Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Say Cheese!

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Holy Cannoli

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nike Firefox

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

YOU Have Aspergers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is absolutely, positively not a joke!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


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

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It’s a Crying Shame…

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

It’s a Trap!

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

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Behind My Back

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