Monday, April 30, 2012


This is something that my dear husband is not. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally. Just when I think that I have this precept down, when I think that I can ‘live and let live’, Steve makes a pizza.
Pizza is delicious. There are no two ways about it. Even those on restricted diets try to make a version that fits their needs. Recipes abound for gluten free, fat free, dairy free, sulphate free, tomato free, carb free. The list goes on and on.
A ready to bake family sized combo pizza ended up in our fridge this last weekend through no fault of its own. Youngest kidlet and I were gone for baseball. Oldest kidlet and buddy came out to help Dad sort out some of the jumble in his shop. Hubby still had piles of work that he needed to finish up from the week. The propane tank needed filling and the grass needed mowing. These were all planned events. The pizza wasn’t.
Youngest son and I were out the door by 7:30 Saturday morning. Hubby had just taken the dog out and was firing up his computer as we waved goodbye. Apparently his intent was to work for a bit and then go get propane. A little bit became afternoon. Eldest son and friend showed up and began their sorting. My startled husband realized that hours had passed and he hadn’t procured propane. He hadn’t started the mowing. He hadn’t finished his work that needed to be completed before Monday. He didn’t know what was being sorted and possibly thrown away.
Inflexibility quickly led to panic. After being reassured that his treasures in the shop were being adequately respected, and that nothing would be thrown away or hauled away until he was able to look it over again, Steve then took off with the propane tank.
Meanwhile, baseball was done for the day so kidlet #3 and I headed home. I texted Steve to let him know that after we stopped at the store for groceries I’d be home to make dinner.
Turning onto our road we passed oldest kidlet’s buddy who was leaving to go to work. Pulling in to our place, we waved at the now-lawn-mowing oldest kidlet and noticed the hubby’s missing truck. Groceries were hauled in and I started dinner. Steak, rice and beans, fresh asparagus, focaccia bread. Yum.
I just about had dinner ready when in walks Steve with a huge pizza.
“What’s that for?” I asked. Silly me.
“It’s dinner,” stated hubby. “Why is son mowing? You told me to do it!”
“I’ve cooked dinner and son wanted to mow. Riding the mower around in this glorious sunshine sounded appealing to him.” I sent youngest son out to get his brother as I began dishing up. “Again, what is the pizza for? I made dinner. Where’s your phone? Didn’t you check your text messages?”
“Well, I didn’t know when you’d get home, and I knew you’d be mad if I didn’t feed kid and his buddy,” growled hubby. “Can we freeze it?”
“No, just put it in the fridge. We can cook it for lunch or supper tomorrow. I’m not sure when we will be done with our games. I saw buddy leave as I pulled in and I texted you to let you know I was coming home to make dinner. I wish you would communicate with me.”
Jeepers. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.
Sunday morning kidlet and I were out the door by 7:00. Hubby was still in bed. We drove the 70 miles to the tournament site just to find the gates closed and lock. Dozens of confused and upset baseball players and their families milled around. It had rained the night before so the local parks department declared the fields to be unplayable. All games were cancelled. I texted hubby, then we headed home, arriving at noon. I went into the kitchen, turned on the oven and opened the fridge to grab the pizza to cook for lunch.
I yelped. The pizza had already been baked and was more than half gone. I turned off the oven & put the remainder of pizza on the counter for kidlet.
“Steve! What happened to the family sized pizza? Emphasis on 'family'.”
“I had it for breakfast.” Ahhh, Steve. Really? Whatever happened to oatmeal? Oh, I get it. This is him being flexible. lol

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.
Youngest kiddo’s baseball didn’t go as well as we would have liked yesterday. Both games were heartbreakers. In the car he was quiet. I asked him if he would have played if he knew that they would lose both games.
He looked at me with astonishment.
“Of course, Mom! I love baseball!”
I’m not surprised. I knew that about him. He’s a great athlete and scholar; he’s competitive but modest. Love that combo in a kid.
My husband, on the other hand, is a different color altogether.
It’s Christmas. Youngest kidlet was a babe in arms. Hubby’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting. Hubby pulled out his Risk game.
I love playing games. We have cupboards full of board games, word games, and card games.

