Jul 17, 2006

Enough Said

It happened to me again.

I was talking to some and they asked me a small question. A question that should only take one min. or less to answer. Then I realized I had clocked in 3 min. and had wildly swerved off topic. I realized my error and pulled it back around, quickly finishing up in under five min.

I remember when I was in college. I would be doing my laundry and some poor slob would enter the laundry room and say, "So! How you doing?".

Blahdy, blahdy . . . . . .

I would tell them everything. The question was so general I would unload the sum total of my knowledge. Relational thinking would ease from one topic to the next, often without finishing the previous one. Then the person would leave and I would feel a little dirty.

"Why did I tell them all of that stuff? They don't care about all that junk? What's wrong with me?"

I remember that little phrase purring through my grey matter with regularity: "What's wrong with me?"

"O.K. I'll just talk less. That would be good."

Next guy walks in the laundry room and it starts over. It like I was a druggy getting my fix and feeling the guilt the next day. I was convinced that something was wrong with my brain. I decided that I was defective, but had no clue how to fix myself.

That's why the whole Asperger thing has been a life changing realization. Not on the same level as a relationship with God, but it has given me the ability to give myself a break. There is nothing there that I can FIX in one sense. Asperger has a good side and a difficult side.

I have gained valuable information. Simply wanting to say things does not indicate that everything I say has value at all times. So, armed with this information, I purposely block words and consider them twice before letting them through. I change that rule when I'm on stage and I'm really in the zone, then I let it all fly out. Sometimes I'm on stage and I can tell I need to watch what I say, because I'm getting lots of junk. In those cases, I'll go reuse things I've said before in those situations.

The wrap up idea is that I don't give in to every urge simply because it is an urge (how unAmerican of me).

Enough said.

Jul 13, 2006

What is Asperger Syndrome?

Just ran across an interesting entry on the Web Dictionary Wikipedia.


Take a look at it and tell me what you think. Wikipedia allows for user input.

Also, all you Aspies who are wondering, "Why is it called Wikipedia?"

From the Hawaiian word wiki which means fast or quick.


Jul 12, 2006

No More Chit Chat! - Part III

I was in the Men's bathroom washing my hands, and another man walked up to the sinks to wash his hands. He was a big guy with a deep booming voice, which echoed through the bathroom. So, it was hard to hear him.

Other guy: How you doing
Me: Fine

I continue to wash my hands, and then my brain pops up an alert indicating that I need to query him as a sign of good will. I comply with my brain:

Me: How 'bout you?

His boomy, echoing response was garbled because as he spoke his face was pointed toward the sink and mirror. He must have said something pleasant, because after he made his comment, he laughed a good natured deep throated chuckle. It bounced around the porcelain tile of the Mensroom like a bass player's low note during a concert soundcheck. I had no idea what he said, but I laughed as well to show that I was engaged and meant him pleasant . . . . . stuff.

He finished washing his hands before I did, and as he left the bathroom he said, "You have a good one."

In my mind I thought 'Good one what!', but out loud I said, "You too."

It was rather unpleasant as it was quite without meaning. The words were that is. I'm finding that there are whole word based rituals intended to show good will and pleasant intentions among strangers. It's not the words that are important, but the fact that you are willing to engage in the ritual and meaningfully fulfill its activities.

The person with whom you converse doesn't gain any information from it, but it creates an initial positive feeling that may allow for more substantive conversation at a later time.

Aspies, be aware! With some neuro-typical people that you meet for the first time there may be numerous word rituals required before you have any conversations that are enjoyable to you. Do you best. It is worth it, because it builds relationships.

I know, it doesn't make any sense! Remember Aspies are from Mars and Neurotypicals are from Earth. We need to learn their language. It is all worth while, when you've built some close personal friendships. Relationships in which you have invested time and effort, and the day comes that you have an absolute meltdown. Then all the effort and ritual will have been worth it, because your friends will have grown to love you and will invest in you the time that you deserve as well.

