Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cyber Bullying: Don't Let it Happen!

Technology is a scary, scary thing.

As a former victim of cyber bullying, I urge everyone reading this, regardless of age or standing in life:

PLEASE don't go through this alone.

If you are a student, please alert a parent or guardian about this, so they can alert the school or the bully's parents and take care of the situation. Don't, and I repeat, DON'T KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Others care only for your safety and you are not an inconvenience to anybody since all you want is to appreciate who you are and not be forced to believe otherwise.

Too many cyberbullying stories end with the victim being emotionally scarred, depressed or even suicidal. We don't need anymore suicides to happen, and if anyone believes otherwise then they need plenty of psychiatric help.

If you are recieving any threatening messages, then save the message as evidence and block the person from communicating with you by any means possible - even if this means changing your phone number or screen name - your safety is more important! Show these messages to a parent, teacher, police officer or any authority available; they can help you.

You don't deserve to suffer. When it was happening to me, I didn't have the common sense to tell my parents about it at the time, which was a HUGE mistake.

Do me a favor, and please don't make the same mistakes that I have. Tell somebody who can make a difference. Everybody deserves to live a happy life, and it is our responsibility to eliminate those things from our lives that tarnish them. Please be cautious, responsible, and happy.

More information on Cyber Bullying:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Vaccine Theory: My Opinion.

When I was a baby, I got a vaccine for Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Apparently when they administered the shot, I turned blue and started shaking. The doctor told my mom, "she is having a neurological reaction, she will never be the same." Ever since, my mom has been convinced that my Asperger's has been caused by this single shot. I used to agree with her, but lately I'm not so sure.

I've looked into this recently, and alas, many parents are complaining that various vaccines caused Autism in their children. I feel like a lot of this is coming from a generation where knowledge of Autism wasn't commonplace, so they're treating it like an epidemic (if that makes sense).

On the contrary, I've been looking at my Astrological Chart lately, and it describes my personality exactly. It states that I need a break from socializing every now and then, how I'm very passionate about the things I love, and that I have a strange sense of humor that doesn't seem apparent until you really get to know me. These all seem to be Aspie traits, at least in my case - I find it interesting that it's written into my chart.. (If you are interested in reading your own birth chart, then click here. Good explanations of traits assigned based on where the planets fall can be found here.)

Now, Astrology may not necessarily be the most valid form of analyzing oneself, but it is scarily accurate. Your Astrological Chart is determined at birth by where the planets are placed in relaton to your birth location at that specific time. I know this is really a stretch, but if my personality was supposedly determined at my birth, and the Pertussis vaccine was given a year or so later, how much could possibly have been changed?

I'm not going to deny that the vaccine didn't give me any problems, for I had plenty of behavioral issues growing up (though I can't attribute those problems to the vaccine, either...), but my personality has always been the same - I've just had to learn how to utilize it to benefit myself and my surroundings. Also, I think a great deal of Autism Spectrum Conditions are genetic. Some immediate family members display a few traits, and I have a cousin who is also an Aspie, and another cousin with ADHD. This is often the case - many individuals on the spectrum have relatives who share traits as well. 

What I really don't like about the vaccine theory is that it solidifies the idea of Autism as a Disorder, rather than a different way of percieving the world. I don't want to see myself as the result of a science experiment gone wrong. If the vaccine had any impact on who I am today,and if perhaps in 50 years we find out that this vaccine actually did cause Autism in thousands of children, then I'd much rather see myself as Peter Parker turning into Spiderman. If society wants to think we're an epidemic that needs to be cured, talents and all, here's what I have to say: these are the things that make us unique, and I'd rather my case be comparable to Spiderman's (issues and all) over the average person any day.

Here is my rant on the subject, hope it made sense.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical

I've found a completely hysterical parody on Autism studies. This guy has a fantastic statement in response to the prevalence put on these studies. We focus so much on studies, yet they don't really benefit us in discovering who we truly are. Studies aren't going to necessarily help us get by more easily in life (except for in the consolation that we are not the only ones going through this). 

What helps the most is learning through experiences. This is why I have made this blog, and why I read similar ones: we must do what we can in order to help understand the world better. Hey, even Autism support groups (if you're not such a pansy like me and actually enroll in one) are beneficial as well. 

Once you learn from experiences, it sets you off in the right direction. I want to find more blogs on Autism (if you happen to be reading mine and you have one/know of any, please let me know!), because I've found that, in a world where I don't know of many on the spectrum/am not at that point in discussing Autism with them in person, it is a great way of learning how to manage better in the world. I encourage all of you to read more, even some of those studies which don't necessary apply to you, because who knows when they may help?

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

...Too Nice?

Today I had an interesting experience, which made me think: How can I tell when I am supposed to be upset, as opposed to when I should be happy?

When I woke up, I was presented with a wonderful surprise: an early winter break! What better way to celebrate than to go shopping? 

So shopping is exactly what I did: I've been dying for a cute, versatile pair of boots for a while, but unfortunately I'm broke. So I checked out this upscale consignment shop near my school, found a pair, and was about to go try them on when an employee approached me and said "...I'm sorry, but I was going buy those boots! They've been here for a few weeks but we were banned from buying anything until tomorrow night."

