Thursday, July 30, 2009

On Receiving My Healing

On Receiving My Healing

I gave my life to Jesus Christ after encountering Him personally, and have spent roughly the last two-thirds of my life as a believer. Not long ago, I spoke with a dear sister in Christ- a woman who dearly loves speaking the truth about everything, and speaking deep love at the same time, and calls me whenever she needs to talk to someone who is not a phony. Though she is not on the spectrum and I am, we can still appreciate each other a great deal, and I find her love of truth extremely refreshing.

In this call, she told me that she had heard recently on the television that someone had a message from the Lord that God was healing someone from Asperger’s (my formal diagnosis) right now, and that she had laid hands on the TV and prayed that I could receive it. I had to grin, because I also believe in healing, but as we both know, you can only get healed of something if it is wrong in the first place. I explained to her that I do receive all the healing that God wants me to have- but that I have to wait on His timing and His will and His order of things, or I will lose my personality completely, and in fact, be hurt and not healed at all. She could relate to what I said, but still seemed to think that I was not receiving. We both know my favorite scripture regarding being on the spectrum: From Psalms 139:13, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and my soul knows it very well. On the other hand, I desire to forgive everyone in my life, on or off the spectrum, who has hurt me, whether through misunderstanding or intentionally, and to forgive myself for the errors I have made in hurting others, again, intentionally or not. I certainly view this as part of healing, and I plan to receive it all. I can find the places in the Bible where it says that this is the will of God. In view of that, I need to be able to discern how typical people feel in certain situations, and to be able to discern how I feel, and to develop the self-control (related to executive function) that will enable me to handle my feelings, and to respect the feelings of others, and to interact in a way I want, rather than in a way my feelings make me interact before I even know how I feel. (See Galatians 5:22 ) Of course, these are scriptures which a typical believer can be expected to read and take seriously. In my case, when I had prayed about this back in the winter of 2006-2007, I had begun to realize that I have more difficulty with this (emotional detection and control and more) than typical people have in a number of ways- and I began to accept this about myself, even though I did not want to think of myself as being disabled in any capacity if I could help it. I began to understand that I am indeed different in this way. Back then, I melted down much more easily than a typical person would about certain things, and kept my cool about things that would scare a typical person very badly- and I am still like that today, though I have gained a great deal of control compared to where I was, by learning to pray for help when I feel I need it, and learning to ask better questions to make things less overwhelming for me.

In July of 2007, I self-diagnosed, at the time finding Asperger’s to be a very accurate description of me in many ways- down to sensory issues I had told nobody about for years. In the process, I discovered that for me, it confers a number of decided advantages along with the disadvantages, so that being “healed” of it might actually leave me quite a bit worse off than I am at present, as well as incredibly disoriented. In particular, my IQ is in the top one percent, my long-term memory goes back to before I was born, I have perfect pitch and color-sound synesthesia that coordinates with it, my synesthesia coordinates color with many if not all of my senses other than sight in a way that aids my long-term memory, I have mathematical intelligence, I remember names as well as a typical person recalls faces, I can ignore my feelings in crisis situations so that I can apply logic more clearly and more rapidly, I have a hyper-focus that enables me to concentrate on something intensely even in heavy background noise for long periods of time, and more. Would I trade all that in for being typical? I certainly would not quickly agree to it. On the other hand- and I learned humility in a deep way from accepting all of this- I am face blind (prosopagnosic), have had to learn to read facial emotion as an adult by using Simon Baron-Cohen’s software (and I am still learning- it has helped amazingly!- but I still have great difficulty in knowing when someone is trying to manipulate someone else, or play a trick, or reacting to a social situation I have not discerned at all, for example), have visual memory that is quite poor (I say the name of a landmark if I want to remember it!), do not have words to match the levels of even many of my common feelings (but I am learning them quickly, now that I am studying!), have interesting sensory issues, have trouble in following the social content of two simultaneous conversations at once, have to work hard to see the “big picture” in social situations (this requires a hyper-focus on my part often enough, if I am unfamiliar with the situation , even when a friend is really trying hard to explain it), and although I have nearly complete memory of events back to childhood- I lack the understanding of why the typical people in my life did the things they did, for good or for bad- in many instances. Again, I am learning. I also lack the big picture that goes with many of these events, though I have learned the meaning behind many of them with help from typical people.