Any questions or comments? Click the comment link or e-mail me adam@sojournband.com


Jul 6, 2006

No More Chit Chat! - Part II

No More Chit Chat! Part II

Goof ball date words:

“Drive safely”
This is usually said at the conclusion of the date. It’s really a verbal way to close the date with positive feelings. Your date or you could more logically say, “This now concludes our date.” I remember when I was still dating, and a girl would say, “Drive safe.” I would think, “What have I done that gave her the impression that I would drive in some recless fashion on the way home?”

Here’s what typically would happen at the end of the date:
Girl: Drive safe
Me: What do you expect me to do, drive up a tree?
Adam walks away.

It wasn’t until I had been married for a while that I figured out that when girls said "Drive safe," they were just making a closure statement that expressed their affection or like for me. So the words didn’t make sense to me because it was a social word. The expected response might be for me to “Thanks I will”, “Goodnight”, or not say anything: just smile and walk off.

“Do you like my outfit?”
What! are you kidding? That question always presupposes the answer of YES. The girl asking the question never, never wants you to say, “Wow, that outfit is butt ugly!” or “No, but I’m not wearing it, you are. Do you like it?” Or “No, what are my other options for your outfit tonight?”

There might be a time when your wife or some one you know very well really wants to know what you think, but there are ways to answer the question that won’t offend the typical person:
“I like some of your other outfits better than this one.” O.K. Aspie. You only want to make statements of fact. You hate speaking in ways that are meant just to stroke someone’s ego. That might not be true for you, but it is for me. But, it is probably true that there are certain outfits that you like on your wife. “I like the way you look, but I don’t enjoy that outfit on you as much.” Or “You look great. The outfit on the other hand is o.k.” Or maybe you do like the outfit, and you can say so.

But if there is a girl you don’t know really well or haven’t been dating for long, she isn’t really asking a question. She is saying “Tell me you like my outfit” in a way that saves her pride. Just say, “You look nice.” Everybody looks nice.

“Did you like my [enter food item here]?”
When I was dating, a girlfriend made me lasagna. I bet it started with her saying, “Do you like lasagna?” My mom used to make lasagna several times a year as I was growing up. Whenever she made it, dinner was a major family event. Mom’s lasagna was legendary. The only person that can equal my mom’s lasagna is my wife.

Lasagna comes in a rectangular pan. It is cooked in layers of pasta, sauce, ground beef, Ricotta and toped with mozzarella cheese. My girlfriend served me lasagna in a round bowl with blobs of Ricotta plopped on the top of the sauce. No mozzarella on top. That was not how lasagna is supposed to look (And all Aspies shouted AMEN!).

So I made the mistake of telling her that it tasted o.k., but it wasn’t like moms. I answered the question honestly and factually.

Took a while for that unhappy girlfriend to feel better about herself and our relationship.

Now as a more enlightened adult, I would either say, “It tasted good” or “It was nice”. Everything is nice to some degree.

Social talk is not precise, but is meant to convey positive feelings in a general way. Aspies, if you want to maintain healthy relationships, you will need to understand how to respond to these vagaries in a way that satisfies your desire for truth, and satisfies your partner's need for a positive emotional feeling.


Adam Parmenter

No More Chit Chat! - Part I

No More Chit Chat!

"So, how you been,"
"Fine, and you?"
"Fine." In actuallity I may be dying of a fatal and highly contagious disease, but I know you really could care less.

"So, what do you do?"
"Oh, I work at Blemish Pharmaceuticals"

Meet an acquaintance while walking outside on the sidewalk. The person says "So, hot enough for you?"

Inane passerby chat (typically made in light conversation when you meet some one in the hall or on the street)

So, what if the weather isn’t hot enough for me? Can anyone really do anything about the weather? I know an Aspie that will say the word “cows” when he walks up to me. Asking me if I am satisfied with the weather is just about as meaningful. Sayoing "cows" is just unexpected. It’s expected to come up and say something inane about the weather so typical people aren’t surprised or confused by it. They would be surprised or confused if I just said “glomph” when I met some one.

“Hey, let’s do lunch.”
When I lived in the Chicago area and I ran into a work acquaintance or had a business meeting at a bar or restaurant, people would always say, “Let’s do lunch sometime”.