I thought, okay, whatever, I'm extremely picky anyway, and I wasn't exactly attached to those boots. It's no big deal if she gets them. Besides, she promised me a huge discount, so it was okay. This girl kept going on about how I was such a nice person, and how this was my "good Christmas deed".  We talked for a little bit (she was about my age, and had a roommate who went to the same school as me) - casual conversation, it was fine.

She brought out a similar pair of boots for me to try on, in the same size. I decided to try them on - they weren't as cute, but they were still in the range of what I was looking for, so it couldn't hurt. When I tried them on, though, I noticed that they were too tight in the calves, and a seam on the side had ripped. I wasn't disappointed, but I brought them to the girl to show her. She was trying to be nice about it, suggesting I bring them to a cobbler, but I didn't like them enough anyway. 

I could tell that the other employees felt bad, because they began looking for boots that I might like ("you should check out these riding boots here...", but frankly, I didn't really like any of them. I took a peek around the rest of the store and walked out, but before leaving, I very kindly and enthusiastically thanked one of those employees for helping me, which she seemed taken aback by. Uncomfortably, she said " problem!" and I said goodbye and left...

Afterwards, I was thinking, why was she surprised by me being so nice to her? Aren't you supposed to be courteous and polite to others unless they really upset you? I mean, I was upset, but it wasn't the end of the world for me, I'll probably be able to find another pair of boots somewhere else. 

I think I have trouble expressing anger. Ever since I was little, I've been taught to be polite, courteous and generally nice to everybody.  I know these are good traits for a person to have, but I feel like it was drilled into my brain so much that I am now unable to recognize when I shouldn't act this way - it's like I'm a robot and this is the default setting I'm stuck on. I worry sometimes that my kindness is a cold sort of kindness as well - I can't really tell if I mean it or not anymore. I'll do nice things for people, because I'm expected to, and I really do mean well, but I can never tell if my intentions are coming across well enough.

Either way, I don't understand why people don't take kindness that well - do they expect me to be a bitch? I probably should have been angry in that situation, but frankly, I just didn't care, and I've learned that anger just isn't worth it. You can say the exact same thing more constructively without getting angry. 

Maybe I should learn when it is appropriate to get angry. I need to pay better attention in the future.

Well, I have no idea whether what I was trying to say came across well, so let me know... I'm pretty tired now, time to rest. until then, goodnight!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strange Dream

Last night I had an oddly significant dream... I was at a halloween party with a bunch of people I didn't recognize, but apparently they were my friends. I was wearing my costume (it was pretty outlandish this year, haha), and was sitting on a couch drinking with a friend. Somebody took a picture of us, and I guess, in the picture, my shirt and bra completely disintegrated so that I appeared topless. 

See, the strange thing with me and nudity is, I don't care if people around me decide to take of their clothes, but I could never do the same. I would never let anyone see my bare chest, I would feel completely vulnerable and uncomfortable, even despite my friends being the complete opposite. 

In the dream, I found out a little while later that I was naked in this photo, and was flabbergasted. I remember all these guys from that party laughing at the photo and showing all their friends. I remember even having a conversation with a close friend:

"by the way, my boyfriend thinks you're hot."
" it because of that photo?"
"well, yeah!"

I just found it so significant because it seems to be a metaphor for my whole high school finding out I had Asperger's. This happened sometime around my junior year. I do whatever I can to hide the worst parts of it and make it easier to manage (hence, the bra I was wearing in the dream), but once it was exposed all of that didn't matter anymore, it was out there, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Furthermore, it changed the perspective of how everyone interpreted anything I said - they learned not to take anything seriously.   

Now, I've gained the necessary skills to hide most of my Asperger's (except to those I can trust), but I have to watch my behavior at all times. I hope to succeed one day, but I don't want to live the rest of my life in hiding. I don't want to live as a lie - I want to fully be myself. I'm hoping to get there, just so somebody can say they have. 

I'd like to be honest about myself for once. I'm female,  I'm 19 years old, and I have Asperger's Syndrome. And if you don't like that then you can all go fuck yourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Speech Problems

I feel like, based on how I speak, people don't take me seriously enough. I speak very slowly, past the point of being articulate - I sound slow, or mentally challenged. This is not an exaggeration - many people underestimate my IQ and treat me condescendingly. 

Part of this also has to do with my insecurity regarding that and other aspects of my speech. I feel like I come across as disinterested when talking to others, when in reality, I care so much that I'm searching intently for the right words to say. I also can't stand the tone of my voice - it is rather monotonous and it sounds irritating, little girlish at times - so I have instinctively taught myself to speak less over the years.

I wish I hadn't done this, because I would like to make more friends, and actually survive with a job, not to mention get hired in the first place. A first impression seems to be everything, and I would like to learn how to make a positive one. It seems like companies would hire the bubbly, charismatic girl over me, regardless of any actual ability.

I have had somebody tell me, "my friend and I try to speak like you. We both talk so fast, so it is nice to be able to understand every little word you say. You sound so calm!" It's nice being acknowledged for something like that, but sometimes I speak too slowly, and I feel like people get fed up with it, as if they are impatient with the time I take to spit out my words. I would just like to speak faster with some things so that I am taken more seriously, and so that I don't frusturate people. I hope I can get there, especially in a few years, when it matters the most.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something I've learned recently

If you're aware of when you've done or said something wrong, then you are growing and maturing. Nobody stays the same; our experiences help to shape us into who we are and the people we one day will become.

Everybody messes up.

Don't let your mistakes define you. 

