April 30, 2012

How do we learn?

I've just watched the video at this article From the Minds of Babes

Fascinating research as to what babies think and can reason with and why they do the things that they do.

What came to mind as I heard her say at the beginning of the video was "before they learn all the facts and figures that come with growing up"  Yes, what do they feel?  Do they understand compassion already?  Do they understand fear?  Do they understand love?

If they do, why do they?  Is it in-built into humans that we have compassion?  Do we negate that compassion with our thoughts?

A child soon realizes that she has the power to say no. At two years old most are saying no to things that they ask.  They realize that they have that power.  Do they also realize that they have compassion?  When they see someone crying do they try to comfort that person? I think back based on my own children and would say yes.  They don't know the reason why you are crying but just want to make you feel better.

Why do we teach children our thoughts and beliefs? Shouldn't they be allowed to observe and absorb and wonder their own thoughts?  Not told what to think by continually indoctrinating them in your beliefs.

Autistic children seem to withdraw into themselves.  But we need to show them compassion of course.  We can't know why they are feeling that way. But with the help of the IPad some autistic people are actually able to indicate what they are thinking.  Some of what I've read about what they are saying is pretty amazing.  They aren't defective mentally, at all.  They are simply overwhelmed with sensory overload and are shutting down.  We need to unlock this overload and find that place where they can say what they are thinking.

On feedback and negativity

On feedback and negativity.  I got some feedback from a post I did on Facebook pointing to this blog.  She said she was impressed with my call to action but in the end dulled my message with the negativity.  Well, that's something I need to work on. To stay positive in every single post I make.  The point I made that because I have Asperger's I often don't think what others think of what I write.  I just write down what I think.  So, it is good to finally get some good feedback on what you, the reader thinks of what I write. It is only through feedback that you begin to improve as a person.  So, now that I know that I'm being perceived as negative and therefore dulling my message with that negativity I'll stop.  Period.  Now I know and I can learn and grow from there.

If you've read this blog before why didn't you point this out to me?  Is it because you don't feel the need to point out something that is wrong?  I'm not asking this in a snide way but an honest way.

My message is this

Love one another

Feel compassion for each other

Try to hear the other person

Let go of the ego

Let go of the beliefs you feel are so important to you

Enjoy the moment when you realize you're really listening and not hearing what you want to hear

Embrace that feeling of understanding someone else

Love them for who they are, not what you want them to be

Love, don't hate.

April 28, 2012

Compassion - 12 steps

12 steps to a more compassionate life 

“compassion” derives from the Latin and the Greek  meaning “to suffer, undergo, or experience.” So compassion” means “to endure [something] with another person,” to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, to feel her pain as though it were our own, and to enter generously into his point of view. That is why compassion is aptly summed up in the Golden Rule, which asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else. Compassion can be defined, therefore, as an attitude of principled, consistent altruism.

Bullied teens

This post is going to seem a little harsh.  But I think it's time to be a bit harsh and realistic and truthful.  There are teens out there, in the U.S. that are being bullied.  By their parents.  By the people at school.  Why?  Because they appear to be gay.  They didn't ask for this.  They didn't decide 'oh I'll be gay".  They just are gay.  They know it.  They sit in their room and think why they were actually born to be a living, breathing human being placed on this earth.  To be a sick, twisted, ugly lump of flesh that dares to think heretic thoughts that they like people of their own sex.  They think these thoughts because of the messages they hear from their parents, due to the parents religious beliefs.  This is wrong.  They shouldn't be made to feel this way.  They aren't sick, they are human.

Some of the people that post on the Asperger's forums are these bullied teens.  They type in "why am I here on earth?  Why must I live in hell on earth?  I can't take it any more"  You type in below "It'll get better".  And you see nothing in reply.  That's pretty upsetting to me.  I'm sorry but I'm leading to a logical conclusion I believe.

Gay teens bullied to the point of suicide

"Despite recent cultural shifts, kids still get the overwhelming message from society that homosexuality is not acceptable," says Scott Quasha, PsyD, a professor of school psychology at Brooklyn College. It's not uncommon to hear fierce condemnation from politicians and preachers as they debate gay civil rights. Homosexuality is compared to incest, bestiality, even violent crime. "This trickles down into the schools, where bullying occurs," says Dr. Quasha. "A gay child is an easy target for classmates looking to make trouble."

We can't stand idly by and let these politicians and preachers condemn someone for their being.  They didn't ask to be what they are.  They just are.

Any preacher that promotes hate is a hypocrite:  in all major religions the golden rule is "treat others as you would like them to treat you".  That one trumps all the rest of it.  That is what God calls upon you, as a Christian to embrace.  Or any of the major religions of the world.

So I'm calling people to live the golden role if you call yourself religious.

Bullied - the forgotten memoirs by Dan Pearce

When we begin to say it's not okay to bully teens to death with our attitudes we all win.  Because compassion is there. Compassion is "deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it."

Would you say that these teens need compassion?  Or hate?  I ask you, what would help them?  Getting past the ego of your beliefs and thoughts and feeling real compassion for these people.

Here is a breakdown of Sympathy vs. Compassion  Hospice

"Reaching out is your gift, reminding others they are loved and important to you even when they need more time and attention than they can give. You offer hope that they can make it through this dark time simply by asking to be with them. Sit with your fears, acknowledge how helpless you feel, then let your compassionate heart show you how to give love."

Okay, time to throw some statistics in here to show that it's not just isolated cases that I'm talking about.

30 to 40% of GLBT have tried to kill themselves according to studies.  That's 1 in 3 kids.  1 in 3.  1 in 3 kids that see no hope.

One man, Dan, of Single Dad laughing was brave enough to post I'm Christian, unless you're gay He has had an influence beyond his wildest dream and nightmares. He's taking a break at the moment due to the overflow of responses.  Why has he gotten so many?  Because he was brave enough to speak out about the insanity of homophobia in religion. To stand up and say "This is not right".

April 27, 2012

Here's a message we should listen to

Lose your ego, find your compassion

This one is so powerful and moving. Joan Halifax and compassion and the true meaning of empathy "Women in this room are the lotuses in a sea of fire".

This one is about the golden rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. Karen Armstrong: The charter for compassion

Charter for Compassion website.

Lots of videos here. TED.com on compassion.

Stephen Fry on showing respect.

Here's a video/audio of Stephen Fry. On showing respect 

Yes, we have to offend.  By raising points. But doing so, respectfully.

A Day in the life

I'd like to point a wonderful site. A day in the life of the world. Take a picture on May 15th and share it with the world.  Capture an image that you want to share. Follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/AdayDotOrg

Okay, I've gotten one response

Okay I've gotten one response.  It was to say that he didn't feel comfortable speaking his mind out on a subject that broad.  He's okay with addressing it with friends.  But can't come out and talk about it on the net.  That's fine.  But we have to break through this "I can't say anything" to "I have to say something".  We only get such tremendous responses to I'm Christian, unless you're gay when we are brave enough to post something.  Because he was brave enough, he got so many responses he was overwhelmed.  And continues to be overwhelmed every time he is brave enough to venture the topic again.  Because he is brave enough to talk about something that should be talked about.

Break through the "I can't" to "I will because I have to".  Only then will we see posts that people will read and respond to.  You will be getting responses, I can guarantee that.  Some negative, some positive.  But you will be talking about something that needs to be talked about.

Love, compassion, kindness, caring, and loving, Despite everything.

