Thursday, October 6, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
I'm leaving so much behind that I love--church, friends, weather, and having my own apartment. I am going to some good stuff--I will be living with and caring for the Erudite Mom as she struggles with cancer and that is no hardship and indeed a pleasure (plus I'll get a great deal on rent). I also will be living quite a bit closer to one of my closest friends. The weather is awful, but the neighborhood will be safe for running at night and is in fact a great place to run in general. These are the things I try to focus on--but overall the bad of the move outweighs the good. Life doesn't give out exactly what you want, though, and sometimes all the paths narrow down to one. I have to believe that God has a purpose and a plan for this. I can't say what it is, but I live my life by faith, so why not live my future by faith too? And if I get choked up here and there, well, it's part of the process.
9 days out from moving day. Then I'll have a couple of weeks of packing, organizing, caring for mom post surgery, and running my fourth half marathon with a friend (woohoo!). I promise to be back after that point with another amazing, hard hitting, investigative blog entry.
In the meantime I leave you this link--the results you get from a search on Etsy for 'autism'. What interests me most are the weighted blankets. I need to research what the purpose is of those...and that will be for a post after I am done transitioning.
God bless you all,
Monday, August 22, 2011
I was inspired to write this post based on my observations of the four year old son of my best friend. Her son, let's call him David, is one of those kids who is truly amazing. He's smart, sneaky, adventurous, generally well behaved, kind, and most of all, really, REALLY social. I had the pleasure of camping for several days last week with David and his mom, my best friend whom we shall call Lynn, and I observed things about David and to some extent Lynn that truly baffled my poor Aspie brain.
The clearest example is when we went to a particular beach, and David felt no problem at all walking up to a girl his age, asking to play, sitting down, and playing. Lynn had no problem talking to the girl's parents, and they sat there on the beach, total strangers, talking for over an hour (time I spent swimming in the lake, not wanting to deal with all of that pesky, difficult, social contact with strangers, despite how wonderfully nice they were). I later asked Lynn about this--can you really just randomly talk to people? Play with strangers? Doesn't this seem odd to you? Does David do it?
Oh yes, Lynn said, I love talking to people. And so does David. He's very social, and loves being with people. And I love meeting new friends that way. It's fun!
I simply goggled. Even though I have to believe what I saw with my own eyes, my Aspie brain simply could not compute. To me, the idea of randomly talking to strangers is, well, scary. I sometimes do find myself getting into conversations with strangers in odd places, especially when waiting in line, and each time it happens I am left confused. Many years ago, I even had someone in the next stall in the bathroom at a grocery store ask me for advice about whether she should keep her long distance boyfriend, or dump him. I sort of listened, but couldn't understand why she was talking to a total stranger about personal things (in the bathroom no less, this was an overall strange situation). I like to think I am warm and friendly, and I will answer questions if asked to some extent (do you like this beer? Yes, it is great, and so is this one), but to sit down and have an hour long conversation with strangers? Way, way out of my realm. But not out of their realm, which made me realize that for all that I love them. and they love me, we are really different from each other.
The next thing that hit me is when we went to the Parent's night for the preschool David was about to start attending. I heard about sharing, about circles, about learning friendship, about playing, etc. I saw the kids all immediately go out to the playground and start playing together (with supervision, of course!). I saw David gabbing away with his best friend, and talking to the kids he'd never met. I read the overview of the preschool and saw that talking to each other and socialization was a huge part of their curriculum.
And I saw that David LOVED it, that he was looking forward to it, and that he thrived in this environment. I saw that he didn't need preschool for educational purposes, as his parents do an amazing job with that at home, but that he needed preschool because he needed, and wanted, the socialization.
Until this point, I had always sort of looked down on preschool, thinking that if it was feasible in terms of having a stay at home parent, it was better to teach the kid those things at home. What I had failed to realize is that I was imposing my innate, ingrained fear of socialization onto everyone. Why? Because until I was diagnosed with having Autism Spectrum Disorder last year, I didn't really understand or believed that people actually liked to socialize and make friends with strangers and be with people all the time. In fact, I still don't get it, and it still baffles me, but I have learned to accept that I have the unusual brain, and not everyone is like me.
