Nov 16, 2007

A Cure For Asperger

I met some one who after testing discovered that her children had many times the mercury in their system than what is healthy. The testing took place at a reputable medical facility and the chelation therapy to remove the mercury is being done by credentialed clinicians. This course of treatment may bring about great relief for the children and perhaps lessen some of the more troubling symptoms of autism. If nothing else, mercury is a dangerous heavy metal that can do real damage to a persons health.

I also read of a similar, but tragic, example of a parent who heard about chelation therapy as a way to cure autism. This parent's child died as a result of chelation therapy which can be dangerous if not administered correctly.

Now, since this is my blog, is when I wade in with my strongly held opinion. Never try to cure Autism or Asperger. Instead work toward helping your child grow into being a healthy person who has a purpose and direction in life.

I encourage every parent of a child who is in the Autism spectrum to get a blood test that would determine food intolerance, and a blood test that would determine mercury levels. Then, for the health of your child, deal with those issues that the tests identify.

If you find a Medical Doctor who is experienced in treating individuals in the Autism spectrum, investigate testing that would reveal vitamin difficiencies that often are present in people in the spectrum. Or discuss enzym therapy that will aid in the body absorbing key nutrients more effectively.

I hear of parents who throw money at Autism by buying into every suggestion immediately. They are desparate for the magic button that will fix their child. Parents, grow up. Your child is a freak. They will be weird no matter what you do.

Actually, if you spend all that time and energy trying to everything to fix your kid, they really will become some kind of lab rat. Instead, take a breather, and set aside time to enjoy life and enjoy the child that God has given you. Teach your children to enjoy who they are even while they enage life long learning and continually strive to improve who they are.

Isn't that a better way to live?

Adam
P.S. Don't be offended that I said your kid is a freak. I'm a freak, nerd, weirdo, whatever you want to call me. I've been called all of that and more. Those voices have lived in my head since high school and I'm only now learning how to come to terms with them. With my children (both Aspies), I have actively taught them that they are Aspie. I've also taught them to celebrate who they are and to work at growing beyond who they are. Besides that, the normal people may get to be the star athlete or cheerleader in highschool, but the freeks get to grow up and be Bill Gates, Albert Einsein, Ludwig Van Beethoven, or James Taylor. I'ld rather be a freek.

For more on famouse fictional and non-fictional individuals with Autistic like characteristics go to http://www.geocities.com/richardg_uk/famousac.html

Nov 10, 2007

Too Many Voices

My wife and I took my daughter to a recital event at Western Michigan University's Dalton Center. It brought back vaugly uneasy memories from my one semester there. I couldn't place why. I've been back there for other events on occassion since my one semester as a student some 13 years ago.

We took Maryellen to the practice rooms, and then it finally hit me. The supposed sound proof practice rooms emitted numerous light melodies. I sat in the hall waiting for Maryellen to be done warming up, and then I couldn't take it any more.

They aren't just sounds. Music speaks to me. Isn't it supposed to? Furthermore, as an Aspie, I look for the pattern and without trying begin trying to identify what it is and what it means. With multiple sounds clamoring in my brain, it's like being attacked by an army of monsters all clawing for my attention.

I excused myself and left Maryellen in the care of my wife.

I remember when I was at Western as a student practicing my voice there that the cacophany of music agitated me so that I threw a music stand against a wall.

I need to remember to carry my earplugs with me all the time.

Adam

Nov 7, 2007

My Trials and Tribulations

This is when Asperger seems really stupid. Maybe its not Asperger, maybe I'm just weird or something, but I hate flossing my teeth. It's quite disturbing to thrust a small rope between my teeth. I used to wrap the floss around my fingers so that I could hold on to it, and that was bothersome as well.

I started using one of these flossing things that has a handle, but I got stubborn and refused to do any more flossing. Last night I finally started flossing again. Ofcourse my gums bleed. That realy was not positive reinforcement, butI'm going to try and keep it up.

Flossing just doesn't feel right.

Adam

Oct 24, 2007

The Autistic Therapist

The attached video profiles a therapist who has had success treating Autistic children. The therapist herself is Autistic. It's interesting.

Adam

video

Oct 23, 2007

Stealling My Words Away

Words are friends. I love books. I love words. When people talk to me, I often can see the words they are saying. I have to work at not commenting on small nuances of what they are saying. I hear them speak and hear the letters or phonemes they are mispronouncing or omitting from the dialect.

With all of that, it is often quite difficult to wright a document or post to the blog. I almost feel violated after I'm done. It's like I gave away something that was mine or showed to something naked.

There are times when I write that when I'm done, I can't figure out how I wrote it. The same is true for painting. I finish a painting, I like it, then I think, "I couldn't have done that. How did I actually do that."

I believe that is because in order to be creative I must tap into a part of my brain that is not as structured or orderly. Then once I've created something, I can't seem to retrace well defined steps for how I got there.

At work I agree to write documents that conceptually I know I can write, but the document itself scares me. I think, how can I do that? Do I really know how to do that? I probe around in my head for clear evidence that I know how to do it, but it's creative I guess, so I can't see it.

This is weird, and I don't understand it.

Adam

Oct 16, 2007

Moving Beyond

It's interesting, I feel like I'm moving past Asperger Syndrome.

I'm not saying that I've cured it, but that I'm comming to accept myself as me. I'm accepting my Asperger generated atributes as just who I am, and that's o.k.

I still think about Asperger a lot, and am still comming to terms with it, but it defines who I am less and less. My faith and values are becoming a greater defining characteristic for me than my limitations.

It's a curious, but enjoyable process.

Adam

Oct 2, 2007

Just Sleap On It

Last week, Marge and I presented our mission work to two groups in Kalamazoo, and spent the weekend in Detroit doing the same.

Monday, I had some difficulty knowing what to do with myself. I just felt out of phase with whatever my schedule should be. I purposely didn't do anything productive. I took a nap, read some comic books that my son got from the library, and went to bed early. Actually, the whole family turned in early.

I feel a little more on keel today.

There is value, for anyone, but especially for Aspies, to know when it's just time to do nothing, and then go to bed. Down time is critical to adjusting to a changing or active schedule. While in Detroit, Sunday morning, I got up earlier than I needed to so that I could stretch and then have a time of quiet Bible reading/study. That was so helpful. While driving to and from Detroit, there were times when I just didn't talk at all. My son read quietly and Marge napped. I listened to music or talk radio.

So, even when your schedule is very active, you can build in quiet down time activities that help you stay "in frame". Otherwise, we start feeling overloaded, and we can start feeling disassociated from ourselves.

I call it "out of the frame". Sometimes I feel like I'm there, but not part of where I am. Like I'm in a movie, but just got bumped out of the "frame" of the picture. I think that it is do to an overload in the part of our brains that does the emotional processing. We need more time to integrate what things mean and where they fit in our frame of reference.

Take the time that you need. It's so easy as an adult to feel compelled to be "productive", but often the best thing to do is to do nothing. Go for a walk, a swim, paint a picture. Some people love to golf, because it helps them refocus. Look for the thing that helps you and commit regular time to it. Make it a priority.

Being stressed out can hurt your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Adam

Sep 16, 2007

Gun fights, and sword fights Part II

The is an article the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry profiling the violent behavior of a 20 Aspie guy toward his girlfriend. Below is the abstract:

----------------
Asperger's Syndrome is assumed to be closely related to autism. A case of a 21-yr-old man with Asperger's Syndrome who is frequently violent to his 71-yr-old girlfriend is presented. According to a social-cognitive model of autism, this man is predicted to be markedly impoverished in his appreciation of his victim's thoughts and feelings. Interview-based assessments confirm this deficit, and this is discussed as an important factor in the maintenance of his violence.
-----------------

That has to be a misprint. Right? 50 years seems to be a stretch for a romantic relationship.

Then I went to WrongPlanet.com and found a series of posts. Some one asked the question, "Did you ever do anything particularly violent as a child?" Well, there were a string of responses. The common thread used to be an almost clinical lack of empathy or feeling toward the "victim".

If I look back into my own youth and childhood I can see a few times when I did somethings without any thought for the feelings of others. During a game of tag with my nephews I was giving chase. It was one of those games where you had to capture members of the other team or something. We owned a small farm. I think that I was about 14 or 15 and my nephew was probably about 10. He was just a little faster than me. I was having a hard time gaining on him and just couldn't reach him. This all happened in seconds, but I reviewed my options, and realised that the best way to tag him was to make him stop. To do that I lunged forward and firmly stepped on his heal. He fell face forward onto the ground.

