Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Can Use Tablets!

A report on 60 Minutes discusses some of the tools children and adults with autism can use.

I personally think this is a great idea, as I am one of those AS people who can communicate best through such applications, and it is a central point of the story that spectrum children who are nonverbal can use their iPads or other tablets to understand a student's true capability.  However, another message here is that the artificial intelligence of such processors allows us greater control over our environments, and lets us, well, do our thing.  Having that control can break us from our shells, especially when we become withdrawn in our individual awkwardness.  I guess you could say it is an outlet.

It's worth checking out if you haven't seen it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Example of Circumventing That Bullying Problem

Just a small follow-up after the post on school turns out an autistic girl was named homecoming princess after a nomination prank backfired.

Now that makes my day.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Maybe the Bullying Problem IS Systemic

There's an article out there discussing public school bullying for Aspie teens.  It tells the story of three teenagers who were targets of bullies, and their difficulties with coping.  What these teens have in common is not only that they were victims of bullying, but that they were written up or charged with crimes themselves.  It may be the system; one of the kids was unable to explain:

Once Tyler tried to make the bully stop teasing his brother, and the bully took Tyler's fingers and bent them backwards. Another time, Tyler leaned down to get his backpack and the bully kicked him in the face. Their parents have always told them to tell an adult if someone was being mean to them, but this is difficult for them because of their Asperger's. The day the bully kicked Tyler in the face, he went to the only adult on the bus, the bus driver, but was unable to form words. The bus driver told him she was going to write him up for crying.
Conveying the seriousness of the bullying incidents to their parents was also difficult. Tyler and Teagen don't always pick up on inflections and answer questions literally.

There is a culture in the school system which emphasizes self-reliance.  This is far from a bad thing, especially for aspies.  However, when we attempt to explain an incident that occurs, such as Tyler on the bus, we need a certain form of understanding when we approach with a situation.  Plenty of school districts still adhere to inefficient anti-bullying techniques that never meshed with autistics to boot.  Being instructed to tell an adult what happened and to press charges does not always work for us because we could never articulate exactly what the bully was doing and would be more likely to implicate ourselves.  In the case of Ells, the second child, a bus incident where he ended up charged due to his own demonstration appeared to be badly mishandled.

The following day, the principal called both boys into the office together, and Ells found he couldn't fully explain what had happened.
"We hear this every day," said Barbara Cooper, a co-director of Super Kids, a Ridgefield based after-school program for children on the Autism spectrum. "It's awful. It's a language disability. It's better if they're asked to draw something describing what happened."
E.T. said because Ells admitted that at one point he had wrapped a cord around his own neck to show his distress, the school informed his parents they would impose penalties of equal proportions for both boys. E.T. said school officials said Ells wrapping a cord around his own neck constituted an implied threat to the other boy.
New Haven police department youth officer Ricardo Rodriguez said the department had no comment on the incident, which Ells and his father later reported to the police.
Both boys were given a three-day in-school suspension in the same room. The room was supervised by a monitor who sometimes had to exit the room to also supervise the hallways. Ells said the boy continued to bully him, muttering under his breath that he would retaliate.
Christopher Hoffman, spokesman for New Haven Public Schools, said while the district couldn't comment more specifically about this case because of federal student confidentiality laws, the district followed the extensive protocols it has in place for handling bullying charges and aggressively investigated and addressed the bullying allegations as soon as they arose.
"The school and the district have devoted significant time, effort and resources to this case, working with the families and seeking to assure that the student is safe and protected," Hoffman said. "We have been responsive and flexible throughout."
Months later, Ells was charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the bus incident. He is scheduled to appear in New Haven juvenile court on Sept. 22.
After that 2010 bus incident, Ells shut down.

We've been prone to bullying for years, and so are many NTs.  I admit that I was able to handle myself slightly; my naivete led to me getting pranked a few times in school but I never took a beating beyond a few shoves trying to provoke me.  This was in part because I knew people would make fun since I did not understand social conventions the same way my peers did.  However, even learning early wasn't perfect, as I would always want to ask why I didn't understand some term, which would also lead to more jokes.