Steve set the board up. I handed the baby to my sis-in-law. I got everyone drinks and put out munchies. The game was on!
Once we had all our armies set up, on my hubby’s first turn he attacked me. Then the play went around the table. No one else attacked anyone. Steve’s turn again. He attacked me. What? I only had one country adjacent to him. My sis & bro-in-law both had many. But he attacked me.
So went the game. My bro-in-law ended up winning. My hubby was the first man out.
Afterwards I asked Steve why he only attacked me.
“Because I can’t attack guests.” Seriously?
I then went and pulled out the game’s instructions and asked him to point out that ‘rule’. He couldn’t. He insisted that it was the only ‘proper’ way to play with company.
Mind you, this was a good five years before his Aspergers diagnosis.
I tried to explain that I was his wife and he wasn’t supposed to intentionally try to beat me. He wanted to know why not. I explained that he had to live with me! We would always be ‘adjoining countries’! If he just played the game and won, that was fine, but he shouldn't be intent on making me lose.
To this day he still doesn’t get it. I won’t play cards with just him. When our Grandma was alive I’d go to visit her for the weekend with the kids. Grandma and I played cards and talked for hours upon hours. We didn’t ‘try’ to beat each other. We just enjoyed each other’s company.
I’ve explained this to Steve. He thinks the goal of each and every game is to win. I can’t persuade him otherwise.
Sweetie, I know it’s not easy being green, but you still can’t try to beat me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Katie Did

“Who put back an empty cereal box, milk carton, chips bag?”
“Who tracked mud and grass through the house?”
“Who left all the lights on in the basement, living room, garage?”
After all these years, why do I still ask? I know who did it. I know who is oblivious to much of life around him. Why am I disappointed that ‘somebody’ still hasn’t noticed my new glasses after five days?
Single focused. Unaware of surroundings. Forgetful. Preoccupied. Withdrawn. Aspie.
Charles Kettering was an American inventor who held over 180 patents. He is most well-known for inventing electric starter motors, ignitions and lighting systems for cars, spark plugs, safety glass, automatic transmissions, quick drying automotive paint, leaded gasoline, Freon for refrigeration and air conditioning, electric cash registers, and incubators for premature babies. He founded the Kettering Foundation for research, and co-founded the Delco Company and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Brilliant man, gifted engineer and researcher, phenomenal inventor.
But his wife would have to remind him to eat, and check him on his way out the door to make sure he wasn’t wearing pajama bottoms with his suit coat. Gosh, does that sound familiar?
We all have our own quirks and foibles. We are all uniquely individual. As long as I hold no specific expectations about my husband’s actions or reactions, I will never be disappointed.
One of my favorite Kettering quotes is:
“My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”
Ah yes, the future. We can do nothing about the past except learn from it. We should be living for the future.
But he really sums up an Aspie’s life in a nutshell.
“There is a great difference between knowing and understanding; you can know a lot about something and not really understand it”
How well I know that. And I think I’m beginning to understand it!

Friday, April 27, 2012

He Has the Whole World…

"…in His hands, He’s got the wide world in His hands…"
Take a guy with Aspergers Syndrome, who is a father and takes things literally, is tone deaf but loves to sing, can obsess about obscure subjects for long periods of time, and you can potentially get a crazy, mixed up child. Or even three, as the possibility could be for us.
“But Dad said…” is a common prequel to many a discussion I have had with my kids, usually in the car when my husband isn’t along. I certainly don’t want our kids to immediately discount anything their dad tells them as he is very intellectual in science and technology, but Steve can come up with some pretty screwy ideas.
“Dad said that God can squish us if He gets mad at us.”
What? Seriously, Steve? Where did you learn that one? Oh yes, the song. Well Sweetie, it’s an allegory. It says that God is aware of us and cares for us. He isn't going to squish you.
“Loud noises will kill you.”
Coming from a man who cranks his AC/DC to the loudest level that a stereo is capable of delivering, I can only conclude that his parents taught him this. Personally, I agree that rock and roll should be heard at the highest decibels possible, but I do use caution in the car when my kids are present. I wouldn’t want to damage their hearing, which can happen from constant loud noise.
The threshold of ear pain is around 130 to 140 decibels, roughly equivalent to a jet engine at a range in the tens of meters. Eardrum rupture occurs around 160 decibels (conventional sound) to 185 decibels (nonperiodic blast pressure). Lung rupture and presumably embolism due to air blast occur at 200 decibels.  The exact cause of death was debated for many years; the prevailing theory currently is air embolism originating in the lungs. Blast pressure on the chest ruptures delicate lung tissue, admitting air bubbles into the arteries that travel to the heart, brain, and other organs and cause sudden death.
“Using headlights during the day will kill your car’s battery.”
Steve argued this with me for years. I drive with my lights on day and night for safety. He doesn’t want me to. I ask how driving at night with my lights turned on won’t damage the battery but driving with them turned on during the day would.
He insisted that a section of a book that detailed a manufacturing short in a specific car’s driving light system causing damage to that specific car’s battery was the ‘proof’ of his believe. He further contended his claim when the ‘48 month’ battery in my car finally died nine years after the purchase date. He insisted that it's demise was due to my daytime light usage. Uh huh, yes dear. It lasted 125% longer than it's original manufacturing intended.
“Using a washcloth on your face, then on your body will cause pimples on your body.”
Wow. I’m not exactly sure how to even address this one. All I can do is explain how pimples form, the need to always wash with warm water and soap to kill bacteria, and assure my kids that acne is worse during puberty but will eventually go away. Kids have enough to worry about during adolescence without Dad adding this concern.
I am able to refrain from adding, “Just ignore your father.” I don't want to undermine him.
However, that doesn’t stop me from thinking it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


