Taking things Literally

My son went to first grade before we had him diagnosed with Aspergers. He was in the school library with his class and had quickly found a book he wanted to read. He went to his teacher and asked her what to do next. She said, “Go to your seat and read it until everyone else is done finding their books.”

So, the library class ends and the teacher is lining the kids up to go back to the classroom. She does, as usual, a quick count of the kids and comes up one short. “Where is Joshua?” she asks the kids. None of them know. The librarian doesn’t know. So, the WHOLE school is put on lockdown while the teacher and several others go in search of Josh. After trying several places, the teacher thinks to herself about what she said to Josh, “Go to your seat…” She went back to the classroom and what did she find? Joshua sitting in his seat, happily reading his book.

In her relief, the teacher cries, “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Josh thinks he’s in trouble and breaks down crying, “I did what you told me. I went to my seat.” It took several minutes to calm him down and assure him that he was not in trouble and that the teacher should have been more clear about where Josh was to have gone with his book.

The moral of the story is: When dealing with a kid with Aspergers, be specific and say what you mean. It is most likely that they will take you literally.

Do you find that you take things literally at times?

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36 thoughts on “Taking things Literally

  • June 2, 2009 at 5:44 pm
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    i like the comments on how they specify normies vs people with learning differences at least that’s what my teacher in high schoool caled it in stead of “disability” because it’s not reeally a hinderance just a different way of learning and understanding.

    sometimes i wonder if i was autistic or had aspergers because when i was younger i was advanced compared to my peers in academic that they placed my in a special “wings” program, but i lacked social skills and the ability to pick up social cues…  i know it’s wrong to self-diagnose…

    i didn’t speak to people till i was about 4.. (selectivly mute?) not that i didnt know how to talk i just didn’t like talking… always had my own little world, did my own thing. i was also violent as a child.. in pre-school i knocked out a kid on the slide because he climbed up ahead of me. i would hit people when i didnt get my way.

    i didnt cry as a child, and often got distracted and lost whenever we would go out. i either read too much into things or to little… even now, i can’t say i have any friends, because i don’t know how to make them i guess…

    but i was never diagnosed, so who knows. i’m probably just thinking too much into it…

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  • June 2, 2009 at 6:17 am
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    @I_choke_you@xanga – Since it was very definitely pointed out to me through my entire childhood that I’m not normal, I tend to refer to the ‘normals’.  Some people feel I am being derogatory, but I think it’s a cute way of me dealing with being NOT normal.  It’s not a whites versus blacks thing, I just happen to like the word.  NT sounds too trendy or sciency, and typical is overused.  We could do the whole little people vs. dwarfism debate, etc.  I like talking about the ‘norms’, but if it makes others uncomfortable, I stop.

    @winningbylosing@xanga – =D  Awesome, now it feels like we’re in some kind of funky group workshop.  ha

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  • June 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – i think all the author is asking is that we be considerate towards everyone. if you can’t communicate well with everyone you are going to have problems with people.

    <3 micalyn

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  • June 1, 2009 at 9:39 pm
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    If she knew your child has asbergers, then my bet is she was being specific in what she said and meant.

    Find YOUR seat?  Since when do children have thier own seats in libraries.  If this teacher knew your kid had asbergers, she was probably dismissing him forcefully in a “just get out of my way” way.  Subconciously or not, this teachers a !@#$%.

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  • June 1, 2009 at 7:18 pm
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    I was clever enough to know when I could feign either literal or figurative/flexible interpretations to my advantage. Unfortunately, I was an exceedingly obedient child and only pondered the road less travelled….sigh.

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  • June 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm
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    hehehehe and no I’m not trying to be rudem don’t think that it just naturally made me giggle. It reminded me of childhood innocence I too took things literally. That’s how young minds are developed

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  • June 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm
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    This reminds me of something that happened in my sociology class. There was this kid with mild autism and once when he was talking to my teacher, he said something and my teacher laughed and said, “Oh, no way, get outta here!”. And the student took it literally and left the room and my teacher was like, “Wait, no, that’s an expression!!”

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  • June 1, 2009 at 4:23 pm
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    i do sometimes take things literally, and typically i can’t think of any times i have.. but it does happen frequently.

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  • June 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm
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    This cute (come on, it was kind of cute) story reminds me of the Amelia Bedilia books : )

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  • June 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm
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    i usually never take things literally, i did have friends in elementary school that had Aspergers and i didnt realize it and i accidentally got them in trouble sometimes for not being very direct. i usually did take the blame and tell the teacher i told them to do whatever.