The conversation soon changed to something else entirely, but came back to healing- we both love that topic in many forms, so my dear friend and I come back to it easily and often. If she had perseverations I would say it was one of hers; it is surely one of mine.
My friend mentioned the man born blind, whom Jesus laid hands on to heal, and then asked him what he saw. The man said he saw people as trees walking. I replied that this is me- I am receiving a gradual healing- I see people’s emotions like I might see people as trees walking if I make my eyes blurry. Now, she understood. I am becoming a whole person. To me, that does not mean becoming typical. I am developmentally delayed, but not unable to grow. My current perseveration is learning to understand how typical people process things- everything from emotions to facts- including asking how it feels to them, and pausing to try to imagine feeling that same thing when they share it with me-- and to be able to communicate with them- and understand the reply- on different levels, including the kinds of incongruity between facts and feelings that enable them to be direct with one another in conveying displeasure and gentle rebuke without being too blunt or backing one another into a corner. At the same time, in all my memories there are none of having ever been typical, so I have learned that in experiential matters I will have to ask for more detail about what someone means, and share the experiences of others to gain the understanding I need to interrelate when shared experience is the method of social interaction that is in use in a conversation- and there really is no “healing” that will give that to me for free. My friends are happy to share- I think they are glad I want to feel what they felt. Sometimes, they ask me things about what I feel in certain situations, or what my experiences were- and it is fun for me to share as well- it is cross-cultural communication.

There is a word about each person as having a place that we are meant to fill (please see 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14 and 15). I feel that I am being created and fashioned according to this, prepared for where I shall go (not to negate free will within this framework), and that to be healed, I need to wait on Him completely. I think that healing is for everyone, autistic or not, and that part of that is in learning not to be afraid of who people are-in my case, that involves accepting typical people as they are, and learning that they can accept me as well., and learning to accept that I am not perfect, need help with certain things, and that this is OK. I am only formally confirmed this last March.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Funny Story

Two days ago, I went to an amusement park with four friends, all on the spectrum. We had all brought different things with us, for a variety of reasons: I had brought an easily-recognizable tote bag, with a few stim toys in it that I had somehow not removed. We were in line for one ride, when someone asked about another nearby attraction, and I explained that it was like the old "scrambler" that had little seats and that spun people around two ways at the same time, but with an additional feature that it was held in a dark room, with a strobe light- "like this", I said- and took out a ball that strobed when squeezed- and one of my friends began to laugh a lot. It was contageous, and soon I was laughing hard, too. In the middle of this, he asked why it was funny, and went back to laughing. That was even funnier! Sharing made it even better.

Do we laugh "inappropriately", as many of us have been "observed" to have done at formal evaluations or other places where we are under professional observation, or do we simply realize that something is funny where NTs cannot get the joke? I have often felt so lonely, when they could not share my laughter with me. Maybe, they have felt lonely when I did not get their humor, too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Disclosure of AS in Marriage: Pro/ Con

Dear Reader,

In what follows, feel free to replace AS by autistic, and feel free to replace NT by NS (non-Spectrum), as desired. Of course, there are many more reasons in either category. I would tell people that disclosure is better.

Ten Reasons Not To Disclose AS to Your NT Partner

10. You really are not sure yourself about it- you just think you might be AS.

9. Your partner does not believe in any "psychobabble", so you are not quite sure how to convey it in a credible fashion just yet.

