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Showing posts from 2008

An Astrological Reason for Aspergers?

A fellow blogger Pink has discussed the Vaccine theory on her blog. One thing that I found interesting was her suggestion that Astrology is about as relevant.

I'm not a great believer in astrology at all but I'm willing to try anything - particularly during the holiday season.

I put my details in and was astounded by the results. No... I'm still not ready to believe but... wow... the results hit a nerve and IMHO, they show that any set of results can be twisted to fit a given situation.

If you want to give it a try, then here's the URL;
http://www.alabe.com/freechart/

The Report
Here's my report. I've highlighted some areas I found interesting.

Name: Gavin

Rising Sign is in 20 Degrees Virgo
You tend to be very shy and not very self-assertive. You are supercritical about how you appear to others. Even though you may think you are uninteresting and dull, you are actually quite soft- spoken, orderly, neat and very likable. You are a perfectionist with high standards, and…

A Very Aspie Christmas

A Quick Thank-You
In all probability, this will be my last post before Christmas, possibly the last for the year so before I start, I'd just like to thank all of my readers and especially the people who left comments. Those comments helped steer this blog in different - and sometimes quite unexpected directions. Your input was greatly appreciated and has ensured that this years journey has been an interesting and relevant one.

The Christmas Pressures
There's a lot to be said for the social pressures of Christmas and in my family this has been a particular problem over the years. There is always a power struggle with my mother-in-law who feels that Christmas lunch is her exclusive domain. Even when, after years of struggling I gave up trying to share (every second year) and moved my immediate family permanently to boxing day, the pressure didn't cease - and this year is no exception.

The pressure may be coming from outside but I've noticed that over the years my wife and I…

A Great Series of Aspergers Videos

There's a whole wealth of information about Aspergers on YouTube but sometimes instead of a vast series of unconnected videos, it's nice to watch something that is about the same person.

I've only just noticed that Fiona, an aspie from New Zealand has posted an amazing series of clips which are even more fascinating when taken together than as individual videos.

Please have a look at her videos;
http://au.youtube.com/user/AspergersGirl

Shutdown: A Specific Type of Meltdown

I've talked quite a bit about meltdowns on this blog because they're so integral to the aspie condition but I really haven't given much attention to their poor cousin - the shutdown.

Technically, there aren't too many differences between meltdowns and shutdowns. Both are extreme reactions to everyday stimuli. Both tend to be the result of long term unresolved issues rather than the more obvious triggers and both are almost completely out of the control of the aspie rather than being used by children and adults as a means to an end - that would be either a tantrum or emotional blackmail.

Some aspies are more prone to meltdowns while others lean more towards the shutdown model. It's possible to do both but this depends greatly on the root cause of the problem.

I think that there's a bit of a personality component to the reaction with aspies who are more sure of themselves or more fiercely independent leaning towards meltdowns rather than shutdowns but again there&#…

The Silent Scream

I had planned to move away from adult topics for a little while and concentrate on children's issues but the following comment provides such as good opportunity to explain an integral part of the aspie condition that I'll stay with the topic a little longer...

If you feel your wife's smile is like the warmth of the radiating sun (what a lucky woman) do you experience the need to show her that you feel that - in the moment, I mean? In one of your answers to the comments in Part 3 you wrote: "I feel that aspies have a greater strength of emotion than many NTs but that we often lack the means to show it (or we're "afraid" to show it). So where does the emotion go? And what is the fear about in showing it?

You've really hit the nail on the head here and I realise that I have probably left too much unsaid.

As I described in my post, even though aspies aren't all that great at reading facial expression, a simple smile from my wife is enough for her to ex…

Finding Conversational Balance - Part 4: love in a restricted touch environment

Introduction
I've already highlighted some of the problems that aspies face in the area of touch, though I haven't yet covered the concept of love.

The fact is however that most relationships are based on love and that touch plays an important part in those relationships. This post is intended to look at some of the compromises and solutions that AS/NT couples can bring to the relationship in these areas.

Defining Love
A few years back, my wife and I were asked (separately) how we defined love. The answers we gave weren't the ones we expected.

My wife's answers all dealt with tangibles (or at least deliverables), such as hugs, kisses, presents, companionship, outings and commitment.

This was in stark contrast to my own answers which were all about feelings and perception. The example I gave was;

"when you look at someone and a simple smile from them carries the warmth of the sun. You find yourself basking in the sunshine of their smile and you feel that life can just …

Finding Conversational Balance - Part 3: Compromises for Alone-Time and Social Time

Building on the last few posts, we have determined that aspies have a few obvious needs;Alone TimeRestricted TouchRoutineGentle EncouragementLove and UnderstandingLess Empathy, more solutions (mainly an aspie male thing)

and that NT's have other needs;
Conversation/ListeningAffectionSpontaneity and Fun
Social TimeEmpathyLove
There is also a different set of needs related to meltdowns but that's a whole different story, and I'll deal with it in a later set of posts.

Many of the aspie needs have a corresponding opposite in the neurotypical world. There's no happy medium - and the compromises you make need to be dynamic with minor adjustments happing on a daily basis as your situations change.

