Monthly Archives: November 2012

Conference Call

Ok, so I’ve been stressing out a bit about next week. I have my first test in my online course next week, but that’s not the worst of things. The thing I’m stressing out the most about is a conference call that is scheduled for Sunday.

First off, I’m working midnights this weekend, so I’m going to be sleepish during the whole thing. Second, the entire class and I will be meeting on Skype to discuss… whatever we are going to discuss. I’m still learning the ins and outs of Skype, so I have no idea if it’s going to go well or not. I also have no idea what’s expected of me in this phone call.

I expected the learning and the work to be the hard part of this course. That stuff seems to me moving along pretty well. It’s all of this other talking-to-people stuff that is becoming a chore.

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I Wish I Was Special

I’ve been busy the past week or two with a whole bunch of stuff. I just came back from a week in Indiana for the Orientation Week of an online course I am taking. I’m taking the course to become an SBB, or Specialist in Blood Banking. Basically, I’ll be learning every single in-and-out detail of my job. Hopefully it will give me better qualifications for promotion or a supervisor job someday, which means more responsibility for not a whole lot more money.

The orientation week was… interesting. The point of the orientation was to make sure we had all the materials we needed to start, as well as to get to know and interact with the other people who are taking the course alongside me.

What, what? Interaction with people? I paid $3000 for this?

WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

Actually, it went pretty well and I had a great time! The beginning of the week was somewhat awkward. It felt like forced socialization, which I find almost as enjoyable as bathing my eyeballs in rubbing alcohol. But the classroom/learning setting allowed me to kind of settle in and focus on the information rather than being normal. By Friday I actually enjoyed talking with these people, which is good because I’ll be conferring with them on projects and stuff throughout the year.

I think what helped me warm up to these people was that:
a) I realized that these people were interested in and passionate about many of the same things I was. I could talk shop with them and not worry about looking like a dork.
and…
b) Thursday night, the education coordinator took us out to dinner and paid for everything including alcohol, and I got a little buzzed.  🙂

But seriously, I was able to talk to these people because I realized they were like me – nerd-ish people who were interested in advancing their knowledge because they wanted to. And they wanted to be there bad enough that they were willing to pay for it. And talking about work with these people led to other conversations where I was able to actually share (gulp) personal things about myself. And it was fun!

Now the hard work begins – a full year of busting my ass to pass this course. Wish me luck!

Friday Night Anti-Socialite

My daughter goes to an ASD socialization group every couple of weeks. I usually can’t go because I work evenings, but tonight I had off so I was able to go. The kids break up into groups to help foster some social networking skills, and the parents are free to attend a special conference event, usually focusing on some ideas and resources for parents to deal with the difficulties of having a child on the spectrum. I thought it would be nice to tag along with the family.

I’m not so sure I want to go again.

The subject of the conference was helping your ASD child improve their social skills. As the presentation went on, I felt myself getting more and more stressed out. First of all, the presenter decided to go with an interactive format, which threw me off. I didn’t know we were supposed to be answering questions! I was ready to trudge through the boring parts by playing cell phone games. What happens if I get called on? Now I have to pay attention! It felt like I was back in elementary school, without the fun of gym class. And the worst of it is, they are asking questions that I have no idea how to answer. For example:

“What does it mean to you to be social or to have a friend?”

Ummm….

I have Aspergers. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

As the discussion continues, the parents start offering examples of the difficulties that their children face. Many of these are greeted with chuckles or bursts of laughter from the crowd – probably from knowing all too well what the commenter has gone through. However, I experience a lot of the same issues that are being shared… and chuckled and laughed at. Now I feel like I’m being made fun of. Once again, just like elementary school.

It also bothered me that a lot of the conference seemed geared towards how to “fix” the problems of the ASD child, such as coming up with ways to get the child to socialize and make friends or “succeed” in social situations. This turned me off completely. Is Autism something that needs to be fixed? Am I a failure just because I’m not as comfortable in social situations as an NT is?

My wife says I’m crazy, and that’s not what it’s all about. I agree that I am probably oversensitive due to my unique viewpoint. I just think that parents focus too much on their expectations and what they want for their child. What they should be focusing on is what makes their child happy and help them achieve those goals. If the kid wants to be more social, then helping them along is a wonderful thing. But if the kid is happy playing by him/herself and wants to be left alone, forcing socialization skills on him/her is just a self-serving act to comfort the parent’s anxieties of failure and social rejection.

As if to underscore this theme, the conference ended with the parents breaking up into smaller groups to share ideas and solutions that worked for them. I snuck out the back door before our group formed. Thankfully, and this is why I love her, my wife didn’t force me to stay.