Wednesday, June 27, 2012


 “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Robertson Davies
Oh, the life of an Aspie. Rigid and rule oriented, preferring known patterns and schedules, often having great difficulty in transitioning to new activities. Add to all of that possible sensory processing disorders and we can begin to understand how difficult the world can be to our Aspie loved ones.
Hans Margolius says, “Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”
My husband’s mind is never ‘quiet’. He says that there are millions of things going on in his head at any given time. No wonder he has trouble focusing. Many times in order to concentrate on one specific task he needs to have multiple things going on around him in order to ‘tune out’ everything else and focus on the task. TV, kids playing, music, books, magazines, computers. I am the exact opposite. I need quiet around me to focus.
Likewise, Steve’s single focus can limit him in seeing the entire picture. He will focus on one specific part of whatever is in his line of vision and miss everything else around it.
I am often called upon to assist in locating an item that is directly in front of him. Just yesterday he was looking for his favorite thermal coffee mug. He had the cupboard door open and appeared to be looking straight at it.
I reached up and around him to grab it, saying “Here it is, Sweetie!”
He looked startled.
“But I couldn’t see it!” he exclaimed in bafflement.
I remarked that he had been staring straight at it. He insisted that it wasn’t visible, even though he is eight inches taller than I am.
“Then what were you looking at?” I ask quizzically.
“That Husky mug,” he retorted. “Almost all the lettering has worn off. Should we toss it? No one can tell it’s a UofW mug.”
“Does it still hold coffee and keep it warm?” I asked.
“Ummm, I think so,” rejoins he.
“Does the lack of clear lettering interfere with the taste of the coffee?” I query.
“Ummm, I don’t think so,” he grumbles.
I inquire, “Then why would we need to get rid of it?”
“Because you can’t read it!” rumbled the Hubster, with growing agitation.
I started to reply, then shut my mouth. I took the offending faded and worn thermal mug out of the cupboard and put in the far back of the top shelf in the pantry next to the thermoses. Out of sight, out of mind.
At least one of us can see the whole picture.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weeding Out the Problems

I had an epiphany this morning. I know how to banish all disagreements and discord in our home forever.
I just need to keep my mouth shut, and spend all my waking hours supervising Kidlet, cleaning the house, cooking, baking, doing laundry, walking the dogs, paying the bills, refrain from spending money on anything other than Steve’s car projects, mow the lawns and weed the gardens, repair and paint the house/shop inside and out, procure only necessary groceries/clothing/household items that Steve deems correct, keep track of all social/work/school activities, remind said household members of those activities enough in advance so they aren’t late, and (most importantly) don’t nag.
[click on photo to enlarge]

I shared this revelation with my esteemed spouse who was immediately enthusiastic.
Uh huh.
Yes, Dear. Right away, Dear. (Bowing towards Dear as I back away, pulling on my forelock in a humble and reverent manner.)
Then I think about 'normal' expectations of marriage, as well as the roles of marital partners.
We (NeuroTypicals, or NTs) usually expect some sort of equality in marriage. Shared responsibilities and roles, even in households where one spouse is a wage earner and the other stays at home with the kids. For an Aspie, that apparently doesn’t seem logical - or at least for my Aspie.
Carol Grigg wrote an article in October 2008 in which she says:

People who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome enter a marriage with the normal expectation that the marriage relationship will be the priority and will be about togetherness, mutual terms and meeting of needs. From the stories I have heard it seems that people with Asperger’s Syndrome also have this expectation, at least in theory, but countless testimonies indicate that in reality by some process of attrition the relationship ends up being more one of practicality and convenience for the person with Asperger’s Syndrome than for the loving and meeting of emotional needs of the marital partner.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome can tend to be militant and hold rigidly to what defines them as individuals. They can be very interesting and often likably eccentric. They may have a tendency to claim victimisation (sic) from those who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome, while they determinedly continue to navigate life and relationships on terms of their own rather than mutuality and compromise. People
who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome [may] long for the mutual meeting of emotional needs within the marriage and resent the reality of living on terms dictated by the needs and priorities of the partner with Asperger’s Syndrome. In effect, [the NT’s] flexibility is exploited by the inflexibility of the person with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I can take a deep breath and remind myself that Steve’s viewpoint and beliefs are fueled by his Aspie thinking. He is already upset this morning because another Aspie had suffered arrest when hanging out in a public place, “as was his right to do”, according to Steve.