People with Aspergers take things literally. They think they know something when they think it. After all, theories are just something that someone thinks but isn’t actually proven, right?
A math problem such as this would most likely be answered by my husband exactly as this problem is. Technically, he would be correct. But it is not the answer that the teacher is looking for, and therefore it would get marked incorrect. Which would make my hubby furious as there is obviously more than one correct answer.
Yet Steve can also limit himself by asking pointed questions that totally limit the answer that he is looking for. Just this morning, he asked me if the coffee was ready, to which I answered “No.”
What he meant to ask was, “Have you started the coffee yet?” to which I would have answered, “Yes.” Or he could have asked if I wanted him to make coffee, to which I would have responded that I had already started it.
So this morning, when he did go straight to the kitchen to start coffee and make his lunch, he says, “But there IS coffee made!”
“No dear, there is coffee brewing. It’s not done, it is not ready. That is what you asked about.”
No answer from Sweetie.
Many times he asks me a question with his best-guess answer included.
“Will you be gone tonight because of baseball?” he will query as he heads out the door.
My answer is honest. “No, dear.” I wait for the logical question of “What are the plans for tonight?” or “Will you be home tonight?” but they don’t come.
That evening I received a text message. “Where are you?”
I text back "at school"
The responding text from my hubby is “You said that you would be home.”
Me. “no, i didn’t – you asked if i’d be gone because of baseball – i’m not”
A few minutes roll by. He is probably emptying his lunch box and feeding the dog.
My phone vibrates. Incoming text.
He. “Why are you gone?”
Me. “i’m gone because of parent/teacher conferences”
Him. “Oh. So you aren’t going to make me dinner?”
Me. “yes i am – we will eat about 7 – have some fruit for a snack and take a walk”
I love my husband. I get tons of opportunities to laugh! But he'd totally fail on Jeopardy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cat of a Different Color

Rigidity of mind is a common trait of Aspergers Syndrome, as is rebellion against authority. There are also a string of less prevalent traits that, at least for my husband and I, are troublesome. Dutch researcher Paul Cooijmans’ Straight Talk About Asperger Syndrome include some of these traits:
[Asperger traits may include] the less popular negative features that are missing from the current image of Asperger, but have been observed by Hans Asperger in his original study and are known from forensic psychiatry. These include motor clumsiness, insensitivity to another's feelings, destructivity, aggression, endlessly bottled-up anger, violent outbursts…  
…impaired spatial ability… hypersensitivity, rigidity (inflexibility)… and being inclined to obsessions and compulsions.
…rigidity (inflexibility) is the high end of ability to focus, to concentrate, on a subject. With too much focus it becomes difficult to switch to another subject, which is what rigidity is. And obsessions and compulsions are the high end of conscientiousness.
A general fact about genetic traits is that they become stronger as one grows older. "You become ever more like your father" is a popular expression that reflects this. For Asperger, this means that the negative aspects, such as rigidity, too will become ever more of a burden throughout life.
Steve is clumsy. He will exhibit passive/aggressive behaviors. The main reason why I won’t let him ‘help’ with dishes anymore is because he would have a different  project in mind when he was asked to help, so he would end up breaking things in his rush and rage to get the unwanted chore done. His compliancy is given with a penalty. I like my dishes. Youngest son and I do them now. The dishes remain intact.
When hubby would break something, he was furious with me for being upset about my ‘stupid dish’. 'My God, who cares? What does it matter?' Insensitive, destructive.
I’m not too sure about the aggression part of the diagnosis in Steve’s case. He is definitely shy, and I would consider his behaviors to be more passive than aggressive. But this may well lead to his bottled up anger. He complies, but gets so angry about it. He keeps the anger stuffed up inside until he explodes. Violent outbursts about totally innocuous things will surprise us all. Us NeuroTypicals, that is.
Steve and I were just talking the other day about whether or not his traits have become more pronounced in recent years, or if we are just more aware of them. I’m thinking that they are indeed more pronounced. This article would substantiate that.
When we were married, we promised to love and cherish each other in sickness and health till death do us part. If Steve were to have had a debilitating accident, major stroke or heart attack, or any other live changing condition, I would love him just the same.
Steve does have Aspergers Syndrome, an inborn life-long pervasive development disorder. It makes him non-typical, amusing, weird, unusual, nerdy, irritating, challenging, unique, huggable, companionable, intellectual, loyal, literal, methodical, single focused, explorative, and just plain fun.
A cat of a different color.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No Sweat