What we need to do

What do we need to do to fight bigotry, hatred, misogyny, intolerance, and fear?  We need to spread out our voices via the net to send out our messages.  Like this one "I'm Christian unless you're gay"  or this one Compassion.  Those are the messages we need to spread.

Not the message that Richard Dawkins said in the Reason Rally and I quote: "Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged - and if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt. ... For example, if they say they're Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood? ... Mock them. Ridicule them! In public!"

That is fighting fire with fire.  You are fanning the flames of hatred with that approach I argue.  You aren't appealing to the softer, gentler side of people.  You are raising their hackles, assaulting them.  You are bullying them, plainly and simply.  You aren't respecting them, at all.  You aren't allowing them their views.  Yes, they are screaming their lies to you.  I agree.  But with reason, calmness, gentleness and compassion you can argue their points.

When it comes to a very simple example I think of my very sensitive, over-reactive daughter. When I ask her politely to do something that gets much better results than if I stand over her and demand that she is wrong, she must do what I say and that there is no arguing the point.  She just "HAS" to do it.  Which approach gets the better response do you think?

With the post A teen's brave response you see the approach of the teen towards his mother.  He is calm, and firm and right in his approach.  He is simply telling her what he is.  He's not screaming that he's right, she's wrong.  He's just saying it like it is, take it or leave it.  He had the very very brave courage to stand up and say it.  I really applaud him for that.  I applaud all of those that are just standing up and simply saying "I am what I am, take it or leave it".  It's hard to do, I'm sure.  They are all brave.  

Why did Single Dad Laughing get so many responses to all his posts about acceptance? Because he was brave enough to broach the subject in a respectful, firm way.  He was brave enough to say this isn't the way it should be.  He's stronger for it, I'd suggest.  Because he's been reaffirmed that he did the right thing by the responses he's gotten.

I'll continue to pour out my feelings of love, compassion, warmth and gentleness and understanding. Maybe changing one mind, at a time.

So, I'll type it out again. "Is compassion the root of all morality?"  I'd say yes it is.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama

Feeling morally superior

Do you feel morally superior and do you do anything to fight against what you see as right or wrong?  That is the question I'm posing to some people on Google+.  Will any of them take up the challenge I've thrown down? We have to speak out on injustices and wrongdoings.  Do what I'm trying to do every day on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.  Which is to love, to accept, to tolerate and to have compassion.  I do this by posting messages from the Dalai Lama.  From quotes I like.  I do this with posts on compassion.  On "I'm Christian, unless you're gay".

That man that writes "Single Dad Laughing" had the courage and the conviction to speak out.  Do you?  Honestly, do you, sitting there behind your keyboard reading this have the conviction to actually type something out on the social medium of your choice and say something about hatred?  Or bigotry? Or misogyny? I dare you.  I honestly dare you to break down the wall of playing nice and actually say something.

It is the quiet revolution of fingers typing out messages of love and compassion that will fight these words of hate.  Of bigotry. Of misogyny.  Sitting there reading it, and thinking "geez this is wrong" and doing nothing does nothing.  It doesn't do anything at all to stop it.  Only in speaking out do we do something.

That is why "Single Dad Laughing" got so many responses good and bad.  Because he did something.  He said something that needed to be said.  If other people said what needed to be said we'd all be better off.  We'd get something as opposed to nothing.

I'll end this with a link to a story that is quite fitting to this theme.  Will the gays and women please rise?  Where he says, quite rightly

"No, my anger is directed at the many followers who choose to remain silent in the face of such bigotry. Just because some old guy with flowing robes and a funny looking hat says some stuff, it doesn’t make it right. Nor does it make it wise or necessarily God’s will. By remaining silent, you condone this moronic and hateful stance of the church, which in turns makes you as bigoted and ignorant. By remaining silent, you prove you are nothing more than a sheep being fleeced for money and acting as agent of indoctrination. By remaining silent, you’re saying homosexuals do not deserve the civil liberties you enjoy. By being silent, you are acting against the very doctrine your supreme being in the heavens wants you to follow."

Are you as bigoted, hateful, and misogynistic as some?  If you aren't why aren't you speaking out that you are not this way?  Exactly why are you silent?  Is it helping the people who are told they are "weird" by being silent and being nice?

And, as for the homosexuals and women who sit quietly in the pews, where is your voice? You must be the most indoctrinated of the lot if you can sit in a congregation that argues against your right to civil liberties and equality.

Speak out in clear honest voices that are respectful and firm.  This is the way we fight the horrible atrocities we see perpetrated.  By staying silent you are agreeing with them.  Yes,  you are. 

April 26, 2012

Are you more likely to be an atheist if you're Aspergian?

Are you more likely to be an atheist if you're an Aspie?  I wondered about that yesterday. As we see autism rates rise, we also see less and less people going to church. Is that related in any way, I wonder?  Are we becoming more skeptical of the church and its message?  Do you feel the need for religion in your life?  Does religion make you feel better I wonder?  These are all questions that I have floating through my head.

I think as I am an Aspie.  When I think I read, I absorb and I ponder what I've read.  I come up with conclusions.  Some of which are right, and some are wrong. I don't always do the right thing, but in mistakes and making them we learn. I like to think that I learn from my mistakes.

I wonder if my questions about the church, its role and place in society are echoed by many other Aspergeians.  If you feel like it, leave me a comment either just saying yes or no or explain your reasoning as to why religion is important in your life or it is not.

I haven't heard much about if Aspies are more atheistic than NT"s on my questions on the Aspies forums on Facebook.  But I wonder if I will hear much. Religion is such a terribly delicate subject to call out on.  So fraught with meaning, symbolism, and feeling for so many.  But I think we must talk about it.

Many Aspies feel marginalized as do I.  Many minorities feel marginalized as well. So, I wonder if we Aspies can learn something from the other minorities. And in turn if they can learn something from us.

April 25, 2012

The God Delusion

I've read the book "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.  It's interesting and good. To get this out of the way I feel that I fit in with the theory that God was the prime mover and created the Big Bang.  And that he hasn't been here since.  I'm about 50/50 on the scale of if God ever existed or not.

So, he starts out with the idea that evolution is the prime mover and shaker. That's what's fueled the world's explosion.  He also talks about the God hypothesis.  The reasons why God may exist, or may not exist.  He points out the inconsistencies of the Bible.  The barrenness of some of the stories in it.

Then he goes into the arguments for God's existence. The proofs of existence through beauty, personal relations, and the arguments from religious scriptures.  He breaks down each with a look at how science says it can't be so.

Then we get into "Why there is almost certainly no God" chapter.  He brings up the point of the Ultimate 747.  You can't build a 747 without having all the right parts.  To get those parts all by chance would be an order of magnitude of incredible proportions. Hence God is improbable as that airplane getting built. Then natural selection comes up. Darwin's theory of natural selection is heavily illustrated. Then irreducible complexity. You can't create such complex things is his point. Then he talks of gaps in the history of evolution. How creationists are eager to fill these gaps. Then he gets into the anthropic principle - planetary version. How did Earth end up at the right gap from the sun, with the right conditions for water, life, and everything on it?  He talks about the order of magnitude of the galaxies.  Just how many distant stars may have some conditions necessary for life? Then he talks about the anthropic principle - cosmological version.  The universe is one of millions of universes. Anyhow, a lot of discussion that was boring about physics ensues.

Now the half of the book about religion.  Why do we have it?  Isn't it consoling? Doesn't it motivate people to do good? If it weren't for religion how would we know what was good? Why, in any case, be so hostile? Why, if it is false, does every culture have a religion?

