Dec 30, 2010

Can't Take Faith at Face Value

Received feed back my Six Givens post.  They are probing questions that deserve a thoughtful response.  So, I decided to respond to some of them here in a new posting.  
To pursue a more extended discussion on the veracity of the Bible or the existence of God, please visit Share The Crown.  I would love to get feedback there and engage a vigorous and thoughtful discussion.

Here my responses to some of the questions about my six givens.

My statement:  There is a literal God who has a personality and created all that exists.
The question:  god has personality: is this consistent with being all-knowing and perfectly just?
My Answer:  I see no inconsistency there.  I state that God has a personality to differentiate myself from those faith systems that view god as an impersonal force. To say God has a personality does not imply that He is a human.  It would be inconsistent if he didn't have a personality.  The Bible states that God created humans in His image, and as such we are the only animals on this planet that posses person hood or self awareness.  God has a will, desires, emotions, values, loves, hates, etc.  Being created in His image we have the same.  

My statement:  The Christian Bible is a message from this unique literal God, and the only source of information about Him.
The Question:  why does god undergo a complete personality change between the old and new testament?
My Answer: He doesn't.  A careful examination of the Old Testament reveals that it clearly points to Christ as the solution to the problem of sin.  Christ is clearly symbolized in the sacrificial system and foretold by prophets.  The apparent change is God in His patiences extending a time of grace.  Why don't find this confusing in people, why do we demand that God be some sort of robot exhibiting only certain qualities and never the fullness we see in humans?

Think of the most admirable person you know.  Imagine that this person is grievously wronged by you.  He has every right to reject you as a friend, but instead he gives you a second chance.  What happens if you continue to commit wrongs against this person?  He will eventually reject you as a friend.  You will loose you opportunity for reconciliation.  Because of Christ, we have an opportunity to be reconciled to God.    

My statementGod created everything that exists
The Question:  Who created god?
My Answer:  Insisting that God must have a creator is no more rational than declaring He does not.  Granted, everything that we can observe has a cause.  Some argue, so God must have a cause.  The flaw in the argument is that to demand that God have a creator would mean He is not God.  I'm going back to the supposition that the Bible is the only source for knowing who God is.  In the Bible God He has always existed.  There is no hint in any way that God was a creator.  

We often make the mistake of conforming our understanding of God to our human limitations.  I asert that God created everything including time.  Such being the case, God would exist outside of and prior to what He created.  He would have no beginning.  No creator.  Anything created has a beginning.  God does not.    

My Statement:  The first created humans (Adam & Eve) disobeyed God’s moral law and in doing so became enemies of God.The Question:  god created adam and eve: does this mean you are a creationist? has god deliberately deceived us by planting [masses of] false evidence against creationism?
My Answer:  I disagree that there are masses of evidence against creationism.  It is really a question of presupposition.  If you determined that they can't possibly be a God, then when faced with the Cambrian Explosion, then you must develop a hypothesis of Punctuated Equilibrium instead of question the veracity of Darwin's theory.  Frankly the existence of DNA and evidence that mutation is always subtractive makes macro evolution untenable at best.    

These are just a few of the questions posed to me, and I'm sure that they will stir up further questions and comments.  Join me over at Share The Crown
if you would like to post comments or further questions.


Dec 28, 2010

#Managing Change - Take A Step Back

(Twitter Tags #Aspeis #Aspie)  As Aspies we can live productive lives even in the midst of chaos.  My ability to manage change has been put to the test over the last three years.  Laid off from a job because the company was down sizing.  Found another job that I liked, but had to quit it, because it didn't pay enough to pay our bills. 

Recently had two jobs then.  A tech writer job that was I liked some.  It paid most all of our expenses.  The second job is as pastor of a church.  That's going very well, but pays just a small amount.  So just before Christmas, my tech writing contract ran out without notice.  These are just a few of the changes and unmet expectations that have been hitting us over the last three years.  Most of it packed into the last year.

So, how am I doing?  This is really tough.  I'm smart and capable, so the tech writing job ending isn't logical.  I was angry some,  depressed, some times felt immobilized, but it didn't stop me.  It hasn't crushed me in the way I expected it too.