There are many times when I spout a cliché or euphemism and my husband just looks at me blankly. He has no idea what I mean. If I try to explain it to him he wants to know why I didn’t just say that to start with. He doesn’t like to waste words. I love words. I love playing with words.

Phrases, according to my hubby, should always mean what they say. This is a list of phrases he doesn’t much like:
“You’ve got egg on your face.” This idiom refers to embarrassment, but sends my hubby directly to the bathroom and a washcloth.
“Hit the hay” sounds like something a cowboy would do prepare to feed his horse. It has nothing to do with sleeping and sounds very itchy and unpleasant to him.
“That was the last straw,” makes my Aspie think the cowboy has to switch to hay.
“He’s got the trots.” My hubby again thinks of horses when a good dose of Kaopectate is actually in order.
“You’re beating a dead horse.” Or “Get off your high horse.” Speaking of horses, Steve dislikes clichés.
“It’s time to pay the piper.” Metaphorically speaking, you’d need to prepare for the inevitable. Steve looks for his wallet.
“It takes one to know one.” This catch phrase usually goes right over his head, but not mine. I do.
“Happy as a clam.” Okay, my hubby gets this one, but that is just because our Seattle area is home to Ivar’s Acres of Clams. These similes can put Steve out like a light. So does a very large bowl of clam chowder. The real stuff that is white, not red. To which you add oyster crackers that taste exactly like soda crackers and not oysters.
Slang he gets just as long as it’s associated with cars. Four on the floor. Hemi. Bored and stroked. Uncorked. Stroker. Jimmy. T-bucket. Rat. Chopped. Three on the tree.
Fortunately I love cars and I know these terms too. So when my Sweetie gets upset about my 'language', I’ll keep my shirt on, thanks. Otherwise, someone will seek poetic justice and I just might have to jump ship. But not for all the tea in China.

Monday, April 23, 2012


We had a gorgeous day in the Northwest yesterday. Sun was out, all our windows were open. Daughter, her sig, and both sons were also out. To ride our zip line, dirt bikes and quad. In and around my husband’s blue-tarped hooptys.
Say what?

"Hoopty: Basically, a piece of crap car. Usually cheap and/or broken down. Can be any size, make or model, but must (or should) be embarrassing to drive for some reason."
"Hoopty: A vehicle in poor condition, often large, mended by duct tape or bungee cords. Usually kept under a tarp when not running, which is often."

Steve has a passion for collecting treasures that no one else wants. He loves to go to garage sales on the last day in the last hour because people will let him fill his truck up with ‘free’ stuff. Try as I might, I can’t convince him that it is all the leftovers that they would have hauled off to the dump. And the dump charges by the ton! Of course the people at the yard sale were happy to give it to him. Duh.
My sweet hubby also loves blue tarps. There are blue tarps everywhere around our property. He buys them constantly. I am thankful that our children are always on the move as he’d probably tarp them up should they become stationary for too long.
One time Steve brought home an old Dodge pickup truck. He’s partial to Dodges because people give them away. Translation: the crappy old ones can’t be sold.
On the day the hubster dragged Dog home I happened to have been following him from town. I was horrified to see the moving junk pile ahead of me turn onto our road, then into our driveway. 

Oh Steve, what did you do?
I immediately named the truck 'Dog' because it was dog pile brown. Steve got it running in a matter of hours. Dog was held together with wire and duct tape, and smell terrible. I was a bit disappointed that the chickens that lived in it weren't included. I love fresh eggs. 
Dog resided with us for several years before it died a sudden and nearly instant death. Steve was coming home one night when the brakes on Dog went out. Man and truck went flying past our street, man pumping furiously on a non-compliant brake peddle, and at the next big curve truck leapt off the road into a ditch, then up into the underbrush on the other side. It missed a huge Douglas Fir tree by inches.
Steve walked home and I called a friend to pull Dog out of the ditch. Once the friend had left, hubby ‘forgot’ that the brakes were out and rolled the truck backwards into the exact same spot in the ditch again. A certain hubster then burned up the engine and clutch trying to drive out of the ditch. 

