Tag Archives: #Aspergers

Writing summaries

 

 

Writing reviews got put on hold for a couple of weeks while I wrote summaries for four chapters in two psychology books. My daughter, who attends Vrije University, Amsterdam, asked me if I wanted to write the summaries. The organization (slimstuderen.nl) that organizes the whole thing contacted me and I agreed to write summaries for four chapters. Talk about a brand new experience.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, psychology was my major. I discovered a hard truth about memory. The connections between my neurons have deteriorated. Particularly when it comes to the biological part of Cognitive Psychology and Behavior. Tsk, tsk. Most of chapters nine, “Knowledge”, and ten, “Visual Imagery”, of Cognitive Psychology (Goldstein) and chapters eight, “Control of Movement” and thirteen, “Learning and Memory”, of Physiology and Behavior (Carlson & Birkett) had to be relearned. I had a blast. Back in the day, when I was taught psychology, we were stuck with physical books. If something about the text confused us, we had to move our bodies and find a kind librarian to teach us the archiving system. OMG! The difference. The resources available – yes proper ones as well. How can people not see how amazing the internet is?

Anyways. After editing the summaries a gazillion times, they are now awaiting a verdict. I’m expecting comments to change some of it. Probably not as many for the last chapter I handed in, but definitely for the first chapter. Learning is a blast. Being lucky enough to share with others the joy of writing summaries is beyond belief. When it comes to payment, it is a pittance. But then my reward isn’t the dimes and pennies my daughter gets (yes, it all goes to her). That it would give me such joy came as a complete surprise.

My verdict on the books, themselves? For the main part great. There were paragraphs that could have flowed better. The visual aids were detailed. At times, the visual aids gave a better explanation of processes than the text. It helped that I could enlarge pictures and tables (cause digital books).

Definitely recommended – except for one serious matter. NONE of this material is written with dyslexics in mind. I believe these books are not written with students in mind but rather other academically inclined professionals. The language is exclusive rather than inclusive. My personal opinion is that valuable researchers and psychologists are kept away because of their inability to crack the code neurotypicals habitually use to keep unwanted “dross” out.

I only recommend these books for neurotypicals and “we others” who happen to crack the academic language code. Believe me. It is a code.

 

Nerdiness/geekiness

Let’s face it, I am a nerd. Probably borderline geek. On one wall of my office hang maps. There is a map of the world in the correct proportions (in 2D format), a map of sentences, a map of the body and a map of the sky as seen from both Northern and Southern hemispheres. A Diagrammatical Dissertation of Opening Lines of Famous Novels – my map of sentences – is probably my favourite one. There is something intrinsically pleasing about seeing combinations of words broken down into a diagram. Especially when placed together like this and particularly when one of those sentences happen to be the opening sentence of Don Quixote (The ingenious  gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

I moved to the US with my parents eons ago, back when I was 13/14. My first language was Aussie English. When my parents moved back to Norway for a time, that knowledge went away. It was not something I thought I would ever get back. Then they moved to Salt Lake City in Utah and I had to relearn what I knew as a child. My breakthrough came during sophomore English. I had one of the best Teachers I have ever had. Her willingness to see me and to try to understand how I thought was amazing. We got to breaking down sentences into diagrams. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you. After that everything fell into place and all subjects worked much better, and boy did my grades improve.

One day I came across Pop Chart Lab’s Dissertation and knew I had to have it. The pleasure I get from looking at these diagrams is immense because of what they represent but also because my brain is reminded of the rules, rules I break. Not always intentionally. With great pleasure, I leave you with the opening sentence of Don Quixote and its diagram.

Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

 

Bourrelle, Julien S; The Social Guidebook to Norway; Mondå Forlag, 2016

Illustrated by Nicholas Lund

As part of a lecture by Julien S. Bourrelle my husband was handed The Social Guidebook to Norway: An Illustrated Introduction. When he showed to me, I stole it.

In some ways Norway is a dream come true for an Aspie. Touch and chit-chat are not recommended. In other ways, not so much. Facial expressions, understanding when people are joking and when conversation is allowed are areas where I mess up a lot. Our non-verbal language is extremely controlled, something that can make us stimming highly visible. “Janteloven”, that Bourrelle has translated to English, as presented in Bourrelle and Lund’s book, is one that I have yet to understand and am not certain is correct any longer.

