Friday, November 30, 2012

Graphic: USA Loss of Service Cascade from Electromagnetic Pulse Bombs

Graphic: USA Loss of Service Cascade from Electromagnetic Pulse Bombs | Aug 22nd 2011

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Categories: Resilience,Threats,True Cost


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Circle dedicated to @di_sss


Edie Brickell

Me, I'm a part of your circle of friends
and we notice you don't come around
Me, I think it all depends
on you touching ground with us.
But, I quit. I give up.
Nothing's good enough for anybody else
it seems.
And I quit. I give up.
Nothing's good enough for anybody else
it seems.
And being alone
is the best way to be.
When I'm by myself it's
the best way to be.
When I'm all alone it's
the best way to be.
When I'm by myself
nobody else can say goodbye.
Everything is temporary anyway.
When the streets are wet --
the color slip into the sky.
But I don't know why that means you and I are
- that means you and....
I quit -- I give up.
Nothin's good enough for anybody else it seems.
But I quit. I give up.
Nothing's good enough for anybody else it seems.
And being alone
is the best way to be.
When I'm by myself it's
the best way to be.
When I'm all alone it's
the best way to be.
When I'm by myself
nobody else can say...
Me, I'm a part of your circle of friends
and we notice you don't come around.

In Loving Memory of Martin S. Weisbart, Rest in Peace



The Positive Traits of Aspergers - AutismAid

Aspergers 101: The Basics - AutismAid

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Asperger’s and OCD – Obsessional Behaviours, Diagnosis and Treatment Options || AutismAid

Asperger’s and OCD – Obsessional Behaviours, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

by Carol Edwards,
November 30th -0001

CBT DipHE (D) Dip.ocd (D) ASD credits – CRB Checked

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome, often referred to as Asperger’s or AS, comes under the umbrella for Autistic Spectrum Disorders which is a complex developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to the people around them. The term autistic spectrum is often used because the condition varies from person to person. For example, some individuals who have accompanying learning disabilities are usually placed at the less able end of the spectrum, while others who have average or above intelligence are placed at the more able end of the spectrum (Asperger’s).

Despite the various differences, everyone with the disorder has difficulty with what is known as the ‘triad of impairments’. These are:

  • social interaction and social skills
  • social communication
  • social imagination

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is characterised by intrusive thoughts, ideas and images which often follow compulsive behaviours. These can be overt and also covert. For example, an individual whose OCD variation revolves around contamination fears may openly display an urge to repeatedly wash her hands (overt); whereas a person who suffers from disturbing thoughts and images may try to cancel these intrusions out by using a counter phrase or praying ritual in his mind (covert). Both behaviours serve to reduce the anxiety brought on by these intrusions, but only momentarily.

Unless there is an autistic overlap or other pervasive developmental disorder, a person with OCD usually does not present with problems associated with the triad of impairments.

Social imagination

In this article, we’ll be looking at the triad to distinguish what the driving force behind obsessional behaviours mean and whether the findings suggest if a person has developed social imagination or not. Observing how a person reacts in response to his compulsions or rituals can provide us with clues; therefore, let’s consider two individuals with obsessive behaviours:

Jack has an obsessive compulsion where he feels compelled to line up food items in order of size in the kitchen cupboard while Jill repeats a ritual which involves lining up a collection of ornaments in a cabinet in the family’s lounge.

While Jack is generally an honest person, he has none-the-less learned to use deception to manage his OCD. In other words when he is prevented from doing a ritual he uses his imagination to find ways to figure out how to complete the act. For instance, while watching TV, Jack’s wife often prevents him from repeatedly checking that there isn’t a tin, bottle or packet out of place in the kitchen cupboard. This increases Jack’s anxiety but he wants to avoid conflict; therefore, he uses every trick up his sleeve so that he can fulfil his compelling need to check. Using deception provides him with the opportunity to relieve himself of anxiety, e.g. making up the excuse that he’s ‘just nipping through to the kitchen for a snack’.

Now let’s consider Jill’s obsessional behaviour. Basically, the imagination is in the act itself which is part of her daily routine. When Jill lines up the ornaments she experiences organised satisfaction, rather than anxiety relief. When Jill’s mother tries to stop her, explaining that they have to leave for Jill’s scheduled appointment, Jill feels extreme annoyance to the point of anger, just like any person might if they were for example prevented from finishing their housework or something else and in the order they do it. The confused interaction between mother and daughter causes such distress that the appointment has to be cancelled.

What does this mean?

First, Jack can work around his compulsion because he understands that his thoughts affect his feelings and thus behaviours. The thought is ‘A bottle is out of place in the kitchen cupboard’ which follows with the feeling ‘When I’m prevented from checking, my anxiety rises’, which leads to deceptive behaviour, e.g.‘I’ll pretend I need a snack’. To add to this, Jack is not only able to understand the connection between his own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, he is also capable of grasping the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of others, hence the deception towards his wife. This tells us that he has developed social understanding which fits neatly with the ‘theory of mind’ (Baron-Cohen et al 1985*). What’s sad however is that while Jack goes to ridiculous lengths to perform his compulsions, he knows the behaviours are attributed to OCD, not him, and he wants to stop.

Second, we’ve already established that Jill’s daily routine involves lining up the ornaments in the family cabinet. Her behaviour when prevented from doing this reveals that social imagination might be lacking, e.g. faking illness to avoid going out so that she can stay home and finish her ritual. Further, the difficult interaction with her mother and her inability to grasp that failing to turn up for an appointment can be problematic for others involved indicates that her obsessional behaviour is stereotyped and therefore characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome. Jill fights her own corner honestly and has no conscious thoughts about whom and what the obsessional ritual is attributed to, and she doesn’t want to stop. So does this imply a lack of social imagination meaning Jill has not developed a theory of mind? Possibly, but not necessarily as it could be that this area of functioning requires intervention to help tease it into consciousness thus improving social awareness and world perception.

*Theory of mind

Baron-Cohen speculates that having a theory of mind is what gives us the unique ability to work together and execute complex interactions. In other words we are able to understand that we and others have minds with knowledge, feelings, beliefs, motivations, intentions, and so on, which includes presuming our own and others mental states and then being able to explain and predict the behaviours arising from this. Humans are able to assess that others may hold false beliefs about themselves and the world around them. Baron-Cohen’s research suggests that individuals on the autistic spectrum lack a theory of mind and therefore do not have the mental capacity to imagine the world from the perspective of others, which includes failing to question beliefs about themselves or others. They apparently live in a state of certainty in terms of what others may think about them; that is, what someone says is what they mean, and so on. You can find more information on this topic at: titled ‘Does the autistic child have a theory of mind?’

Treatment for OCD

Some say anxiety is the source of OCD which suggests a neurobiological condition to which pharmacological treatment in the form of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) is the primary tool. Others suggest it’s the other way round in which case a psychological approach to the problem is favoured. The psychological model is viewed from a social learning perspective, is specific in its approach with its cognitive and behavioural strategies and involves exposure response prevention (real or imagined). Its aim is to target obsessions, compulsions and doubt resulting from three underlying factors that maintain OCD: 1) fear 2) anxiety and 3) threat. Depression may also be a factor, which is often secondary to OCD, a result of the disruption caused in a person’s life. There is some evidence which suggests the cognitive approach is as effective as the medical approach (SSRIs) in terms of this treatment modifying biological parameters (Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders: However, the level of OCD severity and secondary depression is not overlooked here in which case medication combined with a biobehavioural approach is often an option.