No, Dear. Many cities and municipalities have laws against loitering, defined as “remaining in any one place with no apparent purpose”. We certainly couldn't imagine an Aspie standing in public with a blank look on their face and no detectable body motion whatsoever for an extended period of time as they contemplate their many options of what to do next, could we?

“Well, that’s not right,” declares Hubby. “This is America. You should be able to stand wherever you want or do whatever you want.”

Uh huh. Rigid thinking. Until someone does ‘whatever they want’ and it interferes with Steve’s life. Then ‘they’ should be arrested.

Maybe I should just go out and pull some weeds.

Friday, June 22, 2012

But Is It Rational?

“Quick! Close the door!” I called to Steve as he entered the house.
“Why?” was his response as he stood just inside the doorway with his foot now holding the door open.
“Because of the wasps!” I answered. “Pah-leeeeze shut the door!” I could hear myself getting shrill. I ran from the kitchen towards the front door. I tried to push the door shut but Steve was still blocking the way.
“What wasps?” quizzed my rationale-dependent mate.
By now I am tugging his arm to pull him away from the door. I moved him enough that I was able to accomplish my task. I listened closely but heard no telltale buzzing.
Turning Dear Hubby, I pointed at the window next to our door to direct Steve’s attention to a huge paper wasp nest hanging under the eaves. We could see wasps flying around and crawling in and out of the nest.
“Why did they build that there?” continued my puzzled husband. His Aspergers was in full tilt mode.
Psychologist Mark Hutten addresses the issue of Rationale-Dependent children in his blog at:

These things are equally applicable to my Aspie hubby, so I shall share them. The inserted words are solely mine; I only intend to point out the traits.

[Aspies] are simply not comfortable with things that don’t make sense to them. [Those] who are “rationale-dependent,” are largely focused on logic. They need to know the reasons for the rules in order to avoid both confusion and anxiety. 

Blindly accepting the rules is not the way the rationale-dependent [Aspie] functions. [They] need to understand the reasons behind others’ actions, why something is done a particular way, and it has to make sense…. Since [the Aspie] is over-analytical, [they] often behave inappropriately because [they] never get past the “analysis stage” to the “action stage.” 

Such is Steve’s life. If something doesn’t make sense to him, or he hasn’t experience the situation before, his life comes to a grinding halt until he can ‘figure it out’.
The rationale-dependent[’s] coping strategy is to try to make sense of the world through logic and reasoning. In order to minimize emotional stress, [they] need the world to be a place with order and symmetry to it. Thus, [they] may ask lots of questions about how a particular thing works. Using [their] well-developed, analytical brain, [they] eventually make sense of things and come to an acceptable understanding of what is going on. [People] will most likely need to explain why something needs to be done - or why it can't be done - before they get compliance [from the Aspie].
In many instances Steve’s inaction may have no direct consequences in our lives, other than mild irritation at having to spend the time explaining the whys and wherefores of something. If the inaction or failure to react happens while he is driving, however, the direct consequence can be an accident. If in a meeting at work it can result in anger or criticism from a boss or co-worker. Steve doesn’t take kindly to these things.
Sometimes I do laugh and say things like “Inquiring minds want to know”.
Sometimes, however, I am short tempered and irritated. Sorry Sweetie. I hope you will forgive me.
Now please shut the stupid door!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dog Winked