The Social Guidebook is designed with a short text that explains a social rule on the left-hand page. On the right-hand page there is a cartoon that partly illustrates that text. All of the cartoons must be read together with the text for the cartoon to make any sense. Bourrelle first gives an example of what “the rest” of the world does in a given situation. Then he gives an example of Norwegian behaviour in a similar setting. As he points out, these are stereotypic examples. I believe I have seen all of them in real life.

When travelling to Norway, or any country, finding easy to understand explanations of social rules can be difficult. The Social Guidebook to Norway, illustrated by Nicholas Lund, helps solve that problem. I liked it.

Doctorow, Cory; someone comes to town, someone leaves town; New York, Tor Books, 2005

The clerks who’d tended Alan’s many stores—the used clothing store in the Beaches, the used book-store in the Annex, the collectible tin-toy store in Yorkville, the antique shop on Queen Street—had both benefited from and had their patience tried by Alan’s discursive nature. Alan had pretended never to notice the surreptitious rolling of eyes and twirling fingers aimed templewise among his employees when he got himself warmed up to a good oration, but in truth very little ever escaped his attention. His customers loved his little talks, loved the way he could wax rhapsodic about the tortured prose in a Victorian potboiler, the nearly erotic curve of a beat-up old table leg, the voluminous cuffs of an embroidered silk smoking jacket. The clerks who listened to Alan’s lectures went on to open their own stores all about town, and by and large, they did very well.

He’d put the word out when he bought the house on Wales Avenue to all his protégés: Wooden bookcases! His cell-phone rang every day, bringing news of another wooden bookcase found at this flea market, that thrift store, this rummage sale or estate auction.

Alan (or any name beginning with the initial A) reminds me of myself in so many ways. Not only was my mother a washing-machine, my father a mountain and one of my brothers a zombie, but I also like to have bookshelves full of books. But I want to have read the books. Well, actually, my family isn’t exactly like that, but Alan’s family is. We are similar in other ways as well. Like Alan, I tend to want to offer solutions to problems people have. Even when they haven’t asked for one. Maybe that is one way the Asperger brain works. Our passions often express themselves in the same manner Alan’s renovation of his house followed. I could totally live in a house like that, but would not want to go through all the hassle he did. But I have other areas where I can be as focused as Alan was with his house. Registering everything he ever owned onto a database is something I have known Aspies to do. Another way in which the Aspie brain can work is by following our own set of social rules, rules not generally accepted by neurotypicals. Take Alan’s relationship with his neighbors on Wales Avenue in Toronto, Canada.:

Alan rang the next-door house’s doorbell at eight a.m. He had a bag of coffees from the Greek diner. Five coffees, one for each bicycle locked to the wooden railing on the sagging porch plus one for him.

He waited five minutes, then rang the bell again, holding it down, listening for the sound of footsteps over the muffled jangling of the buzzer. It took two minutes more, he estimated, but he didn’t mind. It was a beautiful summer day, soft and moist and green, and he could already smell the fish market over the mellow brown vapors of the strong coffee.

A young woman in long johns and a baggy tartan T-shirt opened the door. She was excitingly plump, round and a little jiggly, the kind of woman Alan had always gone for. Of course, she was all of twenty-two, and so was certainly not an appropriate romantic interest for him, but she was fun to look at as she ungummed her eyes and worked the sleep out of her voice.

“Yes?” she said through the locked screen door. Her voice brooked no nonsense, which Alan also liked. He’d hire her in a second, if he were still running a shop. He liked to hire sharp kids like her, get to know them, try to winkle out their motives and emotions through observation.

“Good morning!” Alan said. “I’m Alan, and I just moved in next door. I’ve brought coffee!” He hefted his sack in her direction.

“Good morning, Alan,” she said. “Thanks and all, but—”

“Oh, no need to thank me! Just being neighborly. I brought five—one for each of you and one for me.”

Not quite understanding what makes up neurotypicals, and having to stand on the outside looking in, brings with it the danger of being deemed less than human, much like Krishna does with Alan. It does not take much for such a thought to take hold. People who work within healthcare are in particular danger of falling into this trap. As are people within the school system and, I suppose, any kind of bureaucrat.  It is something I have observed happen again and again to people who are dissimilar enough to any given average.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town mixes present and past into a tale of a dysfunctional family and a repressed present. Using any excuse to avoid dwelling on his family’s messed up relationships, Alan is a great example of escapism and dissociation. Only one thing can make him try to face his past and that is his neighbour Mimi. She reminds Alan, and us, of his old sweetheart Marci.  Except for the wings. Bat-like wings that get cut off whenever they reach a certain size. Cut off, that is, until her relationship with Krishna changes.

