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Permaculture and Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Asperger's  RSS feed

 
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he also showed that there were biological differences, an over sensitized central nervous system with greater response to sensual stimulation



We ran into that problem as parents. I am so glad our school system was prepared and marked his record as gifted needing special accommodation. They accommodated again when we moved three streets out of the area of his grade school. [developed good bicycle riding skill to catch his buss] Middle school he developed sensitivity to the sound of pencil on paper which was devastating because of his love of communicating with pictures. They said that is all right we have computers now. We had to move again but he could not fit in with the social disorder at the new school. The counselor said that is alright the other students will catch up with him when they are about 20. So we home schooled and he developed his computer skills. When he went to trade school for graphic arts the instructor would often often answer other students inquiry by sending them to my son because he had figured out the answer on his own and could therefore explain it better. When the recruiter for a game company came to interview him she sensed that she had found her match and they eventually married.

I skipped over the part about being bad disciplinarians when his ears could not tolerate the sound system at meetings and he was laying face down on the floor with his hands over his ears and kicking the floor in pain. Not to mention odor sensitivities.

For those looking for a mate, I have observed that it sometimes means accepting that it may be someone older or younger to match your state of development.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:

For those looking for a mate, I have observed that it sometimes means accepting that it may be someone older or younger to match your state of development.



I regard age as part of a broader package. I realised some time ago that I'd far more likely to get along with an Aspie or someone else with a variant neurotype with similar interests who might be far apart in age than I would be with someone my own age into shopping, booze and parties. In terms of a permie smallholding either could provide diversity in practical and emotional skills.
 
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There is soooo much going on in this thread, it's hard to know where to jump in. I do have a question that some of you who have been dealing with the spectrum longer may be able to answer.

I'm a teacher. There were not ANY [officially diagnosed] ASD/Aspie kids in the schools when I started teaching. They have only really been recognized the last 15 years or so (maybe more). So, in the "old days," those who were more adapted to social conventions were never taught about the different needs of that population and grew up believing whatever it was they figured out about people on the spectrum. Surely there were people on the spectrum, even if they were not officially diagnosed, right?

Well, now there is a generation of students coming of age who have been learning about the needs of people on the spectrum since they were little. Teachers have had more training as has society in general. Schools are definitely making the effort to accommodate for needs, teach social skills, and educate other kids and their parents about the needs of ASD children. Here's my question: Is that making any difference? Is society in general becoming more accepting of the unique needs of aspies now that they know more about what is going on? I know it's not "perfect" yet, but is it at least moving in the right direction?

The experiences I've had with many different students is that they have unique needs, interests, etc. Some will love any nature experiences that they can get, but others seem much more attached to electronic devices and more remote interactions with people. I'm not willing to weigh in with any judgements about that, but going back to the original post, it makes sense that some kids will love premaculture experiences. Designing areas with their needs in mind will be appreciated by them and by others. But, it's definitely not a "one size fits all" kind of thing, so it would be unrealistic to think that all kids would like it.

 
Neil Layton
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Kim Arnold wrote: Surely there were people on the spectrum, even if they were not officially diagnosed, right?



Right. Me, for a start.

Kim Arnold wrote:Well, now there is a generation of students coming of age who have been learning about the needs of people on the spectrum since they were little. Teachers have had more training as has society in general. Schools are definitely making the effort to accommodate for needs, teach social skills, and educate other kids and their parents about the needs of ASD children. Here's my question: Is that making any difference? Is society in general becoming more accepting of the unique needs of aspies now that they know more about what is going on? I know it's not "perfect" yet, but is it at least moving in the right direction?



I could go into detail about how it didn't work for me, but that would seem redundant.

I think there is now greater awareness, but I'm not sure that there has been an improvement. I went through hell as a child, and extended periods of acute and chronic isolation, with all that comes with those, as an adult.

What happens now, in too many cases, is that the bullying, I'm reliably informed, continues, while children are being put through different forms of hell, which boils down to child abuse, whether that's ABA, bleach enemas or any of the other fad pseudo-treatments, whether mainstream or otherwise. There is a great tendency among parents, teachers and others, to force autie children into a position where they can "function" like neurotypicals, and "success" is judged on the basis of how well they can learn to "pass" as being neuroptypical.

For someone like me, for whom diversity is key to a healthy society, just as it's key to a healthy ecosystem, this is morally and scientifically bankrupt. "Curebie" is an abusive epithet among many adult Aspies. Now, I'm not saying this is the story everywhere, but I do know it's a common one.

In answer to your question, I think things have changed. That does not necessarily mean they have improved.

Kim Arnold wrote:
The experiences I've had with many different students is that they have unique needs, interests, etc. Some will love any nature experiences that they can get, but others seem much more attached to electronic devices and more remote interactions with people. I'm not willing to weigh in with any judgements about that, but going back to the original post, it makes sense that some kids will love premaculture experiences. Designing areas with their needs in mind will be appreciated by them and by others. But, it's definitely not a "one size fits all" kind of thing, so it would be unrealistic to think that all kids would like it.



I agree it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. I think it's a size that would fit me very well. Many of us withdraw into tech because it fits our systematic minds. Others of us withdraw into tech because text levels the playing field. I have the same set of communication information that you do, which is not the case face-to-face, or on that vile invention called the telephone. Now, don't get me wrong, a high-tech environment will work well for many auties, and a laptop, for me, is a lifeline. I'd use the laptop a lot less in a low-stimulation environment like a forest garden: I'm using the laptop because the better option remains unavailable.

Finally, I would make an important point that, while this is about children, it it not just about children. There is a tendency among many educators to think that autism in its various forms simply sorts itself at the age of 18, when a properly "passing" autie can be unleashed on the world and make their own way with the rest of the neurotypicals. This is not, and hopefully never will be, true. The onus is not on everyone to fit into neurotypical monoculture, but for everyone to accept a social polyculture.

