Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: The Best Kind of Different by Shonda Schilling



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Too quiet or too talkative
*Loneliness or isolation
*Honesty and bluntness
*Getting misunderstood

This time, I am going to provide you with some favorite quotes from a book written by the mom of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, as well as three other children. See what you can learn from Shonda Schilling, and maybe you'll read the whole book as well. The title is: The Best Kind of Different.


The speech [about Grant's Asperger's Syndrome] was emotional, funny, and thankful. When you speak from the heart, you can never go wrong.

The goal was to help Grant understand when to talk, when to stop talking, and that it was rude to dominate the conversation.

On the "social consequences map," there are four columns: My Action, How I Felt, How Others Felt, and Consequences.

One time, as a boy was telling him a story, Grant started walking in circles. . . . He didn't know what his body language said - that his behavior was rude.

In drama class, they would put on plays with themes relating to social interaction. . . . they needed to know how to work as a team, letting each person say his or her lines without being interrupted. . . .  Grant was "Jack" in a production of Jack and the Beanstalk. . . . Grant did a magnificent job. He knew all his lines and was totally comfortable and confident on stage. I felt so proud, watching him.

[W]e moved too much, so I never felt I wanted to expose myself to people I might not be around for too long. It's not easy to build a lifelong friendship with someone who might be gone the next week. Baseball [Schilling's husband's job] is so transient, it's hard to let down your guard and find true friendship.

[Christina, Grant's therapist] would write out a [social] story, mapping out what was going to happen [at Grant's next ball game]. He would understand the changes and be ready for all the transitions.

One of Grant's funnier characteristics is his penchant for blurting out painfully honest statements. . . . Other people just think [things that Aspies say], but keep to themselves for fear of hurting someone's feelings.

[Grant's third grade teacher] was quickly bowled over by the story [Grant] had written. He'd made very kid in the class a heroic character in a fantasy tale. And he'd done it all for the sake of making his classmates smile, which he did!

Grand was recently the star of the week at his school, which meant that each child had to write him a note. Almost all the kids wrote, "You are always nice to me." It filled my heart!

[Christina:] Grant doesn't realize that other people might have different thoughts or opinions that he does on any given subject.

I had this idea that I had control over whether or not I got depressed, which couldn't have been further from the truth. . . . I was vain, rigid, and uptight. That drew me away from experiencing and appreciating the pure joy that life can bring.

Asperger's doesn't go away. This is who Grant is, and we need to accept him and love him, in all his quirky, emotional, adorable oddness.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Proverbs 24:23b
It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Judgin' - Guest Post by Sophie


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Getting misunderstood
*High IQ and high level of talent
*Too quiet or too talkative

I know everyone is guilty of it - I definitely know I am - but sometimes it's ridiculous how often people get judged. Today, I was very much aware of it as I heard some people talking bad about other people. A lot of times we're so quick to think, "She's weird." Or, "He's so obnoxious." Or, "She's so loud." Or, "He's too quiet." Or, "She's too awkward." These are just an array of examples of what people are quick to point out and talk about.

The thing is, though, everybody has their flaws. I know I do. And I am aware of them. And some of the characteristics are things I can't fix, that are just simply me. Or I don't want to fix it because it isn't necessarily bad (such as being weird). I like to have fun. And sometimes I'm awkward because I'm unsure of people. And I don't need to fix those.

And the other thing is: everyone (EVERYONE) has their own story. Nobody came to be how they are just by magic. I wasn't always seemingly shy. But when someone is so keen to how people judge and talk bad about people, it does make them less inclined to speak up.

Overall though, that is something I need to overcome. Because I shouldn't care about who judges me. I should only care what God thinks. And who are we, human beings, to judge others? Really? We don't know other people's lives, thoughts, or feelings- but we do know that they are God's people, and we should love them. And we most definitely shouldn't speak bad about them. Like, what purpose does that serve? Does it make us look any better? No. No it doesn't.

This isn't a note for anyone in particular, but it is something that's been weighing on my heart and I just felt like I should share it. Because way too often we judge, and it's something I want to work on, because even I was quick to judge the people who were judging others. So I just pray for the spirit of love from God and the spirit of humility to influence and breathe into my life, because without that, I am so lost.

