Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The California International Marathon

Yes.  I did it.  The chubby, asthmatic, slow, Aspie girl worked and trained and sweated and on Sunday, Dec. 2, I RAN A MARATHON.  That, in case you don't know, is 26.2 miles. 

My second, in fact.  I was honored to share the experience (though not the run as I am slower than all of them) with my running partner and one of my best friends, both of whom completed their first marathons, and boy oh boy am I proud of them!

The thing is?  This was a marathon for the records.  Because it was POURING RAIN.  Not just drizzle, not just hard rain, but pouring.  With winds up to 35 mph that blew the wind sideways, straight into our faces.  As we sometimes ran into a headwind.  I was soaked literally to the skin--yes, my underwear was soaked.  I have chafing in places I've never chafed before because when you are that wet, well, chafing is what happens.

And at my speed, it rained for 18 miles.  That was about 4.5 hours.  It was WET.  The crazy part?  I prefer it that way.  I would rather run in a rainstorm than sun any day of the week.  When we started, this mass of people crossing the start line, the wind gusted and blew rain right at us.  You could hear the, whoa!, coming from every throat. And I knew then that as hard as it was going to be, this was just going to be epic.  My music died on my after mile 5, which led to 21 more VERY miserable and boring miles, and it was STILL epic.  I came in way past the time I should have and my sciatica was killing me, but it was STILL epic.  Why?  Well, because I finished.  I am a marathoner.  That's pretty darn cool.

There are so many things about races, be they a 5K or a 100 miler, that you have to experience to really know.  Moments you want to catch but can't because you are running, your are in the middle of them, and forward motion does not allow for stopping.  The low thunder of thousands of feet pounding pavement at the same time.  The screaming and cheering from volunteers and spectators all along the course.  The sides littered with discarded clothing, fuel packages, and in this case ponchos and garbage bags with holes cut in them for hands and arms.  The fuel stations where you zip up and grab a cup, drink as fast as you can and keep going.  The fuel station litter of Gu packets and cups and other types of fuel scattered over pavement from runners who have come and gone, a huge mess that you add to as you toss your cup and Gu packet on the ground.  The visceral understanding that this is only OK because it is a race and they will pick it up, otherwise you would NEVER litter.  Heck, you have to be involved in sports just to know what Gu IS, as well as know about sports beans and Gu chomps and Clif blocks and the pros and cons of each and how often you should fuel and electrolytes and hydration and the difference between powerade and G2 and electrolyte tablets.  Oh, and body glide, blessed body glide, that doesn't work so well when you are soaked to the skin.  And the safety pinning Gu trick.  If you run, you know what I mean.

There are the signs you see along the route.  Go runners, run for beer, you are almost there!  Saw a sign this weekend that said chafing is temporary, finishing is forever, and blisters are for wimps.  Also saw a very apropos sign that said you thought this was a good idea three months ago.  You have to do a race to experience the Wall, that moment when you want to give up and know it is crazy...and no matter what length of race you do, you WILL hit that point.  You experience the mental process of pushing through and keeping on moving, when your leg muscles are trashed, and when ALL you want to do is get dry and eat and drink a beer.  You have to do a race to understand that while physical training is vital, during the race itself 75% of it is mental grit.  You have to want to finish.  And when your body plays out your mind keeps you moving and gets you through.

And it is only when you do a race--let me again emphasize of any length because I know people who can run a marathon every weekend and those who suffer from such physical ailments that doing a 5K is a major and laudable accomplishment--that you experience the utter thrill of crossing the finish line.  To know that you did it, that you worked and fought and accomplished something hard.  And the older women fighting arthritis who finishes her first 5K and comes in last place is as inspiring and just as much as an achievement as the person who wins the CIM.

I am a runner.  I am a marathoner.  You would never think so.  I am very slow--I did the marathon in a 15:15 per mile average.  I am not skinny.  I don't look athletic.  But in my mind and in my heart, I KNOW what I am.  I know what I can make myself do.  And because I do...I am a marathoner.

God bless us all...


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thor's Hammer

On Sunday, September 30th, on the last day of Faire at Grass Valley, CA with St. Andrew's Noble Order of the Royal Scots, I was given the Thor's Hammer.

The Thor's Hammer is a once in a lifetime award given to the person who is considered to have worked hard in general, and especially for that particular Faire.  Seeing as this was my first year, I was and still am humbled and honored to get this, to cherish this, to be part of my Faire family.

But more importantly, as an Aspie, this means a LOT to me because it means one very important thing. I AM DOING IT RIGHT.  Because no matter how hard I worked if I were not liked by my peers, I seriously doubt they would have voted for me.  If I was not liked by my peers, I would not be invited to pool parties later.  Or talked too late at night over beer, or trusted.

And thank GOD, because I want to do it right.  I want to control my Aspie self.  And here but for the grace of God go I, it seems to be happening. Not that I can let down my guard, but...

And I have worn it every day since.  One day I might take it off.  But right now, it just means too much.

God bless,


Sunday, September 9, 2012

The pitfalls of being 'High Functioning".

Hello again, my friends, it has been a while.

I know, by now you are all used to me having a great span of time between posts.  I figure, y'all like me anyway.

And on to the topic at hand--I was first going to make this post in two parts.  The first part was going to be from an excellent blog post I read on Rethinking Autism about abolishing functional levels in Autism Spectrum Disorder cases.  The point of the article was that a person who is high functioning one day can be in total Aspie attack meltdown mode the next.  And you never really know what is going on in their heads--good acting skills should not be acquainted with good functioning skills.  Now, it can be said that if you can act past it you can clearly function, and to some extent that is logical.  But the Aspie who seems to handle the most stressful and complicated of situations one day will, the next day or even the next hour, will suddenly completely meltdown.  From high functioning to low functioning in the blink of an eye, because the brain is just not that easily categorized, nor is it particularly consistent.

