Friday, May 29, 2015

LENS: a typical session

(Note for new readers: LENS is short for Low Energy Neurofeedback System.  It's a type of passive neurofeedback, roughly comparable to poking your brainwaves with science.)

I've had a number of questions about what exactly happens in LENS.  So I figured I'd explain what happens in a typical session, and that will help.  I'll skip the waiting room, where all electronics are banned (and I'm a terrible person and sometimes read a book on my iPad anyway) and get to where the doctor calls my name.

I get up, and follow her up the stairs, exchanging light banter as we go.  We head to a corner room on the second floor.  It's always the same room, with a recliner-esque chair and a laptop situated on a table.  There's also a less comfy chair for the doctor, and she usually brings in a second laptop.  The first laptop runs the LENS program.  

I drop off my bag, my iPad, and my other belongings on the floor, away from the equipment, and then settle into the chair, still talking to the doctor.  She's almost always some form of cheerful.  The rain and cold and gloom might bum her out somewhat, but she doesn't let it get to her.  At least not during sessions.  Once she's settled in as well, she asks me how my week has been.  I don't always have anything useful to say, since I try not to pay attention to how horrible things can get.  But I try to have something useful to say, because every bit helps her improve her understanding of how my brain reacts to the LENS and to life in general.  

All brains are different.  Autistic brains in particular, because of how irregular the connectivity can be between brain sections.  That makes it very difficult to predict how I'll react to stimuli.  So much of this is trial and error.  I've been going for over half a year at this point, and while there have been results, they aren't usually dramatic.

If you want dramatic results in LENS, you get a head trauma victim.  Recent injuries or changes in brainwave patterns are easier to change.  Brains like mine, that've had more than a decade to stew on a single pattern?  Much much harder.  That's why many of my reports for the week are likely to be "nothing interesting this week."  

After we've finished talking about my week, she brings up my file on the LENS program.  The screen has one of those sight-blocker things you sometimes see at public libraries.  If you're not directly in front of the screen, you can't see anything on it.  I asked about that once.  She told me that some people get concerned or upset over what they see on the screen.  It's also to keep the clients from seeing other clients' information.  The doctor studies my history and the last program she used, and taking my week into account, decides what parts of my brain she's going to work on next.  Average these days is 2.  We've found my brain can be persnickety if provoked too much, and fast is not necessarily better when it comes to life-altering changes.

Now we get to the electrodes.  There are three, and there's no sensation of electricity with them.  They're actually more for measuring brain activity than changing it.  Two of the electrodes are clips.  Once they're gotten a conductive waxy substance put on them, they go on the earlobes.  They're very gentle.  The most annoying sensation about them is the wires they trail, honestly. The ear electrodes measure the amount of background noise, so to speak, from my skin.  Every living creature emits a small amount of electricity.  The ear electrodes help the LENS program eliminate that from the readings.

The last electrode is a single piece, which also receives a coating of the conductive substance for each site on my skull it visits.  Before the electrodes are applied, the skin is cleaned with a mild disinfectant and de-oiler, so the electrode will stay where it's placed.  Once everything is in place, the doctor instructs me to close my eyes.  Implied from previously visits is also "hold still."  Moving, fidgeting, blinking, all of that produces some electrical response, which throws off the LENS readings.  When the doctor is satisfied that everything is working, she presses a button that sends an alternative brainwave to my brain.  Brain signals are made of electricity, so this is also.  But there's no sensation of zap.  If I'm very lucky, I'll be able to tell something happened.  Most weeks, I'm not lucky.  I'll sit for about 6 seconds while the signal transmits and she observes any reactions in my brain signals.  

After the first signal is sent, the doctor removes the single electrode from my head and asks me how I feel.  Sometimes there are immediate changes, I'm told.  Things like sounds being louder, colors brighter or dimmer, a feeling of irrational panic or tightness in the chest.  I've not felt any of those things, but they're possibilities.  When I've conveyed my lack of apparent response to the doctor, she does the second spot, and the whole thing repeats.  

Sometimes I'll notice something by the end of the session, but most often I won't.  This is probably partially because I spent much of my life ignoring my emotional state until it went away, and partially because my brain doesn't do lightning quick shifts.  When we're finished prodding my brain, the doctor hands me a swab and I clean the conductive waxy stuff off my ears, while she cleans the parts of my head she worked on.  We schedule the appointment for next week, and she walks me back down to the waiting room.