These mistakes are a thing of the past; you can focus on what you've learned from the experience, but don't dwell on the mess-up itself.

Don't forget it. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Inside the mind of an Aspie: Social Experiences and Appropriateness

I love having Asperger's, but some aspects of it can make life more difficult. Even though I love having heightened senses, being able to focus on something for extended periods of time, and being so passionate about something that others may ignore, there are still issues that go along with this condition.

Socializing is a big issue for me. Though I'm capable of learning how to socialize, I feel like I'm learning all of this a few years later than most Neurotypical individuals. Though I'm in college, I feel like I have the same social experiences as a 16 year old, it's all just delayed. I've progressed through a lot so far, but there's still a lot for me to experience that most of my friends have already had.

Then again, it's unfair to put social standards on milestones in a person's life. Everybody is different, and experiences different things at different times. I'm still learning how to socialize appropriately, while most of my friends are there, or at clearly work with some sort of social understanding. I can tell by their facial expressions, and when they stumble for words (probably thinking "she shouldn't have said this, it makes me uncomfortable"). From reading these cues, I can tell when I've done something wrong. These little cues have helped me to tell when I've accidentally blurted out something inappropriate. If the thing I've said is really bad, I'll usually find a time when I can pull the person I've addressed it to aside and apologize for my inappropriateness. This will inform the person that I'm aware that I did something wrong and that I'm not completely soul-less, so that I may remain in their circle of friends.

Another thing that puzzles me is when is it appropriate to discuss difficult situations? I went through a lot of hard things last year, and I can never tell when I can discuss these things with people. I'm always afraid of blurting out something to an acquaintance, with other people overhearing, because I don't want them to base this negativity on who I actually am as a person. I can't tell when people discuss them with me, because I feel like I have different social standards than everybody around me - what I consider to be a "friend" may be different than whom someone else may consider a "friend", and our perceptions of the closeness of that friendship are most likely completely different. Therefore, I don't know when to discuss unhappy things with people. I am a very happy person, most of the time, but I can be extremely cynical, and never experience steady emotions. I may appear perfectly stable from the outside, but inside my mind is rushing and, most likely, panicking. Nervous thoughts tend to circulate through, mostly about worrying whether what I've said is appropriate or not. It's something I need to learn how to control.

I have learned, however, some sort of basis for when to mention negative things. Here it is.

When you're alone with a very close friend
When you're with a few close friends
When any acquaintances are not nearby

At a party, unless you pull a person aside
In a large social setting
At an event, fundraiser, dance, or anything of that kind
When a person you're going to say negative things about is nearby

Here is a short little list... I'm still working on it, and will be adding to it constantly. Let me know if you have anything to add to it!

NOTE: Let's talk about positive things... snow and gluten-free pancakes. Happy happy happy.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I know a lot of you think I'm unrealistic in my celebration of Autism, but honestly, there are so many good things about it! I can't even begin to stress this enough. 

This article sums up my point of view quite nicely:

Read it and tell me what you think. Autism and Asperger's can't be ALL bad, right?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I have reached an epiphany: I've finally experienced a substantial amount of life.

While I still feel very immature, I'm finally consciously following my own path. This may be difficult to explain, but for most of my life,  I've felt as if I was merely existing: silenced, oppressed, too quiet to have my opinions matter. I feel as if, until now, my decisions were chosen for me by teachers, therapists, and parents, that I was just along for the ride and had to agree to their every command.

Now, my life is in my own hands. Instead of being dragged along, I'm motivating myself and making my own decisions. Though I'm experiencing life a little later than most people my age, I'm there, working on it, progressing on my own. It's exciting - and a little scary. 

I finally have a large pool of memories which I can draw from to learn from past experiences, and maybe even mature further. Before this point, it was as if I was watching my life in front of me - I felt completely separate from my experiences, as if I were a mere observer. 

I can finally become an active player in my own life. I still have a great deal of life to experience, but it's nice to know that I have control over most of it, and that I will gain further control as I travel through.

It's about time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The mind of a child.

These past few days I've picked up a new book: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. It's not something I would typically read (usually biographies or psychology textbooks for fun... strange, I know), but I'm really enjoying it. 

If you're not familiar with the story, Don Quixote is about a man who reads a lot of stories on chivalry and the medieval times, and decides he wants to become a knight. Everybody thinks he is insane because those days of feudalism had long passed, and because he employs such a unique approach in becoming a respected member of society. He gets into fights with windmills ("giants"), names a random woman as his mistress, and thinks that a bunch of sheep are an army trying to fight him. 

The whole book, or as much of it as I have read, is comical and silly, but the main idea it is trying to express is how society dulls down people, and how those with a childlike drive may stand out in odd ways. In spite of this, these individuals are the most fulfilled because they are following their intuition and not anybody else's.

Even if it means complete isolation and making fools out of ourselves, I believe we should all be like Don Quixote in trying to fulfill our idealistic dreams.  This is very much the way that children think - straight to the point and imaginative - until they grow up and are forced to conform to society's standards. It's a shame that this happens, because I'm noticing more and more that our culture, which is reflective of this world we live in, is watered-down and dull. The current counter-culture among teens and young adults doesn't even know what it's rebelling against, since everyone is essentially the same. Though we all try to be unique, who really is anymore? Likewise, adulthood forces the majority of people into cubicles and the same tailored suit. Even the artists out there have to appeal to a certain audience, it's really a shame. What happened to creating art to say what you want to say? Don't get me wrong; there are still those kinds of artists out there, but unfortunately these artists are becoming a rarity. 