A cognitive dilemma for those with Asperger’s

The cognitive approach casts doubt for those on the high end of the autistic spectrum, which is, since this type of therapy challenges the individual’s belief system and focuses on bringing awareness of the psychological features of OCD, how does this fair when it comes to treating individuals with the disorder if they also have Asperger’s? With regards to Baron-Cohen’s theory and this being correct and in terms of those with AS sharing some features of autism, there is however no delay in language and cognitive development; so the answer in most cases has to be that the prognosis is good.

Back to choosing the right treatment options for OCD

The right choice of treatment takes into account many more factors than already discussed, such as whether pharmacotherapy should be considered, for instance, if a client refuses psychological treatment or has poor response to behavioural methods. Likewise, behaviour therapy might be the appropriate choice if the client refuses medication or if drug therapy is ineffective, if the client is pregnant, is a child etc. Further, a combined approach might be considered a better option because it offers the best of both treatments, especially if the client’s condition has become entrenched over a number of years and/or if the person has depression or other overlapping conditions, or another distinguished disorder such as Asperger’s or Bipolar. In extreme cases, hospitalisation may have to be discussed as a treatment option, such as when a client’s condition is so debilitating that the person whose contamination fears for example are so severe that she isolates herself from other people, including family members; and to which her overall health (and her family’s well-being) is clearly at risk.

What happens when the wrong diagnosis is given?

A true diagnosis for both Asperger’s and OCD can often be confusing. I have known children and adults diagnosed with AS whose traits include aversions to foods touching each other, social avoidance, touch issues, and so on, only to find these features were associated with contamination fears and other OCD problems. I have also come across people diagnosed with OCD appearing to present with contamination fears associated with food, who have later revealed that they preferred their food placed on their plate in a particular order, not because they feared getting germs from food items touching each other. Some individuals also found social interaction difficult because they were touch-sensitive, not germ obsessed which is more likely to be characteristic of Asperger’s, not OCD. These examples only touch the surface but the bigger picture suggests there might be some ambiguity regarding certain statements/questions when determining diagnosis. Thus it is crucial that the person is clear about what box he is actually ticking during assessment for either (or both) diagnosis. Further, be sure about what questions are being asked and what they mean during an assessment before answering.

How to tell the difference between an OCD and an Asperger’s behaviour

To help clarify the difference between an OCD obsession to one relating to AS is to recognise that an OCD episode usually follows three stages: a) a trigger situation b) the obsessive content immediately after the trigger situation and c) the compulsive behaviour that follows to reduce anxiety. In contrast, an Asperger’s obsession could be a preoccupation with detail. Consider the true example in the following scenario:

George is in a pub with his colleagues, John and Sarah. John puts his glass on the table which is an inch out of line with Sarah’s. George is very aware of this and he is finding it difficult to engage in social interaction. This is an OCD trigger situation but his distraction could easily be confused with having a lack of social skills, indicating an Asperger’s trait. The thought content that follows George’s trigger situation is that his mother will die (magical thinking) if he doesn’t align John’s glass with Sarah’s. His anxiety rises but he doesn’t want to appear ridiculous so he distracts John and Sarah by standing up and deliberately tipping his own drink over (thankfully there was only a mouthful left) to which he surreptitiously brings Sarah’s glass forward to match John’s (compulsive behaviour). What makes things socially worse for George is that he is equally concerned with the mole (or shall we say beauty spot!) on Sarah’s upper lip – this type of obsessive focus during interaction suggests a symptom of Asperger’s, especially because the beauty spot didn’t fit quite centre with the philtrum (middle of the upper lip and below the nose) which could have triggered a further OCD episode in terms of  alignment or symmetry obsession, but it didn’t because the attention was on detail; that is, the beauty spot itself, nothing else. Here there are two separate conditions going on at the same time but what is interesting is that George’s OCD incident highlights that a theory of mind is intact (social imagination); however, this is (or appears to be) absent during the ‘beauty spot’ situation. If we gauge George’s OCD at 75% and his Asperger’s at 25% then this becomes clear in terms of a muddled social imagination. Imagine however if the percentage is turned the other way around. Now predict what it must be like for someone coping socially with 100% criteria for Asperger’s. The point here is that each person’s situation is unique to which they deserve a unique intervention plan to decipher their confusion and help them cope better in what must be at times a socially incomprehensible world. The earlier treatment is applied the better because behavioural traits can become fixed over the years, which means intervention might prove more challenging not only for the individual but also for the practitioners involved.

Note to parents and care-givers: for those presently diagnosed with Asperger’s and PDD-NOS please be aware of the proposed revision in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fifth Edition (DSM-V) for the forthcoming decisive factors in changes to diagnostic criteria at: of Asperger’s Syndrome. The new DSM-V edition will be released in 2113. You can find more information on these crucial changes at: titled ‘What Changes May Mean’.

My Thoughts

As a qualified CBT therapist, specialising in OCD and Asperger’s, my aim is to separate each set of symptoms from the other in terms of providing a suitable intervention plan for the individual. I have seen social perception problems in those with and without AS and therefore keep an open mind about Baron-Cohen’s theory since each person is unique; therefore using complementary therapy in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy to help change faulty perceptions to conquer OCD for those with or without Asperger’s (which would include additional management of behaviours associated with AS, e.g. social interaction) would be better than no treatment at all. The changes in the DSM-V for 2113 might mean the individual’s diagnosis is altered or eliminated, but this will not change the person, so unless treatment changes, my premise is that CBT (which may or may not include pharmacological intervention) continues for the present to be a favoured option for those with or without a formal diagnosis.

Contacting Carol

We hope you found this blog post insightful. If you are interested in working with Carol for the treatment of OCD, she offers an on-line rapid intervention plan for OCD. It takes into account the needs of those on the high end of the autistic spectrum. At the time of writing she is working on a similar plan for children and adolescents.

The rapid intervention plan is a 12 week  lesson and support package in one since I believe it’s important for a person to not only understand OCD but also their own OCD, which includes those with AS traits. Personal feedback from me is forwarded with each completed lesson.  After the course comes to an end, six weeks free on-line therapy is offered.

You can connect with Carol from her website or check out similar articles on OCD on her blog

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Some Huge Mind Shifts Going On

Some Huge Mind Shifts Going On

by Angel,
November 26th 2012

I had a major mind shift yesterday, after reading a reply to one of my comments I left on another blog. I am not going into that one today. However, that huge nugget of truth and revelation led me into solidifying pieces of puzzles that I have been trying to connect for years. The revelation that I finally understood was that I am worthy. I am worthy to have not only my basic needs met, but to be treated with dignity and respect. In the mind spin that I had I also uncovered a major source of self-attacks and negative self-talk – confusion.

Confusion about how people treat me has led to my constant negativity toward myself. 

Because I would see others treat people, differently than they treated me I assumed that there was something wrong with me. Because people continued to dismiss me, ignore me, disregard my wants/needs, invalidate my existence, yet, they would do for others or they treated others with respect, it would send me into spiral of confusion. The confusion was mostly from being incredibly frustrated by feeling that it was wrong and undeserved, but since I had been invalidated my whole life, even made to feel like a burden or wrong for asking for my basic needs, I did not feel as if I had a right to express how I was feeling. If I did, I was invalidated and made to feel as if I had done something wrong for standing up for myself. At some point, you tire and give in.