So, why do we have it?  For a sense of order in our lives?  He surmises that religions, like languages, evolved with sufficient randomness, from beginnings that are sufficiently arbitrary, to generate the bewildering, and dangerous, richness of diversity that we observe today.

Isn't it consoling? Don't we find some relief from the world's burdens when we rely on God and/or Jesus or whomever?  Find some comfort in the thought of the afterlife? Or perhaps comfort in the company of others?

Then he talks about the morality issue.  How the common thread throughout history has been that you don't need religion to be moral.  You just need to be decent.  How religion has shown itself to be the opposite of goodness, honesty and niceness.

Then he talks about the "Good Book" and the changing moral Zeitgeist. How, we, as society have moved quite rapidly from slavery is okay to it's not okay. How morals seen in centuries ago seem so crude and inhumane now. How we've evolved from 'blacks aren't the same as whites" to a black man now being President. And so forth.  He points out that Stalin was a likely atheist.  Did he kill because of that? Not likely, but perhaps.  Was Hitler an atheist? Not likely. He had a bizarre sense of xenophobia against Jews.  Brought on by hatred because of religious intolerance?  We'll never know.

Then he gets into "What's Wrong with Religion? Why so hostile?".  This is the section that I take most issue with.  He lists out all the horrible, awful, incredibly bizarre things that people have done in the name of religion.  But not once do he point out the goodness of what religion has done.  Very many great things!  Simply focuses on the negatives of it all.

Then he talks about indoctrinating children. How they should be allowed to make up their own minds.  Not forced into religions like their parents are. Free to explore, to wonder, to judge what's right and what's wrong.

He ends with the chapter "A much needed gap".  Talking about a burqua and how a woman can only see a narrow view out.  How we need to widen that gap, that view.  Show more.  He doesn't bother asking if the woman does or doesn't want to wear her veil.  Quite a few women who do wear one like to wear one, by the way.  Why we love the burqua  So, he gets a big minus from me there, too. But I understand he was simply using the veil as an illustration of the view some take.

So, to sum up.  I'm okay with the idea that God hasn't been around for a very long time.  Okay, disposed of that. I'm okay with the idea of natural selection.  I accept that we don't need religion in order to act well.  What I take great issue with is his summary dismissal of all religion as being bad.  I don't argue the fact that children should have their own path. I do agree that we need to widen the view.

In closing I'd like to post his view of modern ethics.  These are ones he picked off a website apparently, and a few of his own that I've paraphrased.

A modern code of ethics

- do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

- In all things, strive to cause no harm.

- Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things and the world in general with love, respect, honesty and faithfulness.

- do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

- live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

- always seek to learn something new.

- test all things, always check your ideas against the facts and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

- Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

- Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

- Question everything.

- maintain a happy life with regards to sex and let others have their right to their own personal sex life.

- don't distill your ideas into a child, let them question, wonder, and decide for themselves.

- do not discriminate on the basis of sex, religion or ethics.

So, does Dr. Dawkins live up to all of these ideals when he stated at the Reason Rally
Mock them! Ridicule them! — In public!

April 20, 2012

Detail heavy book - Girls growing up on the Autism Spectrum

I got another book "Girls Growing up on the Autism Spectrum".  Haven't read it all yet. Quite detailed and heavy, requiring a lot of concentration.  Something I don't have a lot of at the moment.  Have to get into the zone and just sit and read and absorb it all.  I'll post a review of it after I've done that.

But to give it a quick summary review - it's about 250 pages long, quite packed.  With snippets of girls voices who are on the spectrum. With advice about girly issues such as periods, moods, tempers, and male friends.

Will write more later on this book.

April 19, 2012

22 Things a woman must know

I have another book here by Rudy Simone 22 Things a woman must know if she loves a man with Asperger's syndrome.  I plan on giving the book to my mum.  Some of the things are

- you will be lonely
- he won't listen to you very often
- expect to be spoken over top of
- your man may not be there for you in a crisis
- you will never change him even if you do change his behaviour
- your AS male won't care much about anything you do apart from him

And so it goes.  All traits that I can see in my dad.  He's 85, and they've stayed married for 60 years next year.  Good on her for putting up with  his shit for that long.  She's a patient, loving wife, for sure.

Patience is such a necessary tool for marriage I find.  Patience, kindness and a tolerance for the other. Acceptance that they will never be perfect, and neither will you.  Perfectionism is one of the marriage killers I believe. This mistaken knowledge that if I'm perfect he should be too.

The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth. W. Somerset Maugham

April 15, 2012

Having another black day

Having a black day where I find some joy but with dark chaotic thoughts through my head.  I wonder if that's what it was like for Ernest Hemingway and his daughter.  Where the negativity of the thoughts won the day and they killed themselves.  Where the weight, and heaviness and depth of the thoughts just overwhelmed them.  We'll never really know.

I find little bits of joy among my days.  A sweet girl offering me a flower and saying I love you Mummy.  A kiss from my husband and a big hug.  A recipe for raspberry frozen treats for the summer.  A brief conversation among friends on a post I did..  These small bits of joy amongst the dark bits are what keep me going.  The thought of a nice dinner, and what shall I make help speed it along. Then I'll take my pills and fall into a deep sleep. And tomorrow wake up and do it all over again.  Always marching on, relentless.  Trying to keep my head above the water.

Reminding myself I am loved.  By some.

Human nature, at its best, had always been based on a deep heroic restlessness, on wanting something--something else, something more, whether it be true love or a glimpse just beyond the horizon. It was the promise of happiness, not the attainment of it, that had driven the entire engine, the folly and glory of who we are. Will Ferguson.

April 14, 2012

Why don't I ever post any pictures of me?

That's a question that I bet some readers may have.  Why not any pictures of you, as you currently are?  Well, there is a sad fact about me.  That is that I'm on anti-psychotics.  They cause weight-gain. Simple enough, they slow your mind and your body down.  They sap your will to get out there and exercise.  I've put on a lot of weight over the last few years.  And I'm embarrassed to look at photos of myself.  Simple as that.  I don't like the way I look.  I look ugly in my opinion. I don't look pretty.  Doesn't help that I get "you are so fat Debbie, when are you going to do something about it??" from my parents.  I'm 50 years old.  I can't stop eating.  I need to eat some food.  I don't overeat.  I don't gorge myself on food.  I get out and walk every single day.  I wish I could run a marathon every day.  And be thin again.  I wish I could take a carving knife to my body and carve out all the fat.  Then I'd be thin.  And dead too. 

I wish I could be perfect.  Have a ton of friends,  Be pretty and attractive.  Have a job.  Have a family that would ask how I feel inside.

I need to get Tim to pump up the tires on my bike. Then I can go for rides.  That's always fun. I enjoy going for bike rides down by the Ottawa River.  That's fun to see the water rushing by.  Such a beautiful powerful river that never stops.  A real energy in the water, always swirling and moving. Like a child. Never pausing for more than a second.  Ever watch a child in a playground?  They never stop moving. It's so amazing to watch them. My daughters are still like that at the playground.  Lovely to see. 

So, yes, some sadness and despair in there today that I'll never be perfect.  But some joy in there that I've got a bike, I've got my health, for the most part, and got some energy to go out and bike.

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. Leo Tolstoy

April 12, 2012

Something about Sexuality

I'm going to write up a post about sexuality.  I'm reading the Asperger's pages on Facebook and more and more I'm seeing questions about people having Asperger's and being gay.  I found this video on YouTube about it

Twice the difficulty in his life, coming out twice, once as Aspergers and once as gay.   Not fun to deal with at all.  It'd be interesting to hear him talking about bullying, I bet.

