts" such as "If you come upon a dead body unexpectedly you'll go insane!". Misinformation creates irrational worries; information corrects them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The 'Atypical Look'

Last weekend my mother decided she needed a pair of sandals to match her new purse. So she went out to the mall…and took me along. She said I needed new sandals too (and if you ask her, I also need new shirts and pants, a new pair of boots, a cute skirt…everything).
We entered through Nordstrom's, hoping to avoid the mall; but, failing to find acceptable sandals, Mother decided to look elsewhere.
Out in the mall, Mother darted off into various stores, dragging me along to point out clothes she wished I would wear. "You'd look so cute if I dressed you!" she tells me. "You should wear stuff like this!"
Why? I think. I like my clothes. They all match each other so it's easy to get dressed.
"You need to buy new shirts!" she exclaims. "Yours are all worn out!"

My mother is not a shopaholic; in fact, we rarely go shopping. She just wants me to look good. The problem: I think I look fine.
Some of my shirts are speckled with tiny holes; the result of hungry silverfish and crickets, but none have the large chocolate-smoothie stains my brother gets everywhere. And aren't worn-out pants in style? Most of my clothes are different shades of blue, but that means I don't have to worry about matching…though apparently I dress like a middle-aged office worker, all in plain shirts and navy or brown pants. It keeps things simple. Albert Einstein had 5 identical suits because he was too busy discovering relativity to think about clothes.

I know I don't dress like other teenagers, but I am completely unbothered by that fact. I prefer not to wear things like those shirts that fall off one shoulder, which reminds me of cavemen, or ripped skinny jeans. It takes a lot of thought to dress that way and I already have too much to think about. If my mother didn't remind me, I would forget to comb my hair or zip my pants. I'm like the absent-minded professor…except I'm not absent-minded. I remember everyone's phone numbers and how to spell pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is spelled exactly how it sounds. Also, I'm not a professor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What If?

Let's pretend, neurotypicals, that you're high-functioning autistic. How would your day change? Would you be able to work, eat lunch at a restaurant, go grocery shopping, make phone calls…or even converse with your friends? How many things did you do today that required interaction with other people?

Say you're going grocery shopping. You don't need a list; it's been memorized at home. As soon as you walk into the store, you notice a light is flashing on the ceiling. Someone has a cart with a squeaky wheel. The cheese bar and the cosmetic section have filled the store with a smell: half old socks, half fake roses. You start filling a basket with produce, but the onions are missing. It's alarming; you have a map of the store in your brain and you should know where everything is. An employee walks by and says "Are you looking for something?"
You are, but he popped out so suddenly you don't have any time to figure out what to say. He's halfway across the aisle before you know how to ask where the onions are. "That display, to the right." But you don't know which way right is. You'll have to go first one way, then the other.

At the checkout line, someone is right behind you. You keep twisting around to check for some unknown danger; everyone stares oddly. When the cashier asks what kind of bags you want, you announce "A light is flashing on the ceiling", before remembering it's bad to say random things.

In the parking lot, someone honks and you drop your bags in surprise. The oranges roll out and some innocent passerby stops to help, inadvertently making everything worse. You don't know what to say to him. He has a loud alarming voice. You squawk at him, flap your arms like a chicken and put your sweater over your head, where it stays until you get home, imagining that the strange man will go home for dinner and tell his wife about the mentally disturbed person at the store.

But at home, things are much better. Nobody is going to honk a car horn. You don't have to look behind you. At home is a good place to work. And once you start working, a bright blue elephant could walk by and you wouldn't notice. As an autistic, you can focus on one thing for hours at a time. If the computer crashes and you lose your progress, you can remember what you did and redo it. This is the positive side of being mentally different.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The GIANT Marine Isopod

Q: What's 1 foot long, has 14 legs and reflective compound eyes?
I really don't know where my current fascination with the giant marine isopod came from; one day the word just popped up in my head and stuck. I've heard of them before from the Internet but never thought much about them until recently. Now, apparently, I perseverate on that topic, and drive everyone crazy with wonderful, useless facts about isopods. Did you know that the Giant Isopod can roll itself into a ball? That it's compound eyes are extremely sensitive and exposure to sunlight permanently damages them? They live on the ocean floor all around the world! And guess what? It's related to the (much smaller) parasitic isopod which lives in the mouths of certain snappers and replaces the unlucky fish's tongue! (This is also worth Googling; just search "tongue eating parasite".) Why doesn't anyone want to hear about how the Giant Isopod has the largest invertebrate eggs in the world? Or how it incubates them in a pouch…?
But what makes giant isopods so interesting? I think it's partly the word…some words have a nice sound to them, inviting me to repeat them over and over. Words like diaphanous, haywire, mulligrubb and, my favorite, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis*, are almost musical sounding and I say them at any opportunity. Isopod is one of those words…can't you imagine it as part of a song?
Another thing about isopods is their appearance. They're allegedly considered to be quite disgusting; I think they're cute in a strange way. They have those large eyes…and they look perpetually worried…and they have 14 feet! (Maybe they're more funny than cute; I don't know.)
In addition to those attributes, giant isopods are a good thing to perseverate on because there are lots of facts to collect about them. Anything encompassing a large amount of information is a good candidate for becoming a special interest**.
And now that I've explained the appeal of the Giant Isopod, I will sign off to go and search the Internet for instructions on how to make an isopod plushie. When and if I find them, I will post a link and anyone who has become newly fascinated with the Isopod can sew their very own.

