Saturday, April 2, 2016

Autism and the National Month

All my life, I've known people on the Asperger's side of the Autism spectrum. I just didn't know it. I didn't even know there was a thing until maybe early in this century. I don't even know if it's such a good thing that I know it now. We can all be shoved into one syndrome or another. 

Me, I dress very carelessly. So carelessly apparently, that people, shocked, will say, "What the fuck are you wearing?" Their shock shocks me. Someday my wardrobe blindness will get slapped with a name, and a syndrome.  Which will make me less me and more that.

I've had friends throughout my life who displayed some classic Asperger's traits -- wouldn't look me in the eye, for example. But I just learned, when we talked, to look at some other corner of the room. Of course, I'd always slip up;  still do -- and find them looking at me and our eyes will lock, and his (usually his) focus will fly to some other place, ceiling or floor, and mine back to my corner. No big deal.

And other stuff. I had a friend, Mr. M, who would do anything on my behalf. Look after my house when I was away on business, take care of the plants, pick me up from the airport, tend to the animals. But when I brought up my feelings after my father died, he immediately changed the subject to one of his Caltech projects, or tennis. 

At first, that one bothered me. But later, I reconsidered. Maybe he was right -- I shouldn't dwell on the death-thing so much. And the tennis did make me feel better.

Sometimes we played doubles. He hated to be on my doubles team. Because while Mr. M just wanted to get in a serve well enough to start the rally and secure the point, I wanted to hit a serve that left everyone stunned and amazed. My serve often missed.

And again this just relates to Mr. M, because I'm sure this varies with anyone categorized with Asperger's, but he didn't have a sense of irony. Not my irony, in any case; and would take what I said way too literally. So then I'd find myself trying to explain something I said and get all tangled up in it and end up with, "We're down 40-Love, M, but watch this."

And he'd be like,"Well, if you must." 

Today is either National Autism Acceptance or National Autism Awareness Month, depending on which side of the controversy you fall. It is a controversy, in case you don't know. Some Autism advocacy groups have a problem with what you call it.

On my side -- I guess I prefer acceptance; but what's to accept?  We're good. We always have been.


24 comments:

  1. Once again, you've articulated a thought I've had, only more articulately than I could have articulated it. I'm on a spectrum, too. Bet you can't guess which one.

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  2. Well don't out me! You know how judgmental people can be. By the way, I like the way you dress.

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  3. "dressing carelessly' to me means either u were pre-occupied, or just had your own style... as far as the avoidance of talking about death, I know a lot of people who avoid that subject...
    My daughter had a friend w/Asperger's.. she never questioned Billy's actions.. In her words ' Billy just talks a lot and is nice'... I met him once and yes, he does talk a lot, but boy, does he know trivia and detail... Billy's mom taught AP classes and was the favorite of all the kids who took her classes... she'd accompany Billy to our house.. he never drove.. his life ambition was to become a sports announcer.. My daughter lost contact with him awhile back.. I am hoping he made it in that industry..

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    1. I hope so, too. Most of people I know with Asperger's are in the science, which rather makes sense.

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  4. Thank you for the heads up about NAAM. I, too, appreciate your ability to articulate so well something I've thought about. I have known about Asperger's for a long time, 22 years, because the first year I taught there was a young man in fifth grade with a very smart mom who thought it was important, and it was, for students and teachers to understand her unique, creative, intelligent, and sometimes hard-to-believe-he-just-said-that son. She did all of us an invaluable service ~ taught us to be aware and to accept.

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  5. "Hard to believe he just said that." Often honest to the extreme, in other words, honesty without a filter.

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  6. I was infuriated when, in first grade, teachers tried to stick my second son with the ADD label. I said, "He is a daydreamer. And that's permitted. And as long as he learns the material, you don't get to judge him." And so on. And he never did as well in school as his brain should have permitted - except when, in the first quarter of 5th grade, he decided to prove to all of the teachers that he is indeed brilliant, and got straight A's. My stepdaughter's neighbor told her that my step-grandson must be autistic or have aspergers because he is weird. She called me and I said, "He's 10! Of course he's weird!" Too many labels, in my opinion, and thus, the world is trying too hard to medicate everyone into oblivion, especially boys, who are often very bouncy. That's the nature of boys. Great piece, Karin.

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  7. Our species is good at picking out patterns in the physical world, it's our hallmark; but I think we've made and continue to make horrible and destructive mistakes by assuming our pattern-thirsty brains are the best way to understand each other.

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  8. "Which will make me less me and more that." - that's the best phrase I've heard all month. Including March.

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    1. Ha! You are very kind to throw in March.

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  9. Thank you Karin for this post, I did not know much about Asperger's disorder.

    PS: I don't know if the natives would be able to fight back... But that tree on my post has resisted for a long time...

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  10. Love what you said about patterns. I like the way you dress, too.

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    1. Yeah, I'm trying to catch myself whenever I fall into the pattern trap.

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  11. Been thinking more about people who find fault - with anything. That's all about them and who they are. It has nothing to do with who they're talking at.

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  12. Great post Karin...
    Quite a few labels have been affixed to various members of my family. Maybe I'm lucky that I grew up before they invented all those maladies. I had to wait until I was an adult to find out what was wrong with me. I admire people who don't fit the mold and are okay with it.

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  13. Boy, was I ever asleep at the wheel. I know this is National Autism Awareness Month and posted something about it on Facebook on April 1 but I didn't realize you had written a blog post about it. I serve on the board of directors of Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena, which serves clients from infants to seniors with developmental disabilities. In the last 10 years or so there has been a growing number of clients with autism at various points on the spectrum. I became interested in Villa because one of my nephews in San Diego, who is 17, is at the far end of the spectrum and is deeply autistic and nonverbal. The greatest thing ever is a digital device that gives him the ability to communicate via a portable touchscreen. During the periods when he is more alert to his surroundings and what is happening around him, it is nothing short of a miracle. http://ca.dynavoxtech.com/products/maestro

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  14. Replies
    1. Coordinates uncertain for the moment.

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    1. Apparently, as Albert is celebrating as we speak.

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  16. Good morning Karin!
    How are you?
    Thanks for thinking a lot about me lately. Me and my family are well, thanks for asking!
    I've been thinking a lot about you too! I miss very much yours posts and to talk with you too!

    Yes, the Brazil's political and economic crisis are very worrying and nothing good...
    The number of unemployed persons increased to 11.1 million (9.1 million between October and December 2015)
    I think the new president Michel Temer represents a passage of hope to Brazil!
    Here an article on "The Economist" and I hope it can explains the Brazil's situation.
    The Economist:
    Michel Temer’s plans for Brazil

    Wishing you a nice Sunday!
    Sending big hugs.
    Sonia.

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    1. Yes, thank you, that helps. So many challenges out your way these days. By the way, The Economist is just about my favorite magazine.

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  17. I am glad that the magazine helps.
    Wishing you a nice Sunday.
    Hugs!

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