/rant
 
Kim Arnold
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Thanks for your thoughtful and honest answers, Neil. I appreciate your insights. It sounds like there's still a lot of work to do.

My goal always is to respect the individual. I do it for all my students as much as possible. If you need to stand up to learn, fine. Just stay by your desk. No problem. If you need to walk around and say your test answers aloud, also fine but you'll need to go to another room so the others won't hear your answers. There are ways to compromise without needing to homogenize. We just need more people thinking that way. And the work continues!

My nephew is on the spectrum and a year away from graduating high school. You're absolutely right about this not going away.

Blessings to you!
 
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Neil Layton wrote: The onus is not on everyone to fit into neurotypical monoculture, but for everyone to accept a social polyculture.



I like this very much.
 
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I don't do tests. I don't go to a (psych.) doctor to have a diagnosis. I don't want to be 'labeled' (put in a box). I like being who I am, the way I am.
I think it's impossible to be 'like other people', because all 'other people' are different individuals! In my opinion there is no such thing as 'a normal person'. Yes, you can talk about 'average people'... but someone exactly like that does not exist.
In permaculture it's about polyculture, about biodiversity. Different plants, different animals and different humans all fit in
 
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I have high-functioning Asperger's. I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it and sorting out my health. A quick brain dump:

Non-high-functioning autism (to me) revolves around the immune system, most of which is in the gut. Clean food is critical. No artificials, no refined sugar, no grains (especially wheat), no soy. Heavy on pastured meats and fats. NTs can tolerate more crap than we can. A permaculture farm with a heavy emphasis on pastured livestock sounds appealing to me.

"Stealth" pathogens appear to be one influence. Lyme, Bartonella, mycoplasmas, etc. Look up Stephen Buhner's books. Testing is unreliable. Much needs to be learned. These things tend to love sugar.

The human immune system isn't fully in place until 3-4 years of age. Hit it hard enough before then...

The countless tons of poisons conventional agriculture dumps into the environment are causing very rapid bacterial evolution, including developing offensive capabilities. This is a problem for slow-evolving humans. Especially humans with compromised immune systems from a diet of industrial food-like products.

Starting to see why autism is becoming so prevalent? And how permaculture fits in as one potent remedy?


I started becoming considerably less high-functioning in high school. I started reversing the slide when I cleaned up my diet. Still not where I want to be. It infuriates me that our non-high-functioning brethren are fed crap and assured that food has nothing to do with their condition. Bringing some of them out to permaculture farms to detox would be a very interesting experiment. My one concern is tick-borne illnesses, but a healthy complement of chickens and friendly neighborhood opossums might keep ticks and such suppressed?

To be clear: I'm never going to be NT and don't care to be. That's not the "cure" I'm looking for.
 
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Brian Stretch wrote:I have high-functioning Asperger's. I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it and sorting out my health. A quick brain dump:

Non-high-functioning autism (to me) revolves around the immune system, most of which is in the gut. Clean food is critical. No artificials, no refined sugar, no grains (especially wheat), no soy. Heavy on pastured meats and fats. NTs can tolerate more crap than we can. A permaculture farm with a heavy emphasis on pastured livestock sounds appealing to me.

"Stealth" pathogens appear to be one influence. Lyme, Bartonella, mycoplasmas, etc. Look up Stephen Buhner's books. Testing is unreliable. Much needs to be learned. These things tend to love sugar.



I've also noticed that diet and sleep have a huge impact on how well I can function. I think this applies to everyone, but our need for sleep and quality food might be higher than with NT (just as some people can get by on 5 hours of sleep a night, but others always need 8-9). When I don't get good sleep &/or good food, I am far more easily over-stimulated, more on the verge of meltdowns, my words come out wrong more (I jumble them up, can't remember words, or struggle to formulate my thoughts into words), and I have an even harder time reading situations.

Diet and sleep, don't seem to transform me from "aspie" to "neurotypical," but it does greatly impact how easily my brain gets overwhelmed. I don't want to change who I am, I just want to be able to function as best I can.

Speaking of the affect of food and sleep upon aspies' ability to function, i wonder how much of their affect comes down to hormones. Reading "Musings of an Aspie"'s article on motherhood was a real eye opener. http://musingsofanaspie.com/2012/09/17/aspergers-and-motherhood-part-2/. That first year of my son's life was incredibly difficult: I was on the verge (if not in) depression, doing most anything I could to keep my colicky baby from crying, frequently on the verge of total emotional melt-down. Reading the comments, every other aspie mother encountered the same thing. This really made me wonder, especially since I worked in childcare (1 year olds and up) and never faced that sort of reaction to kids crying, etc. Kids could cry all day long, and it was wearing and sad, of course, but it did not drive me so close to melt down. I was able to tune it out and keep taking care of myself and other things that needed to get done. Not so with my own little child. I really think hormones played a huge role in this. Those Mommy Hormones wrecked havoc on my aspie self. And, it makes me wonder just how often the hormones created by lack of sleep or by sugar or wheat, etc. affect aspies in particular.

The human immune system isn't fully in place until 3-4 years of age. Hit it hard enough before then...

The countless tons of poisons conventional agriculture dumps into the environment are causing very rapid bacterial evolution, including developing offensive capabilities. This is a problem for slow-evolving humans. Especially humans with compromised immune systems from a diet of industrial food-like products.

Starting to see why autism is becoming so prevalent? And how permaculture fits in as one potent remedy?



My husband and I have frequently wondered how we managed to create a son who is intelligent, honest... and shares none of our aspie weaknesses. I do wonder how much of it is due to the fact that we have consistently given him good, organic, non-inflammatory foods; a low-stress, stable environment; and as much sleep as we could provide (I work very hard to get him as much sleep as he can get. I'm positive if I didn't spend so much time patting and singing--and nursing--him to sleep, he would have had probably 4 hours less sleep per day than he currently gets). The infant through preschool years are so crucial to forming brains, and there is just so much that affects that development!

