Thursday, December 27, 2012

Not Broken

Once again I am reminded that Aspergers Syndrome is not something that can be ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’.
Steve is not ‘broken’. He is not ‘damaged’. He is not ‘defective’. And most of all he is not ‘crazy’. His brain just works differently. His social skills are not the same as mine. He has trouble empathizing with others. He often is unable to think of anything outside of his own sphere of interest. He is ‘emotion blinded’, not recognizing other people’s reactions or responses as being different than his. Or even seeing their reactions at all!
I work my tail off to try to compensate for any lack of communication, understand his viewpoints and opinions, verbalize my frustrations in a calm fashion, maintain my composure when his actions are exactly the same as last week’s, last month’s or last year’s; the very ones he swore he would change. But hasn’t.
This last month has been busy, busy, busy. We’ve thus far sailed through the holidays with a minimal amount of upheaval. We did attend one party that has left me convinced that if I don’t wish to be embarrassed in front of a houseful of people, I do need to stay glued to my hubby so that I can stomp on his foot should he begin to share intimate details of my life with a stranger. Hhummpff. That one topped the charts for embarrassment this year.
None the less, I noticed that Steve has been more accepting of me whispering “I’ll explain it to you later”. He has been better at letting go of the social situations that he just flat out doesn’t understand. I think he finally believes me when I tell him that if he understood why ‘we’ can or cannot say or do certain things in public or to others, then he wouldn’t have Aspergers so it would be a moot point!
This was the very first year that Steve hasn’t made a detailed Christmas list for me. I was a bit surprised, but came up with a great idea for him and Kidlet. I got them a new large screen TV for the livingroom, and a very large universal gym that I had delivered & setup in one of our spare bedrooms. They can now put the older TV on the wall to watch while they worked out.
They were both flabbergasted. For the price of one year’s gym membership, I created them a gym of their very own in our home. With the added bonus that I get to use it too!
This holiday season has been great so far. Tomorrow night we are dumping, I mean dropping off, Kidlet with his older brother so Steve and I can go see one of our favorite local performers. We’ve been invited to a grownup New Year’s party so Manlet will once again have Kidlet overnight. I’m really looking forward to it.
And yes, I shall be glued to my Sweetie’s side where I still enjoy being, but with my foot poised as he talks - lol!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baaaahh Humbug

When I ask other Aspie spouses how their loved one deals with the holiday season, they usually burst out laughing.
Deal with the holidays? What holidays?” and off they go, riding on another gale of laughter.
Exactly.
I’ve found a new web site. 
Families of Adults Affected by Asperger's Syndrome

Right there on their home page it says:

"Individuals with this syndrome have difficulty with social aspects of intelligence, such as understanding what those around them think and feel. As a result, they often behave inappropriately in social situations or act in ways that appear unkind or callous. Many Asperger's individuals have difficulty planning and coping with change despite average or even exceptional intelligence in academic or intellectual areas. This can manifest as a notable lack of "common sense." Most importantly, this disability has profound effects on the family members and others in close contact with the Asperger's person. It is the spouses, parents, siblings, and children, of those with Asperger's Syndrome that experience the emotional pain, especially when the correct diagnosis has been delayed until relatively late in adulthood. Family members need validation and support. Feelings of rejection and loneliness play a major role in the lives of the family members of individuals with Asperger's Syndrome. Their feelings are not validated, acknowledged, or recognized by the person with this disability."
Wow. Whoever wrote this knows my hubby. And me!
What makes our life harder is the Hubster’s extended family who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge or accept his (now) eight diagnoses from eight completely different doctors. He has not seen one single doctor that has thought his symptoms were indicative of anything else. 
Steve's relatives' wanton  disregard for his condition, along with their stubborn and callous disregard for his struggle to accept himself and his syndrome, are hard for me to comprehend when they insist that they love him.
Say what? If Steve had diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or epilepsy would his family deny his condition? Would they insist on feeding him sugar, demand that he train for triathlons or ignore a seizure? I, as Steve’s cherished wife and helpmate of twenty years, struggle to cope with and understand Steve’s lack of social skills and common sense. Steve’s family says that they would welcome him for the holidays, but not me nor our children. They deny the existence of Steve’s very nature. Which hurts him to the core of his heart.
Holidays. Family. Validation. Rejection. All hard things to deal with, as are in-laws who choose to be ‘out’-laws. Out of touch, out of reach, out of bounds, out of our lives.
Thank you Lord that Steve and I have each other, as well as our kids, kid-in-law and  grandkid. Thank; you Lord that we can celebrate our holidays in a way to honor Him whom Christmas was named for. I am grateful for our own family traditions and love.
Thank you, dear Readers, for ‘listening’. I am truly thankful for you.
As for the holidays, well - I shall try to spend a lot of time "ho ho ho"-ing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Up To No Good