Just prior to getting laid off from Pfizer at the end of 2008, my wife and I got involved in a missionary organization.  That gave me a purpose greater than myself.  When I got laid off, I started working with the mission organization full time.  We traveled nearly every weekend to speak and sing at churches around the Midwest.  All the constant change involved was part of something important.  I took a step back.

If something upsetting is farther away and contained, it can't hurt me or frighten me as much.  Like a giant black bear in a cage at the zoo.  There is usually a cage and mote and fence to keep enough distance.  I can look at the bear and hopefully have a healthy respect for its power.  It might even make me nervous, but it won't stop me from visiting the zoo.

Us Aspies don't like change.  It disturbs us and makes us angry.  Why is that?  I think it is because, we reflect it so closely on our expectations and need for our worlds to have order and predictability.  Sad to say, this world will never be that way.

If there is something in my life that is orderly and sure, then I can take a step back from the changes.  I have something that never changes.  A direction in life that is consistent regardless of my circumstances.  

We spend so much time trying to fix our circumstances.  I think I've discovered how to make myself more resilient.  I've been able to take a step back and not react as strongly to change, because of faith.  Because I believe that God is always at work in my life for the good (even when I face difficulty or loss) then I have a constant, unchanging platform on which to bass my life. 

As I work to reflect on and live out the ways of Jesus Christ, I develop a more intimate connection with Him. My trust level in Him increases, and Christ becomes increasingly important to me.  In His essential character and His care for me, Christ doesn't shift or change.  My relationship with god is like standing on a solid rock in the middle of a storm.  The storm may trouble me, but I won't be washed away.

This helps me step back and consider changes from a "distance" as it were.   

Dec 22, 2010

#Managing Change - Why so tough?

(#Aspie #Aspies)

This year has been a year of constant change.

Change can be difficult for everyone.  For an Aspie our world already seems very chaotic. 

The brain receives thousands of bits of input each second.  All the senses are sending countless sensory data to the brain.  I takes that data, tosses out most of it as irrelevant, and then coalesces the remaining data into a single integrated image of me.  That integrative function reassures me that I'm anchored to the ground by gravity and helps me not bump into things. 

The integrative function of the brain helps me make sense out of people around me.  If it doesn't work right I see a collection of attributes and not people.  That's one reason why Aspies tend to remember parts and pieces as much as the whole.  The integrative function of our brain isn't fully developed.

As a result the world around us can seem like a mad rush of stuff coming at us all at once.  We often crave orderliness to give our world some sense of calm.  That's why change is so difficult.  Instead of some subconscious part of our mind dealing with change, we often have to cognitively think through change in order to reset ourselves and be ready for it.

It takes a great deal of energy to constantly be consciously processing through changes without any pre-built structure to help.  That's why Aspie kids and adults will have "melt downs" because they've reached their limit of tolerance.  You might have an Aspie manager who looses his temper when things change. You might be the Aspie manager.

There are ways to create a structure in your mind to help you name the changes.  Label them and then manage them.  Then you have the control.  

More later.


What Figures of Speech Confuse or Amuse You?

"Let me float an idea past you"
I'm picturing ideas floating past me in some sort of conceptual river.

"It was so cold I froze my but off."
O.K. now that is truly disturbing.  Fortunately if it freezes off there wouldn't be nearly as much blood shed as when it get laughed off.

"A heart warming story for the whole family."
I picture my wife, children, and me screaming in terror as our hearts begin to heat up past 98.6.  "What's happening?" we cry in confused terror as we clutch our chests and fall to the grown, searing hot pain gripping us.

So, what figures of speech confuse, disturb or  amuse you and what pictures does it put in your head?

Please, leave a comment on this blog or post to twitter at @aspiesinc


Dec 20, 2010

Clothes Make The Man

(originally posted Feb 7, 2007)

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 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 sleepwear. 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 weird 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.



I often fake comprehension.