There is this book available about the subject Sex Sexuality and Autistic which looks quite interesting.

Anyhow, just thinking of the kids who are gay, have Asperger's and live in families that are strict anti-gay.  How on earth do you begin to "come out"? To a parent that will disown you, belittle you, hurt you mentally and perhaps physically.  How truly awful that must be.  I have such sympathy for these people.  No wonder people commit suicide.  And on top of the atmosphere at home, being bullied at school for being different.  Not coping well with school work. How truly awful.

I can't help but think "there but for the Grace of God go I".  I am so lucky to have been born into a family that accepted me.  Didn't try to change me.  Didn't try to belittle me. But supported and loved me.   Even though we never knew what was up until 3 years ago.

As my daughters enter their teenage years I hope that they'll find their path okay.  At least we know that they both have it.  And will have issues with boys likely.  Boys won't understand them.  Girls won't understand them either.  Thankfully Sarah has some friends that accept her for who she is.  They seem to get along great, based on what she's telling me. She seems to be happy.  So I hope that she'll navigate the teen years with some confidence.  Victoria, with few friends, I worry about more.  I hope she'll manage okay.  If either of them was to identify themselves as gay to me, I'd still love them to the ends of the earth. One just has to accept what another person is.  That's the end of the story.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

April 11, 2012

Post about 22 things a Woman with Asperger's Syndrome wants her partner to know

I got a huge package of books yesterday.  I ordered all of Rudy Simone's books from her on her order page. Rudy Simone's website

I most wanted to read "22 Things a Woman with Asperger's Syndrome wants her partner to know".  So, I did, in between making dinner, helping my daughter with homework, and other motherly duties.

Basically it describes us in a fun, friendly engaging way that encourages the reader to participate with their partner to find out "do you feel this way"?  I'll list the 22 things now

1. So you want to date an Aspergirl?
2. Try feeling this!
3. She is not broken - you don't need to fix her
4. No wire hangers ..ever!  Why she has control issues
5. Everyone's a critic ... but she's better at it than you
6. Break on through to the other side
7. It might seem that her special interest is herself
8. She only needs one friend .. and the winner is ... YOU!
9. Don't be cruel to a heart that is true
10. Home is where her heart is .. and her body most of the time
11. Even if you think of her as a woman, she might not
12. Her name isn't Mummy... no matter how much she loves her child
13. How to turn a hotbed into a hot bed
14. Why soothing behaviours (formerly known as stimming) are good for her ... and you
15. Jumping for joy ... or bouncing .... or twirling
16. Tongue-tied but not twisted ... just because she can't verbalize her emotions, doesn't mean she doesn't have them
17. Depression, the enemy on our borders
18. The mood swings, do more than duck
19. Trust, abuse it and lose it
20. Is it obsession or is it love?
21. You may find more in common as you get older
22. Asperger's is a reason, not a label, or an excuse.

So, for each of the points listed above she walks you through descriptions of each reason.  Some I identify with, others I don't.

I don't have the massive self interest.
I don't have the massive sensory issues.
But other things in the book I strongly identify with:

Is it obsession or love?  I tend to obsess, I know, over things and people.  I fall into a frenzy of interest and cannot let go of them, at times.  It's painful to experience when someone says "leave me alone!"  But I know they do it because I'm overwhelming them.  I tend to post massive amounts on my interests on Facebook and Google+.  Overwhelming people with the quantity of what I'm posting.  Simply trying to share, but overdoing it.  Letting my obsessions rule the day, in other words.

The mood swings are definitely there.  The medication I'm on helps minimize those, but with the reduction in my anti-psychotic they're more pronounced than before.

I'm not a terrible critic of my husband.  I have humility and realize quite strongly that I'm only human and make a massive number of mistakes myself.  And so don't point out things to him.  I definitely try to be nice to him. It's the only way I swear that he's stuck by me for 25 years.  Because I treat him like a gem.  He is a gem for putting up with my shit for all this time without knowing why.

Home is where the heart is - oh boy, so much me.  I love my home.  I love being in my home, safe and warm with my family.  It is truly my refuge, away from busy social gatherings.

Definitely the trust issue - you cross me and you're so on my black list.  I don't put up with any of that.  I write people off if they betray my trust.

About the Mummy issue - I love being called Mummy by my daughters but yes, feel weird when I'm referred to as "Sarah's mum".  Like, don't I have my own identity?  But yes I love my children very very much.  I loved when they were babies.  Finally, someone who accepted me for who I was.  Never judging or criticizing me.  Well, until lately :P

About the identifying as a woman - yeah, that strikes a chord.  I often say to others that I feel like an "it".  Neither man nor woman.  I don't see myself as being a female in the sense of being mad about fashion, or clothes, or shopping, or decorating, or all those things that "women" seem to do. Pinterest has no interest for me, whatsoever.  I see little point in it, myself.  Yes, other women seem to go mad over it.  But I'm not like other women.  I'm like myself.  Fact based, oriented towards news, information and concrete things.

Breaking through to the other side (point 6) - yes, the "glass wall phenomenon".  Where we seem to be in our own little world, there, but not there, in the sense of paying attention to what's going on around us.  We're apart mentally, from others.  I have to be called back to earth, often.  My mind is wandering its own path.

Social situations - it's hard to have to don the suit of "social niceness".  I realize that I have to do it.  I often think to myself "I'd rather just stay home thanks".  For appointments and parties I have to go through a ritual of preparing myself.  Reminding myself of the rules of engagement.  Don't talk too much.  Wait for pauses and let the other person have chances to speak.  Maintain some eye contact. Don't let myself flip my hair over and over and over.  Don't get too into detail on subjects.  Keep it light, friendly and open, unless they show real interest in the subject then let it flow to a point.  But keep track of it, don't overwhelm them on the subject.  All of these are things I have to think about every single time I go out in public.  Every single time.  Can you see why I just prefer to stay at home?

She ends the book with a nice passage about "Are you strong enough to be my man?" How we Asperger's women aren't looking for some malleable, weak-willed person that we can toss about.  We want a strong, brave, honest man to stand up to us.  Help us, support us and love us for who we are.  Independent, strong willed women who aren't broken but different.  And proud to be that way.

2nd part of the review of School Success

Okay, I had time to sit and finish off School Sucess for kids with Asperger's Syndrome yesterday.  I did part 1 last month here

So, strategies and interventions that work in the classroom - they expand on that a lot.  The issues that they address include
 - problems with social interactions;
- very focused areas of interest and expertise;
- need for predictability
- problems with language
- problems with abstract reasoning
- problems with sensory hyper- or hypo sensitivity
- problems with anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation
- problems with attention, organization, and other areas of executive functioning
- problems with motor issues including written production and
- problems with ritualistic, repetitive, or rigid behaviour

Basically, for social interactions, try to minimize bullying.  Of any kind.  By being honest about AS with the other students.  Exposing them to the reality that it's not "weird" it's just the way they are.

With very focused areas of interest - try to build bridges with those interests.  Use those interests to engender interest in other subjects by associating them.  Use the special interests as a reward for doing other tasks.  Always try to accentuate the interest and expertise.

With need for predictability - try to maintain a set way of doing things in the classroom.  Have routines, picture clues of what to do, visual cues to follow as well as verbal reminders

Problems with language - try to minimize the use of similes and metaphors to the child, simplify the language used.  Don't dumb it down, you're not talking to an idiot.  Just realize they don't grasp hidden meanings well.