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  • June 1, 2009 at 10:54 am
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    I usually take things literally all the time. So if I was in first grade, Aspergers or not, I probably would’ve done the same thing.

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  • May 29, 2009 at 11:31 am
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – 
    Our professor, who works with a variety of students who learn with the aid of IEPs, doesn’t like the word “normal” to refer to people who haven’t been diagnosed with any disabilities.  She uses the word “typical” and claims that “typical” is the most current politically correct term.  I am curious what everyone’s opinion on that is.  Sometimes being PC isn’t always the way to go, but it’s the best way to communicate with new people or strangers with the least likeliness to be offending.  What do you think?

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  • May 29, 2009 at 6:43 am
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    @Sirius_Fan_Girl@xanga – I think it’s easy to fall into the generalization that aspies (or anyone on the autism spectrum) have symptoms that go down a checkmark list, as opposed to non-autistics.  Then when we run into someone with Asperger’s who is socially adept or gets puns and jokes, our standard of measurement goes out the door.  I find it more helpful to look at ALL brains being on a much bigger spectrum.  Inside the spectrum are boxes of other more defined spectrums, some are layered or overhang others, such as ADHD, but overall, the combination of the whole, all included, we have a normal bell curve of abnormal people.  Because I’m coming to the conclusion there really is no such thing as a standard normal without ANY faults.  Anyway, you may be less rigid in some aspie traits, but alternately less social-language skilled.  Doesn’t really mean that much.  We can’t use these lone ‘symptoms’ as blanket diagnostic tools.  What I’m really saying is that I think most of us have challenges we’re not even aware of, no matter how normal we seem, and until someone shines a spotlight on a particular set of behaviors to point them out as a problem, we assume they’re ok.  In the end, you could probably make a case that every brain on the planet needs to be fixed in some way, so that’s my argument for just allowing for the variation.  If there is no variation, we don’t know what the majority standard (normal) is.  I’m with you on the whole putting words in people’s mouths thing.  I don’t get it.  =)  My worst arguments with people are about them reading WAY too much into something I’ve said.  It’s very hard for me to follow their ‘leaps to conclusions’ when I don’t see myself pointing that direction in the first place.

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  • May 29, 2009 at 12:26 am
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    I don’t have Asperger’s (or at least, I don’t think I do) but my brother and father do, and I don’t notice them take things literally but I definitely, definitely do. I don’t get sarcasm most of the time and tend to just do exactly what I’m told, or get very very confused which leads to people thinking I’m stupid, when really I just don’t get why they don’t say what they mean.

    Chris and my dad, on the other hand, get meanings out of things people say that seem almost totally unrelated; it’s like they put words in our mouths sometimes. So maybe that’s the opposite of literal; they read into it too much.

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  • May 28, 2009 at 10:15 am
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    @GoodbyeSickan@xanga – Nah, the things I associate with Josh’s autistic traits are the inability to control the impulse to quote things at inappropriate times, the “zoning out” thing, the fact that he didn’t talk until he was two and then when he did it was repeating what was said to him or quoting rather than holding an actual conversation. Like he would bring me a diaper and say, “You wet? I change you. Need bopper?” (bopper is how he said diaper) He was three. Most three year olds are capable of using “I” and “me” and most three year olds do not scream at their mothers, “You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions,” when they’re angry. (Quoting Shrek.)

    Josh also has melt downs over extremely minor things. Today is his tenth birthday and yesterday was the first time he controlled one. If you were to watch him. He walks around talking to imaginary people. He fights orcs and is friends with rangers and elves. He wears a cloak and carries a toy weapons around nearly all the time. My truck is a ship and I am a pirate captain who is also an elf. I live in Josh’s imaginary world. Home is safe for him to do that. I understand it and if it helps him cope with things, I’m ok with it.

    Yes, doing this on occasion during play is typical kid behavior, but Josh doesn’t do it occasionally and he’s not exactly playing… he lives in this world he’s created. I have to put things into the context of that world for him to “get” them. I’ve learned to play those games with myself to get things done. Pretending I was the captain of a pirate ship got our house packed up and got us moved a couple of years ago. We were “raiding the governor’s mansion and hauling our loot to the Isla de Muerta.” Is that “normal” behavior for a 28 year old woman? Uh… no. Not even most mom’s I know get that “into it” with their kids. I’m still Captian three years later…

    I don’t associate all of Josh’s talents with being autistic, nor do I associate all of his short comings with it. I expect a lot out of him and will never let him use it as an excuse. It is an explanation of why he might have to work harder at some things or take a different approach to them, but it is not an excuse for why he can’t. He CAN do anything.