Wave. Nod. Wink. These are all things my Aspie hubby does to our dog. I have never seen her respond in anything but a morose stare. He thinks she’s hoodwinked by his ploys. I don’t.
“You’re some kind of dog-a-ful to me.”
This is spoken in a ridiculous voice ranging from high falsetto to deep bass and back. Again, this is met with a gloomy stare from aforementioned canine.
“You’re just like a dog to me,” says he.
Well, yes Dear, she is, because she is a dog. She’s not a cat, or a gopher, or a raccoon.
When our family’s male parental unit is around our canine unit, silliness abounds. At least on the human side. has a great threat on Aspies and maturity levels. The subject is Love and Dating.
“I use to think my boyfriend had Asperger’s Syndrome, because he has strange body behavior, has an extensive vocabulary, is intellectually smart, talks like a little professor, is an engineer, has trouble reading others, doesn’t like change, has been living the same way and doing the same things for many years, is clumsy, and has intense and narrow interests. However, I’m beginning to wonder. Could it be something else? I’m beginning to think he sees the world through the eyes of a 13-year old. He’s clumsy, is always trying to be silly, is always reading silly books and watching silly shows… Perhaps, his strange body behavior and way of talking is really childish behavior and childish talking. Are these characteristics of [AS], or am I dating a 13-year old?”
This person is very lucky to have a 13 year old. At times I’m thinking that my hubby is only 5 or 6. Several responses to this initial question state that it truly doesn’t matter if the boyfriend has AS or not. What matters is whether the person posting is willing to live with the behaviors as the boyfriend may not change.
One person pointed out that delayed social and emotional maturity is quite common in those with Aspergers Syndrome, a pervasive developmental disorder.

A study in ‘The Journal of Intellectual Disability Research’ describes it this way:
Asperger syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by autistic social dysfunction and idiosyncratic interests in the presence of normal intelligence. There is no history of language delay. Although people with AS are known to suffer from comorbid psychiatric conditions, few studies have systematically addressed this topic.
So yes, silliness will most likely be present when our Aspie loved one is around.

Sure, the language and gestures may look funny, embarrass your kids, or seem foolish to you, but if it makes your Aspie happy, so be it.
I, however, refuse to wave, nod or wink at the dog, and she adores me, also.

Wink, wink. Nod, nod.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Best Laid Plans

I pretty much knew from the get go that my sweet hubby was a nerd. From his emanating shyness to his habit of pushing up his glasses at the bridge of his nose with his middle finger, I figured out his proclivity towards Geekville within five minutes of meeting him.
I had never really heard of, nor studied anything about, Aspergers Syndrome.
Times have changed.
During our courtship and early marriage, I always had a nagging feeling that Steve was holding something back about himself or his past. The possibilities were so endless that I didn’t even want to speculate. We did go to premarital counseling, with no recourse for my uneasiness. Being emotionally involved with a person who would be an intimate partner in marriage behooved me to be absolutely certain that I would be making a good choice in Steve. Had he been diagnosis before we married, I would have still made the same choice to be his helpmate in life. I just would have had less hurt feelings from some of his more indelible traits.
Our daughter wrote a lovely bit in Steve’s Father’s Day card. She thanked him for his exceptional work ethic and dedication to learning. I second that. He is a hard worker. He is dependable. His inquiring mind does want to know. As long as I can still vacuum around the biggest piles of books near his recliner in the living room, I truly don’t care that he checks out a dozen books and/or magazines from the library at a time.
Many of Steve’s Aspie traits are innocuous, some are simply irritating, and other oddities can be altered with training.
Robert Naseef, Ph.D., and Cindy Ariel, Ph.D., co-editors of "Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom" discuss Aspie changeability.
"People can change. In our profession, we help people to change and would not do what we do if we did not believe with certainty that it is possible  Since [an adult Aspie] functions at a high cognitive level he will be able to use that to learn social behavior that is less awkward and rude. In order to work on this it will be important for him to accept his diagnosis. That is the next hardest step; after that you and he can work on overcoming the hurdles and progress can be seen. He can change.
Accepting the diagnosis may be the biggest barrier to change. If your husband is willing to see a counselor, or even to get a second opinion so that the data begins to grow it could help him to see what is difficult for him to accept right now. Reading books by other high level adults with autism such as Stephen Shore, Temple Grandin, and Donna Williams may also be very helpful for him to begin to gather the cognitive evidence he may need to understand and accept his diagnosis."
I have finally trained Steve to adjust his glasses with his pointer finger. When he forgets and tries to ‘flip me off’, I just whisper “Mr. Pointer!”  Thankfully, he loves all those cute little rules and reminders from kindergarten.
As for me, my plans are flexible. I can go with the flow. I am able to help Steve adapt to plans that change at the last minute (i.e. four to six months prior to said event).
Laughing really truly helps!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chip Off the Old Block

