356: Teaching the Teachers

I have been praying and asking for guidance regarding my future vocation and avenue of service, and the answers very much entered through slipstream full force this early morn.

At first, I was given the message (through my little knowing voice) that my husband would over-sleep his five a.m. wakeup call (alarm) and be late for work, unless I was awake to wake him up. Hmmm. That was troubling, as with my own dyspraxia/dyslexia, I had no idea how to reset my own alarm in order to wake him up, as he was sleeping in my son’s bedroom. (Long story why we were in separate rooms, but basically boils down to dinosaur snoring, if there was such a thing.) I could have retrieved my phone from upstairs I suppose, but I wasn’t awake enough to think of that. So I tossed and turned in a type of vision-state for a bit over an hour. Knowing enough I had to stay partially awake.

I was certain time stood still, as the leap between the time of four to five seemed to take the stretch of a day. During this time I was shown image upon image.

I revisited my time at the university, the place I chose to leave a little over a year ago, based on the way I was discriminated against for mentioning I had Aspergers Syndrome. I revisited it all, the whole of it—emotions, illness brought on by the stress, the mourning process, the wanting to prove my side of the event and expose the injustice, the sob-filled-telling to my therapist and her concurring I had been the victim of appalling behavior on said professor’s part, the anger stage of wanting to sue, the humiliation part of being set up in a mediation that wasn’t a mediation…and on and on.

How dare they, is what I thought, and I spun and circled in mind about pulling up the evidence—the emails from the witness who at the time of mediation froze up and remembered nothing, the notes from my therapist, even my therapist’s comment that this man had a reputation, hearsay or not, she knew of him well, the notes from the Dean’s meeting, the Dean of the department warning me not to ever bring up the word Aspergers in professional setting: “It’s not the appropriate place.”

I dug up so much old stuff: the confusion of being accepted into a Masters in Counseling program that didn’t even want to know who I was, who didn’t even want to know how my mind functioned. The confusion of being told I was creating my condition (Aspergers) and announcing to the world my son’s brain (who has Aspergers) is broken. The confusion of receiving lower marks on my papers after the mediation took place. The confusion of one professor offering unsolicited advice about me, once she found out I had Aspergers. The meltdown of my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love that dissipated much like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz into a molten black. Why was it I who had to undergo such pain?

I thought back to the high marks I received as an educator. Always the highest marks. How my college classes previously, through undergraduate work to my Master’s in Education program had been a place of safety. How the professors appreciated my input and intelligence. At times how I became the exemplary “one” or the teacher’s pet. I remembered how with every endeavor I’d ever set out to do, I had excelled, even exceeded others’ expectation. And here, in the span of little over a semester, with the hearing of the word Aspergers, the others, a set whom were supposed to be my mentors, painted me with their own muted greys into something I was not and am not.

Suddenly, all of me became what they saw. Suddenly, I had lost all I had built. With one swipe they knocked the self out of me.

And as I processed through the events and corresponding pain, I began to wonder what to do with this surfacing anger. A damaging letter came to mind: “Look at what they did to me.” And I let those thoughts come readily and steadily and tear into me one by one. I bled in my bed. I bled and bled, the tears of my soul seeking vengeance.

And then, with the passing of deep ache and hollowed out chance, I let the feeling go. I let the anger purge through me and erase the fear. I let the anger dance and take flight. I let the scenarios play out. I let the other me who wished to be free escape. And this shadow side, she wept more. Her screams the own echoes of demise and lack of rescue. For she had tried so very hard at this University, where her dream of being a therapist was going to come true. She read all of the “extra” books, did all of the “extra” credit, spent countless hours, setting aside her dyslexia and dyspraxia, in hopes of impressing her professors, and hopes they would see her, see her brilliance, see her mind, see the gift she so readily wanted to share with the world. This part of her less-ego than giving spirit. See me, see me, see me! That is all she wanted. That was all she ever wanted.

In receiving her diagnosis the world made sense to her finally. She wanted to celebrate. Four-decades of not knowing made sense in a split-second. Four-decades of intense suffering realized and ended with the blink of an eye. In the mention of a word. This gem of Aspergers had saved her, had brought her home onto herself.

And in knowing this, she wanted to share. She had to share. She had to let others know. “Look, I found the key. Look!”…….

And instead I was made to think I was broken. I was wrong. I was made to be pushed back into a hole and remain uncovered. Not one professor wanted to hear, wanted to know about Aspergers. Even in the beginning of the second-semester of my group-therapy class I was warned, we as class warned: Don’t share the diagnosis stuff here.

