Friday, June 28, 2013

No Filter

“Steve! There’s coffee all over the counter! What happened?”
And yes, my voice is probably shrill and loud.
“You told me to make coffee,” says The Hubster.
“But why is there coffee all over the counter and none in the pot?” I ask.
“We are out of filters!” says Hubby.
“But Steve, you can’t make the coffee if there isn’t a filter in the coffee basket!” I spurt back.
“You didn’t say that,” responds a retreating voice.
Uhhh huh. He’s right, I didn’t.
I have learned to stop asking Steve’s opinion of my outfits/hair/whatever. I don’t want to always hear “the truth”. Aspergerians have a way of bluntness that can be damaging to tender egos.
I have not, however, been able to learn to forecast any and all probabilities and outcomes of life. Mainly because they are limitless and impossible to predict.
When I know that the kids have special news to tell their dad, I try to make sure to ‘coach’ Steve’s response by giving him a heads up that there is something the kids want to share with them and he is to listen quietly, then respond with enthusiasm and not three thousand four hundred twenty-nine questions.
Oh how I hate that type of grilling.
“Steve! I just was chosen citizen of the year!” I proclaim proudly.
“How did they choose you?” quizzes Hubby. “How many others were in contention? Who were the judges? What kind of ballot did they use? How did they figure out the nominees, or were you the only one? Do you get a prize or a trophy or both? Did you…”
Yes, I know. Inquiring mind want to know. But it can be exhausting, and definitely takes the joy out of the subject.
I shake my head and walk away. I don’t think I’ll have him attend the awards ceremony with me, lol.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meltdowns vs. Shutdowns

Meltdowns and shutdowns are both common occurrences in our home. While they many seem the same and can be equally aggravating to NT's, there are definitely differences, as my friend Bryan on his Asperger Facebook page points out.  (His link is listed below.)
Thank you Bryan, for your clarification!
Shutdowns.

My friend suggested something to me yesterday and she made a very good point. I have made many a status regarding 'meltdowns' but never 'shutdowns'. I think 'shutdowns' are something people also need to be informed about as it's an issue that can cause misunderstandings between a person with Asperger Syndrome and a Neurotypical.

A shutdown is rather difficult for me to define but I will try my best. 
I will try this example:

'Imagine buying a brand new computer that works state of the art and is in top condition. Imagine a continued usage of that computer without turning it off once. Regardless of the computer's quality, it will always become overheated and will need to be switched off at some point in order for it to work perfectly again.'

I will now in-cooperate that example so it relates to Asperger Syndrome.

'Imagine YOU are the computer that wakes up in a really good mood and in top condition. Imagine a continued usage of yourself for social activities and events without taking a break once. Regardless of how happy your mood may be, it will always become difficult at some point and you will need to switch off in order for you to work perfectly again.'

During shutdown mode, a person with Asperger Syndrome may appear to become increasingly 'ignorant' to what you are saying to them and proceed to ignore you. This can frustrate Neurotypicals to thinking the person with Asperger's is being 'rude' and 'insensitive' - however, this is NOT the case. The person with Asperger Syndrome has merely been in a social event that they are trying to recover from, so they have a 'shutdown' in order to recover themselves and be perfectly happy again.

We are not being rude.

Bryan :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Duct Tape

“You should go home,” says The Hubster from the other room.
I wait a few moments. No other verbal communication follows. I peek around the corner to see to whom or what Steve is speaking to. As an Aspie, he can be subject to sudden verbal eruptions mimicking characters on TV, or in a book. He could have had a ‘thought leak’ (my term of endearment for him talking out loud to himself), or he could be speaking to our dogs (of which he does quite often).
As I peer into our livingroom, I assert that A) that The Hubster is completely alone, B) he is not on his phone, C) we are both home, and D) the TV is off and he is not reading.
Hmmm.
“Sweetie, are you talking to me?” I quizzically ask.
Steve looks around, startled.
“What?” he booms. “What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything!”
I then check to see if the stereo is on. It is not.
“I heard you say “You should go home” I respond. “Who were you talking to?”
I didn’t say anything!” Hubby is now agitated.
“Yes, Sweetie, you did!”
No I didn’t!” comes a thunderous response.
*Sigh*
A part of Steve’s Aspie traits include mild dyslexia. He often mixes things up. He will think he has spoken when he hasn’t, and vice versa. He will mix words up, especially pronouns. Yesterday, after I had noticed his pants were dirty, he told me that he had worn them several times now and that ‘we’ should put them in the wash. When I responded that I was not responsible for putting his clothing away or in the wash, he insisted that he had said “I”.
He had not.
A ‘discussion’ ensued in which he insisted that I ‘always’ hear things wrong. He said that I ‘always’ say that I am right and that he is ‘wrong’. He denied ever mixing things up.
He basically denied his Aspergers.
Granted, I occasionally don’t hear correctly, and yes sometimes get an incomplete or garbled message, especially when I'm not concentrating fully on the speaker. I would not say, however, that I am always right, nor that I am ‘always’ wrong either.
I do tend to talk too much for Steve. Aspies need short, direct questions and statements. They seem to focus on one or two words that can have multiple meanings and forget to listen to the rest of the words, thus getting very ‘mixed’ messages.
There are definitely times I wish I had a roll of duct tape handy.
And I’m sure that Steve feels the same way, lol.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Aspie Dad

