Childhood

Many adult Aspies have blogs where we write about Aspergers from our Adult points of view. We write what we see and feel today. Very few of us write about what it was like to be a child without the voice to explain it through our own eyes back then. I believe that is because many of our childhood memories are colored by our misunderstanding of the people around us.
I was a very young child when I first viewed my parents with distrust. They put my 15 month old sister on the back of a horse and watched her fall off. They laughed while I melted down. At five, I realized they were irresponsible and not to be trusted. It seems my lifelong relationship with my parents was cemented in that single moment.

When I was about 7 my family’s Sunday visits to my dad’s parents stopped. Every Sunday we would go to their house and have dinner where everybody would talk real loud. After dinner grandpa would sit on his chair and my dad would sit on the end of the couch adjacent to grandpa. Grandma sat in her grandma chair, and mom, sis and I sat on the couch with dad.
“No, I believe that chickens are more trouble than they’re worth.”
“That’s because you are stupid.” Grandpa shouted at Dad, his only son.
“I’m not stupid, you will never get enough eggs to make them worthwhile.”
“Well, you’re stupid.” Grandpa sang the refrain.
This is one of the strongest memories I have of Sundays as a child. I must have been about seven when I asked my mom why Grandpa and Dad spent every Sunday screaming at each other. She didn’t answer me, but Sunday dinners at Grandma’s stopped. 500_F_59547634_Pv2SQvLdwKoMAd7V3pFF2F1pVxHjmp11
Mom detested my grandparents, so this was a handy way to take Sundays back from my grandparents.
Dinner at home was never any better.
The family is at the table and my mother has put all the food on the table. We are sitting down and now it’s time to do what they do on tv.
“How was your day?” Mom asks Dad.
Dad always has an anecdote about one of the stupid sons of a bitches he works with, sometimes it’s a mad anecdote, but often it’s funny.
Mom asks sis and I in turn, and we are hoping it will all go ok; that there is nothing to rock the boat. It never really mattered. It was going to be something. Maybe we were having fried potatoes and Dad would mention that nobody could fry potatoes like his mom. This is where mom came in with her pointed but ineffective reply. Something like, “Go live at her house then.”
“Well, I’m allowed to say I like my mom’s potatoes.” Dad said.
At this point mom was crying; She was a very emotional woman when it came to any
disapproval from Dad.
I would invariably pop up with whatever positive affirmation that this situation required.
“You and Grandma both make good potatoes. Dad thinks you make good potatoes.” shirley-temple1
Dinner was an experience that always seemed to escalate. First it would rock, and then it would shake, then it would boil, then it would churn, all the while I was trying to keep peace so this wouldn’t happen. Again.

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7th Grade Science Class Was Horrifying for This Aspie

Miss McHendry’s No Science 7th Grade Science Class
by Mari Stein
The worst teacher I ever had, indeed the worst teacher I ever saw, was Miss McHendry. She was 4 feet 9 inches of pure crazy. We all knew this not only from her reputation of jumping off her desk, but I knew it from those eyes. Her eyes glittered with unfounded excitement. The first day of class we wondered how long it would be until she jumped. I, for one, wanted that to be a myth. I hoped it was an untruth enjoyed and perpetuated by each class to titillate the next class. Everybody loves an “in” joke; Miss McHendry was the perfect foil,but she proved the myth to be true.10-Awesome-Facts-About-Halloween-Movies-You-Had-No-Idea-Of-2
The first week of class she climbed on the chair and onto the desk. There she made some noise asserting that humans can’t fly, even if they flap their arms. So there she is, tight grey curls badly contained on her elderly head, crazy eyes looking directly at her captive audience, while trying to raise onto her toes. The thick heels of her heavy black oxfords made quite a task of it, but she didn’t let that stop her. She had been doing this bi monthly for more years than anyone could remember. She mustered enough lift to carry her off the desk, and as she landed on the floor she said, “Humans can’t fly.” The other thing she did that first week was give us our ONE and only assignment for the year. We were to collect fall leaves for class. They had to be ‘perfect’ leaves, not small, not large, not spotted, not curled. Only perfect leaves would qualify. I drove my mother crazy obsessing about my leaves not being perfect enough. This was for a GRADE. 57_1oak_leaf_scaler
Miss McHendry loved to teach standing on her desk. She was my homeroom teacher and one of two science teachers for the 7th grade. It was my misfortune to have her as a teacher instead of the real science teacher. I absolutely detest crazy for the sake of crazy, and that is exactly what we were dealing with. We had science books, we could have spent that 50 minutes each day studying science. Studying directly from the books. It would have required no effort on her part. She could have made up test questions directly from the review in each section. We could have had Science Class. Instead we had a woman instructing us on ‘men with value vs. men without value’.
“My father was a wonderful man,” she raised her eyes, her face glowed with a beatific smile. Then she launched into a tribute about her father’s military heroism. She was too old to be teaching, so I could never really understand when his military career took place, but it didn’t matter because from there she launched into a diatribe about men who didn’t serve in the military. I think this diatribe covered any and all wars. “Namby Pambies they are! Panty Waists I say. They are not worth my father’s pinkie finger!” As she said this she had her hands on her hips and minced around, back and forth on the desk.
As she got angrier over these ‘Nambie Pambies’, she adopted her Shirley Temple voice and a five year old child’s earnestness. She drew her elbow back then thrust her fist forward and upward in an awkward hooray kind of motion. It was as confusing as it was disturbing.
I for one hated it. I hated it every day. It’s not like we ever went to class and has a science class. We no longer had those expectations, but as a person who values order and routine, I detested never knowing what the day’s crazy was going to be.
Of course we all got B’s on our report cards. We kept asking when we should turn in our leaves. “Not yet” she would say, She never wanted them. She changed her mind.

