You know what's fun about prosopagnosia? No matter where you go, your partner and/or best friend appear to be in the same building. Admittedly, the brain feels a bit perplexed when it realizes that they're changing shirts every five minutes...
Yes, this is the kind of thing that amuses me when I'm under great stress.
Posting this because I'm having a discussion with some parents of VATER children that just might be on the Autism Spectrum... I have sent out a slightly modified (or more accurately, "explained") form of Roger Meyer's extensive list of AS Characteristics to a few friends in the past, so now I am putting it on the web for them to check out. :^)
NOTE: these are a list of characteristics of people that are on the Spectrum. It does not mean that we all have all of them -- some are even contradictory, so it wouldn't even be possible! (For example, there is "difficulty in expressing emotions" but many have no problem in that, and it is placed right above "unusual/extreme emotional responses" as there are others that go overboard insetead.)
If any of my spectrumite readers would like to suggest things to be added, please do so! This list is being "expanded" rather than set in stone... :^)
List of Characteristics Found In Autism Spectrum People
Main list originally by Roger Meyer; expanded by online autistics
Susceptibility to distraction
Difficulty in expressing emotions
Unusual or extreme emotional responses
Resistance to or failure to respond to talk therapy
Mental shutdown response to conflicting demands and multi-tasking
Generalized confusion during periods of stress
Low understanding of the reciprocal rules of conversation: interrupting, dominating, minimum participation, difficulty in shifting topics, problem with initiating or terminating conversation, subject perseveration
Insensitivity to the non-verbal cues of others (stance, posture, facial expressions)
Perseveration best characterized by the term "bulldog tenacity"
Literal interpretation of instructions (failure to read between the lines)
Interpreting words and phrases literally (problem with colloquialisms, cliches, neologism, turns of phrase, common humorous expressions)
Preference for visually oriented instruction and training
Dependence on step-by-step learning procedures (disorientation occurs when a step is assumed, deleted, or otherwise overlooked in instruction)
Difficulty in generalizing
Preference for repetitive, often simple routines
Difficulty in understanding rules for games of social entertainment
Missing or misconstruing others' agendas, priorities, preferences
Compelling need to finish one task completely before starting another
Rigid adherence to rules and routines
Difficulty in interpreting meaning to others' activities
Difficulty in drawing relationships between an activity or event and ideas
Exquisite attention to detail, principally visual, or details which can be visualized ("Thinking in Pictures") or cognitive details (often those learned by rote)
Distractibility due to focus on external or internal sensations, thoughts, and/or sensory input (appearing to be in a world of one's own or day-dreaming)
Difficulty in assessing relative importance of details (an aspect o the trees/forest problem)
Poor judgment of when a task is finished (often attributable to perfectionism or an apparent unwillingness to follow differential standards for quality)
Difficulty in imagining othersthoughts in a similar or identical event or circumstance that are different from ones own ("Theory of Mind" issues)
Difficulty with organizing and sequencing (planning and execution; successful performance of tasks in a logical, functional order)
Difficulty in assessing cause and effect relationships (behaviors and consequences)
An apparent lack of "common sense"
Relaxation techniques and developing recreational "release" interest may require formal instruction
Rage, tantrum, shutdown, self-isolating reactions appearing "out of nowhere"
Substantial hidden self-anger, anger towards others, and resentment
Difficulty in estimating time to complete tasks
Difficulty in learning self-monitoring techniques
Disinclination to produce expected results in an orthodox manner
Psychometric testing shows great deviance between verbal and performance results
Extreme reaction to changes in routine, surroundings, people
Stilted, pedantic conversational style ("The Professor")
Many of the manifestations found in the categories above can immediately translate into work behaviors or preferences. Here are some additional ones:
Difficulty with "teamwork"
Deliberate withholding of peak performance due to belief that ones best efforts may remain unrecognized, unrewarded, or appropriated by others
Intense pride in expertise or performance, often perceived by others as "flouting behavior"
Sarcasm, negativism, criticism
Difficulty in accepting compliments, often responding with quizzical or self-deprecatory language
Tendency to "lose it" during sensory overload, multitask demands, or when contradictory and confusing priorities have been set
Difficult in starting project
Discomfort with competition, out of scale reactions to losing
Low motivation to perform tasks of no immediate personal interest
Oversight or forgetting of tasks without formal reminders such as lists or schedules
Great concern about order and appearance of personal work area
Difficult with unstructured time
Reluctance to ask for help or seek comfort
Low sensitivity to risks in the environment to self and/or others
Difficulty with writing and reports
Reliance on internal speech process to "talk" oneself through a task or procedure
Stress, frustration and anger reaction to interruptions
Difficulty in negotiating either in conflict situations or as a self-advocate
Very low level of assertiveness
Reluctance to accept positions of authority or supervision
Strong desire to coach or mentor newcomers
Difficulty in handling relationships with authority figures
Often viewed as vulnerable or less able to resist harassment and badgering by others
Punctual and conscientious
Avoids socializing, "hanging out," or small talk on and off the job
Strong sensory sensitivities: touch and tactile sensations, sounds, lighting and colors, odors, taste
Difficulty in judging distances, height, depth
Difficulty in recognizing others' faces (prosopagnosia)
Stims (repetitive motions/behavior serving to reduce anxiety, stress, or to express pleasure)
Self-injurious or disfiguring behaviors
Unusual gait, stance, posture
Gross or fine motor coordination problems
Low apparent sexual interest
Difficulty expressing anger (excessive or "bottled up")
Flat or monotone vocal expression; limited range of inflection
Difficulty with initiating or maintaining eye contact
Elevated voice volume during periods of stress and frustration
Strong food preferences and aversions
Unusual and rigidly adhered to eating behaviors
Bad or unusual personal hygiene
Morbid (shared, dual, multiple) Diagnostic Conditions
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)
Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder
Difficulty in accepting criticism or correction
Difficulty in offering correction or criticism without appearing harsh, pedantic or insensitive
Difficulty in perceiving and applying unwritten social rules or protocols
Failure to distinguish between private and public personal care habits: i.e., brushing, public attention to skin problems, nose picking, teeth picking, ear canal cleaning, clothing arrangement
Na�ve trust in others
Low or no conversational participation in group meetings or conferences
Constant anxiety about performance and acceptance, despite recognition and commendation
Scrupulous honesty, often expressed in an apparently disarming or inappropriate manner or setting
Bluntness in emotional expression
Discomfort manipulating or "playing games" with others
Unmodulated reaction in being manipulated, patronized, or "handled" by others
Low to medium level of paranoia
Low to no apparent sense of humor; bizarre sense of humor (often stemming from a "private" internal thread of humor being inserted in public conversation without preparation or warming others up to the reason for the "punchline")
Difficulty with reciprocal displays of pleasantries and greetings
Problems expressing empathy or comfort to/with others: sadness, condolence, congratulations, etc.
Fixating on bad experiences with people or events for an inordinate length of time
Difficulty with adopting a social mask to obscure real feelings, moods, reactions
Using social masks inappropriately (you are "xv" while everyone else is ????)
Abrupt and strong expression of likes and dislikes
Rigid adherence to rules and social conventions where flexibility is desirable
Apparent absence of relaxation, recreational, or "time out" activities
"Serious" all the time
Known for single-mindedness
Difficulty in forming friendships and intimate relationships
Difficulty in distinguishing between acquaintance and friendship
Social isolation and intense concern for privacy
Limited clothing preference; discomfort with formal attire or uniforms
Preference for bland or bare environments in living arrangements
Difficulty judging others' personal space
Limited by intensely pursued interests
Often perceived as "being in their own world"
Written very late last nght... I've edited this version a bit because I realized I had a couple of paragraphs in the wrong order, whoops. It was in response to a comment in a mainstream techie discussion forum; the subject was the idea of mental hospitals hiring people that can speak Klingon in order to communicate with patients that for one reason or another are refusing to interact in English. The quoted text is what I was responding to.
"Sounds like they're stooping to the (crazy) patients' level rather than helping them."
I think it's very sad that on a site dedicated to "nerds" the people are this intolerant. My guess is that the majority of Trek fans in mental hospitals actually have Asperger's Syndrome -- also known as Geek Syndrome -- which in its more autistic forms is responded to inappropriately as a psychiatric disorder rather than an alternate beneficial neurology. I know a lot of genius-IQ, totally rational Aspies that have been locked up over things totally common to people with the syndrome. :^P
Either way, what I have to say is:
I've had long term relationships with two guys as an adult. The Trekkie sysadmin with Asperger's Syndrome has never been able to get a girlfriend but is the kindest, most intelligent, ethical human being I've ever met. He has had to hide what he's really like (he *does* look insane if he is not faking normalcy) around everyone else, but he is very rational and I love him as he is. Most of the others I know with Asperger's are the same -- kind geniuses that just function very differently from "average" people.
My best friend is also an Asperger's Trekkie with a genius IQ and is extremely kind/ethical. Not coincidentally, he's also a top PhD. candidate in history at one of the toughest universities in the world. The guy might not make eye contact, he might be high-anxiety and need to constantly be moving, but he's a wonderful human being.
My "average" boyfriend, on the other hand, was a rabid anime fan that viewed women as slaves and sex objects. He had no tolerance for my preferences whenever they deviated from what he saw as "normal" and in general was a creep.
Being kind, ethical, honest, and extremely intelligent are all characteristics common to people with Asperger's. They're NOT ones that we tend to find as "common" to neurotypicals.
I'll choose an Asperger's Trekkie as a partner or best friend over a "normal" guy any day of the week. Anyone that assumes "normal" people are inherently better and that "abnormal" means that a person needs to be abused into conformity ought to read this essay:
Yet another long post! I'm on a roll today! ;^) This one was for the Autism Advocacy (aut-advo) list...
"Professionals" would be more likely to assume that the behavior is the problem, rather than that the behavior is a symptom OF a problem -- that he's troubled by something.
That is, that I bite myself isn't necessarily the problem around here. It's not pleasant, but if forced to stop that, I'll just do something else harmful. I used to cut off the pads of my feet when harassed too much about my hands, because nobody except me would know about it. The real solution was to find out what was stressing me in the first place.
You might try something akin to a tactic I teach people with misbehaving cats to use. "Crouch down on all fours where the problems are going on, down to the cat's level, spend a half-hour there taking notes on *everything* you notice, and then imagine the place 100 times more sensory-intense in every way than it is for you so you can get a grasp of what the cat is experiencing." Often that will tell the caretaker a lot that otherwise wouldn't occur to them: that the litterbox smells, there's movement near the new kitty bed, stuff like that. Taking a similar approach with autistics could help a great deal. So you might go to where Ian most often starts to bite himself, and spend a half-hour writing down *everything* you become aware of, then assume the "most intense case scenario" to get a picture of what might be bothering him -- noise, smells, movements, etc.
The same tactic, I suspect, would work well for parents trying to figure out what their unhappy AC student's day is like. You could go into the campus on a special mission, spend at least a half-hour discreetly everywhere that the kid does, recording everything you notice, than multiplying its intensity by ten... At the end of the day, you might have a really good idea of what needs to change to make the environment more pleasant, let alone tolerable, for him or her.
A long post I made to the aut-partners list in response to an autistic that claimed his "autism problem" of being distrupted by pushy NTs was the reason that he has trouble living up to his full potential... :^)
Just because you communicate in a different way doesn't mean that IT is a problem. If an NT is working on a project and doesn't want to be interrupted, does it mean that there's something *wrong* with them? No... I'd say that if someone else (NT or otherwise) refuses to respect that need, then the obtrusive individual has a serious problem -- namely that they lack respect for the preferences of others.
We're never going to be treated better by the NT community until we stop walking around blaming ourselves for merely being the way we are. Same as any other minority on the planet; you wouldn't expect someone that's gay to say "straight people beat me up because I have a sexuality problem that causes me to be attracted to the same sex" would you? No, their phrasing reinforces the fact that their needs are just as valid as anyone else's and place the blame where it belongs, on the harmful jerks of the world: they simply say "bigots beat up those that are different, and I prefer my own gender."
There was an interesting piece of humor in my disability activism class a while back that I think is very relevant here. It demonstrates how the only difference between "normal" human beings (in this case, the professionals that define "normal") and "abnormal" ones is often just that of which category they've already been placed into. Notice how the one group is defined by positive wording, and the second one, even though they are doing the exact same thing, is described negatively!
The Differences Are Obvious
We try to make friends. They display attention-seeking behaviors.
We love people. They develop dependencies.
We like things. They fixate on objects.
We take a break. They go off-task.
We have hobbies. They self-stim.
We insist. They tantrum.
We have talents. They have splinter skills.
We stand up for ourselves. They are noncompliant.
We change our minds. They have short attention spans.