Problems with abstract reasoning - break down the goals of the lessons and describe each part of it that you want accomplished.  Allow the student to show that they understand the lesson in other ways than what they have difficulty with.  i.e. they have trouble writing, why can't they present the info in an oral format for instance?  Or a story board with pictures?

Problems with hyper or hypo sensitivity - if the child seems anxious and/or withdrawn try to solve that with talking to them.  Or getting them to type it out on a computer.  Or drawing a picture of what they're feeling.  Try to find out what is bothering them. Is it the flickering of the fluorescent lights for instance? Try to find ways to minimize distractions for the student.

Problems with anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation - try to work to proactively nip these situations in the bud.  Work on ways to calm the student.  Have a place they can go or a person they can go to to talk or communicate with.  Talk with the parents about how best to calm the child if they get upset.

Attention, organization, and executive functioning - use visual schedules instead of written ones.
Use proximity to teachers and cues from them. Structure work periods into smaller segments and have clear goals stated with a timer or stopwatch monitoring them. Structure the environment with a clearly defined work area for them.

Written production and motor issues - find alternatives for the child to do other than structured physical exercise or writing.  Can they type out projects perhaps?  Can they draw pictures and make story boards to show they know the material?  Can they simply have fun outside with a support person instead of being forced to participate in games in physical education classes?  Can they be supported in a way that suits their style?

Ritualistic, repetitive, or rigid behaviours - define a Functional Behavioural Analysis of the child. The FBA should accurately describe the behaviour, analyze the antecedents to that behaviour, and describe the current consequences and rewards to see if they are in fact helping to curb the behaviour.  If possible, intervene before the behaviour becomes disruptive. Respond to the behaviour in a positive fashion and try to distract the student.

Then they go on and talk about working with the school.  Getting a person to take the commitment to being the liason between the school, student and parents.  Having a cohesive mix of communication flowing always.

Then they talk about parenting.  Rules and regulations that most parents with autistic children already know.  So I won't repeat any of it.

So, all in all a fairly good resource book for kids with Asperger's syndrome.  I'd recommend it, if  you're a parent of a child with AS.  It would help to give it to the teacher I'd imagine.  I'll refer to it for Sarah's teachers in Grade 7.  

By the way, I've interchangeably used some of my own language and some of the language from the book in some of the points I detailed..  Just trying to get their point across in as few words as possible. 

April 9, 2012

A new chapter in Vic's life

Just a quick mention here that we're starting a new chapter in Vic's life.  She's going to be taking a new program (to us).  Carp Ridge Learning centre  She's very keenly interested in nature, biology and how things work in nature.  So when I saw this course available I jumped at it for her.  They'll be doing the following:

Example of Mild Weather Activities:
  • Shelter Building
  • Fire Techniques
  • Cooking
  • Folklore
  • Hiking & Camping Basics
  • Animal Tracking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Edible Plants

    She's extremely interested.  So that will be good for her to take and learn something outside of the home.  And to have interaction with other kids.  I'm excited for her! :)

Depression meltdowns and similarities to Bipolar

I've been reading more of Aspergirls by Rudy Simone.  Towards the end of the book she mentions depression meltdowns.  What are they?  From the book here.

Depression is triggered by feeling powerless - powerless to bring love, money, friends, health, understanding, or other things into your life.  With the exception of some of life's more extreme occurrences - death of a loved one, for example, most of those things can be returned into one's control, by finding new solutions to old problems.

The term "chemical imbalance" has been bandied about to for the last few decades to try to sell us the antidepressant du jour.  We are more susceptible to depression when there is an imbalance in the body;  but what that imbalance is in each individual would take analyzing by specialists through a variety of tests.  Imbalances would more likely be corrected through a regimen of vitamins and supplements, tailored to the individuals needs, than through a one-size-fits-all psychotropic pill.

Now, that fits better with me than the deep, black, yawning pit of despair that I hear some describe of depression.  Where it requires too much energy to get out of bed, or to get dressed.  Or to turn on the light switch and make breakfast. I've never felt that blackness. Only the depressive state that she describes.  Where I just feel "depressed" because I realize I have no friends.  Because I have no job.  Because I have little understanding from anyone. It just sits there in my brain swirling around and around that I'm powerless to do anything about it.  I know she says, 'get up and do something! Go exercise, go out and be with people, get away from it."  But when you're in tears and you're having a pity party for yourself it's hard to change gears.

I'd tend to think that my bipolar is more just an extension of the Asperger's beyond what other people are feeling.  It's a more extreme state of the depression, and the mania that others describe.  The bipolar is caused by the Asperger's I'm coming to think.  That's where the similarity comes in, in the title of this post.

I'm taking only 1/3 of the dosage of the Zeldox that I was taking before. So, as a result I'm feeling things more intensely now.  I notice I feel happy and I feel sad, at times.  While I was on the higher dosage I felt little.  Little joy, little sadness.  I was just existing.  I missed my best friend's 50th birthday because I just didn't care.  I was emotionless, and forgot to call her.  I spoke on here little.  I had nothing much to say.  I wrote few emails.  I had little to say.  So, I'm happy now.  But more wants to come out through my fingers typing.  This annoys some people, I know. I post too much on Facebook and get criticized for posting too much.  Some days you just can't win, eh?  Can please some of the people some of the time, can't please all of them all of the time.

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. John Updike

April 8, 2012

Some sadness and some joy

Yesterday was a bit of a dark day for me. Not a happy day where I felt joy to the world.  Just a day to get through where the thoughts were tumbling around and angry.  But this morning I woke up and said "It's Easter and I'm going to church".  So I went with my husband and daughter.  I listened with an open heart and a questioning mind. I heard of love and resurrection.  The sermon was about going to that dark place and then finding the hope of Jesus' resurrection in the midst of that darkness.  Never mind that I thought of zombie Jesus walking around.  (joke)  Anyhow, yeah, well, hope springs eternal eh?  And we are to believe that Christ's resurrection means we're all saved?  I'm a believer and a doubter at the same time, to be honest.

I spoke with the minister after the service.  We have a coffee/snack time to talk to each other and catch up with friends.  Anyhow, I mentioned about the "I'm Christian, unless you're gay" blog post and about the replies he's gotten.  She said she was glad to hear that.  She's a lesbian herself.  Yes, our minister in our church is a lesbian with a partner.  They're very happy together.  I think she's awesome, personally.  Great minister that's a lot of fun to listen to.

We chatted for a minute about how open the United Church of Canada, that I belong to is.  How thankful we are that we're blessed with such a forward thinking church.

And I said that I was in a dark place yesterday with my thoughts.  She replied with the assurance that we've all been there.  Yes, they have loud voices that scream hate towards "sinners"  Well we have voices too, she replied.  Voices of reason, love and compassion.  Don't let yourself get caught up in their hate.  Just love and speak of love, and keep speaking of love, tolerance and compassion.  That's all we can do.  And with that, we parted ways.

Yeah, I feel better today.  More settled and more happy.  Laugh if you want to, church makes me happy.  There's people there, smiling, happy to see each other.  I get to say hi to people that I haven't seen in a while.  I get to talk to people and do that social networking thing that humans are wont to do.  So, yeah I enjoy it.

I got to talk with a lady who does special education  help at the Ottawa Board of education.  So she's very well versed on Asperger's.  She gave me a few ideas to get Victoria working on her typing skills.  Since Vic's writing is atrocious.  And gave me a good idea of what to work on, with her.  So, that, alone was worth the trip to church.  Plus all the bonus stuff.