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there! I sincerely hope your day is filled with blessings.
My dad passed away three years ago, and my grandpas have been gone for years. Steve no longer has grandparents either, and his dad lives a day’s drive away. We haven’t seen him for some time now. Relations are strained.
My husband is just a chip off the old block.
Aspergers is genetic, but is no more predictable in offspring than eye color. My hubby is brown eyed, and I’m green eyed. We have two green eyed kids and one brown eyed kid. My hubby has Aspergers and I do not. None of our three kids do either. But Steve’s family has many Aspies. Only Steve has been diagnosed. His family insists that he isn’t. Not one of them has any sort of medical degree. Go figure.
The  forum has a great forum on Aspie genetics.
Many who’ve posted have parents or grandparents with Aspergers. One person posted that they “wouldn't want to have a child that would have to go through the social difficulties that I did.”
On this Father’s Day Sunday I find that to be a very sad sentiment, indeed.
Having Aspergers, being a nerd, living life differently does not have to guarantee a life of difficulties. Another post said their lack of desire to have offspring came from their own childhood experiences.
I could just imagine seeing my own child spending all his/her time alone because they couldn't relate to their classmates, or spending hours happily alphabetizing things around their room or the house, both of which I did growing up, and my heart would break with guilt.”
My question for this person is two-fold. One, is being alone bad? And two, if they spent hours “happily” alphabetizing things, what would be wrong with that?
Granted, things with my husband have been much easier after his diagnosis. I have been able to learn much about Aspergers Syndrome, and come to understand that Steve’s reactions and behaviors are not intentionally done ‘at’ me. They are simply manifestations of his AS. He is learning, as I am learning, to compensate for many things that are his natural way of being.
To not have the joy of parenthood because of aloneness or of being ‘different’ is heartbreaking to me. Even NeuroTypical children face challenges throughout life.
My favorite parenting-of-an-Aspie moment is captured in Temple Grandin’s movie starring Claire Danes. Temple was home for Christmas after receiving her Master’s Degree. She was sitting on her bed lamenting to her mother that she didn’t think she would ever be able to feel love as her mother did.
Her mother simply said, “I know, Dear.”
Temple’s mother was an incredible woman who refused to let anyone or anything get in the way of Temple living as normal a life as possible. Aspies don’t have to be sad or alone. Not all NT children are social butterflies. Every child is unique and special in their own way.
To all of you Aspie fathers out there, I wish you the very best today. Thank you for being you!
You add ‘spice’ to our world!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eye Syndrome

I don’t understand.
I don’t remember.
I don’t care.
I don’t want to.
Such are often heard phrases in the life of those who live with, work with, and (try to) play with adults with Aspergers Syndrome.
“Due to misunderstanding their behavior, adults with Aspergers can be seen as selfish by their peer group members. Other unfair labels can be: egoistic, cold, ridged or uncaring. Their behavior might appear to be unkind or callous. This kind of labelling (sic) is unfair and has nothing to do with behaving inappropriately on purpose. Adults with Asperger syndrome are neurologically unable to see things from the other persons point of view. They are frequently told by their peers or partners that their actions or remarks are considered painful or rude which comes as a shock to them since they were never aware of this in the first place. It’s therefor important to get a diagnosis so people arround (sic) them understand their behavior better.
Steve looks like a grown up. Most of the time while in public and at work he acts like a grown up. It seems to be only at home that he takes off his ‘grown up suit’ and acts like a three year old.
If you’ve ever had kids, you may have experienced that three year old stage where the kid will stand at the open front door with one foot out and one foot in, sobbing hysterically because they want to go out and they want to go in. My Aspie husband no longer sobs, but he does become confounded by his conflicting feelings and desires. His anguish typically manifests into frustrated anger.
Today Steve needs to work from home. He had tons of stuff to finish up from the regular week. But I need him to check the engine fluids on the new (to me) car that I bought yesterday. And he just received some new engine parts for his Buick that he’s working on so he wants to get out to his garage to putter on that. And it’s Saturday so he wants to sleep in. And the lawn needs mowing.
He can only do one at a time. How to prioritize? What to do? How should he react like a grown up? These issues only exacerbate his frustrations.
If my hubby is willing to talk with and listen to me, I can usually help him figure out a logical (to him) plan for his day. We can figure out how much time each task will take. Mowing takes two hours whereas checking the car takes ten to fifteen minutes. We can determine what time of the day doing the task would make sense. Sleeping in at 4 p.m. would not be very logical. Trying to mow after dark would not work so well.
What absolutely needs doing today? Can any of the tasks be moved to tomorrow if there isn’t enough time to complete them in an unrushed, non-frantic fashion?
As we worked through his task list, Steve became visibly relieved and relaxed. He involuntarily heaved a huge sigh.
“I’m sure glad we see eye to eye,” says he.
Uh huh!

