Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Rudy Simone (rudysimone) Sat 30 Oct 10 08:49
To off-WELL reader sunfell: Awesome post. LOVED IT. Nothing I can add to it, you described our genderlessness as well or better than anything Ive heard. I LOVED Bowie as a kid for his androgyny as much as his music, first record I bought was Space Oddity. Comfort is key, but the funny thing is I now like dressing in dragI call myself a female impersonator impersonator as I now find frocks more comfortable than jeans, and love funky shoes, but thats because I get carted around in cars and am no longer hiking everywhere or taking muni. But they have to be comfortable frocks. The wigs I wear during performances give me a persona that is one part Phyllis Diller, one part Lily Savage, one part Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria with a smattering of an older alcoholic relative I have. Its not me at all. Offstage Im starting to dress like Kate Hepburn. No more trips to American eagle for me.
Rudy Simone (rudysimone) Sat 30 Oct 10 08:58
Sunfell; I am intrigued by this: "Learn how to read people. It's not hard to do. Look for patterns. Listen for tones." Are you an aspie? Learning social stuff is so hard, and reading people is the most difficult. Did you have a resource or method for that? I'm 46 and that is the hardest part of Aspergers for me. I do not read people, men or women. I get their 'gestalt' but not the stuff that is useful in polite, day to day conversation.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sat 30 Oct 10 10:44
>polite, day to day conversation This is where I still have huge problems. I can remember sitting around the family table at dinnertime, listening to the ebb and flow of the conversation, and the wonderful feeling I'd have when it finally moved to something I could make a comment about, and watching and waiting for my moment to say what I was preparing to say, and then the frustration and betrayal I'd feel when it suddenly was turned to something else, and my contribution was no longer needed. I've gotten better at it, but still find the very idea of a dinner party to be frightening, though I love one-on-one visits and conversations. One of the things I love best about being a doctor is that my day with patients is full of one-on-one conversations, where I have a defined role that I am good at, and I don't have to deal with nearly as many group dynamics all the time--because even after decades of practice, I still suck at that.
Rudy Simone (rudysimone) Sat 30 Oct 10 10:54
debunix - i relate! And as a doctor, I appreciate you expressing your own vulnerability.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 30 Oct 10 11:21
Totally. Rudy, a big question. Obviously, men and women are socialized in distinct ways according to their gender roles. What are some things you've noticed about the ways that men and women are socialized that influences how they carry their autistic identity, and how it's perceived by others?
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 30 Oct 10 18:10
Rudy, sunfell replies to your questions: Hi, Rudy: I have not been diagnosed with Aspergers- I am 50. To be honest, I am not certain that a formal diagnosis would be a good thing at this late-ish date. That said... People look alike to me. Happily, they don't sound or move alike- my hearing is much better than my vision in that regard. Instead of recognizing faces, I look at shapes, gaits, listen to voices, look for 'strong' features. I am probably better at recognizing people from behind than from in front, because hair tends to have patterns. And I have no problems identifying people I've met through their voices or their handwriting. Your use of the word 'gestalt' is the key- if you can't read the 'center' (which is what most 'normal' people read and process) learn to read the edges. For me, it's word use, tonal pattern, shifts in the body- and oddly enough- microexpressions. They're so fleeting that most people cannot see them, but they register as a 'state change' in my mind, and punch through the 'noise'. I sometimes feel like my inner clock- my mental process timing- is a lot faster than most- this registers with me when I watch a screen that has a poor refresh rate, or see flickers in florescent and now LED lights, or strobing at the edges of poorly timed projectors. If the gate is off a bit, I can't watch the movie. Digital projectors are a lot easier on me- but when they're out of alignment, I see rainbows at the screen edges. But because I do see things at this different pace, things that most people miss- like sub-tones and micro-expressions are like a big billboard that shouts "HE'S LYING!" They might as well have subtitles like that old Isuzu commercial. I made it a point to read psychological texts and books about social interaction and body language. I learned about neuro-linguistic programming, and techniques people use to persuade others. (Did you know that certain radio personalities use microphones that 'punch' the lower frequencies of their voices to give them more perceived authority? They do! They sound totally different in person!) Some of this was for education- if I was on the 'wrong planet', I wanted to learn as much about the 'natives' as possible. And it was really helpful when I sold computers for a living. Yes, that probably sounds insane- someone like me selling computers- but I was in my native element- the computer department was 'my' territory, and most people didn't know beans about them. They were (and still are) one of my special subjects. I often felt like I was introducing two different species of people to each other- humans, and computers. I knew how the computers worked, so the advantage was mine. I just had to match the right one with the right customer, get them comfortable (which was easy, because I was fluent with computers), and let them buy it. I made buckets of money before our commissions were retired and we were put on minimum wage. Of course, it still didn't help when it came to what 'the natives' felt was normal- I am much more comfortable looking at their hair or their shoulders or someplace else than their faces. When I was on the sales floor, I looked at the computers. But I can deal with people lot more easily now- even though it's still difficult- and I am now old enough to be able to excuse myself when the polite noises have been made. "Scripts" help, too. I have a bunch of nice little scripts I use to interact with people- along with polite nods, hand-waves, and the 'I'm busy' stride. That last one gets me out of a lot of pickles. I hope this helped answer your question!