    I’m not going to accept hearing from his school councellor, “Well, Josh just might not be good at geometry and he’ll just have to struggle with it.” NO, freakin’ teach him right and don’t give him word problems that don’t make any logical sense. Half the word problems he was given for picking which kind of symetry was used defied the laws of physics. Most fourth graders don’t have any clue about physics and would miss that fact and get the problems right. Josh was completely stumped by them… and honestly, so was I. I was told, “It’s a state issued test, we can’t modify it.”

    That is the kind of thing that I want to get Josh help with… and I can’t seem to get him an official diagnosis so that I can get him the IEP and other help he could use. Because Josh is extremely well behaved, he just gets passed by as inattentive. I am dreading him going to middle school. He’s got one year left of elementary school and is begging me to homeschool him. I would, but that would not help me teach him how to interact with the “real world.”

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  • May 28, 2009 at 9:37 am
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – I see… without that context, you simply sounded like an obnoxious and judgemental “normal” person with no clue. I can understand you a whole lot better now. Thank you for clarifying… and I think it is AWESOME to find someone else who understands the emotional pick up from other people. Do you know how many strange looks I get for admitting to that one? Because of my obsession with Star Trek TNG as a teen, people thought I just wanted to be like Deanna Troi… no, she was just finally someone I could relate to in that regard.

    (side note: I do understand metaphors, in fact I have to use them all the time just to put my thoughts into words at all.)

    There are ways to work around your sensory issues. I have learned to ignore some of it by being forced to endure it, which sucks, but that was my life as a kid. I grew up surrounded by electronic equipment because my dad worked as a computer programmer and also built and ran the sound system at our church. He was an electronics geek if I ever saw one… so being around it so much, I have learned to tune it out. I can still hear it though.

    You should have seen me with John when we first started being more than just friends. I reacted down-right violently a few times because before I started dating him, I rarely touched or allowed anyone to touch me. He got hit. He got pushed away. Thing is, that I pushed myself past that because I really did love him.

    I was forced to endure hugs at church. I had no choice as a kid / teen. I was made to go to church and greeting time meant being hugged repeatedly by people whether I wanted it or not. They thought it was funny to watch me squirm. Talk about overload? First there was loud music, then people insisted on hugging me, then I was forced to sit there and “be still” and “listen” to a man whose voice grated on my ears like sandpaper and whose manner of speaking was impossible to follow. Thank God my dad was an awesome sound tech because he knew how to rig the thing to rarely feedback. On the rare occasions there was feedback, I understand the near passing out thing. My sister had a dog that barked this sharp bark that made the world go black.

    Thankfully I went to a small elementary school. There were only sixteen kids in my class counting me, but middle school was an absolute nightmare. I came home every day in tears. I couldn’t wear jeans. They irritated me to no end, (imagine a girl constantly grabbing the crotch of her pants) so I wore sweat pants to school… in the age of Cavariccis no less… I was TORMENTED. My only friends in the whole school were two deaf kids that I communicated with through finger spelling and writing notes.

    One of the things that has helped me tremendously is learning meditation techniques and learning to purposefully control my physical responses to things. It has taught me to learn which sensations are actually necessary for survival and which are just hyperactive annoyances that do not need an immediate response. Much to the chargin of people at church, I have studied zen and other meditation styles. I am a firm believer in mind over matter, but more so bringing the two into harmony with each other.

    I did not learn about Aspergers until I was 29 years old. I grew up simply believing that I was “weird”. When I found out that not only are there other people like me out there, but that there was a word for it that could sum up a good deal of my experiences… I was beyond happy. I knew when I was eleven years old that I was autistic, but back then it was only extreme cases that were recognized. I could tell you any number of things I did, repetitive behaviors, etc. that would clearly identify me with autism. The only difference is that I started talking in complete sentences before I was a year old and did not lose that ability later. 

    I don’t believe that I am damaged, not brain damaged anyway… emotionally maybe, because I was picked on, tormented, and misunderstood for the majority of my life… but not brain damaged. My mind works in fantastic ways. I “get” quantum theory. I understand Einstein’s theory of relativity. I can hear a song for the first time and be singing along with it by the second chorus, sometimes sooner. I would not want to “fix” that. I would not want to trade the things I CAN do to be “fixed”.

    So, I have learned to take control of it. It’s work. It’s difficult. If I were to react on instinct every time I felt something, I would be the screaming melt-down autistic kid who hit their head against the wall to make it stop. I used to do it. I used to sit at my desk at school and hit my head on my desk. I still scratch at my face until it bleeds sometimes. That is one thing I am still working on with impulse control.