Friday, June 15, 2012


It’s been two days since my car accident. While on my way to take Kidlet to baseball practice, I had stopped on a road near our home to wait for a car to turn left in front of me. I was rear-ended by two vehicles and my beloved Jeep was totaled.
Being the loving, ever vigilant mom that I am, as soon as the dust settled and my brain re-engaged, I looked over to Kidlet and asked, “Did you break your teeth?”
We just had $5K worth of braces put on him last week.
Once we were able to get our jammed doors opened and climb out, I realized that both of our seats had broken. Our back seat was now against the front seats. The entire car was many inches shorter then when it rolled off the assembly line. We walked away with bumps and bruises, and a bit of soreness. But we walked.

*Sob* My beloved 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee was in perfect condition. I had 543K miles original miles on it. Yes, 543 thousand miles. Straight six 4.0 liter, manual 5 speed. I loved my Jeep. My intent was to hit a million miles. *Sob*
My first phone call, once others who had stopped assured me that they had called 911, was to Steve who was at work 45 miles away. He called the insurance company for me and ordered a tow truck. My second call was to our Manlet who works nearby and was out to pick up Kidlet and I in fifteen minutes. He also has given me his car to drive.
I am continually thanking God that we are okay. Looking at all the photos of my poor Jeep I find it hard to believe we survived relatively unscathed.
The panic set in the next morning.
I woke up around 5:30 with a horrendous headache. I arose to use the restroom and was immediately nauseous. I didn’t actually get sick, but did have trouble staying upright. Steve rolled out of bed, hovered near me to make sure I was alright and helped me back to bed. He then showered, made coffee, and headed off to work. At seven I got up briefly to get Kidlet off to school, then climbed back into bed and slept till nine. At that time I noticed over a dozen calls and text messages from my hubby. Was I okay, he wanted to know.
I called him back to find that he was on his way home, in a blind panic because I wasn’t answering. I assured him that other than the headache, I was. The nausea was gone. I was drinking coffee. My neck and back felt fine. Turn around and go back to work, I told him. His obvious relief flowed through the phone.
After I hung up, I sat on our deck with my coffee, contemplating the pure panic in Steve’s voice when I spoke to him. He was terrified. He loves me. There are so many times that he doesn’t do the ‘normal’ lovey-dovey romantic things that many husbands do, but when it really is important, when it really counts, his love for me shines through.
Thank you Lord for my husband. And thank you Sweetie for loving me!
Now, can I have a new Jeep?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I See….

Wow. Anger issues. My husband has them. Many of us do, Aspie or not. What really confounds him is not knowing why he is feeling angry.
Talking about his feelings is difficult for him. Recognizing his anger is easy for me as he demonstrates his anger in loud, noticeable, and often destructive ways. Stomping, smashing, slamming, thumping, crashing, banging, roaring, shouting, yelling rages. The noise is an immediate attention getter and mood indicator.
Hunger, or blood sugar spikes and dips, is one common factor for Steve.

(see my blog Hangry Issues from April 17, 2012) 