At the same time, I am everlastingly grateful I was not in preschool, and in fact didn't go to public school at all until 3d grade. I wish now, and read the Erudite Mom's post on the subject for more details, that I had been home schooled further.
The moral of the story is--preschool can be a very good thing for kids like David. And it is a very, very bad thing for kids like me. If I ever have kids, I will be sure to remember this lesson.
God bless you all,
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I've been on a nice relaxing vacation, camping and spending time with family and friends, for the last little while. Accordingly, this time I have an excuse for not posting anything recently instead of forgetfulness which is usually the case.
Next up when I get back to real life...a discussion about pre school, socialization as a kid, why I am proud of my Godson, and why I drove my mom crazy When I was a kid. If you have any comments, experiences, or opinions on this matter please post them below and I will work them in!
Dios te bendiga,
Friday, August 5, 2011
First, if you are an adult and weren't diagnosed as a child, you will find it VERY difficult. As a child you have resources in schools, in public health, etc--if you are anywhere on the autism spectrum, they will catch you. But if you are an adult, especially if you are a smart adult who functions very well in life, you easily slip through the cracks.
This article pinpoints the problems with getting diagnosed as an adult pretty well:
"Adults with ASDs are more likely to be recognized and supported if they also have severe intellectual disability; those with higher levels of functioning tend to be overlooked in the community."Well, exactly.
You also find interesting bits of information like this. The curious part is that men have a higher occurrence of ASD then women. This strikes me as interesting, and in another post I will research it more thoroughly and confirm or disprove this article.
The best advice I have seen for an adult who thinks they might be on the Spectrum is here, and frankly, I'd rather find a more authoritative source, but I haven't found it yet.
Most importantly, it is good to have knowledge and information on your side, to look at blogs and other sites that have discussions with people on the Spectrum (Rethinking Autism is a good place to start), and to really have your ducks in a row before you approach a professional. I was diagnosed incorrectly with Bipolar disorder several times before they got it right. The clue? If they have to work really hard to make you 'fit' with the DSM standards for having Bipolar disorder, you probably aren't Bipolar. First I was Bipolar II, then I was Cyclothymic, then I had Bipoloar Spectrum disorder, and on and on it went. I finally sat down with my Psychiatrist and told him as odd as it is for me to tell you my diagnosis is wrong as you are the professional and I am not, I have done my research and I am very self aware, and I am NOT Bipolar. I have Autism Spectrum Disorder. I then used the DSM other materials to lay out all the reasons I wasn't bipolar, and all the reasons I did have ASD.
He looked at me for a minute without speaking, then said, you are absolutely right. You have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It was a proud moment.
Good luck to all who are still seeking to find the truth!
Friday, July 22, 2011
There is a question that lingers in the mind of everyone touched by those on the Autistic Spectrum--what causes it? I had a fellow classmate do a pathology poster about ASD in my summer school class and she spoke of finding genetic links. I hadn't heard that, but it got me curious. So the former librarian kicked into full research mode, and here I present what I found.
First, I dug out some interesting nuggets from the National Institute of Health. This page lays out a lot of useful and interesting information about ASD, but the key paragraph for the purpose of digging out the root cause is here:
Current research points to brain abnormalities as the cause of AS. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have revealed structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brains of normal versus AS children. These defects are most likely caused by the abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development that affects brain structure and “wiring” and then goes on to affect the neural circuits that control thought and behavior.
For example, one study found a reduction of brain activity in the frontal lobe of AS children when they were asked to respond to tasks that required them to use their judgment. Another study found differences in activity when children were asked to respond to facial expressions. A different study investigating brain function in adults with AS revealed abnormal levels of specific proteins that correlate with obsessive and repetitive behaviors.