    One of the issues I face with John is the impulse to scratch at bumps on him. He’s actually had to hit me to make me stop. That sounds a lot worse than it is, he has never actually hurt me, but words alone have not accomplished the purpose. The consequence has had to be greater than just “Stop it.” Now I associate the possibility of getting hit with scratching him… and I can more easily refrain from doing it. It still takes conscious effort.

    I still don’t want to be “fixed”. My literal mind has helped a lot with being under control. Growing up in a pentecostal church, they talked a lot about being “filled with the Spirit.” They talked a lot about the “fruits of the Spirit” one of which is self-control. I took them literally, believed that God would help me and it did help. I’m not sure what exactly I believe about all that kind of stuff now, to be honest… but believing it then helped tremendously to get myself under control. I believed that I had supernatural help. If it was merely a placebo… who cares? it worked.

    I am happy not being normal. Do I envy normal people sometimes? Yeah. I wish I could just let go and have fun without my mind dictating the show… but that’s what rum is for…LOL. I don’t advocate drinking, but sometimes it is nice to turn off the overload and extreme self control and just be silly.

    And I’ve learned a few things about how to make sensory overload end up quite pleasant. It requires learning which impulses to control when. I’m still working on it, and so far, I don’t think I’d trade being “fixed” for that either.

    Does this stuff define who I am? Absolutely. It’s by embracing my differences from other people that I have learned to deal with them. I’m not supposed to be normal, I’m wired different. I have to learn to live by a different set of rules. I’ve had to teach them to myself. Dang it, if I could help teach someone else how to do it, that would be fantastic… but it starts with accepting that we are not normal… at least as compared to the rest of the world… and that’s ok. If there is a sub-culture of Aspies or Autistics, GREAT. We can work together and teach each other. It isn’t an “us” vs “them” it is that we all serve different purposes.

    I don’t want someone to make me normal. Would I like to help bring autistic kids out of their own little worlds? Sure. Would I like to help them control their sensory issues? Absolutely. I’ve done it. I’m teaching my son to do it. Yesterday, we had a fantastic breakthrough. Josh spilled his dinner in his lap. He didn’t break down and cry about it. His eyes watered, but he got control of himself and didn’t cry. Today is Josh’s tenth birthday. He did it. He controlled it. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.

    You’d kind of have to know Josh to know why this is such a big deal… but it is. It is a fantastic accomplishment worth celebrating. I wish someone had encouraged me this way when I was a kid. Now if I could just get him to stop walking around holding his… well… you know… we always think he needs to use the bathroom.

    Hope some of this helps. It seems we’re on the same side. I’m willing to talk you through some of it if you’d like. I can recommend some good books… once I remember what they are…

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  • May 28, 2009 at 5:00 am
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – Apologies for my defensiveness, and I hope you find peace of some kind.  As for the intensity of your experiences, I may have some context in the form of lupus in my central nervous system and severe fibro on top of the Asperger’s.  Life sux, it’s miserable, and no, that doesn’t give anyone an excuse to dump, lash out, or otherwise pick on others.  However, I know plenty of people with terminal illnesses, including kids with CF, a guy with ALS, people with scary cancers and all kinds of physical and mental challenges, etc, and from my experiences, the more problems a person has, the more that person concedes to the world around them instead of standing up and drawing a line.  I’m sorry your world is so painful.  But you are not alone.  I think the point of places like Autisable is to find out we’re not alone.  I know several people with OCD, Tourette’s, severe ADHD, schizophrenia, fetal alcohol disorders, and Downs, so I’m going to say this as politely as I can.  YOU can look at life as brain damage if you want to.  You can be a victim, you can lash out all over me, you can put me in my place all you want.  But I will never take YOUR problems and shove them in your face and call you brain damaged and turn our lives into a contest for one of us to win.  I’ve been trained in psyche analysis, so it’s really hard to refrain here.  However, it looks to me like you are so angry about your own life and your own body that you’re taking it out on others.  You yourself said that’s not cool.  Hugs for the misery, I have SO been there with pain and misery, and the lack of ability on the part of the medical community.  But I ~want~ to appreciate what I’m learning.  I ~want~ to learn to empathize.  My experiences with pain and misery help me do that.  I have learned more really cool stuff in the company of miserable people than I ever did with yappy happy bubbleheads.  You sound smart and savvy, but just really really angry.  Can’t say I blame that now that I know where it comes from.

