Jan 31, 2007

It's Only Water

A parent asked me if I ever resisted taking a shower as an Aspie child or teen.

I personally can't shower every day, because it makes my skin feel dried out, and then when the fabric of my clothing moves back and forth on me it creates an intolerable sensation. In the winter especially, when the heat is on and things dry out, I can only shower about every other day. So, for that reason, I too dislike taking showers, because if my skin dries out I can't escape it. There's nothing worse for an Aspie than an overwhelming sensation from which one is able to disengage.

I do enjoy baths, because it is like being buried, and I can warm up better. It's that whole desire for deep pressure. I've always wished the bathtub was deeper so that I could be completely covered with hot water. I used to squirt Vaseline intensive care oil into the bath water so that I wouldn't get dried out. That left a terrible ring in the tub though.

So, I was thinking, what if I was a parent of a teen who found it unpleasant to shower. Well, approaching it logically, there are really only one of two reasons to show (three if your married). One could be that you enjoy it or find it soothing. Then you would want to shower every night before bed just to relax. I know of people that shower every am and every pm, and enjoy the way it makes them feel.

The second reason is because people need to keep themselves clean. It's better for your health and keeps you from disturbing others with a smell that they find troubling. It really doesn't matter what smells I can or can not tolerate, if people around me can not tolerate the way I smell, then I need to fix it. Some people just load on the perfume and I have to keep a small distance from them (discretely so as not to offend). There was one time I was sitting in church and a man sat down in front of me. He was wearing an attractive suite actually. However, it smelled as if the suit had been used for a bed by a wet dog. It was a powerful odor (one of the reasons I really don't want to own a dog).

I tried to ignore it, but finally couldn't take it any more. My family was spread out along the entire row, so I quietly got up, walked to the back, and then re-entered on the other side of the row.

There are certain detergents that my wife can not use, because they have a powerful fragrance, and I can smell just the least hint of mildew on a towel (you know, that sour smell). Sometimes I put on a shirt and if it smells odd to me, I won't wear it. It just goes right back into the dirty clothes hamper.

Back to showering.

So, if you don't like to shower, but you don't want to offend people by being odoriferous, then you could do like the French do. When I visited France as a child, I noticed that the bathroom at the hotel had a toilet shaped sink called a bidet. It was for cleaning the parts of you that get smelly when you don't shower much.

Think of it, if you didn't shower for a month your knees and elbows wouldn't smell really, nor would a number of areas. If you don't have a bidet, then lay a towel in front of the sink in your bathroom, wash the smelly areas with a soapy clothe, and then rinse with a warm wet clothe, and dry yourself. The nice thing is you can take the wash clothes that you used, and the towel for drying yourself and roll them up inside the towel that you laid on the floor. Toss it all in the dirty clothes hamper and everything is neat and tidy.

It feels a little odd blogging about this, but it is a sensory issue. For some Aspies their senses are on over drive, and we get overwhelmed. There are ways to deal with that and not feel like you are a weirdo.

Let me know if you find this helpful or if you ever struggled with this. Maybe there is a way you dealt with this that other readers would like to learn about. Leave a comment.



Jan 30, 2007

Diet Is Making a Difference

Diet is not a "cure" for me, but it is making a remarkable difference. It is making a difference mainly in the area of chronic pain and my ability to sleep restfully through the night. I've also notice that my brain is "quieter" during the day.

It's a little odd. For the past three nights I have been up in the middle of the night having a coughing fit. Some nights I also have also had one right when I go to bed. I've been prescribed an anti-biotic for bronchitis. So, with that disruption in my sleep you think that I would be an absolute zombie. Surprisingly, I'm nearly as bad off as I should be.

I also don't have as much struggle with repetitive thoughts. I just feel more calm.

(remember this blog is just opinion and not meant as trained diagnosis)

Marge read Special Diets for Special Kids (click here to view my resource section). It discusses that there seems to be a connection between the Autism Spectrum and an intolerance to wheat protein (gluten) and dairy protein (casein). So about a year ago Marge and I started reducing the amount of wheat and dairy in our diets. Coincidentally, this is the best year my kids have had in terms of getting school work done.

I had also heard a doctor say that you crave what you are allergic to. Well I dump sauces on everything (catsup, mustard, hot sauce, salad dressing, mayonnaise). All those sauces have vinegar. There are people that are allergic to brewers yeast, so almost a month ago a cut out everything with brewers yeast. I also cut out eggs (just a wild guess).

I've also increased the portions of raw fruit and vegetables. That may be tough for some people in the Autism spectrum due to the textures. That said, I'm so intent on being healthy, that I just push the raw carrot in my mouth and chew. Eventually I'll like it.

The more I do the better I feel. So today, I decided to do a little research to see if there is hidden gluten in things. I found that there are ingredients that are called one thing, but are actually processed wheat proteins or may contain wheat.

I found it at a web site called How to Do Things. Click here to look at the information.