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Manlet and his family are coming from out of town today. Daughterlet and friend will be out tomorrow, as will more friends and family. We have been painting the exterior of our house since July. It’s big, and we are painting entirely by brush. But I am most definitely tired of the job.
We have been battling cool/cold weather and rain for the last month. It needs to be 50° out to paint; better yet 60°. It also has to be dry. We’ve had close to four inches of rain since Saturday. Gully washer torrents have been pour down from the heavens at regular intervals.
“Can I paint?” says the Hubster Saturday after lunch.  His tenacity in completing his task is admirable.
I grab my phone. It’s now 52° at one o’clock in the afternoon. Looking outside I see that there is a typical ‘Seattle-ish ‘drizzle’ at the moment, but the last bit of painting to be done is on both sides of our attached garage, including the area leading to the front door. I want this area in particular to look nice.
“Sure, Sweetie,” I respond. “You should be able to paint the under eaves and around the bay window. The overhang should have kept those dry.”
A couple of hours pass and I’m heading out the front door to run errands. Steve is on a ladder cleaning cobwebs and spider nests from the eaves near the door. I ask him to please pull the nails that I had up for my hanging baskets as I don’t want them to be painted. I may not even put my baskets up in that same place next year. I do change things up a lot. Like every five or ten years. Hard concept for an Aspie.
“Okay, (mumble mumble mumble),” comes from Hubby. I decide not to have him repeat himself as it can cause him anxiety and push him into frantic activity if he becomes annoyed that I asked when he was busy thinking about his task. When will I learn?
At 5:30 p.m. I come rolling down our long driveway. It is pitch black out. Since we’ve been working on the painting, the front-of-the-house light fixtures have been off the house. I see a slight glow from the far side of the porch. It’s a small camping lantern. As my headlights swing over the front door area, I see Steve jumping as high as he can to stab his paintbrush up into the highest corner under the eaves next to the door.
I slam on my brakes and jump out of the car. “STEVE! What are you doing?” My wipers are going a hundred miles an hour because of the current deluge of rain. I’m not sure if I could trust my eyes.
The Hubster jumps and slaps his brush a couple more times, then turns and runs into the garage. I follow him, asking why he is jumping up to paint instead of using a ladder. He keeps his back to me and ignores me. I go back to my car, which is still running with the headlights lighting up the front walkway. That’s when I notice the whole side of the garage glistening.
I walk over and see that none of the eaves were painted. Only the siding, which had been soaking wet with rain when I left. I couldn’t believe it! I parked my car and called Kidlet to come help carry things in. By now I am very, very wet. And angry.
When Steve finally came in he told me that he wants to paint his way. He has no clue how be a painter. I’ve had him watch DIY online vids but he refuses to follow the suggestions and procedures. He doesn’t want to be told what to do, says he. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper that night.
Sunday morning I head out the door with the dogs. One of them brushed up against the newly painted siding and was instantly covered in paint. It had been sixteen hours or more since Steve painted there. I looked closer. There were hundreds of long, wet drips and dozens of areas with wet sagging paint. Yes, I admit it. I screamed.
Steve insisted that the siding really wasn’t ‘too’ wet for paint because there were no puddles ‘standing on it’, and that he didn’t paint the eaves because he wanted to make the house ‘look nice’ for Thanksgiving by having the siding paint on.
He then spent about two hours trying to ‘paint out’ or blot off all of the mess. I have to admit it doesn’t look too bad right now. A second coat of paint, done in dry weather. will probably even things out. Yesterday he did paint under the eaves. But he also painted the window trim the wrong color. *Sigh.*
Does anyone know a good, cheap painter?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