Yeah, I feel happy now.  I mean better than yesterday by a long shot.  Chocolate eating may have something to do with that.  Or going to church.  Or a combination of that and seeing my parents for the first time in 6 months.  They're snowbirds that fly South to Mexico for each winter.

Anyhow, the point of all of this is to say:  I love myself.  So I love others. And want to preach love towards others. That is the key to all of us being happy. Happy Easter.

 God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. -  JG Holland

April 7, 2012

A writing contest

This contest was just announced on the New York Times.  For teenagers to talk about bullying and what to do about it.  Please, share and spread the word.  Thanks :)


A post the Dalai Lama did on compassion

one thing seems clear to me: whether or not we are consciously aware of it, from the day we are born, the need for human affection is in our very blood. Even if the affection comes from an animal or someone we would normally consider an enemy, both children and adults will naturally gravitate towards it.

I believe that no one is born free from the need for love. And this demonstrates that, although some modern schools of thought seek to do so, human beings cannot be defined as solely physical. No material object, however beautiful or valuable, can make us feel loved, because our deeper identity and true character lie in the subjective nature of the mind.

This need for human affection he speaks of.  We all crave it.  Some more than others.  I crave it, I know.  I want to feel affection, and do.  I want others to feel affection towards me.  That is what is so lovely about the affection of a child.  They simply love you for who you are.  No qualifications needed.  I feel simple love for my daughters and husband and parents. No qualifications needed.  I love my cat too, but not in the same way.  I know she simply feels affectionate to me to get food.  That's her main purpose in life:  to eat and sleep. If I was replaced by someone else she wouldn't care, likely.  But my kids would care.  My husband would care.

But of course it is also true that we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others. So, since we desire the true happiness that is brought about by only a calm mind, and since such peace of mind is brought about by only a compassionate attitude, how can we develop this? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to think about how nice compassion is! We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.

Yes, this concerted effort to develop it. I believe that you're only compassionate towards others if you love yourself.  Not just saying to yourself "you're okay", or "you're a bit weak in spots".  But really saying honestly to yourself "I LOVE YOU".  Unconditionally, without any reservations.  From that love you project outwards.  You are able to love your neighbour because you love yourself.  You are able to love others, because you love yourself.  It comes around to this inner idea of peace.  Compassion starts from within.  Be compassionate to yourself.

 Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one's own. Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all. As long as they are human beings experiencing pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.

No, there is no need to discriminate against people.  If they are human, they deserve your compassion.  No strings attached.  Just because they are different doesn't mean they feel less pain, does it? 

 We should begin by removing the greatest hindrances to compassion: anger and hatred. As we all know, these are extremely powerful emotions and they can overwhelm our entire mind. Nevertheless, they can be controlled. If, however, they are not, these negative emotions will plague us - with no extra effort on their part! - and impede our quest for the happiness of a loving mind.

I believe that anger and hatred comes from fear of the unknown.  It is easy to hate someone you don't know.  Look at the love letters sent between Israel and Iran on Facebook for instance.  People getting to know each other and realizing they're not monsters.  If a Christian person was to meet a gay person and simply talk to them, they'd see that isn't a person filled with Satan but simply a person that is the way they are.  If only they'd open their ears and hear that the person just wants the same thing they want.  To be loved and accepted and cherished for who they are.  Not what they "should" or "shouldn't" be.

 Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.

We all need love.  Every single person on this planet that breathes needs love.  We all need compassion. Will you listen to one person that is different to you?  Will you honestly listen and open your ears and hear that they need love, just like you do?  Will you show compassion?

I'll end this post with the Dalai Lamas words:  I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.  It is the practice of compassion.

A message

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~The Dalai Lama

Some reaction to my post yesterday

As I expected one person answered my post about "I'm religious, unless you're gay" on Facebook.  I got a couple of responses on the follow up post to it, "A teen's brave response to "I'm religious, unless you're gay"' It's nice to see people reacting to it, but I'll never get the huge responses like some friends would.  They just attract people because they are social creatures.  I repel people because of my anti-social behaviours.  I get that, clearly, every single day. It's not easy to admit that you repel people and that you know you do it.  But I know I do.  That's painfully obvious.

Anyhow I want to go ahead and address this article now.  The one about the teen's response to the original article.  How brave of that young man to stand up to his mum.  It can't be easy at all to know that you will be yelled at, belittled, made fun of, told you are a freak, and likely slapped, and shunned.  But he did it.  Brave.  Good for him.  It's so hard to turn tides.

 And then you gave us the assignment to write this essay for our homework and I read it like ten times I even skipped lunch and just kept reading it in the bathroom and by the time I went home I decided that maybe I am only 15 years old but maybe this town will change if I can be honest about who I am and maybe my family will change if I can be honest about who I am with them too. I don’t see why I don’t deserve love just like everyone else. I see some crazy stuff that so many people do and people still love them but for some reason everybody around here thinks its ok to hate gays and stuff. And I don’t know really I think I just realize that I don’t want to be Jacob in ten years and still live my life in secret and scared of being hated.

Being honest to yourself is so important.  This kid knew that and it finally won the battle inside of him. It doesn't win the battle in some.  So they end up killing themselves.  Because they can't talk to themselves, let alone others to let out this honesty about themselves.

I wrote a comment about the original article on an Asperger's page and said that I felt that same way as Jacob.   Someone wrote back to say that she couldn't feel anything for him. "He chose to feel that way" she wrote.  I replied back nicely "you don't choose to be gay, you just are gay".  Just like I don't choose to have the horrible fact that I have Asperger's for the rest of my life.  So, yes I stand by my words.  We are the same. Trapped in a world that doesn't understand us.  Won't begin to try to comprehend what it's like.  His world became a tiny bit larger with one friend.  The teen's world grew a tiny bit with his mother.  But so much hate in his town towards gays.  You don't break down walls with one hammer.  You need many hammers.  Our voices are those.  So, if you read this, just pass along the link.

I'm going to link another article that I found a few weeks ago.  A Rolling Stone article about how gay kids were killing themselves in Montana, in Michele Bachmanns home riding. The war on Gay Teens Pretty disturbing reading.  I felt so angry and impotent at the end of it.  Like how can Christians treat like that?  Where is the stupid "love" in the Bible in your actions?  Who needs the Bible when you are fueled with hate and despicable actions.  You are just a bully.  A bully hiding behind the religious trappings.  A gang of bullies.  Religion has no right to shield these bullies.

I say I believe in God.  I say I believe in my church and its "goodness".  But I am ashamed to call myself a Christian if that means I'm aligned with these bullies.  They don't speak for me.  It is a sad day when religion is used to bully people to death and suicide.  A very sad day.

Anyhow, I could go on, but I won't.  I've said enough for today.

April 6, 2012

Post about a post "I'm Christian, unless you're gay"

A friend just linked to this post  I'm Christian, unless you're gay.  I'd seen the link yesterday but didn't read it.  Wow, just wow, after reading it.  Such beautiful powerful words.  Tolerance, of others, is a wonderful thing.  That is one thing that I pride myself on:  my tolerance of all other people. I don't "hate" on anyone.  Ever.  I buy homeless guys coffee.  I give my friends thanks.  I try to project love out and tolerance and compassion to all.  Sometimes it's easy to laugh at someone, yes, when they do something funny.  But you have to remember that that is a person behind there.  Someone with love, dreams and hope in there.  Someone with an ego that may have been bruised due to you laughing at them. If they've told you a joke, that's fine to laugh.  But if you're laughing at them because they did something odd/bizarre, to you, that's not tolerant of them.