The lack of sleep is another. Sleep deprivation can truly wreak havoc in our home.
My hubby was commenting on his ‘mysterious’ anger to me this last weekend, and just this morning I’ve been discussing this issue with the wife of another Aspie.
Steve says that it is very frustrating for him to feel incredibly angry and not be able to pinpoint the source of his anger. I’ve read that this seems to be a fairly common occurrence for many Aspie men; perhaps even for many men in general.
We spoke a bit about feelings being neither right nor wrong, they simple are. The anger isn’t what can be dangerous – it’s our actions and reactions to the angry feelings that can be destructive.
When Steve drinks or over eats, he sleeps poorly. His snoring is atrocious. If it keeps me awake, it stands to reason that it will prevent him from resting well.
We actually had him go to a sleep disorder clinic a few years ago to see if he had sleep apnea. The clinic concluded that Steve did not, and recommended that he should lose weight, establish a regular seven day a week sleep schedule of no more than eight hours a night, with bedtime and rising time exactly the same time each day. He should also avoid alcohol, and not eat within two hours of bedtime.
Uh huh.
When Steve travels to Asia for work our doctor prescribes sleeping tablets for the length of his stay, plus a few days after he returns. Otherwise he can’t sleep at all because of the time change. The long flights are hard on him also. Good sleep is important to his work performance. It's especially essential to a healthy family life.
As his helpmate, I can help Steve explore possible reasons for his anger, provided he shares his feelings with me before he starts wreaking havoc on our home and family.
Heaven helps us if he makes me angry… LOL

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

If the chicken came first, where did it come from? Chickens are hatched from eggs.

If the egg came first, how could it hatch into a chicken without a chicken to hatch it?
If I was initially attracted to my hubby because of his matureness in his young adulthood, how is it that he is now more childish than our teenage son?
I recently ran across similar contemplations on the older/younger dilemma in a blog by Aspie Audrey, a wife and mom with Aspergers.
While Steve and I muse about whether his Aspie traits are becoming more pronounced, I also have to wonder if his maturity level has been sliding downward. He seems to give in more easily to his tantrums and tirades of late. His anger management skills are close to nonexistent.
As for patience, he has none. Our thirteen year old will be in the midst of a conversation with me, but waits patiently when his dad interrupts for some trivial matter that doesn’t really need to be discussed at all. If I ask my husband to wait for a few moments, he becomes irate that I would put our son ahead of him..
Oh really, Dear?
In Audrey’s blog comment section, another Aspie said she feels younger, in part, “because of my difficulty navigating ‘normal’ adult [life], and I just feel awkward in general.”
My husband probably behaves properly (read that ‘normally’) at work, and in the  collegiate classes he instructs. I’m making that assumption based on the fact that he’s been employed by the same company for twenty-five years, and is scheduled to teach three more courses for summer term.
Richard Rowe, fellow Aspie, writes a moving letter about his own experiences with Aspergers, which he became aware of after the diagnosis of his son’s Aspergers.
Richard describes some of his conundrum:
“When I try to explain my condition to people I feel like they either think I'm making up excuses for myself or look on me as a freak or as some kind of nut case. Sometimes I feel that by telling them I have ASD I'm alienating myself, but then, if I don't tell them I will probably mess up at some stage and they will think I'm strange anyway so I figure its (sic) better to tell them on the whole, especially if I intend to try and pursue any type of friendship.
But then at times I feel quite fine about myself, I feel like it's the rest of humanity that has the problem, not me. Sometimes I too, look on myself as a freak and a nut case. But then, I'm sure I'm not, because they always say that if your (sic) nuts you don't know it, and I'm sure I am, so I guess I'm not..... Make sense?”
Yes, Richard, it actually does make sense.
In a chicken-or-the-egg sort of way….

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Let Her Eat Cake

I wish I could eat cake. And pie, and bread, and pasta, and white rice…
The thought of having even a skinny little slice of that heavenly cake with a huge cup of freshly brewed Guatemalan coffee nearly makes me swoon.
The sad truth is that I have to avoid ‘white foods’. Anything containing flour and/or sugar explodes in my system and turns me into a blimp. I don’t like blimps. As long as I avoid those things I don’t have to exercise. I hate exercise more than I love eating cake.
I also love to cuddle. My Sweetheart has been playing in the cactus league lately. He’s all prickly, preoccupied, and withdrawn. Granted, I do understand why. He’s been trying to find a new position in his company, and his current college course that he is teaching is ending. He has his first student graduation to help conduct on Sunday. He is worried about his gown, hat, and graduation stoles. He is anxious about what to do.
I am not going to the graduation as Kidlet has a tournament all weekend out of town. I sometimes forget how much Steve relies on me to help him with unfamiliar situations.
So I sit myself down to re-read my Aspie materials.