Immediately, I realised that doing such a thing, while practical, would engender the condemnation of him and those I cared about, so I told him I was sorry and that it was a mistake.

So, Aspie friends, what is the lesson you can learn from my mistakes? We have to live our lives on principal. That's why understanding what you believe about God, morals, etc (faith), and what is important (values) is so important. As an adult my urges must flow through my faith and values principal filter before I act them out. I am not always successful at this, but I am striving for it, because some one I care about deeply is pleased when I try my best.

I believe that some one is Jesus Christ. He is pleased when we try to emulate Him, and when we try to do what is right. I believe that He is pleased with us even when we try and fail. So, I've really been striving to live out my beliefs. It has made a marked difference in the way I live and the choices I make.

Adam

Aug 21, 2007

Gun fights, and sword fights Part I

A person who is an Aspie asked me if I ever think about violence.

When don't I? That sounds bad, doesn't it? In my opinion, we Aspies are "What If?" machines. What if some one jumped out of the bushes and tried to attack me? What if a gun man broke into my home and threatened my children?

Last Friday some guy jumped out of the bushes about two blocks from my home and snatched a girl. They found her later that day, but I don't believe that they have found the perpetrator. All I could think about that day is what if some one snatched my child? There where many scenarios in my head and none of them where kindly.

Our minds work in three dimensions, and in graphic detail. In a job, that can be an excellent asset as an Aspie mind can actually picture something happening and look for problems. I crashed on my bike once because the pavement was slick. I strained my wrist. So after that most of the time as I'm riding I was playing crash/fall scenarios over and over in my head.

The second time I crashed was by hitting a section of pavement that was under construction, but this time the scenario played back. I analyzed and executed and only got banged up a little. Later that summer, I accidentally ran straight into a curb, this time I executed an exaggerated curving roll into the crash and ended it up by jumping into a standing position.

The incessant what if scenarios in my head, helped me prepare for a crash and avoid getting hurt.

So, the "what if" thinking happens a lot. Sometimes it has to do with war fare and violence.

It can become an obsession, and it can get me down, but it can also be a tool.

Adam

Aug 9, 2007

Wine or Shine

I was riding my bike to work this morning. When the storm system go through, I get extra aches and pains. I have a mild case of Fibromialgia. I'm starting to wonder if that goes hand in hand with the Autism Spectrum.

Because of my over aroused sensory system when I was riding past a sprinkler system that was misting some ones lawn, each drop that shot at me hurt a little. Of course then it began to rain and I was just wet all over. The rain was nice and warm though.

I don't like being wet.

I shouldn't have to ride in the rain.

No one else I know has to ride in the rain.

Those were some of my thoughts. That's when I decided to do some serious self talk. You see, some of the people I admire accomplished great things for the societies around them with less resources than they needed and with obstacles and difficulties at the same time. The didn't wine about it (at least not in the books they wrote).

Instead their attitudes and actions made them stand out from the crowd. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned in 1943 because he helped fund the escape of Jews from Germany. He was executed in 1945 after he was traced back to a plot to overthrow Hitler. Bonhoeffer never let his circumstances define who he was, and he took solace in the truth that true freedom (i.e. inner freedom that comes from trusting Christ) can never be taken. Inner freedom can not be taken away by other people or even by death. He decided to SHINE instead of WINE.

He must of had bad days, painful days, days when he had nothing good to say to anyone. Everyone has those days. Don't you think there were days when he was mad at God for his circumstances? Those, however, where the exceptions. The general flow and direction of his life was to affirm and act upon the basis of His Christian principals and inner freedom.

I have other heros that I could write about later. I have to admit, I have yet to read any of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's books. I know the basic outline of his life and some of his most famous quotes. Initially I've been afraid to read his books, because I think they will force me to a new level of living. A level at which I want to live. Changing levels is always painful.

Now, with missions prep, I have limited time for reading since I have quite a bit of assigned reading. You'll know if I'm reading one of his books or a book about him. His best known work is "The Cost of Discipleship". You'll know if I'm reading it, because I'll have to tell you about it.

Anyway, back to shining.

Being wet is a temporary situation. So is everything in life, including life itself. It is our soul/spirit that is eternal. Eternity is huge in comparison to the hundred or so years we will live in this life, so even the worst trial in this life can be considered a momentary affliction when placed in view of eternity.

So, my fellow Aspies, what areas can we learn to endure and move on. How often are we trapped by our condition, unwilling to extend into areas of discomfort. Maybe it's time we strive against the odds and against our circumstances and push past into areas that make us uncomfortable. I think it's time that we try that thing that scares us. Or try a little bit of it.

And while we are trying it look for better and more effective ways to deal with the stress, but don't run from the stress of trying new and uncomfortable things. Endure and move forward in life, since the pain is only a momentary reality.

Adam

Aug 7, 2007

Aspies Inc. Blog

I want to find out more about my readers, by using a series of polls. Look on the side panel of this blog for the first one. These will be simple anonymous polls, that will give me an idea of how often readers are checking for new content, and what other kinds of events or information will be helpful to you.

As always if you have questions or comments, click on the comments link at the end of any of the posts. I get an e-mail whenever a comment is posted and will post a response either in that same comment section or within the body of another post.

I want to make sure this blog is useful to those that are reading it, so my first poll is intended to find out how often readers check in to look for new posts. In the past I've thought about locating other writers so that there is more posts and greater variety. I keep a journal too, becuase writing helps me keep my emotional and intelectual sense of balance. Well, one day I just started writing a fictional story that contained elements of my life in it. It allowed me to document thoughts and reactions that I've had to life without trying to acurately record real events. It also lets me interact with my thoughts and feelings in a creative way.

I wrote one chapter and then misplaced my journal. My wife found my journal in a suitcase so when I have some freetime, the next chapter is in my head. I'm wondering if I should try my story out on you'll here in this blog or just start it up in a different blog. It's the type of thing for which I might go three months without any posts and then post something 10 days in a row.

It might be more interesting to have two or three other Aspies writing here in this blog. Multiple perspectives may generate a more useful blog.

Anyway, as you are reading this post, please help me by completing the poll on the right side of the screen. Also post any comments or suggestions to the blog. If it doesn't make sense how to do that, please feel free to e-mail me at adam@parmenterclan.com.

I want to make Aspies, Inc as useful as possible.

Adam

Aug 2, 2007

What should I say?

There are so many times, when not talking (i.e. holding my tongue) is best for everybody. I was in a meeting at work and a coworker kept interrupting me. This individual dominated the meeting. Any question asked the answer came from this person. Every time I tried to ask a question or make a comment, I got cut off. This individual has handed in a resignation, and will be leaving in about a week. It's said that quite a few people were happy this person resigned.

I kept reminding myself that God made this person and I therefore must treat this individual with value and respect. I could not determine how it could benefit anyone or anything other than to let of some irritation. So I held my tongue. I didn't say all the stuff that I could have justifiably said.

In the end this person would have written me off as inferior, and would have moved on, but I would have been viewed as a hot-head.

What is the lesson for Aspies. Let everything you say be carefully considered before you speak. Be certain that you are speaking for the benefit of others or to enjoy a relational conversation. If what you are saying is spoken in anger, retribution, or just because you have the information in your head, keep it to yourself.

I'm not always successful, but that's what I did today.

Adam

Jul 24, 2007

Thimerisol and President Bush

"Bush Set To Veto HHS-Labor-Education Appropriations Bill Due To Provision To Remove Mercury From Infant Vaccines"

I didn't know that the flu vacine may contain Thimerisol. Click on the link above to read the entire article on the Bill the president is set to veto.

Also, take note that some flu vacines do not contain Thimerisol. Thimerisol is a mercury based preservative used in some vacines. A panel at the FDA found Thimerisol to be toxic in 1982. Some claim that Thimerisol is a contributing factor in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Mercury may or may not have a link to ASD, but Mercury is just a bad thing to be putting into our bodies. This fall when you consider getting the flue vacine, ask your physician or health department what brand they use, and if it contains Thimerisol.

The following do NOT contain no mercury or Thimerisol:

Fluarix® from GlaxoSmithKline (contains no mercury)
FluMist® MedImmune (contains no mercury)
Fluzone® Sanofi Pasteur - *request mercury-free version. The Fluzone prefilled syringe contains no mercury, but the Fluzone 5ml vial contains mercury.

Fluvirin® is made by Novartis vacines and it seems to also be made by Chiron which, I think, is owned by Novartis. It's the largest selling vacine in the world. It contains some Thimerisol, but I'm not sure how much.

Adam

Jul 11, 2007

Aspie in Missions?

