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!
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