Sadly, the link to that post seems to be broken.  So trust me that I summarized it well, even eruditely.  

The second part of this is about my experiences with this issue.  I have discovered that the hardest part of being a fairly high functioning Aspie is that people forget you are an Aspie.  This sounds good because it means you are well trained and doing it right, but the danger is that you create a false expectation that you will always be perfect in social situations, that you will always say just the right thing, that you will always be competent and capable.  You see, you are most of the time, so who can blame others for expecting it of you all the time?  The problem is that when you DO fail, when you DO have those moments, those slips of the tongue, those social faux pas, they look at you in horror. How rude, they think.  She shouldn't have had that beer. She said too much.  I thought she was nice, but I guess not.

And I want to scream, I TOLD you I was an Aspie. I warned you this could happen.  Not to avoid responsibility for my actions and I certainly apologize when I need to, but please be a little kinder?  I'm not rude.  I'm a nice person.  But I AM an Aspie.  And sometimes things just slip out of my control.  Because keeping it in control, all the time, is DARN hard.  And takes effort.  It's like trying to juggle 3 balls while having a conversation and watching a movie all at the same time.  Is it any wonder that sometimes the ball drops, no matter how talented the performer?  

And then you ask whether I am creating problems where none exist, but I don't know, do I?  I can't tell these things.  I can't read your face. Remember, I am an Aspie.  


God bless,


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Open question

Hey everyone--

Not a post today on anything profound, just a question for all of my Asperger's friends/family members who take care of Aspies:  Are any of you on Social Security disability benefits, or anything similar?  Is Asperger's enough of a diagnosis to get it?

I HATE, hate even thinking about it, but I can't find work, and frankly I am realizing more and more there are so many jobs I can't even apply for for my own mental health and sanity.  I just don't know what to do, so I want to know what YOU do.

Thanks in advance...


Friday, July 20, 2012

Where I draw the line

Hello everyone--

Sorry it has been just over two weeks since my last post, but frankly, I A) have been fairly busy and B) don't have a burning topic in mind when it comes to this whole autism spectrum thing.

But today, oh today was not a good one in the world at large.  I came out of the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rising with my father this morning only to hear about the events in Denver, the tragic, awful shooting that cost the lives of 12 and injured 59, I believe it is, at last count.  I'm just devastated.  All those people lost or injured or permanently scarred by the trauma they witnessed and experienced.  Young people mostly, still in love with their heroes, on dates or hanging with friends, having fun, or older people wanting to feel young again.  Killed by a young man with no particular religious or political reason for doing so (that has come out so far at least), just a pure evil psycho who decided to kill a bunch of people. This is indeed a tragedy.

And today the husband of a friend of mine underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor.  Praise God the surgery went well, they were able to remove 70-90% of it and they say it is between a stage 2-3 sized tumor, which means not lethal yet.  More will be known when the pathology report comes in.  In the meantime,  I am so many of her other friends will be doing what he have been doing since we heard about this last week--praying, praying, praying.

I've had many brutal conversations on FB recently, sparked by the OD death of Sylvester Stallone's son, that I lack compassion, that I am un-Christian, that I don't know what it is like because I haven't been there, because I spoke out quite vehemently about my total and utter lack of sympathy for drug abusers and other people who CHOOSE and ALLOW their addictions to overtake their lives and wreak havoc on those around them.  How their deaths are not tragic, but a result of their choices.  How we need to feel compassion for the victims, not the victimizers.  I have to tell you, I should have let it go, but that dogged Aspie brain won't let me, and it has left me very unsettled.

Now I do believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is strong enough, forgiving enough, and loving enough to forgive even the worst of us--if I didn't believe that, then I wouldn't have my faith--BUT at the end of the day we have to choose to repent and accept that love and forgiveness, and sadly, I have come to the conclusion that many won't.  I pray that they will choose repentance at the moment of judgment, and I can't know what will happen.  But  we have to accept that these truly evil people are going to remain truly evil.  And there ARE truly evil people in this world.  It does no good to pretend that if we just treated people nicer everyone would be nice back and we'd all live in a happy utopia.  The Aurora shooting is only one example that that idea doesn't, and never has, worked, because evil is EVIL.

So, I think of this argument I have been having, and I think of it in light of the shooting in Aurora.  Of brain tumors, of the many fighting diabetes and cancer and grave illnesses. I think of shooting victims and rape victims and people torn apart by violence.

And here I draw the line and make my stand.  I do not care, at all, what circumstances caused you to follow a path of destruction.  I have compassion if you came from a hard background but in no way does that give you any justification or excuse to follow destructive and/or violent and evil behavior.  If you do this, I will pray for your soul, but I don't have any sympathy for you.  Not a drop.  Now if you work to escape, to get clean, to stop acting in violence, then you have my utmost respect and support.  But not if you are one of the many who simply do it because they want to and don't care about anyone else.

And to the victims of both fate and the hands of other people, for you my well of compassion and my prayers well endlessly.  Know we have a God that will be there, even at the darkest of times.  And if you don't believe me, just ask him.  He'll tell you Himself.

God bless you all,


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God bless the USA

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July.  Tomorrow we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (and yes, I know it actually took months, but work with me here), and the birth of the United States of America as a sovereign nation.

I present for you here the song Is Anybody there from 1776, a movie which never fails to move me, and a song which never fails to stir my soul.

John Adams, I see what what you saw.  Despite the many, many mistakes and wrong turns America has made during the last 50 years and especially the last 4 that have brought us back to almost the same state you fought against over 230 years ago, I STILL see what you see.  I still have a love for  my country and a belief in what she was once and can be again burning in my heart.  And believe me, as best as I am able, being neither eloquent nor charismatic,  politician nor journalist, I will still fight for this country we both love.  You spoke in your letters of commitment.  I promise you, I am committed.