Although people with Asperger’s Syndrome do feel affection towards others, relationships are not a priority for them in the same way that it is for people who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome. People with Asperger’s Syndrome generally seem to be more focused on a particular interest, project or task than on the people around them.
Because the person with Asperger’s Syndrome does not have the same relational needs as the non-Asperger partner, he or she is mostly unable to recognize instinctively or to meet the emotional needs of his or her partner. Marriages can thus form seriously dysfunctional relationship patterns.
I zero in on ‘meet the emotional needs’. I think about situations where one spouse can no longer ‘meet’ those needs due to illness or injury. Does that stop love? Does it cancel out marriage vows?
James Garner has been one of my all-time favorite actors. I especially loved him in the movie ‘The Notebook’, based on the Nicolas Sparks novel. I was in tears at the love and tenderness Garner portrayed with the elderly Ally.
I’m able to differentiate between reality and fiction, but there usually tends to be a kernel of truth in many fictional stories. I can choose my own reality. I can meet my own emotional needs. I can opt out of the ‘poor me, poor me, pour me another drink’ syndrome. I do not have to allow ‘dysfunction’ to rule our marriage. I can gaze longingly at that lovely piece of cake while recognizing that it simply isn’t good for me and resist eating it.
But oh, it looks sooooo delicious….

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Be Nice or Leave

During a remodeling project last year our construction workers removed an old five and a half foot double-sinked vanity. I asked them to leave it on our front sidewalk as they were leaving for the night. I wanted to list the vanity for sale, but I needed to wait until daylight to take photos.
When I got up the next morning I saw it was pouring down rain. Steve had pulled his back out, and was currently hobbling about in a bent-over crippled position.
I mentioned to Steve that I needed to get the vanity moved into the garage or it would be ruined. My intent was to call our oldest son to ask him to stop by with his roommate to help. I would not have asked my hubby to move it.
The next thing I know Steve is stomping upstairs where he wakes youngest son up. He then drags our pajama clad Kidlet outside where they wrestle the vanity into the house through the front door just far enough to slam the door shut. Hubby then pushes the vanity over to block the door.
I was horrified. I said that I did NOT want it in the house & had not asked him to do anything with it. He responded that I would have to get someone else to move it if I didn’t like it there. He shuffled grotesquely down the hallway towards our room. Kidlet, standing in the hallway in his soaking wet pjs, just looked at me, then silently headed back up to bed himself.
Later that morning eldest son, also known as Manlet, and his roommate did come over to move the vanity to the garage for me. Hubby stayed in bed the rest of that day. Kidlet went home with Manlet and roommate for the rest of the weekend.
One of the toughest parts of communication in our marriage is Steve’s inability to listen to my thoughts, concerns or ideas without assuming that I am wanting some sort of action on his part.
If I tell him that I’ve brewed a fresh pot of coffee, he then assumes that I either want him to turn off the pot or bring me a cup. If I mention that I should go water my flowers, he assumes that I want him to do it, so he goes out and blows off all the blossoms by using the nozzle on full blast. It makes me hesitant to verbally share anything with him.
My inclination is to refuse to talk to him altogether. But that doesn’t solve anything. So I try to explain to him that when I make general observation, it is simply just that; an observation. I am not asking for action on his part. I tell him that I am an intelligent adult who knows how to ask for things. I don’t need to ‘hint’ around trying to get him to guess what I want. I know how to ask.
I ask him how he reacts to information and observations from others at work. If his boss announces at a meeting that there is a new coffee machine in the break room, does Steve immediately assume that the boss is asking him to go get everyone a cup of coffee? Of course not.
Aspies do need things clearly stated, and I try my best to do that. But I need Steve to treat me with the honor and respect he gives his co-workers. I know how to request help. He shouldn’t assume anything. He can’t read my thoughts.
When Steve is feeling angry or frustrated, he needs to go for a walk, or go out to his shop to putter. He should not take it out on me or the kids.
‘Not nice’ doesn’t belong in our home. Only love does. He can take his ‘not nice’ outside. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are. How you react to those feelings is totally up to you.
I do love a sign that we saw in the entryway at a restaurant in Portland.
"Be nice or leave." The choice is yours.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Best Friends

