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.


Feb 21, 2007

Hello. . . Is Anybody In There?

It's quite in here. Inside my brain.

I think that it's the changes to my diet. I've been very careful. On my trip to Newark, NJ I did as best I could at restaurants. Today I've been quite rigorous on sticking with it, accept I accidently had cereal with Barley in it.

Anyway, I noticed how quiet my mind is today. The silence is a little eirie. I'm used to so much more chatter. I suppose I'll have both good and bad days.

I know it's more than diet. Prayer is always a component in comming to a place of peaceful quiet, but I think diet has proved a hinderance to that.


Feb 20, 2007

Newark Airport

It's way too big and too many people. Luckily I had my sunglasses that I could wear in order to cut down on some of the visual intensity of all the white snow blasting through the airplane window. I couldn't find my earplugs, so I had to put up with the mind throbbing resonance of the jet engines. Wow. I would alternate putting a finger in one ear for a while and then put one in another.

I looked out the window and could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance, but then I saw New York, and I started feeling sick to my stomache. Too many people are there, yet from that distance it looked quite small.

I read the "Mysterious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime" He would curl up, put his hands over his ears and "do moaning" when things go to much to handle. Well the trip from Cincinnati to Newark airport was just a bit much. I got Qdoba to make me a simple lunch of rice and chicken, but the chicken marinade must have had vinegar, because it made me a little nauseated, but not eating wouldn't have been any better. So then as the plane swayed back and forth on approach to Newark, I just closed my window shade and kept my sunglasses on, closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I bought Dramamine for the trip back.

So this whole trip I found that I couldn't look out of the moving airplane or moving shuttle without feeling sick. Infact I just quit even looking out of the plane window. That was new for me. Normally, I enjoy looking out of plane and train windows. I think that it was the added stress of believing God is sending us into full time missions, and flying out to Newark to meet with a missionary.

I kept my sunglass on in the terminal too. Just too many people.

When I got to the hotel I organized things in drawers, and my toiletries in the bathroom so that I could get a sense of goundedness back. By the time the missionary who I was meeting with arrived, I had had two hours to make the transition.

That was critical.

For the way home I took the Dramaine. I had also bought ear plugs. I kept my sunglasses and earplugs on the who flight, and didn't even take the sunglasses off between flights. That all helps.


Feb 14, 2007

Aspie's on the Mission Field?!?

It's a separate blog. My wife, children and I are working toward a life in full time mission work. There have been some that have been thrilled at the news, others that don't get it, and still others that say, "Should you do that with your condition?" The ones that question it are surprisingly few.

That said, I won't do much of the missions stuff here. I'm sure that from time to time there will be overlap. I'm going to overlap today. However, if you want more of the back story go to Journey2Missions and check out the recent posts. (Click this link)

However, the short version is that we are looking at some options for service with ABWE, and have been corresponding with an ABWE missionary from the Czech republic. This lead to a very lengthy phone call, and subsequent plans to meet each other in Newark. There's lots more to that story in the Journey2Missions blog.

So, a week ago, I was sitting wondering if the delay in attending Candidate Seminar had a purpose, and I thought, I should respond to some of those e-mail greetings I got from missionaries in Eastern Europe. Since I have until July, I can spend some time e-mailing and getting to know these guys. Then in July Marge and I can make a final decision.

I was going to trade some e-mails, create a profile on each of the prospective countries and engage due diligence on researching and feeling like I really knew these places. Then I could make a rational, measured assessment of the options.

Well when Pastor Barnes of the Czech said he wanted to speak on the phone, it seemed like a good idea. I didn't see the need. I work best in print, but neurotypicals like tone of voice and other things that I find a little confusing. Pastor Barnes has Vonage, so he could essentially talk as long as he wanted without incurring extra cost.

We talk for a solid two hours last Saturday. By Sunday evening I had made all the necessary arrangements to meet him in Newark, NJ for the afternoon, share a hotel overnight, and then go our separate ways after breakfast. It all seemed good until I went to work Monday morning.

With the typical frustration of adjusting to the transition between weekend and work week, I had had this intense Eastern-European-You-Might-Be-Going-To-The-Czech-Republic thing on Saturday and Sunday. So, I didn't have a propper weekend. I was having a double adjustment.