But I Thought…

I’ve spent a lot of time sighing lately.
My Aspie hubby has been doing too much thinking. His mind is usually going a hundred million miles per hour and he tends to either over think things, complicate things, or just plain imagine things.
Take a ‘for instance’ instance. Though the exact facts have been altered for the purpose of this illustration, the basic scenario is true to form.
“Sweetie! I’m stuck!! I took kidlet to his buddy's and the car quit in the middle of the intersection on the way home!” I yelled into my phone. I am rather excitable.
Granted, I was panicked as I couldn’t get my car pushed completely off the road and Steve wasn’t answering his phone. I had texted and called a dozen times. Still no answer. I had tried to flag someone down to help with no luck.
Twiddling my thumbs, I sat back to contemplate my next move. Gazing sightlessly through the windshield, thoughts tumbling around in my mind, I suddenly came to the realization that my eyes had focused on a pair of bright backup lights. Then I recognized that they belong to my hubby’s rig. Hallelujah.
I jump out of the car to enthusiastically thank him for the rescue. I am very, very appreciative. As he opens his door and walks to the back of his vehicle, I try to hug and kiss him, but he is having none of it. At that point I realize he is stomping, which is his body language for “I’m mad”.
“Sweetie, really, truly, thank you!” I try to explain, but my words are falling on deaf ears.
Instead, Sweetie grabs a huge canvas tarp and starts tying it’s corners to the undercarriages of both our cars.
I am startled. “Steve! What in the world are you doing?”
No answer.
“Sweetheart, are you going to use a canvas sheet to tow with? Seriously?” I am astounded.
Still not a word from my irate, but esteemed, spouse.
He jumps back into his car and guns the engine. I take a flying leap into mine and am just able to slide the tranny into neutral as my Sweetie’s rig tugs at my rig. My door is still open so I quickly slam it shut.
A second later I hear a thundering “riiiiiip” and I, in my barely rolling vehicle, come to an absolute and complete halt. I watch Steve’s tail lights vanish in the distance.

At least I am out of the intersection.
I debate on calling him again. I fidget as I try to calculate how far he will drive before noticing that I’m no longer behind him. I try my darnedest to figure out where in the world he came up with the idea that a canvas sheet was a good substitute for a tow strap. I know from experience that he probably was in the middle of a TV show or some project and,  due to the urgency of my messages, was in such a hurry that he didn't give himself time to find an actual tow strap or chain. I give up on all of the mind boggling possibilities and tip my seat back to take a nap.
Granted, this exact event is fictitious, but it aptly illustrates the many odd ideas that Steve is convinced are real, and that would, could, or will work. Try as I might, I can’t convince him otherwise. His Aspie reasoning cements those ideas in his mind to the point that he can’t tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t. He seems to believe that if he has the ‘thought’ in his head, then it must be true. 

He does now have four approved, registered patents on composite layering materials and/or techniques that prove he can think outside the box.
Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoy my naps. Laugh out loud.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Say Cheese!

How important is it that those who work with my husband be made aware of his Aspie-ness? After all, chances are that they also have Aspergers Syndrome and thus may not even notice Steve’s differences in mode and operandi.
In a recent blog "catastraspie" discusses her decision to share with her office mates:
“I have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and [manager] and I thought it might be helpful for people I work with to know a bit more about how it affects me as it varies between individuals.  Having AS means that I think differently to most people and although I have lots of strategies that I use, it sometimes means that I behave differently too, which out of context can be misinterpreted negatively as being rude, over-sensitive, unhelpful or aloof.
Four things that will probably help us develop the best working relationships are:
1.     Please be direct in communicating verbally with me – I don’t get hints, subtleties, nuances, reading between the lines, office politics, implied meanings etc, which are used more than words in communication.  I only have the words to go on, so please say what you mean and if you want me to know something or do something you need to tell me (explicitly specifying if information is sensitive or confidential).  An example would be saying ‘please close the window’ rather than looking cold or saying that you are cold.
2.     Please be specific about what you want – I sometimes ask a lot of questions that may seem obvious or trivial when you do tell me something.  This is not me being difficult, I simply want to understand exactly what you want in a way that fits with how my brain categorizes information.  An example would be specifying how many of something you would like, rather than ‘some’ or ‘several’.
3.     Please give me (constructive) feedback – if I haven’t done something the way you wanted, please tell me, otherwise I will do it the same way again next time.  Please also tell me if I have said the wrong thing.  I always like to do/say the right thing, sometimes I am not able to tell what that is without your help.
4.       Please don’t be offended if I don’t appear to be very sociable – I might not remember to say good morning or goodbye, I might not acknowledge you until you acknowledge me, and I might decline your offer of coffee or lunch, but that is because my social needs are very different to most people and very definitely not because I don’t like you or want to get to know you.  This aspect of my AS has caused me the most difficulties, because people apply their motivations for that action to my behavior, which are very different.
Just as every Aspie is unique, their specific symptoms, as well as their work environments, are also distinctively different. The Aspie needs to make this decide on his or her own according to their perceived need and situation. In the adult Aspie’s portrait to the world around them, it is up to the Aspie to select the ‘pose’ that is most comfortable.
With that said, please smile and say “Cheese”!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Holy Cannoli

Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. In much of the U.S. or Canada, whether you have one or a dozen, you call it/them cannoli. No differential for singular or plural, which is great when one doesn’t wish to admit how many one has devoured. This is apparently not the case for other counties as many do not speak English and I speak no other language.