The page goes on to explain that although the genetic link is obvious, as Autism tends to run in families, no specific gene has been identified as a cause. Instead, researchers believe it is probably a group of genes. With this in hand, I continued my digging and found this highly tecnical abstract which seems to imply that they are starting to get a grasp on which genes may be involved. This is expanded in this Nature article that is also highly technical (well over my head, I have to admit). It is also clear when reading the links that the reason why ASD is so hard to identify, understand, and diagnose, is that it really does express itself differently in everyone who has it. This makes logical sense. If a group of genes is responsible, each person on the Spectrum is going to have different genes in that group tweak different ways. The, lets say combinations, of things that can go wrong are going to be different for everyone.
What does this tell us? First, there is a genetic link, the answer to why people have Autism is in our genes, and doesn't that makes sense? In a technical, biological sense, our genes are responsible for coding us, making us who we are, and if we are born with a disease or disability or a talent or genius or anything else, it is going to come down to the genes. Which doesn't mean we will always be able to understand how it works. How fascinating science is, that slowly, we start to get a glimpse.
One other thing to ponder--from what I read here, and what I understand, Autism in all of its many variants is not something you can cure. It is what it is, hardwired into your brain. Not a disease. Just a rewiring of the brain which means we do things in different ways. Accordingly, we don't need a cure. What we need is knowledge, training, practice, and understanding.
God bless you all,
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
On May 2, I got an email from the very kind president of the local chapter of our union (sadly, lack of support from the actual union had been a huge hindrance to us the whole while--thanks for nothing, SEIU) contacted me with the information that the City was offering me the chance to resign and get the incentive of two years of health benefits or cash equivalent they were offering to other people, as well as promising that I could resign for medical reasons and get unemployment as well. I had a deadline of May 11th to respond. I did, with the caveat that I had to have the offer in writing. This offer made me feel optimistic for the first time in years.
Of course, the City, having conceded to the fact that I was continuing to fight and making their life complicated especially on the legal front due to the DFEH investigation, just HAD to procrastinate and put off getting anything to me in writing until May 31st. They offered the deal I described above with the caveat that I had to drop the DFEH case and give up any future right to sue for the same issue. And of course, in an act of such petty spitefulness I could only laugh after everything else, I only had one day to decide. After reviewing it with my DFEH rep and a lawyer who could confirm it had no tricks, I took the deal.
June 1, 2011, I signed the paperwork, submitted my letter of resignation, and was finally free. It is impossible to describe how amazing it felt to be done with it all, finally and officially done. I literally felt the weight of mountains fall off of my shoulders. When I applied for unemployment insurance and it was granted, more weight fell off. Granted, there are still some financial difficulties, but nothing I can't handle. I am free from an oppressive work environment. I am free from self-serving, dicatorial, petty, spiteful, and cruel management. I am free from the worry of waiting and wondering. I am FREE.
What am I doing now? Right now I am blissfully happy taking summer school. After I pass this anatomy and physiology class, I can apply for the program to become a Nuclear Medical Technician. I am thrilled to be embarking on this new career path.
It is an Erudite Family saying that this is the season of the Reinvention of Erudite Aspie. I have cast off the shackles of the bitter past, and am looking forward to a glorious and rewarding new future. It will take a lot of hard work, but I can do that. It will have obstacles I am sure, but I can get around those. As my Grammy and Mom taught me...there is nothing you can't do if you really want to. In the middle of the worst time in the Salinas Public Library I knew that if I continued to work hard, act with dignity and honesty, and not stop fighting, I would eventually come out on top. It was a much longer and harder road than I had thought, but I am at the end of it now. And I am free to become whoever I want to be next.
Because after all, the only limitations we have on us are the ones we put on ourselves.
And I will not be limited ever again.
God bless you all.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This post will be very hard to write. Please read it, and learn. If my experience can help even one person, it will be worth the suffering I describe.