Really? I was so beside myself, how could I share in group therapy without sharing the essential element of who I thought myself to be and how I thought myself to function.

Could they not see I wasn’t broken? Could they not see that Aspergers was not a disease, not an illness, not anything beyond the way I saw the world?

And the questions came bubbling: Why would I be hushed, unless indeed I was entirely flawed? Why would I be told I created this, unless I was entirely unaware of my own self?

So much damage done, in so little time.

Today, before the sun rose, I wept in bed, the whole of my body sweating and seeping out the poison. And I turned and turned, half in sleep and half in agony. Lessons, lessons, and more lessons.

And then the peace finally came. Right when it was time to awaken my husband, I was awoken.

The clarity seeped through me. I saw that I had detoxed the emotions. I finally released the torturous anguish. I finally set my self free and their falsehood to rest.

I awoke fully with a knowing. I knew what I was supposed to do.

I was to teach others, teach the teachers of the teachers, the educators of future counselors and psychologist, the parents, the caretakers, the women of tender-heart and soul like me. Teach them that Aspergers is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide away. Teach the beauty of who we are to erase the darkness that once pushed me into hiding.

Day 53: “Un-Friended”: A Female with Aspergers Experience with Friends

You are either going to love this post or say to yourself (or perhaps your neighbor): Look how long this fricken post is! 

Here’s some easy listening music to get you through the first 5 pages.

No. I’m not kidding.

It’s a soundtrack song from one of my favorite shows of all time. If you haven’t seen the movie, you haven’t lived!

Love Actually: Christmas is All Around song, by Billy Mack

This is NOT connected to the story in anyway. But this post is so fricken long that I don't have time to look for other images that aren't copyrighted.

I did what would be the equivalent to my very first “unfriending” of an individual yesterday.

I pressed the button on the  social network site and PRESTO-MAGICO (said in a French accent), they are gone from my life.

Through this unfriending process, I realized that I have NEVER once un-friended a person!

I mean real, walking, living breathing life—friends I hang out with, who I touch regularly…okay, that just didn’t sound right.

Today I reached the massive conclusion that I did not come equipped with an un-friend button.  Whomever or whatever force created me, forgot to install the un-friend button. (And I don’t mean my mom and dad.)

I’m also missing the whole and complete manual that explains the workings of friendships.

Luckily, through sweat and tears (literally lots of tears), I’ve managed to recreate my own friendship manual that looks fairly equivalent to other people’s  manuals. Of course, MY manual is written in some obscure language only Crazy Frog can read.

I’ve lost a number of friends due to my quirkiness and lack of friendship manual. Not so much now, but a fair number in my early years, and a recent loss in my late thirties.

There are two that stand out.

One loss happened with a friend I was close with for a good four to five years. And then one day, she just stopped returning my emails, stopped returning my calls, and un-friended me on Facebook. And her brother in England, he un-friended me, too! No explanation. No closure. No reason. Just erased me from her life.  And at the time, she only lived a block away from me.

This is what I imagine she would say, if she were asked to explain why she dumped me. Remember I had no idea I had Aspergers at the time, and neither did she.

She freaked out a lot over things.

She was needy.

She obsessed about her health and writing.

She worried a lot.

She was very intense, too intense.

She talked too much about her church.

Oh, and she insulted my husband one too many times, like when she said, in front of his whole poker gang:

“I bought you these specific low-salt chips because your wife told me your blood pressure was high.”

And another time at a party when she said, “I told you that you should have gotten that mole on your forehead checked out a long time ago!”

The other friend, was the only friend I made the first four years of college. This college friend simply disappeared. She stopped returning my calls. And when I phoned for the tenth time, her father informed me that his daughter was too upset to talk to me and no longer wanted to be friends. I’m still clueless on this one. But I imagine this person would have said something to this tune:

She talks about spirits and ghosts all the time.

She talks about precognitive dreams.

She dates men out-of-town she hardly knows.

She obsesses about men she just met.

She talks nonstop.

She’s odd. I mean who has never once bought themselves a soda?

And how could she not know I was dressed as Mrs. Bundy on Halloween? Doesn’t she watch Married with Children?

Interestingly enough, these two friends both have the same name. I’m not super fond of that name anymore.

I’m going to close this post with two friendship vignettes. (I don’t mean to imply the post is almost over; it’s not. Sorry.)