So, I'm sitting at the head quarters for Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). We are in Candidate Seminar.

If we successfully complete this seminar, then we will be appointed as ABWE missionaries.

I won't get much opportunity to post to this blog until after 23-July. But in the mean time, you can check my missions blog at http://journey2missions.blogspot.com/

Jul 4, 2007

Autism Gene Breakthrough Hailed

Autism Gene Breakthrough Hailed

Click the link above for the full article.

"Chromosome 11 was identified as one of the culprits Scientists have found new autism genes by scanning the largest collection of families with multiple cases of autism ever assembled."

This is one more indication that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are hereditery and not caused by mercury or bad prenatal vitamins or some such. It does not indicate anything about people in the spectrum being extra sensative to environmental factors such as mercury, etc.

Experience and research already indicates that those of us in the spectrum have extra sensativities to diet, chemicals, smells, etc. So, it seems likely that our condition could be exaserbated, while not caused, by external factors. By the same token it seems likely that bothersome symptoms could be controlled by elimination or supplements.

Adam

Jun 27, 2007

Aspie Traveler Survival Kit - Ear Plugs


Ear Plugs

These are little foam plugs. You roll them in your fingers so that they become thin, insert them in your ears and they expand blocking out some, but not all of the sound around you.

They block out much but not all of the high and mid range frequencies of sound, and don't do much for the low frequencies. The very low frequencies are more felt than heard anyway.

I use the Hearos earplugs ($2 a pack) because they are flesh tone and less noticeable. When I travel I just carry a pair in my pocket and casually pop them in when I need them. There are times I'll just pop one in one ear. Anything to help filter out found that is becoming overwhelming.

I spoke with a coworker that purchased sound isolating headphones. For a $100 plus a pair, make sure that you really do your homework and don't just take Dr. Bose word for it. Apparently the BOSE headphones really block out sound and surround the ear nicely.

The question is when you travel do you need something to completely isolate all sound (if possible) or just to cut back. The foam earplugs block out sound, but I can still hear what people are saying, and even speak. Speaking is something of a challenge, because I can't be sure how loud I am. Turns out that when I have them in I talk more quietly.

Frankly, when I travel, even if things aren't loud, they and the sun glasses cut back on the amount of data to sort in my brain, and I often just leave them in the whole time I travel.

I do NOT recommend wearing them if you are driving the car. You need to be able to hear everything in order to drive a car safely.

Adam

Jun 21, 2007

Magnesium and B6 Supplements May Help

Well,

I've noticed that a Magnesium supplement seems to help me. I have no medical or clinical training, so I wasn't sure if what I was experiencing was legitimate or just the placebo effect.

I recently was able to find some research that would indicate that I'm on the right track.

Click this link for the full article.

Give it a read. It's a little hard to understand all of it, but it's good to give it a try. Curious if anyone has had any experience or found any science to back up or explain the clain that Magnesium and B6 is helpful for Aspies?

Adam

Jun 20, 2007

That was interesting. . .

Well, this morning I packed up my hand outs and things that I wanted to show, hoisted a 15 pound backpack, and rode my bicycle to work. After work I got on my bike and rode to the D&W for the Aspies Inc Coffee, arriving 30 min. early. I hunted around for what looked like a meeting room, and then went to the service desk. I was told that it wasn't really a meeting room, it was just an open area on the second floor with tables and chairs.

So, I got myself set up and then sat there. Luckily I had all the supplies from my Aspie Traveler Survival Kit to help me pass the time. I had the hand outs set out on the table in hopes that it would make me a little more obvious. At 7pm I walked down the stairs to see if anyone was sitting down there. At 7:40 I packed up, hoisted my back pack and pedaled for home.

I was disapointed and discouraged at first, but prayer has a way of easing those things. It's good not to be controlled by circumstances, and I was really starting to get worked up. So, gave it over to God and could feel the frustration sort of melt away.

So, in the process I got some great bike riding in too.

Adam

Jun 17, 2007

Aspies Inc - Coffee Club 20-June-2007

Join me on Wednesday 20-June-2007 from 7pm to 9pm at the D&W second story meeting room for an informal evening of conversation.

D&W Grocery Store (yes they actually have a meeting room)
525 Romence, Portage, MI
Phone 269-329-3202

The event is free. If you want coffee or snacks, there is a Starbucks kiosk in the store and, well, it's a grocery store, buy whatever you want to eat.

O.K. you Aspies, before you panic about having to chit chat, it aint like that.

Cool, I ryhmed.

I'm going to talk for about 15 min. I think I'll be bringing the Aspie Traveler Survival Kit to show everyone. Then we'll just have a guided discussion. What we discuss will depend on who is there. Some one might say, "Did you guys ever have to deal with bullies?". Maybe you have figured out a great way to deal with teasing, or some excellent way to relax when you are over stimmed.

This evening is openning to anyone in the spectrum from High Functioning Autism, to Asperger Syndrome to all you PDD NOS types. Parents and care givers who have questions about living life in the spectrum are also welcome, but the Aspies get to talk first (just kidding).

Ground Rules:

  1. No put downs. You can question what some one says, but you can't say it is stupid (or anything like that).
  2. No profanities.
  3. Ask at least one question before you make a statement. Ask questions that will help you understand what some one is saying.
  4. No sales. If you have something you are selling, save it for afterward. Talking about your business and trying to get us to buy your stuff, does not count as sharing or conversing.
  5. Excercise the power of pass. If some one asks you a question, you don't have to answer it. This isn't school. Just say pass.
  6. Be honest. Speak you mind.
  7. While your speaking your mind, be careful to phrase your statements with kindness to others feelings.
  8. The leader has the right to change the subject at any time.

May 31, 2007

Emma and Elaine

A young girl posted a comment to one of my recent posts on bullying:


"Yes i get bullied. Bullying makes me feel sad. I don't want to have autism anymore. My mommy tells me that is what makes me special."


"ps: hi i am emma's mom and she is telling me that she doesn't want autism anymore and i am wondering if you can help her with some advice.thanks,emma and elaine"



I want to help in anyway that I can, but I need to understand more about what is happening.


I do want to restate that I'm not a clinician, not a DR., nor a therapist of any kind. I'm just a Christian Aspie from Kalamazoo, Michigan. That said, perhaps we can think this through together and help Emma find a solution that works for her.


So, please post in the comment section to this blog posting. Please tell me your story of what happens. My belief is that in bullying situations it's often the same people doing the same things over and over.

Nothing is ever exactly the same every time, but I bet it might be mostly the same each time.

So, please tell me
  • Who and how many (you don't have to use names). Boy or girl?
  • Where - Does it happen most at school? If so where in the school. Does it happen in your neighborhood?, then where in your neighborhood. At the shopping mall?
  • Who else - Who else is there witnessing this. I mean non-bullies. Are you with your friends, teachers, other adults, or is there hardly any one else around.
  • The Script - Movies and plays have a script so that the actors know what to say. The bullies might not say exactly the same thing each time, but what do they say most often? What do you usually say or do in response. It will help if you can make it like into a play with dialogue and actions. The play could be called, "The Typical Bullying Thing".

This is the first step in the process of stopping the bullying. I call this step IDENTIFY AND OWN. I've heard over and over, and it's true also for me, that we Aspies feel comforted when we can write down things and feelings. Also, the bully or bullies have you believing that they have power over you. By writing down all the Who, where, who else, and the script it will help you to have power over the situation.

Emma, your greatest power is not unkind actions like pushing, grabbing, or fists. Nor is your power in unkind words. Those are things that bullies use. Bullies use unkind actions and words, because they are week and sad.

The truth is, Emma, that your mommy is right. You are special. Autism does give you some special things. Some very smart and talented people have Asperger Syndrome or Autism. Autism/Asperger is a real hastle sometimes and I have days that having it makes me feel sad or angry, but it is who I am, and having it gives me some special ways of thinking that others might not have.

What makes you really really special is something that makes every person special and unique. I believe that every human being (even bullies) where made by God. I believe that God is the most special of all. I believe He is very creative, wise, and beautiful. God is like the most wondrous artist of all, and Emma, he made you. That means you are special, wondrous, and beautiful. God would never make a mistake or make something ugly.

I'm sad to say that the bullies are not acting like one of God's creation nor are they treating you like one of God's creation. Somewhere inside those bullies there is something special too, but over time they have covered the beautiful parts of who they are with lots of ugly and dark parts. I don't know if there is anything you can say that will stop them from being bullies. What you can do, is help them stop bullying you. That is good for you and them both.