    @edlives@xanga – Dude.  ‘Wow’, as in we’re having a real conversation?    Hope we’re not scaring the straights.

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  • May 28, 2009 at 1:15 am
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    @keystspf@xanga – He sounds like a great kid.  He sounds like my friends and I at that age, especially the reading Tolkien and memorizing large chunks of movies verbatim.  let me clarify what I meant. My brother has OCD.  He is also funny, artistic, and smart.  His OCD does not wholly define him.  It is not the cause of all his strengths, nor is it his only weakness.  Some of his problems growing up were caused by his OCD, but not all of them.  Even without OCD, I believe he’d be a very unique and wonderful person.  All I meant to say was that not every unique aspect of a person with a disability has to be tied back to that disability.

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  • May 27, 2009 at 4:31 pm
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    @keystspf@xanga – I can imagine all of those things… except for the touch of a husband, something I will probably never experience because of the severity of my problems (so count yourself lucky).  Just because I don’t have a diagnosis of ASD doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced many of the very same symptoms.  I spend my days wearing earplugs because I’m bothered by every noise around me.  I spend every night wearing earplugs because any noise (a passing car, a ticking clock, the pump on the neighbours’ hot tub) will drive me nuts and keep me awake.  I steer clear of electronics stores because the high-pitched noise emitted by so many TV sets grates on my nerves.  I stay away from any place where there might be children, because a sudden scream startles me so much that I nearly black out and it takes a long time for me to recover.  I haven’t been hugged in years because I can’t bear to be touched.  I prefer to wear long sleeves because the feeling of air moving over my skin aggravates my OCD.  I’ve actually pulled muscles in my neck and back from reacting so violently when someone unexpectedly touched me.  And I generally stay away from people in person, not just because they might touch me, smell overwhelmingly of laundry soap, or talk too loudly… but because I pick up on and absorb their emotions, positive or negative, and I’ll have to deal with the emotional fallout later.

    However, I take all those symptoms not as things to be proud of, or things by which I define myself as a person, but things to be dealt with.  If you want to live with brain damage (which is what autism spectrum disorders are coming to be recognized as), that’s your choice.  But I don’t want to, and I shouldn’t have to.  These symptoms are ruining my life.  Do you realize how hurtful it is to see people advocating against a cure for these types of disorders when they’ve made your life a living hell?  I don’t want to be a ticcing, OCD-ing, sensorily screwed up mess just to satisfy some people’s notion of diversity.  And I resent being told I should be.

    @bluejacky@xanga – The
    “trying person” I’m dealing with is myself.  Just because I don’t have
    a diagnosis doesn’t mean I can’t relate.  (I’ve also watched a cousin struggle with
    Asperger’s, if that’ll make my opinions more legitimate to you.)

    As far as learning new skills, I meant learning about metaphors, analogies, and reading between the lines.  And your assumption that all neurotypical people do is “lie, yap on a cell phone all day, worry [themselves] sick about [their] weight and [their] hair” just proves my point about your attitude.  Having Asperger’s does not give you the right to belittle other people… no matter how high your IQ is.

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  • May 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – Another thing is that people seem to think that there is something to read between the lines of what I say. Usually there isn’t. I am virtually incapable of stating things indirectly. The times I have tried to do so, it has been blatantly obvious that I’m trying to do so, thus defeating the point of trying to do so. If I say that I like something, I like it. If I say I don’t like something, I don’t like it.

    I was outright TOLD how to lie or “skirt the truth” about not liking something by overstating an obvious truth about it. Example: Do you like my shirt? Answer: Well it is certainly very pink.

    Well, if the person knows me well, they know I do not like pink and therefore I am stating indirectly that I do not, in fact, like the shirt. If they do not know that I do not like pink, then it is just an obvious avoidance of answering the question. They are going to see the look on my face that is going to give away the fact that I don’t like it. So, using that method is not very effective for me. I would rather simply answer, “No.”

    So, if I ask someone if they like my shirt and they respond with a similar answer, I am going to get frustrated with them because I would rather have a direct answer. If you don’t like my shirt, say so. If you do like it, say so. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, lying to me hurts more because then I can’t trust you. I would rather hear the truth.

    This is a simple and relatively benign illustration, but when it is applied to more important things, it can have disasterous results. So, no, people do not say what they mean all the time.

    I have a theoretical knowledge of how this stuff works. I have been a silent observer for a very long time. I watch people and listen to them. When I try to do it, it is obvious that I am trying and people assume that I am trying to hide something. I am obviously “acting” so therefore I must be lying or hiding something. I can’t win. Either I am misunderstood because of my lack of tone and mismatched body language… or I am assumed a liar because it is obvious that it is taking conscious effort to appear as though I mean what I say.