And that's about it.  The doctor does examine my emotional state before and after, by watching my body posture and expressions and such, but there's no tests, no pain, and no prying.  

I usually notice any actual changes to my mental and emotional state while driving home from the appointment.  Things like getting extra ticked off at shenanigans in traffic, or feeling less anxious about a difficult or awkward task coming up.  The usual window for apparent changes in LENS is 48 hours.  The doctor has some people send a report on how they're doing after that time has passed.  I did that for awhile, but there was often nothing to say, so I fell out of the habit.  I suppose I'm restarting the habit in a more public way with the LENS reports.  We'll see how that goes.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

LENS/status report: week of 5/19

Nothing fancy to report this week.  My circumstances keep getting more stressful, but I don't think any of it can be attributed to the LENS.  I'm supposed to be getting trained at work for the things my coworker knows how to do, but between her taking time off and my boss being extra busy, that's not happening.  I'm piecing together what I can, and quietly dreading the rest.  My boss' boss is not very tolerant of mistakes, so when my coworker leaves, I can expect to not have a pleasant week for at least a month. 

New and exciting development, though (sarcasm): my guts seem to have taken exception to something I'm eating.  They've been giving me issues for the last week or so.  I'm trying to figure out what precisely they don't like.  Right now I'm operating on the assumption that it's processed sugar, based on the fact that this started after I treated myself to a fountain drink at a restaurant.  I hope it's just processed sugar.  My mother has had a lot of dietary issues stemming from a yeast infection in the last few years, and it's making her work overtime on meal planning and cooking.  It's really hard for her, a woman who successfully fed two kids and a husband for years.  If I end up having the same issues, I'll either become a genius chef, or more likely combust/go broke from the stress and effort.  It's weird to be praying that your body has just rejected processed sugar, given that sugar is in practically everything. 

New and exciting development that isn't horrible: with the help of a friend, I've registered and .  Both those domains now forward to this BlogSpot blog.  This means I can make business cards.  It also means that if I ever take my blog off BlogSpot and put it on, say, Wordpress or some other place, anyone with those .com addresses won't need to update their bookmarks.  They'll always end up at the right place. 

I also had a slightly scary lesson in Internet safety.  Those domains came with a free year of WhoIs Guard.  Apparently if you know the right places or have the right software, you can submit a query using the website's URL and receive information about a given website... such as the mailing address, phone number, and name of the person who registered that website.  Yeeg.  Thankfully, my friend was able to educate me on how that works and how to stay safe from it.  So I'm covered there. 

Now I have to make business cards.  But before I make business cards, I have to figure out a logo.  I'm a little stuck on that.  Most autism-related logos incorporate puzzle pieces.  I find those puzzle pieces kind of annoying because they're the standard puzzle piece shape, and people on the spectrum, if we were puzzle pieces, would be those crazy weird shaped pieces you boggle at when you pull them out of the box.  Like, "where the heck would this even go?!"  But if you hunt long and hard enough, you'll find that it does in fact fit somewhere, neatly and tidily with the pieces around it. 

Hmm, I think I just accidentally invented a metaphor.  I've no idea if I can make that into a logo, but I guess it'd be worth trying. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spoon Theory

Spoon Theory is a concept of limited energy.  The original story, which you need to read right now, deals with Lupus, a debilitating physical (but mostly invisible) disease.  With Lupus, your body's immune system can't tell healthy body cells from invading sicknesses, and attacks everything it can reach.  This causes an immense amount of pain and limits your movement and energy and a bundle of other things.  

The funny thing about Spoon Theory is that it applies to basically any disability.  Autism, for example.  I have a limited amount of energy with which to use on work, on leisure, on dealing with people in public or in private.  It's mainly people that exhaust me, and the systems those people make that I'm required to fit into.  If you stop and think about that, you probably won't be surprised.  I don't think like the people who made those systems, therefore fitting into them is difficult and stessful, therefore energy drain.  And dealing with people is even more complicated, because where systems have set rules, people rarely do.  A person's mood can entirely change how you need to speak to them to avoid making them upset.  Or more upset.  

I actually find Spoon Theory too simplistic.  The original example had a single spoon as the measure of energy needed to complete a task.  You started the day with a set number of spoons in your hands, and used one per regular activity until you ran out.  In the example, you knew how many spoons you started out with, and could thus plan accordingly.  I don't operate quite like that.