Then, it also hit me: I'm flying to Newark on Sunday to meet with a missionary from the Czech Republic. It all made sense. If he was going to be in the states and had a day open, much the better to meat him, before making an actual trip there.

But, who just ups and flies off to Newark! Who do I think I am. I hate New York. I hate it. I love the Statue of Liberty although it might have Masonic overtones, and that bothers me. I don't like New York. I'm sure that it's fine as cities go, but it's too big. There are too many people. It's like multilane highway of words and ideas detouring into my head. I can't spend too much time thinking about it.

You see when I think about all those people, then I think that all those people pulsing along the sidewalk, and in vehicles, and the countless people on the train are going somewhere to do something. They all live some where and have loves and hates, and things they do and think about, and it's too much to wonder about. There is this vast call for data, and none there. Busy highways bother me too. How can there always be that many people with somewhere to go and where is it they are going? Can't everyone stay home some times?

Besides who just flies off to Newark to meet a missionary they don't really know!!!! I don't really know this guy, and I'm sharing a hotel room with him. What if he snores quite vigorously or who knows what? I really wish that I could afford those sound isolating head phones.

So, I didn't accomplish as much at work on Monday. I could barely think straight. I did make an itinerary with flight times, hotel (with address and phone). A copy is on my palm pilot, and I'll print a copy to carry. I've never been to any of those airports before.

O.K. Enough. Enough Aspie ranting.


Feb 13, 2007

Servere Form of Autism MAY be Reversable

"Scottish scientists have discovered a way to reverse the symptoms of Rett Syndrome (RS), the most disabling autism spectrum disorder by targetting a gene in mice. Rett Syndrome affects some 10,000 children in the UK (or 1 in every 10,000 to 15,000 children according to the US National Institutes of Health). It is an untreatable neurological disorder that leaves sufferers, who are mostly female, severely disabled. Babies born with RS usually develop normally up to 18 months and then they regress, losing speech and the ability to move easily. They often go on to develop more severe debilitating symptoms such as repetitive movements, seizures and problems with breathing and controlling motor functions.

"Scientists had already suspected that RS was caused by a mutant form of the gene Mecp2, which works by switching other genes on and off. In fact the same scientist that led this latest study, Professor Adrian Bird, was the one who discovered it in 1989. In this latest study however, Professor Bird and his colleagues were able to show that by targetting Mecp2 in mice with RS, even adult mice, they could make the gene work normally and cause reversal in the RS symptoms."

For the full article click on this link.

My untrained opinion is that the Autism Spectrum Disorders may have multiple causes. I'm still convinced that it is primarily genetic. However, diet clearly plays a role and at times a quite dramatic role. Frankly, if I could be rid of some of the most troubling aspects of Asperger I might go ahead with it. Yet, I'm still not sure.

I have the blessing of Asperger. Those who are more classically Autistic have extreme challenges to overcome, and I can fully understand their desire for a cure. I'm still very cautious about talk of a cure. Asperger is who I am. I'm not sure if I can be me without it.


Feb 12, 2007


My first memory of school was my mother going to meet with the kindergarten teacher. I can't quite remember her name. Mom met with her while I went into the play area. I remember putting something into a toy pay phone just before a school bell rang. I thought I had somehow made the bell ring. I left that day full of gilt.

I don't think that is an Aspie thing.

I remember my first day of kindergarten (1970). I remember standing at the front of the class. Everything was a complete blur. I mean, I couldn't see. My vision was blurry. The next picture in my head is of me sitting on my sisters lap (she was in Mr. Hartzel's fifth grade class).

Here's something odd. Trying to remember things is always troubling. It makes me to try and reach that far back and remember things. I used to think it was because I had a hidden memory of some terrible event. I don't think that any more. I think that it is an Aspie thing. I not that social memories are going to be as confusing as social situations. Also, my ways of understanding are different from that of a child, and my ability to properly "feel" about those memories may be those impaired.

I do remember being somewhat clueless socially even then. I remember bringing a new game I had gotten to show and tell, but remember feeling hurt for some reason. I don't think a really understood what would happen during show and tell, when I would get to show, and how people would react.