I'll try to cover the balances between these needs individually.

Conversational Compromise
It's no big secret that the answer to the conversational divide between aspie and neurotypical partners is compromise. The real trick is determining what compromises to make. This is a very…

Finding Conversational Balance - Part 2: What Aspies Want from a Relationship

Recap
We've already established that aspies not only have difficulty with small talk but also greatly dislike engaging in it.

You can't change people, so there's no point in settling down with an aspie partner and expecting them to suddenly become socialites.

By the same token, there's no reason to expect your aspie partner to suddenly abandon social contact after years of reasonable participation. You're either born with aspergers or you're not and over the years you develop ways to lessen the impact of your condition. Sure, social interaction never becomes exactly comfortable but it can become bearable in small amounts. Having a formal diagnosis isn't a license to "give up".

Mutual Benefit
So where does that leave couples? Well, the whole point of being married (concepts like love aside) is to exist in a mutually beneficial and meaningful relationship. "Mutually Beneficial" can mean a lot of things; it can mean financial, family orien…

Finding Conversational Balance - Part 1: Changes

In my last post, I talked about how much aspies hate being asked "how was your day". It was entirely from an aspie point of view and I made no apologies for our behaviour but simply told things as they are.

I got a lot of feedback about that post including a few messages from NTs about how much strain this puts on the relationship. I started to think about how this affects my relationship and discussed it with my wife.

She replied that "it's downright rude" and she has a point though I'd probably use the word "direct" rather than "rude".

Who should change?
You may have gotten the idea from my last post that I think the NT should change to accommodate the aspie and if I was speaking only as an aspie, I'd probably agree. From a relationship point of view however, it's obvious that this isn't the answer.

My intention with this series of posts is to try to see both sides of the story.

But first... a bit of a meander...

Changing Peop…

Article: How was your day?

I'd like to draw your attention to yet another aspergers article;

How was your day?
on Asperger Square 8
http://aspergersquare8.blogspot.com/2008/11/how-was-your-day.html

I can really relate to this one. It's the bane of my existence.

My wife and I have discussed this question over and over. It's the subject of a lot of pain for us - and silent resistance.

Problems with the Question
There are a lot of problems with this question. For a start, how do you describe a day. It wasn't my day... it was everyone's day. We all shared it. Then of course, there's the problem of "what answer could actually fit the question?". The best one word answer I can find is; "Good."

The problem with this answer is that it often provokes further open-ended questions; "oh..., what was good about it" or even worse, it encourages the initial "how was your day?" question to be asked several more times during the course of the afternoon, or din…

Article: 12 Steps to Better IEP Meetings

I just want to draw your attention to an article in AdditudeMag (an online journal for parents of children with ADHD and/or Learning Difficulties).

12 Steps to Better IEP Meetings
by Karen Sunderhaft
in AdditudeMag
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/4628.html

I'm not 100% certain that I agree with all of the tips presented (the presentation idea sounds way over the top) but I feel that they are mostly good advice.

Just be aware that an IEP is only as good as the team behind it. If you ask for too much, they might agree without actually putting anything into place. The amount of work that a school is willing to put in will vary considerably and it doesn't always bear a resemblance to the amount of funding they receive.

Article: Are Aspergians really rude and inconsiderate?

I just wanted to draw your attention to another article in Psychology Today.

It's an essay by John Elder Robison, the Author of "Look me in the Eye". A great book on aspergers which I'd strongly recommend if you haven't already read it.

Are Aspergians really rude and inconsiderate?
By John Elder Robison on November 10, 2008 in My Life With Asperger's
http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-life-with-asperger039s/200811/are-aspergians-really-rude-and-inconsiderate#new

The essay contains a great scenario where John talks about his reaction when his wife takes a tumble. I could really relate to that problem. My wife took a tumble almost a year ago and I remember that at the time I found it very difficult. The problem was that she was quite badly hurt and she was making a lot of noise.

Since I'm very deaf in one ear and more than a little deaf in the other - and since it was quite dark at the time. I have no sound localisation and found it almost impossible t…

Article: Joe and the Mega Sized Smoothie - Language and Aspergers

I just want to draw your attention to a fascinating article on Psychology Today.

It's called

Joe and the Mega Sized Smoothie - Language and Aspergers
By Lynne Soraya on November 06, 2008 in Asperger's Diary
http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/asperger039s-diary/200811/joe-and-the-mega-sized-smoothie-language-and-aspergers#new

The article provides a lot of insight into some differences between aspies and neurotypicals. Though the be fair, the aspie stuff was all "normal" to me. I actually found the neurotypical responses to be more fascinating and "different".

Finding the Boundaries of Borderline Aspergers

Reminder
Just a quick reminder that although I'm knowledgeable about Aspergers, I'm not a medical professional. I can only apply what I know and see to my own, my childrens and my friends/acquaintances conditions.

The Question
This post is in response to an interesting question I received via comment.

I am confused by the list in the DSM - IV that describes this condition a bit. I know aspergers is on a spectrum, so it doesn't look the same in everyone. Yet in the DSM -- IV it states that the traits which people have when they have aspergers have to significantly detract from a persons ability to thrive in social situations.