I desperately need God, every day.

How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Matthew 7:2
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

30 Coping Skills



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Much time spent on introspection

*Finding celebrations and parties stressful
*Perfectionism
*Detail-orientation

My counselor recently asked me what my coping skills were for when I feel stressed or tired or sick. She was astounded by how many coping skills I listed. Maybe you guys would like to try some of them, too, whether you're on the autistic spectrum or off of it. Here's the list:
  1. Singing or humming
  2. Singing while showering
  3. Stretching while showering
  4. Stretching the places that hurt until they stop hurting
  5. Facebooking
  6. Reading
  7. Reading aloud
  8. Crocheting
  9. Cross-stitching
  10. Making paper crafts
  11. Watching my daughter play
  12. Kissing my husband
  13. Taking a walk
  14. Drinking more water
  15. Having a snack or a meal
  16. Writing, writing, writing
  17. Proofreading
  18. Giving my daughter a sticker
  19. Making a to-do list and checking items off
  20. Praying to God, in Jesus' Name
  21. Calling a friend
  22. Going to the beach
  23. Going to the library
  24. Going window shopping
  25. Going shopping for real
  26. Playing table games with family
  27. Folding laundry while watching TV
  28. Playing favorite playlists or CDs
  29. Watching an "oldie but goodie" DVD
  30. Listening to sermons

How this topic relates to Christian living:

Psalm 90:17
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

So How Do You Know Your Friend Is an Aspie?


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Boredom with small talk

*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Getting misunderstood
*Sensitivity to sensory input

Here are a few quick observations about the ways that Aspies act, especially if they are undiagnosed and have not been to therapy. Maybe this list will help you identify friends and family who have Asperger's traits.
  1. Forgets to smile during a photo shoot
  2. Won't answer when you say, "Good morning! How are you this morning" (My reply to this is: "I don't know yet - I just got up.")
  3. Can talk your ear off about a particular favorite topic, and often interrupts or won't take time to let you reply
  4. Apologizes for things that were not his / her fault
  5. Sits up stiff and straight
  6. Isn't good at making jokes
  7. Wears comfortable clothing to the point of his / her clothes being shabby or mismatched
  8. Won't pay attention to you when you are arriving or saying good-bye (Try touching him / her on the shoulder, if this happens a lot
  9. Is shy, quiet, and introverted
  10. Is easy-going and likes peace and quiet at home

How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Proverbs 18:24
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five Flavors of Emotions













The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Much time spent on introspection


I had a comment from a reader who described his or her dad as emotionally distant. I have some advice for that situation.

First of all, people with Asperger's traits DO have emotions - sometimes very intense emotions. The hard part for us is to figure a way to express these emotions appropriately - or express them at all!

We know we feel bad or sad or embarrassed, but we have no idea what to do with these emotions to help improve the situation.

I like to think of various feelings/emotions as flavors, because flavors are neither "good" nor "bad," but simply present to our taste buds, as feelings are to our hearts and minds.

For the "emotionally distant" person, I recommend making the following chart and filling it in:

BLAND - boredom, usefulness, sameness

SOUR - frustration, difficult challenges, nervousness, annoyance

BITTER - embarrassment, anger, fearfulness, offended/insulted, disappointment, resentment

SALTY - excitement, learning, fun challenges, good changes

SWEET - happiness, enjoyment, fulfilled wishes

To fill in the chart, please describe various situations in which the feelings could be described by one or more of these flavors. Then friends and family will better be able to help and understand the problem.

Try it! It might just work!


How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Psalm 13:5-6
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Myths (Exaggerations) One Last Time

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Getting misunderstood
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Sensitivity to sensory input

The 7th myth: Aspies are weird because we refuse to wear uncomfortable clothes. Shouldn’t this be the other way  around? Off-the-spectrum folks are willing to wear uncomfortable clothes in order to look fashionable. To me, that’s weird. 

The 8th myth: "Without proper diagnosis children cannot get proper treatment; without proper treatment they cannot succeed." - Petition by Lisa DeSherlia 

Two words: Yeah, right.