I also remember, this one class mate who everyone thought was funny. One day I went to sit down in a chair and he kicked it out from under me. Everyone laughed. I thought, I will do that too, and everyone will laugh. Of course, when I did it I only managed to kick the chair a little bit so that when the person hit the floor their back scraped down the chair. They were hurt and everyone looked at me like I had done something bad.

It didn't seem right that the same actions would elicit two diametrically apposed reactions. No, as a five year old I don't think I thought it in quite those terms, but that's essentially what went through my head.

Feb 7, 2007

Clothes Make The Man

I tend to wear the same kinds of clothes most of the time. To me all clothing is a uniform. A uniform has functional use and signifies ones function or role. So, for me to change my clothes, I have to be willing to change into another part of me.

So, on Sundays if I'm digging the church ministry vibe (how's that for slang) I stay in the outfit that I wore to church. Especially if it feels like Sunday. By the same token, I don't want to wear my jeans out to landscape or do lawn work. I put on my "grubbies". Those are my clothing set aside for painting or for lawn work.

I was just thinking of that.

I wonder if that's why some of us Aspies will tend to just go to bed in our clothes. It's the transition. There have been times that I've gone to bed in my clothes and gone right to sleep. Then later, when I wake up at about 3 am (which I do about every night), I change into sleep wear. On those occasions if I would have changed into sleep wear right then, the transition from one me to the Time To Sleep me would have stirred me up a little. I wouldn't be as sleepy then. I don't do that every night.

We are very careful not to let our children sleep in their day clothes, because you can imagine that it could easily become a habit. If I wake up in the morning in my day clothes, I feel very strange. It's as if my sleeping didn't quite count because I never put on sleeping clothes.

Sounds weired huh? It's that whole Aspie thing in which internal things need to be externalized in order to be managed. I'm still coming to understand it.

Please post comments or questions if you would like. I'm curious if any others have had these experiences.


Feb 6, 2007


A parent asked me if I ever struggled with home work when I was in high school. I remember one year it seemed like I had lunch time detention almost every day for not getting my homework done. I went to high school at Grace Christian school. In those days, the curriculum was from Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). A full year in each subject was divided into 12 magazine size booklets called paces. Each pace contained vocab, text, study questions, quizzes, and a final practice test. After each Pace was completed you took a separate test at a testing table for credit.

Each class had a teacher, and each teacher had a specialty. So that meant if I struggled in a particular subject I could go to that teacher for as much help as I needed.

Instead of moving from class to class each student worked in one of those library cubicle desks. Each day, I was set a goal for how many pages in each subject that I would do, and then what I didn't finish during school I was to finish at home. For each subject that wasn't completed you got a demerit. Three demerits meant you served lunch time detention.

I thrived on being able to stay at the same desk, set my own pace, and grade my own work. Ninth grade through the seniors where mixed together in the same classes. There were 120 students in grades 9-12. The small environment seemed to make for fewer clicks and an almost family environment.

No one bullied me or mocked me. I had friends, and I didn't have to worry about getting beat up.

It was way better than junior high.

But, now that I think about it. I never did very good on homework. I'm not sure that I really saw the point. I remember in Fourth grade I don't think that I ever turned in any assignments.

I struggle a little even now, but I've developed the will to push through and get things done. I've also picked up some tools along the way. The David Allen "Getting Things Done" program has really helped me.


Feb 1, 2007

It's Only Water Pt II

My wife pointed something about showers to me as we were talking on the way home from work. She thinks it's a transition thing. That makes a certain sense. It is a definite transition going from one thing and then into the shower thing.

Sometimes I take a bath when I get home so that I can take my time. I enjoy a bath better anyway. It's less to think about. A bath is one thing, a shower is lots of things shooting out of a shower, and how do I know if I'm rinsing everything right.

Just dunk me in some warm water instead, and it's a nice transition into a pair of sweats or jogging pants. Some nights when I come home I intend to stay in my work outfit until it’s nearly time for bed. Other nights I'm into something casual right away, and I have no intention of leaving the house.

I rarely change into an intermediate outfit such as jeans or something. I only own one pair of jeans anyway.