Friday, March 30, 2012

Wishy Washy

Packing to head out the door, grabbing last minute items for the long car ride. Snow gear for the pass in case we need to chain up or get stopped for avalanche control. Extra oil and water for the car. Lists run through my head.

My husband’s chores this lovely morning were to get our propane tanks filled and wash the dog. She’s a much lovelier traveling companion in our car after she’s been freshly bathed. For that matter, so am I. He was able to complete half his list. Our dog does hate water.

One thing on my chore list that irritates me is the dishes. I love cooking, hate dishes. Well, I hate laundry also, but dishes more.

We use to have a great system. Or at least I thought so. I cooked, Steve cleaned up, put away the food, loaded the dishwasher, and hand washed pots and pans that didn’t fit. Unfortunately Steve had a terrible time making things fit in the dishwasher. The kids took turns putting the dishes away. According to my hubby, kids should have done it all.

After all, he was doing dishes since he was in diapers, says he.

Uh huh.

His family did wash all their dishes by hand when he was a kid. Recently they got a dishwasher and I'm sure they love it. My parents bought one when I was ten. There were a few times that we'd have to do dishes by hand because our machine would break and my dad took months to fix it. Ask my mom how long she had to go without a disposal when that croaked. Actually, you probably shouldn't.

As the years went by in our home however, the hand washed items became a sore subject. The exteriors were building up with scum and crud. I was having to rewash them before using. When I asked Steve about it he would say that he was in a hurry, he didn’t have enough time to wash the outsides just the insides, and we didn’t ‘cook’ with the outsides anyway, so who cared?

As for loading the dishwasher, his rigid-rule mind can’t comprehend the endless variables. It’s not unusual for me to rearrange a load several times in order to fit things in. Regardless of where a plastic storage container or lid is loaded, in Steve’s head says that no plastic items can go in the bottom rack. In our washer they can because I have the machine set so there is no heated dry cycle. It saves on electricity. Our tallest glasses don’t fit in the top rack at all so instead of putting them in the bottom rack Steve lays them down in the top rack so the insides don't get washed. I show him over and over. He still doesn’t ‘get it’. His head tells him that all glasses go in the top rack and plastics never go in the bottom rack. To him that is 'truth'.

Sooo, I do it myself. To me it feels like passive-aggressive behavior on his part, but logically I know that it’s the Aspergers. No matter how I try I can’t laugh about dishes.

Unloading is still done by the kids. Misery loves company. That does make me giggle.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Missing in Action 3

Seriously? There is a third? And to think that I’ve never even seen numbers one and two. Oh dear. And speaking of thirds…
Kidlet #3 has a baseball tournament this coming weekend in the eastern part of our state. It’s a three hour drive from our home so we will be staying in a hotel near the fields. I booked our reservations last month after asking my husband if he’d like to go with us. He said he would, even though baseball doesn’t interest him. We’d take our dog along so if Steve really gets restless he can take her for a walk. He booked a vacation day at work.
A win-win situation for all of us. Our son would have both of his parents there for support, I’d have some ‘away from home non-chore’ time with my hubby, and the dog would have us to herself for 24/3. Simple, or so I thought.
A few days after I had booked our two queen-bed suite, Steve calls from work. His buddy from college invited him and kidlet #3 to go to his cabin to ski for the weekend.
“What dates?” asks I.
“Last weekend in March,” answers my spouse.
“Sorry, that’s the first baseball tourney of the season – remember? I’ve already booked our room.” I responded. Silly me.
“Oh.” There was a long, long pause. Then silence. I look at my cell phone. Seven minutes has elapsed.
“Steve? Are you still there?”
“Yah.” More silence. Okay, I think to myself, he really wants to go skiing. He hasn’t seen college buddy since last summer. So I tell him that if he really wants to go, fine, but our son is going to play ball. I offered to tell our kidlet that perhaps we would sleep better if Dad isn’t along.
“Great!” was my husband’s enthusiastic reply.
Great, I think to myself. Our son is going to be very disappointed. Dad is going to be missing in action again. He just doesn’t like sports, even though kidlet #3 plays baseball, football, and basketball, and also does wrestling and track. He is as athletic as his father is not. Opposite ends of the athletic scale for sure.
A week goes by. Husband pops up with a question. “What are you going to do with the dog?”
“Leave her with you of course,” I answer. She is really his dog. He would have mainly dealt with her had he gone with us to baseball.
“I can’t take her skiing!” He is horrified. Okay dokey. We have a problem on our hands. I suggest he rethink his ski trip. After all, he committed to that event second. We have tried to teach our kids that once you’ve committed to something, you don’t cancel it because something ‘better’ comes along. Life is all about choices. Be responsible to the original choice.
“But you don’t want me to come! You said I snore too much!”
I remind Steve that I was only using that to explain to our son why his dad wasn’t coming with us. My husband remembered it all differently. I remind him that he had originally taken the day off from work for the baseball tournament, so yes, that event was committed to first. He admitted that the ski trip was secondary to his commitment to our family. He is still puzzling out why he got it all turned around. He acts like it is all a big dark mystery.
“Because you have Aspergers,” I laughed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Missing in Action 2