Teaching children early about their autism can help them fight back against bullies, experts say.
"It's extremely important when people are struggling with things like social communication, anxiety, depression, misunderstanding peoples intentions, that they are understanding what's really going on," Jekel said. "Then they stop blaming themselves and others. They see their life through slightly different lens, and they can really be proud."
Jekel said administrators have found when students tell their peers as early as kindergarten about their condition, they are more likely to be accepted and less likely to be bullied.

Telling the child why he will be bullied and how the lens is different doesn't reach the other side of the spectrum.  An important point not reflected in this article enough is that schools don't often approach the bullies as to why they are who they are, as if these people are lost causes.  Many bullies don't feel support at home or see certain influences in popular culture, and they take it out on those most vulnerable and different, like those on the spectrum.  If teachers or counselors, among others, can support at-risk students who pick on others, then AS students will have a more comfortable experience.

My hope is that when news like this goes public, it makes people aware.  I know I'm preaching the whole anti-bullying message here, but it's because some of us have a harder time knowing how to stand our ground. As much as we talk about finding a way for Aspies to blend in with the school system, a bigger point that can be expounded upon is how bullying is fostered.  If there is a possibility of preventing the cause before it can take effect, then the school will be credited with a major accomplishment.  Who knows how easy this would be, finding out why a kid picks on others...worth an investigation, I muse.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Starting Awareness Activity In New Places

In a few months, maybe by the start of 2012, I'm going to resume my activities of autism and aspie support, especially considering a series of events that have gone down personally.  As mentioned enough times before, I've taken a break from some of that 'activism' and finding the right groups to work with, as I have been getting settled in with a new job and a new place of residence.  However, my experiences with the groups of children in Philadelphia, and ASCEND and GRASP alike, made me want to continue with something if possible.

I have noticed that there aren't many nationally active groups in Raleigh-Durham, unfortunately.  So this leads to the possibility that I will need to start up something myself.  Our old GRASP chapter adviser in Philly and one of the members of our national board has been willing to give me support, and I'd like to see something happen since I still keep up with them.  However, the hard part about a startup with me is that I'm usually not the one meant to begin the project from the ground up.  I'm more often the type who runs with ideas after the seed is planted, ascending to leadership that way.  For instance, I joined an established GRASP group, but when help was needed for a national social network/mentoring project (which is unfortunately on hold right now due to various reasons, but we should get somewhere eventually), I stepped in.  I was also able to provide Bob with some help on operational tasks last year through my move south.  Starting from the ground up would not be as easy.

Maybe I'll have the chance to check out some groups.  I joined Meetup since I hardly know anyone down here, and found some Raleigh aspies in a group.  I'm supposed to meet with them next weekend (after the greatness that is Hopscotch Music Festival; seeing old friends but also possible networking if I don't close myself in).  That could be a gateway into finding a group, via other live people who can tell you suggestions where one did not look at first.

My final concern is time and priorities.  I have some music composition I'm doing for this fall that is high on my list, the continued acceleration of responsibility at my job, and a potential part-time teaching gig on computer basics.  So I can't stress myself out trying to do all of this at one time.  However, it is still of importance to me and it would be nice to get something started here and something back off the ground with me.  Anyone have any suggestions?

