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Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Two Cultures

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty learning to relax

Some of my readers may have caught on that I am a missionary kid. I spent nine years of my life in Japan, with my parents. I studied Japanese hard, and became conversationally fluent at about age 16. I love both Japan and the USA. I have been living in Florida since 2001, with two extended trips back to Japan since that time. Please enjoy the irony contained in my two lists below.

Reasons Americans are lovable:
  • Individuality 
  • Forward-moving projects 
  • Sense of humor 
  • Flexibility and freedom 
  • Focus on fun 

Reasons Japanese are lovable:
  • Group mentality 
  • Careful consideration before action 
  • Serious mindset 
  • Meticulous attention to detail 
  • Focus on education 

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Romans 16:26-27
. . . .By the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Write Like a Rock Tumbler

The Asperger's traits in this post include:
*Prefer routine and structure
*High IQ and high levels of talent
*Much time spent on introspection

When I was 13, I had a rock tumbler. It was a red barrel with a lid, and it was hooked up to electricity, which made it rotate on its base for several weeks, 24 / 7. The rock tumbler took ordinary stones and several coatings of gritty paste and produced glorious, shining stones that were worthy of pendants on necklaces.

I write like a rock tumbler.

I stick in ordinary thoughts and gritty opinions, and mull them over and over in my mind. That is why when I type blog posts, I type up final drafts. I've completed the rough drafts in my head before ever putting fingers to keyboard. I revise as I go along, and then do a final proofreading, run my articles by my mom and dad as my critics, and then click publish.

I write with pencil and eraser every day, carrying a little notebook with me for random thoughts and ideas. I've currently got nearly 50 ideas for blog posts jotted down in that little notebook!

But I produce polished stones - I mean, polished essays - on the first or second try, and revise as I go along. Sometimes I think I hit backspace with my ring finger more than all than the other keys combined!

Occasionally, I take out my notebook and scrap paper jottings, and type up the words on Microsoft Word. I organize the thoughts into file folders for the various ongoing writing projects I'm working on. Later, I sort and combine the disconnected thoughts. I also keep a quotes book for ideas I pick up from reading, TV, or just my own quotable thoughts. All these activities are helpful to me as a writer in the realm of organization.

But for blog posts . . . I write like a rock tumbler. Do you?

How this topic applies to Christian living:

John 14:26
[Jesus said] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flashback 2014 - Change

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty learning to relax
*Anxiety and depression
*Much time spent on introspection
*Difficulty communicating

I have always hated change. Even when I got engaged to the wonderful man I married, I bawled for hours because I could sense that with that one domino toppled over, all the rest of the dominoes would follow. And boy, was I right!

I got married on April 23, 2012. We had our baby girl on March 14, 2013. It has been a wild, marvelously adventuresome experience to start a new family.

And yet I still feel sometimes that change is wrong, just because . . . it's change.

Well, here is a list I wrote in July of 2014. The list is entitled: Ways I Have Changed Since Becoming a Mom. They were not necessarily connected with raising a child, but having that child and my happy marriage had made me more open to change than ever before.

I mentioned this list to my mom's cousin and told her I had changed 24 ways. She was unimpressed. "That sounds about right," she said. Well, what do you know? I'm normal after all. 
  1. Fewer slacks and more skirts / dresses 
  2. No more earrings 
  3. Bobbed hair 
  4. Kerchiefs as head coverings in church 
  5. Hospitality tea parties 
  6. Neighborhood walks 
  7. More alert to baby's needs 
  8. More energy to get up early 
  9. Singing special music at church 
  10. Making more craft favorites 
  11. Tried Pinterest 
  12. Fewer Facebook chats 
  13. Witnessing more persistently 
  14. Praying with more confidence 
  15. More loving towards my husband 
  16. More church-rotating 
  17. Crafts for missionaries 
  18. More clear insight into God's Word 
  19. More thankful for God's provision 
  20. Realizing that I am a writer and a song-writer 
  21. Getting prepared for homeschool 
  22. Better able to ask for help 
  23. Officially a soul-winner 
  24. No longer fearful or worried - instead, OBEDIENT! 

