“Ken’s 12 Autism Spectrum Diagnostic Criteria: Part 2”: “Addendum and Reset”

Diablogue #13

 

Christina and Ken discovering a fun namesake licence plate on somebody else’s vehicle in Drumheller, Alberta.

Helpful Hint: Always endeavor to keep things equal. Work together and continue adopting and adapting 50-50.

 

So, Let’s Diablogue:

 Ken: I’d like to make an addendum to the previous blog about being compelled to say the truth and always self-checking to avoid social mishaps. Most of my workarounds involve self-talk in the form of axioms continuously repeated as self-mantras. My over-arching social workaround in many situations—at least the one that works for me—is this: “There is the truth, and then there is the ‘right’ answer for the situation.” The trick is to know which is which and when to apply each.

Christina: Yes. And that’s hard to know—even I struggle sometimes.

Ken: Before we go on with this post, I wish to explain how we will continue with the blog. My sense in this diablogue so far is that I am falling victim to my Aspie nature of information dissemination and data regurgitation.

Christina: Well, if there was any falling, I fell too! My Aspie trait? (laughs). What do you mean, exactly?

Ken: In the past two posts we have offered a fun test for Aspergers, which I am glad we included. But that led me a little off course in just talking about the diagnostic criteria, which for many people is redundant information.

Christina: And which they can find on the net.

Ken: Correct. We need to return more particularly to demonstrating our very real yet rewarding struggle of adapting to each other and creating new workarounds, constantly reinventing our relationship.

Christina: It’s true. I feel we’ve drifted a little. A part of me likes data too. But I think the strength of this blog is the messy, personal, relational work we do. 

Ken: Absolutely. It is a never-ending process. We also need to address a recent salient comment. We asked several specialists for feedback on the blog, and one replied. He applauded us for our “good intentions by trying to help others.” However, he urged us to avoid a tendency to define the relationship in terms of “one person as having a disability or problem and the other not.” He observed that in some of our blogs, we focus on an Aspie difference, “presenting it as a failure in social interaction and emotional understanding, and the other person trying to understand that deficit and provide corrective strategies.”

Christina: Right. That raised red flags for him about us as a couple, signaling a power imbalance. What happens, he said, is that “one person has the power or authority of knowing the right social behavior and understanding emotions, and the other does not.” That’s a smart observation. It’s an easy mindset to slip into, especially since society at large considers autism to be all–or mostly — negative.  The medical model of needing to ‘fix’ it, and until it’s fixed, the job of us ‘normal’ folk isn’t done. It’s kind of like what  I experienced with my middle son and his deafness. I worked hard to avoid him feeling handicapped. It took a lot of non-debilitating attitudes, words, and actions. It’s sort of the same thing here.

Ken: I wholeheartedly agree. We need to show how each of us has workarounds, not just me. That we are both creating them.

Christina: That’s the truth.

Ken: Therefore, we need to have more of a balanced conversation that is equally relevant and relatable to readers who are both autistic and non-autistic partners. We need to have equal voice because it is truly a 50-50 relationship.

Christina: And that balance is what keeps it alive. And thriving. In my opinion.

Ken: We need to demonstrate the process of encountering a problem and creating and utilizing a workaround that works. Also, to constantly keep tweaking the ones that do not work until they do. We are equally adopting, adapting, and contributing corrective strategies, and we are equally committed to doing so.

Christina: I think this change will mean that we’ll say a lot more about fewer things. Go deeper instead of skipping along from one thing to the next.

Ken: Agreed. We will continue to address the topics from the previous post—autism traits— but in a more personal and equal way. We will focus on how each of us is affected and how each of us has adapted by working together. This will bring us back to our original vision for the blog, for it to be, in part, cathartic. We wanted to use this as a voyage of discovery. To learn and to share.

Christina: I do think we’ve being doing some of that. But it’ll be good to refocus and do it more and better.

 

Diablogue #14: ~ “Both of our workarounds in managing the autism trait of difficulty with empathy and theory of mind.”

“How do you know? ~ Ken’s 12 autism spectrum diagnostic criteria: Part 1”

Diablogue #12

 

Ken and Christina overlooking a point near Ken’s birthplace of Wayne near Drumheller, Alberta.

 

Helpful Hint: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” ~ Dr. Stephan Shore. There are multiple criteria, each with multiple degrees, that can lead to an infinite number of unique and individual diagnoses.