I started becoming considerably less high-functioning in high school. I started reversing the slide when I cleaned up my diet. Still not where I want to be. It infuriates me that our non-high-functioning brethren are fed crap and assured that food has nothing to do with their condition. Bringing some of them out to permaculture farms to detox would be a very interesting experiment. My one concern is tick-borne illnesses, but a healthy complement of chickens and friendly neighborhood opossums might keep ticks and such suppressed?


I think this is a fantastic idea. Good food should definitely help with functioning, and seeing the food in it's natural context may help the more "picky" aspies to eat a wider variety of foods, and get more vitamins and minerals than they usually consume.

Also important would be creating an environment that is less stimulating, with lots of little nooks to retreat to be alone (in gazebos, in old stumps, under trees, grottos by the water, hidden in some large boulders, etc.). The landowner would of course need to know where all these hiding places are so as to locate the aspies, and there should be fences or hedges to make sure they don't wander off where you can't find them. All that sunlight should help the aspies set their natural clocks and help them get the sleep they need to function optimally (sleep deprivation is very common. I'm happy that it only takes me 30 minutes to fall asleep now usually. As a child, I would lay awake for 2-3 hours or more every night, trying to fall asleep). A creek &/or pond would also be good to help sooth the mind, especially if sticks and rocks can be used to splash in the water, etc. Rocking chairs, swings, merry-go-rounds, and hammocks would also be soothing.

I really do think a nature refuge would helps a lot of aspies. Nature has always been my refuge. For 5 years I lived in the city, and I always felt stressed and closed-in, and trapped. I hated going outside because I always felt like I was being observed and I could never be alone. When we moved out to our five acres, even through I was pregnant and there was so much to do, my stress level was so much lower and my contentment so much higher than when we lived in the city. I finally felt "human" again.
 
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The conversation turned about the end of page 2 to faking vs. hiding and some semantics about that. And it seemed like the suggestion that it was everyone's duty to try and adapt and be civil in society. And counter to that that society should diversify its definition of itself. It sounds like the mainstream or special ed arguments.

But what's so bad about none of the above for grown-ups? What's so bad about a life apart? All these recent studies about isolation being bad for one's health and everything. Well what if society is bad for the health of someone with ASD? Being in fight or flight mode and stressed out and uncomfortable all the time is not healthy either! Maybe volunteer segregation is really self-care! I'm 51, have worked very hard at fitting in, and do for the most part (but at what cost?), and I haven't had any self-care and I feel frantic in need to retreat - not as a negative running away but as a positive let me finally be good to me.

I toy with the ideas of village and community, but really I honestly only like the idea of distant non-hostile neighbors. My hero is Barbara Rothacker and everything she has said or done really resonates with me. It's why I'm so excited about this thread - because being a hermit, self-sufficient, and living off the land feels like being able to relax and be myself.

A LIfe Apart

I don't know if you could call a couple hermits, or if that's an oxymoron, but an eco-village of two - if only for the practicality of it - would be ideal (manageable). For me.
 
Nicole Alderman
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C. Letellier wrote:
Now you will say faking it is hiding too. It isn't. It is simply good manners and getting along in society. Everyone has to do a certain amount of it. For example I find that sharing how my mind it actually working is a good way to get in trouble. Usually it is the fact that it is taken out of context that gets me in trouble. Take an example clear back to HS. Someone wanted to know how to pick the principle's wife out of the crowd. My comment was to "find the lady who looks like a bulldog". This of course drew gasps from most of the little group I said it to. Now everyone there was thinking I was insulting her. Funny thing is that in my stream of conciousness at the time there was absolutely no insult intended. I wasn't implying she looked like a dog or was ugly or any other thing that could be read into that comment. I was simply pointing to 3 features that combined made her face shape look like a bulldog. To me that was the obvious pattern and I was completely oblivious to the possible insult in the thinking. It didn't even register to me. I knew people gasped but it literally took me hours to figure out why. My stream of conciousness is just as shocking and messed up now as it was then. The difference is that I apply better filters to what I let out of my mouth most of the time. I still step badly in it occasionally. But now I know to filter and I know to read reactions and try and take corrective action as needed. Those are skills that can be learned. Still a work in progress but getting better.
But without all the rough patches I have hit I would not have grown like I have.



Oh man, I have a story like that, too. When I was doing my Teacher Certification internship, one of our student's parents was dropping off her son, and decided to reassure us that, No, she didn't have pink eye--she'd just gotten some sand in her eye, which is why it was pink and inflamed. I, in my lack of social skills and too much honesty said, "I hadn't even noticed your eye was pink because of all your eye make-up!" Now, she did have some colorful eyeshadow, but I in no means thought it was "too much" or poorly done. I just thought that she'd done a great job with the eye make-up because it perfectly drew the observers' eye away from her pinkness and deemphasized it at the same time, so much so that I hadn't even noticed her eye was pink.

Needless to say, she didn't interpret it the same way. She even went and complained to the principle about it, and I was reprimanded. Now, in social situations that are important, I just try to keep my mouth shut for fear of saying the wrong thing. Of course, this self-censorship is really stressful, but it at least doesn't get me fired...
 
Nicole Alderman
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Kitty Leith wrote:
But what's so bad about none of the above for grown-ups? What's so bad about a life apart? All these recent studies about isolation being bad for one's health and everything. Well what if society is bad for the health of someone with ASD? Being in fight or flight mode and stressed out and uncomfortable all the time is not healthy either! Maybe volunteer segregation is really self-care! I'm 51, have worked very hard at fitting in, and do for the most part (but at what cost?), and I haven't had any self-care and I feel frantic in need to retreat - not as a negative running away but as a positive let me finally be good to me.



