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moof's prattling


December 19th, 2004

(no subject) @ 09:58 pm

Current Mood: bored bored

I'm here in lovely Chicago, where it's 9F right now and my parents are being real goofy about letting me use the car to drive (gosh!) 80 miles to Indiana. Schedules and transportation, and who's available when... bah. Not that isn't always like this; I think that once every two years is about all I can stand of it, though. It makes my little Aspie heart grumble and wince.

And speaking of... here's my long-delayed "What's it mean to have Asperger's?" post. Woo!

Unlike depression, but like my ADD, the Asperger's is always around in some form. It may sometimes get better or worse, but it's so much a part of my being that I can't imagine what it would be like to not have it. It affects my ways of thinking very deep down on a cognitive level; one of the side effects of this is that it can be very hard to diagnose (or notice) unless you know what you're looking for. What might be some typical symptoms of being an Aspie, you might ask?
  • Routine! Lots and lots of routine. (And overcoming routine is difficult.)
  • It's difficult to make small talk, but rather easy to talk about 'something'.
  • Uneasiness in talking about oneself. (Where to start? How much to say? Am I boring the other person to death?)
  • Social interaction is draining. This is a big one.
  • It's difficult to express emotional connotations of things in an understandable way. Often, it can come off as stalkerish or psycho or just downright weird.
  • Very good at generalizing, to see the forest for the trees.
  • Social cues are Real Hard to see - so is "what's appropriate".
  • In a related vein, accurately reading how one's perceived is Real Hard. (Combine this one with the social cues above, and you get Oblivious Man! And Doesn't Know When He's Being Flirted With Man!)
  • Non-sequiturs are rife in conversation; the internal version of this (for me, anyway) is that out of the blue, embarrassing memories will just pop out of nowhere.
  • Not looking away from people when you're speaking to them. (You're paying attention to them, after all!)
  • Massive Confusion when the rules change, especially in social-ish situations.
  • Nastily sensitive startle reflex - loud noises, or any sudden sharp sensory input.
  • Running around on the balls of your feet.
  • Difficulty in empathizing with people.
  • In general, being Very Introverted.
On the other hand, the ADD does some directly contradictory things:
  • Yeah, it's hard to concentrate on boring things, but also...
  • There's a very, very strong drive to be social
  • and a super-strong desire for novelty.
  • I'd say the ADD also greatly increases one's empathy, too.
The social aspects of the ADD and the Asperger's are at direct odds with each other, and that can make life utter hell for me sometimes. I'll desperately want to be social, but won't have any energy for it (or for driving to where being social would occur.) Text-based media, like being online, is much less of a drain, so I do a lot of that - but there're also far fewer cues to miss, since more-or-less everything needs to be explicitly brought out in the text. In person, there's an awful lot of data that's expressed - and while I can often tell that something is being (indirectly) said, I often can't tell what. Along those lines, even when I'm empathizing with someone and can gauge their mood quite accurately, I can't necessarily tell why they're feeling as they are.
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:26 am (UTC)
well--since today didn't work out, i hope i get to see you wednesday!
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:45 am (UTC)
Me too; I think Wednesday will work out. I hope. :)
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC)


I remember that when we were in Ann Arbor, I always found it really easy to talk and communicate with you--it was spontaneous, and comfortable. I really enjoy your company, and I still miss you. I hope that wasn't too draining on you.

How does being aware of having Aspergers change your relationships with people? What I mean is--is there anything I could do to make communicating easier for you?

This is interesting to me because I have--lots of routine, difficulty when rules and routines change, uneasy talking about myself, have a hard time making small talk, find social interactions draining, good at making generalization, and in general very introverted.
The people I communicate best with are the ones who don't stop talking. I think I get a long with James so well because he always has something to say. We often converse, but I can trust that even if I have nothing to say, he'll go on talking about something, and I know that he says what he means, there's no topic that can't be talked about, nothing's too random, and his cues are verbal and clear. He's one of the only people I can hang out with and feel like I have more energy afterwards.

Oh well. I hope to see you sometime this week!
If I'm not at my home number, you can try calling me at work 773 728-5344--we're all friends there, nobody will bite your head off for calling me if I'm not there.
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
running around on the balls of your feet? i've never heard that one before. besides, aren't you suppose to do that when running.
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
It's difficult to express emotional connotations of things in an understandable way. Often, it can come off as stalkerish or psycho or just downright weird.

I'd like to hear examples of this, so I can better understand what you mean by that.

