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End of Year (2009) Wrap-up

It's been a busy year for me on several fronts;

At home, we've moved into our new house and it's taken quite a bit of work to make it "home". I've been able to observe my kids accepting their new environment and in some cases, I've seen frustrations emerge as either meltdowns or destructive behaviour. They have improved though. I'm not sure how much of that improvement is due to their self-control and how much is due to changes in our parenting methods.

At work, I've mostly been busy on the second year of a six-month project (that's right, it's behind schedule) but I've been slowly making the journey from "super-tech" to project manager without training. I'm just learning from my mistakes (of which there is no shortage). I've also learned a lot about time management and this year is particularly special because it's the first year that I've maintained a corporate calendar for the entire year - normally they sto…

Aspergers and Dreams

I've been asked on a few occasions to do a post on dreams and dreaming, so this is it. It's not an area I'm particularly familiar with because I've never really considered that dreaming may be different for aspies. I guess that any responses to this post will help us to find out.
Remembering Dreams Some time ago, I did an unstructured and impromptu survey to find out whether aspies tend to remember or forget their dreams. I got a total of 52 responses which were allocated as follows; I Don't think that I Dream 1% [ 1 ]I Usually Remember my Dreams 44% [ 23 ]I know I've had a Dream but lose the details when I wake up 28% [ 15 ]I Can Remember my Dream for about 2 hours after Waking - then it disappears 25% [ 13]
I've always had fairly vivid dreams and surprisingly, I've remembered quite a few of them. My childhood dreams are still clear as crystal, it's my adult dreams that I don't remember as well.
Night Terrors and Nightmares As a child, I o…

Article: On Living and loving Asperger's Man

I'd like to draw your attention to this (currently untitled) article which is on one of the blogs I read;
The article can be found here
http://inlovewithaspergers.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-husband-has-this-phrase-he-uses-to.htmlLiving and loving Asperger's Man
I'm not quite sure if there's a problem with that site but at the moment as it's not accepting comments (I'm sure there would be plenty otherwise).
I guess that's one of the main reasons I'm referring to the article here. It's crying out for comments.

My Thoughts... These articles really move me. They're one of the main reasons behind the "emotionless" or "empathy-less" aspie myth.
A quick "aside"... I know that aspergers isn't gender specific and that despite the significantly higher incidence of diagnosed male aspies compared to female, the number isn't to be trusted. Aspergers presents quite differently in females compared to males and although it's …

How Brutal Honesty about the Future Affects Aspie Relationships

It's funny but you read quite a bit on the internet and in books about how "aspies cannot lie". As discussed in a previous post, that's simply not true.
Aspies can tell lies - it's just that lies don't come naturally to us. We tend to be truthful, even when the truth hurts - and we expect** others to be truthful to us.
**I don't mean "expect" in the discipline sense but rather literally. We automatically assume that people are telling us the truth without question. That's one of the reasons we seem so naive. It's also the reason that "is it really?" becomes something of a catchphrase for many aspies.
When you read about aspie "brutal truths" and relationships, the books always seem to use the example question, "does this dress make me look fat?". This is very misleading because many aspies do know how to "lie" for this question - and really, if that was the level at which brutal truth operated, w…

Individuality and Aspergers

The main crisis of faith I had when diagnosed with aspergers related to my own sense of individuality. Sure, I was happy to be part of a group of like-minded individuals but I was concerened that many of my "unique traits" were no longer unique.
I'd accepted myself as someone who wasn't good a things like social, sports and general "blokey" things on the basis that I was unique. I was an individual who could be at times funny, weird, intellectual and astonishing but now I'd found a group of people who were bad at the same sorts of things as I but who excelled in the same quirkyness as me. It had stopped being "me" and became a question of genetics. I no longer felt special.

Differences amongst Aspies I've taken comfort over the years since then in the fact that we are in fact, not all alike. We each have our own sets of traits and we each have our own personalities. It has taken a long time for me to re-accept myself and to see those d…

Book Review: 600 Hours of Edward

I've just finished reading the novel "600 hours of Edward" by Craig Lancaster. I loved it. It was unexpectedly good (because normally I read in a different genre). It was really engaging and very difficult to put down. My only complaint is that there weren't 700 or 800 hours. I was enjoying it so much that I was sad when it ended.
Craig... I think we need a sequel.