So, please tell me the stuff I asked for above, and I'll try and help you. I tried this on my son, and it helped him.

Adam

May 25, 2007

Calmer@Work

Sitting in a meeting at work 11:30am

Funny, but I'm sitting in a meeting, and I'm feeling fairly focused and quite calm. It's not a very interesting meeting, but it's important. Normally, I would be so stirred up that I would need to blog, check e-mail, and surf the net in order to keep myself calm. Right now I'm jotting this idea down on paper so that I won't forget it later. Otherwise my mind is at rest.

Later

I'm not sure the cause. I've made some major changes to my diet. I've also been riding my bicycle to work more, and have been wearing ankle weights at home. The ankle weights are something I'm trying. They actually have a calming effect. I've also been praying a lot and been spending more time reading and thinking about the Bible.

There is clearly more stress in my life with preparations for a trip to Eastern Europe, but I am feeling better than I have in quite some time.

May 22, 2007

No Link Found Between Autism And Thimerosal In Vaccines

"The increase in the number of diagnosed cases of autism in recent years has sparked concern that environmental toxins may cause this complex disorder. However, a new University of Missouri-Columbia study concludes that exposure to Rh immune globulin preserved with mercury-containing thimerosal before birth was no higher for children with autism. "


"The study - 'Lack of Association Between Rh Status, Rh Immune Globulin in Pregnancy and Autism' - was published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics."


Quoted from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=71209


So, what does this mean? I think that it means that there is no way to prevent autism by removing a something from your environment. Mercury is toxic and just all around bad, but not necessarily the cause of Autism/Asperger. Ofcourse, I don't think this one study will or sould put this topic to rest.

In my experience there are environmental factors that contribute to and exacerbate symptoms of Asperger/Autism. It's important to understand how and to what extent diet, toxins, etc impact Asperger/Autism and how changes can be brought to bear in the life of individuals to ease some of the distressing symptomology.


That said, my pet theory is that Asperger/Autism is primarily genetic, which means in the absence of some high tech gene treatment, you are what you are. I don't know if I want there to be an absolute cure for ASD. It is so much bound up in who I am. Perhaps what's more important is what does having ASD mean about who you are? Are you o.k. with this label? If you are a parent or care giver, what message are you sending your child? Are you willing to accept the way they are and help them live a full and healthy life?

If there can be not cure, can you still live a meaningful life? That's really what's most important.

Adam

Fibromyalgia - Asperger/Autism Connection?

Aryeh Abeles, MD and other contributing doctors have authored research recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study put forth the notion that Fibromyalgia sufferers have a lower pain threshold.

Maybe it's better to sayt that they have a greater sensativity to everything. Maybe Fibromyalgia sufferers sensory defensive.



Having recenly been reading the book "Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World", I started wondering if there is a connection between the overstimulated state of our Aspie brains and the existance of chronic pain.

I wonder if Aspies have more occurance of Fibromyalgia and other similar conditions?

This is a very short post. Just posing the question, curious of what anyone else is thinking.

Adam

May 17, 2007

Durable Pets, Weighted Vests, and Trampolines

I saw Jerry Newport speak once. He has a great book called You Are Not A Label. In his presentation he talks a lot about getting durable pets for people in the Autism Spectrum. He means a dog or some pet that can endure/enjoy being hugged and squeezed.

I don't remember if he discusses the background behind why that might help, or if he helps people decide what will help their child. I wonder how many parents and care givers are stuck in the "fix my child" mode, without coming to terms with what they are trying to accomplish? I wonder how many people misunderstood Jerry's point and ran out to buy a dog for their child.

Others are trying to find out if I've tried weighted vests or if I've bought a trampoline yet.

If I were to pose the question of, what values are behind your decision to purchase a dog or trampoline, the person might reply with, "I'm just trying to help my child!"

That response or one like it is unacceptable anywhere else you know.

At a restaurant,
Waiter: May I take your order?
Diner: I want dinner. That's all I want.
Waiter: Please, be more specific about what it is you want for your meal.
Diner: "I just want dinner!"

With a realtor,
Realtor: What are you looking for in a home?
Home Buyer: Look, I just am trying to find a home o.k.? Just get me a home I can buy!"

Auto Mechanic: What specifically seems to be wrong with your car?
Customer: "Look, I just want to fix my car!"

My wife and I have considered numerous treatments and therapies for our children and have taken advantage of very few. Our primary intervention has been at home, and what we teach them about our faith and values (identity). What treatments or therapies we choose are based on thoughtful consideration. What we choose would be different based on our child's age, but at the fore front of our thinking is our child as a person, and what will enrich his/her life as a person (identity).

Just a thought.

One final note. I am going to buy leg weights this weekend. I plan on wearing them all day. It may help me feel more grounded as the weights will trigger nerve endings in the joints. If you can come to the Aspies Inc. coffee 20-June-2007 I'll let you know how it is working. I have been doing some other exercises and notice some small improvement in tension. ''

Later,

Adam

Do Aspies Need Faith?

O.K., here's what I hear when parents and care givers get together:

Have you tried vitamins?
I hear vestibular stimulation can cure some!
Have you tried rolling on a medicine ball?
You should send your child for chelation!

Upon receiving the diagnosis parents and care givers switch into panic mode, and jump at things to cure or nearly cure their children. At worst they are engaging in action without direction. At best they are engaging in action that has short sited direction.

Unless our plans/actions are based on some kind of purpose and values we are going to be often frustrated and may even harmful. This might irk a parent or care giver who could respond by saying, "I just want what's best for my child!"

I would say something nice, but inside I would think, "No, you are trying to fix your kid. You are panicked that your child is disabled, and you can't deal with it." So, like all good Americans we just do more, instead of going back to the values position of our live's before planing what to do.

If you saw my talk on Four Square Life Planning you'll know what I'm getting at.

This is especially important for Aspies and others whose disabilities tend toward impulsiveness. Please read this very carefully: My faith and my identity (translation: values) saved my life. They were the reason I never committed suicide.

So, you've just received a diagnosis of Asperger or ADD or OCD or you-name-it, and you are panicked. You might not call it panic, but it is (at least a little). You may also feel anger. Those are normal reactions. Panic and anger are secondary emotions. They typically mask other more troubling feelings such as helplessness and guilt. Panic and anger will shift and change over time and they are looking for a quick fix. If you follow them, you will be looking for a quick fix.

What your Aspie child needs is for you to help them form a solid foundation in their lives that they can rely on for every decision. They need to be able to turn to something in every situation. So, what are they learning?

If things aren't working do more things to fix it.

That's what we do in America. What ultimately saved me is a solid faith/values framework in my mind that created important boundaries and guides to my actions and direction. I messed up a lot in life, but never completely violated the guiding principals that my parents instilled in me as a youth.

What do people with Asperger need? All the different therapies are good, but more than that we Aspies need a framework in which to live our lives. We need that structure so that we can understand what is right, wrong and preferential. We need a framework to guide our thinking so that we can make decisions about what is a valuable direction for our lives and what is not.

The principals on which I've based my life have changed very little. Often I have done a poor job of living by them, but they have gravity like the sun and pull me back toward them. How? I believe them to be true, and they were deeply embedded in me as a child.

The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." A closer examination of the original language reveals that the passage is not saying that the child won't violate or ignore the way he/she was trained, but the child will never depart from it. Regardless of what decisions I've made in life, the principals instilled in me as a child have never left me, and have drawn me toward them.

My parents began instilling these principals in me from the moment they could talk to me. At the age of four I made a faith decision to be a follower of Christ. I'm an Aspie, I probably could have done it age three.

I'm not sure how to end this one.

Maybe this. It is important to understand Asperger Syndrome and the various therapies that will help your child, but far more important is to understand your own faith and values and to clarify those or teach those to your child. If your child is old enough then the exercise is to help your child clarify them for himself/herself.

Faith and values will outlast any therapies and will sustain your child through the worst "hell" they may experience.

Adam

May 16, 2007

Bully, Repeat, Bully, Repeat, Bully, Repeat

I was bullied a fair amount when I was a child. As I think back over the years I think that i see a pattern. I'm 42 now and being bullied at ages 9 or 12 was a long time ago. That said, I think that Bullies tend to elicit the same behaviors over and over, because they enjoy the same response in their victim.

A group of older boys and girls would corner me when they saw me on the street and tell me say, "Adam, you are a jail bird. We are going to send you to jail." I would end up in tears by the time it was all done. They thought it was funny.