'Holy cannoli' happens to be one of my favorite sayings.

My husband can’t stand cannoli. Not the pastry, the word. It doesn’t conform to the ‘rules’ of grammar regarding singular and plural usage.
Roll the dice. Two or more. Roll just one and it’s a die. One little annoying rodent is a mouse. And there is never just one. They are always multiplying, but are not mouses. They become mice. Though they do rhyme with dice, just one (preferably dead) is not a mie.
One large feathery fowl is goose, but geese are two or more and a single fowl is the same as many fowl. Meese is not multiple moose. Moose is both singular and plural, as is/are deer and sheep. Deep is intensified to deeper or deepest while a fungus becomes fungal, fungi or funguses. Multiple visual orbs are eyes, but upon waking you are blurry-eyed. Audio stimulus becomes stimuli which you hear, your ear hears, or you heard, and has nothing whatsoever to do with moose herds. Or a herd. Oh dear. Or maybe deer.
Whooooaaaah! Did someone just call 'foul'? Or is that fouled? Maybe fouls. Or a multiple foul. Unless it smells. Then it is just foul, even if it involves various smells. Whatever: my hubby thinks it all stinks.

In the words of Mr. Jinks, "I hate those meeces to pieces!"
The blog Life with Aspergers has a great post "Aspergers and Rules" about this.
Rigidity. Resistance to change. Binding rule sets. Things that can all lead to confusion, conflict and even possible depression.
I especially enjoyed reading some of the comments on that blog post. My favorite was:
“Thanks for this. I was always impressed by my Aspie husband's "discipline" and after reading this I understand that it is just his strict adherence to the rules he has. Now, if only I can use these rules to make him do what I want... :) Cheers!
Indeed, dear ‘Mish’.  Please let me know if you were successful.
Laugh out loud!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nike Firefox

“Honey, have you seen my (fill in the blank)?” calls the Hubster from our room.
I finish filling the coffee pot, hit the brew button and head towards the frantic sounding voice in our bedroom.
It’s early morning and Steve is trying to get ready for work. He is not the early morning person that I am. But this is not why he can’t find whatever it is that he is looking for. He simply can’t see what is directly in front of him because his mind blinds him to what he isn’t prepared to see.
This is a shoe. I see it. I see a Nike swoosh on the side of the shoe. I also see the logo for a search engine on the side of the shoe. I recognize these logos as I am familiar with the brands.
When Steve looks at this shoe, he says he sees the shoe. We are in agreement there. I ask him what branding, if any, he sees on the shoe. He says he sees blue shoe laces and spilt paint, but no ‘brand’. Since the Nike and Firefox brands are not specifically interesting or familiar to him, he does not recognize them and therefore doesn’t see them.
Hmmm.
I walk to our bedroom doorway where I can see the item he is desperately searching for. It’s right at the front corner of the dresser where he put it last night so he wouldn’t forget it today. I gently turn him around and point wordlessly. He still can’t ‘see’ it. I then go pick it up and hand it to him with a kiss.
I can’t imagine how tough it must get for him at work. I am his helpmate and I love him. He may well be an irritant to those around his workstation. Or not, as many of the people he works with, at least of those I’ve met, are Aspies also and may not notice the Hubster’s peculiarities.
Sometimes I wonder how much Steve’s dyslexia and poor depth perception has to do with his failure to recognize objects he’s looking for, or accounts for his abysmal driving skills for that matter. Multitasking is another weak area for Steve, as is staying focused on a job or an activity.
His best intention is to get ready quickly for work in the morning, but he might notice a note to himself lying next to his sink. It’s reminding him to check a motor manual about some obscure bit of info. It’s irrelevant to his ‘getting ready’ for work. Off he goes to the bookshelves in the basement. I happen to notice the basement stair lights on and go to investigate.
“Steve, are you going to be on time for your vanpool?”
“Hmmmm?” mumbles the Hubster as he paws through the books piled on and jammed into the many cases along the wall.
“Sweetie, it’s time to go to work. What are you looking for?” I reply.
“Well, I was thinking the other day….”
I interrupt him immediately by hugging & kissing him, turning him towards the stairs as I do so.
“Off you go now! Have a wonderful day, Sweetie! Email me if you'd like me to find something for you.”
Steve is now heading up the stairs with me on his heels. I fill his commuter mug, grab his lunchbox and take them to the front door.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” he responds slowly as he slips into his jacket, then grabbing his coffee, lunchbox and backpack he heads out the door. “But I was just thinking…”
His voice trails off as he slams the door of his truck and starts it. Through the windshield I can see his lips still moving as he continues to explain his thoughts to himself. I wonder if he will still be 'thinking' about 'it' as he climbs into the van for work. Probably.
I sigh and head off to another cup of coffee. I hope my 'Professor', absentminded as he is, will have a wonderful day. He sure is lucky to have me, lol.