How did I go an entire month without an entry?  Too busy reigning my mind in, as always.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Supernatural Powers

Watching a couple episodes of the third season of Supernatural (I enjoyed the first four seasons before believing the Lucifer-hunt season, when the proverbial shark was jumped), and Being John Malkovich, and finally Batman: The Animated Series, I have pondered the idea of supernatural abilities, and what power I most would want.  Many people, particularly of the NT variety, have previous said that they want powers of invisibility or flying, or even superhuman strength or shapeshifting.  I can't say all those powers would not be cool to have.  However, I think there are four powers that many of us on the spectrum would choose:

  • Telepathy: this one is pretty obvious considering how frequently we are unable to read body language.  So the ability to read the thoughts of everyone else would more than compensate.  If I knew what others were thinking I'd be the most charismatic person around.  When others want me to catch on to what they are saying, I can generally appear to be intuitive and somehow understanding.  The negative side is that I would try to please a mass crowd if I knew all of their thoughts.  Worse than that, I don't know if I am allowed to limit my telepathic abilities to one person at a time; sensory overload would surely take place.
  • Possession: oh mind control you devilish power.  Like many aspies, I am happiest when I have complete control over my own environment, aligned with my passive aggressive nature.  So what better environment control than getting into the mind of someone else and plugging in the thoughts you want.  Maybe I wanted that promotion; with possession of the boss' mind, I tell the physical version of myself that the promotion is happening.  The quandary with mental possession is this: who controls my mind if I'm controlling that of someone else?  Would I be on auto-pilot for those fleeting moments?
  • Time manipulation: Freeze time, and I may be able to get things done and look the part of superhero.  There are constant distractions for me, and if I can freeze time while being able to manipulate everything around me, I can get everything done in time, and possibly look like the fastest worker ever.  I could even cheat on exams or win at Jeopardy...even rig the lottery somehow.  However, I could still get mad tired and look like I'm often sleeping.
  • Teleportation: Instant transportation, by means presented in Star Trek, would allow more time to enjoy a vacation, or even a quick getaway.  I would enjoy the lessened financial burden with such a power, pending any medical bills if your mass ends up leading to bouts of disorientation.  The final reason is that my girlfriend is two hours away for the next year, so having that immediate ability would be nice for quality time.  However, what if the porting leads me to a spot in the middle of an interstate?  We all know that wouldn't end well.  Maybe if I landed in a ditch near Route 1 instead if the power forces me to be dropped.

Other powers would be nice, but those are what I see as a top four.  It's funny, because the superheroes that I admired most were those that didn't have super powers.  There was a strange appeal of the Watchmen when I saw the movie because there was a real and dark aspect.  Iron Man had the awesome suit. It is why I had such admiration for Batman as a youth.  He did not have the extraterrestrial abilities of his fellow Justice League co-founders, nor the sensory perceptions of the Green Lantern.  He just had the natural strength and athleticism from his workout routine and possibly some primitive form of parkour, the surveillance techniques honed over years, a combat belt with whatever equipment is needed, and a major thirst for vengeance...not to mention being a billionaire in charge of a technology conglomerate helped him finance the stealth vehicles and everything for the Batcave.  That last part was a buit of a stretch for those wanting to be superheroes one day, but otherwise he was always a badass vigilante who just seemed like a larger-than-life character in a realistic world.  It alos helped that Bruce Wayne, like Tony Stark for Iron Man, could pass off as a real person who had some flaws (former being image-conscious, latter being a boozer, both of them being major swingers).  I like Superman, Spiderman, most of the X-Men, and Green Hornet....and I always hated Aquaman.  Still, Batman is the one I always followed closest in the media.

Batman kept it real.
Special powers would be an advantage for me if I got one, but knowing my personality, it would not be easy for me to contain the power(s) provided.  I would find every justification for the use of the power when it is unnecessary.  Moments where I want revenge or to live strange fantasies would come at the expense of someone else who I had a problem with and wanted to teach a lesson the most passive-aggressive way possible.  Maybe if there was an Aspie League, something that unfortunately never got discussed, we would have so much fun trying to right the wrongs and injustices to those with mental handicaps.  However, there's a good argument that we would potentially abuse this to shape our own worlds, in accordance with the reasons I would love the powers above.  I have a tough time not seeing us turn on each other.  It's easy for an Aspie to be the most well-meaning, unaware egomaniac.