Have you ever teased the family cat? Or perhaps your cat likes to fight with you. Maybe you wiggle your fingers around in front of the cat's face and it attacks your hand. It's fun, so you wiggle your hands the same way each time hoping for the same response from the cat. The more you get the response you want and as long as that response is enjoyable, you feel a stronger motivation to repeat the behavior.

Ever get bullied? It's like you are like the cat in a way. The goofy thing is that your tormentors aren't bright enough to think through anything new or creative. Instead they expend their energies on the same behaviors that give them the response that they enjoy.

If you are getting bullied, it is important that you write down everything you remember about getting bullied. Look for a pattern of behavior that repeats itself. Look for location, environment, external events, personal roles present, time/event . . . see if you can identify what bullying events have in common. I think that you will see a number of things that are the same over and over.

If you can identify that and then document it in a journal, PowerPoint or even scrap paper, you will be in a position to gain power over the situation.

My disclaimer is that when I was getting bullied, I never followed this advice. The bullies had dominion and control over me. As an adult, having studied process improvement and quality management techniques, I'm starting to get some ideas. So, I have no personal success stories, but I think my ideas are based on universal techniques.

Let me know what you think.

Adam

May 10, 2007

Bullies

I've been trying to think of how I would handles bullies if I could do it all over again.

A parent was asking me how his child should deal with bullies. I was at a loss in a way, but then I had some ideas on the way home.

A bully is an abuser, just like a man who beats his wife or a guy stalking a single woman. There are patterns of behavior that can be isolated and examined. I believe that his process will work for most any age (with modifications).

Let's start out in the bully's mind. What are the bully's general objective. I believe that there are three:

Isolate (this is key)
Dominate
Control

The bully must remove you from any kind of support system (isolate) so that they can seem more powerful than you (dominate), and then determine you actions (control). This gives them a sense of being powerful, when actually they are pathetic and deserve your mercy. If you really could find out everything about the bully, you might find that they are bullied by their parents or something.

That doesn't matter right away though. What matters at first is making it stop.

Here's what came to my mind:
  1. Identify and categorize the event(s)
  2. Own the event
  3. Brain storm alternatives
  4. Pick a solution
  5. Own the solution

1. Identify and categorize
When you have interactions with a bully they probably happen the same way every time or maybe there are two or three different scenarios that take place. Think about it. Right down or talk through what happens when you are bullied. Treat it like it is a play or movie.

Scene 1: Where does it take place. Who is there. What do they say. What do they do with their bodies and tone of voice. What do you do and say? Go for as much detail as you can.

Is there a scene 2 or 3? Do the same.

Now you are no longer isolated with the monster. Now the vague amorphous blob of bullying has been reduced down to the repetitive behavior that it is. It doesn't mean you've solved it, but it means that you can realise that you don't have 1,000 problems to solve, but the same problem over and over again. The bully is thriving because he provides you with a stimulus and gets the same response. It's like when you tease the cat, the cat reacts, you laugh. It's funny to you, so you do it again. You don't do something different. You want the same reaction out of the cat, so you do the same thing again, and it's funny again.

The same holds true for bullying.

Most children could do this with assistance and guidance.

2. Own The Event
Use a video camera or make it into a play or reader theatre, and act it out. Your child must play the part of the victim and the bully. They should do it convincingly. I think this is called role playing. Obviously a teen or young adult will feel silly acting out a play, but they could do a read through. If they are playing the bully's part, they need to match the tone of voice and body language of the bully. They also need to teach you how to match their voice and body language when they are reacting.

It's important that your child make an effort to really play the part. This will help take away the bully's power. It will also help them understand and think through the situation.

3. Brain Storm Alternatives
Talk through different things that they could do. Don't put limits on this discussion, anything goes. If your child is hiding some rage and thoughts of violence, they should talk about it. You then react as if it's no big deal, and you talk about consequences and feelings of everyone. Chances are instead that your child will come up with some good and bad ideas of how they could react differently to the bully.

4. Pick A Solution
Pick one alternative that might work better. There is no right one. Just grab one that might work.

5. Model The Solution
Just like you did before, read through or play act the solution. Talk about how well it would work. How will the bully act? Will this help?

6.Score
Give the child a goal to do the solution three times in a row. If faced by the really bully situation that they have practiced for, and they use the solution they practice, that counts as a point. Three in a row and they get a prize. Then shoot for five in a row.

Each time you do this your child (or you) will internalise one way to break the bully (abusive) cycle.

Let me know if this helps.

When the bully sees that his/her old ways don' t work, the bully is going to try a new approach, so you have to start the process over, and come up with new solutions.

May 7, 2007

Finding My Voice - Part II

When I was a teen I remember getting out my dads oil paint set and trying my hand at painting a picture of our barn. I painted it on an inexpensive paper that was supposed to feel like canvas. I think the paper was meant more for pencil or charcoal drawings. My parents fraimed it and have it hanging up in their house to this day.

When I was 18 I went out and bought some pre-stretched canvases and did a couple of paintings. They were only partly representational. I enjoyed it. I also started writing song lyrics.

My point is, my paintings were o.k., and my song lyrics were quite bad, but they were the beginning. I still really like all of my paintings. There were no rules for me to follow, I would just pick a brush that seemed to be calling to me and then find a color that seemed right and do something. One time I just started swirling the paint in a circle (clockwise of course), until I had a mix of orange, red and burnt umber. The circle became the sun hanging low over a mud brick pueblo in the desert. Sorry to say that I gave that one to a girl friend with whom I eventually called it quits. Never got to see the painting again.

Typically now if I paint, I cover the whole canvas in a wash of a single color. I just loose myself in a swirl of red, blue, or green (let's here it for primary colors). I let that dry completely, then build the rest of the painting on top of that color base. I use fat course brush strokes, and a palate knife with big chunks of paint.

What's cool about it is that what is on my mind comes out as a theme in the painting that is difficult for me to articulate. The painting appears and I realise that there is something I'm saying. Something from deep within. I don't paint much at all any more, but when I do it's always revelatory.

My lyric writing skills improved when I got married, and also once I got together with a childhood friend of mine and we started trying to write music together.

Any kind of self expression is worth doing. There isn't really any definition of "good" or "bad" art when it comes to something you make for yourself. Just start doing something you enjoy. If you want to share your art with the public beyond family and friends, be ready for critique and some rejection. Take note also, that for every song I recorded with Sojourn, I wrote about 10 songs. That doesn't include the other songs that I started and tossed. That's o.k. It's o.k. to make bad poetry or crummy paintings, it's the only way to find your way to something meaningful inside.

You could also write a blog. Blog about anything you want! They're free. If you are an Aspie, parent/care giver of an Aspie and you start your own blog, once you have about 10 posts, let me know and I'll post a link to it in my blog. You have to tell me something about yourself, and not just send me a link.

Adam

Apr 27, 2007

I did it! I went out to lunch!

My department participated in a personality profile exercise that was intended to expose how each of us interact and work along with our personality strengths. It has been helpful for me as I try to understand the others in my department and their actions.

I've been studying the report on me and beginning to realize that I don't do chit chat and I avoid social gatherings with people from work. I don't go out on the team lunches. I quit doing them partly to save money, and because so few people would show up. But since our department was merged with another, the team lunches usually include eight or more people.

I also realized that social interactions do help others with whom I work. Also, if I am planning on changing careers and being a missionary, most of my work will be social interactions, so I decided to go on the team lunch.

I'd forgotten what an auditory assault a restaurant at lunch time can be. Wow. There is so much talking that it sounds like the roar of a mighty ocean or a giant water fall. I really had to focus in on what people's words so that I could catch what they were saying. Fortunately I sat next to a man and women that each had teen or pre-teen children heavily involved with sports. Soccer to be exact. That made it easy to make open ended questions in my mouth (I know that's improper English, but that is how it starts in my brain). I listened and asked clarifying questions about as much as I talked.

I have a new goal. It is to become a better communicator. I think that I have always been approachable and, at least, middle school age kids feel comfortable telling me anything. Social "outsiders" tend to approach me more readily then others, but I want to be a warm and welcoming person to whom people can speak even while I maintain a measure of control commensurate to the situation.

I know this will take time and conscious effort, but I've seen people do it. People that you just wanted to talk to, because you know they would listen to what you had to say without mocking or judging. Yet, those same people would guide the conversation so that you didn't "spew" for an hour. An Aspie can get going and "vent" for hours, sometimes without really saying anything. It isn't necessarily helpful or productive.

At other times I've been in productive meetings in which an individual controlled conversation in such a way that everyone had their say without any one person monopolizing the time. That same person kept the conversation on task and the meeting on schedule. He also did it quietly and confidently. He never seemed to have to yell or compel. He just was the leader. Now, he was the "official" leader, but I bet in informal settings this individual portrays a similar sense of leadership.