(A disturbing number of those things apply to me, but fortunately not all of them.)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:December 20th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC)
Damn. That's quite the list.

And you know? I don't think there's a single item on that list of what Aspergers is for you that doesn't apply to me. Including the running.

It took me 10 years to figure out that it wasn't that I couldn't run worth shit, it was just that the heel-and-toe running style my PE instructors kept trying to drum into me in school just plain didn't work worth shit for me. Then one day, studying vaulting and needing to be able to run with horses, I learned to run on my toes ... and all of a sudden I could run with horses and keep up. Suddenly, running was no longer a gasping effort that left me last in the class staggering across the finish line thirty seconds behind the rest of my class, it was effortless speed, wind in my hair, distances that just shrank and vanished, and knowing that even if I couldn't fly, I could fake it briefly given the slightest rise for a take-off.

No more running for me now, though. Left foot's too fucked up.
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Date:December 20th, 2004 06:28 pm (UTC)
freaky. both of those descriptions remind me a lot of me.
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Date:December 23rd, 2004 11:21 am (UTC)
Not looking away from people when you're speaking to them.

All of the aspergers things you mentioned are symptoms of mine, except this one. I find that maintaining eye contact is quite difficult, and that most of the time people are talking, or even when I'm talking, I need to stare off into space so I can concentrate on the words and not be distracted by the process of analyzing facial expression, or producing same.

As I've gotten older I've discovered that I'm increasingly more sensitive to noise--and motion. Anything moving in my peripheral vision renders me unable to concentrate. While I do sometimes listen to music loudly, I can only do so when I'm alone because it's the only part of my environment I need to pay attention to. If other things are going on, or other people are around, I have to turn it off so I can process what else is going on around me. And if there's too much going on, I become extremely anxious--not just at social situations, but even at home (wife doing laundry, vacuum cleaners running, etc.)

A few months ago I got my hearing checked because I seemed to have a problem hearing what people were saying, especially in situations like meetings at the office, at parties, at dinner gatherings, over the sound of the car engine, etc. It turns out that I have quite sensitive hearing, in fact. But it seems I can't process it if it all comes in at once. (I also have a bit of tinnitus, but it's not deafening.)
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Date:December 23rd, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC)

But I made it from Indiana into Chicago!

So all hope is not lost. I'm home, by the way, so tell your parents thanks a lot for letting me crash overnight, and your sister thanks a lot for the chauffeuring (in case they didn't, you know, get the message. Heh.)

Also, I have some pictures. Not all on the camera didn't come out - I thought the film was a higher speed than it was, so didn't use the flash when I should have, so our indoor pictures kind of suck or are not there. The Wrigley Field stuff came out nice, though.

I hope the Wednesday thing with your other friend worked out - and now I go to spend until next Wednesday in boredom here at my parents'. At least we go to see my grandfather Sunday-Monday, however.

Unrelated airplane snippets:

I got patted-down/searched at O'Hare because the damn studs on my jeans set the detectors off.

Pittsburgh is a very pretty airport, but 1hr delays for a flight that takes all of 40 minutes in-air still suck.

Albany "International" Airport has a huge bondage-collar-laden ball of some sort of brown waxy thing that they call modern art. You know it's very obviously that when both you and the 40-ish Quebecois paper-mill executive you sat next to on the plane have the same thought about it.

Getting up at 7 in the morning to make doctor's appointments after you got in the house at 1am and had been flying since 5pm really sucks.

But I am alive and well, if tired, FYI.
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Date:January 18th, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC)
Hello there,

I surfed by in response to you posting a comment in my journal.

It's great to see a suffer's POV on Aspergers. It's a really misunderstood condition, afaik (well, the autistic spectrum is really misunderstood), so people talking about how it feels and what they think it effects is really valuable.

Thanks for a thoughtful, interesting post. If it's ok to do so (let me know because I won't do it otherwise) I would quite like to point other people at your entry as it was both full of content and easy to read (that in itself is an unusual combination).

If you'd rather not have a whole troupe of strangers pawing your journal just say so - I know if someone popped up in a personal post of mine I might be a bit disturbed, even though I post almost everything public.

Be well,

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Date:January 19th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC)
Sure, feel free to point whomever you like at it. I post things like this publicly so that they'll be read - at least partially because I haven't seen many other people post things like it.

I have the luxury of being both shameless enough to want to post publicly, and a job/personal situation where there are few negative consequences of doing so.
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Date:March 8th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
I should dig up / find / make my favourite button that reads

"Don't just flirt; hit me with a clue-by-four"

moof's prattling