I start the day with spoons, like the example, but I also start with a blindfold and the sense that I have about half the spoons I'm supposed to.  I start the day already tired.  There are spoons in my hands, and I need to use them to do things like work, socializing, and commuting.  But instead of handing over a single spoon per activity, each thing may cost two spoons depending on how I'm feeling and how tired I am from the last few days.  

When I start running out of spoons, I'm still blindfolded.  I can tell I'm running out of spoons, but I can't tell how many spoons I have left or whether I'm going to make it home before I run out of energy and/or sanity.  In those situations, I do a lot of borrowing spoons from tomorrow.  Unfortunately that's not always enough, and every now and then I literally have to turn tail and leave as fast as I can.  That usually upsets people, because they don't know what happened and assume it's their fault.  Or worse, assume I was just being rude and contrary and should have given them warning.  Like I have some kind of gauge in my head that says, "you have five minutes to meltdown, make your excuses now."  Ridiculous.  

I spend most of my day thinking I'm nearly out of spoons and hoping I can just get through however many hours it is 'til I can go home, or just finish this project I have to do, or get this one thing figured out so I can try to relax.  When I have to stay at work, or finish that project, or figure out that one thing, I don't have time to try to gauge my remaining sanity/energy.  I'm too busy trying to do the thing and pretending I'm not running out of spoons, because if I focus on how I'm running out of spoons, I'll run out of spoons even faster AND the thing I need to do won't get done.  So of course when I run out of spoons it blindsides me.  I'm so busy trying to make a living or fit into a system or avoid hurting someone's feelings that I can't keep track of anything else.  

But of course it's my fault if I run out of spoons.  Naturally.  

I am presently very, very low on spoons.  

One of my jobs just cut my pay, which means I have less money for food, gas, and rent.  Ask statistics the number one reason for marital distress?  It's the finances.  Financial strain is really bad for sanity.  There go some spoons.  

The other job has just become a quagmire of stress.  I used to work four days a week, now I work five.  This is because my counterpart, the other administrative person, is leaving.  Effectively, I will be doing twice the work with minimal training, no help, and even less extra time to do it.  My boss will try to help, but literally everyone in the whole operation comes to him with their problems, regardless of what he's doing at the time.  I've already lost a day of my weekend, and I suspect I'll be losing more of my weekdays as soon as my counterpart actually does leave.  Even worse, it's audit season.  I did some preparatory work for it, and it's not nearly enough.  Even if my counterpart wasn't leaving, I'd still be overworked.  That's another handful of spoons.

Now add in LENS, where I have to watch my emotional state very carefully to detect any changes in my functioning, and try to make sure any fluctuations can be explained by the situation I'm in rather than LENS, or vice versa.  I felt ill yesterday after LENS, and still kind of do.  Is that because I had a lot of sugar that day and today, or did she poke something in my brain that's made me extra jittery?  I don't know, but if the therapy is going to work, I have to figure it out.  In the meantime, I need to not fly to pieces over it or tear into people, because it's not their fault.  More spoons gone.

Add in this blog, which I really want to succeed but often can't make myself write in.  Even when Chris goes to give me some quiet time, I often can't make myself write even when I have something to write about, because writing isn't relaxing, and video games are.  I need the relaxation to fuel my sanity, but if I don't write in the blog it takes away sanity one bit at a time... see what a fun energy-draining loop this is?  Wave sadly as a few more spoons flee.  

After all that, several events in my remaining weekend actually detract from my energy/sanity rather than restoring it.  And we can throw in family misunderstandings, diet and exercise imbalances, worries about my aging car...

In the end, it kind of feels like I start the day with one spoon, and engage in a tug of war over it all day until I can go home and isolate myself from some of the stress of my situation.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

LENS report: week of 5/15

This week's session was extremely minimalistic.  Usually I have to shut my eyes for her to do the adjustments.  This week she just did them while we were talking.  I'm not sure if I was literally so still while talking that it didn't matter, or if she was in a hurry, or if the adjustments were meant to be so minimal it didn't matter that I was still blinking and moving my jaw.  

Anyway, nothing impressive to report.  I might have left the office in a slightly better mood than I entered it, but whether that was the conversation or the brainpokes I couldn't say.  The conversation revolved around varies stressors in my life: my jobs (both of them are being stressful right now), my family, and some of my regular weekly events that have become less fun and more frustrating.  