 

So, let’s diablogue:

Ken: The following list is a excerpt of a much larger list of criteria on which I was surveyed. To mention and address all of the criteria would be exhaustive and prohibitive and would require a blog of its own. From this list I recall from my diagnosis, we will choose 12 to discuss.

  1. Motor skills—lurching gait, morning awkwardness
  2. Speaking cadence—robotic, monotone, repetitive
  3. Difficulty with conversational audio clues— tone of voice
  4. Above average to high IQ
  5. Difficulty with executive functioning—multi-tasking
  6. Lack of reciprocity in communication—doing all the talking
  7. Intense focus—ability to stay on task
  8. Difficulty making transitions
  9. A need for rigid schedules and routines
  10. Hyper sensitive to sensory stimuli—sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
  11. Eidetic memory—photographic recall
  12. Eye contact—difficulty with social applications
  13. Difficulty differentiating facial expressions and body language
  14. High pattern recognition—visual and auditory
  15. Social connections—challenges with making and maintaining
  16. Strong sense of justice —rigid, hard-wired moral compass
  17. Strong sense of loyalty
  18. Difficulty with empathy or theory of mind—understanding and sharing others’ feelings
  19. Difficulty with emotions—understanding and expressing
  20. Extreme difficulty with ambiguity—black and white thinking
  21. Extremely high vocabulary and extremely poor spelling
  22. Literal thinking—understanding words literally
  23. Inability to infer or guess
  24. Compulsive word play and puns—humour, wit, playfulness
  25. Socially inappropriate bluntness and truth saying                                                     There are more….

Christina: Wow. Big list.

Ken: True. Yet not definitive.

Christina: Do all autistics show all those traits?

Ken: No. They can have more or less—but according to my specialists, at least 12. Some say all people have at least one or two autistic traits. My diagnosticians told me that it’s not clearly defined, but if I met at least 12 of the multiple criteria I would be considered to be on the autism spectrum.

Christina: Only 12? (laughs) I think you’ve got all of the ones on your list!

Ken: Correct. And more that I cannot immediately recall.

Christina: Ok. So let’s talk about your “magic 12.”

Ken: Those would be the ones that most significantly impact our relationship.

Christina: Ladies’ pick first: Your tendency—which you almost always stuff back now, to be blunt. To say what you really think when it could hurt people’s feelings.

Ken: Correct. In social interactions, the first thing that I think and the first thing I actually say are different…

Christina: (interjecting) But, that’s the same for me… for a lot of people. We don’t blurt out what we are actually thinking either.

Ken: However, I have observed that it is a much more natural and automatic process for non-autistic people. It appears as if you do not think about it, you just do it—you say the appropriate thing. The difference with me is that, good, bad, or ugly, the truth is the truth, and I have a strong urge to state it. For me, I have an uncomfortable physiological response from having to withhold the truth…

Christina (interrupting) What does it feel like?

Ken: I feel a phantom pain of impact, like running into a brick wall. My breath catches, my body heats up, and my heartbeat increases.

Christina: Sounds like an anxiety attack.

Ken: Precisely. It takes everything I have to not act upon my first impulse.

Christina: Every time?

Ken: Every time. To varying degrees.

Christina: Which explains why socializing—even casual chitchat— drains you.

Ken: Absolutely. It is because of that physical reaction. My first impulse is always to speak the truth…

Christina: like, umm… ‘Why do you want to know that?’ or “You have a lot of body piercings,” or “that is not relevant.” …

Ken: (interjecting) Or, “that is not logical; it doesn’t make sense.” And yes, unfortunately you are correct. I used to actually blurt things like that. And I never understood why people reacted the way that they did because it was simply the truth, whether people wanted to acknowledge it or not.

Christina: Now you know that being blunt turns out badly.

Ken: Definitely. I have developed workarounds such as re-wording, softening, or suppressing my thoughts.

Christina: Right. In fact, you are outwardly extremely social! You can talk at length on any topic with anyone. That was, and still is, one of your best qualities! And since I’ve met you and we’ve been working on reciprocity, you are getting to be an even more interesting and enjoyable conversationalist. 

Ken: True. However, that is a learned behaviour which I can manage well only under low stress conditions. I must maintain a diligent awareness and rigid control in order to not trip up or expose myself.