At the end, I would come up with the lesson that it is "just so great to be me!"  Especially because there is good and bad with each power.  However, I don't know if that's the case.  I like being me, but I know I'll still desire some supernatural ability when the time calls for it, as long as I don't have to sell my soul for the ability. Still, everyone is a hero to someone, and I guess I can make the best of being an Aspie with my own supernatural abilities.

Maybe that will be a future blog.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Settled In North Carolina

Well, actually I'm not quite settled yet.  There's still plenty for me to get done.  Among them:

  1. Title my vehicle.
  2. Unpack some remaining boxes that I wasn't sure how to unpack.
  3. Officially sign up for insurance with the employer.
  4. Budget breakdowns.
  5. Get a dining table and new couch (maybe).
  6. College course registrations.
I make lists well, but I can't always succeed at following said lists.  So that's a challenge in itself.  I think a few of us on the spectrum have that issue, because our minds are running around in circles all the time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moving Has Too Many Changes

I secured a new job recently and will be making the move to North Carolina at the end of this month.  I will be living south of the Raleigh-Cary area for the first year to take on a data analyst position.  Then my hope is enter grad school down there, as a program I desire to enter is down in the area as well.  This isn't easy for someone like myself to pack up everything and go, but I also need to do this for my own personal and professional advancement.

Of course, the moving process is already giving me sensory overload.  There are so many small knacks that I have to put in both boxes and bags.  Then there is the cost of renting out a van.  There is the fact that I still do not have an apartment to move into yet and will be taking my chances on 3-5 select apartments once I get down there.  I'm still finishing the process of ensuring that my apartment sublease is okay.  The idea that I have to register my vehicle in a new state is made more complicated to me since I have to change titles over first, and then switch insurance, and then I can finally register for my NC license plate.

For the first time, I need to get my VIN.  Tell me less.

I have needed to talk with my parents a lot about this move and the steps needed for it.  As a man now in his mid-twenties, but one who had never relocated eight hours away, it's invaluable.  I don't want to screw any of this up, although I'm likely to realize "oh wait" a few times.  Aspies may seemingly take longer to reach that level of independence, but it's not because we don't have the ability to decipher.

To that point, I became one of those people who needed checklists to get everything accomplished.  I have my list of how to pack, people to contact, and general steps that are needed with website references.  In the next nine days I have to get many parts into boxes, and took a few pictures so I would know exactly how to pack everything.  The liquor stores and some department stores have a surplus of empty boxes which helped me out greatly.  I have a hard time with organization and time management, of course, so that leads me to use this list and schedule appointments and time slots to get certain tasks complete.  I hopefully can follow the list, as good as I am at making one.

Saying goodbye to people was also difficult.  I've been on a mini-tour, stopping in Levittown last weekend to visit friends, and next week I return to Central PA for three days.  I had my last GRASP meeting with the Philly chapter, which made me sad because it was hard to admit that I was leaving.  Bob and the crew have helped me with my self-awareness, to be sure.  Once time permits I would love to get a chapter started.

There's plenty of sensory overload that goes into moving because everything has to happen in one fell swoop. Let's see if I make it through.

Maybe I'll update this more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Switching Employment

My job recently came to an end.

It was not easy, but the contract finally came to a close and they did not bring me on full-time, because my desires did not seem to match up with what I could be provided.  Granted, I had been considering an exit because I was not as happy as I once was, but I was going to stay on until ready to depart.  Of course, now this is forced on me as I was told my services would no longer be needed at the end of April.  I had become overly stressed, and it was showing although I had been doing my best to keep any incidents from coming up. Still, the big reason I didn't get a match is because past behavioral quirks did me in.  Some of these could be fixed, but some of these take time...maybe quitting smoking is an analogy for aspies.

In retrospect, handling it with a simple
head in hand would have sufficed.