Friend came back and towed dead Dog home. I had a salvage guy come pick it up. It cost us $50 to have Dog hauled off. There wasn't enough left to euthanize.
At least Dog isn’t out beside Steve’s shop rusting in peace under a blue tarp.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Laughing Out Loud

Humor. It’s all around us. People make their livings from it. It makes life bearable for many of us. It allows Mr. Leno to own vehicles that make me swoon. (Thou shall not covet, thou shall not covet…)
Humor can be a very hard concept for those with Aspergers Syndrome to deal with.
In his paper Asperger’s Syndrome and Humor  Jason McCormick, Psy.D. explains:
As a doctoral student in psychology thinking about my doctoral project, I wondered if part of the social difficulty experienced by individuals with AS could be attributed to problems navigating the complex language of humor.
…flexible thinking is important in understanding jokes. Punchlines in jokes are funny partly because they are unexpected. Additionally, according to…researchers, big picture thinking is essential in understanding jokes, as it allows the listener to understand how the surprising punchline coheres with the joke body. As individuals with AS often demonstrate rigid thinking, a desire for the preservation of sameness, and difficulties with big picture thinking, it seems that individuals with AS would have trouble perceiving and producing conventional humor.
My research suggests that [those with Aspergers] produce and perceive humor in ways that are different from [NeuroTypicals]. They tended to prefer jokes with straightforward endings more than did [NeuroTypicals] and [Aspies] humor production was often less organized and less formulaic. However,…[those] with AS both wanted to laugh and to make others laugh. Therefore, rather than calling this finding a humor deficit, humor atypicality is perhaps more appropriate.
An adult Aspie explains in her blog:
A misconception is that Aspies do not have a sense of humor. It is true that we can be very literal, so we often miss the humor in everyday banter, but we can and do enjoy even subtle humor. Our literal interpretations, however, can be problematic.
My own husband has a wonderfully dry wit at times. Other times he leaves me dumbfounded at his choice of amusement. My favorite comical skits are Abbot and Costello’s “Who's on First”, as well as Monty Python’s “Cheese Shop” and “Parrot” sketches. Steve loves them too. Slap stick comedy is guaranteed to leave him in stitches.
But he also loves toilet humor and ‘adult’ comedy which I don’t. Many times our youngest kiddo and I have to hide in another room in the evenings when the man of our house has comedy shows on that singe our ears. ‘Blue’ doesn’t begin to describe it.
Needless to say, my hubby and I don’t go out to comedy clubs. Nor do I watch cartoons much with him. But turn on SpongeBob or Napoleon Dynamite and I will always know where all my ‘kids’ are! Including, of course, my husband…
Anyone want to watch 'Uncle Buck' with me? Now that’s funny!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What a Beautiful Day…

In the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor…
We don’t have neighbors. We live on acreage in a large unincorporated rural area to the east of Puget Sound. We love it here.
On this warm sunshiny day I’m looking out the window of my second story study across an expanse of lawn towards my hubby’s kingdom, a separate multiple car shop. A slight breeze keeps the wind chimes on our deck singing softly.

Our oldest son is here, out by the shop with a buddy tinkering on dirt bikes. Hubby is happily puttering on cars, youngest son will be home soon and daughter will be here mañana.

Idyllic, right? Warm, open-windowed weather. Contented spouse, kids and friends. Everything a person could want.

Except for the mass of yellow dandelions smothering the lawn. There are thousands of them.