Christina: I regret that it’s so hard on you. And I understand that’s part of the reason you need to rest, be alone, and sleep a lot. And we need to limit our social activities or sometimes separate—I go, you don’t—which is ok with me. So… we’d better get another diagnostic criteria in here or we’ll have a 24-part series! How about your eidetic memory—that’s such a cool word and an even cooler thing.

Ken: Alright. Everything I hear, see, and read, sticks. Like little videos in my brain. Non-spectrum people often have difficulty with this kind of memory. That always puzzled me because for me, it takes effort to forget.

Christina: Whereas I forget everything, immediately, all the time. It’s a pain in the neck. It’s exhausting, trying to remember things.

Ken: Your ease in social situations helps me avoid discomfort and exhaustion, and my eidetic memory does the same for you.

Christina: Beautiful! Let’s start with a third criterion next post, and try to get through more of them.

Ken: Agreed.

 

Next Post: Diablogue #13 ~ “How do you know? ~ Ken’s 12 autism spectrum diagnostic criteria: Part 2”

“How has the Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis helped?”

Daiblogue #11

“To Diagnose or Not to Diagnose…that is the question!” (Acknowledgement to Shakespeare—who is also considered to have been on the spectrum)

 

Christina & Ken four-handing it on the family baby grand! piano.
Christina & Ken four-handing it on the family baby grand!

Helpful Hint: If you think you might be on the spectrum and it is in some way impacting your life or the people around you, talk to your GP for a referral to an autism specialist. Remember, it’s just information! Diagnosis or not—and what you do with a diagnosis— is a matter of personal choice. (Caveat: remember that serial misdiagnosis or incomplete diagnosis is common.)

Below is a link to a 5-minute multi-question informal (not diagnostic) survey that’s interesting and fun to do. Ken scored 9 out of 10 on the autism quotient (very autistic) while I scored 0! Whew! We can hang on to our blog title: “I am autistic, I’m not” (!)

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/how-autistic-are-you

 

So, let’s diablogue:

Ken: Getting a diagnosis was equal parts painful and enlightening. It simultaneously opened and closed doors. How did my diagnosis impact you?

Christina: In the same ways. But I think today, six years after your diagnosis and after almost 10 years of marriage, the diagnosis is what’s keeping us together.

Ken: Hmmmm. Perhaps. That being said, I think there are an equal number of different ways this diagnosis has affected each of us.

Christina: For sure. Knowing that you are physiologically different—that your brain is actually configured to work differently from mine—helps. I can now interpret things for what they really are, not what they seem to be. The diagnosis cleared up a lot of my misunderstandings of you.

Ken: The diagnosis has also helped me avoid misunderstanding and misinterpreting others. It has made me aware of the effects that autism has on people. This allows me to adjust my behaviour and find scripts and workarounds that make interactions better for everyone.

Christina: And knowledge about autism lets us have intellectual and practical conversations about what’s going on without getting tripped up by miscommunications—or emotions.

Ken: Affirmative.

Christina: So all this suggests that we wouldn’t have made it this far together without the diagnosis. Is that what we’re saying?

Ken: Perhaps.

Christina: It’s good that we went ahead with it, then, right?

Ken: Yes. However, for me, the decision to get a diagnosis was deeply personal and complicated. I calculated that the positives would outweigh the negatives.

Christina: That’s interesting. But for me, once the possibility was raised, it would have been hard for me to not get more information—a diagnosis. I’m kind of driven that way—maybe that’s my Aspie trait!

Ken: (laughs) Ultimately we decided together to move forward with getting a diagnosis. I wished to get it so that I, or shall I say we, could base our future on accurate and appropriate data. I speculated that the diagnosis would give us insights into my needs and abilities instead of us continuously struggling, leading to more misunderstanding and frustration on both our parts.

Christina: Totally. Before the diagnosis, I would endlessly hope that if I gave you enough clues you would figure out how to be sensitive to my feelings, to “tell” when I needed you close, needed my space, needed to cry and not talk …

Ken: (interrupting/interjecting) To me the signals for needing closeness or space appear to be exactly the same. Therefore, I do not know which way to proceed.

Christina: I know that now because of the diagnosis. So, I can let those desires go…to a degree, anyway. I still have the needs, but the rational part of my brain helps me adjust my expectations and my actions. “He’s autistic,” my brain tells me now. “Tell him exactly what you need. Or go talk with one of your women friends.”

