Jul 23, 2009

Mind Blindness

Mindblind Eyes: An Absence Of Spontaneous Theory Of Mind In Asperger SyndromeMain

Highly intelligent adults with Asperger Syndrome still have difficulties in day-to-day social interaction. These difficulties may be explained by 'mindblindness', the idea that they are unable to predict what other people will do by thinking about their mental states, that is, their knowledge and beliefs. If this is true then why do people with Asperger syndrome pass all the standard tests of mental state attribution? Is the theory wrong or are the tests insensitive? This study reports evidence from eye movements, that adults with Asperger Syndrome do not spontaneously anticipate another person's behaviour on the basis of that person's mental state.

This is in stark contrast with typical adults, and even young toddlers.So the mindblindness theory also holds for highly intelligent people with Asperger syndrome. At the same time we acknowledge their successful compensatory learning. This suffices for slow and deliberate thinking about other people's thoughts, but is not the same as the spontaneous and automatic ability to attribute inner thoughts, and it may be the lack of this spontaneous ability that is at the heart of the everyday social impairments still evident in highly intelligent adults with Asperger Syndrome.

Source: Birkbeck College
Reprinted from Medical News Today

May 11, 2009

The Greater Good

Spent a long day speaking and sing at Heritage Baptist Church in Manistee, MI. We talked all about our proposed career as missionaries to the Czech. Got home at midnight. The kids are in bed, and Marge and I are winding down with e-mail and facebook.

I'm sitting in her office with her wondering what's making the high pitched wining sound. It could be the lights or maybe it's a bearing going bad on the fan in my laptop or a light in the room.

It's just so cool that I've learned to cope with the rapid change and the many new environments as we are in pre-field ministry before going to the Czech. It's because I have someone greater than my limitations for whom I am working and striving. My relationship with Christ drives me to look for ways to grow and change in my ability to cope so that I can do this stuff that I am called upon to do.

Having something of greater importance than just my needs or my condition is so very key. I think it's important for anyone. Think about it, if my whole life is summed up in my progress toward some unknown level of normalcy or ....what is it we are all trying to get to? Then, My sense of self worth of purpose in life rests on the shaky ground of my own ability to do....what is it Aspies are trying to do?

Seriously. Are we trying to be normal or trying to be better Aspies or trying to simply live a good life. Those are all good things, but they are so self focused that they can easily lead to a "crash and burn." When we are living to serve a great good, or in my case Jesus Christ, then my good days and bad days don't define me. Those are just difficulties on my effort toward a mission that exceeds the sum of my own struggles.


It's very cool.

Feb 26, 2009

Now I Really Believe in Weighted Blankets

When I was planning my trip out here to Oklahoma City, I decided carry on my baggage, so that I wouldn't have to go through the baggage check and pay the extra fees that Northwestern Airlines charges. That also meant that anything I carried on would go through the stringent security check.

So, I left my leg weights behind, as they could look quite suspicious to a secruity person (especially in the post shoe bomber world). I also didn't think that I could fit my clothing AND a twenty pound weighted blanket in my carry on bag.

Consequently, I have spent the week without any sensory integration types of weights. Over the course of this week, I have found that symptoms of chronic pain (tingling in the limbs for one), have begun to return, and I'm less rested. I also feel a sense of controlable agitation that I haven't felt for some time.

I'm looking forword to getting home and getting under my weighted blanket. It really does solve a world of problems. I also have the pet theory that, while at one time I was diagnosed with Fibromialgia, I question if I ever did have it. I think that the Asperger/Autism need for sensory integration along with an intollerance to wheat and dairy contributed to a group of symptoms that seems like firbro.

I still have hip pain, but it's quite managable although fairly constant. The hip pain responds well to physical therapy. Controlling my deitary intake of Glutten and Casein (dairy) protein, and attending to my sensory integration deficit by using a wheighted blanket has revolutionized my health.

If I go back about 10 years, I was a mess. I think it was 10 years. I don't know if it is typical for all Aspies, but my sense of time is not linear. Anyway, the first major change I made was in more intently pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ. That was the first big change that made all the others possible, and meaningful.