Its a very, very good thing that we don’t live in a neighborhood. Our neighbors would hate us. I have terrible allergies and am unable to garden as I used to. Steve hates yard work so he only mows when I beg him to. He asks, "How often do I have to mow the yard?" to which I answer "Once a week." He asks every week.
Once I asked him to help me weed our (now former) front garden. He asked “When” to which I responded, “In a little bit.”
When I was ready to go out to start the weeding, I heard a small, high pitched engine sound. I opened the front door in order to go look for my husband. There he stood on the front walkway, safety goggles on, ear plugs in, weed eater in hand. Then I stared in horror at what had been my perennial garden that I had been adding native plants to every year. It laid against the ground like newly mown hay.
I screamed. I cried. I was inconsolable. I couldn’t believe he had destroyed my years of carefully collected plantings. Many were from his late Grandma’s home and had special meaning to me. Over the years she and I had visited over some of those very plants as I helped her weed around her home. She always sent me home with cuttings and slips of plants. Next to the hours of playing cards with her, gardening with Grandma was my favorite activity.
Steve just looked at the hysterical mess that was his wife. He shook his head.
“You said you wanted this space weed-eated!” he exclaimed.
“NO! I said ‘weeded’!” I sobbed. “I wanted help pulling the grass and weeds by hand!”
“What’s the difference?” says he. “I’ve cut the grass and weeds!”
I went off to the laundry room to continue my crying. Since I was already miserable, I may as well work on the laundry.
To answer your question, no, none of those plants ever grew back. I doubt very much that Steve will ever understand what he did. Later I tried to explain how I felt to him by having him imagine that I had gone into his shop to ruined his car and engine projects. He said that the comparison was ridicules as all he did was cut down the grass and weeds as I asked him to.
I am sure glad we don’t have neighbors. Can you imagine what would happen if a neighbor asked Steve to help him with painting or doing some fence work?
I shudder to contemplate the scenarios. Mr. Rogers would be mortified.

Friday, April 20, 2012


A seven-year-old girl told her mom, "A boy in my class asked me to play doctor today."
"Oh, dear," the mother said nervously. "Tell me exactly what happened!"
"Not much. He made me wait in a chair for 45 minutes and then double-billed our insurance company."

Patients waiting for a doctor really need patience. So do those of us who love an Aspie. It can be trying.

Sometimes it seems as if I have four children instead of three. My husband most likely be able to live very well on his own, though now that he has been in a family for so many years I’m quite sure he would be lonely. Being alone is just fine with him as long as we are in his life in some way. All it takes is a weekend away, leaving Steve to his own devises, to make him realize how much he loves being part of our family. We certainly do miss him when we are apart.

I recently saw a YouTube video of a couple giving their young daughter a new tee shirt. Since the girl was a beginning reader, the mom and dad helped her carefully and patiently sound out each and every word on the shirt. It spelled out “I’m the big SISTER”. The video was five and a half minutes long. I wasn’t bored. I was intrigued and excited for this young family’s news. I was fascinated by their method of communicating with their daughter. Genius. I was happy for them.

If it took me five and a half minutes to relay information to my hubby, on the other hand, I’d be irritated, and perhaps even grow irate, which makes me pause to ponder why I would react that way. I don’t even know the family in the video, yet I expected the hesitant but persistent working out of words. The girl was young. I didn’t expect her to read as her parents could. Even when she finally read through the message I was holding my breath until she worked out what that message meant for her, which she did. She was going to be a sister!

Yet if I tell my husband something, I expect an immediate response. He is a grownup, well educated, functioning in a work environment for many years. I grow upset when I’ve told him something and he stares at me blankly, making me repeat myself. 

Many times, I now realize, Steve is thinking about something else and he doesn’t hear me. Or my words trigger a totally different message from my intent and don’t make sense to him. Sometimes he thinks that he has spoken out loud to me when he hasn’t. (Which must make up for the times he speaks things out loud when he doesn’t mean to.)

I love my husband. I have no affinity to the family in the video. Why in the world would I not give my own husband the courtesy and care with communication that I’d give entire strangers? I know that those with Aspergers Sydrome have problems with communicating to others. I’ve been reading about it over and over.

I hope you will be patient with me as I figure this out…

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Purple People?

Whoever said ‘Ignorance is bliss’ has never cohabitated in the same domicile as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.
How can a man who can remember the calibration setting for 480 carb on a ‘62 Pontiac Tempest LeMans always forget what day the garbage goes out, when family members’ birthdays are, or the names of our kids’ best friends?
A few weeks ago I rearranged our master bedroom. I had put some decorative shutters on either side of the window about five years ago when our bed was positioned under the window. Now our dresser is under the window. When I called Steve in to see the ‘finished’ arrangement he complemented me on the ‘new’ shutters. Hmmm. He had just now noticed them.
My husband is often oblivious to many of the people in our lives who interact with us on a regular basis. I can introduce him to parents of our kids’ friends for instance, and several years will go by of our paths crossing at school functions, sporting or community events. Then, after a visit together at the local grocery store my hubby pipes up, “Who are those people?”
John Robison, author and fellow Aspergian, acknowledges the trait of self-absorpted exclusion of other people in an Aspie’s life:
“Simply making myself aware of others has remarkably improved my social life. People accept me much faster now that I ignore them less.” John Elder Robison,  Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian
Granted, it isn’t a habit that comes naturally to our Aspies. Now that I am aware of my hubby's social impairment, I try to ‘introduce’ new people to Steve several times after the first meeting he has with them.
“Oh Carol! I’m so glad you were able to get off work early to see Timmy’s game! Do you remember my husband Steve? I didn’t realize when we were at curriculum night last week that we’d be seeing you again so soon!”
“Hey Bud! Steve and I had such a great time at the pancake breakfast last Saturday! Sure wish you guys could put it on once a month instead of once a year!”
Slowly but surely, these ‘hints’ are helping my hubby remember who, what and where.
We even scroll through our facebook friends every once in a while to help him put names to faces. For those of you who put your vehicle photo on as your fb profile picture, thank you! He never forgets a car!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Striped Towels Don’t Dry

