Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Professor and…

Professor: Listen, Gilligan, how far down was she? How many feet? 
Gilligan:  Professor, in navy circles, we don't say "feet". We say "fathoms". 

Professor:  Alright, how many fathoms? 
Gilligan: Oh I don't know, about 15 feet. 
Gilligan's Island - what a great show! It seems so embedded into many of our lives I forget that it was only on TV for three years. The reruns pop up from time to time, and are still zany and fun. They serve to remind me of how often my real life with my Aspie husband plays out like a comedy show! Miscommunication, offbeat situations, crazy stunts and silly thinking.
My darling husband is now teaching classes for his Alma Mater, which makes him a professor. As I think of the Professor’s part on Gilligan’s Island I recognize what an apt role it is for my hubby. He is still an engineer for a large company during the day, but is teaching a class a quarter one night a week. And I have to confess, I pushed him into it.
The company Steve works for sponsors college courses through various colleges and universities for their employees. It’s a wonderful opportunity for employees to better themselves and increase productivity for the company. Steve was able to get his masters degree through this program. This strengthened his self confidence and boosted his self-esteem.
Growing up was hard for my dear husband. The 'square peg in the round hole' syndrome. Being out of step and not being able to pinpoint the oddities with any certainty. Being startled into the real-time world to realize that he just missed a huge chunk of reality because of his daydreaming. Now that he has his diagnosis he can intellectually understand why these things happened, but they are still confusing to him.
He knew that mariners said ‘fathoms’ but he could only think in ‘feet’.
When Steve was first contacted by his college about the possibility of teaching a class, he was dubious. “Why would they want me to teach?” was his initial response.
I reminded him that only 6% of adults in the U.S. over 24 have earned masters degrees. He is one, as is his sister and our daughter. The rest in our family, including me, haven’t - yet. That takes intelligence, hard work and dedication. He is a smart guy with lots of stick-to-it-tiveness. He’s been employed by his company for going on twenty-five years now. That’s not typical. Employee tenure average in the U.S. is about four years. For adults with Aspergers Syndrome it is undoubtedly much less. 
As Steve’s spouse and helpmate, I try to encourage him in all areas of his life. The better he feels about himself, the better he will see the world around him. Aspergers or not, that holds true for all of us.
Meanwhile, Professor…

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