The first takes place when I was a freshman in high school (9th grade) in the east coast state of Massachusetts. My mother had just moved us across the United States to live with her eccentric boyfriend.

The second occurs during my sixth grade year, when I was eleven.

Both pieces illustrate an aspect of my friendship experience.

I find the juxtaposition of the element of judgment between the two vignettes fascinating and highly revealing. Where Rosie was quick to judge (scene one), I (scene two) was oblivious to judging.

Vignette One: Winter Bites

From the moment I stepped foot on the high school campus, I was targeted.  Where my classmates were all dressed in their Sunday best (even though it was Monday), I, being from the west coast, was dressed in an Ocean Pacific t-shirt and Levis jeans.

In the hallways and during physical education class, the boys whistled and commented on my figure, some of them shouting out obscenities.  The girls were no better.  While clicking across the hallways in their high heels and colored slacks, they whispered secrets, intentionally ignoring me and rolling their eyes in disgust.

Being embarrassed, as I was, to look at people directly in the eyes, made the situation worse, as I came across looking conceded and stuck up.  If the kids weren’t calling me a slut to my face they were claiming I was a snob behind my back.

I survived by hiding out in the back of the classrooms and penciling the entire lyrics to the song Hotel California across my desktop.  Since moving, every song that mentioned California, the west coast, or even beaches, became my favorite

I acclimated within a few weeks’ time, but I never assimilated.  I learned how to curl my hair in tight ringlets, waking up at five-thirty in the morning, and spending an hour every day to form the curls perfectly.  I babysat the neighbors’ children to earn money to buy a couple of pairs of colored pants.  I purchased one pair of black high-heels.  I adapted to the girls’ style of makeup, packing layers of foundation onto my face and lining the lower section of my eye with a thin wisp of black liner.  I cleaned up well.  Just not well enough.

The boys still hooted.  The girls still jeered.  But I was able to make a friend.

Rosie, a chubby brunette who was obsessed with the color pink—hair ribbons, clothes, sneakers and feather tipped writing pens—everything pink—became my new best friend.  She lived with both parents in a two-story, tastefully decorated, newer home and had, what seemed to me, everything a girl could want.  However, Rosie was very inexperienced when it came to the subject of boys.  So knowing all of my secrets, she relied on me to fill her in on the details.

Rosie was the friend who helped initiate my first meeting with my freshman crush, Jeff, a popular Italian boy in my homeroom class whom I fell in love with as soon as I spotted him limping down the aisle in his crutches.  He was lanky and thin, in that just sprouted way, so that all the parts were there and developing daily into more manly features.  I think what got me, what made me want him, were his dark brown eyes, the ones that matched mine, and of course his leg cast.

Rosie graciously delivered my love letter to Jeff and later waited by the phone with me for his response.  And she was all caught up in a dancing flutter when Jeff called and asked me to go steady.  After all, by all the kids’ standards, he was the most popular freshman boy on campus:  a star athlete, drummer in a basement band, and strikingly handsome.

There were a good couple of months I was on cloud nine; Rosie and I did everything together: slumber parties, my first MTV video viewing, Halloween parties. And I spent each afternoon at Jeff’s house in his basement listening to him drum out the music and making out while pretending to watch General Hospital.

But everything fell apart by the time I experienced my first snow flurries.  I dropped down a few clouds by then, actually out of the clouds completely, and plummeted down to the hard surface breaking my head open, like I had when I was four years of age, only this time there was no hospital, and no one soothing my soul with kind whispers.

It was a frigid day when Rosie wore her fuzzy hot pink sweater, the first day I understood how winter can bite.  Dressed in her padded shoulders of pink and matching leg warmers, looking like she was auditioning for a part in a Flash Dance remake, Rosie greeted me at our usual blue table in the crowded school cafeteria.  I arrived with a thankful smile.  The week had been horrendous, with one enormous and aggressively loud junior girl barging into science class during the professor’s lecture and shouting, “You’re dead after school, Slut!”  And a couple of freshman boys having had poked fun at my new glossy yellow gym shorts as I bent over to retrieve the volleyball.  And let me not forget the French teacher who had informed me my average was a C-.