And shame, SHAME on our politicians for caring more about reelections and spinning the media and campaign money then they do about the citizens they represent and the ideals that formed this country.  FIE on them for forgetting true patriotism, true selflessness.  Our Founding fathers, though surely there was disagreement and acrimony and backstabbing, never, NEVER lost sight of the fact that their goal was to nurture and protect the cause of freedom and liberty in this country, freshly created, unique in all of history.  History should teach us lessons.  I say to all elected officials, it is time to start learning.

So the Erudite Aspie is going to take a few days off to celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on earth. And before I go, please listen to our national anthem.  And if you get teary eyed, well, so do I.  Every single time.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

God bless you all, and God bless the USA.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open question for Aspies, and employers

As an Aspie, is it a good idea to mention that you have Asperger's during a job interview?  

The cons, of course, are obvious, especially in this job market.  The pros, though, are that if you don't, and you end up in a situation that pushes your Aspie buttons, how can you get out of it?  

What, WHAT is the best thing to do?  Anyone who employs people, what is your advice?

I admit here and I now that I just don't know.  I don't have a clue.  And as it is a rather pertinent issue, well, please discuss and comment and elucidate!  If commenting here gives you fits (I HATE captchas), please comment on FB or Google+.

And maybe we will, working together, find the answer.  



Monday, June 25, 2012

Autism and bogus science

OK, one of the things that most annoys me in this world is crappy science that is then used to scare people or deliberately mislead them. Intelligent design is bogus.  You do not have thyroid problems because of a lack of iodine in your diet unless you live in a third world country.  Anthropogenic global warming is not  happening.

And MMR does NOT cause autism.

I have been seeing 'don't give your child vaccines because it can cause autism' crap on FB again, and frankly, this is the sort of things that pushes my very personal and unique Aspie buttons and leaves me just enraged.  I despise, hate, abhor bad science.  Thank you, Jenny McCarthy.  And to my friends who posted this and may believe it, well, I do the research and call it as I see it.

Let's all take a step back from panic land for a second and look at the root causes of Autism.  I wrote this post about the genetic cause of Autism last year.  A quick search on the same topic showed this fascinating news from April of this year about the discovery of a gene mutation that seems to cause autism.  I'll reiterate and reemphasize:  You are BORN with this.  It CAN'T be cured.  It is NOT a chemical imbalance.  Moms and dads, you are NOT RESPONSIBLE for your kid having autism.

It is true that there seem to be some environmental factors to autism, but none of them are the ones we hear about.  This article, while being honest enough to say that environmental triggers weren't specifically studied, nonetheless mentions some of the ones that have long been understood.  The age of the parent--older parents do have a higher tendency to have autistic children.  Multiple births, low birth weight, any medications the mother takes while pregnant.  In other words, all environmental factors that happen while the child is in embryo.  Not vaccines.

Yes, some kids have bad reactions to some vaccines (though the vast, vast majority don't).  We've heard the horror stories.  It's awful, it is sad, but it isn't why your child is autistic.  And for those who say that their child was fine until after his vaccines when he was two or three?  Well, please note this list of child development benchmarks for age 2.  You'll notice that the areas that are affected by Autism don't even become apparent until the child is at least that age.  Before then, you would never notice.

Don't believe me yet?  Try this 2011 article.  Or this.

But more importantly, think about it logically.  We see that autism is a genetic disorder.  Ergo, it isn't chemical in nature.  Ergo again, nothing you do can change that.  And in fact MMR DID cause autism, wouldn't pretty much every child in the civilized world have it?

To conclude this vehement, link filled, and perhaps a bit disjointed post, I just want to warn parents to actually look at the good science underneath the shock science.  To know that the studies you see sprawled over the newspapers and the main stream media are almost never accurate, and are cherry picked to scare (and, shock, bring in viewers, readers, thus money).  More importantly, this sort of things feeds on the basic nature of a caring, nurturing mother plagued with guilt because they think they might have done something to cause their child to be autistic.  And to take advantage of the emotional state of truly wonderful mothers--I have an aunt with an autistic child who is a perfect example of this--really, truly bugs me.  It isn't fair to make these parents feel worse because you might sell one more book or get one more big advertiser for the 5:00 news slot.

Again, parents, you are NOT to blame.  And God bless all parents of Autistic kids and special needs kids in general for the great and good work that you do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Upcoming topics

I am writing a quick coming attractions post not only to let you marvelous people know what is coming in the next week or so, but also so you can all hold me accountable for actually doing the research and writing.  :)

  • MMR does NOT cause autism.  Period.  Full stop.  The end.
  • Shoddy science and political/financial gain when it comes to autism
  • How to talk about Asperger's to others. Without being, well, too much an Aspie.
This is all I can think of for now, but as always, put topic suggestions in the comments below.  Or, since the captcha thing is a pain in the butt, comment on my FB wall.  If you aren't FB friends with me, why not?  Add me now. 


Success! And that emergency room trip...

Well, my days with old college friends I was looking forward to with excitement and trepidation?

It was a rousing, complete, really really fun success.  Not only was it great to talk to them, but I managed to restrain myself when my Aspie brain was screaming at me.  A couple of times it was tricky, but I managed to keep what was in my brain, in my brain, and though each time it took me a bit to calm down, I was able to do so with time by myself before I entered a new situation.  I can say that if you can avoid driving through the Caldecott tunnel during Rush hour when you are very upset, I'd suggest it.

I had really lovely time being around the Berkeley Campus again, joining my friend's running group in a good solid workout, eating at La Burrita, seeing the Campanile, getting hot chocolate at Cafe Strada.  It reminded me just how much I love UC Berkeley.  The campus still speaks to me and reaches out and touches my soul.