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 30 Oct 10 20:08
Yes. It really is possible to learn this stuff as a series of rules and guidelines. There's several safe topics to start out with: what do you, and the other person, do for a living; has anything unusual happened with the weather lately; how do you come to be here at this event ('are you a friend of the bride or the groom?'); how is the local sports team doing, etc. Also look for clues from the other person about things they seem interested in talking about, or if they're wearing, say, a button with a saying, or they're carrying a book, or whatever. People who are interested in talking will drop little hints or clues into their conversation. You're talking about the weather, and they say, yeah, it's really messed up my golf game. and from there you can go, "oh, you play golf?" Or they're reading a particular book,and you can ask what they thought about it and if you've heard anything about it, you can mention that even if you've not read it yourself. I still have problems with the "how are you" thing. I hate it. If a stranger asks me 'how are you,' they don't really want to know how I really am. and it drives me crazy when I say 'okay' and then people go, 'only okay?' But it's a ritual, more than an actual question, so I've quit fighting it and respond with the accepted 'fine, how are you' and complete the ritual. I read several books on body language, both to identify it in other people and to use it myself and realize what sort of signals I was sending out. Also NLP, as Steve mentioned.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sat 30 Oct 10 22:16
Sometimes I just say, "I'm here," in place of "I'm fine". I've trained most of my coworkers to recognize that means I'm going to be cranky and they better not ask any more questions but just get to the point, and we'll get along fine. It's just so hard to say "I'm fine," when I'm not.
(fom) Sun 31 Oct 10 01:40
You guys are referring to NLP as if it were legit? But anyway, I learned a while back that when people say "How are you?" the best answer is "Fine, thanks!" delivered with a smile.
pseudoanthropos (abloner) Sun 31 Oct 10 07:52
I have much in common with Julie (julieswn), though anatomically a male (sounds awkward) and straight. I have had some messed up sex life in my youth (I am 77),but no stable relationship. I understood very lately that if I could have some success in that field it was because I was very attractive. Also sweet, though my sweetness derived from my fear and lack of aggressiveness. I was shy. I was also literate, so for some kind of females, I had many qualities that might make me mistakenly desirable for women. This brings me to the core of the point I want to make. You may know a language (say Finnish) enough to talk to a Finn, but if for this you have to keep in your bag a dictionary (or to search in your mind for the right word), if you are not fluent in reading in others' mind you only are brought to fake some competence you don't possess. You become an actor, you cannot really be sincere. I would say that in the field of attractiveness, the problem is _how to manage_ your attractiveness. At that far away times I didn't even know about such built in deficiencies as may exist for the miswiring of your mind, and I read tons of psychoanalytic literature (garbage!) that might only mislead me and has mislead millions around the world. Bettelheim (which I read and studied) is still reprinted twice a year in my country. Not to talk of Freud and his epigones.