Monday, October 22, 2012

YOU Have Aspergers!

Nearly every morning since I started this blog last February, I check for emails, messages and comments relating to my marriage to a man with Aspergers Syndrome. I have published every comment that I have received, though I do screen them for offensive or abusive language.
All of us have our own perspective on life, granted. But this morning I was surprised to read the following comment on my very first post Coffee and Bagels.
"Anonymous October 21, 2012 8:50 PM 
no offence but you sound like you have aspergers. Stop making your husband into a joke and grab a mirror"
After sitting back and contemplating this comment for a while, my response was thus:
"October 22, 2012 6:19 AM 
lol - now THAT is a different perspective! thank you for sharing your opinion - i assume you are also a woman married to a man with aspergers - if you don't mind, please email me your blog link so i can read about how you honor your husband - i love to learn! my husband reads all of my posts & occasionally has me correct something from his viewpoint - otherwise, he loves my blogs! no joke..."

I then began to “look in the mirror”.
I first went to the Simon Baron-Cohen test  link above. I carefully read & answered each question. My test score came back at 10, though I had scored 9 a few years ago. I enjoy interacting with other people. I do not prefer to be alone. I love jokes, puns and quick wit. I do directions/maps well, and have a knack with numbers (birth dates, phone numbers, & number patterns), but have to work hard at advanced math. I have many, many interests and my creative bents range from hand crafts to writing to tile setting to car painting. I would be hard pressed to pick a single interest. Granted, I do have ADD and can find it difficult to sit still, but I am never depressed or suffer anxiety.

I then went to LearningRX and took their test. Hmmmm. Definitely not even in the low Asperger range.
Next I hopped over to the Mayo Clinic's diagnosis and reread through their list of Aspie traits, which I’ve condensed a bit:
Has no significant language delays but has a lack of eye to eye contact. Has unusual body posture or social expressions, has difficulty making friends and has a preoccupation with one subject. Usually has no interest in interactive play/contact with others, and has an inflexible attitude toward change.
Okay doke, not me. Next stop was Asperger-Advice.com’s definition of Aspergers Syndrome.
It’s a lifelong condition without cure or treatment but because adults have a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses they can develop coping skills. There are programs which offer social trainings to improve social skills and learn how to read social cues. Many adults lead a fulfilling life professionally as well as personally. Most adults with adult Asperger Syndrome marry and have children. Read more on what it means to have Aspergers yourself: got to the site of Kate Goldfield for a crash course on how to accept your Aspergers!

Again, not me. At PsychCentral  Marie Hartwell-Walker discusses Adult Asperger's: The Relief of A Diagnosis     

“Having the diagnosis has also saved more than a few marriages. Now that the kids are grown, Judy was ready to separate from her husband of 27 years when she first came to therapy.

‘If Al and Tipper Gore could [divorce] after 40 years of marriage, [says Judy] I figured I could manage it too. I don’t know what their problems were but I was just exhausted. I felt like I’d been single-parenting our two kids forever. Actually, I felt like I had three kids. Most of my friends couldn’t figure out what I saw in a guy who could only talk about one thing and who would rudely disappear in the middle of a social evening. He never seemed to be able to understand any of our feelings. Our finances were always a mess because he would lose track of bills. Yes, he was really sweet to me in our private life and he’s always been great about doing things like building the kids a tree house — that was really, really cool. But it became harder and harder to see that as a fair exchange for all the times I had to smooth things over because of something he did or didn’t do that bothered someone.

'Then my daughter emailed me an article about Aspergers. It changed everything. I realized he wasn’t deliberately making life so hard. He couldn’t help it. As soon as he took an Aspie quiz online, he saw it was true. He does love us. He didn’t want the family to fall apart. He went right out and found a therapist who works with adults with Aspergers. He’s far from perfect but he’s honestly trying. He’s even apologized to the kids for not being more involved while they were growing up. I can’t ask for more than that.’”
All of this being said and done, I sincerely hope that you, my readers, will understand and appreciate my blog as I, a neurotypical wife of a man with Aspergers, try to share some of our experiences in dealing with a ‘different’ lifestyle. The subjects in this blog are happy, sad, frustrating, joyous, challenging, rewarding, and (most of all) lovingly shared so that others may find hope in building and maintaining a strong marriage, and to give all of you in similar situations a chance to laugh.
 