We are professionals. They are clients.
Historically, one of the first ways for any group in NT society to change things so they are treated with more respect has been, first off, to quit bashing themselves. We're never going to catch up with the rest of the disability movement, let alone the other human rights movements, in being treated well if we spend our lives attacking our own kind for having different needs.
*Every* accommodation that we have at our hands at this point has come about because disabled individuals and groups in the past have refused to sit quietly taking abuse and agreeing that they "deserve" it. Women didn't gain the vote in Britain and the USA by agreeing that their gender made them incapable of thinking "like a man." Gay people didn't gain the safety to go out in public by agreeing sadly that their preference for the same gender makes them inherently inferior. Physically disabled adults haven't gained the ability to live out in public and hold jobs by sitting quietly in institutions (or at home) as the average-bodied wished, sighing that it's too bad they're too different to ever contribute to society. ALL of those groups instead picked up the language and incentive to make it clear that being different -- having alternate needs in everyday life, from a respirator to breathe to condoms to have sex, is just as valid and worthy of respect as whatever the "average" person needs.
I wasn't given accommodations at my university because everyone before me accepted the prejudiced assumption that disabled people are incapable of doing anything and should be locked away. I was given them because a brave man that needed to be in an iron lung to merely *live* decided to attend U.C. Berkeley, demanded that the campus accommodate his needs, and proved in doing so that just because he was unable to live or do pretty much anything else on his own didn't mean that his ideas weren't a meaningful contribution in every way to academia. A whole wave of disabled students followed him, creating (among other things) the first curb cuts (ramps on sidewalks for wheelchairs) in the USA, the first program to let disabled students live alongside average ones, the first program designed to suit our needs, all kinds of things:
It's because of *their* effort that I have been able to merely GO to that school, let alone succeed wildly because I can do assignments or tests in a way that is compatible with my body. Their work has made it possible, 30+ years later, for students all over the country to do so as well. It is because of people like that, that the diagnosable autistics are not simply locked up to waste life away, as medicine wished to do with *me* 26 years ago, but are allowed out to contribute to society in whatever ways we can.
The best thing we can do to honor their hard work, courage, and sacrifices, is to *continue* that struggle so autistics -- so often very talented, but as you put it, often hindered by disrespectful NTs -- can achieve our full potential and improve society rather then merely cowering from it. We might have to start small by simply refusing to bash ourselves and correcting those that assume we are inferior, but even that little is better than eroding away at the freedoms that those before us worked so hard to achieve by agreeing that we deserve to be mistreated. They didn't fight, sacrifice, and struggle so future generations could waste or undo all their hard work...
Today was pretty quiet... *chuckle* I slept in until noonish after staying up way too late getting those notes posted, then was generally too tired to do anything other than read listmail the rest of the day.
I checked out the quality of the audio recording my Clie NX60 made of disability studies lecture the other night, and was absolutely blown away. I was sitting in the far back corner of the room, yet things so minor as a cellphone going off in a backpack on the other side of the room were picked up. The reproduction of how the room sounds to me is exact, though I admit that I am not sure if it is an accurate representation of how real life sounds to anyone else. I'm going to convert the giant .wav files to .mp3 and see how everyone reacts.
The important aspect of this is that I got one special clip I'll be keeping for my personal archive. At one point in class, one of the average-bodied/brained students said that she feels disabled people are "an inspiration" and it cleared the way for me to say something I've wanted to for quite a while. I made sure the professor could tell I wanted to speak, and when he let me have my turn, said quite clearly:
"The problem I have with the 'inspirational' thing -- I've been hearing it off and on my whole life -- is that it assumes that if I am the way that I am naturally, there's something wrong with that, and the only way I can be an 'inspiration' is to strive to be like everyone else. I say: forget being like everyone else: I want to be me!"
I'm extremely happy I finally got to say that in a public forum. I'm doubly happy that I managed to accidentally record my 'coming out' as being against normalization in a permanent digital format. I might hate my voice, but this is one of the only times I didn't mind listening to myself say something! :^)
Meanwhile, just to add to the frustration of the morning, I was the only person not able to comprehend a joke on another list. Everyone else was laughing, jeering at somebody, and not only did I not grasp what was funny, I thought it was horrible that they were making fun of the person. Ever had an experience like that? I felt terrible for "missing out" as usual...
I sent the exchange to Kyle for translation just out of sheer frustration. He had the same response -- not being able to understand what was funny, then revulsion that they were all laughing at someone. Knowing I wasn't totally alone for a change was a bit comforting, at least. It also helped that Parrish sent me a pair of calming emails and that shortly therafter Kyle -- aware that I was still heavily stressed -- broke the tension by clowning around on IM. :^)
Long ago in high school physics, my class played a fun game in which we navigated mazes, copied images, and wrote sentences while looking only at the reflection of our hand on the paper in a mirror. After the first few minutes of struggling, I suddenly became *really* good at navigating in the mirror, and started finishing among the top few in the class. The one problem was that afterwards, my brain was *stuck* in that mirror-translation mode, so without a huge effort I couldn't walk or move my body reliably, read, or write in the correct direction. It took about six hours for the effect to wear off.
I've always had the ability to put my mind into "memorization" mode and have it learn stuff at incredibly high speed. It's usually very pleasant, and I assumed that the one incident was a fluke.
Until this morning.
I was riding in the car on the way to campus, and jotted a few things down on my Clie in the usual Graffiti shorthand language. After a few entries in the To Do list, I switched over to the quick note program just to jot a few things down in standard English. I promptly discovered that I was stuck in "write in Graffiti" mode and while I could envision English lettering, I couldn't figure out how to make my hand actually do it as that would require doing several letters completely backwards from how I had been doing them.
So three hours later, I can write anything that I can do in cursive, but my "printing" and any letter that I can't remember the cursive for is extremely difficult. My whole brain is currently disoriented from the experience on top of it, which is quite frustrating. *sigh*
Wandering the lists today, I found a link to this interesting essay on Asperger's and Discrimination. I think it would be better served if it referenced the whole spectrum, or at least the whole so-called high functioning part (HFA, AS, etc) but otherwise it's going in my bookmark list of things I send out to spectrum newbies. :^)
I also ramped up my Screwballs List once again with two new sites by others on the Spectrum: Rainbow and Niwi! There should be more going up before long, as "blogging" is starting to hit the AS lists and I've noticed at least a few others planning to set up a journal of one kind or another. Woohoo, more stuff to read!
Hanging out on the Autistic Spectrum TreeHouse today, I had the luck of discovering a new blog -- Dunc's Drivel. He's quite a bit of fun to read. :^)
What happens when you mix two overstressed tired twentysomething spectrumites with IM and the Theory of Mind test? Click *more* to find out... lol
[07:35] Denise: have you heard of that one? it's the "if sally comes over with a cup, what does she want?" sort of question
[07:36] Kyle: sugar? heroin? condoms?
[07:36] Denise: LOL
[07:36] Kyle: oh wait, porn!
[07:37] Denise: LOL! okay that response goes on the blog... it's supposed to be sugar, and I always answer the logical (because this is what goes in a cup) "water?"
[07:37] Kyle: "she obviously wants translocally produced specialty crops with heteronormative hypersexualized labeling"
[07:37] Denise: LOL!!
[07:38] Denise: you know, if they ask me the sugar cup question, I think I'll answer that way
[07:38] Kyle: why the fuck is it supposed to be sugar?
[07:38] Kyle: I'd say "I'd ask her what she wants, bitch!"
[07:38] Denise: I don't know! I'm supposedly the only person that doesn't know!
[07:38] Denise: LOL!
[07:38] Kyle: sugar doesn't make sense to me either
[07:38] Kyle: that's a cultural schema, not a social or psychological one
[07:39] Denise: I agree, but they judge our "theory of mind" based on local cultural knowledge
[07:39] Denise: which is dumb
[07:39] Kyle: yes
[07:39] Denise: because nobody in my neighborhood goes around with cups asking for sugar
[07:40] Denise: lemme see if I can find another one to mess up
[07:46] Denise: Sally has some sweets and hides them under a cushion. She then leaves the room. While Sally is out of the room, Anne takes the sweets from under the cushion and hides them in her pocket. Sally then re-enters the room. Where does Sally think the sweets are?
[07:46] Kyle: under a cushion?
[07:46] Denise: yep
[07:46] Kyle: that's easy
[07:47] Denise: I can only get it right by pausing and parsing it out logically :^P
[07:47] Kyle: now the real question is what does sally do to anne when she finds the sweets are missing
[07:47] Denise: lol!
[07:47] Denise: shove HER under the cushions?
[07:48] Kyle: lol
[07:48] Kyle: that sounds almost erotic
[07:48] Denise: lol!
[07:48] Denise: I almost said "shove the sweets down her throat" but then it occurred to me "oh wait, she doesn't have the sweets because she didn't find them under the cushion I wouldn't have had her look under in the first place..." lol
Bleah! How is it even possible that someone could speak in a "normal" voice so loudly that I can hear the whole conversation despite having headphones that mold to my ear canal blasting music? I know that some people have volume control problems but this is ridiculous. His loudness comes across to me as being so aggressive that I have to control urges to attack him.
Ever have those moments of cognitive confusion in which you realize something in your life really makes no logical sense?
I can't write about it here, as then everyone would know, and I'd have to deal with the consequences. *grumble* Needless to say, I'm really fed up with making illogical choices. Especially when I've done the same thing in the past and regretted it!
Arrrrggghhh. I need to get my brain fixed, and by that I quite definitively do not mean less autistic. *bangs head against wall*
After quite a bit of confused shuffling, I finally figured out that the reason Rainman kept not showing up in TV listings, and indeed wasn't on A&E; at 8pm was because it was actually showing on the AMC. Evidently either my father mentioned the wrong channel the other day, or I heard it wrong. Chances are it was my fault... Doesn't matter, though, as I got to see it all the way through. :)
On the other hand, it also didn't matter because, much to my annoyance, it wasn't the enhanced showing. AMC only does that once a month, as it turns out... Bleah! That was fairly disappointing, as the primary reason I wanted to see it was to find out what odd trivia they'd throw in.
It was interesting watching with my mother, as we were able to take turns pointing out familiar traits. I quickly discovered the reason my dad thought of me when he saw the kitchen meltdown scene -- "Rainman" was freaking out over the noise from the smoke detector pretty much the same way I always have. I'm not quite as bad now: I'm able to control the panic enough to violently attack the smoke detector, rather than merely running away. They're good, they save lives, but they still freak me out.
I was surprised when mom said that I used to have the mathematical skill in that specific way when I was young. I thought I was "gifted" with math and therefore able to learn things; she explained that I was able to learn things because I had a calculator for a brain. When I was eight, unfortunately, a bad reaction to general anesthetc permanently corrupted my ability to handle anything beyond basic numbers without assistance. That still bugs me.
I do still retan a rather odd version of the calendar/numerical ability: I can remember, down to perfect detail, exactly what books I was reading and where at any time/place since about the fourth grade. I can also recall alphanumeric combnations with very little effort, and you all know about my work with cats. I just can't work well with numerical amounts.
Case in point: on Friday, I looked at the clock, and was so used to adding/subtracting three hours to figure out the time between coasts, that I couldn't figure out the meaning of the number otherwise. I had to add three hours, then take them away again, because I wasn't going to be able to figure out what "4:15pm" meant in the real world otherwise
Overall, the movie was all right. I didn't like Tom Cruise's character at all, though, so I kept wanting to beat him unconscious. I know that they had to focus on him in order for the plot to even exist, but it was still frustrating. Also, AMC swapped all of the swear words for innoccuous ones, which threw the lip sync out of whack, making it even harder for me to understand than movies usually are. (I typically watch movies on DVD so I can have subtitles, as my relying on my brain's pathetic auditory processing leaves me exhausted within the first half-hour.)
Yes, absolutely time to get some sleep, my eyes started closing on their own a few moments ago as I typed. Hopefully I'll have my energy back in time for Sunday workout..!
So that is that. The move was good, a lot of it was familiar...but as with most films, I was annoyed enough by the characters and my trouble understanding speech enough to not quite enjoy it. :^/
I am now totally drained and shall go to bed. I was going to just wait until tomorrow to write & post on the show, but knew that if I didn't get it done now, I'd never manage it!
An amusing message from my (probably AS) father about a special showing of a movie I wanted to eee.
noticed that Rain man is on again tonite at 8 on AMC
see you tomorrow
your rain-soaked dad
today I was rain-man
Okay, so it's time for another bizarre question... :)
Is it more common for adults to have their bills a total mess -- only paying as overdue notices (or worse) come in, throwing it all in a pile that is only even vaguely touched every few weeks at best, etc -- or are most people more organized than that? (This is assuming the person has the funds but merely can't manage to distribute them.)