So now I'm in a tough spot for people like myself.  I'm wondering what the next stage is for the first time since my '07 layoff.  That one was considerably tougher as I was fresh out of school and already pushed out of the job I had accepted (although that was the most unhappy I had been...I even got lonely for the first time, and I never get lonely).

My new quest is looking for some brief 1-2 week projects to work on before my vacation to the West Coast.   I also debate if I should trick out this blog a bit more, considering I do have knowledge of HTML and some CSS, although that may be for naught at the end of the day.  It would be nice to be able to present something on here, like a webinar.  A lot of this comes back to focus; I know what I want to do, just not how to do it.

Instead, I get distracted when I go nowhere and start morphing an old Excel spreadsheet with Wilt Chamberlain's 1961-62 averages (IMO, one of the top three statistical seasons for any basketball player ever).

DateGameGame #MinutesFGMFGAFG%FTMFTAFT%ReboundsAssistsFoulsPoints
10/19/1961Los Angeles at Philadelphia14821440.4776120.500251148
10/20/1961Los Angeles at Philadelphia24824460.5229170.529321257
10/21/1961New York at Philadelphia34821410.51211170.647350253
10/27/1961Syracuse at Philadelphia44821450.46713210.619243355
10/28/1961Philadelphia at Syracuse54817430.3959140.643233043
11/3/1961Boston at Philadelphia64812310.387490.444331228
11/4/1961Detroit at Philadelphia74824480.50010160.625330158
11/8/1961Philadelphia at Detroit84823460.50012190.632231358
11/9/1961Syracuse at Philadelphia94820380.52615270.556290155
11/11/1961Philadelphia at Boston104817400.4257130.538213441
11/14/1961Philadelphia at New York114813270.4818170.471182234
11/15/1961Cincinnati at Philadelphia124818420.4297130.538185143
11/17/1961Los Angeles at Philadelphia134824480.5008190.421322156
11/18/1961Philadelphia at Syracuse144813320.40613200.650172139
11/19/1961Philadelphia at Chicago154824470.511380.375160251
11/21/1961Philadelphia at Cincinnati164820440.4555150.333346045
11/23/1961Boston at Philadelphia174812340.3537120.583305131
11/25/1961Chicago at Philadelphia184815370.4059120.750383239
11/28/1961Philadelphia at St. Louis194813280.46413250.520221039
12/1/1961Philadelphia at Los Angeles204822470.46816260.615214160
12/2/1961Philadelphia at Los Angeles214811220.50015260.577241137
12/5/1961Philadelphia at New York224817310.5485120.417224139
12/6/1961St. Louis at Philadelphia234812270.44415200.750161239
12/8/1961Los Angeles at Philadelphia246331620.50016310.516431478
12/9/1961Chicago at Philadelphia254828480.5835100.500360361
12/10/1961Philadelphia at Chicago264823440.5239160.563262455
12/12/1961Detroit at Philadelphia274822420.52410140.714255254
12/13/1961Philadelphia at Boston284822430.5128120.667300252
12/14/1961Syracuse at Philadelphia294817390.4369170.529222143
12/16/1961Philadelphia at Chicago304821390.5388120.667213350
12/19/1961Philadelphia at Cincinnati314824470.5119140.643251057