600 Hours of Edward features an Aspie protagonist (Edward). It's the first novel I've read which does so. At first, I wasn't sure exactly how well I'd be able to identify with Edward. After all, he's a fiercely OCD aspie with a fixation on weather and Dragnet. His social issues are also so severe that he's generally unemployable. Since I've never been unemployed, I didn't think that I'd relate all that well.
I was surprised. It's true that in the beginning, I didn't identify with him much at all but as I got further and further into his character, I fou…

Movie Review: The Black Balloon

I'm branching out a little. I've covered a couple of books about Autism/Aspergers (with more to come) and now I'll be adding the occasional "spectrum" movie review. The movie reviews won't be "remembering" films I've seen, I'll be re-watching things and re-evaluating in the light of my present moods/feelings and also current political/social trends.

Today's review is The Black Balloon, which I watched for the first time last night.
The Black Balloon (2008) Director: Elissa Down Writer: Elissa Down, Jimmy Jack Starring: Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Toni Collette, Erik Thomson, Gemma Ward, Sarah Woods Rotten Tomatoes Rating:90%
The Black Balloon is an Australian film about a family with a late-teen severely autistic child. The story is told mostly from the point of view of his "normal" brother and covers the problems with fitting into a new area and acceptance both within the family and within the community.
The Good It's very obvious t…

Article: Marijuana as a Treatment for Autism?

Here's an interesting article which could spark some debate.
Marijuana as a Treatment for Autism? by Lisa Jo Rudy http://autism.about.com/b/2009/11/19/marijuana-as-a-treatment-for-autism.htm
I don't think that there's any doubt that "social lubricants" such as drugs and alcohol can make it easier for aspies to temporarily overcome their social problems. It's also true that sometimes these can help them to relax or function better outside of social situations.
Ritalin itself is a stimulant, as is caffeine and nicotine, marijuana (cannabis) isn't clearly defined as either a stimulant or depressant - it has both qualities.
In fact, it's quite common for children to be given ritalin and/or coffee and coke. Less common I think for parents to actually encourage smoking. Marijuana has been shown to have positive effects on depression.
Both Alcohol and Smoking have greater addicition and provide greater physical harm than marijuana but does that actually sugge…

Sleeplessness and Achieving Mental "Quiet"

Sleeplessness used to be the bane of my existence. People apparently need more than four hours of quality sleep per night but somehow my aspie brain didn't seem to care.

These days, the problem is mostly "licked". I usually feel tired enough to go to bed somewhere between 11 and 12pm and I wake for work at around 5.15am. I get around 5 and a half hours sleep per night. I'm still tired but it's a good deal better than my previous average of 3-4 hours sleep.

It's the pressures of work and family that get me exhausted enough to get my 5 hours per night. I thought I was "cured" but after being on holidays this week, I know that I'm not.

I've just had three days holiday without the kids. Its the first time since they were born (9 years ago) that my wife and I have had more than one night without them. Furthermore, there was no computer, just the blackberry and no calls from work - although admittedly, I did work through a few emails.

On the first…

eBook A Perfect Gift for a Man - Now FREE!!

I just thought that I'd provide you with an update on "The Perfect Gift for a Man: 30 Stories about reinventing Manhood".


It has now been released in paperback, which means that the book is considerably cheaper. In addition, the Ebook is now free!!!
Since the book is mainly short stories and recollections, it's a very easy read and I encourage everyone to download it and have a look. The only aspergers link is my own set of stories but the book still provides a fascinating and hopeful glimpse into the mind of today's man.
If you decide to purchase a hard copy, all profits are going to the inspire foundation, an organisation which aims to help young people help themselves. We're aiming to reduce the suicide rate amongst men.
You might find some of the facts about suicide in Australia to be rather shocking - here is a factsheet which admittedly is a little out of date. Amongst it's claims are; 2,683 people took their own lives in Australia during 1998This …

Why do Aspies Suddenly Back Off in Relationships (Part 3)

Continuing the series, part three deals with people who just don't know how to "behave" in relationships. I'm not talking about misbehaviour. I'm talking about communications problems, misreading the signs, missing the cues and not knowing those things which should come naturally.

This time, instead of trying to cover the topic in a clinical way, I'm going to speak straight from experience.