I admit though, my social confusion enhanced this because I did not know if it was right or wrong. 

Everyone seemed to treat me as a second-class citizen, so if everyone does this it must be true. That was my irrational logic. It was not true, everyone did not treat me like that, but I managed to draw and stay connected to people who convinced me otherwise. David said this yesterday, “You think of yourself as sub-human. It has been confusing because you step out and do things that prove that you are intelligent and creative, but then you spend all of this time convincing yourself that you are a sub-human.” I have based my entire existence on the way others have treated me because I had no sense of self. I realized that something that caused me great confusion and denial of self is how others have “led me on.”

Being led on is a horrible thing for me. 

I am extremely devoted, loving, and forgiving. Once I allow someone into my world they are there for life – the issue is that I have continued to allow people into my life who do not do the same thing. They do not care as much I as do. They do not intertwine their connections and devotions, but they also do not express that. They “pretend” or possibly want to, but are incapable of giving to the relationship. While I acknowledge, admit, and embrace my part of not understanding the social cues or the “signs,” the people who have led me on do bear responsibility for their actions.

I can go down the list of people who have led me on. 

They include family members down to friends. Relationships of all kinds have caused me confusion because of the “leading on” situations. The friend I spoke of who never contacted me back, whether she meant to or not, led me on. She gave the impression that she cared and wanted to continue interactions, but then shut down. I have so many stories like this. One of the worst was my ex-boyfriend who actually led me on for almost four years with absolutely no intentions of getting back together with me. He continued to be my friend; he called me on my birthday, or during random times throughout the year. I would stay at his house when I came to visit on vacation. He acted as if he was into me. I will not go into the details of what happened; I may have already on here. The bottom line is he kept me around and now I believe until something “better” came along.

It stroked his ego to have me devoted to him. 

It strokes anyone’s ego to have a person like me. Someone who is willing to forgive rotten behavior and not flat out tell them that their actions suck. It feels good to have a person like me to tell them how great they are because I see the good qualities in them, but the truth of the matter is other people would tell them that they are full of it and they would not put up with it. People at some point learn that they have self-worth and do not deserve to have anyone treat them “second best.” I use him as an example because I learned a lesson from that experience however, over the years I managed to twist it into somehow being my fault.

I felt so stupid and embarrassed because I did not understand.

This caused me to believe that somehow it was my fault and it must have been because I was not good enough. I finally, understand the root of these thoughts and they stem back to my childhood. I know with clarity that it is not true. I was taken advantage of, made to feel like it was my fault for not “seeing the signs,” made to feel stupid, but it is not entirely my fault. They are at fault too. I clearly remember asking people directly, “Is this the end? Are we no longer friends? Should I just go now? Are we done?” I ASKED these things. I wanted to know and they would lie to my face.

They would say that they did not want me out of their of life. 

I am sure they did not feel like they were lying, but they were. I have a history of my father telling me that he was going to come get me, or come see me, then, something would come up. He would have to cancel and if I got upset, it would be turned into how I needed to understand. I was made to feel guilty for not being ok with it. I was a child! As an adult, I do understand the reasons when it happens, but I still have a right to be disappointed and hurt. I needed to be allowed to do that as a child. There was one point when my mom got so angry with my dad for canceling on me that she forced him to start telling me. Before that, he made her do it and she could not take it any longer. She could not look at me and try to make up excuses for him. I believe that my dad’s own guilt was turned onto me, which caused a series of issues in my mind.

I also, believe that because of this I have always sought after men throughout my life who do the same thing to me. 

I have continually, cared for men who put their conveniences, wants, and selves above me. I believe that I chose girls to be my friends who were like this as well. All I ever wanted was equality, respect, and to be treated with dignity. They did not do that. I feel sick, but I realize that I have been seeking the love of my dad through men and women friends who treated me the way he did as I was growing up. (As well as how my mom treated me, but that is another whole post.) I think this is one reason why David and I butt heads a lot too – he is nothing like that. He does not mess around and says what he has to say. (Well, there have been times when he did not – there is a lot wrapped into our communication and marriage that I am not ready to process yet.) Sometimes it is not in the best way, but we have been working hard on our communication with each other. We finally concluded that our children deserved that. They deserve to see parents who communicate and respect each other.

That is our goal despite any hurts or struggles we have in our marriage. 

I do not know if others have been deeply hurt and confused by being led on by others, but I find it to be one of those hidden social rules that can lead me into self-destructive paths. Not anymore. I did some research and found a post that really helped me to process and see that I am not the only one at fault. Those people who lead others on are responsible for their actions. It is wrong. It is far better to tell someone the truth and allow them to accept, process, and heal. I will share some of the post in closing, but here is the link I Didn’t Mean to Lead You On..Or Did I?

“I don’t think most people set out to lead someone on or mislead them. Sometimes it happens organically: the intention is there but something or someone else comes along and you get distracted or find yourself losing interest. So you keep putting them off and putting them off, telling yourself you’ll make time for them. There’s a question as to whether we know what we’re doing in those situations. Do we know we’re not interested and are deferring because we just hope the other person will tire of trying eventually? Or do we tell ourselves we are actually interested but just crazy busy or somehow otherwise engaged? Can it be both?”

This may sound harsh, but I believe that those who know that you are an Aspie and they lead you on bear a greater responsibility. If they know your struggles and inability to read social rules than, they should be as straight forward as possible and if they are not at some point it just feels plain cruel.

“[Like I said above…]there are a lot of people who walk around feeling not the slightest bit guilty for how they treat others. They have convinced themselves that they are not responsible for someone else’s feelings. And the thing is? They’re not. Nobody can force us to stay hurt and angry. While the initial pain we feel might not be something we can control, it’s a choice to remain in that space in our head. We might never get that apology we crave. We sometimes have to give ourselves that closure.  And that’s going to have to be enough.”

This whole post was great, but I pulled this paragraph out because it has a lot of healing for me. 

I have great pain when I feel like I have no control. It causes me to loop, have anxiety, become fearful, and on guard waiting for an attack. As I read this though, I see that none of that matters. I do not have to live with the repercussions of how someone else treated me. I do not have to accept their treatment as being my fault. I do not have to figure it out or try to understand what I could have possibly done to make it right. We all have to live with ourselves, the way we treat others, I chose to treat people with respect, and now that includes myself. There are those who will continually feel as if they bear no responsibility for how others “interpret” their actions, but eventually something or someone will come around and shake up their world. It’s up to them if they want to wake up, and change for the better, or they can have peace in discovering that they are narcissists and do not give a “BLEEP!” Oh, I’m kidding.

Whatever, I found freedom today and I will cling to it. 

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Nightmares: An Experiment in Anxiety Management by @Aspiemusings || AutismAid

Nightmares: An Experiment in Anxiety Management

by musingsofanaspie,
November 24th 2012

Warning: This contains some nongraphic descriptions of violent/disturbing nightmares. 

I have a lot of nightmares. If the statistics at WebMD are correct, I fall into the 2-8% of the adult population that has nightmares more than once a month. I’d love to know the percentage of people who have nightmares more than once a week. I bet that would make me feel really special.

Lately, though, I’m getting fed up with the nightmares. I’m ready to get myself into the 90+ percent of people who don’t regularly dream about being chased and assaulted.

