Physical clumsiness.

One of the things I hate about my neurological make-up as someone with an ASD is the physical clumsiness and lack of coordination that come with it.  What prompted this post was the fact that I knocked over a lamp on my dresser a few nights ago and destroyed the filament in the bulb and I don’t know how it actually happened other than it happened very quickly.  I think I was trying to put something else up on my dresser and somehow I snagged the lamp and sent it crashing to the floor.

I’ve forever been kicking doorframes while trying to slouch through them…I sometimes drop glasses and shatter them (not often, thank goodness, but often enough).  Or tip them over by accident.  It’s embarrassing, sometimes humiliating.

Yet paradoxically I’ve sometimes shown some amazing manual dexterity when it comes to taking things apart or putting them together.  I have a quick intuitive sense of how different disassembled parts fit together, though once I did bite off more than I could chew when I ordered a bicycle kit from; I got it partly assembled but just couldn’t figure out how to make the handlebars fit securely to the frame.  I wound up rolling my partly-assembled bike to the nearest bike shop in Denton and paid them (gladly!) to finish the job for me.  Even with their labor costs added in, I still came out money ahead than I would have buying a fully assembled bike at Wal-Mart’s physical store in Denton, Texas.

I would probably make a good gunsmith and/or armorer with the proper training, but I don’t have the money or the spare time to get thusly trained.  I’m mostly pretty cerebral but sometimes I surprise myself.

I’m still a Klass A. Klutz, though, and it irritates and pisses me off so much at times.  It’s like my gangly body is a mirror of my inherent social awkwardness.  Like other Aspies, I do very much enjoy being in a swimming pool.  I’m no competitive swimmer by any means, but I’ve always liked floating in water, the sheer physical sensation of it all.  I like doing underwater handstands; sitting on the bottom as long as my breath will allow it, floating on my back; playful things like that.  While I’m in the water my body feels supported and less klutzy overall.

It’s something about NT society as a whole, but people who lack physical grace are judged as harshly as those who lack social grace…indeed the two are often seemingly correlated in our lives as Aspies.  Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy good physical comedy, i.e. slapstick.  I most certainly do. 

I think i’ve probably unconsciously internalized a lot of self-loathing of my body’s inherent clumsiness from the wider society around me.  I’ve tried always to be extra mindful/careful by way of compensation, but even I slip up sometimes, even at my age.  I’m still a 42 year old dork sometimes.


Just say no to anger


Whoever wrote this letter is obviously an extremely troubled individual.  It would be incredibly easy to get angry and start crying out for her to be punished for it, but decisions made in anger often lead to regret.  What kind of person thinks like this woman?  A miserable one.  She’s being punished already simply by living her life.  She won’t become a better person with the addition of more pain.

Many would say they don’t care about making her a better person.  They want her hurt to make them feel better.  Hurting someone else to feel better is what the writer of this letter did.  She thought that somebody deserved to be put through pain, so she lashed out just like you might be thinking about doing.

But there is a difference, you might say, between them.  The mother of the autistic boy did nothing to deserve punishment.  The letter writer would disagree.  In her judgment, the mother was doing something wrong.  In your judgment, the writer did something wrong.  In both cases, the answer to a crime is another crime.

Hurting other people on purpose is always wrong no matter who you are, no matter who they are, and no matter what they did.  If you went back in time and punched Hitler in the face, you would be doing something bad and probably creating paradoxes for The Doctor to iron out.  Shame on you.  He has enough to do without you messing with the space-time continuum.  Justice means dealing with people in a fair way, not hurting them so you can feel better.

In order to break the cycle of hate, you have to deny yourself the expression of your anger.  Don’t scream, don’t hit a pillow, don’t fantasize about the letter writer getting her comeuppance, and don’t write an angry reply wherever you first saw this posted.  Whatever you want to do, don’t do it.  Take a deep breath or two and consider that aggressive words and actions are the resort of people who are already in pain, and inflicting more pain on them will do nothing but cause them to amp up the aggression.  Imagine how you would feel about someone going through pain who did not behave aggressively toward others.  That is how you should feel about her.  She needs for the pain to stop.  She needs help.  The power to spread pain comes easily to those who call upon it, but the power to heal is much greater and much harder to summon.  If you want to make the world a better place, show compassion for everyone who hurts.  Start with yourself.


Having friends, i.e. people that I can relate to and do stuff with, has always been very important to me. They’re a significant part of what I enjoy in life. Making those friends, on the other hand, has been quite a challenge. As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, it has been more difficult for me than for most people to become friends with others. Particularly without them initiating interaction.

Earlier in my life, this was largely due to my lack of certain social skills and (at least in the past) elevated levels of anxiety when around unfamiliar people. For example, during my junior high and high school years, if I wanted to hang out with someone I was friends with, I would more often than not rely on them to initiate such interaction. Especially if that friend was a girl. Initiating interaction with others, whether in person, over the phone, etc., was quite nerve racking for me as an Aspie (i.e. someone with Asperger’s Syndrome).