Rosie brushed the sleeves of her gaudy sweater and frowned deeply, before tossing her big hair back.  I assumed she was still disappointed over the news that the boy she liked, tall Frankie, didn’t want to go steady with her.  Before I had a chance to take a seat at the cafeteria table, Rosie barked, “Here!”   A pink piece of folded paper floated down to the table.  Giving Rosie a raised brow, I reached down and retrieved the note.  By the time I read the first hot-pink words, Rosie had grouped in the corner and was gawking with a gaggle of giggling girls.  There was a raw burning in my throat, as I read the letter to myself:

“You are a stupid slut.  I don’t know what any of the guys see in you.  You are nothing but a cheap whore and nothing special.  You think you’re so hot, the way you shake your ass and the boys all watch.  It’s only because you are easy.  I don’t know why anyone would ever want to be your friend.

Your X-Friend, Rosie

P.S.  Jeff is only with you because you are a slut.  If you don’t believe me ask anyone.”

I digested Rosie’s words, swallowing each of the letters like spiky thumbtacks.  I looked out, my bleak expectations tempered by conscious trepidation.  My hands shook.  Rosie whispered and shook her dark mane.  Outside the steamed window, the first of the snow flurries sprinkled down like powdered sugar.  Trembling, I turned away and led myself from the crowded room, outside into the courtyard, where my tears fell swiftly with the soft snow.

I try to keep my blog PG-Rated, but these stories are probably PG-13, some strong language.

Vignette Two: The Bleeding Napkins

The thing I remember most about Renny, besides her over-sized nostrils and cooked-spaghetti-like hair, was the bleeding napkins.

“We show them at the county fairs and other places,” Renny said, one afternoon in her dingy kitchen.  Squeezing my face together, I covered my mouth and nose with my hand and stared out at the pile of gray and blue cat carriers stacked high in the corner.

“You’ll get used to the smell in a few minutes,” Renny apologized.

I smiled.  “I like your orange wallpaper,” I offered.

Renny pulled down an enormous bag from the pantry shelf and proceeded to fill up five bowls with cat food.  Nine cats and three kittens came running.  “Mother and I show them at the cat shows,” she announced, and pointed to a shelf laden with dusty ribbons, plaques and miniature, gold trophies shaped into cat faces.

“Do you get money?” I asked from behind my hand.

“No,” Renny frowned. “We only get the prizes.”  She pushed aside some dirty dishes in the sink and filled up a large water bowl.  Then she wet a stack of napkins.

“Oh,” I said, sinking my hands deep into my jean pockets.  I breathed in.  Renny was right, the smell was fading.

“I used to have thirteen cats when I was little,” I said.  “But only for a couple weeks.  We had three cats and two got pregnant, and soon there were thirteen.  But I like the number thirteen.  It’s my favorite.  So that was pretty cool.”  I was rambling.  I rambled when I was nervous.  “But then one day I came home and there was only one cat left, Ben’s cat.  That’s all.  And I asked Mom what happened and Mom said that she found them all good homes.  But I knew she hadn’t really, because it was only one day.  And no one can find twelve cats homes in one day.  So I knew they were dead.”  I peered out at Renny who didn’t seem to be listening.  “Did I tell you ten of them were kittens?”

Renny glanced up and smiled.  “Come in here.  I have something I have to do,” she said.  The water dripped off the napkins, making a trail from the kitchen into the living room.  Renny kicked an empty soda bottle out of her way and tossed a clump of her sister’s clothes onto a chair.  “It’s a good thing we don’t have carpet, my mom says.  But they still find their way to the couch, mostly this couch. That chair over there isn’t so bad. You can sit there if you want.

“I’m fine,” I answered.  I picked at the green alligator appliqué I’d sewn by hand on to my old shirt, an alligator I’d plucked off of a ten-cent, stained polo shirt purchased from the local thrift store.

Renny stopped moving, and asked, “I do this everyday—well most days.  Do you want to try?”

“No, thanks,” I said with shifty eyes.

Renny set the pile of wet napkins on the arm of the couch and began separating them from each other.  One at a time she spread white all across the seat of the couch, until there appeared to be a long line of paper ghosts.

Like magic, the napkins began turning red, bleeding out from the center to the edges.   I twisted my face in disgust.  “What’s that?” I asked.

“Flea poop,” Renny said quickly.  “It’s one of the downfalls of having cats.  But it’s worth it.  You saw all those ribbons.”

My eyes widened.  I gulped.  “I guess.  Do you think I can use your bathroom?”

Five minutes later, after I’d rinsed my hands under the water several times and stuck my head out the open bathroom window, I found Renny atop her waterbed.  There were no blankets.  Well there were, but the covers were all piled in a corner of her closet.  But there was one big orange sheet.

“My mother’s old boyfriend Ben used to have a waterbed,” I said.