This is really turning into a rant (which isn't want I'm going for), but people need to think like children, really indulge in their dreams, and not care what anybody else thinks. We should go back to those days of wanting to be a firefighter, an astronaut, a pop singer. What 5 year old wants to be an accountant? Think about that. Find out what your biggest dreams are and work at them! You'll be so much happier in the long run, believe me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bob Dylan's got it right!

This song is completely relevant, even today.
I'm sure you've heard it before, but I felt like it was necessary to post.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blend in, or stand out?

There comes a time in the life of a society where the individuals living in it experience a tension in how they respond to their society. Stereotypes and differences seem to prevail, and those experiencing these differences are often pointed at and laughed at. Many responses from this treatment result: the few unique individuals attempt to conform, are faced with depression and many underlying psychological issues, or they simply cannot live in the society they are placed in - they band together with those that are like them to create their own mini-society, or they fall off the face of the Earth. 

In a time of change, however, when these differences are exposed, people must fight back - show your differences, how they affect you, and from these actions change will result. New acceptance will arrive on many different levels. It has happened in history for many different groups, and in time will happen for those on the Autism Spectrum. I know I've been putting a lot of stress on this lately, but believe me: with time, it will happen, things will change.

How do we know, though, when to give up trying to blend in with society and show who we really are?

I was diagnosed with Asperger's just years after it was accepted as a condition. I was force-fed therapy and behavioral training which molded me into the almost-"normal"-seeming girl I am today. If I tell people that I do, in fact, have Asperger's Syndrome, 75% of the time they won't believe me. "You seem so normal! You're going to be fine! I don't know why you're overreacting over your social discrepancies because you're likeable and you blend in socially." 

I don't buy this bullshit. I know I'm good at faking being Neurotypical, but the truth is, I feel so different inside. I'm so critical of my own mess-ups and I always feel like I'm putting on such a facade, to what - be like everyone else? Believe me, I'm only doing this for survival. I only followed through with my parent's demands so that I would be socially proficient enough to get a decent enough job that wouldn't leave me homeless and starving. I want to make enough money to express myself creatively, and that's really it. It's embedded in my brain that I should care about catering to everyone else, but you know what? I don't give a fuck about impressing anyone besides those who will contribute to my eventual survival (or lack thereof). I've been trained to not socially fuck up, but I'm only following through with what society expects of me because I don't like upsetting people with rude comments. I don't care if you don't like me because I unintentionally said something rude, I only care that I made you upset, because well, I don't like making anyone upset, it goes against my personal philosophy of peace and how people should interact with one another. 

Basically, I only make you happy because I believe that everybody should be happy.

I just got out of my Art History class, where we've been talking a lot about Identity Politics and social change. This all happens in the scope of modern art. Let's look at artists like Adrian Piper, who emphasized being African-American when she could pass herself off as white, and Kara Walker, whose work consists of exposing social stereotypes of race in large scale, to the point where it can be seen as highly offensive and even disgusting (I'm not going to provide specific examples here; Google their work if you'd like to learn more). These women use art to work through their issues with how society percieves them; shouldn't everybody find a means of doing that? At the same time, if we expose our differences, doesn't that go against all the work we're doing in an attempt to neutralize them? 

So, if society is inevitably going to change to accept those with neurological differences, should we speed up the process and expose our insecurities and personal feeling about Autism by exposing these traits which society has taught us to hide; or should we conform, and show that an Autistic individual can be "normal" as well? 

I know a lot of what I'm saying here may be contradictory, but I just have to get it off my chest. I had the hardest time sitting through that class because so many thoughts were racing through my head and fighting with one another. It's something I need to resolve. I know we can't predict the future, but how should we deal with things when Autism Spectrum disorders get more exposure? Should we conform with the rest of society or embrace our differences? For those of you reading this, I want to hear what you're thinking, because this doesn't just affect those with Autism, it affects any group of people who stand out. This affects everybody, which is why I think everyone needs a valid opinion on it - we need to act in some way, I'm just having trouble deciding how.

Just a thought

Art represents certain aspects of the current state of our society. If we create more art about having Asperger's, will it create more awareness and acceptance?

This is just something I've been pondering. I want to create more AS-related art. Maybe it will help the idea of neurological differences cross more people's minds. Maybe it can help give way to some sort of revolution. Who sees the same way as I do?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Synrome" by Mark Segar

While looking back on my own life, I have learned to observe my actions with others, in an attempt to judge what does work and what doesn't. I'm sure many people on the spectrum do this, and it is a wonderful idea. Sometimes, though, we cannot objectively judge our own actions, for false perceptions of societal standards may get in the way. In this case, it is a good idea to get another person's opinion, but sometimes their perceptions are skewed as well.

This is why I would like to mention Mark Segar's book, "Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Syndrome". It is a basic outline for interpreting everyday situations one might experience. This guide is great because it explains what things mean, how to interpret sarcasm, what typical body language is, as well as many other things. Part of the beauty of this book is that it is written very simply, organized with Aspies in mind: bullet-point lists, simple grammar that anyone can understand. Both a child in grade school and an older adult will be able to gain something from this book, no matter what background or culture you come from.