Things have improved as I’ve gotten older. I’ve gotten better at calling/sending a message to my friends via some other electronic medium when I want to hang out, talk, or whatever. I also don’t get as anxious (if I get anxious at all) when doing such things. I’ve also learned that I can’t simply rely on my friends to contact me if I want to hang out. That said, it’s still quite difficult for me to initiate hanging out with and/or even conversing with people I know who’re female in real time (i.e. talking on the phone and in person), since I still get somewhat anxious about doing so.

Having friends has had a great impact on my life. Although it’s been a challenge for me to make (and in many cases keep) friends, I’m glad I have the friends that I do.

***2015 Update: It’s not as difficult for me to initiate conversation with women in real time as it used to be (especially with women I’m friends with), though it’s still a little more difficult than initiating conversation with men. Same goes for hanging out with people, i.e. it’s easier for me to ask people if they’d like to hang out, though it’s still a little more difficult to ask women than men.***

Monday morning QB analysis

Timing in relationships has always been a major failing in my life, a recurring theme.

I had a really enjoyable weekend this past weekend.  On Saturday I attended a lecture hosted by the local county Democratic Party organization in a local pub.  It was a lecture on the ramifications of Citizens United and the scourge of so-called “Corporate personhood”.  It was informative and I was glad to meet some like-minded local folks.

More importantly on Sunday, I first attended the Houston Church of Freethought, had lunch with them at Jason’s Deli.  That was enjoyable enough.  But what was really fun was later in the afternoon I took a tour of the Menil Museum with some of my fellow members of Houston Oasis, a congregation of nonbelievers that is newer than HCOF but one that I actually prefer to HCOF.  One of the members is a former art history professor and lead us through the museum, giving us a lecture and referencing the works on the walls of the Menil to elaborate his points.  We surveyed a brief history of modernism from Monet to Abstract Expressionism then on over into Postmodernism.

I’ve always said that visiting Museums (or listening to live Classical Music) are the closest I get to a “religious experience”.  This museum trip was really fun.  We all agreed to assemble later at a local Mexican restaurant nearby for dinner.  I first ducked into the Houston Photography Center, which is next to the Menil and a personal favorite.  I did not want to be the first one to arrive at the restaurant, either, so this helped me kill some time.

When I arrived at the restaurant a few of the Houston Oasis were present but not all.  I surveyed the table and chose to sit on the far side of the gathering, next to an attractive woman who looked familiar.  If it had been who I thought it was, that person is married.  However, I quickly discovered she was someone else who merely reminded me of this other person (a pointless detail I kept to myself).  Although I’d be the first to admit that I’m pretty lousy at smalltalk, we actually did seem to hit it off in speaking to each other.  When I mentioned my dual Master’s degrees, her interest seemed piqued and she made an approving noise, turned toward me slightly and began to take more interest in our conversation.  We talked about art, movies; I talked about my trips abroad; She decried the absurdities of contemporary women’s fashions.  I mentioned David Rakoff’s satirical essay about the fashion world in his book Don’t Get Too Comfortable.  From there we went on to talk about Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris.  She described herself as a writer, though she did admit to having a day job (which she neglected to talk about).  I talked about my happy times with AIG, Inc., and my current position at the library.  I really liked this woman, and she seemed to find me interesting as well.

However, she’d come to this event with someone else, an older gentleman even than myself.  We parted amicably, but he was her ride home, and as the old saying has it, “you gotta dance with them what brung you”.

I suppose if I were NT and more of a “player”, I would not have left without for sure getting her phone number at the very least.  If I were really a player, I might’ve found a way to persuade her to leave with me instead.  As it is, I’m hoping to see her at future H.O. events.  But on the other hand, I did feel a kind of pang of…regret?  Loss? when I waved goodbye to her going back to my car…and she waved goodbye back–from the passenger’s seat of the other gentleman’s car.  Maybe they’re just friends, maybe they’re more than that and went home together and got intimate.  But I do know that she barely talked to him at all during the meal and seemed much more interested in what I had to say…which is kind of a rare thing for me.

*Sigh*  it’s probably a blissful-but-fleeting encounter that will come to nothing.  I may never see this woman again.  I can only hope that she comes to future Houston Oasis meetings on her own (assuming she has a car of her own) where I can chat her up again and continue the mild flirtation. 

It was hard enough just to maintain the amicable conversation, though.  Add to that the game of active flirtation and gauging her response…sometimes it’s a wonder I’ve ever had girlfriends before….and I have…but every time has on some level been a pleasant surprise that hits seemingly from nowhere.  But in any case, this is someone with whom I “clicked” and would at the very least like to spend more time with if future circumstances allow it.

Autism is not demon possession

Don’t watch this video unless you are prepared to hear the most vile idiocy you’ve ever heard.