“You’re pretty safe up here from the fleas.  Here.”  She tossed a training bra at my head.

“Yuck.  What’d you do that for?”

Renny flashed an unfettered smile.  “My sisters have them.  I thought it was about time I got one.  Plus when a guy goes to feel me up, if I’m not wearing a bra, what’s he going to think?”

I touched my sunken chest and frowned.  “Who’s going to feel you up?”  I looked up.  “Do you think I need a bra?”

Renny jumped down from the bed.  I flicked a flea off of my arm and examined the floating green cluster of goop in the water under Renny’s waterbed liner.  “Yuck,” I said.  “You need water conditioner or to drain it.”

Snatching the bra from my hand, Renny held it up against her shirt and galloped about the house neighing like a horse.  I followed, prancing about with a pair of Renny’s floral underwear on my head.  We were both out of breath when we heard the sounds of barking laughter.

We peered out the living room window.  At the end of the driveway, Renny’s sisters flashed their black bras at two shaggy-haired boys.  Renny’s mouth was agape, her pointy ears turning red.  I pulled my eyes away and focused on the flea on my sock, catching the parasite with the first try and popping it in between my thumbnail and finger.  A drop of blood squirted out.

Renny stepped away from the window, taking the string of the blinds with her. The blinds clanked and scraped against the mildewing glass causing a miniature dust storm.  Coughing, I ran to Renny’s bedroom and sought retreat from the fleas under the orange sheet.

Minutes later, Renny lifted the lid of a red and white cigar box, and pulled out a small bud of marijuana.  “It’s the expensive stuff,” she said and bit down with a sour face.

I wasn’t too impressed, but smiled anyhow. “I’ve tasted the seeds before,” I offered.

Renny chuckled, set the box down, and pushed an orange tabby cat away. “Mom keeps the dope hidden in her closet but my sisters are always stealing.”  She pulled off cat hair from her sock and scanned her slovenly room, the whites of her eyes turning pink.  “Sometimes,” she whispered, “I wish I lived with my father.”

I pang hit me hard in the stomach then.

Day 48: Death by Saliva

I awoke in the early hours of the morn hacking like a hairball-ridden feline with my throat aflame. I’d apparently choked on my own saliva and was still mostly asleep, pacing the bedroom floor while gasping for air. My throat was parched from what had to have been an up chuck of bile.

Out of breath and slit-eyed, I made my way upstairs, and sat in the cold living room under the light of a singular lamp, contemplating my death. LV (see my lingo button) was wide awake, panting and pacing in a pure state of panic, entirely convinced that at any moment the co-conspirators of spit and throat would rebel and squeeze the last breath from me.  Sir Brain refused to ever sleep again. Crazy Frog started counting on his webbed digits all the ways a human could feasible expire. Elephant headed out to the forest. Phantom was weeping in the dark. And OCFlea was in his element, strumming on his ukulele and serenading Death.

Little Me, I passed out on the couch while bargaining with the gods.

Saliva Choking Info. Found Online: “I would be interested to know if you are Overweight. The symptoms that you are describing sound very much like obstructive sleep apnea, which is more common in people who are overweight. In this increasingly common disorder, the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes while you sleep, and then it falls into the airway.”   

Oh! JOY! Time to find me a muzzle. 

This morning, I looked in the bathroom mirror, and I swear my chin is gone. Vanished. Took off with the night. And I have a taste in my mouth like some Keebler elves were up late lacquering my teeth with pond slime. My chest hurts from choking, and still from that nut that caught in my throat from that frozen-cheesecake incident a couple of weeks back. My legs, and basically every part of my body, ache from starting back up with my evil (Eeee-V-aalll) exercise regime. Oh, yes, and my headache came back like black magic, right when the Dean of Education called me last night.

The Dean is heading to China. She gave me a quick ring-a-ding before she left her office for the week. I will get reimbursed thousands of dollars, it seems. Her advice, to set the final part of the plan in motion, was to write a very short, ambiguous email explaining to the VP of the university that I had to withdraw from the college because of my disability. (For university auditing purposes)

Oh boy, did Elephant barge out from nowhere. All of the sudden anger, which I can only assume had been held hostage in the dark of the haunted woods with Phantom, came barging out full-force, trumpets and all.

Elephant had a thing or two to say to the dean. And Elephant actually sounded quite intelligent during the process.  First off Elephant reminded the dean, who I have to say was kind in her manner, that I would not lie, that I was not leaving the university because I had Aspergers! In truth I was leaving because of the way the professors treated me. And that in my last Master’s Program, I had had no trouble whatsoever with the professors, and was in fact supported! (What a concept.)

