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Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Bible Color Coding

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

Red - Promise
Orange - Principle
Green - Command
Blue - Christ's Character
Purple - Example
Pink - Prayer

These are the colors I use for underlining favorite verses in my Bible. You uber-organized Aspies might like to try it. It helps me really think about the verse as I select which color to use.

As I was searching for images of Bibles, I picked this one because my middle name is Rose. When I enlarged the thumbnail, I was surprised to see that this Bible was open to John chapter 10 - my favorite passage of Scripture. John 10 is about Jesus being my Good Shepherd. Now I call that a "God-wink."

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Prefer routines and structure
*Too quiet or too talkative

*Getting misunderstood

I recently read a book by Nicholas Sparks, entitled Dear John, I enjoyed it pretty well, except for one major problem: it does a disservice to those with Asperger's traits and their families.

First of all, the gentleman in the story who has Asperger's syndrome (the main character John's father) is stereotyped beyond recognition as an Aspie. He fixes the exact same breakfast every day for years, and talks about literally nothing except his one obsession - coin collecting.

John's dad is what we literary people call a flat and static character. By contrast, round characters show us the complexity of their lives, and dynamic characters change and grow throughout the story. Nicholas Sparks is promoting the myth that Aspies cannot and will not ever change. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Secondly, when John's girlfriend Savannah points out to him that she believes his father has Asperger's syndrome, John gets so angry that he injures three grown men! Um, excuse me? She was just trying to help!

To make matters worse, the book then goes on to have Savannah apologize all over herself for even bringing up the name of Asperger. And that is where the cookie crumbles - in the assumption that it is very rude and inappropriate to suggest that a certain friend of yours might possibly have Asperger's syndrome. Come on, now tell me how that is helpful.

Dear John was a good book sandwiching a dangerous lie. Don't be fooled. It's still a good read, and I loved the ending. I'm picky about endings, so that's giving kudos to this future classic written by well-known author Nichalas Sparks.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

II Corinthians 5:17
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Top Twenty List of Asperger's Traits

  1. Sensitivity to sensory input
  2. Abnormal fascination with special interests
  3. Detail-orientation
  4. High IQ and high level of talent
  5. Perfectionism
  6. Rule-bound behavior
  7. Finding celebrations and parties stressful
  8. Boredom with small talk
  9. Following scripts when interacting
  10. Prefer routines and structure
  11. Getting misunderstood
  12. Too quiet or too talkative
  13. Honesty and bluntness
  14. Much time spent on introspection
  15. Anxiety and depression
  16. Loneliness or isolation
  17. Difficulty communicating
  18. Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
  19. Difficulty learning to relax
  20. Intense loyalty to friends
How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Favorite Words

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include: 
*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Boredom with small talk
*Following scripts when interacting

To my best friend from childhood - an Aspie like myself - the world of her experience is divided into two categories: "scandalous" and "peachy." She has lived out years of her life assigning experiences to these two groups. And because her adjectives are not too common, she has succeeded in getting her point across with minimal annoyance to the listener. Saying things that lack the annoyance factor . . . this is key.

I once went out with a guy who soon proved to be an Aspie. He told me he really didn't have any interests, aside from viewing art galleries, which is what we were doing on our date. To top off the lack of broad interests, he described everything he talked about as "insane" - not a very good descriptor, and obviously not true.

Come on, Aspies - as my off-the-spectrum friend says, "We all need to broaden our horizons." Try coming up with a pair of new buzzwords, and test them out!

How this topic applies to Christian Living:

Luke 14:34
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Just Follow the Script

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Boredom with small talk
*Following scripts when interacting
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Intense loyalty to friends

To illustrate the way Aspies follow scripts in social situations - sometimes inappropriately - I will tell the story of how my friend could have badly hurt my feelings if I hadn't been an Aspie myself and understood where he was coming from.

I called up my friend and asked if he and his brother would come over to my house the next day. "I have decided to have my dog put down," I said. "She has just been sick for too long, and she's starving to death. It's the right thing to do. . . . But I'd like to have you guys over to give me something to do to keep my mind off it. I've already cried enough."

"Sure, we'll come over," my friend told me.

When my friends got there the next day, my doggie had gone to doggie heaven, and I didn't really want to talk about it. That was why I'd invited the guys, knowing that if I invited a girl, she would be all sympathetic and weepy, whereas the guys would be practical and dry-eyed. My theory worked. They did not ask any questions about how it went at the veterinarian's office.

However, my friend DID ask an innocent question that could potentially have made me mad at him for good. He asked: "How was your day?"

The first thought that popped into my head when he asked that was, "How do you THINK my day went???" Then, the second thought as I saw his face cloud over, realizing what he had done, was: "He's just following a script. It was thoughtless, but he definitely didn't mean to hurt my feelings."

I breezily responded, "I went to the library and borrowed a few more books." And the crisis was averted.