Have you ever told yourself that you were just being paranoid? That they weren't really out to get you, that they really did have good intentions at the core, that you just had some bad luck, that you were being overemotional, and that things would improve? Have have you ever looked a situation and thought, it can't possibly be as bad as I think it is, that it had to improve? And did you ever have to finally, eventually, reluctantly realize that you weren't being paranoid at all, that it really WAS that bad, and that you were really, truly screwed?
THAT has been my experience since Elizabeth Martinez became the library director and Maria Roddy took over as my supervisor in the Salinas Public Library.
It started out small. I heard from a fellow librarian that she had been taken out to lunch by the managers and she had been asked to say negative things about me, and that they had warned her against me and asked her to spy on them. It became worse that same month, September 2008, when the city called in an outside investigator to investigate the claims that I was the instigator of negativity and insubordination in the work place. The first time the library had me in shaking tears is when I knew was the target of that investigation. And my stomach fell out when I got my hands on a document where a manager stated lies about me and reported them to the Director as though they were truth.
It was bad when I had an altercation with a patron who threatened me physically and yet her story was believed, and my truth was disregarded, though Maria Roddy had witnessed it all. It got worse when they started giving me more and more hours on a desk (very exhausting), clearly showing preference to other librarians. And when I was denied my merit increase because of that single unfair patron complaint and I had no recourse at all, my world caved in. The harassment continued when I was yelled at for taking a bathroom break, for sitting down for a minute to rest between patrons because according to Maria I should have been walking around. The bullying continued when others got away with short skirts and I was called to the carpet and written up more than once for wearing skirts that indeed were long enough. Or when other librarians were given time to accomplish their projects and I was given none at all. Or when I caught a 9 year old boy looking at explicit porn in the kid's side of the library and the fact that I touched his neck got me written up and the fact that he was looking at porn bothered them not at all.
It was bad when any question I asked led to retaliation of some sort of another. It was bad when I was so afraid to ask any question, no matter how benign, so I had to have a fellow librarian do it for me. I never knew when an official complaint was going to come or I was going to be called into the office for a little meeting, and I spent most of the last three years at work knotted up with anxiety and fear of doing anything at all, really. I truly had a target on my back.
And believe me, for the sake of brevity I am leaving many, many examples out.
The single most devastating part of this experience is what it did to my self esteem and psyche. I am a hard worker by nature, who believes that one should be proactive and creative in finding solutions to problems, and I was being constantly punished for all of those things. After all, how dare I question or have an idea that might contradict the mighty will of E. Martinez and M. Roddy? I had to deny the most basic part of myself just to try and survive. I am also a natural problem solver, but this is a problem I could not solve. If I worked fast or slow, it was wrong. If I spent too much time or too little time with a patron, it was wrong. If I asked a question it was wrong, if I didn't ask I should have. I could not win. I had multiple complaints and official warnings filed against me, and they all were lies, but they were believed by everyone up to the City Manager, so I had no recourse. I tried filing complaints against the managers, and got nowhere at all. I tried doing nothing and playing along, and it just got worse.
So, by the summer of 2010, I was trapped in this hellish situation with no idea how to get out of it. I'd applied for many jobs of course, but no luck. I was locked in misery and had a very hard time keeping it out of my private life as well. My stomach was continuously cramped, I put on abut 30 pounds between early 2009 and fall of 2010 due to stress, I cried all the time, and I often had to take days off because I was so sick from stress. For a while I truly feared that my chaotic and upset mental and emotional state would drive away the erudite boyfriend because it was all about me, and I couldn't think of anything or anyone else. Thank God the EB put an end to that silliness immediately and was my rock and a great source of strength through it all.
I felt helpless, useless, and incompetent because I couldn't change what was happening, and couldn't make it stop. I felt like a failure in my chosen profession. And I was filled with dread as I watched their lies and unfair actions shred my professional reputation. In short I was mess. I was desperate enough to seek counseling, but it couldn't solve the problem and didn't really help. I was what they call 'depressed' and 'anxious' in the mental health sense but it wasn't because I was a depressed person or an anxious person, I had no chemical imbalance in the brain as do true sufferers of those syndromes. But I was drowning under the weight of what has happening to me, and I exhibited the symptoms because of that.