Mostly asking because someone (nobody on this list :) recently commented that almost all adults are that chaotic about money/bills. I've been under the impression most neurotypical people fare better than I or other ACs do in this respect...
It's raining now, but last night I had the most wonderful experience. I went out into the backyard to bring Serai in after hanging out online most of the evening; this being a rather rural part of the suburbs, the air was perfectly still. Not oppressive, just ... quiet, with the edge of chill that belongs to a nice evening.
I always used to love night-time here -- the faintly cold air, the darkness obscuring civilization, everything aside from Nature being silent. I could let my imagination wander freely, the side of me that fits in better with animals than most humans giving me a distinct sense of empowerment. Then, back around 1997, as I began to learn that being alone, fierce independence, and many other things about me were "wrong" when a certain creep began imposing Civilized Behavior upon me, that sense of strength faded. I started feeling more hunted and broken than powerful and independent. I no longer found wild joy in darkness, only fear and emptiness.
A short span of a year passed after he left, in which I began to slowly accept myself again. I didn't have the sense of empowerment, and figured I never would. Someone else stepped in with the same message as the last person. Fierce independence, bizarre behavior are all wrong. You must conform, subjugate yourself to the way of civilized humans, let them help you and not strike back when they mistreat you instead, to not be wrong.
I went off on a trip just a couple of weeks ago, as you all know. I got lost repeatedly, spending the majority of my days totally alone and independent as I dedicated myself to perseverations again. I had no idea I was "healing" as I wandered, not until I returned to California and felt more capable of dealing with life than I had in many years.
I began talking with another "feral" HFA this past week, and through her agreement was able to accept that part of myself again. Not as something to tolerate or tame, but as something to defend and cherish.
Last night, not even thinking about any of this, I went out into the backyard. Instead of a threatening cold black nothingness, I found the invigorating Spring air that made me feel like I could run for miles. The eyes of my neighbor's rabbit looked at me from far off, the cat wandered around ignoring me, and a hawk flew around overhead. My imagination seized the unusual energy and I sat out there just enjoying the strong sense that I was alive -- that my adventures since 97 haven't broken my spirit after all.
I came inside, opened my window, and read fantasy books into the wee hours. Eventually I turned the light off and drifted into my old light daydreaming-sleep, listening to the beginnings of the rain. I feel a bit tired out physically today, but mentally I'm still as energetic as I was twelve hours ago. This time I'm not going to let anyone convince me I should squelch the wilder part of me into drab conformity. Just because I'm different does not mean I need to change, not as long as I am living happily and not doing anybody else harm.
Resting in the cafe having my usual... :^)
After a long rough night, I woke up, did the fastest cec-washout -- ten minutes! -- I've managed since having the cec installed, showered, and was actually out front several minutes before my dad showed up! I've been getting out of the house late the past few times, so this is quite an accomplishment. Without the cec, I'd have simply missed school, too, so I'm doubly happy I could rely on that to get out the door. (I have medical equip with me in case I need it, of course. :)
I nearly stayed home regardless, because the gastro issues convinced my body that it got zero hours of sleep rather than six. I don't gain a lot from coming to Berkeley with no braincells and a strong impulse to curl up in a ball for a nap.
However, I came anyway, just to make myself stick with the routine. It's a really nice Spring day outside, and staying in for another afternoon just didn't appeal. Also, following so many years of having no choice, my first option as soon as I can get out after not feeling well is to bolt for the sunshine! *snicker*
I got to campus and immediately discovered that the network was down. Crapola, so much for my usual morning & early afternoon activity, I thought. So after a short period of wandering hoping to find a non-dead wifi spot, I decided to take advantage of the lack of distractions and get some homework done. Mucho productivity followed: seven pages of essay writing in three hours that I'd been putting off for weeks, all completed with no fuss. Sometimes it just takes kicking me out of the old routine.
From a really neat HFA I've just met on AspergerCircle, and hopefully will be joining the other lists soon:
As Kyle put it, it's flat-out chilling to read. Especially as someone that, like the kid, has PTSD from very similar treatment in her own past. (So does the HFA I just met, except she actually *did* go through ABA itself.)
I was going through archives looking for a factoid late last night, and hit upon one of the many passages in which Parrish lamented that females say he's every woman's dream only to refuse to let him be theirs. It suddenly struck me, 4.5 years after he started mentioning this, that maybe the women didn't really mean it. (This leaves the question of: did this occur to him as well? I'd assume so, but once in a while he outdoes me in terms of being dense.)
I also almost wrote the following combination of concepts in an email to him:
1. You seemed nice looking and friendly at my age.
2. You were visibly autistic.
3. It seems odd that you had problems getting a girlfriend...
Damn, I can be slow at figuring social stuff out sometimes. At least this time I didn't actually -say- those things in email to him, largely because he doesn't like it when I am positive about his chances of finding partners that aren't me. (He hated it before we were together, too, just to make that clear.)
I'm content, sitting in the sunshine with a little bit of a breeze, finally starting to relax. Yes, it's time for me to be in lecture, but the sensation of gradually unwinding is so wonderful that I don't want to lose it. Going to class will nuke that entirely. What I will do instead is head over to the lecture room around the time that class should be taking a break, and join them after that. I'm also going to take another 300mg Neurontin in the meantime to help the effect.
The one thing I envy neurotypicals is the ability to relax easily in just about any environment. I get tired of being in a society so abrasive to my neurology that I have to take medication just to function.
As mentioned, I'm in Borders San Rafael hanging out, because I had noticed online that they have Wendy Lawson's Build Your Own Life: A Self Help Guide For Individuals With Asperger's Syndrome in stock and wanted to see what it is like. She has written a few books before this, but I haven't managed to find them yet. Some are out of print according to Amazon.
It looks like this one is a keeper! She takes a very positive, logical approach to handling AS, which is quite refreshing, and explains why it is important to regard oneself as a capable, intelligent, "differently abled" individual rather than a mass of defects. For some quotes I particularly liked just in flipping through the first chapter, click MORE. :^)
Ok, too many screaming kids in here now. I am going to take the book, pay for it, and head home, iced chai in hand... It's really weird, lots of people are smiling at me oddly today. Not a smile that suggests they find me funny looking (which would be my first guess), more the sort that says I am making them happy. Big smiles. I have to wonder what is causing that!
"How can we make sure that we build our house, ourselves, upon a firm foundation? What kinds of materials could we use? If we use negative self-concepts, criticism, defeatist viewpoints and 'poor me' scenarios like 'I'm no good at anything' then we are using the wrong materials for a strong foundation. " (19)
"I also decided to check for any weeds that might be growing inappropriately. Weeds might be those words that people use to choke the life out of us. For example words like 'lazy, incapable, dumb, d*ck head, silly, thick, stupid' (...) and so on. I made up a solution of weed killer and I poured it over the ground. The ingredients of a good weed killer for inappropriate words consists of a solution of 'appropriate words.' I poured 'not interested' over 'lazy' and 'unmotivated' over 'incapable' and so on. I know when my interest is sparked I am highly motivated and work well." (28)
"I suggest that the very word 'dis-ability' has social and medical constructs around it that need challenging. When our being autistic is seen in the context of our ability and not just our dis-ability, then we are moving in the right direction.
...Society would do well to accept accommodate and celebrate individual difference. To do this, yes, one must accept and celebrate one's dis-ability.
To view autism as a 'triad of impairments' is like comparing us to an impaired washing machine that is 'out of order'! It doesn't receive signas, process information, or complete a cycle. This is far too simplistic." (25)
I was floored to read on the Metro that "suspicious activity" that needs to be reported to the police boiled down to looking nervous, sweating, or "wearing inappropriate clothing such as a baggy jacket." I have to wonder just what constitutes "inappropriate clothing" around here -- if it's merely weather-related, I'd be in real trouble during summer, considering I normally wear my black jacket year-round out in public.
The super-loud audio announcements that talked of the Metro crawling with canine patrols and exceptionally armed police were quite alarming. Combine that with the frequent posters referring to undercover cops, plus the visible ones out on patrol, security cameras everywhere, armed camoflage militiary folk all over the place... ugh. Add to that the oddity for me of being in a place where just about everyone has dark hair -- Parrish thought I recognized him last night, but that was merely the hundredth time I'd done a double-take on a dark-haired guy wearing a suit in the last hour or two! -- wearing the same suits, and the children all were wearing little uniforms as well. (Kids in CA only wear uniforms if they go to a strict religious private school.) It's like visiting a live version of what the early days of 1984 would have been like. Or perhaps Pink Floyd's The Wall...
On the one hand, I completely agree that something needs to be done to ensure public safety. On the other, I can't forget that the need for this kind of police-state atmosphere didn't appear on its own. People did not get angry enough to kill themselves in attempts to destroy the USA over small things. It might not be clear to Parrish because he's always here, but the sense of military occupation and fear is exponentially greater than it was three months ago. Which is interesting, considering this side of the country isn't the one that has been threatened in that time span -- my home state has.
In either direction, I simply can't comprehend having the ability or interest in harming others unless they've hurt me very recently. I hear people make hateful remarks about other nationalities, places, or creatures, and merely feel confused. I get upset at kids that scream because the noise tortures me, I'll become outright dangerous if someone hurts me, I feel fury and despair over those that cause emotional or physical pain to others -- but the idea of being angry to the point of wanting to cause harm other than in that kind of individualized direct reaction-to-pain instance makes no sense.
I know other pacifists can be angry or upset at groups, so it's not my attitude overall. It might be a peculiar trait some autistics carry, as it would require serious generalizing for me to detest a group without having been harmed by them personally, and inability to generalize is supposed to be one of our so-called deficits. (I do mistrust and judge NTs as a group, though again, this is because I have had such an extreme majority of bad experiences with NTs that I don't have anything else to go on at this point. Also, more to the point, my feelings do not extend to wishing harm beyond a few specific individuals.)
Perhaps I shall post about this to the AS lists, as there has to be at least one other AC that has this so-called problem. I wouldn't mind quite so much, except the way the world acts towards animals of all species, whether it is human, feline, or otherwise, baffles and upsets me in part *because* it makes no sense.
Oh, cool! Frank Klein just announced the creation of a discussion list that will serve as a companion to his Autistic Advocacy website:
It is aimed at parents, autistics, and professionals that are interested in celebrating autism rather than seeking to cure it. It has an emphasis more on raising AS children than on living with it, but personally I welcome any chance to discuss autism in a positive vein.
The book I've been quoting is such a downer that I felt a strong need to counteract it with a few passages from an AS book I do like -- Pretending To Be Normal by Linda Holliday Willey. How do you like this contrasted to the previous text?
"These are the friends that do not wince when I fracture a social rule. The people who offer immediate dispensation should I offend them with my words or actions. The colleagues who call me to offer their support before I have a chance to tell them I am calling apart. I am aware these are the kinds of acquaintances everyone treasures, but for AS people, they are much more....
"My two closest friends...help me to know what acceptable is, not just because they are always willing to offer instructions on how to act or advice on how to perceive things, but more important because they are so loyal in their affirmations that I am fine just the way I am. Through their eyes I am perfectly fine. Each of them dismisses my idiosyncratic ways with a smile and a wave of the arm, as if to say, You're okay. Keep your head up. You can do this. They are confidence builders, confidants, cheerleaders, and advisors...
"They are quick to come to my defence, perhaps with just a word or a look, should someone begin to judge me for something I have said or done. And yet, they never condescend or patronize me. They simply illuminate that which is made better by my AS, my straightforwardness and assertiveness and creativity and tenacity and loyalty. Because they see me first as someone who possesses many good qualities, and only then as someone who is just a tiny bit different, they give me the notion to see begin to see myself in that light as well... I am quickly comforted and buoyed by the fact that my friends will be there for me, no matter what, no matter where." (p. 72-73)
That is basically how I experience my friendship with Kyle in particular. :^)
On Willey's relationship with her husband:
"And as a testimony to his goodness for me, he has never given me more than a nod or a smile to tell me how I am doing. ... And never do I come to feel he is acting possessively or egotistically or because he is annoyed or upset with me. Even when I only have a slight grip on the reality of his influence over me, I can tell he is trying to teach me and guide me, not keep himself from embarrassment or myself from shame. ...I knew, too, that he would never let how others saw me, affect him, or us, in any way.
"He never missed a beat when he discovered I was different. He never discusses it unless I bring it up. He never alludes to it during my long-winded monologues. He never uses it as a sword to kill my enthusiasm for our relationship. And because he never uses who I am against me, I came to trust him. ... With someone I trust implicitly by my side, I know I will continue to grow and progress, to seek and to find.
