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My Path (11) Autism)

Asperger's, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical (peculiar or odd) use of language are frequently reported.[1][2] The diagnosis of Asperger's was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the ... (DSM-5) and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.[
Asperger syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The twenty +  years from 1985 to 2007 were very good years.  Not too good healthwise, i suppose.  Dianne's breathing had become a problem, she gained way too much weight, and her ability to walk became more limited.  Between 2000 and 2006 she depended less on a walker and more on a wheelchair.  My hips, injured during a home birth, finally gave out, first one, then the other.  Fortunately they were each expertly replaced.  But they were happy years, i was appropriate, kind, useful, companionable, calm and cheerful.

In 2001, i retired from a thirty-four year teaching career.  I did not want to retire, but Dianne and i agreed that her declining health required too much from me to permit a full time job.  The State of Idaho had an excellent pension program and because of my six years as a caseworker for DPA, i was credited with forty years of State employment.  With Social Security we received significantly more income from retiring than we had for working.  for the first time we had no money worries.  I continued to teach part time for a couple years and did half day weekly stints as a volunteer at a homeless shelter.  We also moved to a smaller, newer, one-story home in a less "elite" neighborhood.

My late brother was visiting.  The village of which he was mayor had had a case of pedophilia which was going through the court system.  One of the victims was a relative, a ten year old girl.  We were discussing her reaction to her attacker, which was sympathetic and compassionate.  Suddenly, i started talking, lecturing, actually, sociology.  Dianne was shocked and angry.  I become depressed and withdrawn.

Two days later, i was listening to NPR on  the car radio.  The host was interviewing Tim Page, a Washington Post Music editor who had recently written a New Yorker magazine article: "Why I Was Strange."  Mr Page had taken his teenaged son to a doctor to be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.  As they left the office, the doctor commented: "BTW, you have it too."

He then described his childhood which was (i need an adjective here and i just don't have one) familiar.  In describing himself, he was describing me.  I immediately drove to Barnes and Noble to buy the New Yorker

I shared the article with Dianne who agreed the description of Tim Page was a description of me.  I read some books on autism and took an online test for Asperger's Syndrome which indicated that i would probably be diagnosed as having it.  I mentioned it at my next visit with my physician.  She asked if i thought i needed a formal diagnosis.  I said i didn't think so and the matter rested there.

Knowing that i have autism has made me more self accepting.  Part of the reason for my strangeness is that my brain functions differently from the way it functions in a majority* of people.  But i have also become more careful, i know that i must always think twice or more before i act, because my first thoughts are likely to strike others as deviant.and actions based on them may cause alarm and disappointment.**

As i try to become more aware of my spiritual nature and to benefit myself and others through that awareness, i have seen my autism as both a benefit and a penalty.  A friend in London has called his autism a Painful Gift and i can confirm that characterization for myself.  I can have great focus.  I can remain comfortably alone, silent, and empty for long periods of time. I find it easy to put a "cloud of forgetting," between myself and the appearances.

On the other hand, i find it difficult to be genuinely compassionate and empathetic. to "walk in the moccasins" of those who suffer or offend.  I find it hard to "believe" anything that is not rooted in empirical evidence or even scientific reasearch.

Ii is now eight years from my discovery/invention of my autism.  The knowledge has been incorporated to such an extent that i no longer focus on it.  I am no longer an "autist" but a human being who happens to have (probably) Asperger's Syndrome.

*  In 2007, it was estimated that one in 187 people was autistic.  Since then the ratio has been raised several times and is now, i think, about one in 85,  In my opinion, this is mostly due to  more diagnoses rather than a rise in the actual condition.

** I learned in my first real sociology job that mentally ill people can greatly improve their behavior by being aware of the symptoms of their condition.  If "hearing voices" is a symptom of "schizophrenia,".a schizophric person can remain free and "normal" by ignoring those voices, not obeying them, and not talking about them except in therapy sessions.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
maadmike
Oct. 4th, 2015 06:36 am (UTC)
What is the main simptons for autism if you please? Maybe I am too...
One day I had thought I got all thesexually transmitted diseases after I had sex with the girl with such a reputation, so maybe to try autism... ;)
bobby1933
Oct. 4th, 2015 04:53 pm (UTC)
I am certainly no authority on autism, but i think the main thing is the social disconnection. One autistic person told me that he ran away from people and ran faster and farther from those who loved him. Temple Grandin, a successful autistic person in Colorado, had a brain scan that showed that her brain gets all "interested" when she looks at cows but not at all when she looks at people.
maadmike
Oct. 4th, 2015 06:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I can get brief. I not that much like to look at cows as I like at some humans!
pondhopper
Oct. 4th, 2015 11:54 am (UTC)
Self awareness is a wonderful thing and can help circumvent many problems and issues as one tries to relate to the world. I am always a bit wary of self diagnosis though at a more advanced age it may well be easier to do after a lifetime of symptoms.

Whatever you may or may not have, you are a good person...as I see you here. I think in the end that's all that matters.
bobby1933
Oct. 4th, 2015 04:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I wholly agree about self diagnoses. I usually try to make clear that i have not been medically diagnosed. I "like" "autism" better than i do "borderline personality disorder" which shows many of the same "symptoms."
vaporw
Oct. 4th, 2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
What a great inner knowledge you randomly came across via the New Yorker.

I didn't know, not certain as to why, that you taught. That is something that would have been an impossible for me to do.
bobby1933
Oct. 4th, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I taught sociology at the university here.
Lots of people tell me that they could never teach.
But i find teaching easy and most of the things they do hard.
Twenty people or two hundred are a lot less scary to me than one.
vaporw
Oct. 4th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
I can speak to 1 to 1000 people, but teaching is another story. Although, I suppose when I am speaking, that is teaching. (yikes)
heliopausa
Oct. 7th, 2015 08:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this story.
bobby1933
Oct. 7th, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC)
:) Thank you for reading it.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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