And it took me the longest time, longer than it should have, to realize that I wasn't being paranoid, and Elizabeth Martinez and Maria Roddy really did have evil intentions towards me. It took me a long time to listen to their actions and not their words. It was hard for me because I was an Aspie, and we have a hard time understanding motivations and emotions in others that we don't have in ourselves. I don't treat people like that, so how could I understand them, even when I was the target?
Fortunately, it was in the late spring of 2010 that the Erudite Mom, who teaches Autistic kids, attended a workshop that taught about the various type of autism, including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's. And THAT changed everything.
Look for Part Three this weekend: How I was diagnosed as an Aspie and what I did about it.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This post has been a long time in coming because it has taken me a lot of time to figure out just what to say and how to say it. I started this blog when I first was on medical leave for work, and in the intervening six months everything has changed. I started this blog to write about my experiences being an adult woman on the high end of the Autism Spectrum, but my self discovery about being an Aspie is tied in with my experience of being a librarian for the City of Salinas and THAT is the story I need to tell.
I have worked in libraries since August of 2001, got my MLIS in 2005, and started working for the Salinas Public Library in 2006. The first couple of years of my employment in Salinas everything was great. I had a wonderful supervisor, and worked with wonderful people. The patrons were nice, the policies were fair and balanced, and life was good. At this time I had no idea I was an Aspie. I knew that I often was hyper verbal and had to work darn hard to have good social skills, but this was so much a part of my life I took it for granted, and it had never been a problem before.
In 2008, everything changed. First, a new Library Director was hired--Elizabeth Martinez. A google search shows her to be a glowing paragon of the library world, but I had had the chance to talk with librarians who had worked under her in the past and learned that she was horrible to work for. I learned from the she was autocratic, never listened to anyone else, was rude, and more importantly treated staff with an absolute lack of respect or recognition of professional expertise. At about the same time, things changed around in upper management and I got a new supervisor--Maria Roddy. Maria who had never been a librarian, who was absolutely incompetent at the job, and who has absolutely threatened by anyone smarter or better than she was--a fact that being an Aspie, sadly I did not fully understand until it was much, much too late.
Elizabeth and Maria together started immediately implementing policies that were detrimental to both the library and the staff, and truly the patrons most of all. I will spare you the litany of what they did wrong and why it was wrong, but I can say that many, many people on staff were concerned. Cue, myself. At that time I was the union steward for the library. I had been asked to do this because I am well spoken and had no fear to ask the hard questions and stand up for staff--I was always respectful and fair, but I did ask. Consequently, as these policies were implemented and as the problems in them became glaringly apparent, I was asked by several staff members to to ask management about them and seek some sort of clarity and communication between staff and management, all in my role of steward. I also was forced to ask several questions on my own when a policy change influenced me directly. At that point, I was truly just trying to be a voice for good, and a help. I was all about finding solutions and doing the right thing, not accusing management of being incompetent.
Big, BIG mistake. When you have a direct supervisor who reflexively fears anyone better than she is and a library director who refuses to listen to any challenge to her ideas or thoughts, and more importantly when both hold a grudge and are perfectly willing to retaliate in any way necessary...
Disaster. Utter and total disaster. And God help me, I didn't see the danger until it was way too late.
I shall say goodnight for now. In a few days I shall post Part Two, in which the Erudite Aspie gets bullied and harassed.
And fear not--this story gets worse, but it DOES have a happy ending.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Luke was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s Syndrome in first grade. How “mild” looked for him at the time was that, on the surface, he could function pretty well in most settings. But because of his lack of social skills in the classroom and on the playground, he was in trouble most of the time. Despite school changes and myriad medical, dietary, therapeutic and behavioral interventions, his social learning just couldn’t keep up, and each year he fell further and furtherbehind. Academically, he was flying, but socially and behaviorally, he was floundering.Yes, that sounds very familiar. And:
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Tonight, I am going to speak a bit about my personal experience at work. For those that don't know, I have been out of work for 3 months now. I went out on stress leave-stres which had been building for two and half years--and have not yet been allowed to come back. I won't discuss here what has been happening at my workplace that got me to this point, nor will I discuss the shenanigans that have happened in the last three months I haven't been working. First, because it is just too depressing to think about more than I have to, and second, because this post would be the size of a novella if I were to explain it all.