Everyone can learn from this book, and use it for different purposes. I have been using it to reflect on past experiences to decode the behavior of others, in better understanding their actions, and in the case of a bad situation, knowing how to keep it from happening again. Other people may use it to learn how to fit in better, how to hold a conversation more fluidly, whatever they need to work on to make their lives easier.

I think everyone who has some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder should take a look at this book. It has helped me immensely, and I hope other people can gain something from it. The whole book has been put online, and can be accessed by clicking here:

Now happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Response, Part II:

I am especially happy about the outcome of this election. Finally we can be let back into a utopian-esque society that turned into the idea of American freedom. Our president-to-be is perfect in such critical times, because he represents the changes our society has undergone, and the growth we have yet to experience.

I'm sure my parents' generation, who lived through the civil rights period, is excited and surprised to finally see a president who is African American. Though I wasn't alive when all of this was happening, it makes me so proud to know how far our country has come, how accepting American society has become of those who don't fit into a specific mold. We are about to see our country progress in ways which had previously been unimaginable. I have no idea what will happen, but I'm thrilled to be a part of an ever-changing generation. I can't wait to tell my grandchildren about these leaps and bounds I helped society make when I was young, it will be so exciting to look back and see that we've accomplished so much.

Just think: if acceptance towards individuals of a different race has finally occured, next comes acceptance towards those who express their sexuality in different ways, and then... true neurodiversity. It's bound to happen, I just know it. I'm really looking forward to witnessing how we progress.

If so many things can be changed in a century, what can happen if you add another century? The possibilities are endless. It's a lot to wrap your brain around, but it will be exciting, fresh, and revolutionary when changes start to be made in the way our society perceives others. I can't wait.

A Lesson from Obama

In the most brutal of times, it takes a great deal of self-respect and confidence to combat any threats that come flying your way. You need to trust that what you're doing is the right thing, that you need to show your good side to everybody and smile through it all, in order to avoid becoming vicious to the person spitting at you.

I think we could all learn a lesson from Barack Obama. He's struggled through a tough campaign, with McCain throwing petty insults attempting to remove his credibility. Obama was mercilessly attacked by the media, but he held his head high through it all, defended himself when he needed to do so, and never once unleashed a vicious revenge cycle upon John McCain. McCain, in an incredibly weak move, tried to make his campaign seem as monumental as Obama's - by picking a woman - another first. Needless to say, his plan backfired, and we all know how the rest goes.

Obama was called all sorts of names - underqualified socialist, terrorist sympathizer, you name it - but he didn't let a single thing get to him. He smiled right through the fight, convinced that his decency would shine right through. You know what? It did. He did end up being elected after all, right? Those snide remarks certainly didn't stand in the way of him becoming our future leader.

Obama has taught us all a lesson which we should apply to our own lives: don't let the worst criticisms get to you, stay steady, keep your head high, and be as pleasant as possible, even in the trickiest of times. I've dealt with similar things in my short life (though not on a national scale), and I've learned that if you show your good side to people, then any rumors will be dispelled by how you treat these individuals. Nobody deserves to be humiliated, and if it does happen to you, then the person doing so needs to sort out some underlying issues of their own. If things get bad then it may be good to report this to a higher authority, but until then don't let it bother you. You will feel so much better with less to worry about!

In short: if you treat others with kindness, then you will be rewarded with kindness. If you treat others disrespectfully, then this is what you'll recieve.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


It's all around us. It fuels wars, feeds to our desires to hurt others, and subsequently, doesn't do us any good. Why, then, do we have to hate?

Apart from pure joy, I've always found strong emotions to be a little bit scary. Strong hate tends to run deep, is irreversible, and is capable of creating damage which cannot be fixed - all as a result of a few wrong words that are said. Silly, isn't it?

Few people in the world actually gain satisfaction from hurting others: these people need to be avoided at all costs.

In all honesty, where does hate get you? Nowhere! If you are the type of person to express dissatisfaction over everything, then you will bring people down; nobody likes this. If you spread rumors about others for your own personal gain, then not only will people not trust you, but they will question your intentions and you will repel them. 

Angst and apathy may seem trendy, but happiness, honesty and respect are traits that people want to have in their lives. Please bring these. If someone has done you wrong, then don't let the entire world know; make sure you deal with the person directly, and make sure the other peson does the same. This way, the problem doesn't have to elevate into something far worse that it could be.  If the whole world ends up knowing, then you are honestly making everybody suffer. People will make judgements that they aren't qualified to make (considering they will most likely be hearing one side of the story). I've experienced this at its most intense existence: not worth it.

Likewise, if you try your best to bring the most positivity, it will be reflected in your quality of life. You will experience the most happiness that you have ever experienced, and those that are close to you will reflect this happiness. Of course, people may get hurt when necessary, like during a break-up or when somebody is laid off from their job, but this is just life, not malicious harm.

Please, do me a favor, and stop talking shit about other people. It's a sign of weakness, and it's not worth the results. If you don't like somebody than you can keep it to yourself. Our planet has enough conflict, we don't need to add any more. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I would like to apologize in advance for the upcoming bit of whiny bitterness.

I can't tell how accurately I percieve the world around me. I know I notice most things, but unless I'm directly told about something then it seems there's no way for me to know, unless it's blatantly obvious. I feel like I'm oblivious to certain things I shouldn't be, while I'm more aware of things that most people don't give a damn about. Things seem to slip by, as if my head isn't turned the right way at the right moment, the moment where everybody learns and I don't.