Marci is part of the story about David and his brothers. Or maybe that is Alan and his brothers. David and Alan are intertwined so tightly that only one apparent recourse seems open to the brothers. Or could something perhaps change this doomed relationship?

David (or any name starting with D) is the brother wronged by the rest. We find out how as the story moves along, but the reason is a common one in sibling relationships. Suffice it to say that being wronged had left its marks on him and his anger is most definitely deserved. Alan was the first of eight brothers. While the Golems tried to help, Alan ended up being the one who had to take care of his younger brothers. B and C had been easy to take care of.

Billy, the fortune-teller, had been born with a quiet wisdom, an eerie solemnity that had made him easy for the young Alan to care for.

Carlos, the island, had crawled out of their mother’s womb and pulled himself to the cave mouth and up the face of their father, lying there for ten years, accreting until he was ready to push off on his own.

However, the needs of the other four brothers were much more difficult for a child to understand.

Daniel had been a hateful child from the day he was born. He was colicky, and his screams echoed through their father’s caverns. He screamed from the moment he emerged and Alan tipped him over and toweled him gently dry and he didn’t stop for an entire year.

It is difficult to love colicky and needy children. Daniel had been both. Plus his first reaction to most things was violence. Some years later, Edward, Fredrik and George came along with one month between them.

Ed was working on his suspenders, then unbuttoning his shirt and dropping his pants, so that he stood in grimy jockeys with his slick, tight, hairy belly before Alan. He tipped himself over, and then Alan was face-to-face with Freddy, who was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts with blue and white stripes. Freddy was scowling comically, and Alan hid a grin behind his hand.

Freddy tipped to one side and there was George, short and delicately formed and pale as a frozen french fry. He grabbed Freddy’s hips like handles and scrambled out of him, springing into the air and coming down on the balls of his feet, holding his soccer-ball-sized gut over his Hulk Underoos.

What began as a relationship where their need for each other comforted them, slowly deteriorated into one of resentment and possibly hate. Doctorow does a great job of creating brothers that represent their role in their family’s dysfunction through their bodies and minds.

In spite of all of the commentary I have read, Someone comes to town is not particularly unusual for a reader of science fiction and fantasy. But it is well-written and well-edited and flows, even through the geeky parts. Retro-techno junkies are always fun.  Recommended.


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Translations:

An Aspie’s method of reviewing books

I was surprised when Ms. Sofras asked me if I wanted to say something about my review process – from the point of view of an ASD person. This is what reviewing looks like in my version of an Aspie brain.

How I Read ~ A Guest Reviewer Writes ~ #ASD #Asperger’s

I came across Lise Lotte when looking for bloggers to read and review my latest book, Cocktails and Lies.  I became so fascinated by Lise’s story, that we struck up a kind of correspondence which resulted in me inviting her to write a guest post on her reading experiences for my blog.  As a former English teacher, I’m always fascinated to hear about readers’ perspectives, and because Lise’s autistic spectrum disorder, I thought her story might be of interest to authors and readers everywhere.  Over to Lise.

(Pic not included)

My name is Lise Almenningen and I am the owner of the blog humanitysdarkerside.com. Along with that I run a few other blogs on various topics. I also happen to be ASD/Asperger’s/Autistic.

I did not know I had Asperger’s until about the same time I started my first blog, 2012. Until then, I just figured I had some unusual quirks that I tried very hard to suppress. When I realized all of that strangeness was normal for me, I stopped fighting it so hard. Surprise. Surprise. Life got simpler.

I believe the greatest commonality in Aspies, is how different we perceive what we see/observe/feel to non-ASDs (or neurotypicals/normals as you like to call yourselves). That is both our best friend and our worst enemy depending on what we are doing and who we are with. As a reviewer (once I let myself out of my preconceived idea of a reviewer), I believe being Asperger has shed new light on texts.

I am addicted to reading and will try to read anything. That does not mean I will finish, because not all writing is worth finishing. Whether a text is worth finishing has nothing to do with the author’s level of education, expertise or category. I have read academic texts whose authors cannot have been beta-ed and “trashy” authors whose writing is so poignant, I am incapable of putting the text down. Sometimes a text is so technical, I am incapable of ever understanding it. I would not know if the author is good or not in such cases. But I will give them a try.

The rest of the article can be read on ManicScribbler

Asperger’s Syndrome – Could the concept of Superpowers be causing more harm than good?

