Saturday, June 26, 2010

Autistic, Aspie, Spectrum Person...What Name Should We Use?

Really doesn't matter too much, in my opinion.

I notice that I alternate between words and phrases that are similar.  I'm not sure which of these to use most of the time, and I don't think any of us need to use any words in particular.  They are simply a bunch of descriptors for the same thing, or so it seems.

I am a person with many autistic "features" which is why I was diagnosed this way, but as one of that group, I'm among the class that doesn't take offense to being called any of the synonymous terms for autism spectrum people.  Sometimes people can be particular about what version is used simply due to the diagnosis given.  Sometimes people just like the sound of a different word and really love using that.

However, I think there's a good case that some of us just have personal preferences to what we like.  I personally believe this: since I have the traits but I'm not sure which is the correct description, I can use any of those terms for now.  It's another case of nouns turning into adjectives until further notice.

Of course, I just take the label 'eccentric' to keep things simplistic.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day and Future Fatherhood

I went back to my parents' house this weekend for Father's Day, as my brother and I actually made a full breakfast for the first (and likely last) time.  It's good to know that our dad liked it as much as he did, even if the blueberry pancakes didn't look like the ones on television.  So that makes me think about how I keep telling myself that I won't have children.  Of course, that might be a total lie, because if I feel the need after finding the right woman, then maybe I'll have some.

That's not because I would completely want to be devoid of the greatest responsibility of all time.  It's really  because I do think sometimes that my own Aspie-ness would keep me from being the best father to my future children.  As mentioned in a previous entry, there will be a ton of unpredictability with children.  I would likely have an idea in mind of how my kids should act based on my own childhood and other parents' examples around me.  Then when the child goes astray I would go crazy and possibly inflict more punishment than I should simply because of the hierarchy in my mind (father > child) accurate hierarchy, but something that my passive-aggressive persona would take to extremes.

I used to write down scenarios for kids my age (not real life kids, but imaginary ones), and gave them the right AP Courses and Honors, as if this were the scenarios I could go into and hopefully someone could follow.  I imagined who could be the most accomplished one of the bunch.  I have an idea of how my kids should be at this stage, and I could see two children as honors students with the right group of friends, maybe athletic accolades or debate awards, depending on which route they take.  I would feel like my kids got screwed if they didn't get the award that was meant for them.  I'd be a superficial father wanting the perfect scenario for my child and primarily for my satisfaction of my world.  I used 'my' enough times.  I want lab rats, not kids.

My mind is totally messed up.

It's been driven into me when I hear my dad tell stories about the birth of me, the birth of my brother, and how he became a different person who put the kids and wife first.  There is a natural tendency about me, just like any other people, to be self-centered.  Breaking from that is tough for the Aspie, as we have thoughts on our mind that we have to let out somehow, and it's also been established enough times that empathy is something important part of selflessness.  Right now, I still feel selfish, and I wonder sometimes if I will fully break from that selfishness.

The assessment of my future as a pop, if I ever do become one, is nothing predetermined.  They say that becoming a parent changes you, and maybe that will change me too.  Sometimes, regardless of spectrum or NT, it takes a long time to figure out the whole fatherhood thing.  My dad didn't "give birth" (mom did that part while dad did the support and cheering part) until he was 39.  Mom and dad aren't pushing us to have children just so they can be brother isn't really keen on having kids at this point either.  Historically, I am a late bloomer took me longer to start figuring out myself than most folks.  So I probably wouldn't be ready for fatherhood until my 30s anyway, when I slowly break from this shell.  I know a share of Aspies who managed to be fine parents, more so than stories of those on the spectrum who had problems juggling a lot of important responsibilities tied to parenthood.

This isn't meant to be defeatist, but rather a reflection of why I'm glad I didn't become a dad yet.  I know now I'm not ready, and if I do become ready that it might happen.  If anything, the learning that would come from raising a couple kids and providing for a family would be one heck of a curve, and a challenge to enjoy.  However, it would be just as daunting for me as it would for any other first-time dad.

I appreciate what pops does for our family growing up for than I even recognize I do.  I think we all feel that way about our respective dads.  Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Can't Answer That Question

Has someone asked you a question simply because they want to hear your answer for entertainment purposes?  You ever have that question you feel like you are being pressured to answer a question one way or another but you can't?  Either that or you're afraid it will come out wrong?

