Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Must vent before I put on my big girl panties

OK, this has NOTHING to do with being an Aspie, but I am frustrated and annoyed and pissed off, and I need to vent off before I just suck it up and do it anyway.

As those of you who follow my personal account on FB know I am having to take, as it is requirement for the Nuc Med technician training program I want to get into, a beginning speech class.

This for a girl with a BA, an MLIS, who has been public speaking since 3d grade.  Who has taught, and led workshops.  But God forbid my EXPERIENCE counts.  Because they need a class and grade to prove I know how to communicate. ARG!!!!

THEN, I get to the class.  My friends, I have no problem with teaching public speaking because truly, it is a skill I was born doing, but so many people have a hard time with it, and I respect the fact it is an essential skill that should be taught.  This class includes how to research at a college level, another thing I FULLY think everyone should know how to do and it should be taught to them (though at the high school level).  I wonder if the prof would let the former librarian teach that part?

What I object too, seriously and strenuously, and what has me tearing out my hair and really wanting to drink a beer, is how dumbed DOWN all this is.  Examples:

  • The syllabus includes course outlines and a listing of the learning objectives that will be taught in this class.  We are also told, in great detail, what plagiarism is and not to cheat.
  • We have a grade tracker sheet, to put down our points, and the points we can recieve, and an explanation of how to calculate our grade.
  • We have an outline of how to write a two page paper.  The suggestion is to split a piece of paper in half and write ideas on both sides that are pros and cons or some such thing. I couldn't read any farther, my brain exploded.
  • We are told that we have to write our name on the board before giving a speech, and to throw away gum first.
  • We have to critique speeches.  We have to make eye contact with at least three people in class.  Because you know, if you don't give a specific number we might forget or something.  Granted, this IS important, and it also includes things like posture and voice reaching to the back of the room, also important.  
  • We have to outline our speeches.  
  • We are REQUIRED to have visual aids.
And the teacher, to her credit, has all this laid out and a lot of supplemental information, organized well, online. 

But am I the only one who sees this and thinks, this is a high school class?  My mom teaches high school.  This is EXACTLY what she does with her students.  

Now, it is bad enough that I have to take this class, but I can suck it up because I have to do it I have no choice.  It's just another stupid hurdle.  What is driving me crazy, what I just can't quite get my head wrapped around, is the fact that these community colleges have been dumbed down to the point that they are like high school.  I can handle going back to my early college days.  I resent bitterly having to go back to high school.  And it was NOT like this when I was at the community college.  I had real classes, with college expectations both in content and delivery, and it was not dumbed down.

Asking my teacher mother why this is so, and she says flat out because the kids aren't learning it in high school.  Not because they can't, not because they aren't being taught by many dedicated teachers, but because they are simply lazy and won't do the work.  Period.  You can give excuses all you want, but it comes down to the majority of kids flat out refusing to learn.  And that just explains sooooo much.

Makes one truly frightened about the state of our future, doesn't it?

Your frankly totally pissed off and aggravated EA, who will do her darndest to refrain from complaining anymore, now that I have written this post.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three basic, practical Aspie coping skills

Ok, I am feeling guilty for not posting more, so you get two today.  In one day!  Woohoo!  Now if I don't write another for three months, you remember this day.

In the past two months I have found myself in two situations that are hard for me.  First, being with an individual person who pushes ALL my Aspie buttons (not maliciously, no blame here), and makes it very, very hard for me to handle.  Second, large groups of people most of whom I don't know.  I've managed to get through these experiences in the moment unscathed, though of course I was tired and frustrated and angry and it took me hours to rebalance myself after the fact.  That's par for the course of being an Aspie, you can't avoid it, so you have to just deal.  In the process though, I have learned three HUGE coping skills that will not only help you get through but will help ensure you don't act in a way that is rude, or hurt anyone's feelings.