12/20/1961Philadelphia at Detroit324824470.5117110.636190055
12/25/1961Philadelphia at New York335823440.52313220.591360359
12/26/1961Syracuse at Philadelphia344821530.3969150.600291251
12/27/1961New York at Philadelphia354820420.47613180.722304353
12/29/1961Los Angeles at Philadelphia364824430.55812190.632263160
12/30/1961Boston at Philadelphia375317340.5007130.538283241
1/1/1962Philadelphia at Los Angeles384813290.4486120.500203132
1/3/1962Philadelphia at Los Angeles394014250.5608120.667182136
1/5/1962St. Louis at Philadelphia404820390.51313210.619222053
1/7/1962Philadelphia at St. Louis414823410.5619170.529212355
1/9/1962Syracuse at Philadelphia424818370.48611210.524271347
1/10/1962Philadelphia at Detroit434815400.3759130.692251039
1/11/1962Syracuse at Philadelphia444819400.47514240.583225052
1/13/1962Chicago at Philadelphia454829480.60415250.600360273
1/14/1962Philadelphia at Boston464827450.6008100.800282162
1/17/1962St. Louis at Philadelphia475324480.50014200.700234362
1/18/1962Cincinnati at Philadelphia484822500.44010160.625313054
1/19/1962Philadelphia at Detroit494823420.5487100.700212153
1/20/1962Detroit at Philadelphia504817390.43610140.714285044
1/21/1962Philadelphia at Syracuse515325420.59512170.706233162
1/24/1962Chicago at Philadelphia524823560.4119110.818325155
1/26/1962Philadelphia at St. Louis534816290.55215190.789224347
1/27/1962Boston at Philadelphia544821280.75011170.647271353
1/28/1962Philadelphia at Boston555317310.54816220.727203450
1/30/1962Philadelphia at New York564822400.55011190.579273155
2/1/1962Cincinnati at Philadelphia574822360.6119160.563265153
2/2/1962New York at Philadelphia584812310.38711190.579194135
2/3/1962Philadelphia at Syracuse594815350.42911140.786153041
2/4/1962Syracuse at Philadelphia604819350.54312180.667262050
2/8/1962New York at Philadelphia614823370.62213190.684240059
2/9/1962Philadelphia at Boston624815320.46918230.783291148
2/10/1962Boston at Philadelphia634816330.4856140.429314138
2/11/1962Philadelphia at New York644818360.5006130.462255042
2/13/1962Philadelphia at Cincinnatti654824400.60017300.567224365
2/14/1962Philadelphia at Detroit664817380.4478130.615273142
2/16/1962Cincinnati at Philadelphia674818370.48612170.706234048
2/17/1962Philadelphia at St. Louis684826440.59115200.750282167
2/20/1962Chicago at Philadelphia694821460.457680.750212448
2/21/1962Philadelphia at Syracuse704819330.5768170.471162346
2/22/1962St. Louis at Philadelphia714821360.58319340.559261061
2/24/1962Boston at Philadelphia724811240.4584130.308310126
2/25/1962New York at Philadelphia734825380.65817220.773211167
2/27/1962Philadelphia at St. Louis744825430.58115200.750232365
2/28/1962Philadelphia at Chicago754824460.52213170.765286461
3/2/1962New York at Philadelphia764836630.57128320.8752522100
3/4/1962Philadelphia at New York774824410.58510160.625354058
3/7/1962Philadelphia at Boston784813380.4334110.364272130
3/11/1962Philadelphia at Syracuse794819270.7046180.333262244
3/14/1962Philadelphia at Chicago805315340.441450.800334334