Over my birthday weekend, I realized anew how blessed I am to have so many best friends in my life. My husband, my kids, and my girlfriends; truly blessed am I. We talk nearly every day. We see each other constantly. We love unconditionally. We help, support, listen to and pray for each other. Gosh, I’m tearing up!
So it makes me sad when I asked my dear hubby who his best friends are. He has to pause and think. He doesn’t even list me. He does name a guy he went to college with twenty-five years ago and sees once every year or two, and a guy who hauls junk that he doesn’t even know his last name or where he lives.
In October 2003 Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright published a study they did through questionnaire on Aspie friendships.
Not surprising to me was how many Aspie men don’t know what a real friendship is, nor have close friends. Granted, I believe that men and women, Aspie or not, will score completely different on this test. But it seems like a good place to start a discussion.
In another published study on “Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Perceptions of Friendship” by Suzanne Carrington, Elizabeth Templeton, and Tracey Papinczak, we see that the (teenage) participants of the study overwhelmingly have problems with even the simple defining points of perceiving what friendship is.
We have all heard sayings such as “To have a friend you must be a friend” and “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. To Steve these are nothing but annoying platitudes. He simply doesn’t understand.
I can only show him by my actions and words what true friendship is. Granted, some days are harder than others, but I am making headway.
Perhaps one day soon, when I ask him who his best friends are he will immediately name me and our kids without having to think too hard.
Living in the land of Pooh isn’t for sissies!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I’ve been pondering cowboys and their ways. Is it possible they all have Aspergers? They seem to prefer isolation, don’t talk much, aren’t social, don’t care about manners or ‘niceties’, get along with animals better than humans, and are seemingly immune to discomforts. Their intense single interest would be guns, cattle or horses.
My favorite ‘cowboy’ actors are Robert Duvall, Sam Elliot, and Tom Selleck. I could watch Lonesome Dove, Tombstone and Crossfire Trail daily without growing weary of them. Those three actors definitely don’t have Aspergers.
My husband is once again questioning his diagnosis. He doesn’t understand, or at least doesn’t accept, how out of step with other people he is.
We played a board game Friday night with our kids, who were over for my birthday. My daughter and her boyfriend made dinner for us all. After we stuffed ourselves we played Apples to Apples. Two full, complete games. We all had a ball hooting and laughing. Except for my hubby who sat sullenly at his end of the table.
Steve didn’t win. In fact, he only got one ‘green’ card in the second game, none in the first. He was flabbergasted.
“I don’t understand,” says he. “All my answers were perfect,” he laments.
Uh huh.
In the game you are given a descriptive word such as ‘cheesy’ that is on a green card. Players have a handful of red cards that are nouns. Everyone takes a turn at collecting noun cards from other players to ‘match’ the descriptive word, then picking the one they like the best. It can be apples to apples or apples to oranges. In this case ‘cheesy’ was ‘toes’. It could have been Jim Carrey, Mt. Rushmore, school pictures, or cheddar cheese. The person who submitted 'toes' won the green card 'cheesy'. They are happily on their way to a win.
Steve was upset that his word wasn’t chosen. In his mind cheddar cheese is ‘cheesy’. True, but not how we tend to play the game. We all usually pick the noun that makes us laugh the most. He is too literal to play well. The first person to collect a preset number of green cards wins. We were all close to winning. Well, everyone but my poor Aspie hubby.
Yesterday Steve needed to work  from home all day. Once again his laptop was giving him fits. He was having a meltdown on the phone with the IT guy, so I walked into the living room to ask him to calm down. He became more irate. It reminded me of a post on that I read recently.
“How do you get over being angry that it's always you that has to adjust or change; even when the NT way is illogical, inefficient, or just plain dumb? I am asking about this primarily in the context of employment, where I am constantly on the edge of unemployment because I have such a difficult time restraining myself from letting my boss know how ridiculous some of the corporate requests are, not to mention my difficulty with "being a team player". I can be tactful, but this tends to go right out the window when I am stressed. Suggestions?”
There were a number of posts in response, but the thread was basically the same. Each person has the choice of how to react to situations they experience. The acceptance part of being a person with Aspergers Syndrome is just recognizing that things that happen in life will be different from your viewpoint. Different from the NTs veiwpoint (NeuroTypical – one without Aspergers).

Sweetie,I know you don’t understand. I know that you don’t ‘get it’. And I know that you think you are right about everything. Living with you has taught me that.
Apples to Volcanos, if you get my drift.