What I want to focus on is the core of my stress--bad management. Specifically, a bad manager that I have had many, many conflicts with and who has created a very hostile work environment not just for me but for pretty much everyone. To rewind and give context for this, I have a friend on facebook who posted this link about mental health and being unemployed versus being in a bad work environment. Contrary to popular belief and opinion, the result of the research is that being in a bad work environment is actually more damaging to mental health than being unemployed.
A few years ago, I would have said that was hogwash. I would have emphasized that any job is better than no job at all, because at least you get a paycheck, it gives you more a sense of accomplishment, you gain or maintain job skills, just to name a few of the benefits. And in fact these are all true in most cases. Unemployment is draining both on the wallet and the psyche. In fact, for those that are unemployed or underemployed, I'd recommend this excellent video for further thoughts on being unemployed and how to make the best of it.
But I was struck by this paragraph of the report on mental health in poor working conditions vis a vis being unemployed:
Managers are especially important to employee well-being, says Robert Hogan, Ph.D., an expert on personality in the workplace and a former chair of the department of psychology at the University of Tulsa. "Bad bosses will make anybody unhappy," Hogan says. "Stress comes from bad managers."
I read this and thought yes, exactly. I am living proof that this is true. There were many causes that led to me going out on stress leave, but most of them fell under the category of sometimes life is just hard and the job is just difficult, and I could have handled. What I couldn't handle is the relentless effort of my direct supervisor and the head of my department to discriminate against me, retaliate against me, lie about me, and in all the little ways they could make my life at work as miserable as possible. That is what took stress over the edge from something manageable to something I could not handle. Sure, I am not getting a paycheck and I am worried how I am going to pay bills. Sure, the uncertainty of my future is in doubt and that uncertainty causes stress. Sure, I find myself striving to find enough productive things to do to fill my day so I don't get apathetic or lose my edge.
But it all would be so, SO much worse if I were at work.
Does this have anything to do with being an Aspie? Maybe. I don't think so, though, as I am sure many others who are perfectly neurotypical have many of the same experiences.
Leave any thoughts in the comments below. As always, I'd love to hear from you!
Have a good day,
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
But also a ton of regret.
Regret of the times I was careless of other people's feelings. Times I let my emotions get totally out of control. Times I thought that if I didn't want to go to a mandatory meeting, I didn't have to, and didn't bother to hide my feelings on the matter. Times I complained bitterly about installing water saving shower heads because it made it much harder for me to wash my very long and thick hair (though for the record, those water saving shower heads do suck!). Times I figured I could play whatever music I wanted however loudly I wanted and never mind my roommate and my neighbors. Times I didn't do the dishes because I wasn't in the mood and used the excuse they needed to soak, then complained when others did the same. Times I put pressure on people to like me and want to hang out with me when you know...for the most part, they didn't.
Times, in other words, when I was being my very worst Aspie self.
It pains me to know how badly I behaved, how callously I treated people, and all without really intending to. I am sure I wasn't always bad--I like to think I have a basic streak of decency and compassion, and one of the people who I lived with did ask me to be her maid of honor so it couldn't have been all bad--but I remember the times I was my worst self and I regret. I regret deeply. And I am ashamed of my actions.
The thing is, I was an Aspie, I have always been an Aspie, and I didn't know it. Just had no clue in 1997-1998 that I had a brain that was wired differently. I can see now my horrible social rudeness and ineptitude, but at the time, I just didn't. I didn't know, had no way of knowing, and without knowledge had no way of doing it differently.