Locating the Source of the Problem

Recently I began to suspect that my nightmares were related to my Asperger’s. Since finding out that I’m an aspie, this has been my default explanation for anything out of the ordinary.

Some digging through the PubMed database failed to turn up any research strongly linking nightmares and autism. Autistic kids are known to have a very high incidence of sleep disorders (look for a separate post on this next week). Some studies reported that as many as 80% of children with ASD have some form of insomnia. But nightmares haven’t been strongly linked to autism in children and, not surprisingly, there were no studies on sleep disorders in autistic adults.

My next stop was Google. If Asperger’s wasn’t to blame, I needed to find a likely suspect, and where better to hunt for clues than the internet, right?

Visits to WebMD and the International Association for the Study of Dreams turned up good background information about adult nightmares. I scanned through the common causes: medication or withdrawal from medication/alcohol, late-night snacking (because it increases metabolism), a traumatic event, PTSD, anxiety, stress, depression.

Aha! There it was. Anxiety. Asperger’s was to blame after all.

Sort of.

Connecting the Dots

Since I’ve been paying closer attention, I’ve noticed that my nightmares fall into two categories: violent or rage-filled.

The violent nightmares are closer to what most people think of when they think nightmare: being chased, being attacked, being seriously injured. The threatening person (or people) is always a stranger. The dreams used to end in me being seriously injured or nearly dying. A few years ago they shifted. Now the violent dreams almost always end with me seriously injuring or killing the attacker(s). If this sounds like an improvement, trust me, it’s not.

The rage-filled nightmares are characterized by me getting extremely angry with someone I know and blowing up at them. I’m not the kind of person who screams and rages at people in my waking life, so doing it in a dream is strange and disturbing. The rage feels uncontrollable and far more extreme than anything I’ve ever experienced in a sustained way while awake. It feels like I’ve snapped.

Over time, I’ve noticed a pattern in when I have nightmares. I can go weeks without a bad dream and then I’ll have a string of nights filled with long vivid nightmares.

The trigger for each of the types is specific, too. The violent nightmares usually follow a day where I’ve had a frustrating social encounter with a stranger or acquaintance–something that’s left me feeling tongue-tied, inadequate or embarrassed. The rage-filled nightmares usually follow an unpleasant interaction with someone I know. Often that person will be the target of the rage in the dream.

Armed with this analysis, I went off in search of remedies.

A Possible Solution

One of the most common suggestions I found for reducing nightmares was journaling. I’ve tried journaling in the past, unsuccessfully, because part of my brain spends the whole time going “why are we writing this if no one is going to read it?” But the underlying principle of using journaling to process my anxiety makes sense.

My hypothesis about my nightmares: When a trigger event occurs, I’m not processing the feelings associated with it. The lack of processing in my conscious mind is forcing my subconscious to process the feelings, resulting in the unpleasant dreams.

So here is my Aspergarian solution: a spreadsheet. I’m going to track suspected trigger events and nightmares–along with a couple of other variables, like hormonal fluctuations–to see if there’s any relationship between the two.

Ideally, I’d also like to recognize triggering events and try to conscious process the feelings associated with them, no matter how unpleasant that might be. Avoiding them obviously isn’t working. Maybe making a deliberate attempt to look at the triggering situation, acknowledge what I’m feeling and then tell myself that it’s okay to feel that way will diffuse the power of the triggering events and lessen the frequency of the nightmares.

I’ll be back in a few months with a post about how this works.

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When Good Grades and Talent are not Enough by @AspieWriter || AutismAid

When Good Grades and Talent are not Enough | Nov 27th 2012

I was a terrible actress.  Who needed improvisation anyway? At least I still had my dancing.

I struggled to hold on to that part of me, the one thing that was mine, my identity as a dancer. I knew I was good at it, and I practiced and obsessed about its perfection.

Junior High School was approaching and I was hoping to go to Mark Twain, a Junior High School in Coney Island. It was a school for gifted students requiring entrance (academic) exams, interviews, and talent auditions.  In addition to excellent academics, students needed to demonstrate a talent in one or more areas of the arts.

Despite my rarely doing homework, and spending many of my days banished to the hallways, academically, I remained at the top of my class.  Thanks to my hyperlexia, by the third grade I had an eighth grade reading level, and by the fifth grade, a twelve grade reading level. Step one: top grades, and high passing scores on the entrance exam; check.

I breezed through the entrance exams.

Step two consisted of choosing two talents; that was tough. Dancing was a given, but I played no musical instruments, was not confident in my singing ability, and my drawing and painting was mediocre at best. That left acting, so acting it was. I had training and experience on stage, and preparing a monologue was right up my alley—no interaction with anyone else needed.

The dance audition was first. I chose a solo piece I’d recently performed from Swan Lake—on pointe. Every step was in tune, every movement graceful, and every pirouette perfect. I nailed it, and I knew it. Smiling judges applauded; I was beaming.

“Now we are going to play a random selection of music for your freestyle dancing. Just do whatever comes naturally.”

What? My heart sank. I stood there staring at the panel of four judges, three female, and one male. No-one told me, I had nothing prepared, no plan, and no idea what to do. I stood there even after the music began.

“You can begin,” a voice came from the table of judges, and so I did.

I began, at the beginning of my prepared ballet routine. I adjusted for the pace and the tempo of the music, which was something out of Flash dance, but that did not make my attempt at freestyle dancing any less ridiculous.

It wasn’t until years later that I understood what was expected that day. That they wanted to see how I would move on a dance floor. When the music started to play, could I dance? Did I have any rhythm?

The rest of the day went by in a teary blur. My monologue was rushed; my face was flushed red from fretting over the dance scene that confounded me. The same unpleasant surprise awaited me at the end of my prepared piece.  The instructions: “Pretend you are alone at a school dance.”

I stared down at the polished wood floors, and paced back and forth watching myself turn red in the mirrors before sitting down in a chair against the wall.

I glanced up to see four sets of eyes on me. Twisting my hands in my lap I began to mumble, “I shouldn’t have come here today; I want to go home.”

The call for the entrance interview never came.

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Fighting off your demons by being active

Fighting off your demons by being active | Nov 30th -0001

I came across an interesting story that’s worth a look, especially if you’re the type that is battling unhealthy patterns in your own life.

The story opens with the tale of Mishka Shubaly, a writer, author, musician and an admitted recovering alcoholic. He took up running and found it to be an excellent substitute for drinking. He’s now an ultra runner and is clean and sober.

It’s a great personal story, but the piece I was reading goes on. It talks about laboratory tests on rats which showed animals exposed to addictive narcotics and other drugs were less likely to consume the drugs when they had access to an exercise wheel.

Exercise, it would seem, can be an excellent way to fight addictive urges.

I’ve never had an addiction to alcohol or drugs, but I can attest to the cathartic and even healing properties of exercise. Physically, the endorphins are just good for the mind and soul. And that’s on top of the physical benefits.

Mentally and emotionally, an exercise habit has similar properties. I know a lot of people who seem to be “addicted” to negativity. They focus on their problems. Or politics. Or whatever. They’re not “happy” unless they have somewhere to direct their anger, fear or sorrow.

Last week I was running trails and not feeling particularly strong or ambitious. So I slowed down, stopped and took a look around. High on a hill but still in the woods, I got a good glimpse of some beautiful countryside. I hadn’t really stopped there to look around before, but I’m glad I did. That was time well spent, and a positive mindset ensued.

