Thursday, July 7, 2011

Perfectionism Plus

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Sensitivity to sensory input

My second-grade teacher thought that a student who does not finish her work on time must be kept in from recess to finish her work. Sounds reasonable, right? Until a perfectionistic Aspie joins the class! I took so long doing my seatwork to my 100% standard that I was missing out on playtime with other kids.

Ah, perfectionism! How I love thee and how I hate thee! One day, my teacher found me agonizing over a worksheet about koalas that asked me to name another animal from Australia. I had never studied animals from Australia, and the answer was not anywhere on the worksheet. But I just knew that if I racked my brains long enough, I would know what to write in that blank! At long last, my teacher practically ripped the paper out of my hands and put it in the basket of papers to grade. That was the day I learned that handing in an assignment with a space left blank was acceptable - under the most dire circumstances, at any rate.

My mom insisted that recess itself was why she was sending me to school instead of continuing to teach me herself. So my teacher started sending me outside to play at recess, finished or not. This change did not affect my straight A average in the least, but it did improve my jump-rope skills!

My teacher loved to call people over to watch me jumping rope backwards. "Sharon Rose learned to jump-rope backwards first," she would brag. Why was jumping rope easier for me when I couldn't see the rope coming? Because I listen better than I watch. I'm an auditory learner, and I needed to hear the rhythm of the rope hitting the ground in order to know when to jump. Seeing the rope approach my feet just threw my timing off.

I want to emphasize this point, because there seems to be a common assumption that autistic or Asperger's people are all visual learners. I recently watched a movie about the life of Temple Grandin, and it proved to me the similarities between low-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome. However, one of the few ways in which I could not identify at all with Temple's limitations and talents was that she thinks in pictures. Like Dr. Grandin, I observe the most detailed of details, but I memorize dialogue instead of visual scenes. While Temple Grandin's visual learning skills exceed her auditory learning skills, I am the exact opposite. We are both on the autistic spectrum. Great movie, by the way!

Please click: Synopsis of "Temple Grandin" played by Claire Danes

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Psalm 101:2
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.