Ken: And the diagnosis has given me the chance to adjust my behaviours to sometimes to catch on and give you what you need.

Christina: Absolutely. You meet way more of my needs now, and I hope I meet more of yours, like respecting your need for more sleep and time alone to recharge.  So… do you think all adults who feel that they might be on the spectrum should get a diagnosis?

Ken: Yes, in part. I believe that if more people with autism got diagnosed, it would increase awareness. It would be more difficult for the non-autistic world to overlook, ignore, and sometimes even shun us. We would be more visible.

Christina: Makes sense.

Ken: That being said, we have a few friends who may be on the spectrum or have family members who may be touched by autism. Some of them seem to function adequately without the need to know. As we stated previously, the decision to pursue a formal diagnosis is a complicated and deeply personal one. Each individual—in consultation with their families and significant others— need to weigh all of the factors before making the decision to pursue a diagnosis.

Christina: I agree. Both getting a diagnosis and living as autistic without a diagnosis are heavy, but different, loads.

 

Next Post: Diablogue #12 – “How do you know? ~ Ken’s 12 autism spectrum diagnostic criteria: Part 1”

“Humour and Aspies’ unique senses of it.”

Diablogue #10 

For 30 years, Ken was the Klondike Kid at Klondike Days in Edmonton. He and Christina made the 19th century Western era the playful theme of their wedding. Humour, in all its guises, remains key to their relationship.

 Helpful Hint: If applied appropriately, humour is a great resource. Humour is a bonding agent that helps make and strengthen connections.

 

So, let’s diablogue:

Christina: Before we get into humour, let’s answer the question Mr. Asperger wrote as a ‘comment’ April 23: “How does the actual writing of your blog work? Is it one person recording the conversations? After all, it flows like a conversation that is verbal, but, I can’t imagine you both sitting down at the same time and recording one after the other.”

Ken: Perhaps you could explain.

Christina: Right. Well, I should say that we started out not knowing quite how to do this.

Ken: Yes. We were trying to achieve the “flow”, as Mr. Asperger says, of two people sitting having a conversation and the readers listening in. However, our challenge was to adapt that audio-format effect to print.

Christina: So we played around with a few options. I thought it would work to have two laptops, sit in a coffee shop, create a Google doc, and write at the same time through the internet into the same collaborative document.

Ken: That was our first attempt.

Christina: Yes, and the photo with the first blog showed us doing that.

Ken: However, due to my slow keyboarding speed, I could not get down what I was saying or thinking fast enough. I became frustrated, and we quickly realized we would have to modify our method.

Christina: Right. So then we actually tried to audio record our conversation, which Mr. Asperger thought we might be doing. We passed the iPhone back and forth as we talked. The idea was for me type out the transcript later.

Ken: That did not work because of ambient noise and volume control problems. It was very unnatural and interrupted the flow.

Christina: Yeah. So finally we fell upon the method we’re using now. We talk, and I type. It’s no problem because I type really fast. I’ve spent my life typing—first as a journalist, then in university.

Ken: I am hoping that this will be a temporary situation because I am now in a job that requires a great deal of typing. Therefore, by practise, my speed should increase.

Christina: (skeptical) I’ll believe that when I see it!

Ken: (laughs)

Christina: I hope that answers Mr. Asperger and anyone else’s curiosity on how we are doing this. If we change it up again, we’ll let you all know. Okay. Let’s get to today’s topic: humour.

Ken: Early in my life I discovered humour as a social survival tool.

Christina: Survival?

Ken: Yes. I always had the sense that I was different. As a child I didn’t know what, why, or how. And sometimes others would react to what I said or did in negative ways. Occasionally others would laugh at me.

Christina: You had to find a way to stop it.

Ken: Yes. The way I found was with humour. At first, it was unintentional, incidental, or accidental. I would say something and people would laugh. I observed that they were laughing at what I said. This shifted their laughter off of me directly and onto what I saying. I could control what I was saying.

Christina: Humour became a tool that you still use today.

Ken: Correct. Humour is one of my positive traits. Most people value it. It connects me with others and helps some people develop a positive option of me. It works, even when I am not working at it.

Christina: Ummm… but you know, it doesn’t always work for me. That knee-jerk aspect of it. Sometimes what comes out isn’t very funny–to me, anyway!

Ken: You are not alone. That being said, would you rather a grouch?