Such skills will be of great benefit to those around me regardless of where I work.

O.K., so back to lunch. It was fun to hear about other people's children. I enjoy that. The food was good, but I like what I bring in better than restaurant at lunch, and I also like to sit quietly and think at lunch. Yet, those around me seemed to enjoy the experience as a normal part of life.

I think that it is a good thing to do.

Adam

Apr 25, 2007

What do I do for my child?

Here is a question from an anonymous reader:

"I have a 8 year old son who has apergers. I am trying to avoid any anxiety in school years. Please give me some advise on helping him through. You mentioned that Christian High School was your salvation. Why? I would appreciate any suggestions on making friendships, school easier. Thanks."

Here is my disclaimer: I am not a trained clinician. Everything in this blog is just the uninformed opinion of an Aspie guy from Kalamazoo, MI.

I'd like to focus on one specific part of your question: "I am trying to avoid any anxiety in school years."

Take a step back and ask yourself, what are the points that cause my child anxiety? What I think is that there are two core sources of anxiety:
1. Sensory integration / sensory defensiveness
2. Social/Emotional awareness

To me dealing with the sensory issues will bring about so much relief. I'm just learning about that and realising that I'm under so much stress, frustration, and revulsion from sensory input that most people have no trouble dealing with. I must be one tough dude to be distressed this much of the time and still be fairly well balanced.

For the Asperger/Autism person, the world is a chaos of sensory input and they need help feeling grounded and calm. I just started reading a book called Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World. So far I like it a lot, because the author is explaining what happens in the brain, and how (from a brain chemistry perspective) the exercises she recommends help.

I think that for an eight year old the most important thing is to get some Occupational Therapy (OT)services if you can afford it or insurance covers it. Ask the OT if he/she is familiar with a technique called the "Wilbarger Brushing Protocol". A brief explanation of the technique is at this link. I have not had experience with the technique, but would vouch that deep pressure has helped me.

I sleep under a heavy blanket, and if I could get away with it at work, a weighted vest would be nice. Bike riding, rocking back and forth to music, and stretching are also helpful.

I think that you should also give diet some serious consideration. I think my changes in diet have helped me in various ways. A good place to start in learning about diet is a dull book called Special Diets for Special Kids. My wife owns it, has read it twice, and refers to it with some regularity. There is a sequel to Special Diets for Special Kids, Two, but I don't know what is different about it.

All of the book titles in this blogs are links directly to the books at Amazon.com. If you can't afford to purchase books, check with your local library to see if they have a process for you to request books. The Kalamazoo library has bought all of the books that I have requested (five so far).

This is a place to start. Start there, and let me know how it is going, what you are learning, what works and what doesn't.

In the mean time, start establishing some clear routines for your child. He/she may take some comfort in that. Also, look for an interest or skill at which they can excel and enjoy. It not only helps them with managing emotions, but it will give them a vehicle with which to enter social situations. My son plays trumpet quite well, and it has helped him build relationships in band. My daughter like to run, do crafts, and art.

Don't drive your child, but encourage their passions, and let them excel in an area that appeals to them. Not much money? Look for grants. We got a grant to help pay for trumpet lessons.

Adam

Stranger Than Fiction

My wife and I were about 20 min. into Stranger Than Fiction (Will Farrell, Emma Thompson, Robert DeNiro), and I turned to Marge and said, "This guy is an Aspie!" He counted everything, timed his days, all these charts and visuals where in his head, his coworkers asked him math problems that he did quickly in his head, and He had no idea how to ask a woman out on a date.

He didn't display any self stimming or ritual behavior so I don't suppose he could completely qualify, but he did have the zero affectation and obvious lack of emotional intelligence. It was fun to watch.

For me the most fun was him talking out loud to the person narrating his life. I thought that was hysterical. The sad thing is that, like most movies, boy meets girl, boy has sex with girl (because they like each other), boy and girl fall in love. According to the movies, television and popular culture, that is what is normal.

I suppose it is normal, but it isn't healthy, and it's not the right thing to do. Humans were designed by God to be monogamous, and to mate for life. The damage done by our promiscuous society is evident around us. Sexually transmitted diseases are only one small, but not minor, consequence. The family as a unit of society has degraded, and as a result society has suffered.

On the contrary, men and women who wait until they are married are seen as prudish and mentally repressed (at least in movies). I have seen exactly the opposite over and over again. I've seen couple after couple who waited until marriage, and go on to live very happily.

So, what does this have to do with Asperger? Well as much as I enjoyed the movie, it's a shame that part of the main characters "salvation" included the immoral behavior. The movie displayed his inner moral strength. That was a key to the movie's plot. What made him odd (or possibly Aspie) also was the key to his quiet dedication to doing what was right.

The main character is an IRS auditor. One of his coworkers jokes about busting a tax payer for evasion. The main character on the other hand never uses bravado or condescends to those he investigates. He has a gentleness and quietness about him. The same thing that makes him odd, is also what makes him a good person. It's too bad that he couldn't have risen to a new level of moral purity and found romance and love while pursuing sexual purity.

Oh, that's right, sin sells movie tickets.

I forgot. How Aspie of me.

Adam

Apr 18, 2007

Finding My Voice

I've found my voice, I think. It's been developing for some time, and It's been integrating into who I am over the last three years or so, but maybe even in the last year, I've fully come into who I am.

What is voice? I'm sure there are text books and paper backs full of discussion. I've taken some English courses in which the text book spends several chapters discussing exactly what communication is. I always liked that, but almost found it a little silly that some one would have to explain it. I always thought, "Can't we just do it instead of reading about it?"

At the same time I used to feel a sense of derision when an individual would speak of "looking" for themselves or say "I'm trying to find myself". It just seemed like so much fluffy mumbo jumbo. Or I remember in the Seventies, the middle aged father of four that would suddenly buy a Corvette, start leaving his shirt unbuttoned and wear lots of medallions. I think that's when mid-life crisis was coined as a term. I remember thinking, in the old days people didn't go through mid-life crisis, because they were to busy trying to survive. I used to really be afraid of mid-life crisis, because I wanted to always be a kind and faithful husband.

Well this isn't a mid-life crisis. Thankfully, because I can't afford to purchase a Yugo let alone a Corvette. My wife faithfully drives me to work each day and picks me up each night until it's warm enough for me to ride back and forth to work on my bicycle. I also think I should take back all my negative thoughts about "finding yourself", because obviously in finding my voice, I have found the means to know myself, and as a consequence know God and others around me in far deeper, richer, and satisfying way.

So what is voice? Well, I'm writing this part first, and haven't read anybody else's work on the topic. This all started as me being engaged to speak at a church academy series, and the title was provided for me.

My personal definition of voice is this:
The ability to express in either concrete or symbolic terms one's inner person, namely one's emotions, big ideas, reactions to the world around, and closely held beliefs. I have effectively "found" my voice when I can express myself to you in a way that is meaningful to us both, and allows you to reflect back to me using your own voice.

It what people mean when they say some one is expressing themselves. They are taking part of their inner person and hading it over to an person so that the other person can receive it, handle it and reflect it back to them. It involves an interaction between two.

The interaction might not be face-to-face even, but might be through the printed page. I'm convinced though that voice must involve some kind of revelation of the inner person and be received by at least one other person. I suppose a diary is the beginnings of that.

Good thing this is a blog and not a book that you've just purchased from a bookstore as I imagine I'll be thrashing ideas about in her for a while. I hope you enjoy it. Please jump in with any comments that you may have.

Apr 17, 2007

Upcomming Topics

I sort of fell of the writing band wagon for a week.

Below are some ideas that are bouncing around in my head. Let me know if you have any questions, ideas or comments in general. Also, if you would like me to post your experiences or comments as a "guest" writer I would be willing to consider them. Please send them to adam@parmenterclan.com.

Here is what I'm going to try writing about next:

Movie: Stranger Than Fiction. This guy has to be an Aspie. Why can't they wait until they're married.

Finding My Voice part II or III or who knows

SCHOOL EXPERIENCES
  • First Grade - How Was Your Trip? (The angry Mrs Clark, "Put him in special ed")
  • Second Grade - Spelling backwards and the frost method
  • Third Grade - Ms Paul - Pushing too hard on my pencil, failing advanced math because I was certain I would
  • Fourth Grade - Mr. Obrian - I almost never completed a homework assignment
  • Middle School - Becoming a loner, getting bullied for the first time
  • Junior High - School is a special kind of hell
  • Highschool - Grace Christian School. My salvation.
  • College years - Lost and wandering

Apr 2, 2007

Monk

I've been watching the detective/situation comedy show "Monk". At first I didn't find it funny, because it seemed to fit my world too closely. Actually Monk also reminded me of an extreme example of my son.