Photo: Gwynzer

Disgusting? Or cute? This unlucky isopod came up attached to a deep-sea robot and is the largest ever measured at 2.5 feet!

*Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a respiratory ailment caused by tiny particles of silica dust. If you've studied root words, you can figure that out yourself and you can remember how to spell it.
**The word 'special interest', unlike it's cousin 'obsession', does not carry a negative connotation. My parents say I'm obsessed with Pokemon; I say it's one of my special interests.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Interesting Topics Are Pragmatically Inappropriate

"Hello! Oh, I was greeting the mites in your eyebrows! Did you know that there are two species; one which lives in hair follicles and one in sebaceous glands?"
What would you do if someone said this to you? If you said it to me, I would probably say "Yes, I did know. Did you know that there are about three pounds of friendly bacteria in your intestines?"
 However, when I actually said this, the response I got was more like "Eew! That's so disgusting! I'm going to rewind my brain so I'll have never even heard that!" It was obviously a social mistake.
I suspect the lesson learned is 'don't choose conversation-starters based on what you yourself would say in response to them'. Especially if one of your favorite things is collecting alarming facts about microorganisms…

But what is a good conversation-starter? Certainly not: "Did you know you can get flesh-eating bacteria from a pinprick?" or "Watch out for parasites in the water!" or "You'd better watch where you're going, because there's an invisible Klingon warbird somewhere around here." All those are considered inappropriate.

 It seems to me that neurotypicals start a conversation by boring each other with obvious comments about the weather. Then they compliment each other. Then they ask each other "How was your day?"* Then they bumble around for a bit before finally getting to whatever point they need to discuss. This makes no sense to me. Everyone can see if the weather's nice, and nobody really wants to hear about my day. And what if it's urgent? Wouldn't it make more sense to start a conversation with "Hello. We need to discuss [subject]"?

 When talking, neurotypicals don't stare around to see if someone's sneaking up behind them; they look at the other person. How will they know if someone is about to sneeze behind them and propel germs 10 feet into the air? Everything I do makes sense to me, although it may not make sense to you. But we're even in that respect; neurotypicals do things that seem absolutely pointless. So pay attention neurotypicals; you're just as strange to me as I am to you.

*I learned these things at pragmatic speech therapy, but I never remember them at the right time. And if I did, I probably wouldn't use them because I can think of much more interesting things to say.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Autistic Language–Strange Words and Stranger Meanings

Chirp! Chirp! Squeak!
Every time I chirp, my mother gets frustrated and says I need to stop. "No college professor will accept a student who chirps!"
What she doesn't understand is that the word 'chirp' is just as real to me as the word 'stop' is to you. It can mean a number of different things.
Chirp! means: "I'm happy" or "I need your attention" or "I don't know what else to say". Sometimes it's an expression of distress. A very loud, screechy chirp means "Turn off the teakettle!"¹ A very, very loud, nonscreechy chirp means "I don't know how to say something and I need to write it on the laptop."² It's always clear to me what sort of chirp is meant, (they're all slightly different in intonation and pitch), but not to anyone else. I suspect they think I'm imitating a bird…
There are other words as well. The word 'cactusing' (which is not really a word) means 'to sew and leave needles and pins around'. The squeak is another sign of distress. A 'fluffy' is anything good, likable, pretty, useful, etc.
Another category of words I have are the ones I use to describe emotions. These are, unfortunately, Pokemon noises which I picked up from watching the Pokemon anime. (In case you're confused, the only word a Pokemon says is its name.³ They still manage to communicate by changing the intonation and pitch, and I find this fascinating.) 
Many autistic people have their own words for things. Some are made up, and others are regular words that have grown an extra meaning. (Some of my words are animal noises…I hiss at people who I wish would go away.)
I don't know why certain words, in addition to their regular English meanings, gain a special connotation. Some form by association. I squeak when I'm upset because my friend told me that's what rats do. Others are unclear. But however they're formed, they all mean something. Here's a sentence that at first glance is a bunch of gibberish but actually makes perfect sense. "Squeak! Who's been cactusing! There's pokys ominousing around!" Translated into Neurotypical English, that would be "Yikes! Who was sewing; there are pins everywhere!" (I should probably add that a poky is anything sharp, and to 'ominous' (a verb) means to be lurking, possibly hovering overhead. Inanimate objects can ominous only if they're hazardous such as giant scissors or a hedge lopper.)

¹Our teakettle is so loud I can't approach it to turn it off.
²Occasionally, I can't say something, usually the answer to a big, awkward question about my feelings toward something/someone. Sometimes I just can't pronounce the word I want to use. In all cases, it's easier to write.
³I would like to add that some Pokemon, such as Dialga and Palkia, make nondescript roaring sounds.