So, I've enjoyed the classes I took here in OKC. I learned about running sound systems. I'm also so looking forward to returning to my family and my weighted blanket.


Feb 25, 2009

Aspies Inc Coffee meeting

Aspies, Inc. Coffee Meeting Thursday 26-Feb-09 at 7pm - Panera Bread 7199 SE 29th St # 113, Oklahoma City - (405) 869-0550

Meet for discussion, support, questions. No admission, just by something to eat or drink from Panera. That way they won't be angry that we are sitting there.

I know, Glutten problems. I won't be buying any bread eiter. Bring a neurotypical so that they can get all exited about Panera bread.

Filter It Out

I'm at this sound system training. As the trainer is talking I'm thinking of all these things I want to say, and I am purposely toss out almost all of it. It's part of the Asperger to have this urge to disgorge every bit of information in your brain about a certain topic.

I'm not sure why that is, but it just is. Problem with that is that it starts to upset other people, who have come to hear what the teacher has to say. So I do two things before I ask a question or make a comment:
  1. I ask myself, what is the big idea or the main point that he is moving toward in his teaching. Will my comment add or distract from his main point. If it won't add something, then I really shouldn't say what comes to my mind. It's unfair to be a distraction. Besides, I'm not their to chat, I'm there to learn what is in the teacher's brain. Better to letter the teacher talk and guide the direction of the class. Example: The teacher is describing in general terms how to set a compressor limiter. I want to ask, "Do you like the Behringer compressor? I had one and it only cost $120. That is a distraction from the whole point of the discussion, and the other students don't care what I own. They will just think I'm bragging and trying to look cool. Although, Behringer isn't cool, it's affordable.
  2. Is it possible that what I have to ask about is outside the boundaries of this class or will be covered in later material. An overview course, such as "Core Principals of Audio" does not go into detail in any one area. It is a two day introductory course. To ask questions that require great detail in any one area is unfair to other students. Also, if I manage to get the teacher to go into too great a detail, some material will have to be skipped later, because the class has a limited amount of time. If I think the material might be covered later, then I should not ask my question. I might be answered later without me interupting the teacher. If, when the class is over, I have a question that wasn't answered, I can ask the teacher individually.

Another big urge is to tell the teacher things about myself so that I can talk to him. That's unexpected in the neurotypical world. People that talk alot about themselves are viewed as braggers or if they just keep talking and talking then you start seeming creepy.

Just because you feel the urge to talk doesn't mean that you have something meaningful to say. Observer silence as much as possible. Then also watch how cheap other people seem when they try and "talk up" their skills or stuff they own. It's not cool. It just makes you seem childish or like an amature. The real professionals and cool people don't talk as much about themselves, because they don't feel the need to prove that they are valuable people. Assume that you have value and worth, and don't attempt to prove it to anyone by talking. It never works.


Feb 23, 2009

New Place - Can't Hear You

I'm in Oklahoma for audio system training. I'm by myself, staying with a relative of a brother's wife, I've never been in Oklahoma, and I'm doing something not related to missions or tech writing.

Consequently, my mind is racing searching for a rule set to govern my behavior. How should i stand, act, greet, small talk . . . who am I in this place? I have no rule set for this location. Am I supposed to be here?

I stopped for breakfast this morning. My waitress was talking to me, but i just sort of hear this muffled sound. It hurt to talk to her and look at her. Right now, I'm sitting, just to myself, not talking to anyone. I've had a fair amount of coffee, and I feel like hiding in a dark quiet place.

So, when people talk to me I can hear the words, but much of the meaning gets lost as the words wander through my grid searching for a culture in which to place them. This is when I just have to live with getting only part of what I hear, and being happy with ending up, some how, in the right place. By tomorow, I will have better integrated my environment, and won't feel so out of sync.

Aspie Traveler - Am I Actually Doing This?

Today I made it through flight delays and airports, cramped in little airplanes in order to go to sound system training in Oklahoma City. This seams absolutely crazy. It’s an Aspies nightmare. I’ve never been to this city, I’m staying with relatives of my sister-in-law that I haven’t seen in 20 plus years, and it’s all a bunch of unknowns.