Not laugh at my husband, just laugh with me as I navigate through our non-typical, Aspie spiced life.

Which is absolutely, positively not a joke!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flapper

“I’m going to…” flap, flap, flap goes my Hubby’s hand, pointer finger extended.
I try to look at the direction his finger is pointing. Fortunately he isn't using his middle finger today as he often does, citing that his middle finger seldom gets any use by itself and therefore needs more usage.  
It appears that Steve is pointing at the lamp in the corner. I walk towards the closest window and peer beyond that point of the wall. I am now looking at a huge cedar stump.
“Are you heading outside?” I guessed.
“No, no, no!” comes the booming response accompanied by more vigorous flapping.
I try to guess again. “Out to the store?”
“NO!” shouts the Hubster. He throws his arm down in frustration and stomps off to the basement stairs. 

I follow along behind him.
As it turns out, he’s heading down to the laundry room to change out the water filter we have on our house water supply. We live in a rural area and have a well. Our well water has a lot of iron in it so we filter it. Keeps the rust stains down. I  can’t use bleach for cleaning or for doing laundry, and I also purify our drinking water from the tap. We don’t have a monthly water bill however, so it’s worth it.
Back to the flapping and finger waving. Many Aspies use ‘stimming’ to calm themselves. My husband becomes agitated and frustrated when he can’t find the words he wishes to use to communicate. I’m not quite sure if the flapping and waving really help him calm himself though. It often seems to make him more anxious.
I ran across a blog by ASpiring Dad who addresses this issue. It was written several years ago but includes recent posts from others that are eye-opening. ‘Dad’ mentions:
A profound first-hand account of hand-flapping is featured in an article called “A Boy, a Mother and a Rare Map of Autism’s World”. In it, Tito Mukhopadhyay, a 14 year old boy from India with severe autism explains why he flaps his hands like this: “I am calming myself. My senses are so disconnected, I lose my body. So I flap. If I don’t do this, I feel scattered and anxious. I hardly realized that I had a body. I needed constant movement, which made me get the feeling of my body”. Tito’s nervous system receives so little input that he cannot sense a connection with his own body. His hand flapping is his attempt to calm himself and gain a sense of his body’s existence.

http://aspiringdad.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/understanding-hand-flapping-and-what-to-do-or-not-do-about-it/ 


Personally, even after all these years with Steve, I can still find the flapping to be so irritating that I want to shake my finger back at him while he is flapping at me. All of my life I've equated ‘finger shaking’ as scolding. It’s very deeply ingrained in my psyche, probably as deeply as Steve’s stimming is in his subconscious. So my finger remains still. I am not his mother.
Occasionally we are out somewhere together as the flapping starts, so I will also raise my hands to flap, and begin dancing with the Hubster. Making a joke out of it takes any ‘criticism’ out of the equation, and makes us look like we are having fun. Or equally crazy. It forces me to ‘lighten up’, and slows Steve down to the point that he can ‘find his words’.
After all, our kids are very well trained to grab at things that I point to across the room when I can’t seem to find the right word quickly. It’s certainly not solely an Asperger trait to forget words, lol!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It’s a Crying Shame…