Next time one of your friends says something that hurts your feelings, check and see if they're following a script. "How was your day?" is a standard question that people ask at dinnertime, and if you're not one for small talk, simple questions like that can pop out at the wrong time occasionally. Live and let live. We've all made bloopers.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

John 14:19
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

Newlyweds - Flashback to 2012

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Much time spent on introspection
*Intense loyalty to friends
*Honesty and bluntness
*Loneliness or isolation

I wrote the following journal entry on September 18, 2012, after I had been married nearly five months. It delves a little into the topic of Aspies married to Aspies, and how that dynamic works. . . .

I'm concerned because I don't want to write my blog anymore, and I have no good reason to quit. So I'm hoping that if I journal some more, I'll get the other pressing thoughts off my mind and have room to plan what I'd like to write for my blog.

My life has changed so much since I started the blog, and maybe thinking about Asperger's traits just doesn't matter so much to me now that I'm a wife and about to become a mother in six months or so. My deficient energy and motivation is a much bigger concern to me at this point. So is my moodiness. These are the "unhappy" aspects of my chronic conditions [fibromylagia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and bipolar disorder]. Dealing with Asperger's syndrome is like playing a game by comparison! That's why I chose to write about Asperger's in the first place - it is something I actually seem to have "fixed" or "overcome."

Asperger's syndrome is not an ongoing stressor in my life. In fact, James's [my husband's] Aspie traits just make him that much more lovable to me, because it means I can understand him in a way few other have been able to do. I identify with him, and I don't judge him. He is the same towards me.

Sometimes I feel that James admires me more than I deserve. One of the best things about my relationship with James is that I can tell him whatever is on my mind - even it I'm ashamed of it - and he really wants to listen! He likes for me to tell him the truth, even the unhappy parts.

Last night, James was nuzzling and kissing me, and I grinned and said smugly, "I'm getting attention!" James brought that up again this morning and said he likes giving me attention. Isn't that splendid? I have long ago discovered that people thrive on attention.  It's sad to think that James went a long time without getting much attention from anyone. . . . I'm so glad to be the one who gets to give him extra special attention for the rest of our lives.

I hope I'll know how to give him enough attention even after our baby arrives. I think giving the baby attention together will count as quality time with each other. There will be those looks we'll share of amusement or astonishment or horror at what the baby does. I'm looking forward to that.

How this topic relates to Christian Living:

Galatians 5:14
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this;Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Otter and the Workaholic - Guest Post by Sarah

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Rule-bound behavior
*High IQ and high level of talent

So I’m soaking up some rays and reading a book on my dock. Suddenly, a splash rips my eyes off the page! I see bulges of sheeny creek-water pop into two wet otters, which scurry up the bank as fast as they can! Then I hear crackly leaves and see one shimmy down the bank 40 feet away and weave up and down in the water, finally diving beneath a mass of water hyacinth. Those two were playing!

I smile and watch that otter as long as I can. How fun! Is that what they do all day? I sometimes wish that were the case for humans… but there are always dishes and laundry and cleaning and yard work and the inevitable paycheck to be earned to pay for one’s keep. Sounds like rather the dull prospect.

But it’s good to work. Who wants to be labeled lazy? Moocher? Captain John Smith instituted that famous rule in Jamestown: “He who does not work does not eat.” I like my food, thank you very much! And I do not want to be a bum.

Work is also rewarding. It really is fulfilling when you succeed and accomplish a task. I love when I’ve raked up a yard, or meticulously crafted a student’s IEP, or created an awesome poster, or developed a “pedagogy-ally brilliant” lesson plan. When something glints in my students’ eyes and I know they got it- that’s the best feeling in the world!

But why have I worked? ‘cause it’s what I went to college to do? Duty? Student success? My paycheck? Pay the rent? Buy stuff? Maybe a mixture of each?

Colossians lays out what a worker’s motives should really be: “work heartily” like we’re doing it for God and not for our bosses. “You are serving the Lord Christ.” “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him.” Ouch!

Recently, I met someone whom I hadn’t seen in years. Catching up, I laughed, “I’m kind-of a workaholic.” Why’d I say that? What a description! Do I want to be known as that? Um… no!

But it was true. I was working and busy and… well… not playing. And as you know, all work and no play… yup. A workaholic? That’s bad enough, but I don’t want to be dull, too!

Maybe if I’d had those right motives, I wouldn’t have over-worked myself. It wouldn’t have been so hard. God gives balance if I ask for it, right? Neither lazy nor workaholic, neither dull nor outrageous. Moderation in all things…

Unmoderated, unbalanced, one gets tunnel vision. A person is aimlessly turning that grindstone. But what about the sunshine outside that window of the mill?

I thought of a section of C. S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters. If you’ve never read this highly amusing book, it consists of correspondence between a mentor demon Screwtape and his protégé demon Wormwood. In chapter 13, Screwtape berates Wormwood for letting his human charge read an enjoyable book and for letting him relish a walk through the country. These “real” pleasures, Uncle Screwtape said revealed the silliness of the man’s self-pity, and removed “the kind of crust” that the disciple demon had been building up on the man. I like that thought. I don’t want to be crusty either.

In this world we have tasks and jobs to do, duties and responsibilities. We are to do them for God’s glory… but God has also provided a beautiful world full of beautiful places and activities to enjoy. A mix of both work and play is a wonderful thing. Here’s to the balance. Here’s to imitating otters.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

I Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.