Oct 31, 2006

Now that's disturbing - Halloween

I don't like Halloween anymore.

When I was a kid it seemed like a lot of fun. As an adult in my neighborhood, we get tons of kids (and teens) who are there to make a major candy haul. So, I don't know hardly any of the people who come to our door. The holiday has also taken on an even stronger occult and violent focus.

Then, at work, my coworkers dressed up as did my boss. It was disruptive for me. My boss didn't look like my boss, and the people with scary masks really bugged me.

Now, I would imagine that there are Aspies that just love dressing up and being some one else. I didn't say dressing up as some one else, but the act of dressing up transforms you into some one else. Aspies probably make great character actors. There could be a great deal of freedom in playing dress-up.

I do offer this caution: we Aspies are bright enough to know that we don't fit in. Many of us have come to accept and understand our condition, but there is still a sense of loss. Also, Aspies are often teesed and we don't typically understand why. It isn't logical. When I was in junior high, I had strong feelings of anger and a desire to get back at everyone who had rejected me. Here's the caution: It may not be wise to encourage an Aspie to act out his aggressive fantasies on Halloween by dressing up as a violent character as it could also reinforce those fantasies as a behavior.

I think that it will be better to direct an Aspie toward more positive characters:
Rock Star
Business Executive
Lawyer (that could be fun. he could file suit against his tormentors)
Super Hero
Historical Figure

What is your Aspie's area of interest? Develop a costume that corresponds to it.

So there's my two cents.


Oct 27, 2006

Agitated? Yes, just a bit!

I feel like I am rocketing past my limit. My wife has her 50th birthday celebration tonight, and her family is travel (at this moment) from Eureka, Illinois. I’ve been working my head off to get the living room, painted (including repairing age related damage in one wall) and furniture cleaned. Also, needed to be ready to present at the teacher’s in-service yesterday. On top of all of it, my family and I are considering a career change.

So yesterday, after presenting at the in-service, I drove an hour up to Grand Rapids to help some friends with a recording session. The session fell through so why chatted and brought each other up to speed on our lives. That was cool, but I was looking forward to doing some music. I also got to bed late, and didn’t have last night to feel prepared for my wife’s party tonight.

Also, I had to fill in an annual self assessment. It is part of my annual review at work, but there are over two months left in the year, how can I make an annual assessment. We don’t get to do our annual objectives for the coming year until months into the year, and then we do our annual assessment early. It really means nothing to me.

I’m also reeling from the experience of presenting at the conference. Some one said that my presentations (both on Thursday and at another occasion) were “life changing”. No one has ever said that to me. Not after a Sojourn concert (www.sojournband.com) and not even after I have preached at church.

People have enjoyed both my singing and preaching, but never spoken to me with such urgency and gratefulness. Also, I really found my wife to be a natural and effective speaker.

I’m not contemplating a career as a motivational speaker or anything, but the “success” of it just hit me like a freight train. I worked harder and spent more as a singer and never was so inspiring.

It’s too much for me to integrate. I was tired to begin with, but I’m having a hard time just sitting still. I want to sleep and run around all at once. It’s like what emotions and feelings I do have are shut off, and there is a sick sense of calm. A calm as a result of an absence of activity, not the presence of peace.

I’m not really not at peace. I think fatigue and change overload is muting my emotional reactions.

So, I’m sitting at work typing this into a work document as a means of managing my feelings. Mostly feelings of agitation. So, I guess I’m feeling something.

Maybe I shouldn’t have had the two 16 oz. cups of coffee this morning. It was the only way to stay awake and keep functioning in some form or fashion.

I am looking forward to seeing my wife’s family. They are wonderfully warm and caring people. They are very different from me, but that has never blocked the closeness of familial caring. They are very good people, whom I trust and respect.

O.K., I’m feeling a little better. It helps me to write. I’ll post this to the blog. Perhaps this too will inform or encourage some one.


I Still Can't Believe It!

Yesterday, my wife Marge and I spoke at a one day conference for teachers and parents of children with Asperger Syndrome. I had a portable tape recorder on the podium and was able to record much of it.

I listened to a little bit of it, and was incredulous all over again. Did I really do a good job? Is what I have to say really entertaining and insightful? Wow. Was that really me? Yes, I have proof. That's my voice, but how can it be that by displaying my "weakness" and "disability" I am a source of strength to others.