Christina: Nope. But do you realize we’ve barely said anything funny in this whole post on humour? That’s seriously sad!

Ken: That is because I have found that humour is a serious business.

Christina: Is that supposed to be funny? I can’t tell.

Ken: Viewer’s discretion.

Christina:  Arghh! One last thing. Humour is different I’m sure for every Aspie. Right?

Ken: True. If you have heard one funny Aspie, you have heard one funny Aspie.

Christina: We’ve only touched the surface of this topic. We’re going to have to come back to it another time.

Ken: We shall.

Christina: Lots of people have asked us if or how your formal autism diagnosis has helped us deal with its realities. I think that should be our next blog topic. Ok?

Ken: Yes.

Next Post: Diablogue #11 – “How has the Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis helped?”

“Awesome Aspects of an Autistic/Non-Autistic Alliance PART 2”

Diablogue #9

Christina and Ken at Pyramid Lake, Jasper
Christina and Ken at Pyramid Lake, Jasper

Helpful Hint: Celebrate the diversity of the alliance and focus on its strengths.

 

So, let’s diablogue:

Ken: One of the great benefits for me of having you, a non-aspie partner, is that you have the natural gifts of sociability. Most of us on the spectrum have challenges in this area. Where other people have given up, you just keep giving.

Christina: Giving?

Ken: You accept me for who I am and how I am, and you end up being my defacto advocate and interpreter.

Christina: I get it. Just like how you are always there for me in some of the ways I need—like calming me down when I get emotionally overloaded, or always being willing to come rescue me if I’m lost on the road somewhere. You appreciate me being there for you to rescue you in social situations—like tapping you on the arm when you’re talking for too long.

Ken: Absolutely. You are always there to help me with my socials skills, even when it becomes difficult and repetitive.

Christina: It’s a balance.

Ken: It is my opinion that each of us has strengths that shore up the other’s challenges.

Christina: Right. Like when we were in East Germany and we couldn’t find an English speaker at a train station. You kept working to solve the problem—finally translating word by word for the ticket person using the iphone translation app—while I collapsed in a puddle on the bench, overwhelmed and exhausted.

Ken: Thank you for noticing that trait in me. That I never stop trying and I never try stopping.

Christina: You are driven to solve problems—it is a massive gift in our lives and one of the best things about being in mixed brain marriage! Hey that’s cool—mixed brain. Shakespeare invented snow broth, I can invent mixed brain.

Ken: Mixed brain? (laughter) I do not know about that. Your brain may be mixed; mine is just mixed up.

Christina: (laughing) Ummm… isn’t that self-deprecation or the deficit model of autism creeping in here…?

Ken: No. As we stated in last blog’s helpful hint, a sense of humour is essential. If you are going to poke fun, then you must only poke fun at yourself. It is a vital survival trait for me to be able to laugh good-heartedly at myself.

Christina: Yes. Oh, another thing that makes it great being with you is your high standards for doing things. Like when we dug out the basement and you were down there on your knees for hours grading the gravel to a 4° angle all around the house with a garden trowel. Nobody on the planet would care so much—but we have a dry basement. Your personal standards make for slow progess sometimes. But I never have to worry about you slapping something together like my mom said my dad used to do—and then whatever he built fell apart.

Ken: I build things to stay together while I fall apart.

Christina: (laughs)

Ken: So many people have mistaken that drive for perfectionism, and perhaps it might be. That being said, my Aspie brain has two ways of doing things. Doing them correctly or incorrectly. I am wired to do them correctly; I cannot tolerate being incorrect.

Christina: Yeah. I know about the grey thing—how there’s no middle ground for you in anything. So, an “OK” job in any area is a failure to you. Unless it’s MY ok job! (laughter)

Ken: Definitely. These are my standards alone. It is my personal measuring stick. One of the things I admire about other people, however, is when they can stop when the truth is that good is good enough.

Christina: It’s great that you never push your standards on me or anyone. But I love being able to walk away at midnight, bushed, knowing whatever it is you’re working on will be perfect in the morning—though you might be dead!

Ken: To conclude—and to hopefully to return to this topic in the future—I would like to point out how your optimistic view of the world balances my pragmatism. It gives us many happy and light moments. Your optimism is contagious, and I prefer to go through life upbeat rather than beaten up.

Christina: Me too. Ok. What should we talk about next time?

Ken: How about the survival trait of humour and Aspies’ broad sense and use of it?