I agree. Living out here really is self-care. I grew up on one acre in a very stable family. When I got married and moved to a duplex in the city, it was soooooo stressful. I didn't feel like myself for five years. Honestly. I never felt I could just go out and be alone in nature, and I always had a constant, abiding stress due to that. Yet, when I moved out here, despite still working and having a longer commute and having more things to do and being pregnant, there was an overwhelming sense of peace. I was stressed from all the things, but not nearly as stressed as I would have been if I were still in the city. I think it's so important to have a place where you can be ALONE and finally turn off the part of the brain that's trying to figure out how to live in a socially-acceptable manner (even when I don't want to think/care about being socially-acceptable, my brain is always worrying about it).

I think I have an easier time realizing that it's okay to be less social. My parents both have aspie tendencies, and when I grew up, we pretty much just stayed home. We would go to church every week, and maybe visit family friends at most once a month (far less frequently as I grew older). Most of the time we were just home, having our normal routines. I hadn't realized just how odd this was until recently, when I see so many of my peers hanging out and having baby-dates and being social almost every day of the week . I feel guilty for rarely going and seeing my friends, but the stress that results from going out more than once a month is really not worth it. It takes me and my toddler days to recuperate. I enjoy seeing people, and I love taking to good friends, but it really is draining. It's taken me two years to stop feeling guilty so about it. The main thing that helped me realize it isn't necessary to be social all the time was looking back at my childhood and seeing that my parents were also less social, and it really did work out fine!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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My 'dream' is not to live like a 'hermit', but to live in a (small) community of people who are all 'different'. Not to be self-sufficient, but 'together-sufficient' as a community. With a permaculture food-forest all around us
 
Neil Layton
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I'm beginning to realise part of my problem. I like Inge's ideal, but I think there would be too much required social interaction.

I don't want to be a hermit either, because I know I need some human contact and good conversation, but I do recognise a need to manage my social interaction.

I can see that finding the right person to live with to balance these needs with is going to be tricky. I struggle with conversations with more than 3 people at the best of times.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Kitty Leith wrote:
I don't know if you could call a couple hermits, or if that's an oxymoron, but an eco-village of two - if only for the practicality of it - would be ideal (manageable). For me.



That's more or less the situation I have with my husband, though I do have brief interaction with neighbors every couple of weeks. The main problem with the ecovillage of two comes when one partner dies.


 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Kitty Leith wrote:
I don't know if you could call a couple hermits, or if that's an oxymoron, but an eco-village of two - if only for the practicality of it - would be ideal (manageable). For me.



That's more or less the situation I have with my husband, though I do have brief interaction with neighbors every couple of weeks. The main problem with the ecovillage of two comes when one partner dies.




The only solution I've been able to come up with for that one would be wwoofers, which would not be ideal, but might allow you to find someone to hand it on to when you die.
 
Kitty Leith
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I don't do tests. I don't go to a (psych.) doctor to have a diagnosis. I don't want to be 'labeled' (put in a box). I like being who I am, the way I am.
I think it's impossible to be 'like other people', because all 'other people' are different individuals! In my opinion there is no such thing as 'a normal person'. Yes, you can talk about 'average people'... but someone exactly like that does not exist.



I get your pride, but the way you phrased it feels dismissive to me. There ARE differences which DO seriously impact the individuals. Just look at the profoundly autistic who can not live independently. Most people who read about Asperger's can relate to some of it and some wish they could use it as an excuse. But it's not an excuse. It's not relating to some of it, it's being profoundly impacted by a lot of it. It truly is being wired differently to the degree it is a disability.

The label recognizes that the challenges are real and extraordinary, and I embrace that. That society has pathologized it, misunderstands it, sometimes covets and envies it, is their problem that needs to be enlightened.

I like who I am, the way I am too. And I welcome a diagnosis because if I am wired differently then all my struggles will have made sense.
 
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[The main problem with the ecovillage of two comes when one partner dies. /quote]

I don't know what the statistics are, but don't the survivors not last long after one partner dies? Maybe they should get rid of that 'til death do us part' thing and let couples die together.


Once again, I'm envious Tyler. I'd love an eco-village of two. (I think I coined that term!) I always liked how Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had separate houses joined by a bridge. One's own space is so important.

 
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There is so much I would like to react to in these posts.

Let me say that I think each of us should be striving to be all that we can be. Then let me add that I think that we have a bit of a social responsibility to share some of the advantages that come out of the aspbergers personality. There are 2 reasons for this. 1. We are simply going to be harder to live with so we mildly owe some of that effort back by way of balance. 2. The second goes back to asking the question have we made the world a better place. To use another old quote. Of him unto who much is given much is required. The high IQ and the ability to see things and patterns most people don't have great possibility to change the world in a good way. So do we mildly owe it to society to try? My answer here is yes.

I would say it is all about balance in life. If I let the fact that I will stick my foot in my mouth(often clear up the hip) keep me from speaking then I am denying those gifts. If I let any fear that is mostly harmless rule my life that is true. If I go and steadily hide out in the country because that is where I am the most comfortable then I am denying those gifts. By the same token if I destroy myself by not doing what I need to stay emotionally healthy I also can't do as much and that is also bad. I can't and don't want to any way tell people how to live their lives in this regard. But I do think to many people err on the side of safety rather than growth and trying to be their best selves.