Bored: 'Tired of and slightly annoyed by a person or situation that is not interesting, exciting, or entertaining'
Seldom am I ever bored. If the kids ever admit to being bored I ‘allow’ them to scrub the kitchen floor. Hence I seldom hear them say that they are bored. I get to clean the floor myself.

 My husband, on the other hand, is never bored. His brain is always going at full speed. Occasionally he has trouble quieting his mind down in order to sleep.
If Steve isn’t thinking about work, he’s thinking about cars. When he was younger he thought about fighting in wars. A lot. He says he doesn’t think about battle scenes as much now. I asked him why he didn’t join the military after high school. He said that he didn’t like people telling him what to do. Good reason to stay out of the service.
He does still watch wars movies over and over and over again. Platoon, Full Metal Jacket,  Black Hawk Down, Hamburger Hill, Apoculypse Now. I am sure there are more. I don’t watch them. I struggled through Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan with my eyes covered for much of the movie. That was fifteen years ago.
I remember asking my hubby, one day shortly after we were married, what he was thinking about. He became embarrassed and said, “Nothing.” He was so flustered that I immediately assumed it was something of an intimate nature. He assured me it wasn’t. Which hurt my feelings a bit, but I survived.
“Then what?” I asked.
Steve mumbled and ducked his head. I now recognize that motion as him trying to hide from a subject he doesn't wish to discuss.
He commented on the weather.
“No, seriously! What were you thinking about?” I persisted. I had yet to learn.
“War.” More head hanging.
“War? What do you mean ‘war’?”
My husband began to actually explain in detail the war scene that was playing out in his mind. After the second sentence I stopped him.
“Are you serious?” I exclaimed.
He acknowledged he was. Subsequent questioning on other occasions confirmed that this was a regular thought process for him. It was as detailed as his ‘mind’ car projects.
I still will ask Steve what he is thinking about, but I no longer ask for details. Leaves us both happy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Missing in Action

The front door slams shut as footsteps pound down the hallway towards the kitchen where I am scrubbing veggies for dinner.  I hear frustrated mumbling from the upper regions of the angry stomping. My husband is on the warpath.
“What’s wrong?” I inquire with quiet calm. When the thunderclouds are gathering round my spouse, my best response is gentleness.
“Those blankety blank boys! They always borrow my tools and they never put them back! IT MAKES ME SO MAD!”
Really? I would have never guessed. “What’s missing?” I ask.

“My allen wrench set! The boys can never ever use my tools again! They can NOT enter my work shop EVER! Never ever ever!”

Later I asked our son if he and his buddies had used Dad’s allen wrenches. He insisted that they had not touched them. The only tools they had used earlier that day were out of son number one’s own tool box. Just to make sure I asked him to run out and look in his tool box in case one of his buds did happen to snag the wrench set and mistakenly put it away in son’s box. He did, and they hadn’t. Number one son also looked around the shop but couldn’t find them. My husband's shop is not exactly organized.
When Christmas came Santa left a new allen wrench set in Steve’s stocking.
Fast forward six months. Husband comes trudging into the kitchen where I was once again preparing dinner. Seems as if I do that a lot. Go figure.
“Ummm, well, ahhh,” mumbles hubby with head hung down and toe scraping floor.
“What dear?” I ask. There is more hemming and hawing. Then silence.
I turned to face my sheepish looking spouse who was staring down at his hands. In them were his new allen wrench set. Except the set was really dirty and worn looking.
“What did the boys do now?” I responded quizzically.
“Ummm, nothing…” answered Steve. “I found my old set.” His head dipped lower.
“What? Where?” I persisted.
“Well, I umm, I guess I was, ummm, maybe working on the car last fall and uhhhhh, sort of left them on the floorboards close to the front seat so they must have slid under the seat.” His voice had trailed off to a mumble.
Hmmm is right. I thought about asking him to apologize to the kids for thinking they lost them. I thought about telling him that he should put his tools away as soon as he is done using them.

Then I thought about how much effort it took for him to even admit to me that he had found them. He absolutely hates admitting that he is not perfect. What person does?
So I kept my mouth shut with Steve, and told eldest son the outcome myself. He did not look shocked or surprised. In fact, he laughed!

