“An Aspie’s Confounding Contradictions” 

Diablogue #17

Christina and Ken enjoy an outdoor Sunday brunch at Artisan restaurant on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.
Christina and Ken enjoy an outdoor Sunday brunch at Artisan restaurant on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.

Our intent is to publish once a week. However, sometimes too much is happening and Ken becomes overwhelmed. He needs to binge sleep instead of write. Our apologies. We will always try meet our commitment.

Helpful Hint: Contradictions are inevitable. However, with patience, perseverance, and help, there are ways to continually minimize their impact.

 

So, let’s diablogue:

Ken: I realize that contradictions are an inevitable part of my life. I continue to try to implement my own helpful hint. People cannot see the toll it takes on me to reconcile or explain the contradictions to people. It is exhausting, and sometimes it cannot be achieved. I do not know why most of them occur. But I am constantly looping them in my brain to try to find the reasons.

Christina: Like your extremely strong vocabulary, yet extremely weak spelling.

Ken: I first noticed that in school. One of the thrills of my childhood was closing my eyes, randomly opening the dictionary, and dropping my finger on a word. That was the word of the day for me. This was one way I attained my high vocabulary—through my fascination with words. However, in spelling tests or spelling bees, I usually could not spell the big words that I could speak, understand, and use in sentences.

Christina: And that’s still there today. Just today you wrote an email to me with ‘to’ in place of ‘two’ several times. You spell the way things sound—despite multiple exposures, you know, when you read, see signs, all the language everywhere—and you remember everything you see. So the spelling quirk is amazing to me.

Ken: Indeed this contradiction is still alive and well.

Christina: And you can’t explain it?

Ken: That is correct. Thank God for Spellchecker and Grammar checker.

Christina: Another contradiction is how you keep your workspaces at work so tidy, organized, and dust free. Yet your home workspace is a mess.

Ken: That is  true. The only theory that I can come up with is that I need to be organized in order to be focussed and efficient. I am not subject to the distraction of looking for my tools if it is organized. I keep it dust free for obvious reasons. There are many customers’ devices there, and I am not alone in that work environment. Regarding the difference at home, when my work day is over, I have nothing left in me to organize and clean. I just want to rest and refresh.

Christina: For the past 10 years? No chance to clean your space?

Ken: Then there are other things to do. It falls off the radar. Not a priority.

Christina: Well, I hope we can finally completely clean up your home office this summer and that you will keep it that way—now that things are settling at work and home.

Ken: That is indeed my desire also.  Speaking of my workspace, another contradiction I know I am guilty of is that I am generous and yet also extremely territorial. I surmise that is because generosity is by choice—I am aware when I loan something to someone. However, when someone takes something without asking, or without my knowledge, and I discover it gone, the demon of territorialism rears its ugly head.

Christina: And you don’t like being like that.

Ken: That is absolutely correct.

Christina: Like the time I went into your office when you weren’t home and took a power bar for my daughter. No big deal, I thought.

Ken: Later I discovered it was missing and asked if you have seen it. You told me you what you had done with it and I immediately went into internal orbit.

Christina: Not on the outside.

Ken: As often happens, there is an internal rage, but my immediate counter action is to exert extreme control, I do not let it out. Because I realize that this is ok, normal behaviour for nonspectrum people.

Christina: I was shocked when you told me how you had felt about that incident. How upset you were over a $3 power bar from the dollar store. Like, who cares?!

Ken: I was shocked also. And extremely embarrassed. Because of that incident and how close I came to losing control, I developed a workaround.

Christina: What is it?

Ken: I inform people of my peculiarly about borrowing things. I say, “You are free to use anything that I have as long as you ask me first, and when you are finished with it, you put it back exactly where you got it from.” Therefore, each of us is aware, and neither one of us ends up shocked, or shocked by the other’s reaction.