I figured out a long time ago, that if someone says something I don’t understand, nodding my head and saying yes, is the best way to keep things moving along. Honestly, in a noisy, distracting or crowded room, I don’t catch half of what people say anyway. Much of what people say is repetition or unimportant to survival.

In meetings at work, I would drift off, blog or just do something that was interesting. Every-so-often, drifting back to see if anything of importance had been said or decided upon. If some one said, “Adam, what do you think?” I would quickly review what little had really been discussed over the last hour and make a comment. The group would be happy and leave me alone.

That’s one reason I order the same thing at McDonalds every time I’m there. O.K., Most of what is at McDonalds I’m not supposed to eat (Wheat / dairy intolerant), and don’t particularly like. But, when you are in the drive through it seems like either there are too many other competing sounds, the speaker is fuzzy, or the person talking is unintelligible. So, I order the same thing every time knowing that even if I can’t understand the order taker, I’ll get what I want.

That makes sub sandwich places a real gamble. Quiznos wants to move fast, have lots of choices, and don’t always speak clearly. So, I just say yes a lot, hoping that what comes out the other end is something I’ll like. Once, I tride to order all at once. I thought it through ahead of time: my perfect Quiznos sandwhich. When I went up to the counter, I told them everything at once, but it was like being caught in the gears of a giant machine. They just ground forward asking the same questions they always do. I wanted to scream.

As an Aspie, if I decide to do the wheat and dairy and get a sandwich at Quicznos, I want a check list that I can sit and think over quietly. Then I want to be able to complete it on my own and hand it in like a completed math assignment. After that I sit and wait at my table reading a book, and they call me up when it is done. No more screaming, rapid fire questions, with my meal racing down the Quiznos shoot of chance.

Once when my son and I were traveling we stopped for a quick dinner to take with us on the road. It was a truck stop that had everything, including a chicken place and a taco place at one counter. Both places had value meals designated by numbers on separate menus, but the order was taken by the same person. The place was filled with truckers loudly talking, playing video games, etc. I tried to order two meals,

Me: “The number five chicken meal and the grand taco.”
Order Taker: “That’s two number fives and a grand taco?”

As usual I just said yes. This time I ended up with three meals. One was a this massive plate of nachos that had meat, and beans, and a putty like substance that is traditionally considered cheese sauce. Ugh, the place was still just as noisy, and I didn’t have the heart to try and give back the order or get money back, so Michael and I made a valiant effort to eat all three meals.

The whole nachos thing is tough to eat while you drive, and when they get cold, the chips get soggy and the other stuff gets stiff. That’s really backwards of what it is supposed to be.

Sometimes just nodding my head gets me in trouble.


I could have died laughing

I was in a discussion on about figures of speach.

Several that one writer didn't like were "I could have died laughing" or "I'm as serious as a heart attack".

Before you "die laughing", you'll probably "bust a gut laughing" and then "laugh your head off".

Very violent sayings.


Dec 17, 2010

O.K. Now What?

Well.  There I was happily working away, albeit a little bored, and then next day severed.  I have been a contract technical writer at Stryker for the last six months.  No notice.  No hint that my contract would not be renewed.  Even given new work on Thursday.  Friday evening, after I had gotten home, I received a call from the contracting agency that Stryker had decided not to renew my contract.  Effective immediately, I was not allowed back in the building.

The contract agency was kind enough to retrieve my belongings.  I received confused e-mails from coworkers, but not a word from management.  That was cold, and very confusing for an Aspie.  I was in a tail spin for a couple of days. I'm thankful for relationships and tools in my life that kept me afloat.  My relationship with Christ gave me the firm understanding that nothing happens by mistake (Romans 8:28).  God is not taken by surprise.  Because, I'm a Christian, there is nothing in my life that can shipwreck my ultimate destiny with Christ in eternity.

That faith didn't take a way the confusion, self recrimination or anger, but it was an anchor that held me fast in the storm.  I still had to self talk through the blizzard of possibilities that immobilized me for several days.  Prayer was critical.  I spoke very frankly to God about how I was reacting and feeling.  Privately with God, i worked through the logic and fears.  Also, I talked through with God what the Bible says about my circumstances and needs.

