Day: April 3, 2008

  • Autism AWARENESS??

    Since this is Autism Awareness Month, as showcased on the xanga front page in a featured post, I'd like to share this small insight that is so SPECTACULARLY overlooked by the public in general.
    I'd also like to share this little tidbit.
    A teacher's thoughts on Asperger's.
    I am autistic.  I have autism spectrum disorder.  I have Asperger's Syndrome.  These are all the same thing.  Granted I am verbal and socially interactive, but I have come a long way in 40 some odd years.  And funny thing, I didn't need intervention or 'help'.  All I needed was for everyone to back off and let me be myself.  Turns out I can run intellectual circles around everyone around me.  I may not be able to handle hanging out at the mall very long, and I might embarrass you in public, and I might really annoy the heck outa you when it comes to debating a topic, but dang, at least I have a clue when it comes to problem solving and dynamics.
    I was APPALLED at how misinformed so many people in the comments on that featured post were, even though some of them have spent years living with ASD people.  It's one thing to be ignorant because one isn't exposed to information.  It's another to remain ignorant surrounded by it.
    In light of such ignorance, I prefer being aspie, I thank God I am aspie, and I am so glad I am aspie.  As much as I stumble around and seem to fall on my face socially and whatever, at least I am able to catalog and remember pertinent information, like what Asperger's IS.  I thought that's why we HAVE brains.  I don't know if I can handle one more person using phrases such as 'those people' and 'terrifying condition' and 'mental illness' and 'we found a way to fix it' (referring to someone else in the family).  O-M-G
    I can't tell you how many times I've wished I could 'fix' other people being cruel or bubbleheaded or bossy or codependent.  I suppose if I were 'normal' I would be able to be those things better.
    Sorry so crabby, but most of you out there have no clue you are not only SURROUNDED by aspies, but may even be aspie yourself.  The latest guesstimate I heard was one in 150 people, which in any statistical book makes it FUNCTIONAL in society.
    *walking off flinging my hands back and forth*

  • being aspie


    Being aspie is all the rage in aspie circles.  Arguments over the puzzle ribbon, preferences for 'Aspergerian', two very solid camps at odds over whether Asperger's is preventable or curable and the fear of having unique personalities erased, destroyed...
    I had no clue what this was when I walked into a psychiatric office on campus in the late '80s and begged for help.  My mother had no clue what this was when she dragged me from doctor to doctor and my teachers begged her to take me to a psychiatrist and get some help.  I never got any help.  Ever.
    The buzz books coming out lately have such long holds at the library you almost can't get your hands on them.  Tony Atwood's stuff, Look Me in the Eye, Born on a Blue Day...  Many more books describing the typical freak show that we are to the 'normals'.  I can't get over the critics making such a big deal over the 'coming out' of aspies.
    And you know those statistics?  More boys than girls?  One in 300, or even 250?  Load of crap.  I'm betting 10-12% of the worldwide population, both sexes.
    I'm no savant, at least in mathematics.  I can't do tricks for you.  I can look people in the eye.  After a few decades you learn.  Adapt or die.  And I have a lot to say about passing for normal in this world.  I hope you guys can handle this.
    Before we get going, I'd like to introduce myself.  I'm a mom with grown kids.  I have a degree in sociology, minored in anthropology.  I can drive, hold jobs, get through holidays.  Or can I?  Am I faking it?  Heck, yeah.  You have no idea how hard this has been.  Am I as freaky as those other aspie people writing books?  Let's just say I'm going to be way more open, extremely more honest, and the depth of thought is going to scare some of you.
    I came to accept a long, long time ago that I'm a 'freak'.  When I was in high school in the late '70s, freaks, geeks, and nerds were beginning to take over and break out into the metal heads and computer wizards of the '80s.  We're all around you.  We're on a spectrum.  If we don't fit in, some of us create a new niche for others to flock to.  It's not hard for me to recognize one of my own.  What I don't get is how the 'normals' don't seem to get a clue about it until they read a book.  It's easier to criticize what they don't understand.
    What is Asperger's Syndrome?  In case this is your first aspie experience, here's the short version.  They finally figured out somewhere near the mid-'90's that autism is a spectrum disorder.  Some autistics are verbal, some aren't.  Some autistics have savant skills, others don't.  Some autistics do amazing things, but for the most part, the rest of us fit into a typical Bell curve of our own style of normal.  Some aspies have pointed out that the sorts of characters we laugh at in sitcoms on television exhibit typical aspie behavior, and that perhaps this is the last big hurdle of prejudice we humans face.  I agree there's a hurdle, but since I like being who I am, I think aspies are the bomb.  If we stop mimicking them on television shows, this world is going to become pretty dull.
    I have seen a lot of descriptions for Asperger's.  I find them too generalized.  Aspies are too easily compartmentalized into a row of spectrum boxes.  Some doctors seem surprised to find that the less verbal aspies are just as capable of holding jobs as the more verbal ones.  This is not the sort of spectrum where you can plug in one or two variables of behavior and get a consistent label on the whole persona.  Brains are like that.  I'm sure Irish and Blacks and Jews and any group of people you can name hated the generalized labeling when they went through it, and I hate it, too.
    I think we're going to find that aspie is just another variation on the human brain pattern.  We are born this way.  This is not an illness with onset and progression.  Sure, we can be tough kids to raise.  We can be weird and make you think there is something horribly wrong with us.  But is there really?
    I wasn't one of the lucky ones.  I didn't have the kind and loving determination from my parents that Born on a Blue Day did.  I didn't get to see a psychiatrist like Look Me in the Eye did.  In fact, my mom was so upset that there was something wrong with me that she spent years trying to fix me herself.  I have no idea what it's like to have a mom love me for who I am.  I've never felt forgiven for not doing anything right and embarrassing her.  Dad worked two jobs and ran a farm.  I was lucky to get time with him doing chores, and the occasional chess game.
    I don't want this to be about me airing out my grievances.  But as I scoured the library for books on Asperger's so I could get some context, what I found was so lacking in anything I could personally relate to that I began to wonder how many of us might be looking for more.  The world seems to like reading about real life experiences.  I'm game.  I've been in a spotlight all my life, continually picked on and talked about, so I can't imagine me putting my own story out there being any harder than that.
    I learned about Asperger's Syndome in the fall of 2006 at the age of 45.  The shock and relief were incredible.  I have no idea if this will be helpful to the medical community or aspies and their families in general, but it feels so good to finally get this out, I'm going to do it anyway.
    I also wrote this article about the nationwide freakout over early autism screening
    (Sorry, I think that's gone now.  Someone once used that for a research report, which was flattering.)

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I've started transferring my survey posts over to Surveypalooza so people coming in from search engines on mobile devices will be able to see the surveys.


Apologies for the missing vids, another upgrade during the server migration swept through like a scan sweeping through the Enterprise. I'll fix those later, kinda busy...

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