Monthly Archives: December 2011

Agree to Disagree

How am I supposed to tell someone that they are a self-centered jerk without sounding rude?

I read a blog post recently where a parent was explaining how they don’t enjoy doing things with their kids, and they would rather just be the one who took care of their needs. The parent was looking for support of this idea, asking rather insistently if they were the only person who felt that way. Although I can guarantee that this person is not alone in feeling this way, that does not make it right.

If you look at your kids in this light, you are basically treating them like a chore – taking care of their bare maintenance needs and nothing else. The parent becomes a simple caretaker, a person that the child can only go to when assistance is required. There is no choice in the relationship (I don’t know about anybody else, but I want my children to enjoy spending time with me and – GASP! – actually choose to do things with me). In time, the child will begin to sense this relationship and withdraw from the parent, only to reappear when the child needs something.

Of course, I wrote none of this in the blog’s comment section because I was afraid it might have sounded callous and insensitive. My Aspergers makes me extremely proficient at sounding insensitive. I’ll write it here because I don’t think anybody reads this crap anyway.

This fear of “rubbing people the wrong way” creeps into many of my daily interactions. I’ll go along with a lot of stuff just to avoid rocking the boat. I also find it difficult to express my actual opinions when talking to people; I usually just allow them to express theirs and then critique them (once again, coming off as insensitive). I assume when people express themselves (like in the blog I mentioned above) that they want people to agree with them, and disagreements are going to start fights

 I really don’t like pissing people off, so most of the time I avoid the confrontation and either pretend to agree or ignore the whole situation totally. I do need to learn how to say no, disagree with someone, or express my true opinions without worrying how other people will react.

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He Looked At Me!!!

Just a little example of what can knock an Aspie’s day completely off track.

A shipment of office supplies comes in today, and the delivery guy needs a signature for the delivery form. I’ve done this a thousand times, no biggie. I could probably fill out the form with my eyes closed. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can be friendly with the delivery guy in a work setting. As I finish filling out the form and begin to hand it back to him, I get this strange sensation that I’m being looked at.

I’m betting almost every Aspie knows this sensation. You can feel someone’s eyes on you as if they are exerting some sort of palpable force onto you. From any angle, from behind, even from a decent distance away, I swear I can feel when someone is staring at me.

So I hand him the form and – BECAUSE I HAVE TO, DAMMIT!!! – I look up to confirm my suspicions. And, of course, I’m right. He’s looking right at me.

And he holds eye contact with me.

I’m guessing it was about 45 minutes that we locked eyes, but it was more likely less than a second in reality. But that one moment made me so uncomfortable, and this is one of the essences of living with Aspergers. Eye contact is an intensely personal experience for us; if you know an Aspie and s/he can naturally hold eye contact with you, consider yourself in high regard with that person. It sounds like I’m going overboard, but I really felt invaded and violated, simply because our pupils aligned.

Afterwards, I felt like a mess. I couldn’t concentrate on my work, I felt very tense, and I had a strong desire to pick at my fingers (didn’t though!!!). My day, which was pretty darn decent up until then, got completely thrown out of whack. I’ve been slowly bringing my self back to center and trying to relax since then – dinner break helps a lot. Suprisingly, blogging about it helps even more.

Filling In the Blanks

Vacation trips to see my family are always interesting, and by interesting I mean both fun and extremely annoying at the same time. I am often triggered by mother, who still sometimes treats me as if I’m a child who needs help with everything (although, considering how my Aspergers affects me, can you really blame her?). Also, some members of my family tend to get extremely loud during the get-togethers, which creates an uncomfortable sensory experience for me. But, overall, I am glad to see them and I’m happy that I live close enough so I can visit without it being a big thing that requires months of planning ahead.

One of the most interesting things that always seems to happen is that my mother will end up chatting with me and my wife, and end up shedding some light on exactly how I was as a child. The discussion always starts with talking about how my daughter is progressing with school/dance/etc., but the conversation always veers towards how similar I was as a child. After each visit, I am invariably more certain in my Aspie diagnosis.

This time, my mom described how I was in grade school – at first, I found it hard to connect because I missed a significant portion of 1st grade due to health problems. My mother thought that I just got a late start socializing, however I suspect my Aspergers was to blame. She claims that once I got to high school I had a “troupe of friends following me around.” I doubt this is true; I was friendly with many people but didn’t hang out with many of them, and they DEFINITELY didn’t follow me around!

My mom has a tendency to sugar coat things (“no, you never had tantrums when you were a kid”) and/or distort memories to fit her liking, like the friends thing. If you take everything she says as truth, I was a perfectly normal kid. But if you pay attention to the small details she gives out – for example, during this trip I also found out that I went through a “phase” where I wouldn’t eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – you end up getting a different picture.

In This Post, I Worry About Worrying Too Much

I have a wonderful 6 year old daughter with Aspergers. She is smart, talented, beautiful, and absolutely amazing in every way possible. I am truly blessed to have her as a child. Despite these blessings, I am constantly worrying about raising her to become a “good person.”

I try my hardest to make sure she is a nice, well mannered child. Sometimes it’s difficult to do this with an Aspie child. People with Aspergers sometimes have a tough time being “nice” because it involves taking the emotions of others into account, which is notoriously difficult for Aspies. Teaching politeness is also a tough task because manners don’t always make logical sense (for example: If you are going to get yourself a glass of water, get me one too; I shouldn’t have to say please because you are already going to get a drink for yourself!). I want to make sure she lives a happy, successful life. Sometimes I worry that she won’t have the tools she needs to achieve this because of her Aspergers.

But then I look at myself. Although I was never diagnosed, there is very strong evidence that I have Aspergers, as well. And, in my opinion, I have been pretty successful in life so far. I’ve also been generally happy (more so, in fact, since accepting my Aspie nature). So do I have to worry as much as I do?

I think about the stories my mom and older sisters tell me about when I was going to school when I was younger. They tell me how they were always so distraught about sending me to school, how much I hated it, how I was bullied constantly, and how it must have been torture for me.

I, of course, remember none of this.

From what I remember, school was pretty fun. I learned lots of stuff. I had friends (or, at least what I perceived to be friends at the time). There were lots of fun games and sports to play. I had a great time! I can’t remember specific instances of being bullied; perhaps some kids tried, but I just didn’t catch on. The worst thing I can think of is playing football in the schoolyard and nobody throwing the football to me. Oooooh, what a tragedy!!! Perhaps it’s the Aspie nature of being disconnected from my emotions that allowed me to be oblivious to the terrible things my family saw. It’s also possible that my family is kinda nuts and overdramatizing things.

So, now the roles are reversed – I’m the one wishing a happier life for my child, and she’s the one who is probably happier than I could imagine her to be. And if I turned out happy, successful, polite, and friendly, who says she won’t be able to do the same things I did?