A) If you feel the meltdown coming, if your buttons are pushed and you have to fight to keep your mouth shut for politeness sake, when your body starts to tremble and you can't make eye contact anymore, the best thing to do is simply GET OUT. Don't try to fight the breakdown or the anger or the words stopped up in your throat, you won't win the battle and it will wear you to the bone trying. Make an excuse and get out.  Don't be rude, but do be hasty, or you risk saying the wrong thing.  People that know you are an Aspie will recognize and accept this.  If they don't, hopefully you've covered yourself well enough and if you haven't, there is only so much you can do.  Because getting out, getting alone, getting into an activity that relaxes you, is the only thing you can do in this situation. 

B) One of my peculiarities as an Aspie is figuring out how to not talk too much, not dominate the conversation, not say every little thing going on in my brain because it is interesting to me and I assume it is interesting to other people.  The simple solution to that is to ASK A QUESTION.  Ask a question preferably with a long answer.  Get someone talking, it takes much of the burden and weight off of you. If you have a hard time talking, you don't have to talk!  If you have a hard time not talking too much, make them talk a lot first, and you are good!  Plus it shows the other person that you care and that you are really listening, which you ARE (or at least I always am).  It's a win-win.

C) At some point or other we are all going to have to be with a large group of people, and people we don't know, and conversation. When you can't follow the conversation, when the noise is too much, when you are upset about something, when you aren't in a bad enough state to have to get out but you just have to zone out for a while, the easiest way to do this is simply to stop talking.  You can glance around at the speaker so they think you are listening, you can even listen if you choose, but if you don't talk you can fade into the woodwork until you get a grip. Also, not talking precludes the possibility of saying the wrong thing or being rude or looking stupid.  Silence in these situations is always an OK thing.  If it gets too bad, go back to A).

Hope this helps!


Two excellent articles

Bonjour mes amis!

I guess I should stretch this out into two posts to make me look like a more prolific writer and up my blog entry count...but nah.  I love you guys.  You get a twofer.  :)

First up, this.  Now, I got this from Autism Speaks, and I was VERY surprised as other stuff I have seen from Autism Speaks has been suspect.  But this goes along with my blog posting about the root causes here, and helps confirm the truth of my diatribe about bad science when it comes to Autism here.    55 gene changes involved.  That's astonishing, and interesting, and to overuse a word, really truly cool. Because it shows that when I talked about how they were just delving into the genetic research for this over a year ago, that research is now bearing fruit.  And truly, the fact that they have located 55 gene changes involved, one can imagine the infinite variations possible.  It fully explains why different people express autism in different ways.  It explains why it is called, and accurately so, a SPECTRUM.

Oh how I love science.

The second article is this one, I came across it today on FB from an excellent source of Autism information, Rethinking Autism.  Now before the title, Can People Really Outgrow Autism, gets you riled up (as it did me), read these two paragraphs in the article.

Among the many articles covering this study, I couldn’t find a single one featuring an autistic person commenting about the report. As you can see from how the researchers evaluated their 34 “optimal outcomers,” they don’t appear to have asked said optimals about how their internal function jibes with the external results or what they do to achieve those results. Because no one else seems to have bothered to ask autistic people these questions, I did. I polled the autistic community via social media, asking autistic adults what’s going on inside them when they appear outwardly typical and asking any readers if they felt they’d “grown out of” autism. 
Their response was immediate and intense. “I don’t ‘look’ like I have it, but I do,” responded one autistic woman, who went on to describe how she’s learned over time about different expectations for behavior and tried to apply those. Others describe using pattern recognition to navigate socially, while still others report having an “optimal outcome”-like period in later childhood but then experiencing a trough of struggles in early adulthood as new responsibilities and expectations arose. They wrote to me about self-monitoring, about working hard to compensate in social situations but then experiencing crashing exhaustion afterward. They talked about self-selecting their social groups as adults as a way of feeling more socially at ease. The concepts that came up again and again and again were “compensating” and “coping.”

To which I (and my friends on various points on the Autism Spectrum that have commented on FB) can only say, EXACTLY.  And which I feel I must add, even if this was a good study to start with, the fact that it only had 34 members would pretty much totally nullify the validity of the results.

So, there you go.  Two interesting bits of Autism news to lead you to your Friday.

God bless you all,