Rudy Simone (rudysimone) Sun 31 Oct 10 13:06
Steve men and women are socialized in distinct ways according to their gender roles. What are some things you've noticed about the ways that men and women are socialized that influences how they carry their autistic identity, and how it's perceived by others? Good question Steve. People on the autism spectrum don't have a real strong sense of gender, or see the necessity of gender roles. We think of ourselves as people first. However, society does differentiate; there are different expectations and perceptions of females. We have more demands to be social, nurturing, and therefore are more motivated to learn social mores. As a result we may become so good at mimicking even our closest family and friends may not realize we're autistic. Our stims (soothing behaviors) are often considered normal for girls, rocking, twirling, singing, playing alone, tidying, straightening and arranging, watching our favorite programs over and over...it's just a little girl being a little girl, albeit a slightly unusual one. Our early savant skills and special interests also fall under the heading of normal for girls: reading, music, art, culture and animals. (What parents don't realize is that when little Hannah is in her bedroom she's not reading 30 books a week, she's reading the same book 30 times.) While some of us make forays into science or even "trainspotting": constellations, rocks, bugs, tag collections, our interests are as narrow and deep as our male counterparts, but often not as ostensibly weird. Sensory issues are put down to being fussy, over-sensitive, spoiled, while gifts such as hyperlexia (self-taught reader, precocious way of speaking when quite young) and a higher level of fluid intelligence mask our deficits, though we may often hear "she's too smart for her own good." That's the crux--we are seen as independent thinkers, and are expected to thrive in life so we may not get the support we need. I have also interviewed many females who were diagnosed as classic autistic when young. These girls have the opposite problem--emphasis is placed on deficits without acknowledgment of the myriad gifts of AS. The differences in perception are many. When was the last time you heard the phrase lone wolf applied to a female. Shes a cat lady instead. Or still waters run deep applied to a woman? Were shy, awkward, creepy. Women are supposed to be social, nurturing creatures, not Spock-like thinking machines. My parenting skills were often criticized, but if I had done the exact same things as a man I would have praised or at least excused. I could go on and on about this. Pseudonanthropos You may know a language (say Finnish) enough to talk to a Finn, but you have to keep in your bag a dictionary. I use the foreign language analogy a lot. If you studied high school French you could get around Paris, find the patisserie and the post office, but you cant converse in depth. That is the extent of our innate social understanding of the neurotypical world. Also, your description of your attractiveness and sweetness is exactly why some women fall in love with AS men who are not necessarily in love back, but their guilelessness and innocence make us think that they are. It is a very awful thing for a woman to realize a relationship is one-sided. That is why I wrote 22 Things Debunix and Sharon Sometimes I just say, "I'm here," in place of "I'm fine" and I still have problems with the "how are you" thing. Yes, we prefer to say what we are doing, rather than how, which is vague and/or more personal than most people care to get into. I still tend to give away too much information with that question. Although the point about scripts that Sharon makes is an excellent one. They are very freeing in a way, they take the pressure off. It is faking it, but in some cases, it works by getting the niceties out of the way and leaves the floor open to some more interesting conversation. I think we aspies tend to treat everyone equally, but finally as I get older, I dont divide the world into rich/poor young/old successful/unsuccessful cool/uncool as I did when young, but now, sincere/insincere and simply cannot abide the latter. Sunwell I have not been diagnosed with Aspergers and But because I do see things at this different pace, things that most people miss- like sub-tones and micro-expressions are like a big billboard I absolutely love and relate to your descriptions of the way you observe and process things. Of course, not every Aspie is the same, as Stephen Shore said, if youve met one Aspie youve met one Aspie but I think most on the spectrum would relate to what you are saying. You are a classic case of someone who might have a hard time being diagnosed by a physician because you are 50, and they would first wonder how you got along in life so well, youd have to educate them as to why you think you are on the spectrum, which can make a doctor defensive. Youd have to find someone who KNOWS adult female AS.
Don Mussell (dmsml) Sun 31 Oct 10 13:58
"But anyway, I learned a while back that when people say "How are you?" the best answer is "Fine, thanks!" delivered with a smile." This is fascinating to me, because despite trying for my whole life, I have never been able to "train myself" to answer that question with a simple "I'm Fine". That question triggers an entire train of thought and a search for an honest answer about how I honestly feel at that moment. Welcome to being "in the spectrum"!
Rudy Simone (rudysimone) Sun 31 Oct 10 14:11
Yes, I agree that is difficult. By the way, i did forget to wish everyone a Happy Halloween. This is one holiday I don't mind so much. I took the opportunity of going out on the street with my boyfriend, both of us dressed as nuns, carrying rulers. I enjoyed some witty (and inane) banter with strangers and loved their open manner. I adore seeing people in costume. Much like when I do my comedy/jazz stuff and I am both in costume and character, I can relate to people at this time like I cannot in ordinary everyday life. Anyhow, hope you all are enjoying it!!
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 31 Oct 10 14:20
It doesn't hurt that it's the most beautiful Halloween day EVER in San Francisco! Rudy, do you know about Belvedere Street on Halloween? Tonight in our neighborhood -- around Belvedere and Parnassus -- thousands of kids go trick or treating with their kids. Alas it could be a prime opportunity for overstimulation, but it's also really fun and touching. Thanks, everyone, for your amazing contributions here.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 31 Oct 10 14:55
Speaking of stimulation. My boyfriend-who-identifies-as-Aspie-though-he's-not-diagnosed (and I continue to refer to him that way so that people can keep track of whom I'm talking about) has two stimmie things. One is that he sort of twitches his hands, and he specifically calls that self stimulating. The other is that he *really* likes having his back scratched, much more than people typically do. I've got a couple of ...things... that I don't know whether they would fall into that category or not. One is that I have long hair and I run my fingers through the hair and work out whatever snarls are there. Similarly, I sometimes unconsciously feel my skin and look for imperfections, little scabs, etc, to knock off. (Menopause, and growing bristly hairs on my chin, etc., has been driving me crazy.) Is that the sort of thing that's a self stimulation, or is that something different?