Monday, March 26, 2012


1. Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction
(at least two of the following)
(a) inability to interact with peers
(b) lack of desire to interact with peers
(c) lack of appreciation of social cues
(d) socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior

2. All-absorbing narrow interest
(at least one of the following)
(a) exclusion of other activities
(b) repetitive adherence
(c) more rote than meaning

3. Imposition of routines and interests
(at least one of the following)
(a) on self, in aspects of life
(b) on others

4. Speech and language problems
(at least three of the following)
(a) delayed development
(b) superficially perfect expressive language
(c) formal, pedantic language
(d) odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics
(e) impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings

5. Non-verbal communication problems
(at least one of the following)
(a) limited use of gestures
(b) clumsy/gauche body language
(c) limited facial expression
(d) inappropriate expression
(e) peculiar, stiff gaze

6. Motor clumsiness: poor performance on neurodevelopmental examination

(All six criteria must be met for confirmation of diagnosis.)

The Biology of the Autistic Syndromes (Clinics in Developmental Medicine, No 126) 
by Christopher Gillberg, Mary Coleman 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press 1992

Christopher Gillberg - Nonfiction Books 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

No Way José

Having Asperger Syndrome is not a shameful thing, any more than having diabetes or epilepsy. It simply ‘is’.  If Steve were to lose his sight or hearing he would have to learn a different way of living. Having AS has had the same effect on his life. And ours.

“I remember the relief my husband felt when he finally had a name for his eccentricities.  He was delighted. It lifted a burden to finally discover that he was not a freak and not crazy… But the fact remains that there is nothing wrong with [him].  Their [Asperger] brains just function differently.” 

My husband’s initial diagnosis was made by a trained and fully accredited doctor who specialized in Asperger Syndrome. Steve did not share this with me immediately as it took him a while to process the diagnosis and believe it himself. He has since had a second and even third diagnosis from totally different doctors who had no previous contact with any of his other doctors. All three diagnosis' were independent of each other. Steve still works with the last doctor who diagnosed him. He has accepted his Aspergers.

My family and our friends have been supportive. Steve’s family is a totally different matter. We have sent books and articles to them as they don't have medical degrees, nor any type of training in Asperger Syndrome. Their response has been polite, but firm, denial. It hurts me when they hurt him. 

And it’s too bad. 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.

I am thankful that I’ve been given the chance to be Steve’s helpmate. We married ‘for better or for worse, until death do us part’. Steve is a brilliant man who has daily living challenges that most of us can’t comprehend. Would his family deny blindness or diabetes if he had those conditions?

I do know that Steve is now thankful for his diagnosis, and for being in our family. We love him just the way he is! He has a great support group that he meets with. He is able to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses. He works at staying in his own comfort zone in family life and at work. He says that he is relieved that I can help him with social situations that confuse him.

As for his family? Well, all I can do is shrug and laugh at their obstinence.  Everyone has the right to their own viewpoints and opinions, but in this age of tolerance and diversity it is hard to comprehend their attitudes. They are the ones missing out on a wonderful guy. 

We are blessed by his presence in our family.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Time for a Walk

My husband is out walking the dog.

Common enough activity for most people, but it is a huge sign for me. He is frustrated, overwhelmed, overloaded. With me, with himself, with life in general.

Many times what starts out as a simple quest for information (for me, not him) can quickly turn into an aggravating attack (for him, not me).

Steve recently returned from our neighborhood association meeting. I tried to ask him several times about the meeting. Who had attended, what business was covered - things that, for me, were ordinary chitchat.

Unfortunately, Steve was now fiddling with our pellet stove that had refused to stay lit. He had wanted to fix it before the meeting but I wouldn’t let him start on it in case he would become sidetracked and be late for the meeting.

Since his mind was now engaged on the pellet stove, I should have left him alone instead of ‘intruding’ on his time and thoughts (his viewpoint). He hadn’t wanted to go to the meeting in the first place, he is quick to remind me. If I really wanted to know all these things, then I should have gone myself.

Suddenly he smashes the lid down on the stove, throws down his tools, and stomps out towards the front door. The dog knows instantly that a walk is about to commence and is hopping three feet straight up in the air by the door before he reaches it. Yes, she is an Ibezan. They do that.

As soon as the door slams shut I look out the window. Husband and dog are just a blur down the driveway. They will probably be back by sundown. Or not.

Steve does not like to be questioned about anything. He says that he finds it offensive. Yet he asks endless questions of everyone else and will not stop until he receives an answer that he understands.  I find it best to use analogies that correlate to his work or hobbies. If I can draw a verbal picture from knowledge he already has he understands new information much more quickly.