I have my sensory defense items:
*Ear plugs to limit the overwhelming sound of plain engines
*Sunglasses for when things are visually overwhelming. It’s not just for when things are too bright either. If I’m in a room full of people and I don’t feel comfortable with what I should do with my eyes, then I put those on and my eyes aren’t a concern any more. Also, when I’m on a plain, the sun glasses make it easier to deal with the way plains can sway and move sometimes.
*Vicks Vapor Rub in the half ounce tin. It easily fits in my pocket. I put it in clear plastic bag with other toiletries for the security check and then put it in a pocket for the flight. My second flight, I was sitting waiting for the plain to take off, when I smelled . . . well it was either body odor or some kind of jet exhaust, but it some body odorish to me. So, I put Vicks in my nose and it masked the smell. The first time you use it, just use a little. It it’s not enough you can always add more.

I didn’t bring my leg weights as they might get taken away during the security check. That’s also why I would never try to carry on a weighted vest. To help calm myself, I have red and deaply pondered the Bible, read a book I enjoy, and now I am writing this text which I will later copy into my blog. These things give me my “constant”. Something is familiar and unchanging in which I can find comfort.

You see, I am bound and determined not to let Asperger shape the course of my life any more than it already does. I will ease it if possible, work around it if necessary, and when useful utilize the gifts that it offers.

So, why Oklahoma City? Well, I have always had an interest in music. I was in the band Sojourn for 15 years, and while in it learned how to run live sound. I’ve had opportunity to instruct church people how to do a good job running sound for worship services, but I’m completely self taught.

I have an opportunity to attend a four day class that covers the basics as well as technical aspects. I want to know this stuff. Through some unexpected funds the opportunity has arisen. It seems crazy to me, and it really has me nervous, but I can’t let that hold me back.
My core belief is that God is the creator of all people, fashioning each one. My Asperger, while not ideal from my viewpoint, is not a mistake from God’s viewpoint. That means that I have a responsibility to use the life God has given me and always work to make the most of it. It’s such a priceless gift, and God is such a kind giver, how can I let my Asperger hold me back?


Feb 16, 2009

Accomidations at Work?

A reader recently asked me about asking for accomidations at work:

As an adult Aspie who worked for a major pharmaceutical corporation, I never initially asked for acomidations. That said, I had an excellent reputation and once I was diagnosed my employer made some accomidations informally.

1. Some one with whom to check my perceptions. I was able to go to my boss and a coworker and ask questions about social rules or what certain e-mails meant. Such as the e-mail from the CEO asking everyone to help the new VP of sales feel welcome. I took it to my boss and asked if the CEO really expected us to do anything or if the CEO was making "happy noise". I would also swing by my coworkers cubicle to check how I should respond to certain things (i.e. e-mail, phone call, ignore the comment).

2. Headphones. If you have a desk job in an office environment get headphones so that when you are trying to concentrate you can have something that masks out other sound.

3. My coworkers new that I brought a book or something to fiddle with to every meeting. If meetings were to slow or boring I would get agitated. Thank God for laptops and wireless internet. If a meeting leader would challenge me, my coworkers would step in. I really was in an ideal situation. People were curious about my condition, supportive (Pfizer is big on inclusion), and I was doing good work accept for the occasional Aspie goof. If you have one of those smart phones that allow you to access facebook or to blog or something, you couls set it on your lap so others couldn't quite see it, and then you could fiddle with that.

4. I live by sunglasses. They really help cut glair if you have the right kind. They can also help the discomfort of making eye contact. They need to be light enough so that people can see your eyes. Yes, I used to where them inside if I felt I needed to. Not alot though. Interestingly, most people would assume they were transition lesnses that weren't clearing up for some reason.

5. I also had coworkers that would proof my documents for spelling and gramar.The thing is this, If you are good at what you do and people value your work, they will put up with all sorts of things. They will consider you skilled, but eccentric. Especially if you are an easy person with whom to work. That said, I built the reputation first over several years. What does the Aspie need that would keep him/her from successfully completing the work? That is a better question. The other question is, what is the marketable talent this Aspie has? If an employer wants what you have, they will make accomodations so that can have it.