"... I am oddly calmed when I look at his features, so calmed that I find just seeing him puts me at ease, just as looking at a peaceful stream comforts others and a lullaby sooths a baby. ... I try desperately hard to give him the kinds of things I can, things like loyalty and honesty and reliability and shared interests. Like bookends, we have learned to support each other when the stuff in the middle pushes us apart." (pgs. 89-91)
Again, this is how I feel in my relationship as well... I think I am going to write the author a kind letter thanking her for her books, particularly as her writing has lifted my spirits from the dump that dealing with the Slater-Walker text had thrown them into!
Being that I am currently recovering from last night -- no, not what you think, more that I discovered that draining one's wineglass repeatedly is not a brilliant idea when one is 5'2" and ~125lb -- rather than post an extended entry about that, I am going to post (with permission) Parrish's letter to Chris and Gisela Slater-Walker. To read it, just click on MORE below. :)
I'll post more firsthand when my coordination doesn't make mere typing a challenge...lol
Hello, Chris and Gisela:
Recently, the two of you have expressed concern and/or displeasure over some comments that my partner, Denise, and I have made pertaining to your book, "An Asperger Marriage". Specifically, she and I have both said that we feel that Gisela's behavior toward Chris frequently appears to be abusive. After discussing this with Denise for a bit and giving it a *lot* of thought, I have decided to write to you with some of my own preliminary thoughts. My first instinct is that I would end up regretting sending you this letter; that is, in fact, still how I feel about writing to you. I hope that you will prove me wrong, although I am skeptical.
This morning, as Denise and I were lazing in the living room together, we were discussing your book and how it so often appears that Gisela is merely "tolerating" Chris' behavior at best, and more frequently, presupposing that he is misbehaving and trying to "correct" him. In that regard, as a simple experiment, I opened the book to a random page and read the first paragraph I found, out loud, to Denise. It was from page 67:
"...[T]he most extraordinary thing I have learnt about Chris, whilst we have been writing this book, is that he does not regard the 'intimate' conversations that he has with me as spontaneous. And, of course, these are the conversations that oil the wheels of all successful marriages."
The following paragraphs elaborate on this with statements from Gisela such as: "[Chris] does not say anything, answer any questions, respond in any way at all, except with complete silence.... It is useless to try any of the usual feminine tricks to try and persuade him to talk.... Sulking is pointless, the 'You don't love me anymore' tack is also a complete waste of time."
Translation: My way of conducting a marriage is obviously the correct one, and Chris' way is obviously wrong. I have tried to correct his misbehavior through passive-aggressive manipulation, but unfortunately, I have failed.
I remind you that this is what I found opening your book to a page completely at random and reading the *first thing that I laid eyes on*.
Second effort at turning to a random page with my eyes shut and plunking down my finger... page 107:
"[The loan agent] was a very personable young man, and so Chris believed him. I decided that it was important that Chris be responsible for some decisions and hoped for the best..."
Here, it sounds more as though you think of yourself as Chris' mother, rather than his wife: note that you are making a decision for him and for the both of you, which is a typical parental attitude. A parental attitude toward one's partner is not necessarily *abusive* per se, but it is certainly inappropriate and unhealthy, in my view.
Further down, on the very same page:
"Chris does not often initiate conversation and frequently will not tell me things that he really should do."
Again, note the tone: my way is obviously right, and my husband is misbehaving.
"I sometimes feel that he is afraid of me, but given that I constantly question him to check that everything is going well..."
Another demonstration of a parent-to-child attitude, rather than mate-to-mate: people in adult relationships do not "constantly question" each other to "check that everything is going well", but parents do that with their children all the time. Gisela also notes that she is "quick to criticise" when Chris has done something that she doesn't like. (Is it any wonder that Chris so often buries himself in his computers or whatever to get a little peace and quiet...?) In the same passage, Gisela *freely acknowledges* that Chris is justified in being frightened of her. In what world can this possibly constitute a healthy marriage?
I could go on further, but I have spent over an hour on this already, which is far too much, considering that I wasn't even sure in the first place whether I should write you at all... suffice to say, our perception that Gisela is abusive was not something that we simply pulled out of thin air.
In any event, Gisela said that she would like to hear from us about examples of what we perceived as abuse; we are happy to oblige with this small sampling. If you do write back (and I honestly would not hold it against you at all if you chose not to), I suppose you will respond by rationalizing or justifying each example or saying that we have misinterpreted your behavior, as you have done in the past. If that is your first response to this email, I urge caution: you should be aware that this is the classic behavior of an abusive domestic partner.
Sitting on the floor in Parrish's apartment, after a long night of...dreaming that the trip was over and I was back in California! (Thought I was going to tell you something nasty, didn't you... ;^) This was quite an odd dream, as I was not only in the wrong place, but the wrong time as well -- it took place in my father's condo, which I haven't lived at for over six years.
I woke up this morning staring at the white wall and wondering where the hell I was, as the view from my bed at home is a bedside table on one side and a dresser on the other. My first thought was: oh crap, how did I wind up in the hospital!? shortly followed by ah, no, this is Parrish's place -- hell, did I imagine all those weeks of schooling, is it January still, what month is it?
Obviously my brain is not keen on tracking time, place, or distance. As usual, within about 20 minutes of sitting down on the (extremely crowded) plane, my proximity issues kicked in and I mentally shut down. I got to hear the couple next to me griping about how they were stuck in lame tiny seats while some little kids were given the front row with extra legroom. Two thoughts: I might dislike children, but even I comprehend that we choose our own seats on JetBlue flights, thus it's their own fault if they don't like where they sit...and beyond that, better that the kids are in the front row than kicking some poor traveler's seat!
The following 4.5 hours were filled with listening to Dar Williams music on my Clie (which has a battery life of 4 hours in audio-only mode, woot!) and basically being mentally shut off otherwise. When stuck too close to people I don't trust, either I fight them, run away, or if the other two aren't feasible, turn off my senses. Thus I have little-to-no memory or awareness of long airplane flights -- as far as I'm concerned, I sit down, zone out, and suddenly I'm across the country. Pretty cool, if you think about it.
I was amazingly stupid, though. I charged up Mordion before leaving yesterday, then promptly forgot to turn it off. By the time I was on the plane, there was all of about 20 minutes of battery time left out of over 4 hours. Whoops. So my master plan to spend the flight happily writing letters & term-papers was nuked. Luckily I had already loaded a memory stick with mp3s and was thus able to use Maree to listen to music while playing games or reading ebooks instead.
I did speak with a few people near me briefly as we were landing and walking to the shuttle. The couple was from Hawaii and, upon hearing that my partner grew up there, asked why he left. I couldn't think of any nice way to say "because he thought Hawaii was a dump" so I basically told them I wasn't sure, which is technically accurate because "it's a shithole" really isn't much of a descriptor! A number of guys were coming to this coast for the first time, and they were great fun -- saying all of the things that ran through my mind when I arrived in late December, only more so because they expected nice weather in late March. *grin*
After the flight, I used the Dirk Gently mode of navigation -- following other people -- to find the baggage claim, then wandered around in confusion trying to locate Parrish. I had seen him earlier on the way to the baggage claim, but the shorter (like by a quarter-inch at most!) hair and different sweater triggered my faceblindness so I couldn't recognize him. The only clue that gave him away was that as I scanned the crowd, he saw me, broke into a huge smile, and mouthed a joyful "hey!" Tired, overstimulated, stressed out, and in the middle of a series of anxiety attacks, I don't think I've ever been so glad to see someone in my life.
Now I'm hanging out relaxing from the hectic day, while my other half writes a letter to the authors that have been harassing me. Boy, that should be interesting... I'll have to see if I can persuade him to let me post it here for others to see. We opened up their book totally at random this morning just to see how many pages we'd have to check before finding insulting/upsetting material...and we found something straight off that annoyed Parrish enough that he tossed the book across the room, with (he noted a few moments ago) even more obnoxious comments on the following page or two. Yikes...his letter is going to be interesting, I'll bet.
There's only one 'net line in this place, so I should let him have it back while I read my email... I was going to bring my router, but didn't have the time to set up Moggz Tower to act as a net server by the time I thought of it, so we're stuck sharing instead. I might figure out how to get to the nearest CompUSA so I can remedy this tiny deficiency before I go insane (I miss wifi) while out wandering in search of the nearest Borders/Starbuck's so I can play with the cool unlimited net account Kyle gave me as an early birthday present... All of this will require my figuring out the transit system, obviously, but theoretically if I jam a few maps onto Maree it won't be too much of a problem.
Up early to complete a paper... I'm not feeling very well today -- I didn't get enough sleep last night because I was up late writing, and then I set Maree to wake me up at 6am to work on the paper some more. Also, a few things have me seriously stressed out, and the results of that are always an irritated gastro tract from stem to stern.
I just want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep for a week or two. I don't want to go deal with the world today, or tomorrow, or any day after that for a long time. Why do I keep putting myself through this? I must have some defect in my self-defense ability that keeps me from either remembering things are stressful and avoiding them, or that simply makes me too pathetic to make the effort necessary to keep others at bay. :^(
Sad that I went through assertiveness training as part of counseling as a child and STILL wind up in this position. I'd hate to see what I'd be like if I hadn't been taught specifically how to stand up for myself "firmly but not aggressively" in a variety of situations. Of course, that didn't tell me how to stand up against myself when it comes to my active side wanting to do something (like fly cross-country or read discussions that upset me) and the cautionary half that knows I get sick under even minor stress being run over like my ex in front of a cement truck.
Sometimes I really hate this body. *sigh* Anyway, back to paper-writing...
Lucky me. As I sit here working on a term paper, private mail arrived in my inbox from -- who else? -- the author of the book I gave a bad review to on Amazon.com.
I haven't read it yet...need to get something accomplished for class first. Perhaps tonight after my paper is taken care of, in between frantic bouts of packing. Or on the plane Friday.
Okay, just have to point this out:
You know you're a repetitive-obsessed autistic when you've had a single 30-second song playing continuously on loop for 40+ minutes and find it soothing rather than annoying.
Next time I fly long-distance, I'm going to set Mordion and Maree up with something like this...and if a little kid starts being auditoriallly obnoxious, I'll set it to loop somewhat loudly until the kid shuts up. (Hey -- it's less annoying to NT adults to listen to tinny looped music than it is for me to cringe and go brain-blank at the high-pitched voice/scream that young children have.) Okay, I wouldn't really have the guts to do it unless I was really in a bad mood, but it makes for a nice fantasy and at least it wouldn't get me arrested for distributing drugs.
I really should head down to the West Gate to be picked up...but the FSM Cafe is playing a classical piece I really like, and I don't want to leave before it is over. Sad thing to say is that I don't actually know what it is called, just that I used to play this specific version of it, among other things, over-and-over on my tape deck as a child.
Hmmm. Blue Danube? I'll have to look it up when I get home... I do know it's a waltz.
There's two annoying aspects to prosopagnosia. One is the obvious: being face-blind means not recognizing people you know if they've changed shape or are in a place you don't expect them to be.
The other, as I rediscovered tonight, is having my brain absolutely certain that a total stranger is actually a friend (or ex-friend) in different clothing. If I know that there are details wrong that make the individual a stranger -- wrong nose type, clothes that the person I know would never touch -- then I can rule out the possibility that it is someone I am supposed to know. However, that doesn't mean part of my brain doesn't keep paying attention or reacting emotionally. That's fine if the person is someone I want to be around, but very distressing if I am not on good terms with the individual.
I certainly worked off the anger I had for the world earlier. Anxiety does that quite well. :^P
I was quite happy to hear that my review at Amazon.com of Asperger Marriage is somewhat back up. On the one hand, it's the first one listed on the page for the book -- everyone go click on the "yes, it's it's helpful" button! It might make the difference between whether Amazon yanks it again or not! :^)
On the other hand, it's *not* listed on the Customer Reviews page nor on the list of reviews I've personally made. Bizarro... I hope they're not taking it down again already, that'd be a real annoyance. On the other hand, that's a handy page to cheerfully mark "not helpful" on the reviews you don't agree with. Not that I'd be suggesting anything, of course.
Either my ears are even more hypersensitive than usual, or a media device either in this house or belonging to the neighbor is blasting so loud I can almost make out individual words. This is not a way to start my day off in a good mood.
*hears other housemate stomping around the house and scowls*
Why is it some people do things that annoy everyone else and then not only refuse to change, but take pride in the fact that they have been told repeatedly that it's obnoxious? (Why am I bothering to ask this, given I know there's no rational answer for anything that woman does?)
You know you have a form of autism when you get tense and unhappy over merely having to do laundry on the wrong day of the week. (I forgot to do it Sunday for some reason and thus had to wash everything Tuesday night instead or risk going without any form of underwear today. I am pleased that I have clean underwear, but out of sorts because it's in the laundry room rather than my drawers on a Wednesday.)