Contrast that to the person who is reading about the latest political conspiracy, dire prediction or other piece of bad news on the Internet. Or the person compelled to slam down another shot or take another hit.

Addictions don’t all have to be about substances. But escaping them can, at least in part, be found in being active.

I’m curious to see how these studies evolve. And if we’ll see more stories similar to that of Mishka Shubaly.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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US Mumbai plotter to be sentenced- Headley

US Mumbai plotter to be sentenced

David Coleman Headley The FBI said Headley attended militant training camps in Pakistan

Related Stories

A Chicago man who pleaded guilty to checking targets for the 2008 Mumbai attacks will be sentenced on 17 January, a judge has ruled.

David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American, entered a guilty plea on 12 counts in a Chicago court in 2010.

Headley initially denied the charges but changed his plea to avoid the death penalty or extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark.

The attacks in Mumbai claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

Headley faces a life in prison with no chance of parole, reports say.

The sentencing of a former friend of Headley, Tahawwur Rana, who was convicted of aiding Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba blamed for the Mumbai attacks, has been scheduled for 15 January.

Born in Pakistan, Headley, 52, is now a US citizen and worked as a businessman in Chicago.

He made several surveillance trips to India and Denmark and, according to court documents, passed on information to his contacts within the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Headley was arrested by FBI agents in Chicago in October while trying to board a plane for Philadelphia.

He is alleged to have told prosecutors that he had been working with Lashkar-e-Taiba since 2002.

He was first charged with plotting to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten after they angered Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008 and the attacks targeted a railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre

Last week, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman in the attacks, was hanged in a prison in western India after India's president rejected his clemency plea.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New York City celebrates day without violent crime

New York City celebrates day without violent crime

Police officers in New York on 2 November 2012 Monday was not an especially busy day for New York City's police officers

For the first time in living memory, New York has spent a day entirely without violent crime.

The city police department's chief spokesman said that Monday was the most bloodshed-free 24-hour period in recent history.

Not a single murder, shooting, stabbing or other incident of violent crime was reported for a whole day.

Despite a July spike in homicides, the city's murder rate is on target to hit its lowest point since 1960.

Just a few months ago, residents were living through what one tabloid newspaper called the "summer of blood".

Aggressive prevention tactics

Despite the fall in homicides, statistics point to a 3% overall rise in crime.

A New York detective recounts his days running the anti-pickpocket unit

There has also been a 9% increase in larceny, which police blame on a surge in smartphone thefts.

But killings are now down 23% compared with last year, which represents a 50-year low.

There have been 366 murders so far this year in New York City, compared with 472 at this time last year.

Experts say such a low number of homicides is highly unusual for a US city of eight million people.

Gang-plagued Chicago, Illinois, has chalked up 462 murders this year, despite having a population of about 2.7 million people.

There have been 301 murders in 2012 in the city of Philadelphia, which has 1.5 million people.

Some experts are praising the New York police department's aggressive crime-prevention tactics, notably the so-called Stop And Frisk policy, which has rooted out dozens of illegal guns.

But critics argue that it has led to hundreds of thousands of young blacks and Latinos being stopped without cause.

Voter Apathy Linked to Fraud and Security Concerns by ELyssa Durant, Ed.M. © 2012


Voter Apathy?


Uploaded by on Mar 1, 2012
Laptop stolen just before the election, turns up at a strip club that got shut down for operating without a license. Voter Apathy or common sense. Wackenhut at it's finest.

Gee—with all the bitching we do about voter apathy, low voter turnout, and then about the people who are ultimately elected by the few who do vote; the media seems to be making an awful big deal about the upcoming primary elections.

The deadline to register for the upcoming primary was today, January 7, 2008.

Yet, in the midst of it all, I just received a letter dated January 2, 2008 along with approximately 370,000. Coincidentally—this is roughly the same number of TennCare recipients who were dropped from the rolls (dis-enrolled due to reform) just a few years ago]] people that my personal information (including my social security number) has been compromised due to a break-in at the Davidson County Election Commission on Christmas Eve in Nashville, Tennessee.


I cannot be the only one who is wondering how this will affect voter registration, turnout, or “apathy” in the future.

Ironically, as an additional side note, the state of Tennessee just happened to pass new, “progressive” legislation regarding identity theft the very same day the “warning” letter was mailed. It is almost too much of a coincidence, don’t you think?

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I am still trying to wrap my head around this one!

Publication: The City Paper; Date:2008 Jan 08; Section:Front Page

From The Powers That Beat

Answering the call by asking the right questions...

Citypaper.comments viewpoints from our
Web site: Nashville City Paper


“…I just received a letter dated Jan. 2, 2008 along with approximately 370,000… people that my personal information (including my social security number) has been compromised due to a break-in at the Davidson County Election Commission on Christmas Eve in Nashville, Tennessee. I cannot be the only one who is wondering how this will affect voter registration, turnout, or “apathy” in the future. Ironically, as an additional side note, the state of Tennessee just happened to pass new, “progressive” legislation regarding identity theft the very same day the “warning” letter was mailed. It is almost too much of a coincidence, don’t you think? Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I am still trying to wrap my head around this one!” — elyssad, in response to “Councilman wants independent audit of Election Commission,” Jan. 7.








Obsessively picky - @Aspienaut - WIRED differently || AutismAid

There is something terrible in that feeling when the realisation hits.  First you check your pockets, then the door, then your pockets again just in case lint has metamorphosed magically into your door keys.  Then because you still can’t quite believe it you try the door again.  All of this happens in a matter of a few seconds until finally you accept your reality.  You have locked yourself out.  Then the magnitude of your predicament sinks in.  Your phone’s indoors, with your wallet and ID.  Your landlady is away, not that you have her number, it’s indoors!

When the above last happened to me I ended up walking 2 miles into town to the local locksmith, who then told me he couldn’t help but had a number of an mobile emergency locksmith who could.  I phoned and left a message.  Several hours later he arrived.  By this time I was just pleased to see him but was more than a little conflicted when he told me that to have access to my own home I was going to have to pay him £75.00!  I felt powerless and so I paid.  He walked up to my door, removed from his tool box a thin square of plastic, slid said plastic down the side of the door and frame until it was level with the locking mechanism.  Then with a deft wiggle of the card and a little pressure on the door, hey presto, the door opened.  It took him literally 5 seconds, about the same time it took me to write his cheque.  I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.

This was how my most recent obsession started, by paying someone £75.00 to open my door with a piece of plastic.  I had to learn how to do this, I had to learn what this man knew.  So, I read and read all I could get on the Internet about lock-picking and locks.  I bought a book and a set of picks.  I bought a set of training locks, I bought some pad-locks, I even bought some special plastic squares just like the locksmith used and I practiced and I practiced.  For about a month, locks and lock picking was all I could think of.  I’d dream about locks, talk about locks, think about locks.  While watching the TV I’d have a padlock in one hand and picks in the other.  Gently lifting each pin of the lock whilst applying the gentlest pressure until hearing that satisfying click of the lock popping open.

As with many of my obsessions I had to learn everything I could up to a point that was practical.  I learnt how to open standard cylinder locks and pin locks and how to open my door as quickly as the locksmith.  I learnt all about tension wrenches, picks and rakes.  I learnt all I could right up to the limit of what I felt I needed to.  I stopped at mortice locks and knew that unless I was actually going to train as a locksmith I had learnt enough and with that the spell was broken and I resumed my normal interests.  I do however, still carry a small lock picking set with me and regularly leave my keys at home so I’ll have to pick my way back in.  