    I am guessing that you think that this last paragraph was redundant. But read it closely and you’ll see that there are subtle differences between the sentences that make them mean completely different things. At least they do to me. The first one is a statement. The second is the logic behind the statement. The last one is a comparison between not trying and trying and the results of both. It is the same concept looked at from three different angles.

    I actually had to have the concepts of sarcasm and double entendres explained to me. Sarcasm is fun. I actually enjoy it because I have learned to appreciate it. I don’t always respond correctly at first. Usually I respond as though I think the person is serious and THEN realize it was sarcastic, but I have found that it is the “safer” route than assuming people are being sarcastic all the time. I like plays on words. I like double entendres. I am married to a guy who’s the king of them, so I’ve learned to appreciate them… but it’s taken twelve years. I’ve gone back and watched TV shows that I watched as a kid and been horrified by what I missed. I also realized how many times I’d said things that people took for double entendres that got me laughed at.

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  • May 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm
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    @keystspf@xanga – “Imagine the light touch of your husband’s fingers actually causing pain rather than the intended pleasure. Imagine the conflicts that arise from jumping every time he touches you.”  Wow, that one really hits home.  I am so lucky my husband goes out of his way to touch me correctly, which took a long time for us both to figure out.  It was really hard for him not to think I felt repulsed by him, and that wasn’t it at all.  I wish so badly I could go back in time and hug my poor mother.  My greatest pain is waking up to her pain through all this after it was too late.

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  • May 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – You are the one turning it into an “us” vs “them” by assuming that we intend condescention by a lack of appropriate terms for people who are of the majority. If you assume that “normal” is an insult, that is your problem. As far as I know, “being of the majority in form and function” IS what “normal” means, so it should be an acceptable term for someone whose brain is wired the same way as the majority of other people.

    Know what? I am a bit proud of the fact that I think differently. It lets me do some things that other people can’t do. Do I look down on them for that? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Because I know my own limitations. I know that I misread facial expressions and body language. I know that I misuse tone of voice more than half the time. However, I do not appreciate being looked down on for that or made to feel as though I am somehow less than human for it. I have to compensate for it all the time… because contrary to popular belief about people with Asperger’s, I actually do LIKE people. I just don’t understand them all the time.

    Yes, we are capable of learning new skills, but it is still a learned skill… it doesn’t come naturally. I have to make a conscious effort to “look right” and “sound right”. That makes social interaction down right exhausting.

    Do you know how hard it is to control the impulse to constantly play “air drums”? That is something I have to make a conscious effort not to do. If I didn’t purposefully control it, my hands would be in constant motion. Either that or if I’m standing up, I have to control the impulse to constantly shift my weight back and forth. You should see me working on the Jungle Cruise at Disney… I have to remind myself EVERY time I start a new trip on the boat and give the introduction to the cruise to “STOP ROCKING.” It takes conscious effort. Even after working there for a year now.

    When you introduce yourself to someone, do you have to remind yourself to look up at them and make eye contact? I do. It doesn’t come naturally. I always have to remind myself to look at the person I’m talking to… obviously I’m going to miss nonverbal cues if I’m not looking at them… but even when I do see them, I don’t always interpret them correctly.

    I know that people don’t read mine right. My mom used to think that I was crossing my arms because I was being defiant or angry… Nope, I was AFRAID. I was holding myself together… big difference. I eventually learned how to do it just wrapping my arms around myself instead of actually crossing them, but it took a conscious realization that crossed arms meant anger and defiance and not insecurity. This didn’t happen until my mid-teen years. I grew up being told I was a defiant brat, when in reality I was a frightened little kid.

    So, having the noise sensitivity that you have, you should have a measure of understanding for sensory overload. Imagine having four out of five senses being hypersensitive. Imagine being able to hear the alarm systems that use high frequency sound waves. Imagine being able to hear dog whistles and bats and the bass line playing in the living room of the house next door that no one else can hear. Imagine being the only kid in the class who can hear the clock ticking on the wall during tests. Imagine trying to sleep with a ticking clock in your ear… when it is a watch on the dresser across the room.

    Imagine being able to feel even the slight change in air pressure when a door is open or closed. Imagine being able to feel every wrinkle and bump in your mattress and bedsheets… forget the tags on shirts, those are beyond annoying. Imagine being able to FEEL light. (As in a lamp being on.) Imagine the light touch of your husband’s fingers actually causing pain rather than the intended pleasure. Imagine the conflicts that arise from jumping every time he touches you. Imagine being constantly annoyed by the seams in your clothing and trying to look happy at the same time… AND on top of that resisting the impulse to be constantly tugging at your clothes.