It's a struggle, a somewhat unnecessary one. I now know how to be socially appropriate, but I can't figure out where relationships stand among my peers. Is it this "social blindness" I keep hearing about for those on the Autistic Spectrum? I thought I managed to avoid that, but now I'm not so sure.

It's a shame that we can't be aware of what we're unaware of. My relationship to my environment seems to slip every now and then, and things seem to happen that completely pass me by. I wish I could have an outside source to tell me of all these things - someone who perceives everything I can't. Oh, life would be so much easier.

How can you tell how other people pick up on things as opposed to you? I wish I could compare notes with other people. Then again, nobody is perfectly normal, and everyone's brains work in different ways. I know mine functions on the drastically opposite end of the spectrum than the average, neurotypical individual's, but I wish there were a standard at which to compare these things to, if you get what I'm saying.

I apologize if I sound a bit whiny today, but I wish the filter in my brain didn't stand all alone. I wish there were a giant pool of information for everybody to share, to use as they please. I guess all we can do is try to hold on to our ever-changing social world, right?

I know I'm not the only person out there who thinks about this... for the few of you who actually read this blog, what do you think?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Peace, my friends.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how we progress in our communication with others: everyone, not just people with Asperger's, experience patterns of growth in our ability to communicate with others.

From what I've been experienced, I've become more social in the past month or two - I've never had those types of friends where it is just given that you will be spending time with them constantly, and now that I do, I've been listening to people gripe about their problems more, and it's made me realize how much I care about all of these people. Aspies aren't supposed to express empathy, right?

From this realization, I'm beginning to feel like social understanding, a desire to help others and empathy all go hand-in hand. According to what I've come to understand, as you learn to socialize better (through trial-and-error and experience), you realize that people like it when you help them, so it becomes a priority for you to help others. When I help people, it really means the world to me when I feel that I've made even the smallest difference in someone else's life. Good feelings circulate when you are in a decent relationship, so you feel compelled to do more good, and the other person in the relationship will enjoy doing something good to help you. It's really a win-win situation. 

I just find it interesting. For most of my life I've been completely apathetic about, well, everything - now I'm cheering up friends who are currently in difficult areas of life, and I'm helping them feel good about themselves. It's a nice change, because now lots of people are helping me as well. It's nice to know that this works both ways.

Just something to ponder. Try going out there and complimenting somebody on their shirt, or comparing them to a stunning celebrity. Flash a dazzling smile or share some candy with a friend. Once positivity is unleashed, it can really travel everywhere and make a difference. Maybe if we start being more positive and respectful, good things will happen. Wars, impulsivity, all the horribleness in the world could cease to exist. It's a bit far-fetched, but it's worth trying, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beauty: We've Got It!

In little things that the average person may take for granted, such as the beauty and texture of nature, and the folds and drapes of a fabric, an Aspie is more likely to notice, and see its real beauty.
Drawing by Bernie, located here

One of the best things about having Asperger's is having an ability to percieve so much richness in the world. I often find myself becoming mesmerised by the way things go together, or resulting actions from how things exist. Right now, here is a knitted blanket next to me, which creates a beautiful wave-like sloping pattern based on the progression of purl and knit stitches. There are some intentional gaps in the piece that contribute to its real beauty, creating little knit strings that provide depth and really help to hold the blanket together. From there I look even closer and can see how this blanket was knit together, how each individual piece of yarn moves throughout the blanket in giving it its distinctive shape. 

I could get lost in things like this for hours, following the way blankets and tapestries move, the way they drape when they are hung a certain way, how a certain trim may pucker in places and give the tapestry in question wonderful depth. Following these ideas lead back to science - the pull of gravity, how lighter things pull less and heavier things really stretch; the balance of gravity (if a tapestry is hung in more than one place then its weight is distributed more evenly). Due to the science of gravity, towels are heavier and fall straight down in hardened circular folds, while lighter, airier fabrics sort of float in a way. In leather and fake leather, the intentionally stitched in folds that are almost geometric, while in an article of clothing made of soft cotton, its folds are based around the fabric's interaction with the body that's wearing it, and the stretch that body gives the article of clothing over time. 

I can't help but notice the movement of things: the way the lenses on glasses slope, the directional movement and composition of art, rock posters, even of the geometric hardness of an ironing board. I love the way roads twist and curve and how the angles of crosswalks change depending on where you are and how the traffic on that street moves. I love how when anything is given freedom to move, it does so in a beautiful way. When air flow is incorporated, things follow that movement and create something that is truly amazing. 

Above is an image of Andy Warhol's installation, Silver Clouds. On the Warhol museum website, a description of the piece reads: 
Created for a 1966 exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, Warhol created an environment that included one room filled with Silver Clouds, helium-filled balloons which moved with the air currents. In addition to creating an ethereal, joyful atmosphere, they challenged traditional expectations by mingling with and touching the viewer.
Juding by the description of this piece, it's clear that Warhol got it. He incorporated movement, texture, direction and interaction into an exiting installation. Though it may be years before I'll get to travel to Pittsburgh (and not everyone can) to see this piece, anyone can recreate the sensations they may feel from it, just by drencing their senses in beauty and opening their eyes up a little wider to see how exactly the world can enrich our quality of life.

Never stop thinking, never close your eyes - there is so much out there, and if you really look out, you'll come across something truly spectacular. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Silent Feuds, because you can?