My current condition overall is "extremely stressed, mildly dehydrated, over-sensitive to sounds/touch, and slightly crabby."  I'm working my way through the Dresden Files book series, which is a magical investigator/detective series. It's notable for having a dark, fantastic world, but- unlike real life- the underdog good guy always wins in the end.  He takes a lot of hits, some of them change his whole world (not always for the better), but eventually, the people trying to do the right thing end up doing the right thing and evil is crushed, or at least handed a major defeat.  That is precisely the kind of story I need to absorb right now, because with all the bad and ugly stacked up high on my plate, I kind of need the hope that eventually it'll be over.  

I highly recommend the series.  It can be a bit preachy, but it has good things to say and the stories can be kind of fun.  The writing is good, the characters change and grow, and the world changes as the stories progress.  It's well done.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

A brief primer on sensory processing disorders

This goes to a section of a website about autism.  Specifically, it goes to a section that deals with sensory processing.  People on the autism spectrum often have over- or underactive senses.  I, for example, have over-sensitive hearing and sensitivity to light. Watch the video linked on that site: it's a good start to understanding living with sound sensitivity. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LENS report: week of 5/8

I'm going to start trying to write a weekly report on my experiences with LENS.  If this works out, you should be able to read one regular entry per week and one of these.  Hopefully these aren't too boring.  Some weeks are less interesting than others.  

This week, for instance, was two sites on my scalp.  The first did seemingly nothing, while the second elicited a great big yawn.  I then yawned my way home.  I'm not sure why- the sites on my brain she was working on weren't really involved with sleepiness vs. alertness, I think.  And I wasn't feeling that tired before I came, so I'm fairly certain it's safe to blame the LENS.  I haven't tracked my sleep hours for at least half a year, though, so it's possible that I'm getting sleep deprived again.  

I hope not, but it's quite possible.  My free time seems to be eaten up so quickly these days.  Work is ramping up.  I'm going to be working 20 hours a week instead of 16 now, because my Fridays are being co-opted.  Audit season is coming, and I'm having to learn more and more.  Needless to say, I'm stressed.  It's kind of hard to tell if LENS is screwing with me or if my life is screwing with me.  I suspect it's just life.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Invasive emotions

I've started noticing a rather annoying trend in my living: my emotions can be bluffed by other people.  A particular incident recently highlighted it such that I can now look back and notice that it's occurred in the past.  

The incident was at the opening night of a play.  I attended primarily because a friend was playing one of the characters.  The play involved a number of Victorian era dances, and the actors made a great show of happy laughter and gaiety while they danced.  They did such a great job, in fact, that I found myself grinning like an idiot had to try very hard, rows back in the audience, not to.  My emotions reflected their acted emotions, despite my efforts to stop it.  It was very frustrating and unpleasant, but fortunately I don't think anyone noticed.  

Past events were things like suddenly laughing while being angry with someone, because they were acting silly and not taking my upsetness seriously.  I can now look back in and remember incidents where my emotions were bluffed into being different than they should have been, for similar reasons.  As I understand it, most people suffer incidents like this on occasion.  For me, it's rather disturbing because I have a hard enough time getting a sense for my emotions and how I'm feeling without someone else's changing them.  

I think I find this invasion of foreign emotions more concerning than most people as well, because it's hard enough to keep myself balanced and seem normal without the extra complication.  I already knew emotions would make things harder, but I certainly don't need help making them worse.  Perhaps I should address my complaints to my mirror neurons from now on.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I was bullied when I was very young.  The age where you're supposed to be protected from those kinds of things.  It left an impression, suffice it to say.  I figured, when I grew up and got through college, that I would be done with bullies.  There would be overbearing people, and people who didn't understand and didn't want to, and I didn't have to like those.  But not angry kids, taunting and punching and mocking.  

I've come to realize, in my latest job, that there is no such thing as a place without bullies.  

Adult bullies are more subtle, sometimes.  Sure, you can read about domestic abuse, where the strongarm man with a temper beats up his wife.  Those kinds of bullies exist in adult life, but they're cut from the same cloth that those angry kids are.  In absence of physical abuse in my adult life, I'd assumed that if I could just keep away from those, I'd be fine.  

Boy, was I wrong.  Just like adults are more complex than children, the ways to bully became more complex in adulthood.  With that in mind, I'm compiling a non-exhaustive list of the kinds of bullies I've seen as an adult.   Please note, these categories will absolutely mix and match depending on the person and the situation.