After Elephant’s romp, the dean was rather quiet. When she spoke again, she still said the same thing: A brief email would be best.

Within a few more minutes, Elephant got to the bottom of the situation. (Now I’m picturing butts. Sorry. Can’t help myself. But I’m stopping Crazy Frog from posting cute butt photos.)

Elephant discovered that the dean had no qualms about anything that Elephant had said. In fact she agreed. With some careful questioning, Elephant came to realize the dean wanted me to write a brief email to assure I’d receive my tuition back. The brevity would avoid the potential of my tuition reimbursement request going into the long, drawn out appeal process. The dean also concurred, quite nicely, that after I had the money in hand, I might consider sending a letter to the VP explaining the truth of the events.

Bravo! One step closer to putting this university behind me! (Butt images again…)

Crazy Frog is ever so thankful to have his precious i-Mac computer back today. Seems he’s become quite the computer snob.

My post was super short yesterday, by my standards. Wouldn’t you know, it turns out that people who read blogs like short posts! Now I have to go back to review my Blog 101 Rules again, and develop a working list of the unspoken norms and etiquette of blogging. It appears, through the act of blogging, I have stumbled upon a cyber society with its own set of virtual rules and expectations.

I’ll be hosting a sit down with the Geek Posse at high noon, to acknowledge our quirky-cute, uniqueness and our right to be however we wish to be in any society, cybernetic or not. Though, I predict the whole meeting will turn into a Matrix  (virtual reality) debate, where Crazy Frog searches out the boundaries of his existence, and theorizes he is existing in some simulated world anyhow. Regarding their existence, I imagine I’ll have to console LV and Sir Brain with dark organic truffle chocolate, yet again.

And then by sundown, I’ll inevitably find myself gasping in the night with no chin. Such is the story of my life.

The Muppet Matrix. For all my fellow Geek Posse Folks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQrotZDDsTE


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Day 44: The ABC’s of Discrimination: I will not be made to feel ashamed of Aspergers!

Many of you know that I’ve held off on describing what I experienced recently while I was a student in the counseling program at the local university. I believe waiting  was a beneficial decision.

Today, I have arrived at a place of closure, over the events that have transpired. I cannot say I am at peace, but I am definitely thinking more clearly and feeling more centered than I have in weeks.

I believe now I have the capacity to share my experience with clarity and without undertones of self-pity and pain. I share primarily to expose the discrimination that can occur towards individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Please keep in mind I was a successful teacher for many years, earning the highest marks, and that I was never subjected to unjust criticism or unsolicited advice. No one knew I had Aspergers when I was a teacher. Not even me.

Yesterday I met with the Dean of Education, whom I found to be forthright, careful, and kind. She listened patiently as I lamented about my experiences with the professors. I cried for the entirety—a good thirty-minutes. Because of the position she holds at the university, there wasn’t much she could offer in terms of condolence or her opinions.

She did state, in so many words, that the group of professors heading the counseling department at the university tend to have “their views,” but that their views don’t represent everyone, of course.

Their views meaning the family system theory view.

Their views meaning: Asperger’s Syndrome is created and perpetuated by family members’ words, actions, subconscious drives, and by family dynamics. In other words Aspergers is not the result of brain functioning, environment, and/or genetics.  And Aspergers is definitely not a different way of looking at the world or high intelligence. Aspergers is a syndrome created by family members.

I can’t see myself striving in an environment where close-minded teachers are compartmentalizing individuals based on their own narrow and biased theories. Where they are desperately lacking in current theories and personal accounts regarding Aspergers. Where they have no interest at all to know how Aspergers manifests itself in individuals. Where I wasn’t once asked: What’s that like?

A place where I was queried by a licensed mental health therapist with a PHD in psychology, my professor: “Are you happy you have pronounced to the world your brain and your son’s brain are broken?”

A place where I was told that I had “likely manifested my own Asperger’s Syndrome in order to be closer to my son.”

A place where I was accused of taking my child to a psychiatrist, “so you (I) can put him on medication and not have to deal with the real issues.” (Not that it matters, but my son isn’t on any medication.)

A place where I received the following email from a professor after I professionally disputed a grade, because I was very aware the professor had not kept accurate records of student work: “Another faculty concern is tone and professionalism when communicating conflict. This is very important when requests are made both here in school and in your future work. You yourself, if you become a counselor, will need to remain calm and non-defensive in dealing with many clients who are upset and dysregulated.”

