Without a diagnosis…

I will not hide that, at this time, I do not have an official Asperger’s Diagnosis. This came up while meeting with my therapist today (hey, we all need therapists at some point!). The argument is whether there’s a point to getting a diagnosis, and whether I even have AS. I strike her as being too empathetic toward other people’s feelings, and that people with ADHD have social interaction issues, sensory issues, and other similar things to AS.

Let me be clear: I respect and like my therapist. It’s not an easy profession. However, I have to disagree on this one. No, I’m not the expert, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading on AS, and I feel like it’s describing me in many ways. I am also learning that there are some fundamental differences between boys/men with AS and girls/women with AS. I am very interested in researching the extent of these differences, and to examine the nature vs. nurture aspect. For all of society’s advances, boys and girls continue to be raised with different social expectations. Girls are supposed to be “little mommies”–the caregivers. Boys are supposed to “man up” and be strong.

I’ve been examining my perspective lately. I’m responsive to people’s emotions, but is it through training and practice, or is it natural? I’m inclined to think that it’s a learned thing for me. It’s more natural nowadays, but only after years of it going over my head. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

Whether I get diagnosed with AS or not, my experiences are valid. I am not “normal” by a long shot. I have a hard time with ADHD being the only explanation. My therapist and the doctor who works with her insist it’s depression and ADHD, nothing more. I have to say that I don’t know many ADD/ADHD people who are my level of “strange.” There is a lot of AS/autism/ADHD in my family. There is no bipolar or other disorders, and we know I do not suffer from these.

Maybe I’m going about this all wrong, and I should focus on my daughter instead. Her future is still in flux. Then again, maybe one way to truly help her is to help myself. True?

I might get a job… IF I can get past the interview!

It surprises people I know when I tell them I am socially inept. They point out that I am outgoing and willing to speak with anyone. Well, that’s the problem. I can and will talk with just about anyone. And talk, and talk, and talk. I can usually cover the ineptitude with my quirky sense of humor. This works in most social settings, but job interviews aren’t “most” situations.

I blew one interview for a well-paying job by getting diarrhea of the mouth. It seemed to be going well, and I got excited. I was interviewing to be an admissions counselor for an online university, something I felt good about. When it was my turn to ask some questions, I let my enthusiasm get the better of me. The online university had programs that I found interesting, so I asked about taking classes while working with them. Then I inserted my foot by saying that I wanted to take web design classes and eventually move on to working with their website.

Oops. Wrong answer.

“You don’t want to advance through the admissions department?” Meaning, “We’re not good enough for you?”

I don’t remember what I said, but it wasn’t good enough. I did not get the job. I knew it as soon as his smile froze and posture changed. I was no longer in consideration, all because of my big mouth.

I’m going to go on a tangent here…

When I say I recognize this from his body language, you need to understand that I don’t read it on an intuitive level. Somewhere in my mind, there’s a dictionary that says “____ set of the eyes means ____” or “That posture means he’s pissed.” It took me a long, long time to realize that I achieve similar social reads through a different means from other people. In other words, I don’t just do like most people. I have to focus on reading people and do it in a conscious manner. Until recently, it seemed normal. At least I don’t think the way I look at it is “normal.” Do “normal” people have to consciously think about reading people? They just kind of get it somehow, right?

</end tangent>

I blew another interview just before I got pregnant with the Munchie. At the time, I wanted to sell cars, and there was an opening at a Mercedes Benz dealership. I still don’t know for sure what ruined it, but I had a bad feeling about it by the time it was over. I felt like there was a trick question in the interview, but I wasn’t getting it. It probably didn’t help that it’s very hard for me to look like a professional. My hair is ridiculously fine and thin, I have a goofy-looking jaw, and I tower over many people. I don’t have the money to have clothes tailored to me, so business wear looks stupid on me, as well.

Somehow, I was able to get a couple decent positions by convincing them at the interviews that I was competent and enthusiastic. Neither one lasted. I felt like I was acting the role they wanted to hire, but when the time came to be good at the job, I wasn’t. I felt like the Pretender called in to surgery. This leads to a larger topic as far as work goes, but that will have to wait until later. In a nutshell, I am terrible at second-guessing myself. This undermines my performance, as my mind goes blank, and stuff doesn’t get done. It’s frustrating because I think I’m better than that–but I could be wrong. Very wrong.

Luckily, I have found what I am good at doing. Now it will be okay. The question is: Can I get past that all-important interview process? I don’t know anymore. The job I may get sounds like a good fit, right up my alley. I just hope I don’t throw it away by screwing up the interview.

*Don’t worry, I’ll have more upbeat posts before you know it!

“Deadliest Catch” – Here’s to the Harrises

This doesn’t have much to do with this blog, other than it’s really gotten to me. If readers are lucky, I’ll analyze this later. I do get caught up emotionally, which may seem odd for an Aspie. Or is it? Anyway, here’s what I posted on my Facebook status and in an ensuing comment:

Feeling sad for, yet proud of Josh and Jake Harris, sons of Phil Harris, Captain of the Cornelia Marie on “Deadliest Catch” on Discovery. Capt. Phil had a stroke and then passed away this past winter. The stroke happened less than a day after Jake told him he had a drug addiction. I found an update this week from older brother Josh…

Jake HAS been getting treatment for his addiction and is out salmon fishing right now. Josh works in business when not crabbing, and he’s been busy. The boys are going to keep the Cornelia Marie going, and they are also going to be trying to educate people that smoking kills. It killed their dad.

That’s the thing about reality shows. Sometimes reality hits home.

It seems strange that I should feel more emotion for people who don’t know I exist than for John Q. Public down the street who I only know by the dog who walks him. (Yes, I typed that right!)

That’s it for now. G’night, all!

I’m not broken, I’m just different. Or: Tap Shoes and Phones

I used to think I was broken. My mind has always worked in different ways from the people around me. Even now, I make connections that other people might not expect. Give me some random objects or concepts, and I am sure to find a way to bring them together. It doesn’t matter if there’s no inherent link, I can make them relate.

Example: I looked around my desk and chose two random things: a telephone and tap shoes in a photo. Shoes have nothing to do with phones (unless you need to go down a street with sharp stones to get to a pay phone), but tap shoes could be very cool if you’re on the phone. Say you have a child who does a little tapping, and you can’t get a photo to a grandparent. Lucky you! Have your prodigy stand on a smooth surface next to the phone and tap her/his heart out. Said grandparent knows what the kid looks like and can now imagine them tapping out that clattering beat (assuming there’s a discernible beat from a three-year-old).

Want to throw me some more random things? Go for it.

I digress. Often. Back to feeling broken. I’m not sure how to explain it in a way normals might understand. So let’s try it this way…

You’re in high school, and it’s your open study hall period. All your homework is done because you finished before class was over. The teacher’s lecture didn’t matter because they just regurgitated the material you already read in the book. This is true of most classes. So now you have nothing pressing and are bored. You wish you had someone to talk to, but the few people you count as friends are in class. The library is open, and you wander in. Mrs. S is behind the counter checking in books. You say “hi” and hope she’s in a mood to visit. You suspect that she finds you annoying, but you are craving interaction with someone. She’s nice enough.

Mrs. S sees you and lets you start talking. The words gush out even as you get the feeling she couldn’t care less. She’s not rude, but you can somehow tell she’d rather not be listening. You don’t know what gives you that impression, but it’s there. Now you want to disengage, but you don’t know how without being rude to her. Also, the words demand to be spoken. It’s a compulsion over which you have little control. You desperately hope for a natural break in your thoughts so you can break away. Finally, you find a pause in the stream and use that to say, “I’ll let you get back to it!” and then walk away.