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s Not Funny!

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Much time spent on introspection
*Intense loyalty to friends
Off ran Mary past the sandbox.  Off ran Amy beyond the slide.  And there I was, straddling a bar, deserted by my playmates, and struggling to get down.  Other kids were always faster.  It wasn’t fair.  I had been trying to learn to somersault over the playground bars, but, unlike my nimble friends, I didn’t quite have the “hang” of it yet.

Mary was a ten-year-old tomboy with an older brother and sister to pick on her.  Amy, while she liked to read and sing, was friendly and athletic.  I, on the other hand, was an only child who would rather stay indoors and cross-stitch than climb a tree or run a race.  I was the oldest, having turned eleven in August, and my legs were long.  But sitting still was my habit, and I disliked playing tag.

When I finally swung off the bar to the ground, I hurried after Amy and Mary, crying, “Hey!  Don’t run so fast!”  Panting, I caught up with them at a blue but rusty double swing.  They were sitting together on one side, giggling their heads off.  I wondered why.  I gripped the cold metal swing and leaned forward.  Then I saw the opposite seat.  It was covered with water!  Very funny. 

“I’m not going to sit in a puddle,” I huffed.  I tried to squeeze in between my two chums.  Why wouldn’t they stop laughing?  Amy’s high-pitched giggle rang in my ear.

“It’s not funny!” I yelled suddenly, and I saw my palm come down hard on Amy’s head.

“Sharon Rose, that was rude,” Amy said, all the laughter gone from her voice.  And she stepped out of the swing and walked straight ahead.  Amy’s brown bobbed hair was straggling.  Strange . . . her hair almost always flounced.

I stared after Amy in shock.  The enormity of what I had done came with a sickening lurch.  I heard Mary say, half-jokingly, “I was laughing too.  Why didn’t you hit me?”

I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t realize that I had hit Amy, and I couldn’t understand why.  Sharon Rose, the missionary kid, had never struck anyone before.  Why would I do it now?  And if I were going to hit someone, why not a bully, instead of Amy, the preacher’s kid, who didn’t mean any harm.

The two girls got off the swing and strayed apart.  Neither one of us comprehended the quarrel, which had seemed to come out of thin air.  There was no fun in swinging now.

I tried hard to think of a reason or an explanation for my misbehavior.  I supposed the. . . the exclusion had angered me.  Amy had been MY friend first.  Mary also had been MY buddy, before I introduced the two of them.  I wanted them to be friends with each other, of course, but not without including me.  It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t nice.

Amy trudged across the sand and into the library.  I felt that a wilderness had come between me and my special friend.  I didn’t know how to make things right.  I was used to doing what was right and good, and so being mean bewildered me.  I wanted to keep Amy’s friendship, but I had never had this problem before, and didn’t know how to solve it.   

Mary and I followed Amy slowly.   Peering into the library, we found Amy looking down at the floor.  Mary pulled me in by the arm and said, with the air of a peacemaker, “Sharon Rose has something to say to you.”  Then she disappeared out the door.

But I couldn’t think of anything to blurt out.  I knew the proper phrase would be “I’m sorry,” but I hated saying I was sorry even more than I hated being wrong.  Oh, I felt awkward.  Why didn’t Amy speak?  She was so cheery most of the time, but even hearing something unkind would be better than silence. 

Of course, I was very sorry, but my mouth wouldn’t say it.  I thought of asking, “Does your head hurt?” but that would be dumb, and I was never dumb if I could help it.

Giving up, I shrugged, left Amy in the doorway, and wandered over to a wooden bench.  I put my head in my hands, leaning my elbows on my knees.  I couldn’t tell how long I sat there, so perplexed and ashamed. 