As I struggle through the front door, trying to balance my bundles, keep the dogs from jumping, and close the door with my heel, I am taken aback by my hubby sitting in his recliner with tears streaming down his face.
“Steve, what’s wrong?” I exclaim, dropping my keys, abandoning my parcels,  then running to his side.
He says not a word, but continues to stare at the TV screen as flood-works course down his cheeks and drip onto his shirt.
“Sweetie, are you alright?” I now grab his hand as I kneel by his chair.
Still no response from Hubby, so I turn my attention to the program he is glued to. I am expecting to see images of an assassination, or terrorist attack. Maybe a catastrophic event such as a tsunami, earthquake or such.
Instead I see a crab boat filled with orange rainslickered fishermen fighting to hang on to the deck as they are pounded by gigantic crashing waves and huge chunks of ice.
“What is wrong?” I persisted. “Did someone get washed overboard?”
Steve’s tearstained face nods mutely.
I sigh and slowly get to my feet. Walking back to my abandoned groceries, I shake my head in wonderment. My Sweetie watches his crab fishing show religiously with baited breath (pun intended), hoping to see someone lose a finger or hand, or get washed overboard. After all, just watching a bunch of guys fishing for hours on end would be too boring, right?
I sigh again and head off to the kitchen. The dogs follow, tails wagging expectantly. I get them both a biscuit while contemplating the many funerals we’ve attended over the years. Steve will sit stone-faced while those around us, myself included, dab at tears and sniffle. Some will be crying as my Sweetie is now. He says he doesn’t understand why anyone would cry at a funeral.
Oh my.
I ran across an Aspie discussion regarding attachments and feelings in the  Wrong Planet forum. 
I don't often get attached to people (though when I do its VERY strong), but I do seem to get attached a lot to fictional characters and pets. Several people in my family have died in the last few years and I hardly cared aside from having to make an excuse why I couldn't attend the funerals (I don't care how much I like someone, I hate funerals). when my cat died, I didn't get out of bed for 3 days. Same when the 11th doctor "died" on Doctor Who.”
I see this with my husband, and I just don’t get it. I can read about it, and intellectually I can accept it, but I just don’t understand. There are many things about Steve’s reactions to life situations that I haven’t puzzled out yet, and quite frankly, I may never understand.
But he puts up with my wild antics while watching my sports games, so I can ‘put up’ with his histrionics during TV shows.
Except when SpongeBob gets flattened or popped out of shape. Then I can barely contain my laughter!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It’s a Trap!


Dealing with parents when you are an adult yourself, and have been for many years, can be challenging, insightful, confusing, thought-provoking, and just plain frustrating.
Many parents of Aspies don’t want their ‘kid’ to grow up. They want the Aspie to ‘obey’ their dictates. There are parents who refuse to acknowledge the mature adult Aspie as a separate individual who has developed his or her own interests, activities, family and life. Please let your adult 'child' get on with his or her own life.
As we get ready to celebrate a wedding tomorrow, I reflect on the Old Testament passage: “[marriage] is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NIV

And what is a wife to be? "A wife of noble character...is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence i her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  Proverbs 31:10-12 NIV
Nowhere can I find any references that say parents are to be anything but loving and supportive to the newlyweds. Any teaching by the parent of their adult ‘child’ should already have occurred.
Growing up is a natural part of life. A parent’s real job of child rearing is to train the child how to not need his or her parents any more. If your kid is an adult, your job is over. Done. Completed.
Reading through blogs by and for parents of Aspies, I am amazed at how many aren’t doing their ‘job’ because their child has Aspergers Syndrome. Aspies are smart. They are capable of adjusting their behaviors and habits if they wish to interact with other people on a regular basis. Parents need to accept the fact that the grown Aspie may not want to involve others in their lives, except for possibly a spouse. There are Aspie groups around the world that have in-person and online meetings, discussions and chats on how to get along in life with or without others in their lives.
Parents, I beg you to allow your Aspie child to grow up. Help them become independent. You don’t need to run their life for them. Teach them, don’t do it for them. Let your kid come to you when they want input from you. Practice self-control when you are itching to offer unsolicited advice. 
After all, a big part of learning is experience. Just as a child can’t learn to walk on their own without falling, an Aspie can’t learn to deal on his or her own if their parent is always at their shoulder directing their life.
Mom & Dad, Mother-in-law & Father-in-law, hands off the new formed family. Your job is done. Smile and be supportive. If you can’t do that, at least be polite. But keep your doggone mouths shut. The bride/ groom have left your house to go make their own home. Give them the best gift on earth - let them!
To me, this is not a laughing matter.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Behind My Back

I can always tell.
The dogs will tip their heads, perk up their ears, and half wag their tails as if they can’t decide it they are happy or going to run to the hills because they’ve been caught on the living room couch.
My dear Aspie husband is making faces again.
At the dogs.
And waving his fingers at them. Behind my back.
Uggggghhhhhhh. Silly man.
How can a grown man act so immature? Granted, our kids always love it when Dad is hiding behind Mom making weird faces at them. Well, usually. They don’t appreciate it when they are in a play at school or in the middle of a debate. It makes them lose their concentration. And of course, makes Steve laugh out loud.
Hmmm.
I do love a good joke. I just wish my hubby knew a few. He gets most of his material from SpongeBob Squarepants. I’m not a fan.
Sweetie tends to lag behind me when we are walking in public. Heading down the street in Seattle, I’ll turn to see if he is still following me and find him making maniacal faces into the store front windows. I stop to watch the startled faces of the patrons sitting at the pastry shop tables next to the windows who do not realize that Steve is only focused on his reflection in the glass. He has not a clue that there are humans observing his bizarre behavior just a few feet from him.
Uh huh.
I sigh, step back a pace or two, grab his hand while giving a cheery smile and wave to the puzzled pastry connoisseurs, and truck onward towards our ultimate destination. I’ve lost count of how many places I’ve had to ‘tow’ my husband to.
At least he’s happy today. I’ve noted in my Asperger studies that many Aspies seem to suffer from depression. I know that Steve does. My current Readers Digest has a great article about how making the bed can help you be happy.
As soon as the Hubster rolls out of it, I shall show him the article and point to clean sheets. Not sure if it will make him happy, but it sure will make me happy! LOL