You couldn’t find a super-power in me even if you tried looking for one with a microscope. I am average in most areas, terrible in others and a little above average in a few. Why would people want a super-power anyways? Do we (the asperger/autism community) want to become THEM to such a degree?

Seventh Voice

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There’s been a lot of talk about the increasingly popular idea that people with Asperger’s Syndrome possess some kind of superpower.

Indeed, many people seem to genuinely believe it.

Search any website on the topic and you’re sure to find groups of people who freely name their superpower and then describe in minute detail the extraordinary things that whatever their particular superpower of choice may be, enables them to do.

To me, such talk of there being any form of an Asperger type superpower is ultimately harmful as it reflects the misbegotten and much argued against concept that those with Asperger’s Syndrome view themselves as being, in many ways, superior to everyone who does not have Asperger’s.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were fighting against the claim that all people with Asperger’s Syndrome were arrogant, detached, cold, sub-human, robot type intellectual beings, who were capable of memorizing…

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We’re Women with Autism – Not Mystical Imps, Sprites or Fairies….. Get it right.

Yup. She says it the way it is again.

Seventh Voice

Artwork by Devushka Artwork by Devushka

Sorry to disappoint all of those who wish to believe that Women with Autism are made out of some kind of unique fairy dust that endows all of us with “special talents” or “super powers”, because we are not magical beings.

We are Women Wired Differently…. not Women Wired Magically.

Please stop confusing our different skill sets, ie, our tendency to focus on the finer details of life that often make us more likely to pick up on the inconsistencies that are usually hidden within the bigger picture that people present to us, with being the equivalent of having a “super power”, “gift”, “unearned talent” or whatever else some would like to call it.

The truth is, that for us, our intense focus on fine details, whilst it may have started out as a fascination, has also become a survival mechanism.

Our intense focus is not magical…

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The Gas-lighting of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Seventh Voice

Artwork by Mirella Santana

Of all the traits attributed to Women on the Autism Spectrum, there remains one that not only continues to go unrecognized as a valid trait but has also suffered the fate of being reconstructed by professionals as a rationale for denying Women a diagnosis.

The trait I’m referring to is that of developing a strong sense of self-awareness.

In almost every description pertaining to the experiences of Women with Asperger’s Syndrome there is evidence of the development of an early, inexplicable sense of ‘otherness,’ to be found.

This sense of ‘otherness’ expands exponentially as girls grow older and develops into a keen sense of self-awareness.

Their strong sense of self-awareness in turn, increases their sensitivity toward any and all experiences that suggest or confirm their perceptions of themselves as different.

Undoubtedly, whilst at school, undiagnosed spectrum girls will find themselves showered, almost daily, with an endless array of situations that…

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At the Intersection of Gender and Autism – Part 3

“Yea I was always baffled at how the women who had post partum like me or raising kids or depression always seemed to do a little better. It was confusing because it always seemed a little harder for me and I felt so alone when they’d say, “Ive been there too” but I saw that really- they hadn’t in the way I had and I could not figure it out. It hurt and felt like a failing tender point. Now that I know I am Autistic, I expect that result and it makes the world of difference to just know that fact. Now I know it will always be a little different, perhaps harder, than my non autistic peers…but at least I have words for it and reasons now. It’s still a baffling struggle at times but most of the confusion has cleared.:) (Kmarle)”

Musings of an Aspie

The final post of a three part series (read Part 2)

While many of the intersections of autistic and female in my life have been social, there are undeniable physical intersections too.

The arrival of adolescence brought with it hints of what it would mean to be an autistic adult. My first real meltdowns. My first experience with depression. My first confusing encounters with physical intimacy.

With nothing to compare those experiences to, I assumed they were a normal part of being a teenager. Everyone said that being a teenager was hard. I couldn’t dispute that. It didn’t seem necessary to look beyond the explanation of “this is hard for everyone.”

That would become a theme. Pregnancy. Breastfeeding. Postpartum depression. My body’s reaction to birth control pills. Countless books and magazine articles assured me that these things were no walk in the park. Not knowing that I was autistic…

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Yes – Asperger’s may present differently in women – but…

Seventh Voice

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I’m still not sure what to make of this notion (now being presented to us as an absolute fact), that women with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome are being diagnosed less frequently, due to their apparently inherent ability to ‘mask’ their symptoms by ‘mimicking’ those around them.

There are just too many assumptions hidden within this concept that have not been deeply analyzed enough for my liking.

It almost seems like once again, we as women, are being told to turn a blind eye to any and all personal experiences that do not match up succinctly to the now, almost biblical accounts being written by psychologists, as to how women with Autism should present.