Could we please define "succeed"? Do we mean financially, socially, or academically? I know Aspie adults who are succeeding in all these ways, and they never had "proper treatment" OR a "proper diagnosis." Let's stop viewing things so hopelessly, people!

The 9th myth: People with psychosocial illnesses cannot (or should not) enter into relationships and maintain them - at least not without regular counseling sessions. Again with the hopelessness. These kinds of counseling sessions may be helpful, and in my case, they have been. However, relationships have come fairly easily as long as they were in a one-on-one session. In groups, my Asperger's Syndrome is more noticeable, but it hasn't stopped me from marrying my wonderful Aspie husbnad who diagnosed himself after reading my blog.


Let's wind up with three more myths, and then we can move on to other things.


The 10th myth: Aspie emotional outbursts are always inappropriate.

Did you know that in Bible times, mourners were hired to mourn the loss of loved ones? Bad things do happen, and they are worth getting upset over. Enough said.

The 11th myth:  Aspies are incapable of learning social skills and etiquette.

On the contrary, Aspies are more interested in social skills than the average NT for whom it comes naturally. The main difference is that Aspies need that teacher or peer or etiquette book in order to LEARN social skills. It does take time and practice, but this goal is not unattainable for any Aspie, I believe - or even an low-functioning autistic person, I believe. Yet the instructions must be very precise.

The 12th and final myth: Aspies don't know how to have fun like "normal" kids. 

The reality is that Aspies love to have fun, but different things are fun to them, such as: learning from books, walking in circles, talking to yourself, humming, playing make-believe by yourself, or cutting out paper dolls alone, or watching ant hills - and I have enjoyed all of these. Softball, kickball and dodge ball were my enemies, but I could cut a mean paper doll!

So try having fun the Aspie way, and you'll learn things you never knew - unless you ARE an Aspie, and  you've been there before.


How this topic applies to Christian living:


Nehemiah 2:2a
Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Adult Female Asperger's Syndrome Traits" by Samantha Craft


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*All of them and then some!


Please click (video):

Adult Female Asperger's Syndrome Traits by Samantha Craft

This video was too good not to post. I have also added it to my "Resources" page. Check it out!
I see myself and two of my best friends in this detailed description. Maybe you'll see yourself, too!

My favorite characteristic was; "Highly intuitive to others' feelings." I know we, as Aspies, don't always use this ability to help others, but that doesn't mean we are incapable of discerning nonverbal communication. For my part, understanding my OWN feelings is a much bigger challenge.

Feel free to comment after you watch the PowerPoint slides.

The only listed item I would change was "trouble with lying." I think that means the Asperger's female has trouble being lied to, not with lying herself, since another point desribes her as "honest."

How this topic relates to Christian Living:

1 Timothy 6:17b
The living God . . .  giveth us richly all things to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Variations on a Theme


The Aspeger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately

*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Perfectionism
*Rule-bound behavior

*Too quiet or too talkative

Asperger's Traits with Differences of Temperament and Thought Processes

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Interpreting Non-Verbal Signals



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Intense loyalty to friends
*Honesty and bluntness
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately

Please click:

What Everybody Ought to Know About Aspergers and Marriage by Stephen Borgman

Stephen Borgman: "I'm a Licensed Psychotherapist. I'm dedicated to excellence, and  focused on bringing hope, understanding, and solutions through excellence in counseling. I love my work! My areas of focus include disability, work related stress, men's issues, children and family coaching. I help individual and corporate clients manage problem situations and develop unused resources and opportunities effectively, resulting in effective solutions." 


I found this article interesting to read, and I know Stephen Borgman has plenty of experience. However, within his article, I uncovered the 6th Aspie myth: "Interpreting non-verbal signals, the core of all communication, for example, is something that the AS individual will always have a lot of difficulty doing."


The part of this statement that identifies it as a myth is the complete hopelessness of the Aspie's case. On the contrary, I believe there is plenty of help and hope available to Aspies, even grown Aspies who were only recently diagnosed. 