My children have been to a doctor in the area who specialized in individuals in the Autism Spectrum. They have had a blood test for food allergies and will get detailed results. I don't think insurance will pay for most of it, so I'm going to wait, but eventually I'll get the test as well.

What do I recommend (in my unqualified opinion)? Read Special Diets for Special Kids then hunt down other things about on the Internet and library. You'll finds more information than you know what to do with. Some of it is utter nonsense. It helps to swim in the data, because you'll start to develop a sense of what is reliable information and what is not.

After that you can start taking some guesses about what to eliminate or locate a doctor that does the blood test.

The blood test is helpful, because my one of my children told me that he didn't have a food allergy until the test results came back. In other words, "Prove it dad!"

Jan 19, 2007


I used to take pride in the fact that I heard everything and could figure out what it was, that I could tell where my wife had been by the smells that clung to her coat and hair. The volume knob on my senses is boosted a little higer than the average neurotypical. I understand that those of us in the "spectrum" are either hyper-sensative or hypo-sensative.

Did you like my cool buzzzzzz word? I'm in the spectrum (Autism Spectrum Disorder - ASD). Are you? This is the first time that I've ever been in. I was in the band Sojourn for nearly 15 years and I never felt like I was in the local music scene really, let alone a cool in singer guy.

I wish that I could turn the hyper-sensative part off whenever I wanted. When I walk into the men's room at work and I'm greeted by an odious cloud (i.e. it stanks), I can barely get out fast enough. Problem here. While at work it is incumbant upon me to exhibit a certain professionalism and also try and be as neruotypical acting as possible. I can't yell "Ugh" and bolt out of the men's panting and realling once I've made my escape. That kind of behavior could have career limiting consequences.

Today, I walked into the men's room to . . . alright I just say it. . . use the urinal. Well, the sink is right next to the urinal and there is only this little tiny wall in between. I don't do the whole, "Let's be naked together!" thing, and that includes hanging out with guys peeing or showering together. . .

I remember once I was at a county fair grounds, and I went to go . . . how do you say urinate politely. . . to take a tinkle. The "men's room" was a cinder block shed, and the one urinal was sort of an 8 foot long trough with water running on one end and a drain on the other. Who came up with that? It certainly wasn't an Aspie or some one in the Spectrum, I'll tell you that much. "Hey guys, I have an idea. Let's all drop our pants, stand next to each other, and pee in a trough!" Now you know why our society has problems, it's people that design eight foot urinals are also comming up with the Clapper or plaid polyester pants.

Anyway, so I walk into the bathroom and some one is at the sink. So, that means I have to step into a stall and wait until they leave, and then use the urinal. I felt like an infantryman in a cloud of mustard gas in World War I, the smell was so bad.

Maybe I should stop here.

Perhaps the point is. . .I'm not sure.

My wife did by me a pocket size can of Oust Dioderizer spray. I think I should just start carying it with me.


Jan 17, 2007

Paper and Pen

I actually love learning, but I've discovered that there is a difference between completing an assignment and learning a topic. So, I've learned to barrel through the assignment, and then go back and learn whatever I want to about the topic. At times I've re-read the text book (not often) or studied beyond the course topic through other resources.

I love pens and paper. I use the Zebra SARASA brand 0.7 point jell pen. Thankyou yes, I am nerdy. I hate the way a ball point pen scrapes across the texture on most paper. Pay attention some time. You can actually feel the texture of the paper vibrating up through the body of the pen. It's quite unpleasant. The jell pens on the other hand, don't pick up all that vibration.

For my 30th birthday, my wife bought me a nice heavy fancy ball point pen. I eventually misplaced it (much to my chagrin). I always feel wasteful throwing away a perfectly good pen body when just the ink cartridge has gone empty. The SARASA is refillable. I'll probably have to order the refills online though as the local office supply doesn't consistently carry it.

At first I was digging the Pilot jell pens, but the ink flow starts to get spotty before the cartridge is empty. The SARASA runs clean lines all the way to the end of the ink supply.

Do I sound nerdy or what!

I like paper. Special paper is fun to write on and send letters. I used to write two or three multi-page letters each Sunday night after church. I much prefer to do the bulk of my writing on a keyboard as my typing can keep up with my thinking. I still think in pen and paper. If I'm writing music (notation that is) it has to be a number 2 pencil, and a good sharpener to keep that point.

I love books and I want to read all of them. I mean it. If some one told me that I could have an operation that would make it so that I only needed an hour of sleep and then could be up the rest of the night speed reading I would jump at the chance. I find sleep boring and usually ache and feel groggy when I wake up.

That's not at all what I was going to write about.

More Later.


Jan 16, 2007

Sunglasses in the Office

I'm finding that I wear my sunglasses at my desk all the time now and I can actually read things on the computer screen comfortably. Also, in meetings, I put on my sunglasses if the words on the page are pulsing. It just cuts down on all the intensity.