Today I would like to discuss something that has been bothering me for quite some time: unspoken feuds. These are feuds that are built on assumptions, rumors, or anything that you hear from a source other than the person involved.

These are often the worst kinds of fights. I feel as if the two people involved will avoid addressing the subject at hand, and therefore tension just builds up. It's horrible, and it only happens because the two individuals will wish to avoid hurting the other person's feelings, or will assume that "if I don't say anything, it's not real." Maybe one person is hoping the other will approach them about something and wait for everything to blow over. Either way, it's almost unbearable to deal with.

I feel like this is an important issue for those of us with Asperger's, because life is a constant learning process, and our lack of experience on dealing with sticky situations often results in a tense state of uncertainty where we don't know what to do, but are afraid of making things worse. We usually do mean well (unless the person in question is malignant to begin with), but our actions are often mistranslated, typically out of a lack of explanation or a biased interpretation based on some unintended consequences of our actions.

A lot of this happens because we don't know how to read the other person's actions and body language. I've learned that if someone seems really tense when they are around you, or responds to you with one-word answers, then they probably want nothing to do with you. I've learned to take these little actions and multiply them by a large number - this is probably how the other person is feeling. If any enthusiasum is shown, then they truly do appreciate you a whole lot, but if any negativity is expressed then the opposite is true, if only for the meanwhile. If this behavior continues then their actions are most likely reflective of their general opinion of you.

As for responding to these situations: it is difficult to face people like this, but it is generally best to avoid them, if you can, or to take actions in avoiding them. Why waste your time trying to impress a person who doesn't care? There are better things to focus your energy on.

If this person is important to you, like a family member, friend or roommate, then it is best to talk things out. Don't start with any accusations, but starting the conversation with things like, "you seem upset, am I doing anything that is upsetting you?" or "Is everything all right? You don't seem like yourself." are good ways to work through any issues the two of you may have. It's important to speak with a calm vocal tone in order to avoid communicating any of the frustration you see in the other person - you are doing this because you care about them, and you want things to be decent again. The conversation should be constructive and not demeaning in any way. If it takes a negative turn, such as the two of you are spitting out accusations about one another, then you should say something like, "I don't want it to be this way", or suggest that the two of you take some time to cool down. Show the other person that you care and that you want to work things out. If you can do this, then there is a good chance that the discussion won't turn into a deadly fight.

I'm just writing this because, in my experience in dealing with people (most of which has ocurred in the past year), it's one of the biggest things I've had to learn. Assertiveness is key, and it's important NOT to be too passive, which is something I really need to work on as well. If a problem is really bothering you, it is best to bring it up with the other person/people involved, because you may be itching for that one conclusion which will help clear your head. And as we all know, clarity is a beautiful thing. If you learn to assert yourself you will be much happier about your life. I know it's in vain, but if this post has helped SOMEONE then I will be happy. Let me know how you see it, or what your perspective on dealing with issues is!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What is Asperger's were viewed as a strength?

Today I came across this article:

It presents us with a wonderful thought: what if Asperger's were viewed in light of its strengths and not its weaknesses?

If this were the case, Asperger's Syndrome would have to be removed from the DSM-IV - it wouldn't be a disability anymore, which I really don't think it is to begin with. Individuals with Asperger's have helped to push advances in technology along so far, and have provided countless contributions to society, including those that are literary, technological and artistic.

Sure, Asperger's does have its weaknesses - a lack in social ability, stimming (possibly?) and motor clumsiness are a few. But with fascinations that often lead to a career, excellent study habits, a thriving persistence on whatever absorbs attention, and absolute honesty and loyalty, difficulties in social skills are nothing compared to the strengths that having Asperger's Syndrome can provide. Whenever a new advancement is made in years to come, there's a good chance that an Aspie will be behind it. Michelangelo, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Isaac Newton, the list goes on and on (for an extensive list of famous Aspies, click here).

Espescially in an age of watered-down culture, reality TV and cheap thrills, the unique mind of an Aspie is something to treasure. While many are forced to conform (I'll admit it - despite my weirdness, I have conformed to some degree), their minds are still intact, filled with innovative accomplishments and imaginative ideas. If we can hold onto this uniqueness, then great things will follow us. If such touchstones in our culture were created out of thin air by the quirky kids who may have been ridiculed in grade school, then we must be onto something great.

Though having Asperger's is very stressful, I've finally learned to see it from a whole new perspective. Maybe you will too, if you haven't already? To whoever cares to read this, I'm sure you possess something magnificent up there. Do me a favor, and please treasure it. It will be worth it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chasing the Dream

Read this article.
I agree about finding a job suitable for your strengths. I'll put up something related to this soon.

How Far Should You Chase "The Impossible Dream?"

Growth Through Experience.

Hello again everyone! It's been a while since I've written, so I think I'll begin this new entry with a bit of an anecdote:

A few days ago I was spending time with a few friends, and a guy who has an unwanted crush on one of my friends comes in and starts chatting it up with her - he sits next to her and earnestly starts telling her about his favorite television show... she's not interested at all. My other friend and I are able to recognize that he is making her uncomfortable - her body is caved in a little bit and her facial expression seems polite, but unresponsive: certainly uncomfortable.