Watch my search page jump just because of this record.

I've been hitting my goal of two job applications per day each day, since it takes me forever to do a cover letter.  I have also been doing some seminars on helping myself with the job search; one was useless as it applied more to senior-level executives.  I'm also not going to have 500 LinkedIn connections anytime soon.

Explaining Asperger's Syndrome to future employers will be tricky, but my new debate is if I should present this.  I will be flying down to North Carolina for two interviews in less than two weeks.  Hopefully I will have three.  Research Triangle is rising and UNC-Chapel Hill has a grad program I have intensely set my eyes on.  I'm also trying my hand at some brief skill tutorials where needed.  I now have time to write and continue beats as well.

So now I should continue to do those while keeping up the job hunt.  Maybe even continue redesigning this website.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Autism Now Series

I did not get a chance to watch the Autism Now miniseries from PBS NewsHour.  However, a great review has been spotted online and I thought I would share.  I'll expand on this a bit later, but I'm sure some families can relate.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Asperger's and Information Technology Careers

This article is about three years old, but it focuses on Aspies working within IT.  Really opens up to how it works for a career.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Autistics Changing Over Generations

I was at Temple University this evening working with autistic children…working with the kids is something myself and select other GRASP folks do on occasion. As I like to perceive it, takes one to know one. Some are of a high-functioning diagnosis, some are PDD-NOS, and some are developmentally worse off within the spectrum…they all range from ages 9-13 in this group.  I think some of them have really bright futures ahead when I hear them discuss their classwork.  One of them recited all 50 states in ascending order of statehood from Delaware through Hawaii, which was incredible.  My group played Clue during the last part of the session and three of us started quoting the movie and getting in depth with the characters. Unfortunately one of them had an outburst when a game rule wasn’t explained to him the correct way, and the yelling even made me, and the girl I worked alongside, uncomfortable like you would not believe.  Otherwise it was one of my most fulfilling nights I’ve had this year, in part because it was my first CAADC visit this year.

These kids are enterprising and logical, yet also idealistic and self-interested.  That would be typical of most children in that age range.  What strikes me sometimes is that as much as our personalities change, I’m not sure if Aspies change their behaviors to the degrees that an NT might.  In many ways, I’m still enterprising, logical, idealistic, and self-interested, and unfortunately it’s all I know.   Doesn’t mean I didn’t go through the usual transformations.  The person who walked across Seth Grove Stadium wearing a cap and gown is different than the person who first was moving into McCune Hall about 44 months prior.  The person writing this note is certainly different than the person who first accepted his current job back in February 2008…or even the one who first decided to do ASD outreach in recognition of his own situation.  It’s just that when a spectrum type goes through those changes, they are more likely to consider the change process itself rather than the actual personality change.  We are very analytical types to that degree.

They will likely go through personality changes like most people, and their environment would be something they brought back with them regardless of where they go.  The kids would be impressionable to their environment, which not all people on the spectrum are during adulthood.  However, there is the extreme as to how impressionable one is, and Aspies are often about extremes.  I know from my own experience that I bring my impressions with me in most of my environments, even if it does give me an appreciation of the part after I leave it (example being a likeness for the predominantly rural Central PA…there’s where you go for a Sunday drive).  I had a tendency to blend in with the culture around me because of the impression it left, whether it was a period of regular church service or my recent beer snob transformation since relocating to Center City West.  The changes allowed me, and others, to further understand the surroundings.

The behavior is what I’m unsure of, as adaptation seems to be an issue with any Aspies as they grow older.  Each of the kids that I had in my group had some sort of twitch, interestingly enough, and I thought about how I still have my twitch, and a few of those in GRASP are the same way.  There is still the muttering to oneself.  There is generally the same outlook that sometimes keeps us from the world, which can hurt many of those on the autism spectrum and causes some folks to give up on these kids as they get older.  However, it may just be due to the outlook that they cannot empathize or comprehend what others say in their own context. That’s the positive side; there are children with parents and professionals that have given them the coaching in order to help themselves succeed.  Afterwards they become more masterful communicators and despite keeping their fixations, these types become more self-aware.  It really just takes a little bit of help to get out of such an entrenched world, almost like the urban streets (side note: next on my Netflix queue is season four of The Wire, which should give me a comparison of institutions, however convoluted).

Seeing the youth again made me think about the autistic metamorphosis.  These kids just need a chance to be understood, and know that someone has been through these rough patches where they are afraid other peers do not understand them.  What they will pick up in high school and in college will be eye-opening to say the least, and it’s as if I want to tell them that next time.  Better to leave the element of surprise and let them enjoy these years; let them be kids.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This Time, It's Not Personal

A few psychologists have shown that a share of Aspies have this tendency to look past the normal when something happens and consider it something of a personal attack, which can be surprising because the typical convention is that people will take a lot of the literal things we say on a personal basis themselves.  Still, many of us consider something others say to be personal.

I am definitely one of those people.