Please don't make this blanket statement, Mr. Borgman. I don't know what your experience is, as you evaluate the social skills of the Aspies who come to you for help. It may very well be that those you counsel struggle desperately in the area of non-verbal communication. However, in my experience, Aspies are quick to pick up on non-verbal signals, especially the communication of those whom they know well. These Aspies just don't always guess the best way to handle their end of the conversation. But you who are not on the autistic spectrum would  be surprised at our awareness of body language, facial expression, and tone of voice, if you could look inside our minds.

To the Aspies who come to my blog for help, I would like to encourage my readers that the terms "always" and "a lot" will not be true of you forever, if you work at interpreting non-verbal signals, and especially if you are working with a mentor or a teacher who understands. 


I am a third culture kid, which means I grew up living in more than one country. Non-verbal signals vary across cultures, and they can be taught to Aspies as elements of the particular culture in which they move. This is a skill which must be learned, but don't feel as if it's too late. It's never too late to pay attention and try hard to develop non-verbal interpretation correctly.


Back to my elementary school days for evidence that this statement is a myth. Please remember that I did not receive an AS diagnosis until I was 18, and I had only the therapy of growing up in a Christian home and attending a Christian school.

On the school bus, when I attended 5th grade in Pennsylvania, I shared a bus seat with a 6th grade girl, and another friend who sat in the seat in front of us was in 7th grade. We liked to imagine stories about mermaids on our long ride to school and home again. These were the days when the Disney movie A Little Mermaid came out.


One day, my 6th grade friend suggested that we each design a mermaid castle and enter them in a contest. Then the three of us and our 1st grade friend would vote for our favorite.


I voted for the 6th grader's castle. The 7th grader voted for my castle. The 1st grader (who had not drawn a picture) voted for the 6th grader's castle. Then it was the 6th grader's turn to vote.

I could see the suspense and potential hurt in the face of my 7th grade friend. I could sense her shallow breathing, and saw how she was leaning forward to hear the results of the contest. 


I whispered in my 6th grade friend's ear, "Vote for hers. She'll be mad if you don't."


But my friend decided to give her honest opinion and vote for my castle.


"Nobody likes my castle!" our 7th grade friend blustered. "I worked hard on it, and I just don't have the talent to draw like you do. It was the best I could do, and nobody voted for it. This just ruins my day."

As we stepped of the bus onto the school playground, my 6th grade friend said quietly to me, "You were right."

How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Proverbs 15:18
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Emotional Meltdowns Part Three



Please read: Emotional Meltdowns Part One and Emotional Meltdowns Part Two

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:

*Anxiety and depression
*Difficulty learning to relax

When I referred to my crying when I was ready to go home and had to deal with people for another hour first, it's funny that I lumped together an incident from when I was 6 and another time when I was 16. The first time I was also handling culture shock and the second time, I was in the throes of jet lag (both side effects of being a missionary kid!) So it may have had less to do with Asperger's than I implied, but yeah. That's what happened.

My daughter turned one in March, and I have dealt with just a few temper tantrums from her by picking her up and laying her down in her crib and walking away until I hear silence. That has worked well so far, but only until she's light enough for me to carry! She is still getting ready to walk.

One time my daughter was starting to get worked up, and I sang this song (to the tune of "The B-I-B-L-E")

When I am feeling SAD,
Or someone makes me MAD,
Without delay,
I start to pray,
So God can make me GLAD!

It's a sweet little limerick, and it actually worked. She settled right down.

I also learned another children's ditty about feelings, from LeapFrog Baby.

Feelings are SPECIAL,
Feelings are REAL.
I like sharing the way I FEEL.

And then the song walks the listener through different scenarios for feeling HAPPY, EXCITED, and SLEEPY, with the chorus as above. I like this song, because when I was a teenager, I had the worst time putting my feelings into words, and I usually ended up bawling instead. Now knowing how to express our feelings helps my husband (also an Aspie) and me to communicate better. But more on that later . . . .

How this topic relates to Christian living:

Isaiah 40:28
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Explanation from "The Inside" - Guest Post by Taylor Morris


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:

*Rule-bound behavior
*Much time spent on introspection
*Difficulty regulating attention
*Sensitivity to sensory input
*Difficulty learning to relax
*High IQ and high level of talent
*Getting misunderstood
*Difficulty communicating

Please click for video:
Taylor Morris on High-Functioning Autism

"I love being able to say that I'm a successful person - and I'm not a normal one."