So assuming a case is borderline, where would asperger's end and a neurotypical person with a lot of aspie traits begin?

The DSM and Diagnosis
The DSM by itself is very confusing and opinions vary greatly from one doctor to another. Unlike diseases or physical problems, aspergers is still undetectable by electronic means such as X-rays, CAT scans etc. …

A Simple Real-Life Example of Aspie Awkwardness in a Social Situation

We often hear about aspie awkwardness in social situations but the diagnostic criteria doesn't give parents and supporters much to go on. I've decided to give you a very simple example;

The Setup
Yesterday was Melbourne cup day. For overseas people, Melbourne cup day is the day in which the entire of Australia stops to celebrate a horse race in Melbourne. For the people of Melbourne, it is actually a holiday however the other States in Australia simply get a break around time the race is run and perhaps a few other celebrations.

At my workplace, we celebrate by wearing silly hats to a luncheon and then watching the race on TV together. This year, although I was looking very hard for a propeller hat, I ended up wearing a London bobby helmet.

Being in IT, I am always late to these functions due to last-minute helpdesk calls etc. This usually means that I end up sitting next to the CEO who is often also late.

On this occasion, the CEO wore a pointed wizards hat. A few other peo…

Visual Stimming - One of the Reasons why your Aspie child is pulling faces

Stimming is a repetitive behaviour performed by aspergers and autistic children because it "feels good" or calms them. I've covered stimming before (see: What is Stimming and what does it feel like). In today's post, I'm going to cover a very specific type of stimming - visual stimming.

Visual stimming can often confuse parents and lead them in the wrong direction - to optometrists for eye examinations or to other specialists to discuss facial tics. Instead, a few well aimed questions at your child may put the record straight.

My History
When I was a child, I used to engage in visual stimming quite a bit. It wasn't until much later, after I had been doing it increasingly for years, that my mother asked me what was going on. Until that time, I was not aware that when engaging in the activity, I presented anything at all to the outside world.

In reality however, my visual Stimming made me look like I had a very bad squint or like my eyesight was very poor. A…

Article: How Far Should You Chase The "Impossible" Dream?

I was reading this article today;

How Far Should You Chase The "Impossible" Dream?
By Lynne Soraya on July 22, 2008 in Asperger's Diary

http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/asperger039s-diary/200807/how-far-should-you-chase-the-impossible-dream

It's an interesting article about the problems aspies face when rising through the ranks (at work) to management positions.

It questions Temple Grandin's repeated statements that "people with autism or Asperger's should never allow themselves to be promoted into a management role, due to the social demands." and asks not only whether this is possible but whether or not aspies should actively pursue such careers.

The article also mentions John Elder Robison, author of "Look Me In The Eye". If you've read that book, then you'll know how John Elder had a lot of difficulties in management and that it stifled an otherwise brilliant technical career.

I think the article raises two very interesting q…

Article: BitTorrent's Bram Cohen and Aspergers

Here's yet another good aspie tech story which once again demonstrates that while Aspies can make it to CEO positions, they're actually at their best working as techs. In particular, I liked the bit about how he fidgets during meetings (even taking a rubik's cube to them) and how his fellow workers learned not to sugar-coat things with him. Just tell him straight.

A worthwhile read.

BitTorrent's Bram Cohen Isn't Limited by Asperger's
By Susan Berfield
Business Week, October 16, 2008.
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_43/b4105046863317.htm

The Dangers of Over-Interpretation and Over-Analysis

A reader highlighted this problem in a comment on my recent "Letter Writing in Relationships" articles. At the time, the comment was aimed mainly at letters but I feel that it applies in a lot of other areas of aspie communication.

Note: As is often the case, my initial writing of this particular blog went off-topic and instead spends most of it's time exploring a completely different aspie trait. I've decided to leave it intact though as I think it provides some interesting reading.

Its a well known fact that aspies miss quite a lot of the nuances of non-verbal communication such as tone, expression, body language and innuendo. What is often less documented is that these things can often be determined by aspies with good coping mechanisms, though not without significant delay.

Event Recording as a Coping Mechanism
One of the most effective coping mechanisms I employ is "conversation recording" where I attempt to remember an event in its entirety for later …

Article: Using Lego Therapy to Help Aspergers Children with their Social Skills

This article appeared in the UK Times Yesterday

Here's how to build your hopes
Parents of autistic children need not despair. It has been proved that therapies using Lego can be an enormous help
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/child_health/article4876937.ece

The article doesn't say anything particularly new but reaffirms the fact that when a group of children are collaborating on a project which is of interest to them - and when there are firmly set boundaries of responsibility which enforce the need to communicate, then the children will communicate.

And of course, practice makes perfect.

You could easily adapt the instructions in the article for siblings or very small groups;
One child acted as the “engineer” and described the instructions, another as the “supplier” finding the correct pieces, and the “builder” put the pieces together. After a time, they would swap roles.I might try this at home - it could stop the fighting over lego between my children.

Comp…