I also enjoyed having wonderful discussions about interesting topics that engaged me, interested me, and taught me.  It was so wonderfully intellectually stimulating!  I didn't realize how much I'd thirsted for just that sort of exchange of thoughts and ideas--it brought back those heady college days with the same college friends.  We just slipped back into the same pattern (and we all look exactly the same way we did 14 years ago, which amuses me).  I have to admit that at dinner one night I just got caught up, my biggest fear was that in getting so excited and happy and exuberant I might have come across too strong, as I was so involved I forgot to do my normal self-monitoring during the conversation.  All I can do is hope it went well.

It was also lovely seeing my cousins and their truly amazing two and a half year old son.  One of the highlights of the weekend was playing with the (smart, creative, imaginative, wonderful) toddler for over an hour and trying to interpret his toddlerese while mom cooked dinner.  It was good to be an auntie.

I also learned that with direction, guidance, and someone who knows how to lead, I can actually fake my way through dancing pretty well!  I danced two nights and truly had a blast.  It makes me want to find places to dance in my hometown now.  This is a big turning point for me, even five years ago going to a dancing lesson then dancing, especially with strangers, wouldn't have been possible because I was too self conscious.  I think a lot of my self-consciousness in my 20s came from my lack of social skills from being an Aspie, and now that I have worked hard to gain those skills by rote, I am much less  scared to put myself out there.  I've learned that it's OK if I am not good at dancing or don't know the steps, that people honestly are nice and are willing to teach and forgive mistakes, and that a smile and a laugh makes it fun even if I tread on a toe or so.  I'm so glad I got past the anti-dancing block in my head because it gives me one more thing to enjoy in life.  And my friend was indeed an excellent teacher.

I also only finished half of my race before being rushed to the emergency room because I couldn't breathe, but I am not thinking about that part.  It's the only mark on the weekend, and though it frustrates and upsets me, I am determined to simply move on, try again, and think of the good instead of the bad.

I'm tired, my lungs are still weak, and my legs are sore, but I have days of good memories stored up. Did I have to fight the Aspie monster?  Well, yeah, I always do.  But this time, I won.

Life.  For all the bad moments, you get the days like this, and it makes it all worth while.

God is good,


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EA taking a break, and yes, her Aspie brain is a biiiiit worried

Well, everyone, now that I have gotten better at writing blog posts, and I am SURE you all hang on my every word...I am here to tell you that I am going to be gone for a few days.  I am, in fact, going to spend a few days on the East Bay visiting with friends that I haven't seen since I graduated from Berkeley.  In 1998.  14 years later, it is time for a reunion.

Of course, these are people I knew and were friends with back in 1998.  When I was pretty much at my worst Aspie self.  We three lived in Westminster house at UC Berkeley, and I wince, just WINCE, at my memories of how I acted during that time.    Sure, I could blame it on being an Aspie and not knowing it, but see my previous post for reasons I can't give myself such an easy out.

So I hope and pray and thank God that grudges won't have been held over 14 years.  And I thank God that these are people who KNOW I am an Aspie and will be forgiving.  And I am sweating, hoping and praying, that I don't make a mistake.  Please, oh please, let me remember everything I have learned about how to function in society and know what to say and have practiced and rehearsed so I can have fun and NOT be an idiot, upset or annoy people, act stupid, say the wrong thing, etc.  Please.

And this SHOULD be a great, great time.  Unfortunately, for the Aspie great times that include people are fraught.  So I will pray, and I will be honest, and I will enjoy myself.  And if it tires me out, it is part of the price I must always pay to be a normal, socializing person.  You know what?  It's worth it.  It really is.

See you next week, mes amis!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Erudite Aspie on the Hunt...

...for a job that is.

Being unemployed is distressful for anyone, but at least most of us could take a job that an Aspie would have a very hard time enduring.

Yes, I said enduring.

We all have a bad day at work now and then, maybe a bad week. And we all have coworkers that we might not get along with very well, or even dislike intensely.  But difference between we neurotypicals and our Aspie colleagues, is that we can recognize that the occasional bad day (okay, okay, or month) at work is just that--a bad day that is probably entirely out of our control.  And when someone is out to get us, we usually recognize it.

Aspies, not so much.  High or low, Aspies have a very hard time when things are not under their control.  When a coworker acts in what I consider an irrational way, well, I can shrug my shoulders and go about my business. Erudite Aspie cannot, at least not easily.  She used to ask me "Why don't they see that they are doing it all wrong?  If they would just listen to me they would do it right!"  Even though she now knows better than to ask the question, she still can't help but feel that way.

And nobody likes some extremely bright know-it-all telling them what to do, even if they are right.

Add to that the difficulty Aspies have recognizing when someone is out to get them, and you can see how many job situations are untenable for even high functioning Aspies. EA's last job was within her ability to cope right up until they put her in situations that she could not handle (or understand once she finally recognized it for what it was): a vindictive supervisor who used physical and emotional intimidation tactics, too much time on a public desk where she was subject to abuse by the patrons, and absolutely no support from management in general.  The last two years of her employment there were brutal, and I was so glad to see her shake the dust from there.

But the reality is that she needs a job, she wants a job, but she's getting very frightened about ever having a good one again, not only because of the horrible job market, and not only because her skill set is fairly limited (she's a librarian.  'nuff said), and not only because her last job was so horrific that she's actually afraid of getting into that sort of situation again, and not only because she's and Aspie, but...

...oh, is all of those things.  Sorry, my mistake.