I was slightly detached yesterday as I spoke. I normally filter so much that yesterday I made every effort to stay out of the way, and just watch me talk. The whole time I'm thinking, "Is this really what people want to hear? This is all the goofy stuff. It's the stuff that I've wanted to restrict in favor of the responsible adult sounding material."

I've worked hard at becoming a responsible adult, yet I subscribe to the principals of clowning. Really. A truly skilled clown is vulnerable with his/her flaws in a way that both entertains and teaches. By doing so, the clown exposes flaws or even evils in his/her audience in a way that stirs a change without discouraging the listener. That is the fundamental heart of a clown.

Perhaps I state too specifically to my own situation. Let me say it more correctly: A clown uses foolishness as a tool to point to the value of another.

Some clowns are purely entertainers. The circus clowns come to mind, but their entertainment may not be only that. By laughing at them we are really laughing at ourselves. We are laughing at our flaws and minimizing their power over us. We all fall down, we all fail, clowns redirect our perspective to see the humor in our own failings.

Failure can become a monster that haunts us continually. The monster of failure can gain strength as it feeds on our energy, draining from us our will to try new and scary things. Draining from us our daring to attempt that which frightens us.

In reality the monster of failure is only as large as our perspective of it. The lower we feel the taller it appears. Conversely, the taller I feel the smaller my failures appear. Failure has no power. The power of failure is a lie. In the Bible (John 8:44) Jesus is recorded as saying that the Devil is a liar and the father of lies. That's the Devil's real power. His power to convince us of that veracity of a lie.

It's so easy to embrace the power of a lie, and to live in it. It takes energy and daring to step out in faith, and live by different principals even when the lie still has some grip on us. It still has some grip on me. The lie that people won't like the real me so I'm better to wear a variety of personalities that people would rather see.

I remember once when a coworker stopped me in the hall after a meeting and said, "Quite telling everyone that you don't know what you are doing or they might start believing it." I was stunned. It hit me like a bolt of lightning: my value in this job is my thoughts and ideas not my official credentials or work history. My expertise is already in my head. My value to my employer is in the way I think about things.

Shock! I am valuable to my employer just as I am.


So at the conference yesterday, I just let my inner Aspie pour out through my public speaker face in a way that I have never done. It was mildly organized chaos. A mosaic of thought. To my audience it had essential value.

What a shock!

It's hard to untangle the chains of the lies I've held so dear for so many years. I embraced the "Adam is junk" lie well over 20 years ago and it lurked in the corners like a secret addiction. I've heard that an abused spouse may choose to stay with the abuser rather than risk living lonely. I don't see myself as a victim frankly, but my wrong thinking became a constant companion, and it is easier to maintain the current state than it is to bust into unusual ground. So much so that the "Adam is junk" lie had taken on an air of reliability.

This is really getting long, and I need to go back to work.

Let me close with this: Relentlessly stay on message with everyone you know. The message is that everyone has intrinsic value because they were created by God and created in His image. For that reason and that reason alone every single person has inestimable value that is neither bound to what they can do or what they can't do. We all need to improve and grow, but that is our source of joy, for God never condemns those who try to please Him and fail.

Success or failure should never be the issue, but the measure of . . . a . . . "successful" person (is there another way to say that?) is that they reach beyond their current limits and aspire to something more.


Oct 26, 2006

Social Stories - "Mom Has Bad Days"

Social Stories can be a big help for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Several years ago my wife wrote one for the kids to help them understand how to deal with her when she was having a bad day.

Marge and I had the opportunity to speak at a conference and Marge read the social story. She hadn't looked at it for a long time, but when she first wrote it she would actually hand a copy to Michael to read again each time she was having a bad day.

It is re-printed below.


Mom Has Bad Days

Sometimes my mom is in a crabby mood. She yells at me and I can't do anything right. I don't like it when she is not happy.

Sometimes my mom is having a bad time and it is not about me. Just because she raises her voice or has a sad face, does not mean she is made at me. She is having her own bad day.

On bad days, it is good to let mom be alone. This is a good day not to ask too many questions. This is a good tim to do my work as much as I can on my own.

I can help my mom by not bugging her. I can help my mom by getting along with my sister.

I will not worry about what I did to make mom mad. She will tell me if there is something I need to do differently.

It is OK to have bad days, sometimes. I will let mom have a bad day.


This social story proved helpful to my son. In time he was able to internalize this thought process, but initially, the social story helped him work through a particular situation.