It's been a week now.  My wife and children have been a comfort.  I pastor a church now, part time, and that is a joy.  I use an excellent task management structure, so today I'm going through everything, documenting, categorizing, and prioritizing.  Plan your work and work your plan.

There never was a day that I didn't get out of bed, but I've spent extra time sleeping.

A week later and I'm getting my direction back, purpose and work ethic back.  Thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ is like a rock that shelters me during times of confusing and disturbing change.  Like a solid rock, He does shift or change as so much else does.  How can any Aspie live without Christ?

I don't know.

Dec 16, 2010

Six Givens (I wish is was an even 10)

As a Christian adult in with Asperger Syndrome, I believe that I struggle against the “natural” man in a unique way.  I’ll try and explain what I mean over the next several posts.  My intent is to propose that Biblical Christianity is the best tool, if you will, for helping people with Asperger integrate successfully and happily into neurotypical society. 

I don’t want to cure Asperger Syndrome.  In fact, I think when I get to heaven and I receive a “glorified” body absent of sin, I will still be an Aspie (or Aspergerian if you prefer) to the extent that it is essential to who I am as a person and not essentially a feature of sin.  It’s tempting for some to conclude in heaven that we will all be wiped of everything that made us who we are and we will be perfect.  We will be perfect, but to think that every feature of me will be gone when I enter eternity doesn’t fit with a rational examination of the Bible.   It fits more with Buddhism.  We won’t be eliminated, rather, sin will be eliminated and we will be at peace with God.
So what is the problem now.  What is the natural man.  Well, first some suppositions.  There are some statements that I treat as real and true and won’t try to prove as part of this series of postings.  You just have to go with them as a given for sake of argument or the article won’t make any rational sense.

Here are my givens:
  1. There is a literal God who has a personality and created all that exists.  This God is unique in that there is no other God in existence.  All other “gods” a human inventions or other spiritual beings (demons) pretending to be an actual god.
  2. The Christian Bible is a message from this unique literal God, and the only source of information about Him.  By the way, God is neither male nor female, so the “him” pronoun doesn’t imply gender.
  3. God created everything that exists: time, space, matter, energy and the laws that govern the universe.  Those laws or both physical (gravity, motion, etc) and moral (right and wrong).  God is morally perfect (also called holy) and demands the same of His creation.
  4.  The first created humans (Adam & Eve) disobeyed God’s moral law and in doing so became enemies of God.  In kind we have all inherited, by birth, the sin condition.  We have enemy status as moral criminals and deserve God’s just punishment: hell.  God came to earth as a man (Jesus Christ) to declare the way for us to have peace with God and to take the punishment in our place by being crucified on a cross.
  5. When Jesus died on the cross, he broke the power of sin.  When he rose from the dead, he broke the power of death.
  6. When I renounce my status as a moral criminal and ask for God to make me his child based on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I am morally cleansed of sin and begin a process of being transformed from a natural (sinful) man into a man (or woman as the case may be) like Christ.  There is nothing I can do to achieve this.  It is a gift from God.  This transformational process takes place over my lifetime and culminates when my physical body dies and I enter into eternal life.
O.K. that was a lot, and maybe you're wondering what this is dong in a blog on Asperger Syndrome.  I was asked to help explain God to an Aspie.  This is the explanation for the adult Aspies.

As this develops I hope I can parse out the logical supposition for God, sin, the need for salvation, and the joyful transformation of those who surrender to and follow Jesus Christ.


Mar 12, 2010

Bad Words Come Back

Sometimes bad words come back to haunt me.

I don't mean curse words. I mean when people pronounce words incorrectly. Sounds crazy doesn't it?

For example, there was an employee of mine who pronouced the word probably as "proby". That was one of a number of words in which she left out letters. Often "l", but not when it was at the beginning of words. Listening to her talk made my mouth hurt. She was the one employee who reported directly to me at work, and to make it worse when she was done talking to me about something, she would shurg her shoulders up and down two or three times.

That drove me nuts, because that non-verbal jesture means, "I'm not sure" or "I don't know", but she had just finished making a suggestion about how she wanted to do something. It had the effect of sort of scrambling everything about which we had just spoken.