She prefaced this email with the assumption that since I had told her I had Asperger’s Syndrome that I was open to any of her advice.

There is more I could share, but I think this paints a clear picture.

In leaving the university yesterday, I carried away two of the dean’s statements:

1)   Based on everything you have told me I think it is best you don’t continue in the program.

2)   It is probably best if you don’t tell professionals you have Aspergers. It’s not the appropriate environment. They aren’t your therapists.

I am left perplexed and unsettled. I am concerned that this faculty will continue educating hundreds of counseling students. I am concerned that the dean is not instigating change.

And I have been turning over and over in my mind why Aspergers is something I was cautioned to hide.

Yes, I understand that by telling my professors I had Aspergers that I was treated differently, some would conjecture harshly. But is the solution for me to remain quiet and in hiding?

Is that what minorities have done in the past to be heard, to be seen, to achieve fairness, equity, and justice?

Is Aspergers such a widely misunderstood condition that I should retreat in shame?

This morning I came across this comment: “My son has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My husband and I both sadly agree that we would rather that our son have diabetes.” (Paraphrased from a comment found on an online chat room.)

How is keeping my Aspergers hidden going to help this ignorance?

Here are more stereotypical views about people with Aspergers:

Negative

Pessimistic

Self-defeatist

Mindset of a child

Self-centered

Lack people skills

Only see the world through their narrow point of view

Difficulty expressing emotions

Insensitive

Lack empathy

Come across as know-it-alls

Behavioral problems

Fake their feelings

Poorly equipped to thrive

Benchwarmers

Geeks

Annoying

Stupid

Here is the truth of Aspergers

The REAL ABC’s Of Asperger’s

These attributes describe some of the wonderful qualities people with Aspergers possess:

A: Apologetic, Admit fault, Avoid superficial conversation, Accepting of quirks

B: Brilliant in chosen field of study

C: Capable, Caring, Complimentary, Creative, Clever problem solvers

D: Detail oriented, Driven, Devoted, Dauntless in Interests, Dependable, Deep Thinkers, Don’t Discriminate, Don’t have hidden agendas, Defend the weak

E: Enthusiastic, Exhibit Exceptional Endurance, Entertaining, Enlightened

F: Fact Finders, Forthright, Forgiving, Free from prejudice, Fruitful

G: Genuine, Good memory for facts and details

H: High-level of Integrity, Honest, Highly Focused

I:  Intelligent, Imaginative, Idealists, Ingenious, Instructive

J:  Justice seekers, Just

K: Knowledgeable, Kind

L: Loyal, Look for goodness and genuineness in friends, Listen without judgment

M: Memory can be exceptional, Memorable conversationalist

N: Not bullies, Not manipulative, Not deceptive, Not game players, Not inclined to lie and steal

O: Original thinkers, Open to new information, Outstanding, Optimistic despite setbacks

P: Puzzle solvers, Pattern finders, Pragmatic, Philosophical thinkers, Poetic, Passionately Pursue interests

Q: Quick learners, Quick thinkers, Question “truths” and opinions

R: Reliable, Regard others for their personhood, Routine establishers, Rule followers

S:  Sincere, Solution finders, Speak their mind, Strength in endeavors, Strong moral code, Sensitive to Sensory Stimuli

T: Talented, Trusting, Think in Pictures, Truth Seekers

U: Unique perspective and outlook

V:  Valiant, Vigilant, Advanced Vocabulary

W: Word interest, Witty humor, Wonderful Work ethics

X:  Non-Xenophobic

Y:  Youthful-outlook, Yearn for truth

Z:  Zestful, Zealous

I don’t know about you, but I think the world could do with a few more people like this!

Please share this page if you are inclined. I don’t know what my role is in all of this is, but I know I won’t stand in silence. I know the difference between right and wrong.

In love and peace ~ Sam Craft

© Everyday Aspergers, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. http://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com

10 Traits of Aspergers

10 Myths about Aspergers

I am Elephant: Speaking up For Me

The World Needs People With Asperger’s Syndrome By Temple Grandin

Day Forty-Three: Sam Craft’s Lament

You know what’s great about this blog? Don’t think too hard.

Answer: You never ever know what to expect!

You know what? (Again don’t think so hard.)

I never know what to expect either!

Isn’t that fantastic?

Just nod.