Sensitive Hearing, It’s Not Just for Vampires Anymore

I’ve heard remarks about my sensitive hearing my whole life. “Oh, yes, Marianne hears everything.” That’s my mother’s lament. Most of my unusual traits set her teeth on edge. I guess life with me must have been like living with an odd little ghost. My niece dubbed it ‘Vampire Hearing’, but unlike my mother, she finds it fascinating. She finds me fascinating.

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The worst thing about hyper-sensitive hearing is that sounds are scary. When someone is walking behind me on the sidewalk, I get scared. Scared enough that I move to the side so they will pass me, and they WILL pass me, because I will not move again until they are well ahead. This does not quite describe it, though. When someone is approaching me from the side, usually in a big store, I can hear them and I turn my head away from them in order not to see them, because i am already scared. Then the suspense of when or whether they will pass me heightens my stress. If I can’t stand the stress any more, I turn my head just enough to get an idea of who is there. Sometimes it makes it better, and sometimes it makes it worse. If it is a tall and hefty being, it makes it considerably worse, because i will not lift my eyes to see the face. The face might be nice, but i am not taking that chance. I will react badly if I lift my eyes and see ‘resting bitch face’. I am already scared and ready to escape. I want to go home.

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Today I bought some bluetooth noise cancelling earbuds. Because they are bluetooth, nobody will know that there is likely no audio, just less noise. I have a fear of being regarded as crazy, because it is unwise to be different from the tribe. wm-back-big

Getting people to stop walking behind me would be a big step in the right direction.

Crowds and Chaos and Noise, oh my.

Where I live there seems to be no such thing as an inside voice, or even a taboo against urinating on a toilet seat. These two things may seem unrelated, but they’re not. They show a lack of civility, moreover they show a complete lack of concern or awareness for others.

I  grant that my Asperger’s Syndrome causes me to hear sounds more acutely than most other people, but I do not understand why people who are out in public choose to speak in the same volume that they use in their own living rooms. Maybe I do know, maybe it’s because they feel the need to talk over the rest of the people in the restaurant who are speaking voce forte least one word of their scintillating conversation be lost. We might never know how important they are. They might become invisible in the din.

The lack of civility, the lack of awareness of a standard of consideration necessary to society convinces me that if I don’t leave, my head will fall off. Call it sensory overload if you must, it’s not all the Aspie’s doing. It’s not always the Aspie’s fault for not tolerating the intolerable.

mmm… Cookies !!!

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Cookie Crumble?

by Mari Stein

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I hadn’t baked cookies in almost 20 years, but it all came back to me when my niece asked me to bake cookies for her High School’s annual bake sale.

I fretted a bit and found myself mortified at the possibility of failure. I have an exaggerated fear of failure. Whenever someone complimented me and used the word perfect, I would invariably reply “Well, my motto is Perfect or Dead. “

I seemed to be kidding but in reality, no. I’m not kidding.

*****

 

Why I Don’t Bake Cookies

Cookie Crumble?

by Mari Stei

 

I don’t often bake cookies; I never did. They take forever, and the dirty bowls, measuring cups and spoons are just not  worth seeing the pleasure on my family’s faces for the 20 minutes it takes to devour 48 cookies.

As always, I am in the lead. Only I know that I have already eaten SO many cookies, because I have eaten all the imperfect ones. That’s why I have to make 60 cookies, it’s just not acceptable to offer imperfect cookies. It is not acceptable to bake imperfect cookies. People will hold me in a lower regard if they ever find out the secret to making perfect cookies is eating the bad ones. Nobody will like me. Ever.

I make every cookie perfectly, no rough edges as i use the 2 teaspoon method, scoop, scrape, smooth the top peak nicely with the back of the spoon. Twelve cookies, perfectly spaced on the cookie sheet.

Ten minutes later I take the misshapen mess out of the oven. How, HOW I ask you, can the perfectly shaped cookies have crawled into the edges of the baking sheet? As I look at the 8 good cookies and the 4 cookies with delicate square edges that will crumble raggedly as i remove them from the baking sheet, I resolve to proceed with the rolled round ball method. I roll each piece of cookie dough into a perfectly round ball, 1 inch in diameter. As I place 12 perfectly spaced cookies on the baking sheet, I am hopeful. I truly believe that there will be 12 perfect cookies in 10 minutes.

As I remove the cookies from the oven, I notice that, while none of them are terrible, none of them are very good, either…a little over-baked with really burnt spots on the bottom of the edge ones …i really hate having to eat burnt cookies !