If I had known then I was an Aspie, I could have shared it with people, and they would have helped me. I lived with a group of truly wonderful people and I know beyond doubt that if my Asperger's had been a known fact at that time, they would have understood me more, helped me handle it, and been more patient. And I, if I had known, would have been able to work even harder to overcome the social shortcomings.
But that didn't happen. And now, sitting at my desk in 2011 almost 13 years after graduating from Berkeley, I just have to forgive myself. Let it go. Accept it as part of the cost of being an Aspie without knowing it, focus on the wonderful friends and boyfriend I have now, and stop mourning over what could have been 13 years ago.
Because it is OK to have regrets, but it isn't OK to let them control your life. And the God I believe in doesn't teach being ashamed, but teaches us we should ALL press on to that goal He has promised us...one day at a time.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sorry for the light blogging recently--I've been keeping myself busy and ignoring my adoring blog fans (all nine of you!). I wish I could blame this on being an Aspie but really...straight laziness. Sorry!
Today is February 14th and though many mock Valentine's Day as an awful commercial holiday and the ultimate guilt trip for couples who feel obliged to buy each other presents (and I must admit, I HATED it when I was single!), I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day anyway. Do something fun for yourselves, have a glass of champagne, share a kiss with the person you love or just enjoy the excuse to eat chocolate. In my newly mature and happily dating opinion, it is a perfect excuse to celebrate and relax! And really, the history is very interesting.
Cheers from the not-yet-under-the-influence-of-champagne EA!
Monday, January 31, 2011
But where does the woman end and the Aspie begin?
For most of us, that primordial question of Who Am I, is asked sometime during puberty. We understand that we are not our parents nor do we want to be. So who are we exactly? For many of us, this constant search of self is a life long journey and if we're really lucky, we'll find someone to share it with us. It would be unfair to say EA never had this existential moment in her adolescence as she did. Only her question would have been shaped differently. Instead of asking who am I, she'd more likely to ask, why don't people make sense? And for her, making sense out of the nonsensical has been a lifelong journey.
It has been painful, laborious, frustrating and filled with anger and rage and doubts and sorrow. Sound familiar? As has been mentioned frequently already in this blog, she has had to learn everything most of us take for granted by rote. The world doesn't make much more sense to her as it did when she was thirteen but she understands it better and she has learned to fit into it better. Just like, for many of us, we may not really understand ourselves or know who we are perfectly, but we've gotten some idea as to who we would like to be. Well, some of us.
For EA things are much different. Now that she knows why she marches to the beat of her own drummer she can focus on learning more about fitting in her Aspberger's with the regular world. This will continue to be something she will be concerned about and worried about making sure she doesn't mess up. Only now, she has a new question, one that has plagued the rest of us since we first started puberty, Who Am I?
She knows who she is for she too has taken the journey of self-discovery and she has come to accept herself for herself. And, like most of us, she's learned to change the things she doesn't like and to accept the things we're too lazy to change. But more than that is the question of who is the woman and who is the aspie? Am I doing something because I am EA or am I doing this because I'm an aspie? Do I get frustrated because I'm waiting in line or is it because aspies don't do lines very well? Or is it both? How can I tell when I'm being Me or when I'm being an Aspie? Is there a difference?
There are certain characteristics that the two of us share. We get them from our mother. People will frequently remark that we walk the same or we look the same, some even remark that do X the same way. I have a very bad habit of playing with the ends of my hair. As a consequence I always have split and dead ends that drive me crazy. I come by this naturally, Mom does it as well. My sister does not and, not so consequently, she has perfect ends. I don't need to think, do I fiddle with my hair because those on the autism spectrum have a tendency to stem, or is it because this is a character trait I inherited from my mother? My sister does.