What she needs is a job that plays on her strengths de-emphasizes her weaknesses. Yeah, everyone needs that, but it's much harder for people on the Spectrum.  What does she need?  Little face or voice contact with unknown people is very important.  She's extremely intelligent, so even if she doesn't know much at the outset, she will before long because she learns quickly and delightedly. She reads fast and comprehends much.  She knows her way around the Internet, and she writes very well, so written communication--unlike spoken--is easy for her. She is extremely organized and can find the easiest, most efficient way to do a job with great glee.  She would like to be respected for what she can do, which actually is a lot, and would love to have a job where her intelligence was admired rather than envied.  And if she could do it at home, score.

Not a lot to ask, except in this job market, where it is.  I hate to see her like this because it 's so very frustrating for her and there's nothing I can do to help her.  To parents of Aspie kids, beware of this.  If she'd known 20 or 30 years ago that there are just some things she will have a hard time doing, she could have made career choices that were a better match.  But but we didn't know, and she didn't.

And here we are.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The reason, but NEVER the excuse

OK, time to tackle a hard topic.

I am friends on FB and in real life with a fair number of people who either are somewhere on the Autism Spectrum or are parenting someone on the Autism Spectrum, everything from classic Autism to people like me, who seem fine on the surface unless you know what is in the brain.  I see many such posts about how we have to understand and be more accepting of bad behavior from Autistic kids because they don't have control over it, and we need to understand the differences between a bratty kid temper tantrum and an Autistic meltdown. And to some extent, this is true.

But, and here is where people might disagree with me, HAVING AUTISM IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO BE A BRAT.

Whew.  I said it.

The thing is, if you are anywhere on the Autistic Spectrum you DO have meltdowns.  These are totally understandable to someone who knows the etiology of Autism.  And yes, as a society who cares about our children struggling with a true mental disability or at least a challenge, we need to be understanding.  And if you are a parent who has a child in the middle of the meltdown, it is absolutely essential to figure out then practice what buttons you can press to calm them down, or avoid triggering an attack all together if you can prevent it.  If you are a friend of someone on the Spectrum who is having a meltdown, you should certainly be calm and understanding and help them out.  Because we are not doing this on purpose.

BUT.  If your child is screaming in the middle of the grocery store because he is having a meltdown, it is NOT OK for him to be doing this  You need to take him away and calm down.  If your child gets everything they want because they have a meltdown when they don't get their way, this is NOT OK.  They will get spoiled.  And if they behave badly in every social situation this is NOT OK.  You need to either remove them from the situations, or train them to handle them, or both.  If you treat your friends badly and alienate them continually, even though they try to be understanding and helpful, you don't deserve to have those friends.

You see, being an Aspie is hard.  It is hard for me to hold conversations with people (though it is much better than it used to be).  It is hard for me to keep my mouth shut and be politic and not hurt people's feelings.  It is hard for me to pay attention to any given conversation to make sure I say enough to be interested, not so much I dominate the conversation, to try and know if people are interested though I can't read body language to save my immortal soul.  It is hard to not fidget so much.  It is hard for me to be on the phone.  It is hard for me to let go of upset or frustration or worry so I can move on with life.  It is hard for me to not dissect every conversation I have with people for hours after it happened worried that I made  a mistake somewhere along the line.

But society, manners, culture, the mores of good behavior dictate that I do these things.  And while understanding of others is nice, the plain fact of the matter is that the burden of learning to deal with society and maintain friendships and have good behavior lies on me.  Not society.  I can hope society may  forgive me my slip ups, and I certainly hope I can learn to forgive myself for making mistakes.  I can understand it is hard for me, and avoid situations I know I can't handle. I can work hard to gain the tools needed to function in society in such a way that people don't know I am an Aspie.  And through sheer determination, a stubborn mother, and the grace of God, I have managed to do these things.  Mostly.

But at the end of the day my Asperger's is a reason these things are hard for me.  It is the reason I end up exhausted after every social day,  even when I have had a good time.  It's the reason I am so often frustrated.  But if I treat someone badly, if I commit an egregious social faux pas, if I have a meltdown and cause a scene rather then leaving until I can calm down, that is on me.  Society doesn't have to conform to me.  I have to conform to them.

Because Asperger's may be the reason, but it is never, never the excuse.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My love/hate relationship with the family reunion

Let's start this post off by doing something I've never done before, and add a picture!  This is the Oates section of the family, being the daughters, grandchildren, adopted grandchildren, future husband, significant other, and best friend in the whole world.  We consider the term 'family' loose, broad, and having almost nothing to do with, you know, actual blood relations.

So.  Our family reunion happens every Memorial Day at King City, CA, and we just finished celebrating it for the 26th time.  I have never missed a reunion.  It was started by my Grammy and Grandaddy and started quite small, but grew until we now have an average of 100 people that come at least a day, if not the whole weekend.  It starts slow on Friday night, kicks into gear Saturday, and the full blown celebration happens Sunday.  Monday is cleaning, packing, and saying goodbye for another year.  Food and beverages of all kinds (especially alcoholic kinds!) are in abundance, you can always find a deck of cards, there is park to wander through and a river to play in, and a group of guys even plays golf on Sunday afternoon.  It is, in short, a fun family filled weekend.  Because of the reunion I know my cousins--and my second and third cousins and all of the removed cousins as well.  I've met my family from Germany, and all across the US.  A one point I believe we had 6 generations represented, until my uncle died in his 90s as the last of his generation.  We talk, we eat, we  play, we have fun.  It is a good time.  I happen to love the vast majority of my relatives so seeing them at least once a year is a treat.  My sister of the heart and my best friend comes, and I just love being with them for a few days that spread out before us with nothing to do but together.  And relax.  And eat waaaaaay too much.