Carol Grey is the Social Story guru. The Grey Center web site has a useful page about social stories including resources for sale. http://www.thegraycenter.org/socialstories.cfm


Oct 24, 2006

Famous Aspies

How do I know who the famous Aspies (or autistics) are? I found it on the Internet so it must be true. O.K. I've pulled some interesting names from a number of lists. Each name is a hyper link to a web page where that name, and others, is listed.

Vincent van Gogh
Albert Einstein
Bill Gates

Makes you wonder about it is an "abnormality" or "disorder" or "disability". The list above is just a sampling of numerous famous eccentrics that had a major impact on the societies around them.

I believe that all individuals who want to make a contribution to the world around them can, and should be allowed to their fullest extent. Who knows, maybe the next van Gogh could be sitting in a special needs classroom waiting to be pointed in the right direction.


Oct 23, 2006

Don't Rearrange the Furniture!

Why is it that I get ill whenever I start a remodelling project on the house. Am I just lazy and don't like to work? I feel extra tired, start feeling like I have a touch of the stomach flu, and just have a hard time in general keeping the project going.

It was worse this time. There is so much change right now, I'm extra sensitive (see http://sojournband.blogspot.com/2006/08/last-hoorah.html). I was with Sojourn for 14 years, and with that being done and investigating being a full time missionary, I'm already stretching the limits. So I decided I was going to paint the living room for my wife's birthday. We threw out our old ratty couch, stuck my orange lazy boy chair in the basement, moved the TV into the basement, and moved all the other furniture into the center of the room.

It hit me yesterday that all of the places in the house that I use to sit and feel calm are in our living room, and that's just been proverbially "blown to bits".

It's times like this that I really do hate being an Aspie. The Neurotypical brain just manages a persons environment in the background so that Neruotypical isn't aware of it much. As an Aspie I need to create that order externally. I'm not about to be so much of a prisoner that I avoid all distressing environments. So I know for few days I'm going to feel like crap, and then when it's done I can go back to feeling a bigger sense of calm.

I think when of my biggest helps is my faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible and prayer are two chief ways to recent and calm, and they can never be taken away.


Oct 18, 2006

The Best of Aspie's Inc - No More Chit Chat!

There is a new feature in the blog.

It is a label that allows me to group posts along a certain topic. So I have reveiwed all of my posts and compiled a group called No More Chit Chat!

Click the link and it will take you to a collection of all the blogs along that topic.

Also, any comments or questions are always helpful.


Oct 16, 2006

Definitely, Definitely Not The Right Way. . .

Some of my blogs are thought out and seem inspirational or at least revelatory in an instructional way. And then there are days when in the spirit of blogging I just drop out what is on my mind. There are times when things don't go the way that I expect them. Actually, it happens a fair amount. I realized recently, that I have internal Aspie melt-downs (at worst) and at best have little internal pout fests.

I remember I was so frustrated one day that in my mind I dug in my heals, crossed my arms, put on the big angry pout face, and refused to proceed. It was the end of my work day so on the outside I put on my bike riding clothes, got on my bike, and headed for home. For about half the 45 min. trip home I had to keep encouraging myself to pedal. In my mind I could still see the pouting characture of myself, and I could feel it as if I were actually physically hunkered down in the corner of my office refusing to move.

It happens to me a lot on Mondays since the transition from the weekend is difficult. I think the only help for that is to make certain that I establish a routine of thoughtfulness in the morning and in the evening both so that I can take stock of the day before or my day so far, think about what it means to me, and work through any frustrations. Reading the Bible and talking to God is also a crucial part of that "Thoughtfulness Time". I did that about four days out of 7 last week. Well, I at least did it in the mornings. I would read something in the Bible and write a little in my journal, and then get on my bike and ride to work. Usually on my bike ride as I'm quiet and alone with my thoughts, I'll have a few moments when I feel that I connect with God. Today, it was pouring rain and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn't ride in. I should have. Also, my wife was already up and moving about, when normally I'm the first one up. It was confusing so I went back to bed. We can't turn our furnace on yet, so my body was warm, but my head was cold. It was all wrong. So, my day was actually o.k., but the morning threw me out of wack. I'm going to work at promoting morning Thoughtfullness, I'll let you know how it goes. If you ever struggle with this, please leave a comment. If you have questions or comments on almost anything, please leave a comment, and I will respond in the blog. Adam