Reading through a discussion on the Wrong Planet website, I thought that it could be helpful to quote some of the posts. These viewpoints are neither right nor wrong. They simply ‘are’. http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt87678.html
Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there, as well as you moms who (like I find myself doing) can spend a lot of time “covering” for the Aspie dad in your life.
"My dad has many autistic traits, though never diagnosed... the worst were the meltdowns and his inability to tolerate any noise (something I inherited!). The good parts were his intelligence and devotion."
“Ditto, except for devotion read conscientiousness. And on the down side there was also his intolerance of different opinions on anything, and pernickety pedanticism about language use. I intensely disliked/hated and feared my father for most of my teens, and my mother was almost invisible to me. My father's eyes would become like glowing coals when he was angry. Very scary.Mealtimes were tense affairs, ( to me, until I got into the habit of daydreaming concentratedly through them, as I did on holidays too to while away the hours of walking etc ), with high standards about use of cutlery, position of elbows, and attention paid to chewing, with my father insisting on total silence while he listened to deathly tedious news and discussion programmes on the radio.”

“After my son was diagnosed, I quickly came to the conclusion that my father had been AS, as well. And, he was a good father. Not a perfect one - perfect parents don't exist. And maybe not one of the best. But he cared a lot and really did his best. He stuck firmly all his life to what he thought was right, and while he couldn't handle criticism or disagreement, he did act with honor. Harder than his AS, really, were the emotional issues he had because of his difficult childhood. This would be what may have caused negative effects on us kids, but we also always knew it didn't come from us, that it came from a place he himself couldn't understand. Somehow I learned to accept it early on and was able to disassociate from that. But it did cause me to look for the wrong things in relationships with men. Well, heck, everyone carries baggage. And that wasn't the AS as much as the result of being AS in an inflexible world. It's the one thing I feel I can really change for my son, and so far it looks like we're succeeding with that. My son has a confidence my father was denied early on in his life. I hope to keep it that way. Otherwise, what is left from the AS are a few funny stories. My father absolutely refused to "trouble" others with things like special orders, even after restaurants like Burger King began advertising that special orders were welcome. All I ever wanted was to get my hamburger without condiments, and the fast food places would have happilly done that, but the idea of asking made my dad uncomfortable, and he never would do it. That the taste was left in the bun after you scraped off as much as you could didn't sway him. And he always insisted on making up the beds in a hotel before leaving the room, even after learning that this actually made the maid's jobs more difficult.
“My dad is loud, stubborn and perseverative. He doesn't seem to hear anything I say. If you asked him to describe what kind of person I am, he couldn't. He thought I did everything on purpose just to annoy him when actually I had LDs and executive dysfunction. His emotions are few and simple, and he is incredibly naive yet cannot comprehend when he is wrong about something, which was a bad combination. He had no concept of child behavior and called me lazy, ungrateful, shameless, stubborn, ornery, wanton, perverse, self-absorbed, histrionic, frigid, delinquent, immoral, and irresponsible. My first memory of him is how he would lecture me every day for being "stubborn and ornery" as a toddler."
“It is wonderful and fascinating to hear of other peoples experiences! I think there is a lot of common ground. Here are some ways to describe my own father to a tee, taken pretty much straight from everyone else's posts. Inability to tolerate noise (and able to hear the slightest sound!), Intelligent, Devoted, Meltdowns, Pedantic about language use, Incredibly tidy (obsessively so), Love of maps, Enjoys silence while listening to tedious news & discussion programs on radio, Good father who had own difficult childhood, Disliked my father for most of teens (makes me very sad to think that now : ( We have great relationship these days).
The posts do digress off subject after few pages, but I found the observations to be thought provoking as there seems to be undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome in both my and my hubby’s families. Thinking of AS traits such as stubbornness, inflexibility in thinking, moodiness or depression, inability to look outside of self, obsessiveness, intolerant of or unable to recognize emotions in others, na├»vety or gullibility, and childishness puts many negative fathering tendencies or practices in perspective.
When dealing with our Aspies, it behooves us to consider their own parental backgrounds. Many Aspies do come from Aspie families, the what and why of are still being researched and studied. We all have patterns from our upbringing that color our adult lives, patterns that we tend to repeat unless we make a conscious effort to eliminate.
As with all other aspects in life, all we can do is strive to learn as much as possible, error as little as possible, and laugh at what we can.
Sometimes, that is no small feat, lol.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Introvert

As Yoda would say, “I am an introvert not.  Yes, hmmm.”
Gotta love Yoda-Speak! 