The highlight is Sunday night when we have a huge and yummy BBQ dinner and have the Milestone cake.  Birthdays, pregnancies, marriages, graduations, and if you hit a home run for the first time ever or got a gold star for perfect attendance in your Kindergarten class, we celebrate them all with enthusiasm.  And we mourn and honor those in our family who shook off that mortal coil in the previous year. It's a good, fun, uniting time.  

That's the LOVE.  

But there are things I hate about the reunion too.  First, there are just TOO Many people, which is funny because it is also one of the best things.  I can sometimes handle it because I have been to the reunion enough that my brain knows exactly what is going to be said to me and what I have to say in return.  It's a if this person says A, then I say A, B, C type of thing.  I may appear comfortable and verbal and calm and outgoing, but in reality my brain has simply processed the rhythm of the reunion so I fake it pretty well. Also, as I said, I genuinely LIKE my family.  But with so many people I sometimes feel hemmed in overwhelmed, and needing to escape.  For example, this year I spent some time with just a couple of people at the tent because I had to get away.  I'm used to it, and I can fake it, but DANG it exhausts me.  Just wipes me out.

Second, one of the ways in which my Aspie manifests itself is that I  just have a hard time letting things go. If I make a mistake or if something wrong happens, I get eaten with worry--not so much guilt, but worry--about it all weekend.  If someone says something that hurts me, I have a hard time relaxing around them.  If I am upset by someone, I have a hard time just ignoring it and letting it go.  I won't go into particulars as to the why in order to preserve someone else's anonymity, but this year I had a mini breakdown Sunday morning because I was just so very worried and angry about a situation it took over my brain the whole time. Thus, the reunion becomes for me an emotional roller coaster at times that shakes me up and doesn't stop.  

So. to sum up, though I love it every year and look forward to Friday night, by the time Monday comes I am glad it is over.  

No matter what, though I LOVE my family, I love my reunion, and no matter what you will see me there year after year.  It's just what we do.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random question of the night

OK, here is the situation.  Let's say you have intimate acquaintance with someone and know that they are basically an awful human being.  And let's be honest everyone, awful human beings do exist and we all know at least one. 

AND, let's just say that this person is so good at appearing affable that everyone says well they may have their flaws but they are just so nice, so affable!  

Doesn't that just make your head want to explode?  Don't you want to say no, they are NOT affable!  Look at the actions!  Look at how rude, patronizing, lying, cheating, lazy, passive aggressive, self centered, and selfish this person is!  This person is a horrible human being!  Arg!

Well, I sure as heck do.  It drives me crazy.  It is very, very hard to remain politic.  And sometimes I just can't hold it in.

In other news, I had a bad few hours today with a certain someone. 

And my readers?  You are all awesome of course!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Highlander Clare is not an Aspie

OK, I'm squeezing in one more post before leaving for our Annual Family reunion this Friday.  My love/hate relationship with the family reunion is something I'll post about next week, but first, I want to write about something that has intrigued me quite a bit recently.

To give some background, I, alone with the Erudite Mom, are part of a historical reenactment guild called Saint Andrew's Noble order of the Royal Scots.  What we do is reenact the court of Mary Queen of Scots in 1562, right after she came back from France, when she toured the country in Scotland in an attempt to learn about the people she ruled but had never known.  It's great, great fun, think of the best of Renaissance Faires and Scottish Games all rolled into one.  We are huge history buffs, so this was a natural.  And the garb, OH the garb is so much fun!  The people in the guild are wonderful, and the beer is awesome.

At this point, the person with an average knowledge of Asperger's is probably thinking, how the HECK can an Aspie do this?  It requires being around people all the time, and not just being around them, but communicating and interacting with them.  This hits about every Aspie stress button there is.

I must admit that I had some hesitation when I joined.  But here is the rub--my character in the guild is Highlander Clare MacAndrews, and I along with my mother Jenn are the Queen's royal mead makers and brewers.  The time we are at Faire I am always Clare, immersed completely in the experience.  I live in 1562.  I dress in period appropriate clothes, I speak in the best Faux Renaissance era Scottish accent I can muster, I only use wood and metal and leather, and I carry my tankard on my belt.  

In short, I am not myself.  

And Clare is not an Aspie.

It took me a bit to figure out just how I can pull this off and I finally figured it out--I am ACTING.  Aspies suck at small talk and we can't read people, but tell us exactly what to do, have us play a role, and we are good to go.  I am acting like Clare, I become Clare, and I am fine.  I have my role, my place, and in such a defined setting with defined tasks I am comfortable as can be.

I must admit, it is a wonderful thing indeed to be normal here and again.

God save Her Majesty!

And heck, the rest of us as well. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A month in Europe...or not?

Oh, the difficult decision I face!

The Erudite Mom has long since been planning to be gone in June to spend a few weeks spending the Erudite sister in Hull, do some traveling in England, then swing to Norway for a few days to visit my brother.  I was jealous, sure, but there is always time to travel, I've done my share of traveling, I was in Italy 3 years ago, etc.  And plus, we have animals.  Seven cats, a dog, two turtles, and a bearded dragon.  Someone has to take care of the animals.

THEN, she said she was planning on going to Edinburgh.  And Stonehenge.

Big, fat, whimper.  NOW I want to go.  Badly.  A lot.

I would miss a half marathon and my chance to finish the Tour de Fit series put on by Change of Pace.  And some Guild events.  And now that I think about, Chuck signed up for that race just to do it with me.  I can hardly back out.  But...Edinburgh.

So it must be decided, do I throw financial caution to the winds for such a fabulous trip (though it would be a budget trip due to not having to get hotels or eat in restaurants and having a car in England)?  Does mom find a student we can trust to take care of the animals (the dog can stay with my aunt, that one is easy)?  Should I?

There are worse dilemmas to face. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Musical postscript to today's post.

This song says it best.  Sorry it won't embed...but clicking on a link isn't too hard, right?