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weird

“I don’t pretend to be Captain Weird. I just do what I do.” Johnny Depp
“I’m one of those regular weird people.” Janis Joplin
“I use to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.” Paul McCartney
“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different.” Bill Watterson
“I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.” Frank Zappa
To give a slight twist to a line from Forrest Gump, weird is as weird does.
I was reminded this morning about how unique and different each human being on this earth is. Thank you Lord that there are no other humans exactly like me. What a scary thought.
While many of my husband’s Aspie traits can make him appear ‘weird’ to those around him who aren’t aware of his Aspergers Syndrome, there are many things about me, a neurotypical (someone not on the autism spectrum), that may be construed as being weird also.

I am a woman who hates shopping, loves cars, baseball and football, and prefers to ‘play’ with the boys rather than dress up and go out with the girls.
I love cooking and ‘homemaking’, but hate house cleaning.
I love to read, and I love writing fiction or about specific life events, but I hate to write notes or letters.
I adore throwing parties but hate going to other people’s homes for parties.
I love Facebook and I hate LinkedIn.
I’m weird. My life doesn’t make sense to many people, but my husband ‘gets’ me. Oddly enough, I usually ‘get’ him now that I’ve been educating myself about Aspergers. I'm being to  understand a lot of our communication ‘breakdowns’. More importantly, I realize that a lot of his ‘odd reactions’ are done out of ‘mind blindness’ and are not direct actions against me.
We are weirdly compatible, and I’m just fine with that.
Isn’t that weird? lol…

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Act My Age?

“What’s wrong with how I am acting? I thought you liked humor,” grumbled my esteemed Mate to my now-cowering-form under the side of the linen tablecloth.
I peeked over the edge of the table. Amongst the crystal stemware and china, I could see heads turned towards us, dozens of pairs of eyes focused on the ridiculous folded linen napkin perched upon Steve’s head. A hush had fallen over the room.
I cringed some more.
“Sir, would you care for a fresh serviette?” our waiter politely questioned as his hand reached towards Steve’s cranium.
“NO!” barked He whose head wear was causing the disturbance. The Hubster then whipped the offending cloth off of his noggin and onto his lap. Picking up the menu, he balanced it on his hand while I held my breath, wondering if it would next adorn the upper regions of yon spouse. He did indeed open it to peruse the dinner offerings held within.
I slid back up and let out my breath. Helpmate, indeed!
Keeping that dining experience in mind, I now rarely book an expensive restaurant for celebratory events. A nice trip to Chuck E Cheese's is more my husband’s style. When he is comfortable, I am comfortable.
Browsing the web, I ran across more info on dealing with Aspie/NT relationships on "Dealing With an Aspergers Husband".
·                     Aspergers men in particular may find conflict almost intolerable.  They may hear a difference of opinion or an attempt to explain a different perspective about a situation as conflict or a criticism of who they are.
·                     Neurotypical women especially tend to want their spouse to understand them and their feelings.  However, they need to realize that this is something they may not be able to get from their Aspergers spouse.  Some change may be possible, but the neurotypical spouse may need to adjust his/her expectation, and find other places for support without being unrealistic about what they expect from their Aspergers spouse.
·                     The most basic elements of speaking and hearing are the most important issues that the Aspergers-Neurotypical couples may have.  Aspies often have a very difficult time hearing negative emotions expressed by their spouse.  They may refuse to communicate, but then end up lashing-out in a very hurtful way later on.

I can so relate to these things. Steve hates conflict. I don’t like being embarrassed. If I state my feelings about the embarrassment, Steve takes it as criticism. He does tend to dwell on the perceived 'criticizing' and tries to ‘get even’ later on, usually by breaking something of mine. Passive aggressive behavior.
Overall, I find it easier to ‘adjust’ my expectations. I have lovely kids and friends to dine with at ‘fancy’ places. I can create my own happiness and allow Steve the freedom to be himself.
And, most of all, I can laugh – although sometimes it is much later on…