I have an acquaintance/friend who has problems but his belief is "god doesn't make broken people so everyone has to take me the way I am". He is rough to have as a friend and way more work because of that attitude. I think the label of aspie is used as an excuse for bad behavior in the same way. I can never be "normal" in the classic sense. But if I can make or fake 70%-80% of the way there then society is more likely to meet me the rest of the way there. We both benefit. As for all people being different from each other in the most general sense I agree but in the aspbergers sense I disagree for most. I first realized I was somehow different clear back in kindergarten. Most of my class was playing around the merry go round. Everyone else was mostly fitting in but I remember thinking I was copying them "perfectly" why wasn't I? I am now 50 and it wasn't till a few years ago when I learned the aspbergers information that I answered that really question finally. In my late teens and early 20's I tried to learn to fit in by trying to learn how people thought. That lead to me trying to learn to follow people's stream of consciousness. What came out of that was learning that I was really different than most people but still didn't know why. Even when we got to the same answer we mostly got there by different paths. Along the way I came to understand that there were things that were totally clear to basically everyone around me that I couldn't seem to understand even when it was explained to me and there were things that I understood without having to try that no one around me could even see. I also have problems that basically no one can understand. For example I have a incredibly serious problem with food textures that I still can't beat. I work around it. On the other hand I have radically bad problem with claustrophobia that I am finally in control of. I haven't beaten it but I am nearly fully in control of it. At this point I do a lot of close quarters things that bother most people. I take a little pride in that growth in my self control and in my actual capabilities. I would like others to know that self enjoyment of the improvements in their capabilities. There are times we need to be social or at least fake it. For example I recently attended a free soils class. I only learned about it because of social network and someone who was taking care of me because it was poorly advertised in the stuff I saw. In my teens I probably would have been afraid to go and if I went I would have quietly ducked in and sat off to the side somewhere and never said anything. But because now I went in and participated and asked questions I learned more now than I would have then. I also joined conversations during breaks and learned more there too. I am better for it and know more. And as I practice doing things I am uncomfortable with I get better at it. The growth feeds on itself to a certain extent.

 
Neil Layton
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C. Letellier wrote:

I would say it is all about balance in life. If I let the fact that I will stick my foot in my mouth(often clear up the hip) keep me from speaking then I am denying those gifts. If I let any fear that is mostly harmless rule my life that is true. If I go and steadily hide out in the country because that is where I am the most comfortable then I am denying those gifts. By the same token if I destroy myself by not doing what I need to stay emotionally healthy I also can't do as much and that is also bad. I can't and don't want to any way tell people how to live their lives in this reguard. But I do think to many people err on the side of safety rather than growth and trying to be their best selves.




There is so much good stuff here that it's a shame to bring it down to the point where I disagree.

I have a special interest in ecosystems, and the kind of obsession with Nature that most humans find hard to comprehend. If I focus my life on social interaction and areas I have no real gifts in, then not only am I denying part of what makes me unique, but I am failing to use those gifts for the benefit of others (and I don't just mean humans here). As someone else pointed out recently, most humans understand each other, but they don't have a clue how to function stack.

If by doing that I can then have insights, which I can then write about, into how we as humans can better get on with each other and with other life on this planet, that is me being the best Aspie I can be - but doing that comes from placing myself in an environment where I can be emotionally healthy, and where I am at the moment certainly isn't it! I'm going somewhere I can be me, not hiding. Sitting in my den at home in the dark because I can't handle vast hordes of humans in their environment is hiding.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Neil Layton wrote:I can then have insights, which I can then write about



One of the wonderful things about humans is that we can reach across time and space to touch each other deeply with the written word. If it is too painful to rub up against humanity in person, being able to touch them with written words is a gift.

 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Neil Layton wrote:I can then have insights, which I can then write about



One of the wonderful things about humans is that we can reach across time and space to touch each other deeply with the written word. If it is too painful to rub up against humanity in person, being able to touch them with written words is a gift.



I've been repeatedly told I'm good at writing, and have even had some independent support for such assertions. I have a lot of ideas about how we relate to the rest of the planet which I think may crystallise when living in a forest=garden type ecosystem.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I've also noticed that diet and sleep have a huge impact on how well I can function. I think this applies to everyone, but our need for sleep and quality food might be higher than with NT (just as some people can get by on 5 hours of sleep a night, but others always need 8-9). When I don't get good sleep &/or good food, I am far more easily over-stimulated, more on the verge of meltdowns, my words come out wrong more (I jumble them up, can't remember words, or struggle to formulate my thoughts into words), and I have an even harder time reading situations.

Diet and sleep, don't seem to transform me from "aspie" to "neurotypical," but it does greatly impact how easily my brain gets overwhelmed. I don't want to change who I am, I just want to be able to function as best I can.

Speaking of the affect of food and sleep upon aspies' ability to function, i wonder how much of their affect comes down to hormones...

My husband and I have frequently wondered how we managed to create a son who is intelligent, honest... and shares none of our aspie weaknesses. I do wonder how much of it is due to the fact that we have consistently given him good, organic, non-inflammatory foods; a low-stress, stable environment; and as much sleep as we could provide (I work very hard to get him as much sleep as he can get. I'm positive if I didn't spend so much time patting and singing--and nursing--him to sleep, he would have had probably 4 hours less sleep per day than he currently gets). The infant through preschool years are so crucial to forming brains, and there is just so much that affects that development!


Thank you for your kind words. Yes, sleep too. Light control made a huge difference here. I use f.lux on my computers to filter out the blue light spectrum that tells the body that it's still "daylight" out. I set it to 4200K during the day (6500K is normal) because that's more comfortable to my eyes. It's at 2700K now that the sun's down. I use soft white bulbs for illumination, again fairly low color temperature, and a single 60W equivalent LED is my primary light. I put electrical tape over various LED status lights. I'm a techie so there's a lot of them. I wouldn't say that my sleep is perfect but I very rarely have insomnia. I really ought to buy some blackout curtains to take care of those street lights. I wonder how living in the country without such light pollution would affect me.

Hormones definitely don't react well to the Standard American Diet.

If I ever have kids that's what I want for them. Good thing I age slowly, gives me a little more time to sort things out.

Being a techie I'm comfortable in cities. Give me a quiet small apartment, decent Internet and proper food and I'm good. I accept that this means that I have to spend a considerable portion of my income on food, mostly from a farm co-op that follows Joel Salatin's methods. I see the logic in permaculture and wonder about what such a life would be like though. I think the Russians have the right idea with their dachas. Maybe I'll try my own spin on that some day, in the form of a cob cottage with RMH or such.
 