"I love being different."

"I love that I can go through life and do the things that most people do - yet have almost a different twist on it. It's actually a lot of fun . . . to be different."

How this topic applies to Christian living:

John 15:15
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Asperger's Myth Unveiled



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Getting misunderstood
*Anxiety and depression

The 5th Myth (hey, I’m rhyming) is: “A diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and mental illnesses (such as bipolar disorder, ADD, or schizophrenia, for example) are mutually exclusive. You can't have both at the same time.” Oh, yes, you can, and the symptoms may overlap, further muddying the waters. This myth is perpetuated because mental disorders are diagnosed by observation, questionnaire, and comparison to a list of symptoms. You don't just take a blood test and get told the news; your teachers, parents, psychologists, and psychiatrists have to figure it out. YOU may be the one to figure it out yourself!

I remember being 17, and looking over my dad's shoulder at a library book that had a title something to do with bipolar disorder. Then I read the list of symptoms, and it clicked with me. From then on, I knew that I had experienced both depression and mania; therefore, I had bipolar disorder. At age 15, I had been diagnosed with a brief psychotic episode that had lasted several weeks. Psychosis is evidenced by delusional thinking and erratic behavior, which I obviously had displayed. I also had countless symptoms of mania. I had my first manic episode at 13, and first depressive episode at 14. These episodes consumed me with insomnia and lack of appetite. I was either a whirling dervish, or Eeyore personified! Yet nobody told me I had BIPOLAR DISORDER! Hello???

Anyway, I'm not bitter - well, maybe a little. Mental illnesses are apparently difficult to diagnose. Some of you, my readers, may believe all your problems can be chalked up to Asperger's syndrome, And maybe they can. However, if you are experiencing the symptoms of other mental health problems, then please, don't fall for the myth. Get yourself to the psychiatrist FAST, and rally your support people who care about you. That's what I do, and it is necessary for me to be able continue on, despite my struggles.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Matthew 4:22
. . . They brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Faith, Asperger's, and God: Guest Post by Aspie Warrior



Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*High IQ and high level of talent
*Getting misunderstood
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately

Please click:
Faith, Aspergers and God

This post I read is awesome. It answers so many questions even I have. You won't be sorry you read it!

Aspie Warrior is one blog I'd be proud to follow. How about you?

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Romans 5:5
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Opening Up - Guest Post by Aidan

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Getting misunderstood

*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Following scripts when interacting
*Anxiety and depression
*Much time spent on introspection




Favorite quotes from Aidan King:

"In real life, I'm a special child that's just out-of-the-ordinary."

"For some reason, every time I think of something, it becomes real. I notice very much - in my mind, I am free. . . . I can just do anything."

Editor's note: Did you catch that, folks? Here's Aidan, age 12, whoppin' down the fallacy that “Boys and girls with Autism/Asperger's  don't use their imaginations.” Hello? 3rd Myth dismantled here.

Aidan actually has spoken one more myth, the 4th Myth, which is what his doctors evidently told him . . . "I have Autism and Asperger's Syndrome - those are the same thing." Um, no. The labels low-functioning and high-functioning are used for a reason. Low-functioning autism is never referred to as Asperger's syndrome, because Hans Asperger never studied or reported on low-functioning autism (that I know of).

One crucial difference is that those with Asperger's have the ability to communicate - and communicate well. That being said, I'd say Aidan is on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, even though he may have been diagnosed as autistic when he was younger. Congratulations on your improvements, Aidan!

Aidan also remarks: "There's one most important thing to me, and that is: friends, family, and my pets." He concludes: "All I know is: I love everything that my parents and life has given me, and I'd do anything to keep going, and fighting."

How this topic applies to Christian living:

I Corinthians 4:2
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's All in the Eyes: Am I Still an Aspie?



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Boredom with small talk
*High IQ and high level of talent

"Can You Read People's Emotions?" The New York Times Quiz
On October 17, 2013, I took this quiz for the first time, and scored 28/36. The average score for this test is in the range of 22 to 30 correct responses. Does this mean I'm not an Aspie anymore?