The problem is that when someone does something to me that indirectly affects me after I was just in the middle of interacting with the person, then my first impulse is that what happened is about me.  Since I get so concerned about what I am doing at one time, I would think that they are showing the same concern with what I am doing because, well, it's so interesting to me.  I don't come out and say that, but I'm afraid of what they might be thinking about what I'm doing at the given moment in time.

So instead I'll ask the person if it was something I said or go crazy and say "hey, I did this differently" because I do not like when I am completely misunderstood (versus marginally misunderstood, which happens often enough).  Or there are times I might just be an attention whore as well, which can happen to anyone.

I am left having to tell myself that it's not what I think in various scenarios, to varying degrees of success.
  • "Mom and Dad are just trying to watch their TV show so Dad can sleep considering his long hours."
  • "It's not as if your friends didn't ask you to go to brunch just because they didn't want to ask you.  They just figured you were asleep" or "They just saw you take out that orange and assumed you had lunch."
  • "Your boss just reassigned that part of the project to help you lighten your workload and focus on another important assignment.  It's not because she thinks you are incapable."
  • "He didn't correct you to show you up; he only did it knowing that you're not using the practical etiquette, which might not impress the man you are visiting next week."
  • "You were struggling.  You looked like you were struggling.  So obviously they offered to help and just happened to tell a joke about your struggle."
  • "Your girlfriend isn't mad at anything you said; remember that she's often quite busy.  She knows you disappear for stretches too and wonders what happened."
There really isn't any other method that I can think of, beyond telling myself that others may take comments I say on a personal level.  However, I tend to just confuse others when I say things literally nowadays in contrast to when I was a kid.  I am someone who wants to avoid consequences, and when someone shows a reaction or non-reaction that may not be positive, then I start thinking that the impression I left was not what it was supposed to have been.

So yes, quite often I am one who will take a lot of actions and verbal cues on a personal level.

Sad part is, I don't know any other way to be.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So Knuckle Hair Has Died

I no longer play with my knuckle hair the way I once did.  I grew a beard this year.  So I play with that.

These ticks change bit by bit.  Years ago I pressed on my nose cartilage.  In high school I messed with my eyebrow hair and made it bushy.  Then came knuckle hair.  I also had a habit of playing around with my retainer back in the braces era.  As mentioned in the prior entry, I have always had a need to play with something, but not always out of a nervous habit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So who here knows much about mentoring?  I just became part of an ad hoc committee for mentoring with our Aspie partnership, and it seems that they want me to come up with fundraising ideas.  I'm wondering if I should apply to write a grant, or maybe do something even bigger.  The key is getting things focused.

The general program idea is online communication between a secondary school student and a mentor of any age level as seen fit.  They speak regularly on advice questions, and there may be regional group get togethers if needed.  This would also be monitored for security.  I hope this turns out to make some sort of difference; I really want to put some energy back into that after running around like I was lost in the woods during 2010.

Speaking of 2010, I have something to say about that year a bit later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Transitions

Welcome back, as it's a new year.

I have my holiday rules and traditions, some more recent than others.  However, I have two or three major things I do every holiday and have trouble making exceptions for them otherwise, sadly enough.

I have to see the Christmas light show while in Philadelphia, but if I left or didn't have easy access I wouldn't need to see it.  I also want to watch A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve every year.  That is a tradition.

The big thing with me is that I have an issue with Christmas stuff on December 26 or later.  To be honest, my window is between Black Friday and Christmas Day since I don't really like holidays that are not in the same 'season' to overlap.  Christmas is pretty much a full season and the single grandest holiday ever.  However, I like to at least get Thanksgiving done before we start Christmas, and when it ends why the heck are we hung over from it?  There's so much emphasis on this season that it needs to be constrained to me.

Maybe I should play Aspie schoolteacher and note that for me, it's about a holiday routine.  It's also why I won't go look at lights after Christmas is over.

Overall, it was a good Christmas at that, and it's good to find another subject to write a mini-entry about.