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Kitty Leith wrote: I apologized to my daughter in advance the other day, asking her to try and understand if I ever appear unfeeling, and explained how I don't really know my emotions. I told her it's like: hey! what is this moisture in my eye? Oh! It must mean I am sad. That blew her mind. "Wait - you have a physical response first and then have to figure out what it is?" It blew my mind that that blew her mind, because that state of being isn't remarkable to me. I am the opposite of a drama queen because it's hard to be dramatic about something you have little feeling about. Sometimes I wonder what it is like to feel so much - if it makes life more enjoyable - but then I watch those with smiley faces and heart-dotted i's crash and burn and remember to be thankful for being spared all that. It's nice to get excited about concepts instead.



Just though I'd chime in for anyone playing at home - this is called alexithymia. It can be pretty common among autistic folk, but certainly not something we all have. I suspect I do, given the fact I took almost 15 years to work out I suffer from anxiety symptoms.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Kitty Leith wrote:

I don't do tests....



I get your pride, but the way you phrased it feels dismissive to me. There ARE differences which DO seriously impact the individuals. Just look at the profoundly autistic who can not live independently. Most people who read about Asperger's can relate to some of it and some wish they could use it as an excuse. But it's not an excuse. It's not relating to some of it, it's being profoundly impacted by a lot of it. It truly is being wired differently to the degree it is a disability.

The label recognizes that the challenges are real and extraordinary, and I embrace that. That society has pathologized it, misunderstands it, sometimes covets and envies it, is their problem that needs to be enlightened.

I like who I am, the way I am too. And I welcome a diagnosis because if I am wired differently then all my struggles will have made sense.


Kitty, I did not mean to offend you. If there is a 'serious impact', of course it's better to be diagnosed. But as long as one feels OK and can live his/her own life, to me it doesn't feel like needed to know if it's called 'autism spectrum' or 'asperger', or anything else. The society (and doctors) pathologizing it is exactly the reason for my opinion. To end the 'misunderstanding' I think better information is needed.
 
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Thank you, Phoenix Blackdove. I looked it up on Wikipedia and that was very informative.

I am officially diagnosed now. It is both a relief and sad at the same time. The word "ordeal" comes to mind. Quality of life would have been so much better had this been identified as a child.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Kim Arnold wrote:There is soooo much going on in this thread, it's hard to know where to jump in. I do have a question that some of you who have been dealing with the spectrum longer may be able to answer.

I'm a teacher. There were not ANY [officially diagnosed] ASD/Aspie kids in the schools when I started teaching. They have only really been recognized the last 15 years or so (maybe more). So, in the "old days," those who were more adapted to social conventions were never taught about the different needs of that population and grew up believing whatever it was they figured out about people on the spectrum. Surely there were people on the spectrum, even if they were not officially diagnosed, right?

Well, now there is a generation of students coming of age who have been learning about the needs of people on the spectrum since they were little. Teachers have had more training as has society in general. Schools are definitely making the effort to accommodate for needs, teach social skills, and educate other kids and their parents about the needs of ASD children. Here's my question: Is that making any difference? Is society in general becoming more accepting of the unique needs of aspies now that they know more about what is going on? I know it's not "perfect" yet, but is it at least moving in the right direction?

The experiences I've had with many different students is that they have unique needs, interests, etc. Some will love any nature experiences that they can get, but others seem much more attached to electronic devices and more remote interactions with people. I'm not willing to weigh in with any judgements about that, but going back to the original post, it makes sense that some kids will love premaculture experiences. Designing areas with their needs in mind will be appreciated by them and by others. But, it's definitely not a "one size fits all" kind of thing, so it would be unrealistic to think that all kids would like it.


I'm likely an aspie, and I did great academically in school. As long as my teachers kept my seat in the same spot, I could learn. I loved the routine and learning made sense. BUT, it did not prepare me for working in the "real world." There were never teachers who took me aside and told me why none of the other kids wanted to play with me. Social skills were not taught. Supposedly, one puts a kid in public school and they figure it out--that's why one puts them in public school. Well, I went to public school, and I never figured it out. The early elementary years weren't bad, but by 5th grade (when hormones kick in and kids get far more complex in their social interactions), I had no idea what was going on. I had no friends. I was bullied a lot. I thankfully met some other "weirdoes" in Jr. High and High School, but I had no idea how to "hang out" (in all of high school, I only hung out twice outside of school--once to help a friend with her sister's birthday party, and another time to go to the zoo).

This continued though college (where I earned my Elementary Teacher's Certification .). I always did well by working hard and asking questions. I was great at school. I could even sort of do group projects, though I hated them, and I usually just did most of the work because I didn't know how to motivate the non-motivated. But, I did not know how to "small talk." I never figured out how to "network." I did not know how to get along and socialize with coworkers and employers, let alone parents of the students I worked with. And this was never taught to me, as school is about academics and we're supposed to figure out social skills by ourselves.

But, the skills I learned for interaction with teachers did NOT help me in interacting in a job. Employers get mad if you ask them questions and want to learn why they tell you to do something (teachers usually love this). Employers don't give you grades to tell you you're doing it right (mine just yelled at us when we did wrong and never even filled out yearly reviews). Parents of students don't want you to be frank with them. It's hard to know what to talk about with coworkers when their isn't an assignment you're working on, etc, etc, etc. I think these sort of "real world" social skills should be taught in school. Teachers need to work with the kids that have "no social skills" and teach them to them--rather than just disciplining the bullies (if they even do that). I worked in a Christian preschool...as an assistant (when there's a job, you take it--especially in a recession!), and in the six years I worked there I was never promoted to being a teacher. I was hardworking, loyal, great with the kids, and often doing the teacher's job without being paid for it. But, I was never promoted, and I was never told why--despite asking. Other new people would be hired for positions I wasn't even told existed. Newer employees would be promoted to being a teacher, even when they didn't think they could do it. Me? I was never told why aside from being "too black and white" and not very good at interacting with parents (this was finally told me after 5 years of working there). There was no support. There was no training. I was just moved to a position where I could not interact with parents anymore (the break person).