I never know when the next obsession will happen but during that time, for as long as it takes, I’ll learn everything I can until I’ve learnt enough.  It has always been this way and I’m sure it always will be and I for one hope it doesn’t stop, because this is one of the best things about being an Aspie.  When we apply ourselves to something that interests us we can achieve a great deal, often much more than many think possible.  

© Paul C Siebenthal Oct 2012.

Powers That Beat by @ELyssaD™: Embracing my life with Aspergers

Embracing my life with Aspergers

For me, learning I had Aspergers was a huge relief. An "OMG" moment... you mean there is a name for it?

I have always been different.

I find the ordinary world ridden with useless scents, sounds, noise, and people.

People that lie, manipulate and hate.

Manipulative people are a mystery to me. Why not just ask for what you need?

I have always been one to give people what they need. Not necessarily what they want, but what the need.

People don't need that loud blaring music or strong scented perfume.  All it does is provide a distraction. One I can live with out.

When asked questions, I tell people the truth unaware that the truth is not what they want to hear. Kinda like, "do these pants make my ass look fat?" my reply might be, "no your ass makes your ass look fat."

Not exactly what people want to hear, huh?

I notice other behaviors and "oddities" that can now be attributed to Aspergers... not liking to be hugged by strangers; difficulty dancing with people other than myself.. I want to ask, "what do I do with my hands?"

I still get lost in my own head, my own home, my own neighborhood... but I'm finding my way... I may have gotten here a little later than most, but hopefully points are given for starting late and finishing strong.

My life with Aspergers is just beginning... I have much to do...

For now, that's all.

Just me,


Autism and early exposure to traffic pollution linked || AutismAid

Autism and early exposure to traffic pollution linked

by Melissa Healy,
November 26th 2012

In a finding that points to a link between environmental toxins and autism, a new study shows that children who were exposed to the highest levels of traffic-related air pollution during gestation and in early infancy were three times more likely to be diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder than were those whose early exposure to such pollutants was very low.

The study, published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that early exposure to high levels of air pollution in general was linked to an increased likelihood of autism in a group of more than 500 children followed for several years from birth. The researchers gathered regional air quality data and used detailed calculations to estimate the air quality around the residence in which a child's mother spent her pregnancy and the resulting child spent his or her first year.

Their findings suggest that the link between air pollution and autism is evident largely at the highest levels of exposure, and slightly higher when the exposure comes later in a woman's pregnancy. The strongest link was found between exposure to nitrogen dioxide -- a pollutant found plentifully around freeways -- and autism, while exposure to particulates was less strongly linked to autism.

The researchers found that the link between traffic-related air pollutants held steady after they took into account parental education, ethnicity, whether a mother smoked during pregnancy, or how densely populated the region was. That suggests that the finding is not just a backhanded way of capturing some link between autism and the socioeconomic or demographic factors in which a child is raised.

The study refines earlier findings by the same authors that linked autism to a child's living near a freeway.

While the authors caution that this link is not proof that air pollution causes autism, they do suggest there are several ways in which air pollutants could influence the development or function of a child's brain in ways that could result in the sorts of neurodevelopmental problems seen in autism. Diesel exhaust particles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are present in traffic pollutants, have been shown to interfere with gene expression important in healthy brain development. Other research suggests that traffic-related air pollutants induce inflammatory reactions and oxidative stress in the brain and throughout the body.

The article was one of three studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry probing autism's possible origins and its effects on the brain. Those come at a time when the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in U.S. children has skyrocketed. In the last six years alone, it has increased 78%.

Collectively, the studies "point to an urgent need for more research on prenatal and early post-natal brain development in autism, with a focus on how genes and early development combine to increase risk" for autism, wrote Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks and a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Excitement, Impatience and Waiting by @EmmasHopeBook || AutismAid

Excitement, Impatience and Waiting | Nov 26th 2012

The day before Thanksgiving a facilitator, P. came over to work with Emma.  I met P. at the AutCom Conference in October and asked him for some guidance in helping Emma communicate more effectively through typing.  And while Emma is verbal, she can voice basic desires, has even begun to comment on things going on around her, she has not communicated more complex thoughts.  I know Emma is intelligent with a great many ideas and interests.  I want to help her express herself in whatever way proves most advantageous, whether that is verbally, through typing or some other, still unknown, way.   I want to help her be a full participant in this world so that she can have choices and options available to her.

P. has facilitated people for several decades, so I felt confident he would be able to help me learn how I can help Emma better and was excited to have him work directly with her while I watched.  We started with a number of apps, Emma had no trouble pointing, using her index finger to match words with images that she knows.  But in the past when it comes to typing an idea, Em will usually type, “yes” or “no” and then repeat the question, which is what she was taught to do with her most recent literacy program.  I am hoping Emma can be encouraged to move beyond that.

As P. worked with her, slowing her down so she couldn’t simply repeat what had been asked, holding her arm at the elbow, putting up some resistance to her desire to type quickly, reminding her to write what she was thinking, asking if that’s what she meant, I felt tremendous hope.  P. asked Em to bring a book she liked.  She brought him a collection of fairy tales and plopped the large book on the table in front of him.  Em chose to discuss Goldilocks and the three bears.  Most of what was typed were fairly simple ideas about the bears and Goldilocks and the havoc Goldilocks causes (much to Em’s delight.)  But then P. asked Em what she would do if she went into her own bedroom and found baby bear in her bed, Em typed, “I would be scared and I would watch his mother.”

I read that sentence several times.  How can I describe the feelings that came with reading it?  How can I express the surge of hope I felt?  How can I possibly describe the feeling of euphoria?  This sentence, this idea was beyond what I have come to expect.  It suggested a whole other level of thinking, a thought process far beyond anything she has been able to express before.  It was a terrific idea, one I have discussed with both children during the summer months when we visit my mother in Colorado where we often see bears.  I have warned the children that if they encounter a bear, especially a mother with her cubs, to not get between them, to keep their distance, to keep their eye on the mother and to make loud noises.

But Emma wasn’t finished.  She then typed, “By the way, this is a very sad story.”  I was astonished.  I had a million questions.  Emma has never spoken this way.  Ever.  ”By the way” is something both Richard and I say, both in jest as well as seriously.   Em has never uttered these words, let alone typed them.  And why does she think it’s a “sad story”?  What strikes her as sad?  Which part or does she think the whole thing is sad?  It is sad, I thought and then I Immediately went to,  I have to become trained in facilitated communication.  I have to find a way to communicate like this with Emma.  As I am not able to become trained in facilitated communication in the next 24 hours, I made an appointment to Skype with P. in another week, which feels like an eternity, and will try to do whatever I can to continue to learn so that I am better able to help my daughter become an independent communicator.

Between now and that Skype call, I am doing my best to manage my impatience, my excitement, my hopes and dreams and the reality that my daughter has a great deal to say and boy do I want to hear it all!

Em & P.