I'm ready to dispel the 1st Myth that Aspies always, consistently have trouble reading people's faces and body language. 

I don't. I don't think I ever really have. It may be hard for some of us with Asperger's traits, but surely it's not a constant, unending struggle. There are ways to learn interpretation of body language and tone of voice. We learn by watching movies, TV shows, and plays, or better yet, acting in plays ourselves. I have found acting to be especially helpful in learning to bridge communication gaps.

But you know what? I'm guessing the myth came to be because even though Aspies may understand what another person is feeling and even possibly feel empathetic . . . well, what do you do then? How do you handle the situation? That's where we sometimes get stuck.

I remember being 14 and meeting my best friend's new friend. As we waltzed all around the school campus where a twice-yearly thrift shop was being held, I watched this new friend looking at the ground, smoothing the fabric of her skirt, twirling her flowing hair, scuffing her sandals, and stealing glances at the other girls around her. I took my best friend aside and whispered, "I think your friend is feeling left out."

My best friend (who, by the way, had Asperger's traits herself) frowned and darted her eyes towards her new friend and back to me. She seemed at a loss for words. We strode on, and suddenly I realized it was up to me to set the new friend at ease.

So I turned to her and said, "You look really pretty - even though we're all wearing sneakers and culottes, and have our hair in braids."

The new friend did not reply, but she gave me a smile and started to relax, and I knew I had said the right thing. It was perhaps an awkward, abrupt speech for me to make, but it was heartfelt.

Boom! Aspie Myth number 1 exploded!

I read recently that it's not always easy to make and keep friends. Here comes the 2nd Myth: Making and keeping friends has nothing to do with intelligence.

Um, excuse me? Creating and maintaining friendships requires a vast deal of intelligence. It's just that Aspies tend to use our "academic smarts" to inform our "social smarts," and sometimes the wires get crossed. But I think Aspies almost always can pull off some really great friendships - especially when we bump into other Aspies, right?

Seems to me that the reason Aspies are pegged as being social dummies is that we want something more useful, engaging, or fun than simple, yawning small talk! I mean, who wants to be told what the weather is like outside when you could be telling your friends about Voltron and Starblazers? (This is what my husand did to me - he can't stand small talk. It's lucky we have a baby now, since it gives him an easy topic of conversation.)

So, take the "Can you read people's emotions?" quiz yourself, Aspie or otherwise . . . and please post your results! Thank you!

How this topic relates to Christian living:

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 13:34
Love one another. - Jesus

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dysfunction or Excellence



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

Now, what if we Aspies and those who help us didn't talk about "sensory defensiveness" or "sensory integration dysfunction" or "sensory processing disorder"?

What if instead, we called our so-called "problems" - a keen sense of hearing; a sharp ability to see, an acute sense of touch, and a sensitive sense of smell?

What if, instead of calling ourselves "picky eaters" (because that's what our moms called us), we referred to ourselves as connoisseurs?

Wouldn't you rather rejoice in your skills than try desperately to "fix" them?

And why not call it a passion, instead of an obsession?

To follow up with this unique idea (all mine), Please read an example of my keen sense of hearing:

"Background Noises"

The box fan whirred.
The ceiling fan spun.
A zipper buzzed as he closed the book-bag.
The belt buckles clinked.
The metal doorknob snapped shut.
The linoleum creaked as she strode across the kitchen.
He pulled at the car's door handle, and it opened with a soft, responsive sound.
He got in, slammed the door, and hit the lock button.
He slid his seat belt across his chest and clicked it into place.
Then he turned the key in ignition and let off the emergency brake.
He moved the gear shift to drive and pressed the gas pedal.
With a low rumble, the car rolled down the slope of the driveway.
His right turn signal blinked. He was off on a new adventure today.

See how we can use our distinctive sensory experience to become writers? We can use our sharp sense of vision to become artists, as well. My husband draws maps for fun, and his visual excellence quotient is higher than mine. I have strong verbal excellence, and so does he, but he is much quieter than I am.