I found myself doing everything I could to quickly conclude any business that we had and a avoiding talking to her at all costs. This was bad as she was my direct report.

I love words, and make a point of making sure that the "L" doesn't get dropped. It seems like bad treatment. If I were an "L", I would want to be fully included in all the words I was supposed to be in.

I know, that sounds a bit odd.

At the same time, I'm like a speech pattern sponge soaking up the speech mannerisms of those with whom I speak the most. I make great efforts of excluding speech patterns that I don't want, but they try to force their way in.

Such as the word ability which some pronounce "abilty". This time excluding the unfortunate"i".

I wonder what that means. I fear being around people with poor pronunciation. I fear that their pronunciations will take over in my brain, and I actively have to work at not allowing it. I look at the words I'm going to say, sometimes, just before I say them, and make an effort to filter out the speech patterns that I don't want.

Fortunately, for public speaking, I have a voice that I pull out and use, like some people pull out a put on a favorite sweater. For any voice work that I might do I have a narration or producer voice. When I use those I don't have to think about each word, I only think about the concept or the principal style of voice and it comes out.

I used to talk really fast with a more nasaly tone, and I worked on getting rid of that, by allowing other speach patterns to infiltrate. I like my current casual speaking voice better than the one i had as a kid.


Mar 11, 2010

My Words Are Like....

My words are like.... spices in an idea soup.

If I'm in a group of people having a conversation or I'm in a class, it's like we are making soup, and my words are the like the spices. Soup without spices is very dull, but spices alone don't make good soup.

In order to make a delicious idea soup in a group I need other people's words too. Their words are the other ingredients of meat or something. I also need thoughts. I need to take some time where I'm not saying anything to think thoughts. I need to listen to other people's words and letting them simmer in my brain without saying anything outloud. Then what happens is I have better ideas and more important words to offer.

If it's hard not to talk outloud, then I can let me ideas and words percolate onto paper, and write as many pages of words as a need to in order to keep my mouth from talking. It's very important if I want the best idea soup for the group.

If I use too many words then I spoil the soup for everyone else. If I use the wrong words or words that aren't really very important, then I spoil the idea soup for everyone else. Then what happens is my idea soup isn't any good either.

It's mysterious, but human brains are designed by God so that they work best when mixed in a group with other human brains. So, in order for me to have the best idea soup, I need to make sure everyone elses soup is good too.

The way I can spice up everyone elses idea soup is to pick only the spice words that are most important and not use too many of them.

Feb 15, 2010

They Didn't Notice? They Must Be Flawed ......

So here I am in project team meetings trying my best to sound professional and informed. I felt like I was clearly not. Other than a bachelor's degree in communication I had no real training for my job at a major pharmaceutical. No background in database implementations or project management.

It as fun and really not that hard after all, but I was always afraid that some one would figure out that I was just some guy and not a real professional. When I would make a comment in a meeting, I would expect some sort of .... something from the others to indicate that what I said was worth while. I don't know, they all gasp, or blush with excitement. I'm not realy sure.

Well, that nearly never happens in project meetings. Typically there is no clear indication that what you say is really great so after the meeting I would be convinced that I had sounded like an idiot. What made it worse is that it would dawn on me that no one in the room noticed that I was an idiot. After all, if they had they would have said something.

"Adam, I notice that you are clearly untrained and not suitable for the job you're in, how did you happen to be here."

That never happened. So then I would start to wonder if they were flawed in some way, because they didn't notice how stupid I was. That would make me feel superior to them, and a bizare mental spiral would begin.

I discovered that I had to decided the merits of my own ideas for myself and weigh them against others comments and new information. I quit expecting some great outpouring of adoration if I had a useful idea. Typically, no one says anything, but the idea ends up somehow moving into the project. If it's a team project that's just how it works.

If I have years of experience or am recognized as the Subject Matter Expert in an area, I'm just another person on the team and usually won't get any special notice.

Also, I realized that most of the people I worked with were at least a little odd, and if I didn't do anything terribly unexpected then my comments wouldn't stand out as particularly weird no matter what I said.