For instance, I thought I’d be writing about the blustering Winnie-the-Pooh day outside, with fallen trees and cresting waves on the Puget Sound. Instead, I end up comparing my experience at the university with the impaling of a vampire. How cool is that?

Just to be completely honest, before I type on, I’ve been working very hard at out-witting my own dang rules. Having seen the dilemma of me against me, I’ve decided to lighten up some. Today, I’m quite gleefully typing in my pajamas and socks. Who wants to get showered and dressed to blog? Who was I kidding?

This is good, or rather beneficial, this rebel mood I’m in, because today is the big day I’ve been both anticipating and dreading, for around three or more weeks. I’ve lost count. And it’s not worth my time to look at the calendar. I’ve spent enough time and energy on this whole university blowup event.

That’s what I’m calling the happening: a huge blowup. Blowup as in filling up a balloon with so much helium that it bursts. Blowup as in a tire’s thread worn to the bone causing the tire to bust. Blowup as in a restless volcano blowing its top!

I’m pretty darn proud of myself that I haven’t blurted out all that transpired in black and white on this blog. I like the mysteriousness surrounding what I have offered, and the respect I’m giving the villains.

I’m feeling okay about calling them villains, even though I know we are all God’s (Universe’s, String Theory’s, what-have-you’s) creatures.

I know these people have taught me plenty; especially about how I don’t want to lead and teach like them. And I know these lessons will carry me far, that the experience has already given me that extra sheet of armadillo-layer across my soft-bellied-sensitive-tummy.

Still, something feels so delightfully good about calling them villains.

Some words for villain are anti-hero and contemptible person.

I picture a little ant with a small red cape that reads HERO going up against a grotesque giant in a huge white nappy (diaper) that reads Anti-Hero. And I envision the ant winning by some divine intervention from the Roman Gods.

I like the term beyond the pale, too. It’s a word related to contemptible and means an unpardonable action. I believe I am in the right to say the professor was beyond the pale.  He was outside the acceptable and agreed upon standards of decency. And dang it, if I have to constantly adjust my actions and phrases to make others feel comfortable, then he ought to have at least had decency.

A little word origin lesson, as I’m a teacher at heart, and always shall be: The pale means a stake or pointed piece of wood. Think vampire. I’m thinking a sexy vampire. Pale is in the word impale, like in the Dracula flicks. A paling fence represents an area enclosed by a fence; so to be beyond the pale is to be outside the accepted home area, or designated safety zone.

Fenced areas or regions were set up for people for safety, such as when Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement in Russia.

So the message is: “If there is a pale, decent people remain inside the pale.”

Look what Crazy Frog Found!

By the way, my professor, he jumped the fence.

Now I’m stuck on word origin again. I just reviewed the origin of flipping the bird, ducks in a row, and, you might be happy to know with all my rambling, I’m reviewing that’s all she wrote.  Okay, done.

Last night I dreamt that I parked my ten-speed bike in front of a quaint neighborhood house. When I returned to retrieve the bike, I found it broke into two (repairable) parts. I knocked on the door of the nearby house. An older man answered. (He looked like my professor but way uglier.) The man explained that he took the bike apart because I left too much of my bike sticking out in his driveway. I hadn’t. He then offered to fix the bike for a large sum of money. I knew he was applying trickery and trying to gain from my loss. I declined, and instead had him carry the pieces into my van. I drove away.

Hmmmm? I wonder how my subconscious is feeling about my dumbass professor?

Another thought: How in the world can I produce such deep felt all-loving, nonjudgmental prose like The Wounded Healer and On Leadership one day, and then turn around and have the audacity to call a professional a dumbass?

Oh! I’m raising my hand! I know. I know. Call on me!

Answer: Because I’m human (just like you’re human, I hope), and I refuse to act like I’m not human to earn some semblance of self-manipulated respect. Plus, who hasn’t wanted to call at least one teacher in their life a dumbass?

Okay, just so you know Melancholic Little Me is still around, and obviously Sir Brain (as I’m still rambling). Little Me is carrying an index card that reads:

My Authentic Self: “…caring, nurturing, kind, creative, intelligent, beautiful being who doesn’t wish harm on anyone and wants to be the most beneficial light wherever she is.”

I said those words aloud during a group therapy meeting (in the college course I’ve dropped) when asked by the professor, “What do you wish to share in this group?”

But I didn’t share what I truly wanted to share. I had wanted to say, in group, how my heart had been impaled by two professors and by my classroom study-partner. That would have been authentic!

 

Who is Van Helsing? A protagonist in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula.