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Showing posts from April, 2007

Speaking Skills

When I get nervous, like most people I stutter and stumble over words. I simply stumble more often than a lot of people. Speaking smoothly, clearly, and properly is an essential part of succeeding in life. It's shallow, certainly, but I certainly admit that I'm also not above making quick judgments based on how someone speaks. I definitely judge people on grammar and vocabulary. Worse, I do form opinions based on strong accents. That's human nature, but it isn't right. I speak very well if I rehearse ahead of time and stick to a visualized script. I can even do well with an outline, but I need a crutch. When I speak to a group, I see the words visually, as opposed to "hearing thoughts." This can cause stumbling, but usually it works to my advantage. Speaking slowly to a group is never a bad thing. Something I plan to write about at length in another journal entry is how I won my one and only election campaign. Let's be honest and admit it wasn&#

More on Diagnoses

I was reading LiveJournal today, the Asperger's Syndrome community, and encountered the recurring topic: "I'm an Aspie, but my therapist denies it." Okay, I'm not a therapist, but I'm about to play one online. (That's sarcasm.) I believe most therapists, regardless of their educational backgrounds, are now quite familiar with the terms "Autism Spectrum Disorder" and "Asperger's Disorder / Syndrome." It takes a lot of hubris on the part of a patient to assume that he or she knows more about autism than a clinician. It takes even more hubris (or something else) to self-diagnose yourself with any mental health condition. People wonder why I think autism is approaching the level of "trendy" once reserved for ADD/ADHD need only read any of the online communities for more than three weeks. Yes, there are a lot of people with an ASD in these communities. There are also a lot of people looking for a mix of explanation


Over the last few months, I've been asked several times about friends. More precisely, the question has been if I have any. When I read online comments from "ASD" individuals, many are upset that they have no friends and seem to do everything "wrong" in a relationship. I think this is more a situation of being human than being someone with a disorder... humanity struggles to maintain connections. Yes, I do everything wrong and seem disinterested even when I am not. That certainly does upset me when I do care about someone. But is this due to "autism" or simply poor social skills? People I have truly cared about needed me to "appear more interested" in their lives. I was interested, judging by my notes and journal entries. But, I wasn't able to signal how interested I was. Instead, I came across as self-absorbed. One even described me as "calculating" — and indeed, I was "calculating" in the sense that I

Computers and Self-Harm

Computers are the source of frustration for all of us at one time or another. Two nights ago, I lost a file with the outline of 50 pages I had read. I was using Windows, which was the problem — Windows can be a real nightmare when software misbehaves. (One program should never crash the entire system. I had a video driver fail for some reason.) Most people would be upset, maybe say some choice words, and get back to work. I sat on the floor, legs crossed, and rocked for nearly 20 minutes. I pounded my fists against my legs, unable to calm down and focus on the need to retype the file. I could have sat there, rocking, murmuring, and pounding on my legs for hours if it weren't for my wife's incredible calm and reassurance. She ended up retyping the notes, with me dictating what I had lost. Without her, I would not have the ability to function as a student and teacher. I know repetitive movements, including self-harm, is a part of autism. I don't have to like

My Evaluation

Though the "autistic" label is fairly new, I have been labeled many things in the past. As I think about the past and present experiences, I realize that including bits and pieces from my evaluation in the book I'm completing will help others with similar experiences. I know I am not the only autistic person to have been considered slow or even mentally retarded. I also have read numerous online discussion groups in which people have posted about being diagnosed with OCD, ADD / ADHD, social anxiety, and even PTSD. I'm not sure how the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fits with autism, but several HFA/ AS individuals report this as an initial diagnosis. My wife is certain I was, am, and always will be HFA. My mannerism, my speech patterns (poor affect, or even inappropriate affect), and my stereotyped movements under stress are mere bits of the picture, as they say. The new diagnosis was not based on any new evaluation results. My original (second grade