Then I felt Amy coming towards me, and I looked up timidly.  Amy smiled!  She held out her hand and said with energy, “Let’s make up.”

“Yes, let’s!”  Delighted by such an easy ending to the quarrel we'd been in, I shook my friend’s hand vigorously.  It was my same hand that had struck out, before I'd thought what I was doing.  But that was all forgiven now.  I was forgiven! 

Mary had been watching the reconciliation from a distance.  Now she skipped up, grinning at her pals.         

I jumped up immediately, and we all ran off together.  Amy, Mary, Sharon Rose - all three were laughing.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Abnormal? Narrow? Obsessive? Who, Me?

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Abnormal fascination with special interests

So. Do you think my interests are broad enough, O thou off-the-autistic-spectrum neighbors, who have broad interests?

Here's my list, little changed since I was a child . . . . 

Alphabetical Order
Biblical Faith
Card Making
Classic Literature
Dramatic Theater
Home Decorating
Interrelating With People
Japanese Language
Loving My Family
Low-Sugar, Vegetarian Cooking
Mental Illness
Missionary Kids
Watching Figure Skating
Watching Ice Hockey

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

How this topic applies to Christian living:

James 1:17a
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.

Up and Down the Spectrum | 3 Games for Kids

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
* Difficulty learning to relax
* Boredom with small talk
* Intense loyalty to friends

Since Asperger's syndrome is considered to be on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, my question is: Can a person slide down the scale to be lower-functioning at a certain point in life? It's pretty well agreed among Aspies that moving upward on the spectrum is a real possibility, as experiences are gained and maturity is increased.

Now, my Asperger's traits have placed me quite high on the spectrum since my diagnosis at age 18. I definitely had learned and grown to earn that place on the spectrum.

Now, I'm wondering if I'm slipping back towards low-functioning autism. Is that even possible?

I'll tell you why I'm curious about this: I've been ROCKING. I catch myself sitting in a chair or on the sofa, and rocking side to side or front to back. And when I'm in bed, it feels so good to thrash my head rapidly back and forth on my pillows.

I've always considered rocking to be something autistic people did. There's also spinning - something I loved as a young child and into elementary school. My friends loved spinning too, and we invented two fun games involving spinning, besides the fun of spinning while on a swing with the chains wrapped around each other. Our parents thought these behaviors were normal, and I think they were, too.

If you have kids who like to spin, go ahead and read about the games my friends and I made up.

1) The Shoe Game - Everyone in the room takes off the shoes and flings them into the middle of the floor. Then we spin around and get dizzy while trying not to step on any of the shoes. No winners or losers.

2) The Statue Game - One person is the spinner, and she holds the hands of another kid and lets go without warning, so that her friend freezes in that shape as a statue. Then the customer comes and the statue store clerk tries to sell a statue. This involves pressing levers on the statue to make it move! Whichever statue is picked by the customer gets to be the spinner next.

3) The Billboard Game - This is not a spinning game, but who doesn't love to have something for the kids to do while riding along the highway? My friend would ride I-95 from Delaware to Pennsylvania and back. We strained our eyes to see the billboards coming up, and whoever called out a word from that billboard first, earned one point. We lost a point if we accidentally called out a word on a billboard for beer or cigarettes. (We were preacher's kids, after all - and Baptist to boot!)

How this topic applies to Christian living:

I Kings 8:66
. . . They blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Ride My New Bike

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

* Difficulty learning to relax

I had finally learned to ride a bike. And now, my mother was coaching me on taking various turns on the bike. This was a white and purple bicycle, a beautiful girls' bike, which had been a surprise present from my parents.

I remembered how my parents had gotten me out of bed one Saturday with the promise of a surprise downstairs. I'd been excited and happy – until I saw what the surprise was. The thought that hit me with the devastation of fear was: “Oh, no. Now I'll HAVE to learn to ride a bike.” Up until then, the only bike I'd had to practice on was a yard sale find. But this was a new, shiny bike, and I guessed it was expensive. I thought, “Oh, no. Not this. I don't want to learn to ride a bike. It's too hard.”

