Monday, January 25, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Ten years ago today, I returned from Beijing, where I'd taught for the fall and winter. (The food is great, but don't drink the water and don't breathe the air! And do bring your rain and winter gear.)

This was the first full-time job I'd ever had that required so much as a college degree. And I fouled it up seriously...I only realized how seriously in the weeks and months to come.

In the year 2000, I first learned how much my personality problems could cost me. Suffice it to say for now that it eventually became clear I would probably never again work full-time in the field I had studied (Economics).

I tried to come to terms with why - and how - I was having so much difficulty getting along with people and why I kept getting rejected, especially in jobs. Not knowing (as opposed to conjecturing based on projecting my own motivations) just how most people actually operate, I worked from a very bad map...and my efforts to make the terrain conform to the map of course came to nothing.

Only three years later, when Emily first told me about AS, did I have any idea that I was in effect trying to drive an English car (with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, made for driving on the left side of the road) on American roads (where you drive in cars with steering wheels on the left-hand side, on the right side of the road).

AS destroys relationships in such a way that the Aspie - without already knowing s/he is one - does not know what's going on or even that s/he sees the world very differently from others. Other people, frustrated at his/her seeming inability to empathize with others, to "get" things without being told or to use tact, blow up at the Aspie and accuse him/her of being lazy, rude, even sociopathic. Meanwhile, since the Aspies doesn't know what is going on, and only sees people blowing up with little apparent (to him/her) rhyme or reason, may come to think the world is a hostile place, full of irrational people.

Knowing and acknowledging, at first to yourself, that you're an Aspie is the all-important first step to reversing this vicious pattern.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Doctor Is In

Eleven years ago today, my doctorate was officially conferred.

It's one of my two most important accomplishments in graduate school - Emily's the other one.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Another One Who Tells It Like It Is

Rory Miller's also done some thinking about how to stay safe. And this guy knows what he's talking about.

He's putting out another book this year, on self-defense - not so much karate-chopping the other guy into submission as doing whatever it takes to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. As he makes clear, there's one thing even better than presence of mind in a fight: Absence of body.

It's very hard to be beaten, robbed, kidnapped, raped or murdered if you're not there. It's also very hard to get hurt in a fight if none starts. (On the other hand, if one does or lose the odds are you will get hurt, maybe badly.)

Avoiding violence boils down to two things: recognizing threats in time to move away, and not provoking people into becoming threats to you. Many people - but especially Aspies - can use some help in both these areas.

Mr. Miller has posted a nuts-and-bolts excerpt of his forthcoming book, covering some ways of recognizing and staying out of trouble. It includes:

When you are or believe yourself to be on dangerous and alien ground, keep your mouth shut. This is hard for some people. I can’t help but think that if you don’t have the common sense to keep your mouth shut, or you believe that your opinions and insight are so precious that everyone wants to hear them, that you probably will suck at avoiding conflict and shouldn’t breed anyway.


I don’t give a damn about your self-esteem. The purpose of this book is to give you a few hints on staying alive or, if you teach self-defense, some critical information you can pass on to your students. The world is not about you. Everything that you know about right and wrong is context dependent. If you go to a place that is outside your context and demand that they treat you by your rules in their world, not only might you get killed, but you will be killed for being a whiny child demanding special treatment. If this is you, grow the hell up.

You want PC? Here you go: Practical Conflict-avoidance.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

AS and Loneliness


Starting tomorrow, PBS will begin a three-part series, "This Emotional Life," about certain emotional and mental health issues. Among other topics, the series will profile Jason Ross, a 29-year-old Aspie, as he discusses his challenges connecting with others.

This clip (which is SFW) presents Mr. Ross' AS as a disability, especially insofar as it makes him lonely. According to social psychologist Dr. John Cacioppo, loneliness is as unhealthy as smoking!

What do you think?

H/T: J. Willardston Smith.