It would seem that putting out clean towels would be a straight forward, rather innocuous chore. Changing out linens on a weekly basis has been a routine we’ve done for our entire marriage. For whatever reason, I do this on Saturday mornings. Probably my mother did too, which would explain why it’s ingrained in my mind to do so. Aspies do not have the entire market on routines.
Two years ago I was able to get a great deal on some striped bath towels. One of the stripe colors in them exactly matches the plain towels I already had. Of course I tend to be the only one who appreciates the color coordination in our master bedroom and bathroom.
I realized a couple of weeks after my purchase that every time I put a clean striped towel on my husband’s towel rack it would get replaced with a solid colored towel. I finally asked Steve why that was. Silly me.

“Striped towels aren’t cotton so they don’t dry me off,” was his mumbled reply.
Really? I thought for sure they were cotton. Off I trotted to our master bath. I grabbed one of the offending towels and looked at the label. Hmm. 100% cotton.
“Sweetie,” I said as I approached his recliner-throne, “This label says 100% cotton!” I showed him the tag.
He grunted and mumbled something unintelligible. He pulled the tag closer and looked at it harder. Then he replied that it must be a mistake as ‘they’ don’t make cotton towels that are striped.
“Why not?” asked a confused me.
“Just because!” answered he.
Okay dokey. I sat and thought about it for a bit. Somewhere in Steve’s past I bet that someone had purchased striped towels that were a cotton blend. I also dislike cotton blend towels, which is why I only purchase 100% cotton ones. Once my Aspie husband has had an experience, that remains the cast-in-concrete standard for the rest of his life.
“Steve, have you ever used one of these specific striped towels?”
“No! Striped towels don’t dry,” was his instant response.
“Would you do me a favor tomorrow morning? Would you please try this one? If it really doesn’t dry you, I won’t put them out for you anymore.”
He mumbled something that I didn’t catch, and I didn’t ask him to repeat. I simply put the striped towel on his towel rod and waited for him to say ‘See, it doesn’t dry’.
Two years later I am still waiting. I guess striped towels can dry after all.

Post Script: After reading this, Steve says that it was the 'feel' of the towels he didn't like. It is very common for Aspies to dislike how things feel against their skin. Some hate tags and seams. Others can't handle elastic or gathered material. Steve apparently is partial to specific kinds of cotton towels. Now, I just have to figure out what kind...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hangry Issues