At that moment, my friend and I are figuring out how to spare our friend who is mercilessly being hit on, so I decide to distract this guy: he's good with computers, so I ask him to help me with a diagram in Microsoft Excel that I had been making for one of my classes, but unfortunately, I was having trouble with turning the statistics into a chart. Excited, he immediately comes over, grabs my laptop, and shows me how it works. My other two friends leave the room, and after he helps me, I end the conversation gracefully: "I think I left my flash drive in my room; I'd better go save this..." He went back to his room, and it ended fine.

When I got back upstairs my friend hugged me and thanked me for sparing her of such an awkward moment. At this time, I was in shock: how could I have smoothed over something so well? I'm usually the awkward one!

The only thing I can attribute this experience to is years and years of mess-ups. Because of my Asperger's, I've had to pay close attention to what is and isn't awkward: not to mention anything about unwanted subjects in casual conversation, appropriate body language, etc. It's quite grueling to have to think about everything that you're going to say in order to avoid making a fool out of yourself! Fortunately, it will all pay off in the long run.

It's about time, too. Middle school and high school were brutal (I recieved an unusually high amount of bullying, and that victimized, condescending reputation sort of stuck), but that's where I gained enough experience to appear approachable. College really provided the most amount of growth, for my approachability allowed me to socialize more, and learn more than I ever had before. I'm still nowhere near appearing normal, but with enough hard work I think I'll be able to survive.

What I'm trying to say is (and I'm no professional or anything), it's important for people with Asperger's, HFA or any similar conditions to put themselves out there socially, no matter how uncomfortable they may feel. Pay attention to how other people do things: saying hi, small talk, and seeing how people relate to others using pop culture or past experiences are just a few examples. It even may help if you disclose your condition to a close friend, and encourage him/her to let you know of any strange tendencies you have, or if you say anything disconcerting - this will serve as as extra observation, so you can work on things you wouldn't typically be aware of.

Through the years, I've come across a stunning realization that with experience and intense concentration, social skills can be learned. It's definitely possible: don't give up! We may never be perfectly normal, but being aware of our social tendencies will certainly help us build self-esteem and relationships in the long run. Certainly worth the wait.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kaylee MacKenzie, you're my hero.

Here's the story of one girl who's beaten the odds:

Kaylee's story is one of inspiration to us all: there's a way to work around any disability to do what you really love, if you have the drive and passion to do so.

If you ever come across this one day, Kaylee, then I look forward to hearing your name in the fashion industry in a few years. You're very talented and I wish you plenty of success. Best of luck!

Fuck this shit, we're not disabled!

I know it's a burden, but please click on the link; these people won't let me embed the video. Sorry about this!

Notice the condescending tone they're using? "AS is part of a spectrum of autistic disorders and is a lifelong developmental disability."

No, no, NO! It's only a disorder in that it deviates from the norm, and it certainly isn't a disability!

I decided to create this blog after hearing about the skewed perspective that is associated with the reputation of Asperger's Syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Syndromes. No, because I have this condition (notice the absence of the word disorder here? Well, you should!), it doesn't make me retarded, or mentally challenged in any way. On the contrary, most people with Asperger's have an above average IQ. We know a lot about the certain specific interests we have, we are enthusiastic learners, wonderful students who happen to perceive social interactions differently than the average, or "neurotypical" individual. 

Believe me, I've heard it all. During grade school I was fired at with every insult in existence and deemed a "freak". Many people experiencing AS have also dealt with this, and as a student who started school in the early '90s, AS was still being examined. In recent years, the number of children being diagnosed with Autism have increased by 119%; people are still learning about Autism and Asperger's alike, which is exciting to witness. Though existence can seem mundane, it's exciting to be a part of a new generation; our generation will be one to help map out the future for many others.

Coming from the first generation of young-adults who were diagnosed as children, I'm interested to see how AS manifests itself in us as the years continue. I was diagnosed at 5 years old and was treated for years afterwards. The fact that I was finally told of my diagnosis at age 14 forced me to become more aware of typical social behavior - I honestly learned the most through trial-and-error and through personal experience, by thinking, "this statement didn't get a positive response; I shouldn't say anything like it in the future." or "by using eye contact in this way I seem dishonest; I want people to see that I'm an honest individual, so I'll never do that again." Therapy and social groups did help as well. I know the constant treatment was a benefit for me, though I'm still strange in many ways.

Now, at 19, I've gotten to the point where one of my doctors says I can fake being neurotypical to the point where I wouldn't receive a diagnosis anymore. I don't agree with this, for my AS is still there - I'm still socially awkward, though not as much as if I hadn't pushed myself to communicate in so-called "normal" ways, and I can't handle stress very well, but I can control my symptoms and meltdowns better. I'm also decently dressed and I appear pretty normal, which, though it unfortunately clarifies the importance of image in our society, I've come to find that it really helps people take me seriously. I still struggle with social mess-ups, but now I'm able to recognize where I've messed up and how to prevent myself from making those mistakes in the future. It's a constant learning process, and though I still have a while to go, I've made a great deal of progress which I am pleased with. 

I may be criticized for this, but I believe that those with AS should embrace their uniqueness, while learning to communicate so that they can support themselves in the long run and not feel destroyed by social norms. There are ways to find suitable professions that work with our sensitivities, that maximize our talents and allow us to appreciate who we really are, quirks and all. 

This is my first time doing this sort of blog, so I encourage feedback in any way, shape or form. In fact, I'd love it if you gave me feedback!

I know we can beat the system! Who's with me?
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