    Imagine the issues this causes with shopping. Self image issues because you can’t wear clothes that you like because when you do, you may look great, be squiming all day. Then you get funny looks from people because you’re tugging at your clothes.

    Imagine being able to tell who is in the room by the smell in the air…. then sit next to someone wearing too much perfume. Imagine being able to tell the difference in the taste of food when you’re using a plastic or a metal fork or drinking out of a glass or a plastic cup. Imagine the textures of certain foods making you gag for no apparent reason.

    Now, add a sixth sense to it… Imagine being able to sense the emotions of the people around you and THEN try to interpret their body language. That’s what I deal with. The only sense I do not have sensitivity issues with is sight. I am actually nearly blind without correction, but I can’t wear glasses, they drive me insane. Thank God I can’t feel contact lenses.  

    Those are just the sensory issues. Add into it the fact that I think in pictures and motion rather than words… and every conversation being a rough translation of what is going on in my head. Words are not multidimensional… my thoughts are. I don’t even have a way to describe that.

    @GoodbyeSickan@xanga – Josh’s teacher said at the beginning of the year, “Oh, he’s just being six.” She taught first grade for 20 years. It wasn’t his teacher’s fault, she just said, “Go to your seat,” meaning his seat that he had been sitting in at the library. By the end of the year, she realized that Josh was not making the same progress as a typical seven year old in some regards, yet in others he was much more advanced.

    Josh is a funny kid with a fantastic personality. He is quiet, well behaved, and incredibly imaginative. I know that some of what he does is just part of being a ten year old boy, but if you were to watch him around other ten year old boys… you’d notice the difference.

    For three and a half years now, Josh has called me “Captian” rather than “Mom.” I’m ok with it because I like the game too, it helps keep things in order. He understands that I outrank him so he “follows orders.” My girls played along for a couple of months, and then lost interest. Josh is currently reading “The Fellowship of the Ring” and thoroughly enjoying it. Those aren’t typical ten year old boy things. The incessant movie quoting isn’t exactly typical ten year old behavior either.

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  • May 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – No one has ever catered to me in my life.  I never got help as a child.  Would you rather be referred to as NT?  I think that’s the psyche-speak.  People have responded to me EXACTLY like you just did all my life, since I was a small child.  THAT is my disability.  Everybody pretty much tells me to shut up.  This blog is for autism.  I’m on the spectrum.  You wanna know what it’s really like for someone ON the spectrum?  I’m here, I’m saying it.  And maybe blind people don’t expect it because they don’t know they CAN.  I can introduce you to a woman who has spent her life rescuing deaf and hearing challenged people out of institutions, and there is nothing else wrong with them.  Our normal society finds it very easy to brush over others, and not tolerate mental challenges or diversities, as long as they behave themselves.

    “This site is supposed to be about dealing with autism… not holier-than-thou attitudes (and that’s all I’ve seen from you and bluejacky so far).”

    I suppose you are “dealing with autism” in the form of another very trying person in your life.  I can empathize with that, but it took me over 40 years to reach that point of understanding that my mom was psychologically scarred by the way society treated HER for being a ‘bad mother’ while she was trying to raise me.

    My sin is being born with a different way of seeing things than you.  Autisable is supposed to be a discussion forum for EVERYONE dealing with autism, inside and out.

    “People with Asperger’s are able to learn new skills, aren’t they?”

    The funny thing is, my IQ is probably spiking out the roof, but I still have a hard time with social cues, jokes, double speak, conflicts of interest and double standards…  Maybe you can tell me what kinds of new skills I need to learn.  Like how to lie, yap on a cell phone all day, worry myself sick about my weight and my hair…

    Oh, yeah, and maybe my attitude is what has kept me from killing myself or winding up an alcoholic or clinically depressed.  Maybe my survival in this world depends on me believing in myself when people all my life responded negatively to me.  Maybe I’ve been reminded for decades that I’m NOT NORMAL, and maybe that’s why I come across the way I do.  In my experience, people like me are symptomatically VERY annoying.  Adapt?  I’ve adapted to everything around me all my life, hiding who I am, how I feel…  I have to wear ear plugs, too.  I have to wear sunglasses everywhere.  I don’t like attracting attention to myself, but I come across as some kind of weirdo trying to get attention because I can’t help being different.  All my life I have been stuffed into a little box, and I’m really tired of it.  I can talk about my stuff if I want to.

