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Showing posts from January, 2012

When Playing Games Isn't Fun

On Facebook, a parent asked about games. Do I enjoy them? I like some games, but I don't know that I "enjoy" games so much as view them as mental exercises. I don't "play" games. I solve them. As a result, the notion of "playing games for fun" doesn't appeal to me. If I can't solve (master) the patterns, data, or trivia behind the game, it isn't going to be that interesting. Not winning a trivia game? It means I need to read and learn more. Not winning at chess? Time to read and practice more until I get better at the theories of various masters. I don't like random games, either. Too many "fun" games are based solely on luck. I'm not interested in luck. You can't master and win luck. With the desire to solve and win, I'm not the least bit "fun" when playing games. Over the years, I have tried to develop my own games. These were not random things. I mapped out alternatives to chess and che

Dieting by iPhone

My wife and I are trying to learn a bit more about our diets. Information is a good thing. We each downloaded and installed the iPhone App from MyFitnessPal. The app is at: I'm not good with the entire idea of dieting. I'm not going to stop eating chocolate, bread, or pasta. Low carb? Nope. And I love beef, chicken, and fish. Since I'm not going to change the "what" of my diet, I might as well monitor the "how much" to see how far over my ideal caloric intake I might be. The iPhone makes keeping the diary of our meals easy. If this helps me lose five to ten pounds, I'll be sure to let people know.

Nearly Empty Restaurants

I love food. I like many restaurants. But, I really dislike crowds. The best restaurant is often a crowded one, so how do I get around this problem? Generally, I don't go to lunch at noon and I don't dine at six. When we lived in Minneapolis, I learned to visit my favorite lunch spot at 11:30. Great service, fresh food, and twice the executive chef joined me to chat. In our new community, I've learned that my favorite place is great to visit at 1 p.m. for lunch. The lunch crowd seems to vanish magically right as the lunch hour ends. I've been the only diner several times. I've accidentally arrived too early and found every table occupied. Empty is ideal. There are some good places that are intolerable at most times. I know it's not "great food" in a technical sense, but I like Joe's Crab Shack. However, it's annoying at almost any hour unless you can eat outside on the patio. I love seafood, I hate the theatrics. My wife and I end up ea

What if you aren't autistic anymore?

What if you aren't autistic anymore? The question was asked by a friend who had read the latest stories on the DSM-V and the criteria changes for autism spectrum disorders.  See this New York Times article: I've written a great deal about defining autism so you might assume I care a great deal, personally. But, as I have written several times, "autistic" to me is a description of some traits  but not the entire me. My doctoral thesis included a long section on definitions of autism and the challenges of labels. My Ph.D does include the word "rhetoric" and a part of me does ponder the nature of labels. But, caring intellectually is not the same as passionately identifying with a label. Autism is a definitional issue.  1980: DSM-III adds "autism" 1989: First criteria for Asperger's published 1991: IDEA adds autism categ

Tough, Painful Days

My goal with the new year was to be a bit more entertaining as a writer. It is hard to think about being entertaining when I'm sitting on a "gel pad" cushion with one foot elevated and typing with one eye closed. Any humor at that point is unintentional. I'm not doing well this week. Something is wrong with my left foot, so I'm limping again. I used the cane last night. My right eye isn't working either. With headaches, back and shoulder pain, blood loss, and more, I need a break. Pain won Tuesday night. I crashed and didn't crawl out of bed until 11 am on Wednesday. It is frustrating when my body fails me because the pain starts to interfere with thinking clearly. I tolerate the physical limits until my body interferes with my mind. Thinking trumps walking or seeing perfectly. I can deal with a limp. I cannot stand to sense my mind is clouded and unable to focus. I never like it when medications make my mind feel slow, and I really dislike it when p

Critics Question Obama Choice For Disability Committee - Disability Scoop

I've come to realize that many readers of my last post weren't aware of what started the latest round of debates within the "Autism Community." Actually, this is merely a continuation of an on-going series of disagreements between two communities. If interested, here is the link: Critics Question Obama Choice For Disability Committee - Disability Scoop The basic background, as best I can tell, is that two groups don't like each other and don't want to listen to each other. On one side, we have some parent advocates and on the other we have self-advocates. That's a simplification, but it offers a basic overview. I'm not a supporter of either of the two groups at the center of this current debate. They have far more passion and conviction on issues that I don't consider my highest priorities. So, there's a debate about an Obama appointment to the Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. I don't even like the name of