I love to talk, write, listen, and communicate in general. My main purpose is to put my gifts to work, so that God will truthfully tell me someday, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Thanks to God for challenging me to find a way to "accentuate the positive" is this area of sensory stimulation.

How this topic relates to Christian living: 

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Apologize; I Sinned - OR - Excuse Me; I'm Aspie


Give this post a look-see on youtube: I Apologize OR Excuse Me

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Detail-orientation
*Perfectionism
*Getting misunderstood
*Honesty and bluntness

I want to address this topic submitted by a reader. There are many different directions I could take this topic, and I have pondered for the past two-and-a-half months before deciding what to write. I also took the time to discuss the topic with my Aspie dad and Aspie husband and get their perspectives.

I would like to stay true to the overall impression of this blog by telling a story from my life. However, I also want to add a pertinent doctrinal discussion, since the doctrine of sin is easy to misunderstand. I hope this post gives you more clarity as you navigate the waters of your social life and your spiritual life.

In the past, I did not quickly identify my mistakes as due to Asperger's syndrome, and so the chance to blame Asperger's syndrome was completely overlooked. Then I started this blog and realized just how many of the scrapes I got into actually could be blamed on my being an Aspie. I have seldom played the "Excuse me; I'm Aspie" card. There have been opportunities to do so, but I prefer to own my mistakes and apologize for them directly. Sometimes I add an explanation of what was going through my head at the time of the mistake.

By "mistake," I mean something I said or did or implied by tone of voice that turned out to be socially inappropriate, unkind, rude, disrespectful, or bossy. And when I say I prefer to own my mistakes, let me just add that many times I have NOT apologized for a mistake, but have ignored the existence of the mistake or refused to admit that it was a mistake worth apologizing for.

It's possible that we, as Aspies, would be better understood if more people around us had a grasp on Asperger's syndrome and what it means. That's one purpose of this blog. So if you prefer to tell people you have Asperger's traits whenever you get caught acting out your Asperger's traits, I certainly can understand why you'd want to.

Okay, I'm putting off telling the story, because it was one of my worst moments, when I hurt the feelings of a friend I truly like and admire. I apologized by email, too, even though I could easily have spoken the apology, and that would have been a better choice. Anyway . . . while I was attending college, I worked for a Christian company, where all my coworkers were Christians. At our monthly department meetings, our department head gave each of us awards for demonstrating a specific character trait. That month, I did not merit the award for demonstrating kindness.

And it's all because I am an Aspie - well, because I'm a human, too - a human with a sinful nature, no less. And there's the tricky part - how do we divide our acts into separate categories of "mistake" and "sin," "personality flaw" and "rebellion against God"?

On with the story . . . I attended a musical one night, and I love musicals. It was The Sound of Music, and a few years previously, I had acted the role of one of the nuns in my college production, so I was eager to see how this production compared with the one I had seen from backstage in rehearsals. I enjoyed the play very much, but I preferred the play I had been in, overall, which was only natural.

My coworker's friend had played the part of Maria (the leading role), and the next day at work, she mentioned, with a glowing face, "My friend played Maria so well! I thought she sang just as well as Maria in the movie!"

"You really think so?" I blurted out. "I didn't think she sang that well."

And the glow on my coworker's face faded out right before my eyes. (Who says Aspies can't read body language?) I realized then that I had put my foot in my mouth. So I shoved it farther in.

"I have to be honest," I remarked, "and critical."

"No, you don't," my coworker murmured, staring at me.

What makes me kick myself now was that I implied that she was being deceitful when she gave her opinion that her friend had sung as well as Maria in the movie. My shock at hearing her opinion came not because I was espeically disappointed in her friend's singing, but because of my surpassing awe when hearing the voice of Julie Andrews - Maria in the movie. But there's no reason why my coworker's opinion would not have been a true one.

After all, I had studied the difference between opinion and fact back in elementary school. We had to sort statements into categories labeled "Opinion" and "Fact." But when I heard that opinion, I immediately had the irresistible urge to correct an opinion that I deemed to be "wrong" - an opinion which I took quite literally.

See my post Contradictions and Corrections for more details on why that irresistible urge to correct hits Aspies.