Christina: Well, after you explained this reality, I changed my behaviour too. I always tell you now, and no problem! …I think I told you that when we were thinking of this topic I went online and searched Asperger contradictions. Yours seem to be pretty common. It looks like lots of Aspies feel like walking contradictions. They mentioned things like being so kind in the world yet inadvertently unkind to individuals, finding it hard to start jobs then not being able to stop working, and hating interruptions yet always interrupting.

Ken: I find it reassuring to realize that I am not the only one struggling with these issues. Reading some of the other sites will give me new information and tools.

Christina: Ok, what next week?

Ken: Next week it will be the unintentional and hidden bias and torture by non-spectrum people towards those on the spectrum.

 

Next post #18 ~ Unintentional and hidden bias and torture of Aspies

3 thoughts on ““An Aspie’s Confounding Contradictions” 

  1. I’m thinking about my own contradictions as I read about yours, Ken. It has made me wonder about whether the clarity of finishing something very neatly at work vs the clutter at home is at least partly related to the following: when I, and others who are very high on extreme focus, are working on a project, even if it requires several permutations such as different computers, etc., we are not distracted by anything else in our minds. That allows our perfectionism or desire for creativity, etc. to be our focus. When we get home, or for me, when I “wake up” from some very engaging writing or research pathway I’ve been pursuing, my mind is no longer focused. All the possible tasks that need to be done, besides needing to de-stress and to find calm, “attack” my attention, and I find I do not finish much of anything. For example, I come in the door, put my bag, etc. by the door, and then promptly forget it’s there until I have eaten, read my mail, all the other dozen things that are waiting for me to do. Later, after the many things are mostly accomplished, at least to a level that is not “demanding” I attend to them, I notice the things on the floor and put them away. If another sterss-inducing or high focus task is needing to be attended to, this last task can end up not getting done until the next day when I need to make sure I have the things for that following day (and, too often, I’m then in a hurry and forget some things I need that day!).

    The “absent-minded professor” is likely a very apt description of this kind of intellenct/mind.

    On the other topic of spelling vs. vocabulary. I like to remember how my son learned words by hearing them or passing over them in fast reading of a book. He would use them in his speech (us perfectionistic communicators know how important the nuances of words are) but not know how to pronounce or spell them unless he consciously spent the time to learn the spelling. As well, functional MRIs show that spelling uses a completely different part of the brain than speech; just as I can write pretty well but I cannot memorize worth a hoot. Memory is connected to this whole process, and our memories are related to our backgrounds of stress, etc.

    So. Just to let you know that some of your contradictions are quite common out there in the “normal” world. 🙂
    And anyway, just because the herd mentality allows people to bully or pick on certain non-conformists doesn’t mean these same bulliers aren’t just unaware of or consciously covering up some of their own contradictions!

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, as we expect from you! Regarding the commonness of contradictions, yes, of course many have them. But with Aspies, they tend to be even more black and white, numerous, and even debilitating!

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      1. May I add that according to those two young men who now have a burgeoning business offering free and for sale info and programs/DVDs/lessons on how to cope better so the Asperger’s is not so debilitating: lowering how much the challenges sensitize one in one’s stress-coping systems is a vital key to lessening how much these kinds of contradictions, etc. impact the Aspie’s life. My own progress is helped much by realizing that many of the struggles of disabled folks in these mind/type categories are only extremes of how the human mind/brain works anyway, esp. when over-stressed. Two excellent books I bought because of their recommendations: Too Loud, too bright, too fast, too tight: what to do if you are sensory defensive in an overstimulating world (not even mostly for Aspies), and Core Transformation: Reaching the Wellspring Within, by Connirae Andres and Tamara Andreas. The two young men have found their lives transformed from barely coping to being able to manage without the debilitations that accompanied their earlier years. Good luck. All of this is still a mystery for too much of the medical profession, so we are our own researchers and detectives finding out what works best for our own sensitivities. Seeing our differences as not being the unacceptable weirdnesses, but as simply unique combinations of how human brains/bodies function, helps me alot to lower the stress that dealing with my differences can bring if I am comparing myself against the supposedly normal folk.

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