1. "The wife-beater": obviously, rage-prone people, often (but not exclusively) men.  The physical abusers.  The classic case is the battered wife, with the alcoholic husband who comes home in a towering rage over God-knows-what and takes out his aggression on his wife.  The victim here is usually too shocked, beaten, or afraid to fight back.  

2.  "Tantrum throwers" (or "shrieking verbosity", if you prefer):  Like a frustrated two year old, these people throw verbose screaming fits when they don't get what they want.  The difference between the two year old and the adult is that the adult can mix in actual verbal abuse.  Depending on how eloquent the person is while enraged, this can be emotionally damaging or even crippling.   The idea, as far as I can tell, is to stun or verbally beat the other person into submitting to whatever it is you want.  You can often find examples of these people abusing customer service reps, which also means you can find scads of such stories on websites like  I've had the misfortune to witness two such outbursts on Facebook of all places, and one of them was the father of an acquaintance.  I dearly hope his parenting skills were more adult than his arguing skills.  This is a particularly damaging style of bullying to some people on the spectrum, because our brains will only hold so many words before we get mentally exhausted.  Add in the emotional abuse factor, and you very quickly get a broken autistic person.

There are more socially acceptable versions of this that may not involve actual yelling or emotional abuse, but merely talking the person's ear off.  The aim is basically the same, though: they're trying to get what they want by wearing you out.  The purported aim is to get you to understand, but to such people, you only understand if you give them what they want.  If you can talk circles around them right back, you can counter this style of bullying.  I've found I can only manage that online, and then only with breaks for keeping my sanity intact.  It has something to do with the way my brain prioritizes words over other sounds, I think.  Online it's all text and can be prioritized evenly.  In person, words steamroll everything else.  

3.  "The human typhoon": a person with a deserved reputation of being an unholy terror to deal with.  This, unlike the first two, is a passive effect, but it often pairs with one or both of the other two styles of bullying.  I had the misfortune to work under someone with this style of bullying in the past.  They weren't necessarily a bad person on most days, but if they were in a bad mood, you watched your step and made triply sure you dotted your Is and crossed your Ts, and God help you if you were human and made a mistake.  Their anger was spoken of in whispers and their staff feared to give them bad news if it was already a bad day.  When angered, the person usually used a form of shrieking verbosity, but less reminiscent of a kid and more of an endless stream of upset words that spun in circles like a smashed and maddened hornet's nest.  I'm looking back on this only now, and I don't think I'll put up with it in the future.  At its best, this kind of terrorizing reputation is good for scaring the crap out of people who're purposely being roadblocks, or personally obstructing something very important.  Unfortunately, those situations are rare.  In many cases you can get a better result by being polite, keeping in mind that the person you're talking to isn't the one who made the rules, and working with them to find a solution.  I imagine learning to deal with this style of bullying will probably take practice, which I'm not looking forward to in the slightest.  

I may revisit this list as I notice more examples of bullying in adult life.  I mostly steer clear of these sorts of people, but there's only so much walking away you can do before you become a hermit, and I can't help people if I'm a hermit.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Autism, the Internet, and the future

So I read this today, wherein Temple Grandin calls for more active, expansive parenting for kids on the spectrum.  She talks about how kids get stuck on their autism, and stay on the computer all day instead of attending social events or other activities.  Parents will often talk for their kids, regardless of whether those kids are verbal or not.  Instead of allowing this to happen, Dr. Grandin suggests calm instruction on social skills, concrete demonstrations, and pushing kids out of their comfort zones a little at a time.  

The overall message of this article is good.  Dr. Grandin touches on something I've seen repeatedly: that parents of people on the spectrum can be incredibly overprotective, to the point of crippling their children. Several of my peers on the spectrum have parents who seem to insist on overseeing their interactions, despite that their kids are well over 20 and accounted their own guardians.  This is counter productive, in my opinion.  If you have a kid who's not good at math, you take extra time to teach them how to be better at math.  The same should hold true for social skills, but often it doesn't.  

There is, however, a place for people with a lack of social skills: the Internet.  The Internet is an amorphous thing, but within it, there are groups of people clustered around shared interests.  In those groups, where people consider everyone there to be "one of us," a person on the spectrum can find a place to belong, and people who will handwave a little odd behavior.  When I was younger, I frequented forums and IRC chatrooms that centered around TV shows I liked and computer games I played.  From one of those places, I met my first friend.  He was patient when no one else was.  He listened, and he cared.  He wasn't perfect, but without him, I would still be under the assumption that I was unworthy of having friends or being treated like a person.  No one in real life could convince me of that.  Not my parents, not my brother, and not any of the people I crossed paths with during school.  It took the kindness of a person from across the Atlantic Ocean, and I never would have met him without the Internet.  

