It's a GAD GAD World
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Over the past year I've had the opportunity to learn a little about autistic spectrum disorders (don't ask me how), and some of it is starting to sound familiar.

I don't think I have enough symptoms, and what symptoms I have aren't severe enough to qualify me for a full-blown diagnosis, but Asperger's would explain a lot about why I'm such a fuck-up.

Autistic people have phenomenal memories. So do I. Asperger's people can also have heightened verbal abilities. I was reading at 18 months. Not speaking--READING. When I was maybe 3 or 4, my mom would sit me down at the kitchen table & plop the latest issue of Time magazine in front of me. She'd open the magazine to an article and say "read this". Then I'd read the article out loud to her while she made my breakfast.

Mind you, I didn't necessarily understand what I was reading. But I could read the words to her. Which leads me to my next symptom: Subtleties are often lost on autistic types. If something isn't spelled out to them, they don't necessarily get it. When I'd take standardized tests in grade school I would always score slightly lower on reading comprehension than in reading. When I was a freshman in high school I had to read "To Kill A Mockingbird". At some point I had to take a test on it. One of the questions was, "How did Bob Ewell die?" I answered "He fell on his knife and killed himself" and was shocked when I got it wrong. That was exactly what it said in the book, how could it be wrong? I was an adult before I was able to read the passage again and understand what really happened.

Speaking of subtleties and autistic folks, they don't often pick up on social clues. I'm better at it now that I'm an adult, but I'm still not as with it as normal people. And I was much worse as a teenager/college student. I think this is why I'm a complete and total failure at love. The whole dating and mating process just seems like an intricate chess match to me and someone forgot to give me the rule book. I just want to walk up to guys I know and say, "Look, I know we don't know each other very well. But I'd like us to get to know each other better. That doesn't necessarily mean I want to sleep with you. It just means I'd like to sit down with you and have a cup of coffee or something and see if we can stand half an hour in each other's company without either of us wanting to kill the other. Then we can go from there." But you can't say that to guys. They run screaming from the room if you do that. Sometimes they leave skid marks.

I'm also honest to a fault. I just don't know of any other way to be. I see so many things going wrong at work, and it's just so damn obvious to me what they are. I think one of the few reasons I've been able to keep my job for this long is that I'm finally learning to keep my mouth shut. But that doesn't keep me from seeing the truth.

Autistics can be sensitive to certain noises or flickering lights. I've never been good with sirens or loud noises, and it got worse after 9/11. And I'm dreading the annual Christmas party because I know there's going to be a dj there who does not understand the basics of indoor acoustics.

Asperger's types also tend to have one special area of interest, and this is the ONLY thing on which they can carry on a conversation. This isn't me. But I do find that when I'm talking to someone & I think of something that I want to say, I will often choose to say what pops into my head rather than gauge my conversation to what the other person is saying.

In other news, I had a decent Thanksgiving for a change. A co-worker invited me to her place, & her family was actually pretty cool.

And one thing on which I have to vent: You've probably heard the story by now about the Wal-Mart security guard who was trampled to death when he tried to open the store on Black Friday & people were just a bit too eager to get to those bargains to give a shit about the security guard's safety. People...When obtaining a good deal on a holiday gift becomes more important than a person's life, somebody's values (either yours or the person for whom you're buying the gift--probably yours) are seriously out of whack.

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