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True friends by @Aspienaut || AutismAid

True friends

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Bloggers, Writers, Autism and a Huge Amount of Hope by @EmmasHopeBook || AutismAid

Bloggers, Writers, Autism and a Huge Amount of Hope | Nov 13th 2012

When Emma was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified) in 2004, I was lulled into believing it was a temporary condition, nothing that a few years of therapy wouldn’t resolve.  I saw it as a kind of throw away diagnosis, not exactly full-blown autism, more like a mild version of something that resembled Autism, but wasn’t.  Kind of like a bad cold, not exactly a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics, but troublesome never-the-less and we’d have to ride it out.  Besides, I reasoned, just because many of Em’s behavior looked autistic-like, seemed autistic-ish, she probably wasn’t autistic because, well, no one really understood what autism was and so how could she be labeled something that no one understood or really knew what it even meant?  Or so my thinking went.  During this initial period I kept my eye out for any Autistic adults I could find, just in case, you know, she really was autistic, I wanted to know what we might expect.  I found none and concluded that since I couldn’t find any, there must not actually BE any to find.

Still, just on the off-chance I was somehow wrong, I kept looking.  Every now and again I’d find someone, read everything they wrote or said and conclude that my daughter wasn’t really like them or wasn’t like them enough to give me much hope that they were good examples of what she might be like later in life.   (In retrospect, since Em wants to be a singer, I should have been looking for performers who are autistic, but even so, would, most likely, have come to the same conclusion.) By the way, I have never met a neurotypical adult who seemed like an adult version of my neurotypical son, but this thought didn’t occur to me for a great many years.  Despite all of this, my search continued.

In 2005 Em’s PDD-NOS diagnosis officially became “autism”.  As time went on and my thinking continued to change, Emma remained Emma with all her “Autistic-like behaviors” very much in place and I continued to grapple with what this meant.  I wasn’t one of those parents who understood that regardless of her neurology, she was who she was and it was all good.  I bought into the autism is like cancer idea, and therapy was chemo.  (This idea was very popular back in 2004, though I hope it has waned.)  It took me awhile to question this thinking and it took me even longer to see how these beliefs made any “therapeutic” program somewhat reasonable, because, after all, nobody signs up to have chemo and talks about what an enjoyable experience it is.  The idea that Autism is NOT cancer, that this thinking in and of itself leads us down a very dark and dangerous path was something I didn’t come to until much later.

Now fast forward to this morning.  This morning I read a terrific post, The Princess, Her Socks and Her Late Pass on a wonderful blog I’ve begun reading regularly by Aspie Writer called, Twirling Naked in the Street and No-one Noticed, (love that title) which she describes as “A blogged book: Growing up with undiagnosed autism”.  Reading her post about how she hated wearing socks, (so does Emma) how the fabric bunched and the seam on her toes hurt and how the socks had tiny rocks in them that no one else could see or find, kept reminding me of Em.  Aspie Writer recounts how she was always late to class and keeps saying over and over, “I have to see Mr. Hiler for my late pass.”  It is a wonderfully written description about a baffling behavior.  She does such a terrific job describing her actions and words that they made total sense to me.  Not only was I able to identify with her thinking, it gave me a little glimpse into some of Em’s seemingly baffling actions or repeated sentences.

And I was reminded (again) of why reading blogs by Autistic people is of such vital importance to me.  It’s not because I think to myself, oh Emma is going to become this person when she’s an adult.  I don’t assume that because Aspie Writer is married, a mom of 3 and a wonderful writer this will be Emma’s future.  I haven’t met a single adult, autistic or otherwise who seems to be just like either of my children.  How could I?  There wasn’t an adult version of me when I was a child and I’m certainly not an adult version of anyone else’s child.  It’s kind of a ridiculous idea when you stop to think about it.  And yet, that’s what I wanted for all those years when I was searching.  I wanted to find someone who seemed just like Emma was.  I wanted this desperately because I was so fearful of her future.  Yet, all those autistic adults who are not exactly like my daughter  are the very reason I am no longer fearful and why I have so much hope.

Blogs, both the writing of this one and finding those written by Autistics have changed my life.  Blogs are a slice of life, immediate and interactive.  I can read a post and “like” it, comment on it, even though I may or may not get a response from the writer.  I can then tweet the post out, share it on Facebook and engage in a dialogue with the writer if they care to respond.  The immediacy of blogs is compelling, engaging and makes the reader feel more apart of than when reading a book.  Books are wonderful too, but they’re different.  They do not have the interactive element to them that makes blogging so wonderful.  Blogging is very much about “us”.  We, whether as a reader or writer, have the opportunity to become part of the process, a part of “them”.  Another aspect of blogging is – anyone can blog.  You don’t need an agent, you don’t need to even write “well” (though there are many wonderful writers who also blog), you just need to want to write.  So you have a great many people who may never have bothered to look for an agent or publisher, who are writing and because it’s a casual writing form, you also find some amazingly beautiful blogs written with honesty, unedited, raw and complex.

To all the Autistic people who are sharing your stories, your words, your lives, whether by commenting or by having a blog of your own or both, here’s a very loud and heartfelt thank you!  You are making a difference.  You have changed my life.  How does “thank you” even cover the enormity of that?  It doesn’t.

Emma – 2003

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Acting The Part by @AspieWriter || AutismAid

Acting The Part | Nov 26th 2012

By the time I was nearing the end of elementary school, I had learned how to live by a script. I learned by watching television, by looking at magazines, and by reading books. In the fourth grade, I learned about my having a period by reading “Are you there God, It’s me Margaret”, by Judy Blume. I read, and re-read that book many times during the fourth and fifth grades.  Margaret became one of my best friends.

“I love my books; all my friends live in there!” ~Me

My friends often lived inside my books, and the television set. I imagined interactions with the characters, and tried to think of what they would say in different situations.  Every interaction was played out in my head before it happened—if I could foresee an event.

For instance if I were to contemplate asking a friend to come over to our house to play, I would have the conversation over and over again in my head before approaching the girl. Many times my own words sounded stupid when I played them and I decided not to offer an invite.

After an interaction, I’d replay the scene hundreds of times judging if I sounded “stupid”. I imagined what could have happened if I said this or that, often berating myself for saying the wrong thing.  My voice, my words were usually wrong so I tried to become other people, to take on other personas.

I tried to be the beautiful model in the picture hanging on the wall of the hair salon. If I could be her then all the girls would want to be my friend. This particular model had extremely short hair, shaved in the back with longer waves on top. The kind of hair you can only get from having professional stylists work on it for hours before a photo shoot, which is something I failed to understand at the time.

I wanted to be her, I wanted that haircut, and so my mother allowed the hairdresser to cut my hair short—very short.

I didn’t look like the model, in fact, I looked like a boy! I of course was unaware of this fact until I went to school the next day.

In the fourth grade a boy’s haircut does not a popular girl make, so I had my ears pierced. For sure now with pretty studded earrings I could not look like a boy, but at school my pretty ears did nothing to detract from my head.

Pretending to be someone else became an obsession. I watched my grandmother’s stories (soap operas) and picked out characters to emulate—definitely not the best role models. When I found out that they were just actors and actresses playing a part, with a script, I knew I needed to be an actress.  I could do a script, and I was already used to dancing on stage so this would be a cinch.

Scripts are just like dance routines, they were choreographed for you and as long as you follow the script you are doing it right.

Anything I want to do, I want to do perfectly. People often tell me that practice makes perfect, but that is not true.

“Perfect practices makes perfect.”