And, this is in an education environment, with people who KNOW about aspergers, etc. In a Christian school, where love and helpfulness should run rampant. If I was not accepted or supported there, I shudder to think what happens to aspies elsewhere.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Matt McCarthy wrote:
As one with a diagnosis and a nasty five week hospital visit I'd lean towards it being a pure neurological developmental shebang, and that unless you're impaired enough to impact your lifestyle, it's beter to leave the self-diagnosis alone and consider you've got a handy smattering of traits, as opposed to the more serious issues like having trouble recognising faces due to distortions of expressions, or the complexities of others and your own emotional states.



I haven't gotten formally diagnosed, and I don't use aspergers/autism as a way to justify my actions. I use it to understand and work with them. And, while I think a formal diagnosis would be neat in someways, in other ways it would not be helpful. I have not the money for it. Doctors can--and frequently do--diagnose people for things they may not actually have. My husband was diagnosed as a child with ADHD, and then medicated heavily with drugs. He stopped taking those in his teens. As an adult, they diagnosed him with bipolar, and dosed him with other drugs. When I was dating him and asked him go a while without the meds so I could see who he was, he stopped taking them and has never taken them since. A few years back, he found out about aspergers, and it fits so much better than the other two. It explains pretty much everything he does and thinks. But, you know, such a diagnosis doesn't come with medication, and it wasn't in "vogue" back then, so he wasn't diagnosed with it. He was diagnosed with the conditions that come handily with pills.

Needless to say, I don't put too much faith in doctors diagnosis. I'd rather--much like when taking a personality test or a learning style test--find a term that explains my behavior so I can better understand it and operate in this world.

Having said that, a diagnosis really can be a good thing, as it helps a teacher, employer, &/or individual gain an understanding of that individuals behaviors and thought processes so that the individual can be helped better. But, too often a diagnosis gives a person a stigma, and in the wrong hands it can cause a person to be unable to get a job or be in a relationship, etc because they're "not normal" or "broken." Reading the comments on an article about Autistic Mothers really shows the stigma that can come from having a diagnosis. It's not always "cool" to be an aspie. Here's two of the comments:

Having an autistic mother is detrimental to a child, regardless of whether the child is autistic or not, and regardless of the child’s ability to cope with the parental abnormality. I apologize in advance to those who no doubt will be offended by my remarks, but I think is just plain wrong and selfish to impose autistic parenting on any child and to risk passing on autism to one’s progeny. The burden on society to care for autistics is growing while governmental resources are diminishing.. If you know you are autistic, then please, for the sake of the future child and the rest of society, do not reproduce..



And, even nicer:

I think AS parents should be treated as any other mentally ill person. Should schizophrenics be encouraged to become parents… how about people who are bipolar? And what about sociopaths? You wouldn’t want these people to miss out on the joys of parenting regardless of the effect on the children. Further, it is not helpful for AS parents to comment on how well adjusted there children are, nor is it helpful for AS children of AS parents. If you are a parent with AS, have your NT child post about you, especially if they had an absent NT parent where YOU were their sole parent. If you get 100 positive comments from them…. have all the kids you want. If not sterilization is preferable. If that saves one child it will be worth it!



And, in a world where people are like those quoted above, having a formal diagnosis is NOT always a good thing.
 
Neil Layton
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Hello Nicole

I must say I sympathise with your position, and congratulate you on obtaining and holding down a job. In this country the employment rate for aspies is around 15%.

In particular I sympathise with your problem of not knowing what you might be doing wrong. One thing I learned when I approached the problem of fitting in with their society on an intensive basis is that they will not tell you the Rules.

I have worked out some of them:

The Rules must not be broken.
You may not ask what the Rules are (I suspect you may have broken this Rule).
The Rules change without notice and with minimal change in circumstances.
You may not lie. Most conversations commence with a lie (the response to "How are you?")
You are unempathic.
They are empathic. This makes it okay for them to lie, cheat, exploit, make war, kill animals for fun (including killing animals for food), use anyone who is different as a scapegoat and so on.
At all times you must remain cheerful, even when being exploited, deceived or used as a scapegoat.
If you break the Rules you will be excluded from society.

There are lots more and loads of subsidiary rules as well. For example, you are always expected to know if the phrase "my boyfriend" means "my boyfriend came up in conversation"; "I am willing to explore the possibility of a platonic relationship with you"; or "**** off you ****ing creepy *******!!". Again, breaking this rule will get you into trouble.

Then (being so empathic {sarcasm}) they wonder why I prefer the company of trees. This actually goes back to one of my most important points: most allistics don't want to be around anyone who is different. This makes a forest garden a win-win. Yes, if you aren't careful it turns into one of those 19th century mental hospitals where the weirdos were kept away from real people, but I'm short of better ideas. In any case, I quite like it. For me it's a complete win. I just know {irony} that I can't do it on my own.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Neil Layton wrote:
If you break the Rules you will be excluded from society.



 
Neil Layton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Having an autistic mother is detrimental to a child, regardless of whether the child is autistic or not, and regardless of the child’s ability to cope with the parental abnormality. I apologize in advance to those who no doubt will be offended by my remarks, but I think is just plain wrong and selfish to impose autistic parenting on any child and to risk passing on autism to one’s progeny. The burden on society to care for autistics is growing while governmental resources are diminishing.. If you know you are autistic, then please, for the sake of the future child and the rest of society, do not reproduce..