For EA it comes down to wondering what part of her Being stems from who she is as a person and who she is as an aspie. Does she hate, hate, hate, hate waiting because she's EA or is it because she's got something wonky with her brain? Or is it both? Mom hates waiting, I hate waiting for things. Mom hates talking on the phone and so do I. Chances are EA comes by these two characteristics naturally. EA hates waiting because she is, at her core, impatient. If the purpose is to get from point A to point B then she wants to do it as quickly as possible and she hates being slowed down. She doesn't want to wait. If something's due Monday she'll have it finished by Saturday. It's the aspie part of her brain that gets frustrated when no one else seems to get as impatient as she is.
For example, if she is going to turn into a shopping center off to the left she can either make a turn at the light or go through it then make an eventual left hand turn when the traffic's clear. If there is a green light she always takes it. Sometimes her way is quicker. We've timed this and she has, on occasion, beaten me to the front door. But not always. She goes for what appears to be faster than being patient and waiting for the light to change in the left hand turn lane. She doesn't take into account that it's much safer to wait and turn at the light than it is to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a left.
My sister has also made mention that she hates talking on the phone. Granted, chatting on the phone is annoying. Sometimes it's more expedient to have a phone conversation than it is to send emails back and forth. But she really hates it. I can simply accept that there are few people in this world I can talk to for hours on end without wishing I could just hang up on them. Very few. I am, not, however conflicted with the question of what part of me hates it. For EA, she knows that, as an aspie, she doesn't handle phone conversations well and, as an aspie, she can learn tricks to having phone conversations in which she needs to cue in to what the other person is saying.
But what about other aspects of her life? EA hates silence. She has to have noise, be it music or conversation. She likes to have music playing even when we're in the car talking. But why? Is it because, as a person, she hates having lulls in conversation, or finds the emptiness of a room without sound annoying? Or is it because she's an aspie and she cannot function without this sort of stimuli in the background? These are aspects of her personality that she now gets to figure out. If she, as a person, doesn't like silence then she needs to deal when others need a few minutes of quiet time. If it's the aspie in her that requires a constant source of background noise then she needs to learn how to cope during those times when silence is absolutely required and it's driving her batty.
But no matter the personality quirk that will undergo this new phase of self-discovery, there will most likely be tears and rage and frustration and confusion and anger and sorrow and confusion and drama. As a family, all we can do is help her the best we can, offer guidance and support and love her-the rest is up to her.
Next up: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
My answer--first, I hide it really, really well. And second, you should have seen me when I was a teenager and into my early 20s.
Imagine your teen years, and going through puberty. Now imagine going through the same thing while having Asperger's or being on the Autism Spectrum. I cringe at what a tough time I had, and how hard I made it on others, and how many people I hurt or offended or turned off because I just. Didn't. Get it. And I was way too stubborn to even contemplate the idea that I could, in fact, be wrong. I suggest you all read the Erudite Mom's post on emotions for further details on this from the one who was right there with me the whole time.
It was not until my mid twenties that I finally had the epiphany that even though I thought so many of the social niceties were stupid, and even though I hated small talk and didn't do well at all in groups of large people, and even though I just didn't get any of this at all--well, I was going to have to buckle down and learn some social skills and basic diplomacy for relationship building. It took learning it by habit, training, and rote, and NONE of it was instinctive.
It still isn't instinctive. The only reason I seem to have 'good social skills' now is because I have learned what to say and how to say it and what to look for. And this is not an easy or a natural process for me. I have to be on my toes and paying attention and focusing on everything I do and say every second of a social interaction. I can't let my guard down at all, or I will inevitably do the wrong thing and make a fool of myself. My brain still doesn't understand why I have to do it, but I have accepted that I DO, and so I practice and fake it, and I'm lucky in my friends that still love me and are forgiving of my slip ups. They also are good at cuing me if I am heading down the wrong road so I can stop myself from making an egregious mistake--more on that in another post. The end result of this is that I leave social interactions absolutely exhausted, even when I've had a good time.
So yes, I am an Aspie. If you can't tell, then that means I did it correctly. If you can tell, well, please forgive me, and let's try and get past it and be friends, OK? I promise, I really do like you. And I'm worth getting to know.