O.K. me too.

The difference is that Monk does all his OCD stuff. I do it in my head. I notice little things, and choose to just let them go.

I used to think that I didn't have enough self control. Stuff like that makes me realise that I've got lots of it. I crave order and the world around me seems to be wildly chaotic. There times when I am quite peaceful, but often I other must impose order upon the world around me or simply live with the chaos.

We Aspies need to understand that because of the way we are designed, much of the world around us will be annoying or excruciating and that we can only fix some of it. If we can't make our environment suite our needs we need to employ our mind to overcome the need.

It's taken me a long time to figure out how to do that, and I'm not sure how to explain it yet. Part of it has to do with the sense of being separate from my body. I've heard other Aspies speak of their brains as if it were separate from themselves. I often have that sense. Often feel as if I am a passenger in my body. I think that sensation has a neurological component that is part of sensory integration disorder.

I have "leveraged" that sensation that the "me" part of Adam is separate from the "body/brain" part of Adam, and learned how to step away from my brain. I call it filtering. I remove me from the part of my brain that is in anguish. Sense it is at arms length, I can endure it. For extreme situations it takes a great deal of discipline and energy, and sometimes it doesn't work.

It's an important skill that has helped me survive and grow.

Adam

Adam

Crunch Attack!

I was sitting at work trying to stay focused when the person in an ajoining cubicle starting loudly crunching celery or something. They were loud open mouth crunching down onto the celery stalk. There is a rush of high frequency pulse that are the crunching of the celery. That sound also reflects off of the inside of the mouth like when you talk into a tin can, but it changes frequency and tone as the shape of the mouth changes. I didn't see the celery. I can only guess that is what it was.

It was like shooting needle like daggers through my brain and chest. I felt physical pain.

You know, I think since I went cold Turkey and cut out Gluten, Dairy, and a few other things I've been more alert. That's good. On the flips side my senses seem like they've cranked up a notch. I've also never heard any one crunch that loud. That was yesterday.

Today it was wheat crackers. The crunching wasn't so bad as the sound of some one eating wheat crackers with their mouth open. Accompanied by smacking sounds. I tried to endure, but I finally had to rush out of the building and find my hiding place. I sat down and put my head in my hands and rocked back and forth. Even after I was "over it" my chest still hurt. It was like being under attack.

I have a pair of earplugs that I wear when I mow the lawn, the cut the volume of a sound, but I used to wear earplugs when I was a furnace duct cleaner. I could wear the earplugs while the loud machinery was running and still carry on a conversation.

Sound isolating headphone are not covered by insurance.

When I got home it made me appreciate my wife even more. At her loudest she doesn't crunch and smack like that. I can never tell this other person that I'm appalled at his lack of manners. I'm just shocked that an educated individual would still eat with their mouth open.

Don't I sound like an Aspie. I feel it 100% today.

Mar 27, 2007

Read Light! Green Light!

I finally admitted to my wife recently that the color of traffic lights holds no special meaning for me. I know that it means STOP, but to me it's just red. If the red light had the word STOP in it that would make more sense. I've actually seen a traffic light (long time ago), that had the word STOP in small black letters printed on the lense. When the red lense lit up, it not only was red, it said STOP.

Most of the world sees that little red light as meaning STOP, but to me it's just a red light. Maybe I already said that. So, I have to remind myself "Red means STOP", when I come to a stop sign. It's usually second nature, but often enough I'll be talking to my wife while I'm driving, and she'll say, "It's red honey".

The other drivers in Michigan (and other parts of the U.S.) owe my wife a debt of gratitude I suppose. I don't get nearly as distracted when I'm by myself. O.K. there have been occasions that I've gone careening through a stop sign or traffic light.

It's inconvenient, but I actually enjoy that Marge and I only have one vehicle. Then, when it's warm enough, I just ride my bike to work. Much simpler. I also enjoyed taking rapid transit to work when I lived in the Chicago area.

Mar 24, 2007

I am NOT a National Emergency

It still bugs me that the National Autism Association (NAA) is calling for the CDC to declare Autsim a national emergency. What are the implications of a national emergency? Rates of diagnosis have jumped, I grant you. What isn't being discussed is any assessmnet of unreported or undiagnosed cases. Asperger Syndrome was largely undiagnosed until recently. I was never diagnosed. I got no real special services as a child. I just struggled through. I new other nerdy people like me who loved books and didn't fit in to the popular mainstream. None of us were diagnosed.

Now I am a parent, and I didn't expect my children to just muddle through nor did I assume that my child's struggles were just part of his personality. My wife and I studied and searched and consulted our physician. Our searches led us to Asperger Syndrome (AS). NAA needs to do some kind of assessment of how many of the newly diagnosed children have parents with Asperger or a subset of the Asperger symptomology.

Better to dianose a child at age four, so that child can devote a large bulk of time to sensory integration training, social skills training and other assistance. They will have to adopt a special diet that eliminates foods to which they are intollerant. However as that child makes his/her way through school, they will have an easier and much more typical experience.

Don't you wonder how many of the geeks, freeks and nerds who sat on the periphery of the popular culture as loners . . . how many of them are Aspies?

Doesn't a national emergency imply an attack on our nation. Isn't a national emergency a threat to our economy, stability, or national security? Early intervention is critical. Advances in intervention is crucial. Elimination is wrong. I have so much to offer, because I am an Aspie. Great care must be taken not to eliminate our unique culture in the name of curing our dysfunctions or delayed abilities.

Mar 22, 2007

Poke Those Babies?

I had to work late on Wednesday, and when I got home my wife was warming up some potatoes in the microwave. The microwave timer said "beep beep", and my wife handed m a fork and said, "Poke those babies and see if they're done."

It made feel a little ill to think of poking this little babies with a fork. There were about four of them in the dish, and I could hear them all crying in their little diapers. It was a bizarre image.

I felt bad for them, but I ate them anyway. Maybe I shouldn't had.

Don't I sound certifiably insane? I hear this sort of thing from my daughter all the time. It is the Aspie brain's concrete way of navigating the world. There are certain books that are sacred to me, and I've thought of them as friends at times. My son said the same thing the other day. We understand that objects are not people, but there is a sense of . . . I don't understand it.

I feel badly for my wife. She is thrust into the Aspie weirdness every day. She is a saint.

Adam

Mar 18, 2007

Is That Part of Asperger?

The Isabella character in Mozart and the Whale said that she said things as they came into her mind, and that she said things to shock people. She made it sound like that was part of Asperger.

I thought it was just my personality. I find that I have to constantly work at not saying the most shocking thing I can think. As I become more confident and comfortable I still work at it, but after a while I start loosening up.

For example, today I made some vanilla flavored coffee, and the delicious aroma wafted throughout our work area. My boss came over and said, what is that delicious smell that is filling our area. I looked at him and in all seriousness said, "Well, actually I have body odor today."

No one who wants to keep their job should ever say that, but it sure was funny. In a paper for Autism Independent, Digby Tantam wrote referred to something called 'pathological demand avoidance'. It speaks of a behavior that disrupts a social situation before that environment can
place expectations upon the individual. So, Donald told Isabella to be on her best behavior that evening because his boss was coming home with him for dinner. If pathological demand avoidance is a real thing, then without realising it Isabella feels compelled to disrupt dinner that evening rather than having to face the vague and troubling expectation of "best".

I understand. When I am in new and troubling situations numerous outrageous behaviors go through my head. Ever seen comedian Robin Williams when he is really in the groove? It's kinda like that. As long as you keep people off balance no one can ever look at you disapprovingly. At the same time I have this vague sensation that there is something hidden that I don't know about that will warrant the disapproval of the person with whom I dealing.

I work really hard, and am largely successful, at keep my mouth shut and just hanging in there until I chill out. For example when I spent the day with a Czech missionary on his layover in Newark, I was really worked up. Not just a new person, but a new place (not to mention that I was near New York). The next day I was better.

Does that mean anything for my career goals / desired life's work of missionary service? I don't believe that I should work in a large city as that would be one constant stream of new places. Also, I will work best in small groups/churches. I also need to remember to give myself buffer time to adjust to new places. It's not always possible to have a chill day in a new place, but it will certainly help me.