Autism Community, Highs and Lows

Around the blogs, forums, and social networks, the year began with the annual call for cooperation and civility within the "Autism Community." It is a community I'm not sure exists, but there are certainly communities. Within four to six hours, the divided community found itself in yet another round of "Who speaks for whom in the autism community?" I linked to one New Year's post on Facebook, but generally I don't get too involved in the blogosphere nastiness. It isn't much of a secret that I'm not that engaged in "causes" and don't care for the debates. We do not need to share experiences or challenges to support each other. Why do we so often begin with the assumption that if you don't share identical experiences, you can't be an advocate for autistics / people with autism / whatever description you prefer? There are a handful of parents who will never consider high-functioning, verbal, non-verbal writers, twice exce

Geek? Nerd? Autistic?

Are you autistic because you're a geek? Or are you a geek because you're autistic? Would you even mention it during an internship interview? I've been asked numerous times if my interest in technology is somehow connected to having an "autistic" brain. However, I'm reasonably certain no one had asked if technology made me autistic. Yet, the question was asked last week. Now, I can't really argue the point too much. I'm a techie or geek or whatever you want to call me. I've loved computers since I first sat down at an Atari 800. Asking a diagnosed autistic programmer about a trend among programmers? I'm not sure I can be objective. Seeking to clarify, the programmer asked me if there was now a somewhat nonchalant, or reckless, impulse to think of all "geeks" as autistic. He described self-diagnosed Aspergers as "trendy" among some of the young programmers he has interviewed in the last year or so. It's as if codin

What is Autistic Me, the Blog?

Thanks to many others in the autism community (or communities), this blog, its Facebook page, and its Twitter feed are growing quickly. This growth means new readers sometimes ask me the following questions: Are you a parent, educator, researcher, autistic? What is your perspective? What is your specialty? Where do you live/work/speak? I'll answer some questions in this post. There is also background posted on the blog, and there is a link to an autism-themed section of our website. I'm still working to restore the website, but it is available at: 1) What I am I am a writer, educator, researcher, and person diagnosed / labeled as high-functioning autistic. I am not a parent. I am not a medical doctor. I am not a psychologist. I am an adult in my 40s, not a teen or a young adult with autism. My wife, my family, and my cats are the most important things in my life. 2) My perspective My greatest concern as an adult is how to naviga

Weighty Matters

Many parents ask me about my diet. Just looking at me should answer the question. Diet? Ha! The only "diet" in my life is diet cola. Usually we have Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi, and Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale on hand. The only reason I stick to diet soda is the quantity I drink. I love food. My weaknesses are all the standard problem foods: bread, pasta, cheese, and any sweets. Donuts and pastries are difficult to resist. Forget trying to convince me to try a low-carb or veggie diet. Not going to happen. Any "free" isn't my first choice, from "fat free" to "gluten free" to "sugar free" I'm not that interested. We prepare chicken and fish frequently. Red meat is expensive and I don't really crave it that often. But, I want my seafood or chicken with some fresh bread. At least I like bread plain, especially warm fresh bread. Like too many adults, I struggle with my weight. My "ideal" weight according to my doct

The Crowded Autism Web

Forgive me, but it is time for some blatant self-promotion. The Autistic Me has had a steady readership for several years, but I'd like to see that readership expand throughout 2012. On these pages, I try to answer reader questions. I attempt to write about life as I experience it. I also try to address the challenges my traits present to friends, family, and coworkers. I do try to post something new each week, sometimes more frequently. The more questions and feedback, the more I post in response. Someone mentioned to me that there are so many websites, blogs, portals, et cetera, dedicated to autism that she only found my blog "by accident" while skimming The Autism Hub ( ). The sheer number of autism blogs, both active and zombies, is astounding. A search of Blogger found 38,000 autism-related blogs. Some are only loosely autism-focused, while others are far more specific than my own blog. In this crowded space, it is difficult to be noticed