The Shelter by Jars of Clay

When I am the sane one....

Something is wrong!

I have a friend deeply struggling right now (please pray for her all you praying types) and I am the one sole rational voice in her life.

And I'm an Aspie.

When I am acting as Highlander Clare in my Historical Reenactment Guild I am able to be with the patrons, talk to them, answer their questions, ad lib, and act, all in character, all without a blip of concern. My mom jokes--Clare isn't an Aspie.

And I'm an Aspie.

I have recently seen by action and been told by other people that I have truly been a force for positive and good in their lives--most especially in the areas of running or otherwise working out and getting fit.  A friend of mine, a new runner, just did her first 10K last weekend (and beat me!!!).  Another friend who has an injured hip nevertheless wants to do her first 5K this fall.  The ladies in the orthodontist office are talking about doing a mud run because I talked about how much I loved mine.

And I'm an Aspie.

And trust me, I AM an Aspie.  Boy oh boy do I have my moments.  This post highlights the worst of my recent moments.  And I have to have things in order, and I still think in patterns and love cycles.  And I can't read body language to save my life.  And my mom still has to nudge me when I talk to much or too loud every once in a while.

But through the grace of God and His power in my life, I have been able to be overcome the diagnosis and simply be.  A runner, a Christian, a friend, a confidante, an encourager.  This poor broken vessel of mine is made perfect by the grace of God, and I feel such joy knowing I've been able to be a force for good, for encouragement, for bringing some of the radiant joy God gives to my life to other people.   I can do it because HE does it through me, because my friends and family uplift and encourage me always, and because I have faith and hope and optimism in this world that so often tries to take all those things away.

So yes, I am an Aspie.  But I am so much more than that.

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aspies Unite!

First, where the HECK did the last month go?  Have I been living in a time warp?  Oof.

OK, on to our topic!  One of my Facebook friends suggested that I write about whether I can easily recognize Aspies, whether I know any, and whether I'd have appreciated having a mentor when I was younger.  The answers are usually, yes, and yes. But let me explain (because otherwise this post would be way too short).

As far as recognizing my fellow Aspies, I usually can but it does depend.  On the surface, when I first meet them, I sometimes can tell if they display some of the more obvious signs--bad at small talk, avoiding eye contact, etc.  Of course, being an Aspie myself, this sometimes goes right over my head.  You have to be REALLY nervous in a social situation for me to pick up on it, since I'm usually being hyper careful to not make a faux pas and to try and do everything right myself.  I have met some people I can peg as Aspies pretty early just from behavior and the topic of their conversation--If I am thinking that I would feel the exact same way and boy haven't I had that problem, I bet this person is an Aspie.  On a different level, I have had a few people message me privately and say you know, I've read your blog and I have this and this and this in common with you, and when this happens I react this way.  What do you think? Presented with this, it is VERY easy to tell.

Caveat:  I am NOT a trained professional.  I have never taken a Psych class.  I can't give an official diagnosis.  But then again, I was diagnosed incorrectly by more than one trained professional over the years.  So frankly, I trust myself.

As far as knowing people who are Aspies, I have actually met several on FB through Autism communities, friends of friends, etc.  I'm not shy about having Asperger's and those of us living on the Autism Spectrum seem to sort of come together through the glory of social networking.  It's nice hearing from them and sharing with them, I am so grateful for my FB Aspie friends!  I also have one friend who is also an Aspie, not officially diagnosed, but an Aspie nonetheless.  He does not talk about it publicly, so I shall keep his anonymity.  I can tell you though that over the past few months he has been a Godsend in that when I am struggling with Aspie induced difficulties and need advice or just need to vent, he has been there.  It is SO nice to have someone with this in common to talk with and I am grateful for FB for giving us the forum.  We recently had a long conversation that was full of you I do this, do you?  Yep.  Sigh.  Or no, but I do something similar.  It's the sort of stuff you almost have to be an Aspie to understand.

As to having a mentor--when I was growing up, if I  had known, it would have been helpful.  Very much so.  If I'd known an older Aspie who had been there and done that in the complicated mess of navigating being an Aspie AND public school AND puberty, well, it would have helped.  Then again, just knowing I  had Asperger's would have been a very nice then back then.  I can only be grateful to my mom for dragging me along as best as she could so I made it out fairly intact the other side.  Now, I appreciate the friendship and advice, but I no longer feel I need a mentor per se.  With the internet providing knowledge and without hormones shooting willy nilly through my poor body, I feel MUCH more in control.  At least most of the time.  And when I lose it, well, I have a friend to vent to.

God bless you all,

Erudite Aspie

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can I be Breitbart?

Ok, I know this is a blog about my life on the Spectrum,  but today I have to dip into the political arena, just a bit.  And heck, this is my blog, so I can and shall do as I please.  :)

For those that have their heads buried under a pillow or have spent the last week sipping mai tais on a deserted beach without electricity, Andrew Breitbart passed away of a heart attack just after midnight on March 1, 2012.  Political activist that fought the machine for all he was worth, laughed in the face of the copious amounts of hate that was piled on him, fearless defender of America and of all new media people seeking to find the truth, he was also a beloved husband and father of four, who will be greatly missed.

Now, not being a political blogger or a mover and shaker in that arena, I never met him.  And still his vision, strength, kindness, and sheer guts impressed me greatly, and I am still having a hard time believing he is gone.  I can't imagine how badly the many, many  people who knew him feel if I am still shaky about it.  There are many. MANY good videos and blog entries about him, but  I encourage you highly to read this post (about Andrew Breitbart, which shows his interests were many and varied)  from an EXCELLENT site about Autism and source for good information, Rethinking Autism.

In a future post I will write why I like the blog Rethinking Autism and am not so much a fan of Autism Speaks, but that is for the future.