You also know there's something odd about you when someone else acting grumpy magically makes your emotions mirror your perception of how he/she is feeling. I'm not sure if that's unique to autism or just a really bad trait I am saddled with. Some people tell me that such "empathy" is a wonderful thing, but that's likely because they can get through a day without having their emotions bounce all over like a red rubber ball! Sooner or later I'm going to start tracking down all of the individuals that cause me distress through others and give them a serious piece of my mind.
It turns out that the reason my review disappeared from Amazon.com is because the author got upset when I said that the NT in it "came across" as abusive. She DID come across as abusive to me -- and also to Parrish, and who knows how many other people. I'm tempted to lend it out to others just to see how many inviduals in my generation had the same impression, and then get all of THEM to put it on the board.
If Amazon removes it again, I will put it back up with a very tiny tweak to the words to make it more "legit", and I will write them a letter explaining why my comment is there. The author may be ashamed of having AS instead of being NT, but damn it, I am happy to have autism and I won't keep quiet while they endorse the kind of abuse I endured with the Cretin!
I reviewed "Asperger Marriage" about having a relationship with someone that has Asperger's on Amazon.com a few months ago. I just discovered that my review -- which was quite scathing (click MORE to see it) -- had been pulled off the site. That did not exactly please me, because while the authors are trying to portray it as a positive look at the compromises made in a marriage between an NT and someone with AS, it came across more like it should have been titled "it's always the Aspie's fault" or something similar.
Happily for me, I happened to have a copy of the review I had written saved in Eudora, so I was able to put it right back up on Amazon within a few minutes. Even if they take it down again, this page will show up in search engines and let people know what the book is like. Note that this is only my opinion after having read the book; some others have liked it.
**Review: An Asperger Marriage
**by Gisela Slater-Walker and Christopher Slater-Walker
My partner and I, both on the autism spectrum, bought copies of this book to help ensure our new relationship would be as strong and problem-free as possible. Sad to say, "Asperger Marriage" is merely an excellent example of how the NT world treats us -- no matter how the Aspie wishes to handle things, it's automatically wrong and his NT wife automatically right. On top of it, both comment repeatedly that he's often completely miserable in the relationship *because* of how he's forced (both by himself and by his NT partner) to live if he wishes to stay with her. Her attitude wouldn't be acceptable on her part for three minutes if he were neurotypical -- the NT woman comes across as seriously abusive much of the time.
The one positive thing I can say about this book is that it helps me realize exactly how wonderful it is to be in a relationship where both parties understand and respect autistic needs firsthand. It also underscores the need in the autism community to encourage acceptance of our kind as whole human beings rather than as defective neurotypicals that need to be trained or fixed. Asperger's isn't the source of the marital problems in this book -- one partner making the other miserable by constantly insisting he conform to her ideals rather than be himself is.
This was originally part of a letter to Parrish, but I think it belongs more on my blog. :)
I think a great part of why I am so openly proud of not being NT is because the *one* thing that my parents have respected me for was being better than my peers intellectually. Before my brother was old enough to prove he's "normal" in brainpower, my parents would attack my even getting a B- as a sign that I was a lazy, mentally inferior creature that would never amount to anything. Also, even once my brother was sentient, they praised him for things that in the greater scheme of life would be useless after age 12 -- playing video games really well, having friends, or being good at soccer, for example -- while the comments toward me were always directed at my mental superiority over other kids.
My parents additionally made sure I knew that the people that had made a difference in my life all had came from intellectual fields: authors, surgeons, teachers, etc. So even after they started pushing me to be more social, there was always the reminder that it wasn't socially skilled individuals that had been important in my development or affected the world in the long run. Finding out that I have HFA/AS therefore only helped show me why I was able to outdo my peers in what I considered to be important endeavors -- that is why I am proud to have it, because for me it's synonymous with the only successes I've had in life.
When I was 19/20 and found myself in an inferior college, without a book publication behind me or something else impressive, I became extremely depressed. It was around this time that I met Kyle and discovered he felt exactly the same way, which was not only an instant bonding experience, but lifted a lot of the cloud away. I knew he was also highly gifted and was working on a transfer to Berkeley, so I no longer felt that taking that route was a mark of average loserdom that every "real" Cal student would see.
Realizing where my intellectual prejudices come from doesn't make me want to disown them. I still have more respect for writers, surgeons, artists, teachers, and other "academic" or "humanities" sorts than I can for someone that is absolutely average. It is a great thing in my opinion to have them at all; one doesn't have to make a living with such skills, merely enjoy using them.
I could write more, but I am supposed to be working on a termpaper. *grin*
Okay. So, having learned a bit more about AS learning styles since I was last here, I dedicated the previous 24 hours to studying for my midterm in the ways that I've learned work for me. This involves associating the title of each poem with a specific concrete image (say, a piece of cloth, a cat, a grave) or two from the piece, rather than trying to remember the actual words.
It must have worked. I just did a ten-question cold identification test in about three minutes -- literally as fast as I could write the name of each author & work. ("Cold" referring to being able to identify a work without any prompting or other useful information. i.e. "Identify this work and author" with zero references available as to what possible authors, topics, or pieces you're working with. I hate cold ID -- then again, almost everyone does.)
I was first done by about two minutes. The next student finished, dotted the paper in a large way, and handed his in after I'd gone back over my answers several times. (I needed someone else to go up first so I could tell how to hand it in, so I had to wait!)
Question now is merely whether I got as many correct as I think I did... :^)
So I have now done all of the course reading up until this point in the semester for my 45C class...in my usual style, I did all of it at once, taking notes on each poem as I went. Whitman, Eliot, Dickinson, Williams, Pound, Bunting, Yeats, and Koch, all between sometime last night and today. I put my brain on memorization mode and made sure to visualize each line of every fing poem so it would make enough sense that I could remember for the evil midterm. Fun!
*represses urge to glare at student that has seated himself nearby*
I wish people would sit far away from me if they're going to read. This keyboard isn't the quietest and I get nastily stiff hands from trying to type quietly. Ugh.
Anyway... The biography for Yeats was rather startling -- I need to look more into it, but it looks very much like he had autism or something similar. Delayed speech, extremely naive, disliked noise & movement, constant issues with unrequited love, tendency to throw himself into one intense interest at a time, rocked to calm himself, considered rather dim until he suddenly became literate at age 8 with obvious savant reading/writing skills, usage of a mask to make himself "look normal" which he hated to do, powerful sense of alienation and wish to be in a world of others that saw past the superficial social crap like he did...
His poems were, not surprisingly, structured and focused precisely in the way I'd expect from someone on the spectrum. They were certainly the only ones in all of the stuff I read that actually resonated with me. I'd like to change my essay focus for Friday's term-paper from Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock over to some kind of analysis of Yeats, but I'd have to check with my section leader to see if it'd be okay first, which in turn would require that I have a concrete idea of the subject than I have right now. (Also, I don't think I could necessarily get away with doing *that* radical a paper. Merely doing social analysis of Prufrock is going to be pushing it.)
I'll admit it. I like many ways that my brain works, and consider it in general to be an improvement on the NT mind. However, not being able to recognize my own partner gets really unnerving after a while... I know there's some positive aspect to having to analyze faces in great detail and rely on body shape or voice to know who the **** someone is, but I haven't figured it out yet.
I could spend an hour going over the latest pics I have of him, analyzing for similar features to compensate for the change in hairstyle, facial hair growth, expression -- and I think weight, but that could be the angle -- but I have a midterm tomorrow. Not that I'm worried about losing the hour for memorizing material, but it's emotionally draining to force my brain piece-by-piece to associate the identity of someone I care about, and I need all of my "drive" to focus on academic success.
My new class, which I did get into, is really neat but sensory-wise is quite difficult for me. What sucked, though, was that I discovered upon leaving the hall that it was pitch black outside and I am afraid of the dark. Or more accurately, afraid of not making it out of the dark in one piece! I had some interesting panic attacks on the walk back to BART...
After the long weekend and doubly long day, I'm just going to crash into bed now. I don't have the physical endurance to do much of anything else!
Phew. I've been on "socially inteactive mode" for over a week straight now, and I have almost no strength left at all. I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted... I had things to tend to after I blogged last night, so I ended up staying up until about 2am doing stuff...then back up at 6am to shower & go pick Kyle up at his parents' house.
A quick stop at the store provided orange juice so we could take our various meds; we feasted on leftover doughnuts from Saturday night, played a Dar Williams "cheerful" mix CD I made for car trips and (as usual) discussed the lyrics. We hit commute traffic on the way over, but Kyle performed depth/speed perception for me so I could change lanes without killing us. There was no traffic heading North by the time I dropped him off, so I got back home from the journey to Oakland at around 10am. I read email for a bit, then collapsed into a huddle on my bed for an hour for a desperately-needed nap.
Now I am resting and getting ready to drive back to Berkeley again in a couple of hours. I'm not even going to try to attend 45c lecture, as I would be guaranteed to fall asleep, but I do need to be there from 4pm - 7pm to attempt to get into a new class. *crosses fingers* Tomorrow and the first half of Wednesday are devoted to studying for Wednesday's midterm. Thursday and the first half of Friday will be for writing the term paper due in that same class.
Next weekend Kyle shall be back in town yet again... I'll be so fried at that point that I will probably hang out with him when he's free just because I won't know what else to do with myself!
I return to the online world quite satisfied with my overplanned outing. :^) I got more done than I had expected, so I am quite happy.
The first thing I noticed when I got outside is that it is WAY too cold & windy to be wearing nothing but a t-shirt and jacket. Since I needed another hooded sweatshirt anyway, I trotted through stores until I found one I liked. This took quite a while, as I am rather particular about what I spend money on. I eventually found a cool gray-blue hooded pullover with (what else?) "Berkeley" sewn on the front.
While on the hunt for a sweatshirt, I also went looking for a new backpack. I finally decided on a style I like -- hey, it only took me what, a month? -- but again, it took several stores to find one in a color I could appreciate. I was hoping for green, but found a gray-blue Jansport that fit the criteria more than perfectly, including multiple large pockets, one of which is big enough to fit my laptop case in. (Pic is for some reason way too light, but you get the idea.) It didn't occur to me until afterwards that it's exactly the same color as the one I had in high school, and almost exactly the same style as the sort I had in grammar school. Did I mention autistics tend to not like change? *snicker*
After those two successes, I wandered down to the used bookstore, not expecting much of anything but just enjoying the day. I was quite pleased when I found an old Susan Dexter paperback I'd never seen before, with some of my favorite characters in it. It's nice to get books for under two dollars!
At this point, I finally headed back towards campus, stopping at Daruma for the intended lunch which, as Kyle pointed out, is called tempura. Not just some tempura, might I point out, but a lot of it, with two kinds of dressing-soaked veggies I couldn't identify (cabbage? lettuce?), rice, orange halves, and of course Miso soup. The restaurant was wonderfully quiet, so I grabbed my tray, retreated to a seat in a room otherwise empty, and read my new Donna Williams autism book for a nice long time. I was so relaxed and intent on the food and the book, in fact, that I didn't notice how much I'd eaten until I felt quite sick!
So now I'm back at the library, relaxing for the final hour before class. Not sure if I'll be able to stay awake through 45c lecture, and I'm so content right now that I don't even really care. *grin*
So I'm here on campus, with basically nothing to do until 3pm unless I decide to harass the English department, find the medical center to make an appointment...or, as Kyle suggested last night, go shopping on Telegraph Avenue and treat myself to a nice Japanese lunch at Daruma's.
I'm trying to convince myself that I should actually go *do* those things, but thanks to the way my autistic brain works, I need to visualize them first, and no luck there. If I just head off somewhere without a very specific plan in mind, the result is that I get there, stand around for a bit feeling useless, then leave in a worse mood. So even though I am very hungry right now, I can't even go eat until I've specifically figured out what I'd do while I'm in that part of the area. I'll have to think visually for a bit and plan things out.
Hmmm. I think what I'll do is walk down to the bookstores and browse for autism/fantasy titles, wander to Amoeba & Rasputin to check out their used Dar Williams CDs... If I find a store that carries backpacks & laptop cases, I'll gather the courage (yes, for me this does take courage) and go in there too. Then on the way back I'll stop at Daruma and have a nice lunch -- I can't remember what my favorite dish is called, but the menu is pictures with numbers, so I can't blow that *too* thoroughly. (It is Japanese: battered & deep-fried shrimp & vegetables. Anyone know?)
I guess being hungry is useful. If nothing else, at least I knew that I couldn't physically stand to sit here without food much longer -- all I've had in the last 24 hours was a sandwich at noon yesterday and a buttered biscuit late last night!