Mar 16, 2007

My Favorite Line from Mozart and the Whale

In the Mozart and the Whale movie, the Donald Mortan character had driven a cab for years even though he scored quite high in college. Isobel had worked it out to get him a job interview in the IT department of a local university hospital (or something).

He did the whole interview looking at the wall, but the hiring manager knew that he was autistic so it was no big deal. The man hired Donald, and asked him why he had been driving a cab since he had such skills and intelligence. Donald's said, I interviewed at IBM and when they asked what my plans where I told them I would probably go to McDonald's and then do some laundry.

I wanted to stand up and shout, "Exactly! No one understand that we never understood the question!" I just wanted to scream at employers who misunderstood my intentions or who couldn't figure out how to explain to me. Why did it take so long to find Pfizer (formerly Pharmacia) which values my work, because of how I think. Now that I know I'm Aspie, I don't hide it. It's progressive enough here that I'm not penalised for revealing who I am. They value the me that I am, and not the me that they expect everyone to be.

Adam

Mar 12, 2007

Mozart and the Whale

I went to the library in my home town for a screening of Mozart and the Whale. It's a fictional story based on the real life account of Jerry and Mary Newport. They are both in the Autism Spectrum. I think that they are both Aspies.

Jerry was there to introduce the movie, answer questions, and autograph books. While, the characters in the movie are Donald and Isobel, and it is a fictional account, he mentioned that much of the movie is very true to their lives.

It was painful to watch as I saw much of me in the Donald Morton character. I'm not even close to being that smart. Early in my life, I learned to sublimate Aspie behaviors so that no one would see them. The movie cracked me open so that I couldn't hide. He also reminded me of Michael. I also saw aspects of myself in the edgier, slightly out of control side of the Isobel Sorenson character. The art and music that just sort of erupts out of her brain unbidden. I've sublimated much of those instincts in ways she did not in the movie.

There is a scene in the movie in which Donald informs Isobel that he is bringing his boss home for to have dinner. He asks her to be on her best behavior. That sets her off. It would set me off, but it would all happen inside my head. When Donald arrives home the home is in order and everything is ready, but Isobel proceeds to say all sorts of outrageous things. I became so uncomfortable watching her do this, Donald's reactions, and the bosses look of . . . bemusement(?), that I had to get up and leave. It was overwhelming. It was happening to me (or so it felt).

So often stories are real inside me. A cathartic, and I didn't like the way things were going. So I left the room, and then realised that I was still in a library. Then I felt better. It was like the time worn, honor bound, binding of a hundred great classics called out to me, "We are still here". I could feel the aged roughness of their bindings on my hand as I touched them. Yet I was standing on a balcony overlooking the reference section. I could still feel them. It was like they pressed forward to comfort me. It was as if they were saying, "We are books. All is well." And I felt better.

I walked down one flight to actually see these idealised books, but I wasn't sure where they might be. I still browsed some bindings. I didn't expect to see the Iliad quietly waiting for me on the shelf or Chaucer, or Shakespeare. I have yet to read those things, but they have stood the test of time without significant change. Perhaps one of my idealised friends is an old leather bound family Bible (KJV translation). I imagine that it has been passed down from generation to generation. Births, deaths, and family history have been recorded in the front pages, but more importantly it's innards have been rumpled and work from daily faithful family reading over generations. It is truly a comfort that the faith upon which I have based my life and my future is bound in a book.

The Bible is a book that has stood the test of time, the assault of critics bent on exposing it as a fraud, and the attempt of frauds to twist it to their own ends. It has survived and flourished, because it can be studied, tested, and found true.

Later,

Adam

Mar 9, 2007

Obssessive Compulsive?

Many people see Aspie behaviors as OCD, but in my opinion there is a fundamental difference.

I'll say again. This is my own opinion based on my experiences and learning. I don't have a degree in a related field. See your health care provider for proper diagnosis.

O.K. here it is:

An Obsessive behavior is an avoidance behavior. The behavior does not bring pleasure or satisfaction to the individual. It is not done to get or achieve. Instead Obsessive behaviors are done to avoid some typically unrelated thing or feeling. An example is the person who washes their hands over and over. They feel compelled to do it constantly. It doesn't help them feel clean, but by doing it they are able to (for example) avoid their feelings of fear and inability. The young girl takes 5 baths a day. She uses harsh soaps, and just can't get rid of that feeling of being filthy. If she could only feel clean. Is it because she feels dirty or is it because her uncle sexually abused between her ages of 8 and 12? He told her it was her fault. The abuse stopped because he died of a heart attack. I just made those stories as examples. They are extreme, but exemplify what I believe to be the nature of behaviors that can accurately be classified as OCD.

I think of OCD is a mental illness.

I think the Aspie or anyone in the Autism Spectrum (Classic Autism, PDD NOS, etc.) engages in repetitive behaviors for two reasons:

  1. To compensate for neural dysfunction
  2. To compensate for over or under stimulation.
Firstly, the individual in the Autism Spectrum is experiencing symptoms based on physical malformations in the brain. Most if not all Aspies are dealing with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (see the link). So repetitive movements such as spinning, rocking, jumping, touching or sniffing certain things are compensating for a deficit in the typical function of the brain. The movement can help the Aspie achieve a sense of calm and balance.

Needing to touch or physically experience certain things helps them attain a sense of where they are in relation to their world. These movements can help them feel grounded instead of feeling as if they don't quite exist in the physical world or aren't sure what they are in relation to the physical space around them.

Secondly, the person in the Autism Spectrum may have certain behaviors that help them cope with the world around them. Certain rituals that help them deal with a confusing world instead of having a melt down.

Some of the treatments may be the same at first, but I believe long term treatments should include teaching socially acceptable ways for people in the Autism Spectrum to meet their sensory needs, not look for ways to extinguish all of their behaviors.

Ultimately, the parent or care giver needs to give careful consideration to all aspects of the condition. An individual in the Autism Spectrum may also have OCD issues. It would be a shame to take the short cut and treat both Autistic behaviors and OCD as the same thing.

Adam

Mar 8, 2007

Heart Warming Impact

Back in the early 80s there was a Christian record label call Heart Warming Impact. Later they changed the name of the label to Impact (I think).

That doesn't have much to do with this post other than I was about to write to some one about knowing something in my "heart" and how certain things were "hear warming". That really doesn't make complete sense to me.

I know what I mean, but I always want to smile since nothing I think in my mind changes the temperature of my heart organ. Yet, there is a time when I physically feel a sensation of calming sensation. As the song says, ". . . a peaceful easy feeling. That calming reminds me of how I feel when I'm riding my bike and the weather is not too cold, and I have sunglasses, and earplugs in. I'm silently sliding through the warm dark air, and I feel calm. My mind is at rest. I believe it is a change in brain chemistry and heart rate.

That's what happens when I hear something is "heart warming". I learned a new word from my daughter whose sense of logic creates new words. That's because the existing idioms don't make sense to an Aspie. Here word is pleasable. I'm not sure exactly what she means when she says it, but when I have that peaceful easy feeling I think of the word "pleasable".

When I was a kid people in church would say, "God has really laid this on my heart." What they meant was that they had an idea and where assuming God had given the idea. They never said how they had decided that the idea was from God, they just expected that because God had laid it on their heart, that we had to take what they said as authoritative.

Some people will live and die by what God has supposedly laid on their heart. They might say, "God gave me the vision (i.e. dream, expectation, hopes, plans) for this ministry, and I'm not going to go against God's calling on my life."

I've been reading an author by the name of Hugh Ross. He is a scientist and astronomer who seems to have studied into physics as well. Hugh speaks of a testable model. I would like to see people say, I believe that God has given me direction. I have the desire and the skills to do it. I have sought wise counsel from other Christian leaders, and I am praying about it. Then you would answer the what question: What about this seems to be useful to the Lords work? Why do you believe God is directing you to do XX?

So what's on your heart?

This posting isn't a coherent message today. Just Aspie prattling.

Adam

Feb 27, 2007

Is This Funny Because I'm Aspie?

Is the joke below funny because I'm an Aspie or is it funny to Neurotypicals too?

-------------------
It was late afternoon near Savannah, Tennessee. Johnny was riding back from a gig in Nashville. He sat with his head against the window of the bus looking bored at the roadside as it passed. A sign in front of a house changed his boredom to curiosity, and he had his driver turn around. The sign said:

“Talking Dog for Sale”

He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a yellow Labrador retriever sitting there.

“You talk?” he asks.

“Yep,” the Lab replies.

“So, what's your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running."

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in."

"I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

Johnny is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the singer says.

"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"'Cause he's a liar! He never did any of that stuff!"

------------------

I think that's hysterical.

Adam