My hubby, however, is a completely different story.
I remember how frustrating it was to notice guys, presumably his ‘buddies’, tease or make fun of him while we were dating. One fellow was particularly obnoxious and it got to the point that I refused to go anywhere that guy would be in attendance.
Now that I am cognisant of Steve’s Aspie-ness, I wonder if he was even aware of the bad behavior. Possibly not.
After an irritating (to me) and frustrating (to him) conversation with Steve the other night, one that ended with him stomping out to his shop, I took a cuppa joe out to our deck to reflect on all the things that attracted me to him after we first met.
Steve was (and is) tall, dark and handsome. His dark chocolate brown eyes and killer smile make me weak-kneed.
He is super intelligent, as well as very quiet. He was always joining in fun activities, trying new things.
Little did I realize that his Aspie quietness was because his body was present, but his mind was a million miles away obsessing on his single focus interest, cars. I too love cars. We go to tons of car shows. We own tons of cars. Unfortunately, for me, most of the ones we own are torn apart or non-operable due to Steve insisting that he ‘just needs to fix’ whatever. Problem lies in the sad fact that while he thinks about lofty ideas and concepts, he does things backwards, refuses or can’t follow directions and instructions, fails to think projects through to completion and misses key elements that result in muddled messes, and doesn’t recognize his own strength or impatience so he constantly breaks things.
Breaking headbolts off in a block can totally sidetrack a rebuild. Frustration drives him to another project. Our six and a half acres are littered with abandoned ‘projects’. You can’t move in his three car shop because of the junk.
Whoops, make that ‘parts’.
As for all of the 'fun activities', Steve is a follower. He rarely initiates anything on his own. Now I just make plans on my own and invite him along. Sometimes he joins, sometimes not. I am just fine with that.
I am often asked if I had known of his Aspergers Syndrome traits and idiosyncrasies prior to our marriage, would I have still married him?
I refuse to even contemplate that question, as our youngest son’s existence hinges on our union.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Sometimes I think we needlessly beat ourselves up with that. Is the past calling you? Don't answer! Let it go to voice mail.
As I sip my coffee and listen to the banging out in Steve’s shop, I sigh. I am here, this is now, and I toss back my head to clear the hair in my face.
And laugh out loud as I have just tossed my coffee down the front of myself with my action!
"No longer a headbanger, am I," rings Yoda's voice in my mind!

Monday, June 10, 2013

HOW TO GET ALONG WITH PEOPLE

  
  1. Keep skid chains on your tongue. Always say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice. How you say it often counts more than what you say.
  2. Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what the cost.
  3. Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody. Praise good work, regardless of who did it. If criticism is needed, offer it gently, never harshly.
  4. Be interested in others---their pursuits, their work, their homes and families. Make merry with those who rejoice, and weep with those who mourn. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him or her as a person of importance.
  5. Don’t burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your minor aches and pains and small disappointments. Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of burden, often heavier than your own.
  6. Keep an open mind. Discuss, but don’t argue. It is the mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
  7. Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves. Refuse to talk of other’s vices. Discourage gossip. It is a waste of valuable time, and can be extremely destructive.
  8. Be careful of another’s feelings. Wit and humor at another person’s expense may do more damage than you will ever know.
  9. Pay no attention to disparaging remarks. Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world, and things become twisted in the retelling. Live so that nobody will believe them.
  10. Don’t be too eager to get the credit due you. Do your best, and be patient. Forget about yourself, and let others “remember”. Success is much sweeter that way.
(with credit to Ann Landers)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kung Fu Fighting