Jan 29, 2009

Aspies, Inc Meeting Thursday 26-Feb-09 7pm

For anyone in Oklahoma City, I'll be at the Panera Bread on 7199 SE 29th St # 113 at 7pm on Thursday 26-February-2009. The phone number for the Panera is (405) 869-0550.

I'm going to be in OK City for some classes, so this is a chance to meet some parents and be an encouragement. Usually, I get the question, "Do you remember when you were [name an age]? How did you...." Happy to answer any question.

I'm not a credentialed expert, but I've lived it to a degree.

No charge, just buy something to eat and drink so Panera will be happy. I'll be wearing a dark green sweater and a black baseball cap. I might even have the sunglasses on. It depends how nervous I am.


Speaking at a Conference Near You?

You know about two years ago, I got opportunities to speak on Asperger Syndrome at some conferences and meetings. About four different times. The smallest group was about ten adults, the largest group was closer to 150.

Leading up to each event, I would get all worked up, wondering why I had agreed to this. I would try to document every word I was going to say, but toss each script. In the end I had either some well documented notes or a few scraps of paper.

As I was sitting and waiting to go on, I could feel something in me switch on: like an engine warming up. Then I would step behind the podium, and that something would click, and as if out of nowhere I would have all this stuff to say.

In the last year or so, I've been speaking quite a bit at churches. Different topic. I started to document my presentation less. I've noticed that I work best with a broad outline on paper and then some good ideas in my head. The presentation, sermon, or speech begins to do itself in my head over and over in the days leading up to the event.

When I get up to speak, the sermon, presentation or speech sort of makes itself, and I sit and watch. It's always very visual. I can see and hear what I'm talking about.

I don't know if I'm that good of a public speaker, but it's a remarkable experience. I have noticed that audience reaction to my Asperger presentations is one of enlightenment and hope. That's really cool. Honestly, there's a lot of hope in this world, we just can't see it for what it is.

I'm not scheduled at any more Asperger conferences, but I'd be happy to speak at some more.

But, the point of this blog entry is that I'm wondering if there are other Aspies that have an intuitive ability. It could be music, speaking, drawing . . . something which just sort of gushes out from an unseen place. Maybe as parents of Aspies we can benefit our children, but gently encouraging and feeding that gift, even if the gift doesn't seem to fit our expectation of something with good career prospects.

When I was five, who would have thought that my talking too much could turn into a career, at best, or at least a side job. But as a 43 year old unemployed Technical Writer, I'm sitting here thinking that writing is not my strongest skill. Speaking to and motivating groups is. I don't know how to turn that into any kind of temporary income, but I'm wiser to keep it in mind.


Jan 22, 2009

Aspie / Fibro Connection - Encore Posting

A May 2007 posting has gotten three comments (most of any posting so far). I am reposting it here with the comments, and some more of my ideas. If you have ideas, questions, thoughts about it, please post them at the comments link. Once in the comments section you are also free to respond to others comments.

I review all comments prior to them being included.

MAY 2007

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 say 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?


Here are the comments:

Chosenlast said...
I'm an Aspie with fibromylagia. I think the link between the two disorders is chronic stress. Over half of those with Asperger's Syndrome also suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. It's strongly suspected that the hormone imbalance caused by stress, causes neural changes that lead to fibromylagia.Since neither the cause of Asperger's, nor the cause of fibromylagia are known, its unlikely the biochemistry of the link will be worked out in my lifetime.

Susanf said...
Don't know if anyone is still following this thread. Geneticists have found problems in Asbergers with a specific molecule (SERT) whose job it is to vacuum up extra serotonin. In the variation, the SERT molecule gets turned up extra loud and doesn't respond to the bodies signals to shut back down - and vacuums away too much serotonin. This mechanism is a target for both drugs for Asberger's and Fibromyalgia - and a lot of other diseases that happen when the body gets too little serotonin in the right places. HTH.-Susan

KiKi said...
Don't know if anyone is following this, but it's interesting. I have Fibromyalgia and have been reading about autism for my work...and I have a low tolerance for noise, lights, smells, and small irritations. Very interesting.