When he writes of love I wish people could just feel pure, unadulterated love.  Not love "because he's Jewish", or love "because she looks like me".  Just ...... love for the sake of love.  Simply accepting that you love somebody for the beautiful unique creature that they are.  We are all different and unique and special in our own ways.

When the original guy talks in the story about feeling unloved, unwanted, a freak, misunderstood by most I can see his point so well.  I've often felt that way.  Totally misunderstood by most.  Ignored because I'm different.  Not tolerated well, because I'm odd. Because I don't follow rules I'm seen as a freak.  Someone to be shunned. I've often felt shunned.  I feel that way most of the time on Facebook to be honest.  I know some read my posts but I get very few comments.  Because I've alienated people with my thoughts, actions and stances.  I understand this but it doesn't make it easier to accept.  It still hurts.

So yes to copy and paste his words from that post

It’s about love.
It’s about kindness.
It’s about friendship

Practice some love today.  Practice some kindness.  Practice some friendship.  And I'll add in, practice some understanding.

We are the smartest mammals on this planet.  Let's start using our brains and practice love, kindness, friendship and understanding.  Instead of hate, intolerance, and misunderstanding others.

It's only when we open our hearts and let love flow out that we'll gain some compassion for others. Let your love flow out to others today.

Don't let the dark side win the day.

Carpe diem

April 5, 2012

Stages to get through

I keep picking up Aspergirls and finding another bit that I love.  This bit is nice from the introduction

Stages you go through when you're an adult and you find out that you have Asperger's syndrome.

Awareness - We find out about Asperger's and the information speaks to us but it just hasn't hit home yet. We may experience some resistance or denial.

Knowing - The irreversible understanding that you have Asperger's. The realization clicks.

Validation - Asperger's explains so much in a life that often seems to have had no rhyme nor reason. This is not one moment but a series of moments that will continue for years if not forever.

Relief - I can finally as the song says "Lay my Burden down". We don't know what our burden is until we're diagnosed but we can tell that other people don't seem to be carrying it.

Worry - What does this mean for my future and my potential?

Anger - For all the blame and misdiagnoses that may have been laid upon us by others or by ourselves. Hopefully we will then get to the next phase of our lives

Acceptance/thriving - We become keenly aware of our gifts and deficits and use what we have wisely.

For me, the awareness came from the psychiatrist telling me that she felt that I had Asperger's.  She said what it was, and asked me to read up on it and see if I felt that it fit me.  So, I got online pretty much as soon as I got home, and then the knowing hit.  The feeling that finally, something could explain me.  Finally, after 44 years of not knowing why I was different.  Then almost immediately validation hit.  The feeling that yes, I am not weird or bizarre or broken.  Finally I knew what all the odd bits of me were about.  And then the relief hit almost immediately too.  This total relief that it'd be okay if I called myself an Aspergian.  That finally I knew what was up with me.  The worry set in a bit later after the relief.  And yes, anger at the way that I've been treated, all my life, by people.  Not so much anger towards medical professionals, since no-one ever tried to tell me I had something differently wrong with me.  Acceptance/thriving, that's an on-going thing.  For me, it's been a journey finding out both my daughters have it.  I'm in the worry stage for both of them, at the current time.

Incidentally a friend mentioned back at the start of 2012 that one of his favourite artists was Alison Krauss.  She's a lovely talented lady with a fabulous voice. Nice that she sings this song.

At the moment I'm getting most of my support from group posts on Facebook.  A feeling that I don't have it that bad, with my girls.

April 3, 2012

Age of diagnosis of girls

So, yes, we come around to the age of diagnosis in girls with Autism or Asperger's.  Sadly girls with Asperger's seem to get their diagnosis a lot later than boys. Less obvious signs of it.  Both my girls got slapped with ADHD titles at a younger age.  It was only when I started noticing symptoms mentioned in my books about Asperger's that the light clicked on and it was like "Ok, that's why she does that!"

My older daughter was diagnosed by a psychiatrist, my younger one by a clinical psychologist.

So, this is sad that it's taking this long to get kids the help they need.  Not the drugs that one teacher suggested I put Victoria on (Ritalin)  She said, "it'll just make it easier for all of us".  Lovely.  Not!

Boys seem to be picked up faster due to their behaviour. They get the help faster that way, as well.  Pity girls aren't as lucky.

This article goes on to explain that some girls aren't diagnosed until they're adults.  That's the same with me. 

It's not uncommon for girls with Asperger's to go undiagnosed well into adulthood. Like heart disease, this high-functioning autism spectrum disorder is 10 times more prevalent in males, so doctors often don't think to look for it in females. But some experts have begun to suspect that unlike heart disease, Asperger's manifests differently, less obviously in girls, and that factor is also causing them to slip through the diagnostic cracks. This gender gap may have implications for the health and well-being of girls on the spectrum, and some specialists predict that as we diagnose more girls, our profile of the disorder as a whole will change. Anecdotally, they report that girls with Asperger's seem to have less motor impairment, a broader range of obsessive interests, and a stronger desire to connect with others, despite their social impairment.

And this bit

 But even as they effectively mask Asperger's in girls, social mores might also make the disorder more harrowing for them. As they approach adolescence, girls face greater pressure to be sympathetic and empathetic than boys do. "By the time girls reach junior high, their social networks have become extraordinarily complex, and Aspie girls can't keep up with all the nuances," says Janet Lainhart, a doctor at the University of Utah's Brain Institute. "Boys struggle socially as well, but their peers mature much slower so their inability to empathize is seen as more forgivable."

I dread the teen years for both Sarah and Victoria :(

April 2, 2012

Incredibly long list here

Wow, this is an incredibly long list of Aspergirls traits

Females with Asperger's Syndrome Traits

But, yeah I can relate to a lot of them.  A great deal of them.  Way too  many to begin to break down which ones.  Basically, just read the list and that's me, essentially LOL

But be warned, it's LONG!

Autism Awareness isn't enough

Here is a great post Autism Awareness isn't enough

Now society is coming to understand that the broad spectrum of autism — as it’s currently defined, which will change next year with the publication of the DSM-5 – isn’t rare after all. In fact, “autism is common,” said Thomas Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last week in a press conference. The subject of the conference was a new CDC report, based on 2008 data, that raised the official estimate of autism prevalence among children in the United States from 1 in 110 to 1 in 88.

 I could post a 1000 posts on Facebook today.  But it won't help.  Not until someone wants to listen.  A friend or co-worker (if I worked) or relative.  Even then you have a short period in which to explain it.

Severely disabled children, those who don't communicate well, are usually the ones focused on when it comes time to turn the spotlight on Autism.  And rightfully so.  Their lives are terribly disrupted as are their families lives.

But there are the others, like me.  Disabled in that I can't follow social conventions easily.  I need help to know what to do, in other words.  My daughters need help.  They don't function well in classrooms.

Anyhow, Autism awareness is great, but no, it's not enough.

Just wrote an email to a friend to explain Asperger's

Yeah, I just wrote an email to a friend to try to help to explain Asperger's.  It's hard to get someone's attention.  Once you have it, it's hard to break down what it is.  It's not an easy concept to convey.  "What's Asperger's?" I've had some people ask me that and I'm at a loss for words for a moment.