I had heard about going to get a test done that would tell you the optimal tinting for your glasses so that it was easiest to read things. I've seen news shows about people whose lives were changed because they could finally see clearly with tinted glasses. Sometimes yellow tint. They look goofy, but if they work, let me at them. I'm not so sever that I haven't been able to survive, but I'm realizing how much discomfort that I put up as just a matter of life.

At home, we use lots of soft lighting and have very few bright overhead lights.

I don't suppose I can get everybody in my life to turn the lights down a little.


Jan 8, 2007

What exactly is he asking me to do?

I received an e-mail about a project on which I was working. It ended with this comment:

---We are planning a follow up for next year, so let me know if you have anything to report from your end.---


It took me a second to process that one. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my own fanny. That's not a pretty site by any account. I was quite thankful that this coworker didn't say this in a face to face meeting.

Maybe I should wear sunglasses so that I can hide when something doesn't make sense to me.


Jan 6, 2007

Sunglasses are great!

I've noticed that the sunglasses help me feel less agitated by my environment. In my odd scrambled way, having the sunglasses make things seem a little quieter. Then I put in my earplugs and things are just so peaceful.

When I ride my bike and it's quite cold the earplugs help keep the cold air from whistling into my ears. So, as I was riding I realised that with my ear plugs (less sound) and sunglasses (less intense visual input), I felt like I was gliding through silk. I have often enjoyed walking (or running) in twilight. I remember as a child running through the neighborhood or woods at twilight playing some kind of game. I was hard to catch. When I ride my bike to work on the paved hiking trail and it's still dark, I find it peaceful and I can still ride fairly fast.

So, here I am walking across the campus with earplugs, sunglasses, and my cool hard hat. We are required to wear a hard hat when we are out and about, and it looks like a cool construction sit guy sort of thing. No one ever looks at me odd when they see the ear plugs, because there are areas with loud machines in which ear plugs are required.

It's peaceful not to have to hear the ten vehicles in various places or the various machines in operation that my brain is trying to categorize and understand. Instead it is filtered out and things are much more quiet. Peaceful. One day when I got back to my desk I left the sunglasses on for hours and even left the ear plugs in for a while.

It bothers some people when I have them on and talk to them. I like people to take their sunglasses off as well, when I talk to them, so I need to be sensitive to that.

I've worn my sunglasses during the last two movies I saw in the theatre. It's much more pleasant. Unless I'm near the back of the theatre I find movies hurt my eyes. It's also so visually intense that its hard to take it in. The sunglasses mellow out the brilliance and make it much more comfortable.

The problem now is that I have to make myself not wear them. It would be easy to hide inside them all the time. I could just relax inside my darkened world, and be at peace. Then I would be recluse and not a real person. I wouldn't be able to really have relationships or help anyone or serve God quite right, because you can't have a real relationship with some one if they can't look into your eyes.


Jan 4, 2007

Helloooo Sunglasses!

I've always avoided wearing sunglasses. I don't like speaking with people that are wearing them, because I can't see what their eyes are doing. It's also hard to imagine what my face looks like without eyes in it.

However, my father has suffered from Macular Degeneration, and has wisely advised me to start wearing them. There was also some extra flexible spending in my health account this year, so I purchased a pair of prescription sunglasses.

It has been a breakthrough.

The company in which I work has a large campus. Often I need to walk across campus to various meetings. Also walking across campus are various other people, and I never know what to do with my eyes.

When I am walking and a person I don't know is coming in the opposite direction when do I start looking at that person. If I look to early, then I am staring and the person will either be uncomfortable, offended, and think I know them some how. So, you don't want to look at the person too early (whenever that might be). So you have to look somewhere else. Normally, I look straight ahead. That way I don't fall down. If I do that then I'm looking at the person coming from the other direction, so I have to vary my gaze.

I could just not look at anyone, but then I'm being rude. Some people expect you to say hello or good morning(afternoon, day, etc). From to tough looking tradesmen (the ones that really look believable in a hard hat and tool belt), you often get abbreviated versions of hello such as

Never understood the "yep" one since I haven't asked them a question. You also have to know if the person you encounter is a waver, nod-upper, or nod-downer. I've noticed that most Caucasians nod their heads down (if they are nodders). O.K. spell check just tried to make me change nodders to dodders. What in the world is a dodder? Tradesmen and farmers tend to nod more than wave unless they are over a block away and not heading toward each other. Then they are too far away for a nod of the head and they wave. Minorities tend to nod up as a greeting and sign of initial respect.

If I'm in my own neighborhood in front of my own house and a person under the age of 20 walks or rides by, I always nod up and say "sup". Typically the other person does the same. Some times a quasi conversation takes place in which the other person says, "Namuch boutchu?" and I would say "Namuch man." Having thus exchanged greetings there is that general understanding that initial respect and positive emotions have been exchanged.

So, back to sun glasses.

With the sun glasses, I don't have to decide if or when to start looking at some one. If I want I can stare out into the trees and not worry that the other person coming toward me will think that I'm weird or offensive.

It makes for a much less stressful walk.