8. You worry that your partner will reject you if you do disclose.

7. Your partner had a prior bad experience with another ASpie who used AS as an excuse to be rude and inconsiderate, and you don't know how to disclose without sounding like you are doing the very same thing.

6. You are not 'out", and your partner cannot keep a secret well. (Assume that you are self-dx, but not formal.) Being outed right now would cause you to face serious discrimination.

5. Your partner really listens to everything her best friend says. That friend has been complaining about his or her spouce's AS, and saying that people with AS are emotional parasites on the normal members of society.

4. Your partner is applying for health insurance to cover you both, and there is an ASD question on the form, and you do not want your partner to have to lie to avoid discrimination.

3. You have in-laws who are looking for a reason not to respect you, and you feel that your partner would tell them without your consent. Assume that their respect is important to your partner, and that they live nearby.

2. If your partner feels really down, if you do not disclose AS then it will not be automatically your fault- due to "CADD". You want the blame to be assigned fairly.

1. If you break up, AS cannot be used against you in a custody fight.

Ten Top Reasons to Disclose AS to Your NT Partner:

10. You feel the need to explain why you have been admiring the beautiful colors in the rainbow of an oil spot on the sidewalk, and why you played that same fantastically beautiful classical music CD about 100 times last week, in a way that makes sense to your beloved.

9. You feel like explaining why it is that you have every street in the city memorized, or how it is that you have all those prime numbers memorized, or why your beloved's voice is such a pretty color, or...

8. You never get your partner's jokes, and want to explain why.

7. You have a lot of sensory issues that you really need your partner to accommocate.

Your child reminds you of how you were as a child of that age, and you want to have your child tested for AS, but your partner is downplaying the whole idea, and would take it more seriously if you disclose. This is particularly relevant for school accommodations/ IEP. It is also important to share with a therapist or other medical or health-care professional who may be evaluating your child, and non-disclosure could prove difficult in that situation.

Your child has sensory issues and your partner will not believe them. You know your child is telling the truth from your past experience in being an AS child, so you want to advocate for your child more effectively.

4. You make a lot of social errors, and really need your partner to have a way to keep you out of that kind of trouble in certain situations. You trust your partner implicitly with this, and know that your partner is worth it to you- for you to try hard to get this right- and he or she is willing to help.

3. You have common experiences but interpret them very differently, and realize that it would really help your communication if you could just explain the differences.

2. You want to help your partner understand why you do not always read your beloved's feelings, but that you still really care. You want your partner to share in words what those feelings are more often, and tell you what would please him or her.

1. You love your partner greatly, and want to share everything with this person you care about so deeply.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Article I Really Liked

http://chronicle. com/weekly/ v55/i41/41cowena utism.htm

I read this, and it brought back memories -- feelings I have had all my life-- knowing that my brain was somehow wired differently, and that if one learned to use that wiring correctly, it would be a really excellent thing, not better and not worse but different from NT wiring (I did not know the slang NT back then), and with all this an intuition that there were others who shared my wiring and had not learned to use it effectively, and were viewed as not very smart by others, and denied the opportunities to learn in the best way they could- appropriate to their actual learning styles- as I was and am. (Of course, we are all different, so my intuition was at best an extremely rough approximation. Also, my definition of "best way" is only rough and intuitive.)

As a college educator, I see the other side of this as well, and again, there were things about this article that really struck me as accurate.

Dear reader, what do you think of it?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bill's Emotional Rating Challenge

This challenge was put to me by Bill Nason, whom I know well from another list. The idea is to choose any emotion that is hard to feel at low levels, and then create an effective rating scale where you list different life events or experiences that cause you to feel this emotion at low levels. For people who are in touch with their feelings, the challenge would be to find an emotion that they could do this with- it has to be one that is somehow hard to feel. Later, I will post more of Bill's background information for this- but for now, here are my parameters (feel free to change them to something that works for you- it will still meet the challenge).

