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Showing posts from July, 2013

Encouraging Someone to Get an Autism Eval

From the "Ask a Question" in box:
…I have been married for 12 years to a man I suspect has Aspergers. Whenever I suggest this to him he scoffs. I would really like for him to be assessed for [Asperger's Syndrome] as it may help me be more tolerant of some of his inappropriate reactions / statements. Do you have any suggestions to help him be more open to the idea? Your insight is much appreciated. [Note: I have taken the liberty of moving this question, allowing the visitor to remain anonymous.]

There isn't one best, right answer for this question. For some autistics and their families, a formal diagnostic evaluation opens doors: school supports, occupational therapies, and insurance coverage. But, as you get older there is less measurable benefit to the autism diagnosis. The benefits for adults receiving a diagnosis rest in how they use the information.

Though this visitor writes that a diagnosis of her husband would help her be tolerant, I've found that if a …

Back to School… Yeah!

Last week, I started preparing for the fall 2013 class I am teaching at a local university. Working on the syllabus this week has been a "good thing" because it justifies, at least a little bit, the time, money, and energy invested in the doctorate. The school routine has long been comfortable, a familiar grounding for my mind. The "year" to me remains the academic year, with August marking the start and June marking the end. I'm not sure what July is, other than filing the last year away and preparing for the upcoming year.

School was not fun or enjoyable for me as a student. I was just another student, neither one of the popular people nor a complete social reject. I wasn't part of any clique, not even among the honors students. I had friends and people with whom I shared interests.

As a teacher and professor, I enjoy the classroom. The workplace remains a challenge, but I anticipate it being much, much better at the new university. In part, that'…

Relationship Questions: Autism from Friendships to Romance

English: Romance icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The Autism Society conference, recently concluded in Pittsburgh, PA. During the conference, I appeared on a panel that dealt with general life issues. After the panel, parents and young adults approached me with questions. Every question, without exception, dealt with relationships. Nothing about education, careers, or life skills. No, every question was about relationships, from friendships to dating and beyond.

Though a great number of books have now appeared, including several on dating, love, and sexuality, there seems to be an endless demand for answers. If not answers, families and individuals at least want to discuss these issues.

As I've written before, I'm not sure what I can contribute to these discussions. I still believe some basic guides to dating and relationships are better than the "autistic" guides. Relationships are complex for everyone, or those bookshelves wouldn't be packed in every bookstor…

Friends I Don't Have

A colleague recently mentioned that I don't seem to have typical friendships. I asked for clarification, and the explanation offered makes some sense to me. I suppose my wife and I don't have the same types of social connections as many of our acquaintances.

This colleague asked me several questions to illustrate his point:

When is the last time someone asked me/us to join that person/group, personally for no real reason? Facebook and Meetup groups don't count.When is the last time you had dinner with someone, just to be with him or her?When is the last time a friend was in your house?
My wife and I have dinner out just to spend time together. We obviously live in the same house. But, I can't think of the last time I just had dinner with someone. I think it was about two months ago that we had dinner with a local business owner and it was almost four months ago that we met up with two friends for dinner out.

I don't have random lunches with any friends. I cannot r…

Panel at Autism Society Conference

I am scheduled to participate on a panel at the 2013 Autism Society Conference:

Friday, July 12, 2013
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, PA.

The topic is broad: life. That's a lot to cover in the 15 minutes each of four speakers will be granted. I don't know what I can say in 15 minutes, but I'll give it a shot. The moderator has offered the following ideas:

What did family do for you?What were your school experiences?What was a help and what was not helpful?How has your adult life developed?What are you doing and what would you like to do?What are your sensory issues?Do you have friends or relationships?
The quick answers, if I choose to tackle these topics in the short amount of time allotted:

Family, especially my mother, did whatever they could to guarantee a "normal" childhood. School was a miserable experience, even through graduate school. That's how many people would answer, including those without any disabilities…

Unable to Relax, Travel and Project Overload

It is 1 a.m. as I write this first sentence. I am unable to relax because I need to pack and plan for a week-long trip later today. The idea of not being in my own house leaves me anxious. I like things familiar and easily navigated.

Some trips are easier than others. Once in Dallas, I learned to navigate the area in a day and quickly appreciated how familiar Dallas was to me as a California native. I've also enjoyed trips to Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida. But, I didn't do well in several other cities. The more "vanilla" a city is, and the closer it is to a grid, the easier for me to navigate.

This week, I'll be in Naples, Florida. I've already studied maps and located familiar stores and restaurants. It isn't that I don't like to try local fare, but I like knowing where the Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Panera, and Dunkin' Donuts are for emergencies.

Sunday to Saturday is a long trip for me. I don't like to be gone that long, unless I&…

Being Awkward vs. Being Shy

I am not shy, as most people who get to know me soon realize. I am, however, something of an introvert and selective when it comes to interactions. If I am interested in a person or a topic, it's easy to recognize that I overcome any social anxiety and engage. I narrowly focus, though, often to the point of ignoring other people or social niceties.

If I'm talking about anything of interest to me, I am consumed by that topic at that moment. Nothing else registers.

Yes, I like to hide in corners and avoid crowds. But, that does not mean I am shy — it means I know my limitations and how uncomfortable I can make people. I can be intense when discussing my interests, so it is often best not to talk to anyone in a new setting.

I find it safest to avoid public gatherings and group situations; they are seldom enjoyable or of interest to me. When they are of interest to me, I don't navigate the social aspects well at all. I miss the non-verbal signals of when to move on, when…