Me too.  I get that a lot more than some folks, as during my school years, people became aware of my social ignorance as I wasn't hanging with the crowds that used slang or double meanings.  Back in the late 90s, for some reason that I still can't wrap my head around today (oh snap, there goes a double), people used the word 'staple' to describe others.  So I was asked "Do ya think this guy is a staple?  Do you think you're a staple?"  My answer?  "I'm not a thing that holds papers together.  I ain't a paper clip either."  The kids looked confused and concluded that I was, well, a 'staple' or something.  Or there was one time I was asked the question about how many bases I ran when the person in question knew I had been talking to this girl the previous night.  I didn't know how to answer it, so I jokingly said all of them.  Combined with my dry delivery, I was taken a little more seriously then I expected.  There was shock and a possibly sarcastic high five, but I had no clue what happened.

What I'm getting at is not as much the terms themselves as whether or not to answer the questions.  In later years I have begun to keep mum, as most of the time I will get chuckled at if people catch on to my weirdness.  So I decide to cope using one of two methods:

  1. I mention that I don't have an answer (or 1a, that I simply ignore the question).
  2. I give them this really weird answer which is irrelevant to the question and throws off the person who is asking such a dumb question anyway.  It's funny to me when I say "well, you expect me to answer it because of your own dull amusement, since you know I won't be able to give an answer that isn't ridiculous.  So I think I'll have a little fun and run on.  You may laugh, but I will forget you even asked.  Memory is selective.  Since I'm a mini-professor and all, you want to sit down for a lecture?  I mean, if you ask that question you probably want a lecture, right?"  I take the chance that I won't get beat up.

I have not been asked as many of these questions now since most of the world has matured.  Nowadays I get asked questions by friends for a reaction on a rare occasion, but in the way that any NT would...or so I think.    People have done it today, but over time I also realized who my true friends were, and they know their questions are stupid but they only rag on the random things I say (which my old roommates coined as 'Vossisms').

However, you never know if a kid in school will be asked a particularly humiliating question.  Sometimes I would have been best to ignore them in the day, as the people asking these questions weren't worth anyone's time.  Thing is, even if you don't know how to answer the question, then just don't even attempt to answer it.  This might leave those 'cool folks' in the dust; you never know.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Utilizing Patterns

I like patterns. I use them every day, compulsively, and I enjoy this sometimes. I do many things in the form of patterns, from deciding how many things to get during a store trip, to how long my lunch breaks will be over the course of a week, to the amount of sets between free weights and machines at the gym, even to what days I should write these entries.

Take work as an example. I sometimes think about what times I enter and the length I work more than I should, though not necessarily more than the actual work. I will say to myself that I'm coming into the office at 8:15 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday simply because I haven't gone into work at the same time on those three days in a few weeks. This is on top of telling myself exactly how many hours I will work. After working a long week (45), and one less long (41.5), I may tell myself I want to work 44 hours because I haven't worked enough hours that ends in an even number. Ridiculous, yes, but not easy for me to personally break away.

Or there's even some of the records that I have by artists. I love music, of course, but sometimes I force myself to either like or not like an album this way I can own the 1st and 3rd album by the artist, coming up with a quasi-reasonable explanation as to why that second album isn't that great. I do this because I already have a combination of the three albums. Or there's a need to own a max of two 5-CD comps and two 6-CD comps at one time, which I thankfully abandoned.

My personal conclusion about my frequent need to do things according to a pattern is that it relates to my frequent need to do things according to a routine. They are generally synonymous, but I use them differently. I feel like these patterns are a way to use combinations to break from the monotony that comes with routine. It allows me to tinker with my own schedules and give myself the control over parts of my life that I usually can control. The need for patterns comes out of the need for systems, but the patterns are a forced variety. I don't want to compare it to something like affirmative action, but it's similar in that I have quotas I set myself up to have just because of the matchups.

The desire and need for patterns has tied into my recognition of patterns in daily life. For instance, when I was a child I knew which movie theatres in the area could not show the same movies out of reading the movie listings compulsively every week. For instance, General Cinema Northeast and the AMC Orleans could never show the same flicks due to the close proximity. In a way, it's a blessing because I did well in school with this ability. However, it could also be an annoyance for those around me.

Patterns are just something I find rather cool, and I have reasons for using these often. I'm not sure what other way to put it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Video Clip Time: Intimacy

I post this video just because it's a bit interesting.  Do the rules of intimacy apply to we the Aspies?

On a side note, there is another part of this PBS series which deals directly with Asperger's Syndrome, but that was too cliché to post.