There's a certain thought process that goes on with the older generations, the ones that grew up before the Internet became a widespread thing.  The mentality that only in person interaction is real, and online interaction is somehow fake, or lesser.  I challenge that mentality.  I met my first friend online, and he changed my life and made me believe I was worth caring about.  I dated Chris, my boyfriend, long distance, keeping the relationship alive with Skype and instant messages, until he moved here to be with me.  If someone wants to argue that those two relationships are fake, or lesser than the brief friendships or acquaintanceships I've had with various people in real life, then they'd better have some pretty good evidence.  

I suspect, though I can't say for sure, that neither relationship was possible without the Internet.  Simon, my first friend, I would never have met at all.  I've been across the Atlantic precisely once in my life, and that for less than a month.  Hardly long enough to make the emotional connection I'd need to be convinced of my worthwhileness as a person.  And Chris...  It's hard to get to know a person in person.  There are so many words to sort through, so much information to gather and crosscheck.  It muddles things up.  Online, there are just words.  You have to make your point with just words.  It's much easier to sort, and much easier to understand, and the entire conversation is laid out for you to reference if you forget a point.  Perhaps, given how many books I read as a kid, that makes text conversations more real than any face to face interaction.  I'm also uniquely unsuited to talking about emotions and heavier subjects in person.  If something affects me emotionally, I'll often tear up, which in turn constricts my throat.  It also makes whoever I'm talking to uncomfortable, and frustrates and annoys me.  Given how many factors come into play with getting to know someone, I don't think it's unfair to say Chris and I might never have ended up together if all we had was in-person interaction.  

I have another point to make about the Internet and electronic interaction: I suspect it's the way of the future.  At least half the interviews I hear about these days are through the phone or on Skype or some other electronic means of communication.  Job hunting is electronic, with applications available online.   LinkedIn has become a standard for job-hunters.  If you don't have filled out profile, your chances of being hired without an "in" are very low.  The technology industry is truly an industry, with hundreds of thousands of different careers.  It hasn't been possible to know everything about computers for at least two decades.  You can specialize in fixing hardware (screens, hard drives, CPUs, cases, graphics cards) and not know more than the rudiments of Mac or Linux.  You can know scads about how to use Microsoft Office and other office software, but be completely abysmal at fixing even the most minor problems with a whole system of Windows or Linux.  Video games have changed from simple one-task games like Pacman or Pong, to vast worlds with hundreds of things to do, such as World of Warcraft.  There are VR headsets in the works: really good ones, not the shoddy, clunky kind that showed up the 90s.  Perhaps most tellingly, nerds have replaced jocks in popular culture as the new "cool." 

When the Internet really took off in 1993 or so, I was very young.  I didn't personally get access to it until around 2000.  So I lived with it and without it, and perhaps straddling those eras gives me an insight into it that others lack.  I strongly suspect that electronic interactions will slowly replace in-person interactions.  There will always be a place for in person interactions, but perhaps those interactions won't be quite so complicated.  I do not think people will suddenly stop being social.  As a species, we're hardwired to be social.  Adding the Internet isn't going to change that.  We may find ways to make a cocktail party online instead of at someone's house, perhaps.  Then I suppose I can be a wallflower on the Internet as well as in real life.  

I do think things may become less complicated, socially.  There's been a lot of hubbub in the past about how kids don't go outside to play any more, they just sit at their computers all day.  This is true for both autistic people and for neurotypical people.  And that, I think, is eventually what's going to make things simpler.  Neurotypical people are born with the ability to learn social skills without trying.  That doesn't mean they'll learn them, however.  Given the wrong environment or insufficient interaction, a neurotypical person can be mistaken for a person on the spectrum by the casual observer, simply because they don't know how to make small talk or what to say in a given situation.  You can find such people in the homeschooled population, for instance.  Combine the staying inside all day on the computer with unknowing neurotypical kids, and you get less socially adept kids across the board.  The new normal will be (if it isn't already), being slightly socially inept.  If everyone's a little bit awkward, the lack of social intuition we on the spectrum suffer won't matter as much.