The experience has left you feeling worse than you did when you wandered in. Now you feel angry at yourself, agitated that you screwed up again and mad that you did exactly what you told yourself you wouldn’t do. It’s almost lunch time, so you head down the hall in that direction. The agitation is building up and demanding a release. You duck into the bathroom and escape to a stall. You don’t think anyone is in there, but you lock the stall door, just in case. There, you let the agitation out by shivering, flapping your hands, and bouncing or jumping. You wish you could yell, but you at least have control over that. Right now, anyway.

You shake it out and take some deep breaths, ready to face the world again. Time for lunch, and you feel a little better. You leave the bathroom and go to the cafeteria. Once you’ve gone through the line, have filled your tray in the “right” order, paid, and sat down at your usual table, all is well.

This kind of thing still happens many years later, although much less frequently. I hardly every do the hand flapping, but I do tend to have some sort of motion going at any given time. I get fidgety if I don’t have something to do with my hands.

As far as the awkward talking, that still happens. Like the flapping, it’s not as bad as it used to be, but hey, it still happens. At least I can explain why to the people I know. The great thing is that I have found friends who accept me as I am and are used to it. A few have even gotten good at pulling me out of it without either party getting irritated. The key here is that I’ve learned to cut off the chatter a lot sooner and to recognize what I’m doing. I’ll probably never get completely past this behavior, but it’s a far cry from how I was fifteen years ago.

These are things that contributed to my sense that I was “broken.” Now I know I’m not broken at all. It’s how I am, and it’s how the world perceives me. I’m not “normal,” I’m different. But without “different,” the world would be a bland place. Hooray for the Differents!

Getting annoyed when people “get it wrong”

From my journal today. It seemed appropriate. I didn’t edit it like I usually do when writing for the blog, as I feel like I want to keep it genuine.

As a kid, I got annoyed when people got things wrong. I got in trouble for correcting adults. Mom and Dad hated that! But it REALLY bugged me, especially when people mispronounced words or used poor grammar.

Eventually, I had to learn that if it wasn’t important to let it go. Today, I’m much better with this. If I can’t stand it, I at least try to remove the sting.

Why does this bother me? Who cares if another person butchers a spoken sentence? I think it’s because I want them to get it right, so they don’t sound less intelligent. Of course, they probably don’t see it that way. It’s hard to remember that. Read the rest of this entry »

Being Happily Eccentric

What does that mean, “Happily Eccentric”? After feeling out of place all of my life, I have finally come to accept that I am who I am. I will never be “normal.” In fact, my interests are so eclectic that it’s hard to pin me down to one category. I stopped trying.

“Asperger’s Syndrome” seems to be a trendy diagnosis. Whether it is or not, it looks like it is one of the few consistent categories to which I can be pinned. The official diagnosis is yet to come this summer, but I’m pretty smart, and it’s not hard to point out how I fit into the symptoms. I’m lucky that social interaction isn’t nearly as painful for me as for most “Aspies.” I can talk with just about anyone. So how can I have Asperger’s if that’s the case? Let me try to explain.

differences among the different

I haven’t done enough reading yet to speak with any authority. What I do know is, like everything else in life, every Aspie is an individual, with her/his unique interests, strengths, weakness, and levels of functionality. A NASA engineer may have Asperger’s and benefit from their massive ability to focus on complex problems, whereas someone like me is very artistic and good at writing. It often comes down to what holds a person’s interest. In my case, I’ve always believed that if I wanted to learn something, I could, no matter what. Life has taught me otherwise, as some of the things I wanted to do had physical demands that I couldn’t meet. That said, when I decided I wanted to learn how to do web and graphic design, I never looked back. I love it, and I get it. Coding isn’t as evil as I feared. I’ll never be a genius with coding or scripting, but I can make things work! Of course, if you give me a choice between coding and creating art, it’s a no brainer: art! Read the rest of this entry »