Communications Problems
I remember in 1984 when the movie "The Woman in Red" came out. I was pretty excited to see it, not only because it had one of my (then) favourite actors in it (Gene Wilder) and a great song "I just called, to say I love you" but also because the critics described it as; "Teddy Pierce has just wooed the woman of his dreams - and now that he's got her, he doesn't know what to do with her". At the time, that seemed to describe my life. I'd just managed to win the love of the girl who would oneday become my wif…

Why do Aspies Suddenly Back Off in Relationships (Part 2)

In part one, we looked at the role that Change Resistance plays in causing aspies to suddenly go "cold" in otherwise good relationships. This time, I want to look at self esteem and depression;
Self Esteem The aspie relationship with themselves is tedious at best. People with Asperger's commonly suffer from low self esteem. As discussed in earlier posts, this low self esteem often results from years of emotional turmoil resulting from their poor social skills.
Aspies are often their own worst enemy. They can over analyze situations and responses in an effort to capture lost nonverbal communication. This often causes them to invent problems and to imagine replies. Everything made up by aspies will tend to be tainted with their own self image.
This is one of reasons that people with Asperger's will sometimes decide that they are not good enough for their partner and that they must let them go. Sometimes, the aspie will develop a notion of chivalry or self-sacrifice a…

Article: A New Novel "600 hours of Edward" by Craig Lancaster

It seems only a few years ago that the word "Aspergers" was virtually unknown outside of universities, schools and special education classrooms.
These days though, we seem to have aspie characters on primetime TV and in movies. In fact, recently we've started to see a movies like "Adam" and "Mary and Max" which are completely centred around their aspie characters.

I'm pleased to announce that Craig Lancaster's new novel "600 hours of Edward", released today is another such work and one that I'm particularly looking forward to because after all, there's only so much you can do in a film or TV series. Novels can get right inside the character's head.
Craig has released an article on the development of his aspie character, Edward along with an excerpt from his book.
The web site states that everyone who leaves a comment before November 6, 2009 will go into the draw to win a copy of the book, so please visit the site, read …

Why Do Aspies Suddenly Back-Off in Relationships? (Part 1)

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is why an aspie (or suspected aspie) suddenly goes "cold" and backs off on an otherwise good relationship.
It's a difficult question and the answers would vary considerably from one person to another and would depend greatly on the circumstances. Nevertheless, I'll try to point out some possibilities.
Negative Reasons I generally like to stay positive on this blog and assume that people are not necessarily "evil" but simply misguided. Unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge that there are some people out there who take advantage of others.
I read a book a few years ago on "sociopaths in the workplace" and I was stunned by the figures. They suggested that sociopaths were so common that most workplaces (small business) had at least one or two.
The fact is that there are lots of people out there who really feel very little for others and who are very manipulative. I'd like to say that aspies aren't …

Book: The Perfect Gift for a Man (Released Today!)

Ok, I'll admit up front that this post is a shameless plug but it's for a good cause.

The Book Long-time readers of this blog may recall that recently, a group of Australian bloggers, myself included, participated in a "man-week" exercise designed to heighten awareness and acceptability of emotions in men.
The man-week initiative resulted in a book containing 30 stories by Australian men, myself included. Some of the material was on various blogs during man-week and some is new.
You can visit the web site for the book at; http://www.theperfectgiftforaman.com.au/
The book is available for purchase as softcover or ebook and all proceeds from the book are going to the Inspire Foundation in an effort to reduce the suicide rates among men.
Men and Emotions Men in our society, and particularly men in Australia are often raised to be the "rock of the family" and our emotions are supressed at an early age.
I can remember being quite young and having been hurt quite badly..…

How can a positive diagnosis of Asperger's help an already established adult?