As I grew more embarrassed at seeing how impolite my words appeared to be, I said to my coworker, "Don't tell her I said that."

Then my other coworker, who had mentored me on more than one occasion, finally said, "She is not going to tell her friend you said that - and she would like you to drop it and change the subject now."

My mentor came to me in private shortly afterwards and told me she brought up her children to consider before they spoke whether their words were true, kind, and necessary. Mine, though true, were neither kind nor necessary, and so, apparently, my remarks fell into the category of "sin." The verse that jumped to mind was Ephesians 4:32 - "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Although my motive had been to set the record straight, my words had come out as rude and unkind and unnecessary. The apostle James was right when he wrote: "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8). 

I believe, from my study of the stories and principles in God's Word, that God expects us to have both right motives AND right words or actions. 

If we do the right thing for the wrong reason, we are not pleasing God. I can prove this from Jesus' words in Matthew 6. "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. . . . And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward" (Matthew 6:1, 5).

Just as much, we are to blame when we do the wrong thing accidentally, or with the right motivation. In God's law for the Israelites, He wrote, "If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering" (Leviticus 5:15). Ignorance of the law was not a good enough reason to opt out of the required sacrifice meant to atone for sins. In an Aspie's case, ignorance of social customs does not let us off the hook when we hurt people's feelings.

There are also various stories in the Bible in which sins are committed for what seem very logical reasons, such as Abraham's lie that Sarah was his sister, even though she was really his wife, since he feared for his life (Genesis 20).

Another example is King Saul's decision to perform sacrifices himself, though he was not the proper person to do so. Saul gives Samuel his reasons and motivations for the decision, but Samuel pronouces God's judgment on Saul nonetheless (I Samuel 13:11-14).

So, as Aspies, when we are motivated to make things perfect, or tell the complete truth, or keep quiet instead of being friendly, we need to think about the needs of those around us, and say the things that will encourage them.

Complicating this topic is the idea that sometimes truth really does trump kindness. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, which made them very mad at Him, but that is truly what they were, and they needed to be told (Matthew 23). The prophets spoke many upsetting words, but God had sent them to point out people's sins and warn them of coming judgment.

So if we truly see the need to point out sins (or flaws) in other's lives, we'd better be sure we have the authority to do so, and then go for it! They may benefit from listening to our rebukes, or as it says in Proverbs 15:5, "A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent."

I hesitated to write this post, because I'm not sure we should even be asking the question: Under what circumstances do our "mistakes" classify as "sins"? We can go the extreme of feeling very guilty for sins that God has forgiven, through our faith in Jesus. We can go to the opposite extreme of feeling nonchalant about our inappropriate words and actions, by saying we are simply being true to ourselves.

We can even take the attitude of judging those around us and coming down on them harshly, when we are supposed to be loving and forgiving. Here at the end of my post, I will add some very pertinent Scriptures about allowing God to be the ultimate Judge.


How does this topic apply to Christian living?

Romans 14:4 
Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 

Romans 14:10 
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 

Romans 14:13 
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. 

1 Corinthians 4:3-5 
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 
For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.




I Made Christmas Slow Down

This is Sharon Rose! If this blog has helped you learn and grow, please consider clicking the yellow "Donate" button on the right side of the screen, under the blog title. Thank you all!



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Finding celebrations and parties stressful
*Prefer routines and structure


It's a new year in the blogosphere! If you'd like to reflect back on what the Christmas season can be like from an Asperger's perspective, please see my post Please Make Christmas STOP!

I'm happy to report that I had the most relaxing December I can remember.

I went to one Christmas play, three parties, and five morning worship services.

I sang one Christmas song for special music in church (as opposed to my past involvement in large productions).

I prepared exactly three gifts, assisted with one other gift, and volunteered to wrap three other gifts.

I did not overeat, not even at Thanksgiving.

I chose not to decorate with a tree this year, even though I enjoy it, since my husband and I were tired of arranging our household goods after our move at the end of October.

I wore loose-fitting shoes . . . and I had a beautiful Christmas experience!

Playing down Christmas is my Aspie-style way of defeating the Grinch that lurks inside me. You might want to try this strategy next year.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Matthew 2:1b-2
. . . Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.