Today, what interests me is whether I, indeed, have the guts to be Andrew Breitbart.

Do I have the strength to stand up against the narrative, knowing full well I will alienate friends and family in the process?  Do I have the determination to blog regularly, do research, and be consistent?  Do I have the ability to write well enough, charismatically enough, to make a difference?

In other words, can I channel even the smallest portion of the legacy of Andrew Breitbart and join the thousands of others who share the same vision of America, the same understanding of the culture war and the outright collusion between government and the media, and are frankly sick and tired of letting the narrative be taken away from us?  Am I, finally, ready to stand with these bloggers and start fighting back?

I'd like to say I do it in little ways.  I vote.  I am clear about what I believe and don't shy away from it.  But I don't invite or incite political discussion either.

But maybe, just maybe, it is time.  Because as Steve Green points out in this Trifecta episode, it is time to start speaking.

Do I have a voice?  Breitbart would have said yes.  He then would have cracked open a bottle of wine, sat down, and showed me exactly how.

We are all Breitbart now.  We have to be.  Because the cost is too high not to do it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Holy Moly, has it really been that long?

I swear, I have no idea how a month slipped by between posts.  I really don't.  Perhaps because taking care of my Dad has sucked up so much time and energy?  Or, maybe it is because I am spending so much time running and working out?  Or do I perhaps just not have anything to say?

Or maybe, just maybe, I suck at blogging.  :)

Anyway, with a strong desire to post something and in lieu of anything better to say, I give you this.  The Erudite Sister put it on my FB wall.  Because if you can't laugh at yourself...

May God bless us all, especially those of us with that insane Aspie brain he created...

internet memes - 'Your mother and I don't believe in that Pop-psychology-bibble-babble'

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aspie as a Caretaker, ie why it has been almost four months since my last post

Hello everyone--

First, I am humbly ashamed, and quite chagrined, that it has been so long since my last blog post. I've not forgotten you all, I promise.  These past few months have been filled with activities that both are keeping me busy, and in one case, draining a goodly amount of my emotional energy every day.  And THAT is going to be the subject of this post.

First, for those that don't know, the Erudite Mom has thyroid cancer.  She's been battling the stubborn beast for 4 years now, and during the end of September through the holidays she was dealing with surgery and Radioactive Iodine treatment.  I have taken care of her during this time.  It is really much like tending for a child--you do all the cooking, cleaning, errands.  Fortunately for me,  my mother is undemanding and gracious.  And praise God, she is feeling much better now.  Though I may let out a gusty sigh when I have to empty the dishwasher yet AGAIN, being a caretaker for my mom was as easy as such things get.

Not so with my father.

I got a call the day after Thanksgiving from my Cousin informing me that Dad was in the hospital in emergency surgery.  Now, I knew my dad had issues and was seeing the doctor.  I was NOT prepared for it to get as bad as it did, as fast as it did, and put him into surgery.  Summarizing, my Dad had Charcot's disease in his left foot, meaning that all the bones in foot are soft, and they fractured.  Plus, he had several diabetic ulcers.  To make life more fun, his talus bone slipped out of one of the ulcers, got exposed to air, got infected, and managed to infect his entire foot before the bone itself died.  I'll spare the rest of the details, but let's just say that my dad's left foot and lower leg is in an external fixator called a Ilizarov frame (google yourself for pictures, they are slightly disturbing if you are squeamish so I don't want to link here) to hold it all in place, is non weight bearing, and will be for several more months. His right foot isn't much better, as it also has Charcot's disease and can only handle his considerable weight for the briefest amounts of time, like transferring from bed to wheelchair.

Although since November he has been in the hospital or in a Rehabilitation center, on Tuesday afternoon he is going home, complete with the necessary equipment and professional help to get him started.  I am going to be in charge of feeding him his low fat diabetic diet and making sure he does his PT every day.  Tomorrow and every Monday will be spent cooking a week's worth of food that can be heated up or eaten cold, as he can't cook.

I am sure you can imagine the rounds of Rehab visits, PT training visits (which was actually interesting for my exercise, science oriented brain), doctor's visits, errands, questions asked, phone calls, etc I have had to do.  And with him at home, I face yet more.

Now, this normally would be fairly exhausting, but I am unemployed.  I have all the time in the world, right?  And I'm tough, capable of prioritizing my time to the Nth degree and working hard with a purpose to get all accomplished.  I'm GOOD at this.

Except when faced with a father like mine.  A man who doesn't listen to half of what I say, ask half of what I need to know, or pay any attention at all.  A father who is in this situation ONLY because of bad decisions he has made in his life.  A father who has no problem lying to everyone around him to get what he wants.  A father who has no problem lying to medical staff right in front of me if it will save face, even at the cost of making me look cruel or incompetent.  A passive aggressive father who will flat out lie to your face in order to get you to shut up and then goes off and does whatever he wants.

My Neurotypical friends, imagine how this would make you feel.  Tearing your hair out yet?

Now multiply that feeling by a thousand, and you might understand how hard it is on the Aspie.

And this isn't going to end anytime soon, it will be well over a year (since they have to operate and put an external fixator on his right leg when the left leg is done) before he is healed, and he is always going to have troubles walking.  If he is lucky, and CAN walk again.  It's a horrible thing.  Moral of the story, if you are diabetic:  WATCH YOUR DIET AND CHECK YOUR FEET.

So, I just have to get used to this.  Realistically, it is way easier on me than those last few years working for Salinas Public Library were on the emotional front.  I also have the support of the Erudite Mom and Erudite Siblings, which helps to no end.

And when I get too stressed out, I just go out for a run.  There is a reason I run half marathons.

So pray for Dad, and pray for me, and I hereby promise to post more often.  As always, if you have a topic, put it in the comments!

God bless you all,