Aspies can be distracted by unrelated mental pictures that are totally off track from the subject at hand. For example, ask an Aspie to walk across the room to fetch a book. Their mind stops at the word “across” and they picture a large wooden cross on a hill. Bibles often have crosses on them.  Looking in the direction you are pointing to your ‘book’ they see no hill, no cross, no bible. The entire message ends up garbled. The Aspie does nothing because the entire request is nonsense to them.

Perhaps I will go to the next meeting myself. Slowly, but surely, I am learning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

good to remember

Beneath Still Waters

Over all, Steve is a very quiet guy. Shy, reserved, even seemingly disinterested in many of life’s activities that swirl around his self-absorption. Things that I think will upset him don’t. Things that do upset him often surprise me.

Last summer Steve was mowing the yard. We have about an acre and a half in lawn so he uses a riding lawn mower. He puts a set of ear protectors on, revs up the mower and hauls you-know-what at a frightening pace.  He seems to enjoy it.

For a reason that only makes sense to Steve, he has to mow in a counter clockwise direction starting from the outside edge of the lawn and circles inward, which means he ‘shoots’ the grass clippings towards our house with each pass. Because there can be rocks mixed in with the clippings, he has broken several large windows on the house. They are expensive to replace. I ask him to mow in whatever fashion he can in order that he not fling rocks at the house. He refuses to do it differently.

This particular day I look out to see he is once again mowing with the clippings flying straight at the house. He won’t use a grass catcher bag because he read somewhere that to conserve water you need to leave the clippings on the lawn as a mulch.

As I started out the front door to ask him to mow the other direction, Steve drove the mower off the edge of the lawn and onto the gravel driveway near my car. A metallic sound like machine gun fire pierced the air. I ran out to my car. He had just riddled the entire passenger side with gravel, creating hundreds of deep chips and dings. It also broke all three passenger side windows.

I was incredulous. The repairs cost nearly $4,000. When told how much the repair was going to be Steve simply shrugged nonplussed.  He never mentioned it again.

Recently, during one of our windy snow storms, one of my little trees out front was blown over and covered with snow. I asked Steve to pull it upright and shake the snow off.  I then asked whether he could help me replant it when the snow melted so the tree would grow straight. I would do the initial work but needed him to dig a couple of wheelbarrows of dirt to back fill it. I thought he agreed to help me.

A few days later our sons came into the house from the shop. Our oldest was agitated because our youngest had just been yelled at by Dad. I asked what he had done as our youngest usually doesn't have conflicts with his dad.

“It’s what he didn’t do. Apparently Dad had told him to plant a tree a few days ago. He didn’t know what to do or how to do it, so he hasn't done it yet. Dad is livid.”

When Steve came in later, I asked him what it was all about. Come to find out, Steve took my request to him for help with my 'little' tree and turned it in to a chore for our youngest son.

I asked Steve if he has ever taught kidlet #3 to plant trees.

“He already knows how! You guys did that volunteer tree planting project last spring.”

I tried to explain that A) I intended my tree repair to be something that Steve and I did together, and B) our tree planting project last spring was to stick a shovel into the ground to create an opening, then slip in a one foot tall seedling. It was a mass planting by hundreds of volunteers to put thousands of seedlings on a community green-way, whereas my 'little' tree was several years old and nearly eight foot tall! Completely different scenarios.

I asked Steve if the boys and I could do the planting. I took advantage of his response time and dashed out the door before he could answer. 

Steve stayed mad for close to a week. He thinks that as the 'dad' that he should be able to demand for chores of any sort be done at any time he pleases. He thinks that a father should not be subject to questioning on any decision by any person at any time. His rigid thinking regarding these matters seems insurmountable.

I named my tree Fred. He is growing tall and straight. I hope he never flings rocks.

INFO on Prosopagnosia – Face Blindness

Recent ‘60 Minutes’ episode

NINDS Prosopagnosia Information Page


More Info from including:

I've heard that prosopagnosia may be linked to 
autistic spectrum disorders - is this true?

It is true that many people with autistic spectrum disorders also suffer from face recognition impairments. Problems with face processing have also been reported in other developmental disorders such as Williams' syndrome and Turner syndrome. There are various theories concerned with this pattern of presentation, and some researchers believe the face recognition impairment can be attributed to a lack of social interest, and others that perceptual-processing strategy or impaired visuo-spatial skills may be the critical factor. However, while some individuals with prosopagnosia report severe social consequences resulting from the face processing impairment, these are not necessarily an indicator of a concurrent neuro-developmental disorder. On the contrary, there have been reports of a misdiagnosis of high-functioning autism when the underlying impairment is actually prosopagnosia. Importantly, many developmental prosopagnosics do not fulfil [sic] the diagnostic criteria of an autistic spectrum disorder.


Visual and face recognition tests online: 

Test My Brain