Christina: Sounds good.

 

Next Post: Diablogue #10 – “Humour and Aspies’ unique senses of it.”

“Spock Talk”

Diablogue #7

Captain Christina and Mr. Ken on the bridge of the USS Aspberger's
Captain Christina and Mr. Ken on the bridge of the USS Aspberger’s
Captain’s Log Star Date April 02, 2017

Helpful Hint: All manners of language by all people should be accepted. We would do well to follow the lead of the Vulcan mantra:

“Infinite diversity in infinite combination.” ~ Mr. Spock

Mr. Spock with the Vulcan Salute and Vulcan greeting salutation.
Mr. Spock with the Vulcan greeting salute and Vulcan greeting salutation.

So, let’s diablogue:

Ken: In our previous posts we stated that we would attend to some comments concerning my use of formal language, which I refer to as Spock Talk.

Christina: Yes. It’s always been part of your charm.

Ken: Affirmative, and thank you.

Christina: I’ve liked the way you talk and write…the precision and elegance of it. But I know some people find it off-putting. And lately, in the blog, it seems to be getting more pronounced. My brother even asked, playfully, “is Ken trying to talk like Spock on purpose?”

Ken: I spoke like this before Spock. In September of 1966 I watched the premiere of Star Trek and heard Spock talk. I was fascinated and obsessively hooked. Finally, here was someone who spoke like I did… even used the same words such as ‘fascinating,’ ‘affirmative,’ ‘specify,’ ‘inquiry,’ I shall endeavour to do so’….

Christina: You love that kind of language.

Ken: Correct. I think formal language is beautiful— so accurate, so logical, like a piece of classical music. It is difficult if not impossible to mistake or infer the incorrect meaning with formal language.

Christina: Classical music?! So, Spock talk is… uh, Bach?! That’s…

Ken: (interjecting, laughing) That is brilliant. You could not have picked a better example. He is considered the most formal of classical music composers. And he is thought to have been on the spectrum….

Christina. (interjecting back) Well, it just rhymed with Spock. And Talk. So… what kind of music is casual language?

Ken: To me, informal language sounds like folk music and/or country music.  The trick for me has always been to use the appropriate music—language—for the situation.

Christina: Right. If you broke out a country guitar at the symphony you’d be chased out of the hall! I get it.

Ken: Correct. Ever since I could read, write, and speak, I stood out in some positive—but mostly negative ways. My classmates would tease me and make jokes about the way I talked—“Oh like at the snobby smarty pants.” Adults would say, “Oh that’s cute, look at the little professor.” However, it was only cute while I was a child.

Christina: So when you grew up, you started to self-censor.

Ken: True. I have literally had to spend my life pretending to not be who and how I am in order to avoid being ridiculed, abused, ostracized, tortured, and persecuted.

Christina: Those are strong words.

Ken: Nevertheless, they are the truth. In spite of what some people may assume, it has never been, is not now, nor will it ever be my conscious thought to be arrogant, superior, a snob or whatever traits they attribute to me. The language I use in this blog is honestly, sincerely, and genuinely the real me.

Christina: You’ve….

Ken: …started to let my guard down…

Christina: Yeah. Although not everyone on the spectrum talks like that.

Ken: Correct. Some are non-verbal, some speak only casual language, some speak or wish to speak as formally as I do, and yet others speak much more formally—yet do not suffer. This is why it is called the Autism Spectrum. To quote Dr. Stephen Shore, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Christina: Right. Well, for most of us, though, Spock talk belongs to Spock.

Ken: And to me, I would add, and possibly to others. I am in no way trying to suggest that society should change its use of casual language to fit me. Nor do I in any way intend to persecute the persecutors, as casual language is beautiful in its own right. It is not only necessary, it is essential to and for creation, innovation, and evolution. All that I am asking for is reciprocity, validation, acknowledgement, appreciation, and understanding that my formal language is no less beautiful and essential. It is like Aspies ourselves, neither inferior nor superior, just different.

Christina: Everybody equal.

Ken: Affirmative.

Christina: Well, I love diversity. Your Spock Talk works just fine for me. Still charming…so… Spock on! Live long and….

Ken: Proper.

Christina: Oooooh! Nooooo! That’s Prosper.