I would LOVE to bake 9 cookies on a sheet, but they don’t make square baking sheets, so there you go…

At this point I have 8 good cookies and 4 passable cookies, an even dozen so far.

I will use 2 baking sheets and put 6 cookies on each sheet now that i have rerolled all the cookie dough balls into 1 ½ inch balls, keeping them away from the edges is the key. I will still have a dozen perfect cookies in 10 minutes.

Ten minutes later i find that the larger cookies, kept well away from the edges have contentedly spread into each other. Of course the edges where they are stuck together have broken as i removed them from the baking sheets. Ten reasonably good cookies from this batch, only 2 to eat, but they are big ones.

Twenty two decent cookies.  If I proceed with the big cookie plan i will eventually have 48 decent cookies, I just know it !

Two pans of 6 cookie yield another 10 passable cookies. Two big cookies to eat, and I have 32 cookies … this crap is getting old. I am going to make 16 more cookies by re-rolling the balls to make 16 cookies, i may have to roll them more than once to get them all the same size, but this is the plan.

Cookies rolled, placed on pans, 2 pans of 8 cookies each, bake for 10 minutes. I will clean all the mess from cookie baking and make sure that all the bad cookies have been eaten so there will be NO evidence of my imperfect cookies, so no signs will remain of my failure as a cookie baker.

I hear the timer and hopefully open the oven door. So far so good. They look like cookies.

There will be 48 passable cookies for dessert, nobody will be the wiser.

 


That evening, almost 20 years after my final cookie baking attempt, I resolved to not disappoint my niece. After a trip to Sam’s Club we are 24 cookies to the good. As I remove them from their noisy cheap plastic packaging, I smile and carefully arrange them in the absolutely perfect size Tupperware container. I line them up straight and true,  and ding them up some so they will look homemade.

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Asperger’s Syndrome – Could the concept of Superpowers be causing more harm than good?

The most ridiculous part of the ‘superpower’  thing is that we take things literally, so we know that we do not have ‘superpowers’.  We know that there are no such things as superpowers. We know claiming ‘superpowers’ is lying, and we know it is wrong. We are a minority who wants to be treated like people. That is what we are. We are people.

Seventh Voice

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There’s been a lot of talk about the increasingly popular idea that people with Asperger’s Syndrome possess some kind of superpower.

Indeed, many people seem to genuinely believe it.

Search any website on the topic and you’re sure to find groups of people who freely name their superpower and then describe in minute detail the extraordinary things that whatever their particular superpower of choice may be, enables them to do.

To me, such talk of there being any form of an Asperger type superpower is ultimately harmful as it reflects the misbegotten and much argued against concept that those with Asperger’s Syndrome view themselves as being, in many ways, superior to everyone who does not have Asperger’s.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were fighting against the claim that all people with Asperger’s Syndrome were arrogant, detached, cold, sub-human, robot type intellectual beings, who were capable of memorizing…

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Autism Speaks for Autistics as the KKK Speaks for Blacks, as Nazis Speaks For Jews, as Westboro Baptist Church Speaks For Gays

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Autism Speaks raises a lot of money for Autism Research. They hope to identify the gene that causes Autism. Once that science is done, parents will be able to decide if they want to abort an autistic embryo. Should we just sit by and accept this. In EVERY instance substitute the word BLACK or JEW or GAY. If it is not alright to trample all over the rights of Blacks, Jews or Gays, why is it all right to treat us as mistakes, to trample all over us?

Should Westboro Baptist Church run an organization called Gay Speaks?  Gay people are gay when they wake up in the morning, they are gay when they go to bed at night. They are not going to wake up one morning and be different than they are. Neither are we.

Protest At Ground Zero

Autism speaks wishes to deny that Autistic children will grow up to be Autistic adults.

They wish to deny that children with Aspergers will grow up to be Aspie adults. They believe that it can be outgrown or trained out of us. Does this sound familiar gay people? They wish us to not exist and they are raising a lot of money to that end

Should The KKK run an organization called Blacks Speak?  89118333ed6NEU

No they should not. How is our situation any different? Do black people wake up  in the morning black and go to bed at night black? Certainly they do. We wake up every morning Autistic, go to bed every night still Autistic. Can an organization raise money to make black people no longer black? Of course not, but Autism Speaks can do that to us. To Autistics. And they can do it as a tax exempt organization. What other group can be openly treated this way? None.

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Should Nazis run an organization called Jews Speak? Again No. Only us. Only Autistics.  We are the sole target in the sights of Autism Speaks, and they have put a lot of propaganda into giving lip service to wishing us well.

The next time you think maybe autistic people or people with Aspergers can do a little better, that they need to overcome these annoying quirks and behaviors they have, substitute the word Black, Gay or Jew for the word Autistic or Aspie. See how it works. It doesn’t work,

Life is hard for us every day. Every single day. That doesn’t mean we are not happy people, it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate all the upside to our disorder; it simply means that even with all that, it is hard every single day. We do not need an organization trying to commit genocide upon is in Our Own Name.