In the beginning of this video, the ignorant host calls autism an incurable illness. Autism is not an illness. The word “cure” doesn’t apply to it at all, and to attempt to apply it makes no sense. It’s not just religious fundamentalists who think this way about autism. It’s many people, especially parents who won’t accept their child unless he or she is exactly what they want him or her to be. This is bigotry.

I suppose I can understand a parent’s distress to a point. When you find out your child will not be like other children and will have a hard life, you wish things could be different. You wonder why it happened to you, and you wish you could make things easier for your child, but the answer is not to change him/her. The attempt will only make things worse. Once the initial shock wears off, your resolve, as a good and responsible parent, should be to accept your child and to get to know him/her just as you would if he/she was whatever you wanted him/her to be. You don’t decide who other people are.

The video is a religious program, so it’s possible that this is all staged. None of the events in it may have happened, so take heart in that possibility. Around 7 minutes in, the lady says something interesting. Most of the christians she knew were sad and disappointed in their lives. She might be saying this to contrast the churches she had gone to with the organization that “healed” her son, but it says something about christianity if people agree with it. I’ve heard christians claim that there seemed to be something wrong with every atheist they’ve ever met, so to hear a christian say that other christians had issues like this is very interesting. She’s not claiming that christianity will make one’s life perfect. She’s not trying to convert people to christianity because the audience is already christian. She’s trying to sell the services of the “deliverance program” or whatever it is. She says Yahweh (or God as she calls him) called for her to go there. That’s what the people in the program who called her said, so it must be true, right? Yahweh wouldn’t lie.

Note also that she did not say that the “deliverance session” was free. If it was, she would have said so because that would have been a big selling point. It’s not, so she has to really play up the miracle angle. She needs for the audience to believe that a miracle happened. Also note that in the beginning of the video, the host mentions that the doctor who verified that the child had been cured and that it was a miracle was Jewish. The doctor was Jewish because if he isn’t a christian, that means that his claim that it was a miracle carries extra weight because he isn’t supposed to believe in christian miracles. It’s also supposed to imply impartiality on the doctor’s part.

The mother says her son was described as a monster. When the host asked her what the cure rate is, she says there is no cure (which is true) and that there is no hope. No hope. You have to just live with a monster. Lady, that is a child. He’s a human being, not a monster. Autism is, what SHE would call, a pandemic. She says this with no medical background whatsoever and certainly no knowledge of autism. Heck, she doesn’t even know what a pandemic is.

The guy with a stethoscope and lab coat who they claim is a Jewish doctor, who doesn’t look very Jewish to me but what do I know, says that the boy was out of control and would end up having to be institutionalized. He has an interesting pattern of prefacing a lot of his statements with “I gotta tell ya”. He does this when he states opinions, not facts, and the preface is meant to make him seem more honest, like he’s leveling with us. There are also some jump cuts in there, and there’s no telling what was said in that footage. It didn’t support the case for the boy being beyond the help of medical science, so it was unimportant for the show.

The deliverace session was basically an exorcism. The woman claims that the boy, who was almost totally nonverbal, reached back and yelled “Come back!” to whatever demon was leaving him. Riiiiiight. Also of note is the fact that the video is periodically interrupted by advertisements. At about 12 minutes and 45 seconds in, there is one for a book written by the supposed mother. This is the what it’s all about. Everything this lady is saying is a lie meant to dupe a gullible audience into buying her book. What audience could be more gullible than a religious audience? None. They even promise miracles to those who read it. Wow. Buy this book and magic will happen. They’ve turned autism into a gimmick so they could trick gullible fools into buying magic beans.

The importance of self awareness

For a ridiculously long time, I was turning people away from me without even knowing it. I would say things that would hurt them and then try to justify my actions, thinking that if I just talked hard enough, my words would have the effect that I intended. I’ve behaved insensitively, and I suppose the effects have been so gradual, it’s only now that I’ve begun to reverse my course that I’m seeing the difference. I was pushing everyone away, and I was close to ending up alone and unhappy. I would have deserved it too. I’d have had no one but myself to blame.

Asperger’s Syndrome is not an excuse for behaving badly. I tried to use it as one, but I was wrong, and I am sorry to everyone I’ve hurt. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but I wasn’t trying not to, and the truth is that I was hurting people. I had no consideration for anyone’s feelings but my own. I can’t say I was unaware of what other people were going through. Some of them were directly telling me, and I refused to acknowledge them. It was incredibly childish, and I knew better.

I have no right to expect anyone to forgive me, but people are starting to all on their own. It’s amazing and humbling. I want more than anything else to make myself worthy of the compassion I’m being shown. I’m making more of an effort than ever before to create a climate of peace in my mind because constantly fighting is so tiring, and it’s not strength that made me keep it up for so long. It was weakness. The more tired I got, the harder I fought until I found myself more and more alone. When I took a step back, I saw what I had become and where the path I was on was leading me, and I didn’t want that. I want to be as good as my friends and family. I want to be accepted and liked. I have to adjust not only my behavior but also my way of thinking or else all of my talents will go to waste, and I will never be happy.