There's no question about it, the majority of Asperger's diagnosis' handed out today go to children. It is also pretty clear that the diagnosis provides access to a lot of ongoing early intervention and is the most successful way of dealing with the problems condition poses.
Some time ago I asked whether or not it made sense to label our children. Although the answers were far from unanimous, the majority seemed to support the label. This was because in most cases, a diagnosis provided obvious benefits.
It's a fairly simple question when aimed at children but it becomes a very different question when aimed at adults. It's difficult to tell whether or not a diagnosis can be useful for an adult who has already become well-established in the world, though not necessarily successful.
A Lack of Obvious Benefits For a start, the obvious benefits just aren't there. There generally aren't any government handouts for adults with aspergers and revealing your conditio…

News: Stunning Examples of Autistic Child Abuse

In the news today is an article with some of the worst examples of autistic child abuse I've ever heard of.
Special Education Teachers in Trouble for Autistic Student Abuse http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2272291/special_education_teachers_in_trouble.html
Now I know that there are worse things being done to autistic children (see Observations and Findings of Out-of-State Program Visitation Judge Rotenberg Educational Center) but the difference is that it's fairly obvious what the programme at the JRE is. The abuse reported today was being committed by trusted special education teachers.
If you put your child into a center like JRE, you will (hopefully) have checked the place out and have made a conscious decision to treat the child in that manner. I'm not saying that it's a good thing - far from it - but parents who institutionalise their children should have very good reasons and more importantly, they should feel responsible for supervising their child's t…

Book Review: Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World

I'd always intended to do some book reviews on "Life with Aspergers" and since I was sent the following book to review, it seems a good place to start.
Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School. by Katharine Beals PhD.

Initial Response On the face of it, the title of this book would probably not engage my interest - which is unfortunate because it's a really fascinating book. The title isn't wrong either, the book really is about "Left-Brained Children"; it's just that you need a bit more explanation before you read the title.
The Left Brained Child Katharine Beals has used the label "Left-Brained" in place of other more judgemental labels. She describes the left brained child as the sort of child to whom mathematics comes easy and group work does not. Her definition is quite encompassing but if I have any issues with the book, they're s…

The Aspie Senses - Part 2

Last time I started discussing how senses affect our perception and I looked at hearing which is my weakest sense, and smell which is my second weakest. For me, even these "weaker" senses mix with memories and provoke both positive and negative emotions. In this post, I'll continue the exploration of the senses;

Taste In my case, taste is the weakest Of the remaining three senses. I know that many people believe in more, in fact, so do I but for the moment, I'm sticking to the classical five. My sense of taste has always been fine but there is such a strong link between taste and smell that my impaired sense of smell obviously affects taste.
There are only two food tastes which I severely dislike; Sultanas and Orange Vegetable (Carrots, Pumpkin and sweet potato). Sultana's are easily the worst affecting me in several other ways, including touch, sight and smell. I can't look at them. I can't eat things that have been stored in the same containers as th…

Colour Changes

Just as a side note, I've received a lot of complaints about my white text on a black background - so I changed to black text on a white background - and got a complaint about that on the first day.
I'm not particularly excited about the black text on parchment look but I'm hoping it's a happy medium. Sorry about all the changes.

The Aspie Senses - Part 1

It's a well known fact that people on the spectrum often have sensory issues but it's probably less well known that these sensory issues can trigger both positive and negative feelings. Sensory issues are one of the major reasons why many aspies find it difficult to work. They are also a major contributor to shutdowns, and to a lesser extent, meltdowns.
The Sense of Hearing I tend to think that one of the main reasons why I've been successful in the workplace is because my own susceptability to sensory issues is reduced by comparison with other aspies. Being deaf has certainly given me much greater tolerance for the sorts of sounds which irritate my peers. I've been reading Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg's recent series of articles with great interest. Here is someone who is actually using earplugs to reduce her sensory issues - and she's not alone. There are many aspies doing exactly the same thing. Rachel even goes so far as to attend sign language classes to le…

Defining Ourselves via our Emotional Baggage - Part Two

Last time, I looked at a couple of small examples of how the future actions of aspies are often dictated by their emotional baggage and suggested that the long term memory and inability to let go could be root causes.
This time, I want to look at how that emotional baggage transforms itself into rules and begins to take over our lives.
The Leap from Memory to Rule If a piece of baggage affects you enough to be constantly in your memory, it soon begins to transform itself into aspie rules. Sometimes these rules are good but sometimes they're too restrictive.
About 16 years ago, when I was only starting my second IT job, I made the mistake of forgetting to back up some address book data when wiping an employee's laptop computer. I did back up everything else but the address book data was in an unexpected location.
Although the employee in question wasn't particularly senior, he complained to management and I was reprimanded. What he didn't realise was that I would stress ov…