Accounts that not only seek to define our presentation, but come complete with a rationale as to why our supposedly ‘hard to spot’ tendencies have, for so long been so tricky, that it’s entirely understandable, and therefore forgivable, that…

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The agenda around gender in Autism

“The chief psychiatrist told my parents that I couldn’t have Autism as I was sensitive, and didn’t like maths or trains and most of all, I didn’t fit the limited number of Aspies this man had treated, all of whom were boys. I gained a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder – apparently a very common misdiagnosis for Asperwomen, and spent the next few years being told how dysregulated my emotions were and what a nasty manipulative little attention-seeking borderline I was.”

YennPurkis

I am an Autistic woman.  I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1994, a time when few people outside of a select group of mental health professionals knew anything about the more ‘Aspie’ part of the Autism spectrum.

When I got my diagnosis, I was told that being a woman with Autism was really rare. Most people on the Autism spectrum were boys. They lacked empathy, they did’t understand nonverbal cues, they couldn’t hold conversations, they were kind of flawed geniuses and liked maths and physics. Oh, and they all liked trains apparently, or trams and buses if they were a bit atypical. Of all these attributes, none of them involved people with Asperger’s being girls. Girls on the spectrum were – according to psychiatric wisdom – an anomaly. So I was an anomaly amongst anomalies and nobody knew anything about how to make my life better. I didn’t take…

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So, What is Stimming?

From Thirty Days of Autism
From Thirty Days of Autism

The Stimming Checklist currently has a list of 1441 different types of stims that people perform. I use a lot of them. Not only autistic / aspergian people stim. As you see from the list, all you have to do is look around and you will see that just about every person you meet stims in one way or another.

Is it OK to stim? Of course, it is. If some person out there is trying to tell you that it is not, then phooey to them. Stimtastic has pretty great links to how you can skim and why it is OK to stim. I recommend that you read what she has to say.

HAVE FUN STIMMING!

The problem with the Mask Analogy for Women with Autism

“Given all of this, one could ask; just whose perception of ‘normal’ are we applying here and whose definition of ‘pretending’ or ‘masking’ are we using?”

Seventh Voice

Digital art by Rik Oostenbroek

A mask is a false external covering.

It can be worn to conceal a person’s true identity for better or for worse.

The idea that Women with High Functioning Autism are not being adequately diagnosed, simply because they wear masks, also carries within it the ideation that all women with Autism intentionally try to conceal their true selves in order to ‘pass as normal’.

This in turn implies that all women with Autism willingly engage in the act of perpetrating some form of female deception which, in turn, somehow creates the inability of professionals to recognize them for who they are.

The idea that women are fiendish creatures, capable of deceiving men, is not a new one.

In fact, that particular idea is as old as humanity and has been used successfully over the course of history to deny women the same basic human rights and considerations as men.

Which…

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Echolalia and Scripting: Straddling the Border of Functional Language

Musings of an Aspie

The Scientist and I went out to dinner last Friday night. It was the day after I’d taped my radio interview and I was feeling wiped out, so we decided to treat ourselves.

During the course of dinner, the waitress made many visits to our table, asking the questions that waitresses do.

How are you tonight?

Would you like me to bring any ketchup or hot sauce?

Is there anything else I can get you?

Would you like more water?

Do you want to see the dessert menu?

To every one of those questions (and perhaps others I don’t remember) I replied, “I’m good.”

“I’m good” made sense the first time and is an okay answer for the others, assuming I didn’t actually want more water or a dessert or need anything else. Except that I did want more water. I was just too tired to override the default script…

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At the Intersection of Autism and OCD

“Changing one thing inevitably changes everything else, so it makes sense that a shift in the balance of my autistic traits would impact the balance of my OCD traits.”

Musings of an Aspie

This morning I got my triathlon race number: 336. My first thought was, “yes, okay, good” because 336 is a pleasing number. If I’d gotten 337, I would have had the opposite reaction. 337 is not a pleasing number at all. I don’t even like typing it.

What’s good about 336?

3 + 3 = 6

6 / 2 = 3

3 + 3 + 6 = 12 which is divisible by 3 and 6, also; the digits in 12 added together = 3

337, on the other hand, is a prime number. Some people love prime numbers, I know. I’m not one of them. I find primes frustrating rather than interesting because I can’t do anything with them.

The strength of my reaction to seeing 336 printed beside my name surprised me a bit. I’m still getting used to this latest eruption of OCD traits and how relieving or…

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