My rating scale is from 0 to 10. A rating of 0 means that the event does not make me feel the emotion at all, and a rating of 10 means that the event makes me feel the emotion at the highest level of intensity imaginable. I can have feelings I am not aware of, so this can be a real challenge for me.

Here is one example:

Worry Table (mine)

10-Being in the W T C when the planes hit it, or having a friend or family member inside, or equivalent

9-Losing my purse with all my cash and credit cards in it- and some other items that are virtually irreplaceable, but highly useful.

8.-Number 7.5 below, where the person is insisting that there is no explanation, and refusing to even speak to me.

7.5-Being accused by a friend of being incredibly rude or arrogant or hateful, when all I have done was misunderstand directions to something, or misread a social cue-- and being worried about how to communicate what I need to clear my name, and help my friend not feel hurt by the misunderstanding. (My friend's reaction can make this better or worse.)

7. Being publicly blamed for something I have not done, with the appearance given that nobody will believe me.

6-Being observed at work, in an unfamilar task, where I have only heard the directions one quick time, and I am being evaluated on how well I understand NTs.

5.- Trying to hear really important directions in a crowded, noisy room, where the person giving them is really quiet, has already repeated them twice, and I have not really understood well enough to do them.

5-Finding a person I know (and am supposed to recognize) in a crowded place, when I have not disclosed being face blind.

5. Seeing my mother cry, when I was a child, and did not understand why she was crying. (I wanted to make her feel better, but could not really do it.)

4- Being unable to find my glasses, when I am at home, know they are in the house, and can find my back-up pair.

4. Getting a letter from the IRS, saying I owe several hundred dollars, and being told I need to find records to show I dont (and I have put the records away over a year ago, and do not immediately know where they are).

3.5 Needing to drive 8 hours in a snowstorm, but with a car that is in good working order, with a full tank of gas, and no passengers.

3- Thinking about things I need to do the next day, when it is bedtime (writing them all down takes away that worry, and puts this back to Level 1 or 0)

2- Having a student get worried about having the ability to learn my subject.

1- Needing something from the store, and learning that it is closed after I get there- so I will need to go back the next day (but the item is not one I really need even this week).

0-- Doing interesting mathematics problems

0-- Public speaking. (Do I lack the T.O.M. to have stagefright? I have never had any, unless the situation itself warranted it.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Favorite Word

"Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon my head;
Do not let my head refuse it,..." ~ from Psalms 141: 5

I like this word, because it says my attitude towards my friends: Do not spare my feelings, but clearly tell me what I need to know, when you see me in error. I can read between the lines a little bit, but if you do not want me to know at all, for fear that my feelings will be hurt, then I will likely not know (from you), and if I do not learn indirectly, then I will be hurt, because the thing that is really wrong will surface, and I may not even know what hit me.

There are people who do not want to know. There are many reasons: fear of feeling badly, worry that the correction they receive is not accurate, pride, fear of rejection from the person who shared, low self-image, laziness, and more.

I can read this:

Me: "Do I look fat in this dress?" (Assume for the sake of argument that I do- to you and to me.)
You: "I like the color, but I would not wear it."

I cannot read this:

Me: "Do I look fat in this dress?" (Assume for the sake of argument that I do- to you and to me.)
You: "You look beautiful today."

Some people cannot understand either of these statements. I used to be one of them. For that case, say something more clearly than either of these scenarios, if your friend really wants to know.

If a friend realizes that I do not understand, I hope my friend will say it more clearly to me. I really want to know. If I hear what my friend says and think I understand when I do not, and I act on what I think I know, I hope my friend will stop me and correct my misunderstanding in time. I would not be offended if my friend were to say,

"Yes, you look fat- I know you will look OK in that dress another day, but today, it will not be what you desire."

or something else equally fair. My feelings of looking bad are completely overwhelmed by my feelings of delight that I have an honest friend who cares enough to risk offending me, to help me be my best in this situation. I feel this way in general.

Do you?