Mama helped me and helped me, first on the old and plain bike, then on the new white and purple bike. But I didn't like practicing. It was really not fun. I wanted so much to run inside all the way up the stairs to my third-floor bedroom and play with paper dolls and stickers instead. That was what I thought was fun. I could not understand why other kids liked riding bikes.

But it was no use saying that I just didn't want to. Every kid had to learn to ride a bike. It was a rule. Plus, I was already eight years old and I didn't want to ever have to tell another kid that I couldn't ride a bike if someone asked. I wouldn't tell a lie, but it would be so embarrassing to have to say I couldn't.

Of course, “knowing how” and “being able to” weren't exactly the same. I had “known how” to ride a bike for several years. To ride a bike, you had to sit on the seat and hold the handlebars and then push the pedals with your feet. But why wasn't it easy for me? Why?

And then one day – finally – it was easy. This time, Papa was helping. He was holding the back of the bicycle seat for me while I pedaled, and he was running along beside me. All at once, I looked around and spied Papa back behind me, smiling and panting to keep up. But he wasn't keeping up!

I thought, “I'm riding a bike. I have two choices. I can get scared and think I can't do it and quit and fall off. Or I can believe that I really am riding the bike and that I can do it now and keep going.” I kept going.

That day, Papa and I had big news to tell Mama when we got home! “And Mama,” I told her, “you were really right that if I go faster it's easier to balance and stay on the bike! I didn't believe you at all, but that's just how it is. It doesn't make sense, but it works!”

Later that week, I was practicing my new moves out in the back parking lot, which was spacious and quiet. Mama called out, “Now do a figure eight!”

So I did a figure eight, and fell off of my bike, and went splat on the pavement. I was pretty shook up, but not actually hurt. I staggered to my feet, and yanked the bicycle by its handlebars. The handlebars were twisted around backwards, but I didn't care.

I didn’t care, because my mother was laughing at me. I had never known I could feel this angry at anybody. I had never felt this angry at my mother in my whole life. I stubbornly pushed the bike up to the grass, dropped it, and strode away from that cursed bike and into the house. I climbed all the stairs to my third-floor bedroom, and hid in my “bed-chamber” - which was the corner behind my bed’s headrest.

Usually, I went to my bed-chamber to read or cut out paper dolls. I had a lamp and a blanket there. But other times, I also went there to be alone and to cry. This time, the tears weren’t coming, but the anger was still intense. Why does every kid have to learn to ride a bike anyway? I’d been happier before I ever sat on a bicycle seat.

And now, Mama was coming and knocking on my bedroom door.

I did not say, “Come in,” but Mama came in anyway.

“Sharon Rose? I’m sorry I laughed at you, sweetheart. I was just so relieved that you weren’t actually hurt.”

I sniffed. “Are you sorry you told me to do a figure eight when it was too hard for me?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” replied my mother. “I am so proud of how brave you are to keep trying at something that is hard for you. You know, your schoolwork has always been easy for you, and I really think it’s important for you to try activities that are difficult at times. Does that make sense to you?”

“Like playing the piano, which is also hard for me?” I asked.

“Yes. I want you to keep taking piano lessons and keep practicing hard, because I believe it’s good for you, and so does your Papa.”

“Okay,” I said with a long, drawn-out sigh. "I guess I could learn to like bicycles someday. At least, I won’t give up after one spill, but I still don’t like riding bikes like the other kids do.”

“I love you, Sharon Rose,” said her mama. “Do you forgive me for laughing at you?”

“Yes, of course. But it really did hurt my feelings.”

“I know. Now let’s go down to the kitchen and get some ice cream sandwiches out of the freezer. Falling off bikes might make you work up an appetite, right?”

“You know, this time, I think you are right,” I answered.

How this post applies to Christian Living

Luke 6:31
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.