It really just meant “Positive feelings to you. End of personal contact.” Typical people and even a lot of Aspies would be surprised and confused if I said, "End of personal contact."at the end of a personal contact. It would be more precise, but socially, incongruis.

Typical people want a way to close a personal contact so they say thing like, “See you later” or “Call me sometime.” Or “Don’t be a stranger.” It gives typical people a comfortable sense that the personal contact was concluded in a positive way.

For a while, I had this growing list of people that I thought wanted to have lunch with me. I felt kind of bad that I hadn’t gotten around to calling them, and was worried how I could afford going out to lunch that much. I don’t know if anyone of those people really wanted to do lunch. That bugged me, once I figured that one out.

I remember once I called a former coworker and said, “Let’s do lunch.” I meant what I said, but the former coworker was a neuro-typical. She never showed up at the restaurant. “Let’s do lunch,” doesn’t mean let’s do lunch so she didn’t.

Neurotypicals are soo goofy.

More later.

Adam Parmenter


I’m sitting in a meeting at work with lots of people. There is really nothing for me to say, but in true Aspie form, I have a comment for every topic and every statement some one says. It’s that relational thinking again. I’m also sitting here wondering everybody’s anthropological and linguistic origins. Why does the presenter talk so quietly and pronounce things the way he does. He sounds like he’s from Canada. Some one asked him to speak up. His volume went up slightly. I can produce enough volume to make people's ears bleed. Is that nature or nurture?

I’m off track here.

I have to keep reminding myself that I have nothing of business value to say. I keep telling my brain, “Don’t Talk.” I’m constantly telling myself, "Don't Talk". I picture an office worker at a desk inside my head. All of my comments are reviewed by this worker, and most of them are tossed in the trash. Some of them a forwarded on to my mouth.

I’m discovering that not all Aspies have that function operating in their mind. When I was a young person, I let everything come out of my mouth. I dominated conversations, and if no one tried to stop me, would speak nearly non-stop. One of my elementary school teachers called it diarrhea of the mouth. It all goes back to relational thinking. Words relate to more words in an endless stream of words and ideas, without thought to the relationship to people.

There is this constant urge to amass and then disgorge information. That’s the easy part, the hard part is understand who really wants or needs the information, and what parts of the information. I want to tell them everything that I know about a topic. Sometimes, nothing that I have to say is useful. That’s frustrating to realize, and I may irrationally start feeling put off. I start wondering, “Why doesn’t anyone want to hear what I have to say. No one ever lets me talk.” Often that isn’t true. In fact, the truth is that I don’t have anything to say that people will receive as valuable.

As an Aspie it helps to have a place in which everything you want to say is important and wanted. A personal journal is a starting point. Some Aspies hate to write with pen and paper, so they could keep a personal journal on the computer or talk into a recording device. I find my personal journal is often a “rant”. Nice place to have an Apsie melt down. I can say anything I want and then turn the page and move on. Journaling also helps me get a swirl down on paper, and make a little more sense out of it. Sometimes, it’s easier to pray this way. Especially if I can’t get my thoughts to run in any clear order, I find I can pray to God by writing it down. Often just letting it all pour out into my journal starts out as an Aspie meltdown, then turns to more thoughtful discussion as I work through stuff, then ends up as a praying to God in print. It can be quite cathartic.

For me, I find keeping a blog (which you are reading right now) is quite helpful. It’s an opportunity for me to disgorge on a topic. Anyone can set up a blog for free, and blog about any area of interest. I find that I have a lot to say about lots of different things. I’m also surprised that every so often, people really appreciate this or that blog. Every Aspie could have a blog as long as they can type. If they can’t type, there are ways to set up Audio blogs. Again, audio blogs can be set up for free. Almost every computer has a microphone input, and most every lap top computer has a built in microphone.

Writing this blog while I’m in the business meeting is helping me manage my emotions and behavior.

Finally, since most Apsies have an area(s) of interest, there is opportunity (as amateur or professional) to speak, teach or (in my case) preach to groups. An Aspie might like to write articles on an area of interest. Listen, fellow Aspies, you DO have something of value to say. Find the place and time that works for both you and your audience.

Adam Parmenter