Let's face it, I can't go to CompUSA without visiting the inevitable Borders Books nearby, if only to look. ;^) I admit I cross the line into fanatic some days, though...
I was thrilled to see that the SR Borders was carrying yet another Diana Wynne Jones novel I had never read before, called Eight Days Of Luke. EDOL was originally published 2.5 years before I was even born, and went through several releases by various publishers, but it had still been long out-of-print by the time I became a Jones fan in 1989. Happily, someone sane at publisher Harper Collins ("Greenwillow" division) has decided to re-release ALL of DWJ's works, so I'm happily building my library one book at a time as I find them.
I checked the Santa Rosa store for the new Donna Williams book, but they didn't have it. Driven perhaps by the milkshake I had with lunch, I decided that the best remedy for that would be to go to San Rafael Bordres and buy it there. :^) So now I have Exposure Anxiety - The Invisible Cage to explore as well. It is described as "an exploration of the self-protection responses in the autism spectrum and beyond" which is a concept I know a little too much about firsthand and far too little about objectively. I'll post more on the topic once I have read it. ;^)
So I've once again talked to Kaiser Psych and made an appointment for one-hundred-ten-percent full-on Asperger's/High Functioning Autism testing. I've already gone through informal Asperger's testing -- being diagnosed based on a long interview with questions and I assume behavioral observations on the part of the psychiatrist -- and was told that I easily fulfill the criteria, but I assume they'll do something more rigorous/legally useful this time.
The nice fellow I talked to said that the earliest set-in-stone appointment I can get will be on 3/20 ... However, I'm at the top of the waiting list for if someone cancels before then, as I explained I need this for school. So this could take place any day, at any time. I'm not crazy about that kind of randomness, but I have to take what I can get.
I'm not quite sure what I'll do if the doctor decides I lack the signs for HFA or AS. That would be shattering after 1.5 years of finally having reasons for why I'm so different that make sense, and having the first "community" I've genuinely felt like I fit in with. If I don't have HFA/AS, then it's back to square one for figuring out what I do have -- because the one thing that is clear to me is that there is something very different about my brain.
I admit I am also afraid of what any given IQ tests will show. I know that it's "not supposed to matter" to me, but it really does.
In the middle of refilling some prescriptions online, and suddenly I get redirected to this:
** TECHNICAL ERROR ***
We're having a technical problem. Our technical staff knows about the problem and is working on it. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Please try again later.
They should just post that at the entrance to all of their buildings so people are forewarned. Patients wouldn't get half as upset if they walk through the door expecting incompetence.
Technically there are quite a few things I should be getting done, including things I should have accomplished this lovely extended weekend...but the infamous autistic inertia strikes again, so I've gotten a few things finished but overall not much at all. If it's not attached to my computer or part of my routine, evidently my brain just can't rouse the interest to deal with it.
Of course, being an unrelenting geek, my strongest urge is to solve this problem by upgrading to a newer handheld. Electronic organizers are only useful if they're not so much of a PITA that they never get used...right now, "Hitchhiker" is sitting on my white tray with dead batteries because the recharge cable has come off the cradle yet again. My irritation with the power button being dead -- that is, if I'm using it and it automatically shuts off because I haven't touched the screen recently enough, I have to hit a function button, then backtrack to whatever app I was using -- is enough that I'm barely using it at all. I'm strongly tempted to take the whole thing apart and see if I can make the power button work, but I think I want a backup PDA on-hand in case I kill it.
I took my car CD changer apart, as that has been broken for a while. I got the CDs that had jammed out, but haven't solved why the main mechanism isn't working. I'll figure it out; either that or I'll just buy one of those nifty mp3CD players for the car and have that installed instead. Guess which is more likely.
I still owe mail -- and chats! -- to quite a few people. I've been in hiding mode again, unfortunately, which means that almost nobody is hearing from me at all. You know it's bad when I'm not posting to my own blog every day... Going to campus really tires me out socially: I get home and the *last* thing I want to do is interact with more human beings. I'm a great roommate in that I am very quiet and keep to myself; I'm also horrid to live with because I need to be left alone and not inundated with noise or chatter, online or off. Good luck finding anyone that has spent time living with me to disagree with that!
On that note, I must now start a fire in the fireplace and stare fixedly into the flames while this overlarge room warms up a bit. I could go up to my room and use my laptop, but I've discovered that doing so almost guarantees that I will fall asleep within a half-hour of getting upstairs. (Not that it's a bad thing, just that I still have more stuff to fail to accomplish before officially turning in. ;)
Arrgh! I had a nice post all about the wonderful stillness of the early Spring morning, then my browser crashed and I lost it. Phooey.
This morning was an interesting case of my hearing being way, way too powerful. I crashed into bed early last night from sheer exhaustion and was awakened around 7am by the telephone in a neighbor's house ringing. Now, you have to take into account that I live in a typical early-70s suburb, with about twenty feet between each house. It really says something about how acute my senses are, that I'm awakened from a sound sleep and kept awake by the sound of someone else's phone ringing. (In fact, judging by the way it sounded, I think it was in a house across the street, but I could be wrong.)
Anyway, it may only be early February here, but the sun is out, the trees/bushes that had lost their leaves during winter are starting to get green tips. It's a tad chilly, but in an invigorating way rather than it being outright cold. Everything feels light and alive. My favorite kind of morning. Yesterday was pretty neat too: I ate my sandwich in the late afternoon on a low bench under the trees, surrounded by two doves, a red-breasted robin, a finch of some kind that kept twittering musically, and squirrels. Really neat.
This morning I felt like being silly, so when I finally did get out of bed after hours of trying to sleep in, I went downstairs, grabbed a Sprite and a box of cereal, then immediately came back up to read email in bed. I normally stick to a routine of waking up, showering, then reading mail on the tower downstairs while my hair dries; today, however, the cheery quality of the light filtering in my windows and the birds chirping made me decide I needed to spend time just enjoying it.
Now, off to shower and figure out how best to spend the weekend, or at least the next few hours. There are so many projects I could work on, people to chat with, books to read... I like my life on days like this: Spring is such a wonderful, invigorating season!
So here I am at 10pm trying to convince myself to pack. My brain just isn't interested in dealing with the reality that I'm doing anything out of the ordinary, so not surprisingly, motivating myself to get things taken care of is proving quite difficult.
I think I'll start by setting up the webcam my brother bought me for Christmas (woohoo Brian!) so I can see my desk area while I'm gone. The area is a total disaster, so methinks I'll be leaving the webcam up in private mode till I get back to clean. ;^)
Ugh. With only 4.5 hours sleep in the last 61 hours, and not much in the way of food, I currently have in me:
1.3 doses neurontin
.5 dose vicodin
1 dose allergy meds
1 dose decongestant
I still hurt slightly, am dazed yet on-edge hyper, having panic/rage attacks directed at myself, and really am not sure what to do. Not a fun situation.
I guess I put too much stress on myself between interacting "actively" in the classroom for several hours (meaning I walked around amidst the buzz instead of hiding in a corner and waiting for students to come to me) and then talking to Parrish on the phone for a couple of hours almost directly afterward... I hung up the phone, closed my eyes for a second, and when I opened them again, an hour had passed!
I wandererd downstairs to have some of the dinner I had set cooking in the timed convection oven, considered working with my computer, but at that point it seemed more sane to just go to bed. So I crashed from ~10pm through 9am, and I'm STILL yawning. Viva autism!
Parrish greeted me this morning in email with something remarkably appropriate -- a lyric rewrite of Pink's Get The Party Started to Get The Coffee Started. I've always gotten a real kick out of rewrites, and this one is particularly suitable. The second two verses evidently haven't been touched yet, and I'm very tempted to spend part of my day attempting to add to it. *grin*
If I ever start gate-crashing Cure Autism rallies wearing a "Proud Autistic" t-shirt, I'm bringing Kyle along as the unofficial Aspie Cheerleader.
[01:27AM] Kyle: for me, it's viva abnormalcy!
[01:27AM] Kyle: pass the ice cream and let's party!
...but they're evidently almost all dedicated to finding new ways to make a fool of myself. Or at least using old methods with innovative new angles.
I also owe email up the wazoo again. *waves to friends* However, I also just promised my boss on the phone a few hours ago that all of the grading would be done by Thursday afternoon, and that has to come first because I want to get paid.
I should ban myself from contact with the human race, it'd save me a lot of trouble.
Wow. I just wrote a HUGE post to a woman whose son has Asperger's and is considering attending UC Berkeley. My brain is so fried it isn't even funny, LOL...
Hmm. It's dark outside now. I was so interested in what I was writing that I didn't even notice the sun setting...as if that's any big surprise. It's also quite cold in here now... I guess I should be getting my stuff ready for exercise, that always helps get my brain functional again.
Much to my surprise, I slept MUCH longer than I normally do, failing to wake up until well after noon -- and I'm still tired out! I sat down to my computer to check out the contents of my various groups as I do while waking up every day, and quickly discovered that I have a far worse problem: I'm so fatigued that I'm struggling to comprehend well-written English, let alone the weird stuff that some of my students are coming up with. Reading is currently taking 3-5 visual "passes" per sentence, and even then, I'm not quite comprehending the discussion. Ah, well.
Asthma is flaring a bit, and in general I am not doing as well as I was late last night. I forgot that I always feel best late at night when my body is dealing with an infection, with the morning & afternoon hitting me the hardest. It's going to be a take-it-easy day till exercise tonight, that's for sure..!
Conversation in the car with my mother...
DD: "Would you please stop making that noise?"
Mom: "Ever hear of the word 'tolerance'?"
DD: "Ever hear of the word 'autistic'?"
Mom: "That's not an excuse. Ever hear of the word 'intolerant'?"
DD: "Certainly, it suits you: ever hear of the phrase 'bad parent'?"
Ah, yes, the holiday season. I wonder whether the homicide rate goes up along with the suicide rate...
Hee... I just tried to borrow the "five things" list from Stace's page to use as a morning post, but quickly found that I couldn't name five things that I liked as a teen that I don't now, nor five things I like now that I didn't like as a teen. I can do these ones, however -- and I can see how my autism makes them all very powerful preferences in me...
Five things I've long disliked and probably always will:
Having others get hurt
Intellectually lazy people
Gender-appropriate behavior (in either sex)
Obedience/Subservience to others (in myself or other people)
Five things I've always liked and probably always will:
Enhancing life through imagination
Individuals standing up for themselves; independence
Gender-bending behavior (in either sex)
Reading well-written pieces
Sometimes necessity is the best thing to get me to stop perseverating on the computer and go DO something... After a late start, I went out for the afternoon to run some errands. That was fairly boring but needed to be done, so I won't bother with the details here. :)
While I was driving through a local business park, I saw some people from an assisted living group trying to cross the street with very little success. I got annoyed at the other drivers and, being that this isn't a major thoroughfare (let alone a public street) merrily used my car to halt all traffic on my side of the street. Bwa ha. What didn't occur to me until the folks were crossing and waving at me was that a number of them were probably my neurological cousins. With a weaker communication skill, I'd be among them rather than blogging to you right now. I've heard of the need for HFAs to look out for their more-autistic cousins, but this was the first time I genuinely understood it.
I went hunting for other autistic blogs for Nanne, who is hopefully going to start one herself, and instead wound up on a site by a parent of an autistic child. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I would have merely lifted Frank's essays off his site, rather than writing a missive of my own...but no, being me, I wrote a rantlet.
Hello Mr. Meredith --
I ran across your blog while looking for blogs by other autistics such as myself. I am in the "moderately functioning" autistic range; the only reason I am not true Kanners is because I have an extremely high IQ (~176) and therefore can compensate for my neurology. I cannot handle sound, I avoid eye contact; I have a cecostomy because I could not be toilet-trained (my neurology just isn't capable of it!), panic if near other people, lose the ability to communicate under stress, stim a great deal, the whole 9 yards.
I know I don't SOUND very autistic in writing -- this is because it is my savant talent. I am a top English major at U.C. Berkeley, with plans to get a Ph.D. in the future. Not easy to do, as an autistic, but writing is my life.
Anyway, what I want to point out is that while I understand the pain you feel in not having a "normal" son, it is not a horrible thing at all to have autistic neurology. I love it and, like many other autistics, would rather die than be normal. As in so many other things in life, there are two sides to this picture. You view our stimming, perseverant (hyperfocused), off-in-another-world lives as a tragedy; *we* see your socially-oriented, everyday-grounded, serious lives as equally sad. Yes, we freak out in your loud stores, we are unhappy when your social beliefs cause your kind to "train" us into doing things like making eye contact (which is an immense mental strain)...however, those are not detriments of autism, they are reflections of the pain of having the dominant neurological culture forcing its philosophies upon us.