I crave validation, but the world around me doesn't give it much. Real validation comes from God in the Bible. When I look more intently there I don't feel as flawed nor do as see others as flawed.

At least I'm moving in that direction.


Feb 11, 2010

What I Know....Doesn't Matter

I think this might be true for many or most Aspies. When I'm in a group or in a class as another person is talking on a topic I have the urge to say what I know on that topic. Sometimes I know quite a bit on what is being discussed or could explain it better than the leader who is speaking.

It's at times like this that I need to understand that what I know isn't important.

The leader or teacher has certain things that he or she wants to cover and though I have a great urge to divulge at least some of what I, I really want to verbally puke out all that I breaks the rules for what is expected in a social learning environment.

If you are like me you might feel like it is some how wrong or that people are missing out by not hearing your perspective. You might be right. You might no more than a particular leader or might be able to do a better job of presenting what you know. But if you've entered into a group where everyone expects to hear from a certain person (and not you), this you are breaking a social rule if you volunteer your information.

Does that seem like goofy rule? It is a goofy rule if the whole world revolves around you, but it doesn't. Every person has equal value in the world, and others have a reasonable expectation that if they come to a group with the expectation that a certain person is the leader or teacher then they should be able to hear mostly from that person.

I was in a team meeting once where the official project leader had specific list of things to talk about and time lines for what to cover. The meeting was progressing nicely, until a coworker walked in late to the 1 hour meeting and proceeded to talk about what HE thought was most important for the next 30 min. Everyone felt embarrassed and began to develop disrespect for this coworker. All the work and preparation of the team leader were wasted, because this other person took over. It wasn't fair.

This person did this in other meetings a lot. He didn't realize he was breaking a social rule. His boss never told him. Later he got a demotion disguised as a job change. So he got mad and found another job. Many people were glad when he left.

It is a sign of respect and that you are a mature adult when you respect other people, by being quiet a lot. It's hard for us Aspies, but it is very important.


Jan 2, 2010

Guilty Again

I've been reading, "Phantoms In The Brain". It mentioned tha tin some brains the person remembers memories while others relive events. There's a difference. As memories are formed our brains edit them and then categorize them (pigon hole them) according to time, place, people and other tags that will bring the memory back. OUr brains also assign meaning to our memories. As we go through life learning and having new experiences we reinterpret our memories based on our new perspective.

A clear example of this might be a child who is afraid of Clifford The Big Red Dog. This really happened with my son. He might have been three. We read him the heart warming story of Clifford the two story tall dog who would peer in his owner's window.

Cute, right?

To Michael it was a terrifying to think about a giant dog peering in your window. As a fourteen year old, he doesn't remember this experience. If he did remember it, he would reinterpret it based on his 14 year old understanding & experiences. Dogs aren't as frightening because he's taller.

The same should be true of embarrassing moments that happened several years ago. Time should add distance, as it were, and further experience change the perspective so that the memory does not reignite that same fear/shame response as the original event.

In fact most people reflect on their small failures or embarrasements with thoughtful reflection (lessons learned) or humor. That is because memories are not static. They are reshaped and reinterpreted based on knew memories that are added. But what if instead of remembering, you relived? The memory would trigger all or manyof the same physiological reactions and the same emotional response.

When I was nineteen I scheduled a skating party for all my friends at college. Some one else had done it the year before, so I wanted to try. I even got sponsors. Instead of hundreds, maybe 20 kids showed up. I was in the hole by $100. Whenever I think back on it, I feel the same dread. As if it is happenning again. In my mind it is.

My thought life is rich with details, sounds, textures, even smells and dimension as well. Today I remembered that skating party and it upset me. I refelt the failure and that sinking feeling in my chest. The Bible talks about taking ever thought into captivity. Taking control of thoughts and deflating their power. After reading the Brain that Changes Itself (Norman Doidge) and Phantoms IN The Brain (V.S. Ramachandran), I believ ethat their are cognitive excercises that one can do in order to stop reliving memories. I'm not clear on the what and how yet.