Mr. Spock wearing the Vulcan I.D.I.C. and performing the Vulcan salute.
Mr. Spock wearing the Vulcan I.D.I.C. and performing the Vulcan salute.
Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015; the actor who portrayed Mr. Spock
Gene Roddenberry August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991 creator of Star Trek.
Thank you, Gene Roddenberry, August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991 creator of Star Trek.

Note:

Gene Roddenberry was considered to be on the spectrum. It is thought that he based the character Mr. Spock on himself.

Mr. Spock exhibits all the traits of an Asperger’s autistic.

Leonard Nimoy is also thought to be on the spectrum.


Next post: Dialogue #8- “How being an Aspie/non-Aspie couple is awesome”

“What We Learned From Temple Grandin”

Diablogue #6: 

Temple Grandin talks about the physiological differences between her brain and that of a non-autistic person. She spoke to 1800 people at Autism Calgary’s “An Evening with Temple Grandin” Feb. 22, 2017

Helpful Hint: Use any and all resources, whatever works. Don’t disregard any method or action that could prove beneficial. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the easier it will be for all—spectrum or non-spectrum.

So, let’s diablogue:

Christina: Let’s talk about what we gained from the Temple Grandin talk February 22.

Ken: I agree. There were some very important points I would like to touch on here and expand upon in future posts.

Christina: I liked it when she said, “Focus on what they can do, not on what they can’t do.” Autism is often framed so negatively: “They can’t socialize, they can’t do this, they can’t do that.”

Ken: The result of all the negative feedback can create a sense of worthlessness, disconnection, and low self-esteem. In adults, these are all potential barriers to employment.

Christina: Yeah. Temple said most people with autism are underemployed—if employed at all.

Ken: I myself have been a victim of this process of negative reinforcement all through my working life.

Christina: She talked a lot about kids—since there were so many parents there. An autistic teenager in the audience said she was angry a lot. Temple told her, “You have to find out what’s triggering it…what’s making it happen.”

Ken: People often forget that tantrums, frustration, and anger often have a trigger—like a baby crying; there is always an underlying cause. Autistic people are hyper-susceptible to the environment and the stimuli around them. Therefore, they can instantaneously experience sensory overload and become overwhelmed.

Christina: Yes, we should “find the root” rather than just get caught up in the symptoms. But she also told parents to regularly move their children “out of their comfort zone—don’t throw them in the deep end of the pool, but stretch them.”

Temple Grandin at the podium

Ken: Our family and friends—God love them—are trying to overprotect us. They don’t realize that they will not always be there for us. We need to practice living independently for when we no longer have them as supports.

Christina: Right. She said her mother expected her to greet people at parties and later take a paper route. She said it was difficult, but she wouldn’t have gotten to where she is without that kind of pushing.

Ken: I remember her referring to a 13-year old autistic boy who never ordered his own food at McDonalds. His mother ordered for him. That’s a poignant example of robbing the boy of a chance to practice, in a safe environment, his social skills which will be essential for him in the future.

Christina: And that can lead directly to what Temple said were “kids who are underprepared, under-supported, and under-transitioned for employment”—especially because of problems in the last years of high school.

Ken: We need to discover, right in the beginning years of school, what students are interested in and what they’re good at, and then tailor their education to focus on what they can do. Enabling them to increase their chances to succeed and be better prepared to live a more productive and independent life.

Christina: That would be a good change for all students. Ok, for the last point I want to talk about the “pilot’s checklist.” Temple said that people on the spectrum need to have check boxes for jobs. They need tasks broken down into steps, “1,” “2,” “3” in linear order so as not to overload the short term memory.”

Ken: Yes. Even though a pilot has been a pilot for 40 years, before take-off, in order to perform the task accurately without missing essential steps that could have serious consequences, they refer to a checklist that never varies.

Christina: Lists, right. They’ve become an essential part of our life—even for ordinary things like shutting the blinds or kissing me goodnight.

 Ken: I agree, as I am realizing to my benefit. People with autism tend to have intense and narrow focus; we cannot multitask. If we are distracted from our current task, unlike most people, we often cannot remember where we left off. When the distraction is removed and we return to the original task, we become confused about where we are. We could end up missing crucial steps. That is why we need a pilot’s list.

Christina: Absolutely. So, next time we need to explain your formal speech patterns. Some folks are wondering about what you call your “Spock-Talk.”

 

Next post: Diablogue #7 – “Ken’s Spock Talk” (to attend to some previous comments)