We are a neurological minority, not "damaged" creatures that must be fixed. You would hopefully not pity someone that grew up in Cancun based on the fact that their cultural experience is different from yours; why bemoan the life of someone that has lived in a different neurological world?
Please do not be furious or miserable over your son being autistic. Cherish the fact that he has a brain that finds joy in places only we autistics do. Blame whatever unhappiness he encounters on the dominant neurological culture he is forced to encounter, with its emphasis on bright colors that hurt our eyes, loud noises that hurt our ears, rough textures that hurt our skin...not on the mere fact that he is different from you.
I highly recommend, sir, that you visit http://home.att.net/~ascaris1/ and read that autistic's brilliant essays. Check out AutisticSpectrumTreehouse, AS-Pride, and AS-Circle on YahooGroups -- listen to those of us that *know* what it is like to live like your son. We are all very alike: we know the autistic world on a personal level and welcome any that wish to learn what it is truly like to live in it. Do all of that, see the world as it truly is through your son's eyes rather than through those of a normal father wishing his son were normal...*then* consider whether his differences are intolerably horrible to him, or if it might merely be your own incomprehension that anyone could be happy with a different neurology.
One of my favorite "stims" is to play a single song on loop for hours on end. The repetition of specific relevant pieces allows me to build on my dominant emotion, whether that is anger or friendship, and feel it within my body rather than just as an abstract concept in the back of my head.
If someone looked at the pieces I've been repeating in the last few days, they'd put me in a mental hospital. Then again, that can be said of quite a few things in my life, particularly the ones that repeat themselves against all effort on my part...
Music: Dar Williams - What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
I say I hear a doubt, with the voice of true believing
and the promises to stay, and the footsteps that are leaving
Thanks to severe stress the past couple of days, I haven't really felt up to blogging or posting to my various groups... I still am, unfortunately.
Once upon a time, someone made some very nasty decisions. Somehow, by a series of those twisted coincidences in the Universe, the echoes of that have come to fall upon me. It seems odd, that there's a veritable planet of NTs capable of handling this without a second thought, yet it's an already-overstressed autistic that gets the job. If I coud track down that individual.......
As an Aspie, I'm a tolerant, loyal, caring person most of the time. Kyle can vouch for this.
However, he can also report that the flipside to my autistic traits is that I'm not someone any sane person would want to corner, physically or otherwise. Not surprisingly, having watched my attitude shift over the past week, he's sitting back with some popcorn to watch the fireworks.
Ugh. I just feel burned-out on everything at this point. I skipped class due to my poor organizational skills and haven't really accomplished anything today at all.
Logic is telling me to do all sorts of things to "improve" my life that make no emotional sense. Maybe I should just go read a book.
The situation is worse than I thought. It turns out, according to my now-updated records, that Longs didn't mischarge me -- they merely delayed all charges to my account over the past month and then nailed me with all of them at once.
The really bad news here is that according to my records, aside from incidental amounts (books, plane tix) almost all of my inheritance was used by my family to deal with their various momentary needs. Whether I can recover any of that or not remains to be seen -- my guess is no.
As for why I am filing this under Asperger's, it is because once again, my AS tendency to give in under pressure or just do whatever is suggested in public has gotten me into massive trouble. (Many autistics have exactly that problem.) At this point, it's clear that I'd be better off cutting myself off from just about everyone aside from periodic visits. I'm too damned compliant to interact with anyone on a long-term basis without causing harm to myself.
Music: "Pinch Me" -- Barenaked Ladies
I feel fine enough I guess
considering everything's a mess
Okay, too much stress from all sides. I'm taking an impromptu vacation from the planet. Back when I get back.
Short dialogue with Mom:
Me: "Hey, An Asperger Marriage showed up today -- uh, I don't think this'll be the one to take to the gym with me."
Mom: "Not unless you want to be answering a LOT of questions."
Me: "No, I don't."
Mom: "You should give your father hints..."
Me: "I'm an aspie. I don't give hints."
Mom: "Your father never could take them anyway...you could hit him in the head with a brick and he still wouldn't notice."
Me: "Where do you think I inherited it from?"
Then, on the way to the gym with Dad, he recounted this amusing conversation he had after a long week of way too many phone calls at work:
Dad: "I know what I'm going to be for Halloween!"
Mercedes: "You do?
Dad: "Yeah! I'm going to be a deaf-mute!"
Mercedes: "You could go as Harpo!"
Dad: "Ohh yes, perfect, I can get calls, pick up the phone, stare at it for a minute, and go 'honk honk' with a horn into it, then hang up!"
Mercedes: "Ah, though we can still scribble notes for you and send emails."
Dad: "Hmmmm, that's no good... I'll go as Tommy from the rock opera, and be deaf, dumb, andblind!"
Half the amusement I get from this is that it's precisely the sort of thing I'd be tempted to say/do. (He knows it, too. My favorite stories to hear as a kid were ones he made up about his getting away with murder at the office or as a young man.) The other half is that Dad clearly doesn't comprehend 1) Tommy was autistic 2) so is he. He'd be masquerading as a more severe form of himself.
Of course, I didn't point this out. I don't think he believes HFA exists, if you get my drift, and since neither of us like to argue, there's no point in discussing it. What can I say: there's a reason everyone that knows us says I'm a tiny, slightly less femme form of my father personality-wise.
This morning, my partner informed me kindly that I suck at interpreting his words. Amazingly, after driving around musing on the subject for a half-hour, I had the brilliant thought: maybe I should find a way to improve my ability to read him correctly.
Of course, I have no idea how to do that, or even whether it's possible...but hey, it all starts with acknowledgement, right?
Actual conversation from the supermarket a few minutes ago:
Clerk: "How are you doing?"
Me: "I'm fine, how about you?"
Me: "I said I'm fine, how about you?"
Clerk: "Oh! I'm doing okay. What's wrong with your voice? Laryngitis?"
Me: "Uh...yeah, laryngitis."
Clerk: "You're angry at someone!"
Me: "Hmm? No..."
Clerk: "Yes you are! I could tell, you were staring and frowning and your voice is angry!"
Me: "No, I'm not angry at anyone."
Clerk: "Yeah, right... I know pissed off when I see it."
Funny thing is, I was in a good mood until that exchange. Then I got upset. (I have a whispery voice, and am rather sick of people asking about it. Using it & my autistic traits to infer I am an angry person was overboard...unfortunately I was too shocked at the accusation to tell her WHY I looked that way. Maybe next time.
Well, it has been two days since the "fun" of spending Monday afternoon/night in an emergency room, and it looks like whether I like it or not, I'm going to have to take the rest of the week off to recover mentally. While the noise level was low there, it was fairly constant, and the fluorescent lights really threw my poor brain for a loop. By the time I was getting ready to be discharged, I couldn't even understand the instructions given me or what I was supposed to be doing. I'm not doing appreciably better right now.
So, given I can't focus on anything, I think I'm going to declare the rest of the week invalid and just rest. I slept almost 12 hours last night, yet have a stress-sleep-deprivation headache and feel like I could sleep another full night right now. It isn't a pleasant sensation, let me tell you... So, anyone not finding me on IM/Yahoo!/ICQ or receiving timely email, just chill -- I'm probably napping on the couch or reading books in my room. :^)
Hanging out with Kyle on IM, we decided to play with the Wired Asperger's test -- he has never taken it, and I wanted to see if my scores had changed.
Nope. I'm still a 47, with the only 3 "no" answers being the ones about fiction (which have been largely disregarded by the autism community as being inaccurate)...
It was a "Denise demonstrates her less pleasant aspie traits" afternoon.
After checking out the alternatives & prices, I decided that the sale Best Buy has on Belkin wireless components really sounds perfect -- the equipment is on sale, plus they're offering substantial mail-in rebates on each item. So I leapt into the car, refilled at the gas station, and drove on up to Santa Rosa to pick some up.
You all see it coming, right? Yes, they were all out.
I checked out the various handhelds, which (unlike the online ads say) were not on sale. The store was, of course, filled with dopey-eyed famblees and their high-pitched yakking sprogs. A salesguy kept following me around trying to be overly pleasing (despite my repeated comments of "no, I'm just looking") while his little walkie-talkie blared; I was tempted to grab his radio and do something quite unmentionable to him with it.
While up there, I suggested to my mother that we grab lunch, as I haven't had much to eat in the last few days other than sporadic pieces of bread. (There's food. I merely haven't had any interest in eating lately.) That led to an argument because I'm in an international nice-restaurant mood and she always prefers quick American. Since we couldn't compromise, I just drove us back home.
So now I am sitting here with a warm Vanilla Coke in an unhappy/irritated mood because my plans fell through and I spent far too much time in a noisy store being pestered. Now there's some f&ktrophy; in a nearby backyard blowing repeatedly on a whistle. Grrreeeeeaat. *grumble*
...you have a really nice self-built tower with a still-top-notch soundcard hooked into a surround sound system....and you're hanging out listening to old MIDI music.
Music: "Dragon's Flight" -- Ultima VII
How can things go so wrong so quickly? I stayed up till around 3am to get some creative writing done, then crashed for the night with the intent to get up early and turn it in. So this morning, I came on downstairs after my shower, told my system to print, and promptly discovered that my printer had ceased functioning. (Yes, Kyle, the printer that took a backwards nosedive off the back of my desk.)
I tried to move my computer to check the cabling, and of course it instantly froze up. I rebooted, but the printer was still MIA... I uninstalled it, tried to reinstall, but the system refused to acknowledge that the printer was attached. Grrreeeeaaat. After a bit, I realized that the parallel Zip had come unplugged -- I fixed that and of course the deskjet came back to life. I reinstalled the printer and told it to spew out my finished assignment...which, for reasons that remain unclear, it did in slightly misaligned color-base black rather than true black.
I sighed, grabbed it along with my timesheet for work, and bolted on up to the junior college. En route I realize that I forgot to look up & inscribe my contractor ID# on the timesheet, so I couldn't take care of that...fine, no biggie. Reach the JC, jog across the campus as it is just now when that class should start, only to find that they've decided to go to a poetry slam in Santa Rosa for the day. Huh? I stayed up half the night, got up early, and risked a speeding ticket to turn something in to a class that wasn't even present? Ugh.
Fine. So on the way back out the car, I thought: I have just enough money from working this week to pay off my tiny UCB readmit fee. (They chose the ONE TIME in four months that I've been sub-$40 in my account to deposit the check -- several weeks after I had applied, so logically it bounced. Ugh again.) Perfect, I can make the outing worthwhile after all, I thought. I leapt back into the Legacy and jaunted on up to the post office to buy a money order.
I strode into the office, got in line, and decided to grab the necessary .80 to pay for the money order. Yeah, guess what I emptied out of my wallet last night: all of the change. Which means, of course, that I can't actually buy the money order...aaaaaarrrrgggggghhhhhhh
Thus was the day up to 9:30am. Happily, when I got home, Kyle was hanging out on IM -- he is dogsitting and was awakened by the stupid pooch -- so we had a bit of amusing sleepy-morning banter. I changed into more comfy clothes for the day, had a bowl of cereal, and am relaxing with some listgroup silliness, which helps a great deal.
The big nice thing, however, is that I get my inheritance tonight, which means this weekend I get to pick up all of the stupid necessities I've been going for so long without! My bedsheets/comforter, shoes, socks, and shirts are all in dire need of replacement. It won't come out to much money in the end, but it'll be sooo nice to not wear shirts with frayed collars or Keds that are developing holes in the sole...
I'll probably have one serious indulgence, which will be to move my LAN to wireless -- though that isn't an indulgence half as much as a necessity, given over half my network cables and the laptop NIC are broken with overuse. They all work, technically, but only if I support them at the right angles with piles of books or other things. Anything beyond that will take major research; I can do the wireless research today while hanging out. :)
After yet another day of being stressed-out almost to the breaking point for no perceptible reason, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that what I really need is a fricking vacation. I had forgotten that while I can write quite well under stress, I can't write when I'm frustrated, particularly when I can't even figure out what is irritating me. Come to think of it, I can't do much of anything productively stuck in this mentality -- tiny difficulties seem like insurmountable disasters, just as I finish dealing with one trouble another pops up, and ultimately I quit in anger over things never seeming to go smoothly.
I'm supposed to write a short creative bio-piece on being lost. Well, I sure feel lost right now -- since this isn't something I can really spin into a full tale, let's see what I can do with poetry...