    @keystspf@xanga – You hit the nail on the head– we have to outperform the NT’s WITH a challenge to boot.  Interestingly, I was forced by constant punishment to ‘perform’ correctly, and never understood the why or wherefore of it for many years.  All I understood was that I was never forgiven, and I’ve never felt loved by my mother, even to this day.  Hearing over and over and over again that I’m rippling someone else’s pond while I watch rocks being thrown back in mine has been an amusing life experience.

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  • May 26, 2009 at 11:39 pm
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    OK, first taking things literally is not a sign of aspergers in six-year olds.  Its a sign of being six.  I’m not arguing with the diagnosis I’m just saying that the particular behavior you described is not all that uncommon in that stage of life.  I had a similar experience when I was a kid (I was the bathroom monitor and was told someone would come get me when it was time to go back to class.  No one came, so guess where I spent 6 hours one day in first grade?) 

    Second, any teacher worth their salt knows that directions need to be specific and direct at any grade level to any audience.  This sounds much more like a story about a careless teacher.

    I’m just saying, not everything a kid with a disability does needs to be tied in with his disability.  Kids are quirky, and to deny that these quirks can be a part of their personality rather than a part of their problem is to take away a bit of their humanity.

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  • May 26, 2009 at 11:24 pm
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    My brother has Aspergers. Sometimes I forget to be specific. We will tell him “Can you give me the pen on the desk” He will look around the deck for at least a minute, when the pen is right beside him.

    My only advice for children with Aspergers is to put them in normal classrooms, but have an assistant.

    My Mother would not put my brother in a special needs class. And I think that has made all the difference. He functions well. He’s not on any medications, and he’s 23. He graduated high school in 2006. 🙂

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  • May 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm
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    @keystspf@xanga – Why does it need to turn into an “us vs them” discussion?  You’re the ones who made it that way, by elevating yourselves and using disparaging terms on others.  If you want to promote this neurodiversity crap, there are plenty of other sites on the Internet where you can do so.  This site is supposed to be about dealing with autism… not holier-than-thou attitudes (and that’s all I’ve seen from you and bluejacky so far).

    When you’re the one with the disability, yes, you’re the one who has to make adjustments.  Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.  I’m highly sensitive to noise, but I can’t demand that everyone stop playing their radios, driving their cars, mowing their lawns, and practicing their drums (as much as I’d like to); I’m the one who has to wear earplugs and try not to have a noise-induced panic attack.  There are simply too many disabilities out there to cater to them all, and they are in the minority.  Majority rules, and the majority can read between the lines and understand non-verbal communication.

    People generally do say what they mean.  If you have a problem with it, perhaps you need to learn how to decipher such communication and not just complain that people won’t cater to you.  People with Asperger’s are able to learn new skills, aren’t they?

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  • May 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm
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    @LadyLibellule@xanga – What term are we supposed to use in what has turned into an “us” vs “them” kind of discussion? Anything we say is going to come off as condescending to someone who is expecting condescention.

    It is just as unrealistic to expect a person with Asperger’s to think the way an NeuroTypical person thinks. So, we’re supposed to just get over it then? We are the ones who have to make all the adjustments? Is that how it works?

    There are things in place to help blind people: seeing eye dogs, braille signs, even verbal descriptions in headphones for movies. There are similar things in place for the deaf. There are wheelchairs and power chairs for those who are unable to walk. There are ramps built to make accessing buildings easier… All of those things take a whole lot of time, money, and energy to produce… All that most of us “Aspies” are asking for is for people to say what they mean and mean what they say. That really isn’t that difficult and it doesn’t cost a dime.

    All I ever ask for is to be given clear and precise instructions and a reasonable attempt on the part of the other person to understand me.

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  • May 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm
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    @bluejacky@xanga – Your brain works differently.  That doesn’t mean that everybody else in the world has to cater to your disability (especially since it’s something that’s not readily obvious… how are people supposed to know they have to be overly pedantic and literal when they’re speaking to you?).  Blind people don’t expect everyone else to walk around with their eyes closed and only read braille.  It’s just as unrealistic for you to expect everyone else to think the way a person with Asperger’s thinks.

    And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use terms like “normals”.  It comes off as disparaging and condescending.  I’m sure you don’t like it when people use the word “retard” (in other words, do unto others…).

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  • May 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm
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    That was me as a child, ALWAYS in trouble for following directions.  As an adult, I still resent that ‘normals’ are so nonspecific that I have to jump through hoops making leaps from one thought to the next just to get something right, when all they had to do was say the words a little differently.

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