“Oh yah!” booms my hubby’s voice from the livingroom. Whooping sounds emanate, then a loud “Gettem!” The verbal barrage is now ringing through the house.
I'm folding clothes and listening to a Mariners away game, which was currently a quiet up-to-bat in the bottom of the fourth, runners on the outside corners, one out, and the Yanks were actually down by two, though perhaps not for long.
“What? Did they get a double play?” I asked as I darted around the corner to view the TV screen.
Instead of Kidlet and Steve in front of a ball game, I see a bunch of ninja guys punching and kicking each other, blood and body parts flying high and low in the sea of whirling black clothed tornadoes.
Kidlet was nowhere to be seen.
Oh Lordy, its Chuck Norris film fest day. Looks like this Saturday will not be fruitful in the home maintenance department.
I trudge back to my radio and the pile laundry begging to be put away.
Well, perhaps not exactly begging.
My husband doesn’t care for baseball, or any sports for that matter, though he will try to suffer in silence when our Kidlets play.
He does prefers to be alone, to do his own ‘thing’ and pursue his own interests. He struggles with coordination and physical activities, and is generally anti-social, neither traits conducive to sports.
I often go back to the basics, reminding myself that there is no purposeful intent on his part to remain aloof from our family, just truisms of Aspergers.
While I do have to tiptoe around him at times, I’ve learned that if I bring up in advance the specific task or chore that I need help with, then name a specific time that I would like his help, Steve will help. It's best to ask him a few days ahead, giving him time to think about it. 
But not always.
On this day I had specifically asked what his plans were for the day. He said that he had none.
Unfortunately I did not realize that today was the day of the 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master.
Shame on me.
Perhaps I should go down to the local sports bar so I can finish watching the game and talk baseball. Maybe even find a handyman looking for work. You never know.
I do know that you will never find me in front of a Chuck Norris film, lol.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Justin Thyme

“Oh good, you are just in time!” I said as I enthusiastically hugged my then-boyfriend.
“What? No I’m not!” spurts my future spouse. He mumbles something almost unintelligible, but I’m on a roll so I don’t stop to verify that he has just given me his name. Later, I recall that it sounded like he had said his full name, but I couldn’t correlate it to the incident, so I convinced myself that I had misheard him.
This is over ten years before Steve’s Aspergers diagnosis, of which he didn’t tell me about until another three years and two more diagnoses later. He has gone to various doctors and professionals, and has racked up eight individual and separate diagnoses. I think he is finally a believer.
Lol – little did I know what I was in for when we were married!
I ran across a blog that again pointed out to me how confusing my hubby’s life can be on a day to day basis. Signs that seem ‘wrong’, directions that don’t make sense, common everyday terms that you and I understand but are convoluted to our Aspie’s mind.
The mom of an Aspie daughter relates a random conversation that so aptly illustrates the differences in our NT/Asperger worlds:
Then tonight she saw a commercial for the new remake for Footloose. She saw them dancing and asked, "Mom if her foot is loose how can she dance?" She was dead serious. Her mind thinks very literally.
Due to Steve’s extreme shyness, added to his propensity to ration his verbal communication, I am betting that this causes much worry and confusion to his daily living.
(I still haven’t found out exactly what Steve is saving all his words for, but he is still hording them like an elderly man with a house full of newspapers.)
I do try to be sensitive to quizzical looks on The Hubster’s face so I can help him accurately interpret what is being said. I am well aware that I tend to talk too fast for him, and that I can ramble. While Steve’s verbal-ness is similar to a water tap with a very slow drip, I am much more like Niagara Falls thundering and gushing all over.
Whoops.
Occasionally Steve will stop me with a question from a conversation we had several days before. It’s like dropping a grey pebble into a five yard load of gravel and expecting to just look down and find it.
Can’t be done.
But inquiring minds want to know, so I make up something totally random and leave my dear hubby in an abyss of confusion.
Laugh out loud - I guess it makes up for him forgetting our anniversary last year!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Woo hoo! It’s my birthday!! The weather in the Seattle area is supposed to be fairly decent, I have a free coffee waiting for me at Starbucks, Kidlet has a baseball game this afternoon and we are meeting friends and family tonight for dinner out.
As Kidlet and I left his game last night around 9:30 p.m. I received a text from my hubby.
“What do you want to do for your birthday?”
Hmmmm. Seems like I told him the plans last week and put it on our e-calendar.
A few years ago I signed up for a free online calendar at cozi.com – it also has a mobile app for my phone. You can put as many family members on the account as you wish. It took a while, but I think I have Steve trained to enter all of his appointments and activities.
There is just one problem. He doesn’t check it for our activities.
Hmmm hmmmm.
I text back “What does Cozi calendar say?”
No response.
When we arrived home an hour later I asked Steve why he won’t check the calendar we set up. He grumped at me.
“But Sweetie, this is why we have it!” I expounded. “You can look it up at any time! All of Ben’s games are on there, as well as all of our family activities.”
I stood staring at him as he sat shaking his head in a negative response.
“I don’t like it!” The Hubster retorted.
“But it is a great communication tool,” says I.
“It’s too much work to get on the computer,” says Hubby. “Just tell me!”
“But I did tell you last week after D called!” respondeth I, growing frustrated. “Don’t you remember?”
You know I can’t remember things!” spouts Hubby.
“Yes I do and that is exactly why we have the online calendar!” I said incredulously.
“Well, I don’t like it,” says Hubby. He focuses on his book and ignores me.
“Don’t you want to know what I want to do tomorrow?” I quiz him.
He continues to ignore me, so I head off to bed.
*Sigh* Sometimes life makes no sense whatsoever. Aspie or not, lol.