Anyhow, I copied this from Tony Attwood's site 

Children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have an intellectual capacity within the normal range, but have a distinct profile of abilities that has been apparent since early childhood. The profile of abilities includes the following characteristics:

A qualitative impairment in social interaction:
* Failure to develop friendships that are appropriate to the child’s developmental level.
* Impaired use of non-verbal behaviour such as eye gaze, facial expression and body language to regulate a social interaction.
* Lack of social and emotional reciprocity and empathy.
* Impaired ability to identify social cues and conventions.

A qualitative impairment in subtle communication skills:
* Fluent speech but difficulties with conversation skills and a tendency to be pedantic, have an unusual prosody and to make a literal interpretation.

Restrictive Interests:
* The development of special interests that is unusual in their intensity and focus.
* Preference for routine and consistency.

The disorder can also include motor clumsiness and problems with handwriting and being hypersensitive to specific auditory and tactile experiences. There can also be problems with organizational and time management skills and explaining thoughts and ideas using speech. The exact prevalence rates have yet to be determined, but research suggests that it may be as common as one in 250. The aetiology is probably due to factors that affect brain development and not due to emotional deprivation or other psychogenic factors.

Okay, now I'll break down where I see it fits with me.

- failure to develop friendships that are appropriate for age.  I always seemed to go for younger kids at school.  I mean, I associated more with them.  They didn't expect me to be on the same level as them, as with age appropriate kids.  I wasn't the same level, emotionally and mentally, as the kids my age.

- my body language has never been exactly normal. I'm too intense, too focused on my thoughts to pay attention to being relaxed and natural.  I do try to tell myself to relax, enjoy, calm down, but find myself getting tensed up. My gaze is often intense.  I don't often meet people's eyes. I tend to look towards mouths.

- impaired ability to identify social cues and conventions.  - many emails between me and this friend in question have pointed out this fact to me.  I don't follow "neuro-typical" rules of social engagement.  I need help navigating on what to do in social networking apps.

- Fluent speech - I had to have speech therapy when I was between the ages of 7 and 14.  Because I couldn't talk smoothly and evenly.  I stuttered a lot and my speech was very stilted.  I couldn't get my thoughts out clearly.  So, kids teased me. And that didn't help.

- The development of special interests. - I was mad about horses.  Everything had to be about horses when I was young.  Begging my parents to buy me a horse to love.  Never got one.  Then it became about music,  Had to have every CD I could get my hands on.  Then it was about baking bread.  I have about 10 cookbooks on making bread.  Do I use any now?  Very few. But damn I can bake some good bread still.  Then the obsession started with WoW.  And that continued for a long time.  And now, it's with news and Twitter and wanting to know everything I can about what's going on in the world.  It's crazy I know, but yes, "The development of special interests that is unusual in their intensity and focus".

- Preference for routine.  I love my routines.  They give me stability, consistency and hope that things will stay the same.  I like predictability.  I can cope with change okay, but prefer stability.

- My handwriting has always been atrocious.  I mean to the point of "what have you scribbled here?" I do shopping lists and Tim can barely read them.  He's gotten used to it, but it sucks, to this day.

- I'm not that sensitive to touch, but clothes have to feel "right".  I hate having anything too tight or constricting.  For instance I cannot stand to wear nylons/tights.  Far too itchy and uncomfortable. for me.

- Explaining thoughts  and ideas using speech.  Yeah, well, I am too concise and go into too much detail.  I'm like a professor, that stays squirreled away in his office, knowing a lot, cramming it in there in the brain. and then can't talk normally to people.  That crazy, bizarre guy who knows a hell of a lot, but can't get his point across in front of the class.  

Tony's Perspective

From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Aspergers Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking.

The person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with other people. There is also a different perception of situations and sensory experiences. The overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others.

The person values being creative rather than co-operative.

The person with Aspergers syndrome may perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail, rather than noticing the “big picture”.

The person is usually renowned for being direct, speaking their mind and being honest and determined and having a strong sense of social justice.

The person may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend and have a distinct sense of humour.

However, the person with Aspergers Syndrome can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions.

Children and adults with Aspergers syndrome may have levels of anxiety, sadness or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder. There may also be problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others. Fortunately, we now have successful psychological treatment programs to help manage and express emotions.

Yes, well, I'm very direct in my speaking.  I don't mince words and don't play games.  I have trouble with girl's games of "let's not tell the boys what we're up to".  I have trouble hiding my true feelings about things.  I enjoy speaking the truth.  I enjoy knowing a lot about subjects.

As far as noticing things, I'm an excellent proof-reader I've been told.  I noticed grammar and spelling mistakes quite quickly.  They bother me in a way that few others likely imagine.  Just can't stand spelling errors, basically.  I don't go so far as to be a "Grammar Nazi" but I'm sitting there going to myself "why can't they use spell-checker?"

Yes, definitely a priority to solve a problem instead of satisfying the social needs of others.   Definitely a feeling of being creative in my thinking rather than co-operation with others.  I'd rather get out my message to others than sit there and agree with others and "like" everyone else's Facebook posts for instance.  I have my own voice and like to use it.  Despite what convention might say.

I do enjoy solitude, but am an extrovert at the same time.  So I talk a lot about issues that I'm thinking about on virtual paper.  I have the gift of being a fast touch typist so can convey my thoughts quickly and accurately.

Yes, I have trouble with managing emotions.  The bipolar doesn't help with that either.  I feel intense anger, frustration and rage when I wasn't on anti-psychotics.  Not fun to deal with that, at all.

Hope that goes towards explaining my life with Aspergers and bipolar a bit more.

Mothers, stop moaning about children

This article written by a woman who will never have a child in her lifetime is both touching and hurtful.  Touching as in that for 38 years I didn't have a child. It was only through the miracle of IVF that I had Sarah.  Hurtful in the respect that now that I have my two precious children how dare I protest that it's "hard" at times to cope.

Yes, it is hard to cope some days.  Sarah is very needy in terms of routine.  She needs to do the same thing every morning.  God forbid if I dare do something out of place.  She screeches at me.  It doesn't do any good to reprimand her, she's not doing it out of spite.  Only because she's overwhelmed.  And no, scolding her doesn't help, believe me.  I've tried that and it doesn't work, period.

Victoria, as well, loves her routine.  It's not easy coping with two children with special needs.  Yes, I should be grateful and kissing the earth that I have children.  And yes, most of the time I am incredibly grateful that I've been given the gift of their presence in my life.

I wish that every woman could have the dream that they wished.  But sadly that isn't the case.  If I hadn't had kids, I don't know how I'd feel right now, at age 50.  Likely pursuing my interests.

It is a hard thing to do, to set aside a want, a need, so bad that your ovaries ache.  But it's necessary to put that behind her and move on.  Find a new passion in life and forget that which you will never have and desire so badly:  a child.

Adoption of a baby is always an option, as well.  But yes, it's not "your" child.  But many children are loved and will be loved by surrogate parents.  She should pick herself up off the floor and carry on,  head held high.  Instead of moaning and crying  that mothers should be so bloody grateful that they are mothers.

I'll never know what it's like to be childless in this lifetime.  I'm so thankful that that is not the case.  I can recall wanting a baby so badly.  Us pursuing every avenue in order to achieve that goal.  Putting up with the indignities of IVF in our lives.   If you care to read my story of Sarah's journey from test-tube to fully born baby let me know and I'll send you to our story.  It wasn't a hard trip but a necessary one.

On World Autism Awareness day I'd like one person to acknowledge to me that it's hard being a mum with my own special needs and being mum to 2 girls with their own special needs.  Yeah, I love being a mum, but it's hard some days to cope.