While reading through other Asperger blogs (on both children and adults), I ran across what a blogger describes as ‘hangry issues’.
“…not being on a regular routine, eating at random times and having epic hangry (hungry + angry) episodes. At one point, he had a tsunami like meltdown…”
Wow! I know this ‘thing’! My husband also has ‘hangry’ meltdowns. Try as I might, I cannot get my husband to eat on a regular basis. This is totally illogical to me as he so loves routines in other areas of his life.
He won’t eat a balanced diet. He binges at night in front of the tube. He hides junk food in his computer bag, his shop and his truck. Of course these habits can apply to anyone, Aspie or not. It’s the incredible mood swings and horrendous meltdowns that ensue that are hard to deal with.
The other night I walked into the living room and Steve lunges sideways to push at something on the other side of his recliner. I walk around his chair. An open box of cereal is lying partway under the end table.
“What are you doing, Steve?” I ask.
“Nothing,” he mumbles around a huge mouth of Lucky Charms. His cheeks are bulging.
“Seriously? You are doing nothing? It sure looks like you are watching TV and eating kidlet’s breakfast food.” I pick up the almost empty box and put it back in the pantry. Not a word from hubby.
I really do try to talk to him in a non-accusatory tone. He tells me he doesn’t like to be lectured. (Which is hilarious when you consider how many lectures he’s had to attend in order to earn his bachelors and masters degrees.)
I try to explain to him in a straightforward scientific manner that his system operates best when he eats regular meals of protein, healthy carbs, veggies and fruit. Inbetween meals he needs healthy snacks so he doesn’t feel hungry. I keep lots of cheese and crackers handy. Our fruit bowl is piled high with a large assortment of goodies. There are snacking veggies in the fridge. I definitely see an increase in mood swings for him when he hasn’t eaten in more than two hours.
His high cholesterol levels are not due to my cooking. I do keep a supply of ‘non-Steve’ foods for our six foot tall thirteen year old ‘baby’ who eats day and night, but kidlet burns off the extra calories with his active life style. This time of year baseball occupies his waking hours outside of school and he burns calories like my hemi burns premium fuel.
Steve, however, chooses not to listen.
I send my hubby web links. I show him articles in magazines. He ignores them. I try to explain that if he had diabetes he would have to carefully monitor his diet, to which he responds, “But I don’t have diabetes so it doesn’t matter!”
It matters to those of us who have to live with him.
On weekends Steve may go six to eight hours without eating. He insists it’s because the doctor has told him to lose weight. Then all heck breaks loose. I could point out that he is probably hungry and ask him to eat something, but that seems to send him into a full fledge meltdown.
Hangry. Yep, that describes it perfectly.
Hey, I just remembered something I needed at the store/library/friend’s house. See you later, alligator!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The [occasionally] Talking Mule

I love ‘Francis the Talking Mule’ movies of the 50s, along with the TV shows The Lone Ranger,  Ozzie & Harriet, Gunsmoke, Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy, and Perry Mason. 

Francis the mule. Stubborn as a mule.

"Stubborn: Unreasonably; often perversely unyielding; bullheaded. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute. Difficult to compromise with; resistant to change."
Stephen Bauer, MD wrote about Aspie stubbornness:
[Aspies] can be challenged by the social and emotional demands of marriage, although we know that many do marry. Their rigidity of style and idiosyncratic perspective on the world can make interactions difficult, both in and out of the family.

Try to avoid escalating power struggles. [Aspies] often do not understand rigid displays of authority or anger and will themselves become more rigid and stubborn if forcefully confronted. Their behavior can then get rapidly out of control, and at that point it is often better…to back off and let things cool down. It is always preferable, when possible, to anticipate such situations and take preventative action to avoid the confrontation through calmness, negotiation, presentation of choices or diversion of attention elsewhere.

Kidlet and I arrived home from our weekend of baseball to find the man of our house ensconced in his recliner in front of the tube with 'man’s best friend' at his side wagging her tail. No, it wasn't me.

“Hey Steve! We’re home – can you come help unload the car?”

Grumbling came from hubby’s direction. “Didn’t you load it yourself?” he barked.

“Yes, Sweetie, and it’s so good to see you too! Can you help us unload the car?”

Kidlet and I headed out for a second armload of stuff. I reminded my manchild to bring his cleats in and spray them with freshener. Really spray them. Why do teenage boys feet get so smelly?

Hubby is now lumbering towards the coat closet.

“Sweetie! You don’t need a coat – please just grab our two suitcases. The smaller one goes straight to the laundryroom and you can put the other one on our bed. Thanks!”

Sweetie is now into full blown growling and stomping. He doesn't appear to be happy we are home. Hmmm.

He comes back in with two plastic grocery bags of drinks and fruit. “Umm, Steve, I just wanted you to grab the suitcases.”

“Well, then who the heck is going to get the rest of this junk!” storms he.

“I will, dear. Please just get the two suitcases for me.”

Kidlet goes by us with our backpacks and his baseball gear. I head out to the car and grab the rest of the bottled water. Hubby does get the bags, but thunderheads are growing.

I close all the car doors and head into the house. Steve is standing next to the plastic bags he brought in and set in the middle of the kitchen floor. He asks where he should put them and I assured him that I would take care of it. Then I spot a pile of dirty dishes. Will I never learn?

“Um, Steve, didn’t you do dishes while I was gone?” I needn’t have bothered asking, as he immediately replied that I knew darned well that he wasn’t allowed to do kidlet’s chore of dishes. I sighed and went into our bedroom where my suitcase sat at the end of an unmade bed.

“Steve, you didn’t make the bed while I was gone?” Silly me! Of course he immediately thundered that he had it ready to go to bed. “But did you make it at all while I was gone?”

“Why do you always have to control everything? Why can’t I just do things my way for once? Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

*sigh* Why don’t I learn to keep my mouth shut?