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 31 Oct 10 15:47
Not sure whether the picking at skin is self-stimulation, or textural phobia? And I do it too.
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 31 Oct 10 17:38
(just want to say that the post <abloner> is referring to, in #60, was written by email@example.com, not me. I just posted it because the poster is off-WELL.)
(fom) Sun 31 Oct 10 18:27
>This is fascinating to me, because despite trying for my whole life, I have never been able to "train myself" to answer that question with a simple "I'm Fine". That question triggers an entire train of thought and a search for an honest answer about how I honestly feel at that moment. I always had trouble with "I'm fine." But for some reason, "Fine, thanks!" is a whole different thing. The "thanks!" part tags it as customary social sound-making rather than an attempt to answer the supposed question. Anyway, the problem for me with "I'm fine" is that then I would feel like I had to say "how are YOU?" and that just prolongs the exchange in an awkward way; whereas "Fine, thanks!" shuts it down immediately and politely. (I'm not Aspergers but I have some of the characteristics and can relate to the overall feeling of it, or at least I think I can.)
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 31 Oct 10 20:22
Well, I think that one does need to say "And how are you?" to complete the ritual code phrase.
Jennifer Simon (fingers) Sun 31 Oct 10 21:51
The short version is "Fine, thanks, and you?" The well-socialized respondent is then obligated to respond "Fine," in kind. (I worked for a guy once who always answered "Lousy!" He made the nervousness that elicited work for him, though, as a high-level administrator.) Think of the exchange as the verbal equivalent of a handshake: "Everything's fine between us, no knives at the ready."
(fom) Sun 31 Oct 10 22:54
Disagree with both of those -- "Fine, thanks!" delivered with a smile finishes the transaction nicely, in my experience.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Mon 1 Nov 10 00:24
"I get their 'gestalt' but not the stuff that is useful in polite, day to day conversation." Yep. I suck at small talk. You ask me how I am and within two minutes, if you are willing, we will be talking about quantum mechanics, the minute details of some experience I had 25 years ago, or I will be inquiring about your job with a level of knowledge and detail that will take you by surprise and may even seem intrusive in some circumstances. People who are familiar with my Well posting style will recognize this. Another point that was made upstream was about getting to a point in conversation where you can finally contribute and then you miss your chance. I would say that it has only been about the last five years or so that I have been able to be comfortable with accepting that I am not going to get to pipe in on that particular point. In the past I would wedge it in later no matter whether it was appropriate or not. I still have to conciously let it go, though. The tug to just blurt it out is still there.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 1 Nov 10 06:06
For some autism charities today, it's "Communication Shutdown" day -- a day when non-autistic people are supposed to log off from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to experience the social isolation of autism, and download a "charity app" to raise money for autism organizations. This viral campaign has been endorsed by lots of celebs, including Steven Seagal and Temple Grandin. https://communicationshutdown.org/ For many autistic people, however, the notion of falling mute for a day to raise autism awareness seems misguided. They have instead declared today, November 1, to be "Autistics Speaking Day," when people on the spectrum step forward and tell the stories of their lives online. Today I have donated my blog space to Corina Becker, a young Canadian writer and artist who launched Autistics Speaking Day. She wrote this, and it's very powerful: 25 Things I Know as an Autistic Person [...] 3. I know that I do not suffer from Autism. I suffer from a lack of understanding and support. 4. I know that being "high functioning" does not mean not being disabled. It means that my disabilities are invisible. For more: <http://blogs.plos.org/neurotribes/2010/10/31/corina-becker-communication-shutd own-for-autism-awareness-no-thanks/>
pseudoanthropos (abloner) Mon 1 Nov 10 07:39
There remain contradictory needs. You build a bubble and you live there for sometime in a relative peace, filtering, sometimes blocking, sometimes sieving external imputs: once in while, or perhaps often, as a persisting longing in the background, you are forced to open ajar an interstice, ìf not a window or a door (too dangerous, too dangerous!) and you administer with frugality the air entering, the voices, the words of people. The approaches of othere may be well intentioned, and you caution, your reserve may be offensive for the other, or others. I have in mind a famous great Florentine painter (Pontormo) who, when finished his work, took refuge in his solitary room in an old house. He might enter the room via a mobile ladder. He entered and retracted the stair, so no one could get in, nor he I
pseudoanthropos (abloner) Mon 1 Nov 10 07:45
A typing mishap. He retired the ladder and didn't answer any call and external solicitation, neither of friends or foes.
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