Music: probably something I'd get sneered at for listening to,
knowing my tastes in this mood
Finally dragged myself out of bed around 11am when Max-cat became irritated with my failure to let him out and turned on the CD alarm clock full blast... I wandered down here and had a bowl of cereal first off, and now I'm sitting at the computer not wanting to do anything at all. That's highly abnormal for me -- usually I get up, do whatever medical things need to be done, shower, and *then* come down for food/email...today I have the physical energy but absolutely no interest in using it.
However, like it or not, I pretty much have to get showered and go out, which is doubtless good as who knows how long I'd be lazy otherwise? I think it's just that I've been doing too much too quickly lately and need a major break from reality again. I still have quite a bit of grading left to do, so I'll get cleaned up and attack that as it doesn't require human interaction. Later I need to run a couple of errands, though I might just hold off till tomorrow on all but one of them in hopes I feel more social by then.
Even with music playing, I can hear the slight shift in processor power that comes with Eudora downloading a new message, and often switch back to the mail window before it has even announced there's new mail. Yep, hypertonic is the way to be...
Arrgghh... Too much to get done all at once.
I had fun last night hanging out with Kyle, then doing the usual 5-hour cleanup with the Carousel Fund...but I'm too fried from all of the socialization to write about it. That's one of the annoying aspects of being an aspie: I can either be in social crowd-tolerant mode, OR I can feel communicative, but never quite both. Interestingly, the high-stress of socialization parallels the performance-oriented mentality I use to get things done in college, which explains why I can't study and have a social life within days of one another. Bit of a problem as you can guess...
I'm considering taking a Neurontin just so I can relax, but I'm supposed to banter on the phone later on, and N makes me a little too emotion-oriented for my own comfort. For now, I think I shall chill with a bowl of cereal and get back into the swing of grading...
*Moggz glances through her recent comments in between another sheaf of papers*
"Never occurred to me that it's gay, but then again, I'm the one who goes to musicals and shows, reads Richard Bach, yadda yadda, and never knew that any of that stuff was gay, either..." -- Parrish
Straight women, are you sick of insensitive cave-dwellers, and ready to knock the next macho man unconscious with his lugwrench? Do you repeatedly fall for "nice guys" only to find out they're already dating one another? Try a male aspie: more feminine than your Prada-lovin best friend, and too dense to hide it.
*chuckles and dives for safety under the desk*
Okay, enough playing, I'll get back to grading now...
Music: "Bamboleo" -- Gipsy Kings
Latest discovery in the land of aspie relationships... It turns out that while being ambiguous is a wonderful way to avoid getting one's ass kicked with most people, it's a serious detriment when dealing with an autistic.
In chat recently, a third party proposed something radical to The Aspie Boyfriend. He commented to me on it, and I promptly made some ambiguous jokes, not wanting to express the strong desire to shut the computer off, move away, and leave no forwarding address. Being an aspie himself, he assumed that meant *I* was interested in the idea, and hid his thoughts behind ambiguous comments. This only freaked me out more, which caused him to get all upset... You get the picture.
In reality, NEITHER of us was interested in the radical suggestion, but we were both trying so hard to hide our preference that it was impossible to tell. We tried so hard, in fact, that we very nearly cancelled out the entire relationship. Luckily, a few emails and a long phone call later, we are doing okay. (Yes, much as we hate using the phone, it's actually necessary in this situation.)
The lesson here is: do not be ambiguous with someone on the autistic spectrum, and if you're an aspie in a relationship, try to not be ambiguous yourself. (Also to talk on the phone even if you'd rather throw it out a ten-story window... I was surprised to find how much easier it was to tell when I was upsetting him when we talked than when we chatted, especially as I normally can't detect emotions in voices at all.)
In moments of great stress that could turn into emotional turmoil, I now find myself chanting:
"Remain still, remain calm, think about...Windows Networking."
Nothing chills the brain like configuring a network.
Frank pointed out:
"No one ever won a Nobel Prize or became Time Magazine's Man of the Century for being a social butterfly."
I think it's going to be a Neurontin day.
I was up all night sick from eating expired spaghetti sauce. The rare times I did sleep, I had my most common nigthmare: being stuck in a residence that has wasps and yellow-jackets flying around. In case anyone isn't aware at this point, I have a potentially deadly allergy to the little nasties, so being in a position where I can't get away from one numbers among my worst fears.
Checked my mail a little bit ago, and found that one friend is suggesting I have a foursome (!?!?) under the premise that autistics tend to have scopophilia. Well, regardless of whether I stare at interesting people or not, the idea of letting anyone I don't know touching me is disturbing, to say the least. I also we set off-balance by another friend admitting he's been playing games with my head, though doubtless he doesn't see it like that. A third person told me I am doing everything regarding #2 utterly wrong and everything is going to fall apart, based on the experience he's had recently.
Yes, definitely a Neurontin day...
Dang... Just wrote a very lengthly letter to a friend of mine that is having serious issues with a friendship he cares greatly about. Dealing with emotions that much really tires me out. *collapses snoring on the keyboard*
Music: "Blueberry Beer" -- Kimenker
Another morning of sleeping in, and I'm just now hitting that stage of reacting to the overstimulation from the week where I simply don't feel like dealing with anyone. I read all of my favorite sites, checked my mail, but just wasn't interested in communicating at anyone. So I think I'll do cleanup for a bit and see how that helps... I'm supposed to meet up with Dawn/Tif/Peri/Donna/etc today or tomorrow in Vallejo, so I need to get motivated enough to find out what the plan is.
I finally got Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" ported to mp3 late last night... For some reason, my systems hate FM albums, and give all sorts of errors when asked to mp3 them. Only way to get a digital version is to stick the program on ultra-error-checking mode and let it run for about five hours. Next up I'm going to do "The Dance" on the same setting, as the last few tries lost at least half the tracks. Perhaps I'll do that while keeping to myself today...
Lying lazily in bed this morning, it dawned on me that I have no sense of physical play. Sometimes IRL or in chats, people will try to initiate typical childhood rough-housing games; I always struggle, yet cannot come up with a response. It's not that I lacked a playmate as a child -- my brother, merely 4.5 years younger than me, is normal enough -- just that even as a little kid, I didn't know what to do and would either stare confusingly, get angry, or run away. Not much of a problem IRL now that I'm a lone adult, but it's a bit of an issue online. Maybe I should watch the neighborhood kids and try to analyze how I'm *supposed* to react.
Despite the tone of this, I'm not depressed today, just neutral. I knew I was reaching that point very late last night, and should have taken steps to prevent it then, but I was tired enough that I simply went to bed instead. Bleh!
Music: "Crazy Love Vol. II" -- Paul Simon
Well, I have no opinion about that
and I have no opinion about me...
Owwww...I forgot till I walked out boldly into the sunlight that I visually can't handle sunlight without appropriate sunglasses at times like this. Evidently my pupils are too stupid to constrict with any real speed today.
I now have the batteries, Gatorade, a new pen for correcting papers (I nuked the end of my two blues last night), and am settling in at the computer lab. The bag Kyle gave me last night is packed and perfect. Thank you again! :^D
Music: "Beautiful Disaster" -- 311
Now I wish you all the luck
butterfly in the wind without a care
Despite the way it might look at times, I'm actually an extremely patient person when I wish to be. Long ago, I applied this to harness-training a group of young cats quite successfully, then I tamed ferals. My current project is to convince both groups that being vaccuumed is fun and pleasurable. So far, Kadie and Casey have been made into vaccuum-loving freaks, and Tanookie is giving the idea serious consideration.
In aspie terms, this is known as perseverating -- focusing intently on an interest over a long period of time. We rarely have more than 1-3 perseverations at a time, and our patience is notoriously short for anything that doesn't fall into one of them. When something does fall within a perseverative interest, however, we can make the terms "dedication" and "determination" seem vague in comparison...
Music: "Go Home" -- Barenaked Ladies
Oh, this is rich...my tracker shows that among other things, people are finding my website by doing Google searches for "asperger's + relationship" -- keep looking, everyone, I'm NOT the one to ask about that! LOL...
However, I do recommend that you check out Frank's Autistic Advocacy and drop him a line. Anything he doesn't know, he can theorize, though I can't guarantee you'll always like the answers.
Music: "Starman" - Dar Williams
It was pointed out to me a few weeks ago by Frank that while NTs have mutual conversation, aspies tend to communicate by exchanging monologues. It made vague sense at the time, but right now, swapping extended essay-style messages with Frank and indirectly communicating with Parrish through reading one another's blogs, I see exactly what he was talking about.
Of course, only Frank and I are known HFA-Aspies... Parrish might very well simply be strange.
As I just commented to Kyle via email: "Who needs soap operas, we have enough weird stuff going on in our own lives?"
Music: "The Distance" -- Cake
It looks to be a quiet day: 3/4 of my friends are currently incommunicado, and I owe another ridiculously long analysis-letter to the fourth, so there's little chance I'll hear from him today. He had some rather thought-provoking comments in his latest missive, so I'm chewing on those ideas before I create a full reply.
I wrote stories long ago about rare individuals whose purpose in society is to lend support to others in need in a psychologically healthy way, then fade out of the person's life once others are present to fulfill the position. To seek or even allow someone else to hold that position -- to place that burden upon another -- would be antithetical to their purpose, so they are bound by nature to remain perpetually isolated despite interacting with others. That was how I silently characterized my social life before I realized I was an aspie; it was the most appealing explanation I could come up with. In a sense, that was an accurate analysis, as I have seen the lives of quite a few individuals improve through my friendship in ways that might not have happened otherwise.
Amazing how, despite my awareness of autism, I still view the world in that way... I can't help wondering who will be the next to wander into my life, and on this quiet day, who is wandering out. As with all myths, it is a nice way to superimpose order upon events in life that I cannot otherwise understand.
On the subject of a post I just chose not to make:
[10:25PM] Kyle: hee hee.. that's not the most diplomatic thing to say I think
[10:25PM] Denise: rofl
[10:26PM] Denise: no, you're right, it's not...but then again, lack of diplomacy is often what I'm all about, isn't it ;)
[10:26PM] Kyle: hee hee
[10:26PM] Kyle: yeah
I love it when people tell me I'm honest and straightforward. How little they realize I rarely have a choice -- 170-range* IQ and I still can't figure out how to hide my thoughts convincingly. I can make them seem entertaining, but they're still there...
*finally convinced my parents to reveal my tested IQ today...isn't that a scary number? If they hadn't given me the same answer independently, I wouldn't believe it. More on that topic later. :^)
Music: "Melody" -- Gipsy Kings
Oh, this is getting silly.
Me: It is possible!
Frank: It is not.
Me: I'm sure it can happen.
Frank: Okay, it is possible.
Me: Hmmmm, maybe it's not.
Frank: Told you so. ;)
Of course, this took place over a couple hundred K, but still... *rolled eyes*
It just occured to me how appropriate the title "Moggy Mania" is right now, given my med-free racing brain... I saw the (good) psychopharmacologist Thursday afternoon for the first time in a year.
I went in intending to admit that I've been off Neurontin for a month and am having a 'few' anxiety problems over it. However, when push came to shove, I smiled and told him that I was doing wonderful on 300mg. I didn't want to be pressured back onto the stuff at any dose -- the two side effects (augmented emotion & reduced clarity of thought) are simply too dangerous. I can take one now-and-then when the anxiety gets totally out of control, but not on a regular basis: I learned my lesson about that. :^P
Music: "Murder Or a Heart Attack" (Old 97's)
I've noticed, yet again, a very bizarre trend that I can't quite figure out. Most of the time, I'm extremely wary about physical contact -- just having someone sit too close, or being in a group of people, leaves me struggling against my fight-or-flight instinct. Having someone even suggest any sort of contact online is not much more comfortable. Plus, I'm particularly nervous having anyone behind me or being around males larger than I am, due to the disparity in strength.
So it came as a great surprise to realize I'd had absolutely no problem with my fencing instructor not only corrected my stance several times by hand, but did so from behind where I couldn't see him approaching and massaged my neck briefly afterwards each time. Normally having anyone touch me without notice causes a fairly bad startle reaction, and everyone knows how unfriendly I am regarding anything other than absolutely necessary contact. We're not talking a small, unintimidating fellow here: he appears to be around six feet tall, built like a football player, and carries around the foil he's so experienced in using. Never mind that one can't kill an opponent with a blunt-tipped foil -- that thing bends enough that it'd hurt like hell if we were smacked with it!
I know it's not that my guard is any more relaxed than usual, as I "shut down" from sheer anxiety overload in abnormal psych today (class was put into a large noisy group)... Is it perhaps that I'm used to being "handled" by instructors from so many years of ballet training? Or was I simply so tired out that I actually did drop my guard, as the Cretin had trained me to do for his own nefarious purposes? Whatever it is, I hate it; I may not like going around assuming everyone is an enemy, but having my brain arbitrarily decide that someone isn't really creeps me out.