If you routinely practice something the wrong way, you will always do it that way. The only way to achieve perfection is to practice perfectly. I afforded myself no room for error—ever.

I knew nothing about acting so the logical thing to do was to go to acting school.  Vanessa and I convinced our mother’s to sign us up for an acting school in Manhattan.

There was an audition to be accepted. We created our own Toys R Us commercial to include acting, dancing, and singing—it was mostly dancing and singing. We practiced until we had every step and every word down perfectly.

I remember riding the train to the city, excited that I was going to be an actress. The possibility of this not happening, never crossed my mind.

The audition went well and we were accepted. Vanessa and I spent many hours learning how to act, and for the most part it was an exciting and fun experience. The problem happened when one day we were given no scripts—improvisation.

Our assignment was to perform a simple silent skit, no words, and no props of any kind. I felt the ball bouncing around in my stomach, the tears welling up in my eyes. My insides felt like they were shaking; panic was setting in.

I could not do it—I wound up acting out the task of making macaroni and cheese in my kitchen.  It was the disaster that ending my acting school career.

Although I continued to try to adopt different personas looking for a person that I could be, I was not very good at the task. I was able to adopt a precious few, but had tremendous difficulty switching between them, rearing from the carefully constructed script. Not all personas work in every situation.

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(Un)Disclosing Autism in the Workplace by @AspieKid || AutismAid

(Un)Disclosing Autism in the Workplace

by AspieKid,
October 21st 2012

I was bullied a lot during several periods of my childhood. I had no idea why. I never did anything to any of those people. None of them had anything to prove to me. Many of them didn’t even know me. And I used to wonder and worry about it so much. It was like they were intentionally trying to ruin my childhood. Childhood is such an important time in a person’s life, and mine was mostly destroyed by people who had less interest in living their own lives than ruining mine. I often wonder how I would have turned out if I had been allowed to have a happy and peaceful childhood. I’ll never know.

And it wasn’t just the bullies. Everyone in my life seemed to be in on the conspiracy. My parents forced me to go to school, under the pretext that I was getting an education there. But I never felt like I learned much in such an environment. My teachers thought I was weird and looked the other way when kids picked on me, even when they became physically violent with me. Nobody cared. I was on my own. And if I ever fought back, then I was the one accused of being the violent person. I had no one I could turn to and nobody, not even my parents, seemed to care or even believe me. It caused a lot of confusion and mental anguish.

As an adult, I often think back to those times, trying to somehow understand it all. Why did it happen? What did those kids get out of doing all that stuff to me? Are they in better positions in life because they bullied me when we were all kids? I still don’t get it. But I understand society better now than I did when I was a kid and I think it is partly because of societal competition. People pick on the most vulnerable, so they can legitimize their position in the social hierarchy. I never understood why we need a social hierarchy at all. Societal competition is a product of the neurotypical world. I never wanted anything to do with it.

Workplaces are just like schools. Everybody competes to make it to the top. I never watch TV, but my brother tells me about a show called Survivor. Have you heard of it? I know nothing about it. But it sounds exactly the way most schools and workplaces seem to me. I don’t feel like autistics are a problem in society at all. I feel like it is the cutthroat dog-eat-dog neurotypical part of society that is the real problem. As a matter of fact, I honestly believe that neurotypical behavior will some day drive the human species to extinction. Not to generalize too much, because I have had some great neurotypical friends. But unfortunately the nice neurotypicals do not represent the majority, at least not in the United States where I live. The workplace setting seems no better than the schools where people were free to bully me with impunity. Most people delude themselves into thinking they have matured and grown up, but most of them are no more mature than they were when they were 8. Who are they trying to fool?

I found a way to make it through all of that somehow. I figured out how to find my own little corner in most workplaces where I can be productive and earn a little income. I see all of the competition in the workplaces and I am careful to stay out of it. I don’t want to revisit the events of my childhood, especially not now that it is my career. Decades after all of that happened to me, I still live with the confusion from it. I still know that there are people out there who committed crimes against me who will never be brought to justice. I know what it is like to be a Jew growing up in a society of Nazis. The people who say that competition is somehow good for society are, quite frankly, insane. Societies collapse because of competition. Societies thrive when there is cooperation. As long as we insist on having this highly competitive society, then I will insist that I be left out of it.

A few months ago, only a couple of miles from where I live, a guy walked into a movie theater and started shooting people. He hasn’t been cooperating with the investigators and has refused to discuss his motive. But we do know that he was in a PhD program at one of the most competitive universities in the United States, had failed an important exam and dropped out of the program. Is this what competition does to people? When our society forces people to prove they are better than others and puts their career, their means of survival on the line if they fail, isn’t society partly to blame for these events? And one irresponsible and unprofessional journalist, whose disgraced name is not worth mentioning here, had the nerve to suggest that the shooter must have been autistic. Even after such a tragedy, a neurotypical journalist had the nerve to exploit the shooting in order to wage more war against autistics. Hatred prevails. The war never ends.

I don’t want to be a part of that war anymore. I don’t want to be one of the people on Survivor. Anything I say in a workplace can and will be used against me. So I exercise my right to remain silent. After a statement is made, there is no way to take it back. The cat is out of the bag at that point. Rumors spread. People gain each other’s trust only to stab each other in the back. I’ve seen it happen many times. People in my industry talk to each other. They pass information from recruiter to recruiter. How could I ever deal with the fallout from telling coworkers or a boss that I am on the autism spectrum? I would have no way to control it. And everyone is looking for a way to climb on top of each other so they can get ahead. Some of them will destroy your life just to prove they can do it. I don’t need any more of that. I don’t want to give people ammunition they can use against me. I would rather be left out of the societal war. So I remain a closet autistic in the workplace.

Autism acceptance is up to neurotypicals. It is not something that autistics should have to beg for. Neurotypical behavior and attitudes have to change. Not the other way around.

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True friends ask of you nothing / The ground on which I lay : @Aspienaut : WIRED differently || AutismAid

True friends ask of you nothing / The ground on which I lay : Aspienaut : WIRED differently | Nov 30th -0001

They spin and they turn, they turn and they fall, fall back to the ground, the ground on which I lay. I am above and beyond, in any way that you could ever understand, above and beyond in all things, I am at this point….Happy!  Happy in the truly absorbing spectacle of the spinning, the spinning and the turning, the turning and the falling.  Over and over, again and again.  There is never too much, there is never enough of this. There is never ever too much, again and again, I scoop and throw, scoop and throw, the sycamore seeds.  My perfect, spinning, turning, falling friends!  Who spin and they turn, they turn and they fall, fall back to the ground.  The ground on which I lay.

© Paul C Siebenthal Feb 2012

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Racism evident behind some US social media

Racism evident behind some US social media


In the decades since the civil rights movement helped end segregation in the US, openly racist language has largely disappeared from public discourse.

Yet the re-election of America's first black president on November 6 sparked an ugly outburst by some students at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Racial slurs initially made in posts on Twitter and Facebook were soon repeated at an impromptu anti-Obama protest where campaign posters were also burned. Meanwhile rumours of a riot on campus spread on social media.

Researchers say the incident has highlighted how some people are more prepared to voice racist views online than in person. And how social media can be used to mobilise people who share those views very quickly.

Social media was also used to bring together hundreds of students for a candlelit vigil the following night. The university authorities said the behaviour of a small minority had shamed the reputation of Ole Miss.

The BBC's Matt Danzico reports.