And, even nicer:

I think AS parents should be treated as any other mentally ill person. Should schizophrenics be encouraged to become parents… how about people who are bipolar? And what about sociopaths? You wouldn’t want these people to miss out on the joys of parenting regardless of the effect on the children. Further, it is not helpful for AS parents to comment on how well adjusted there children are, nor is it helpful for AS children of AS parents. If you are a parent with AS, have your NT child post about you, especially if they had an absent NT parent where YOU were their sole parent. If you get 100 positive comments from them…. have all the kids you want. If not sterilization is preferable. If that saves one child it will be worth it!



And, in a world where people are like those quoted above, having a formal diagnosis is NOT always a good thing.



I've been thinking about this pile of testicles. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a big believer in diversity.

I see a distinct subpopulation that is neurologically wired in a different way to the majority, thinks differently to the majority, communicates in a way that is only borderline mutually comprehensible and is largely reproductively isolated from the rest of the population.

This is what nature geeks like me would describe as the first stage in sympatric speciation.

Now, while I'd be fascinated by the results of research into this possibility, I don't think most humans are ready for that kind of information. There is a nasty history of eugenics, and the above comments show it has not gone away.

The irony is that we need each other. Cooperative polycultures are healthier than monocultures. It's not hard. I'd have a lot to offer to the right non-Aspie, and vice versa.

I should not, however, be made to plead for my right to exist.
 
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I'm a huge supporter of informed self-diagnosis.

There are many, many structural and social barriers between people who suspect they may be a/Autistic and getting a formal diagnosis.

Just some of these are:
  • Cost of diagnosis ($1000 in my country/state. Can be up to $5000 in other countries)
  • Availability of a diagnosing clinician (I know people who would have to travel five hours or more to get to an appointment - and most Dx procedures involve multiple sessions)
  • Age (there are comparatively few authorised clinicians who understand the differences between child and adult Dx)
  • Skin colour (PoC are drastically under-represented in formal Dx rates, partially because of systemic disadvantage and partially because the original diagnostic criteria focus on white people as the "standard")
  • Gender (Cis men are more likely to be "caught" for Dx because again, that's what the original diagnostic criteria focussed on. In addition, cis women and other female-presenting people tend to "look different" in their autistic traits, and tend more towards social chameleonism, so they are more likely to slip through the cracks)
  • Rampant ableism and gatekeeping, such that those who "pass" as neurotypical are often accused of being "not autistic enough" and thus not worthy of help, support, accommodations, or an official diagnosis.
  • Formal diagnosis may, in some states and countries, open one to the possibility of losing custody/parental rights of one's children (some places view any disability as a reason to confiscate children, whether there is any potential for abuse/neglect or not)


  • I'm pretty involved in Autistic advocacy online. While yes, there are probably some people who self-diagnose as autistic because it makes them feel cool/special/whatever derogatory term you want to apply, they are so minuscule in number as to not be worth worrying about. The reality is that being openly autistic quite often brings more hardship to a person than it solves problems for them. As Nicole, Neil and others in this thread have pointed out, there is a depressing number of people who want to wipe autistic people off the face of the earth as burdens, tragics, and not worth helping. (Thanks, Autism $peaks, you're doing a great job there. /sarcasm)

    And really, despite all that, it's pretty insulting to tell people that they should listen to the "wisdom" of neurotypical clinicians - who have only ever (and will only ever) see autism from the outside. As a set of behaviours rather than a way of being. As a deficit-based "disorder" rather than a natural neurodivergence found in approximately 1.5% of the human population. Lived autistic experience counts for a lot more, and there is more than enough of it out there (thanks to many tireless advocates in the autistic community) to intelligently inform one's decision to self-diagnose.
     
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    I'm definitely in this spectrum, though undiagnosed, and, I think, mild, though some people I know might (actually definitely) disagree. I'm not sure how to elaborate.

    Some of the things that I envision in my design are balance beam/obstacle course type areas.

    This is definately me. I want one. I want a jungle gym and climbing wall everywhere all the time.

    ... so if I'm going off on a hike... at first I need a plan, otherwise I wont go at all, even though it's the thing I like to do the most in the whole world. And then I have to set a goal, even if I don't verbalize it, I know where I'm going... following a trail at first helps. And sometimes I obsessively go there, follow the plan, reach the goal... this has amounted to me being a trail running freak at times, and obsessive about climbing mountains to the peak, or mountain biking fast. But then sometimes, I tell myself that I need to stop and appreciate things... sometimes this happens all by itself, and I just notice some bird or spider and get... fascinated. Sometimes I can just enter the bush without a trail and just explore. This is where I am most at peace. I can stare at the patterns of lichen on a rock or tree for days, if I didn't know I would die of thirst. I see patterns everywhere. As much as I enjoy sitting and being fascinated, it also frustrates the shit out of me to sit still. Meditation is very challenging. I can't shut my brain down. I have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. I'm sensitive, super sensitive, to sound and to light.

    I love little groves in the forest where I feel I am in my own little kingdom. I remember finding a spot once, it was a mossy clearing with a fairy ring of mushrooms in it. When I found it, I felt like it had magically appeared just for me. I sat in the fairy ring and was just looking around when a swarm of bees came in through the forest into the little clearing and went overhead and past me. I felt like i could stay there forever and wild amazing things would continue to happen, forever. Sadly I had to leave. I can get super obsessive in my garden, and with other things be super organized, but then if you look at other aspects I'm a complete mess.

    Sometimes on on a trail and it's on a ridge and the pine beetles have killed a lot of trees and they are all falling all over the trail making it impossible to go and I get really frustrated, but then if I stop being so goal driven to get up the mountain or whatever and then start to climb around on all the leaning trees, I'm so totally in my element that I could stay there for hours.

    Strangely I love and hate trails. I love that they give me access to the forest and to go to mountain tops, but I hate that they are made by people in this amazing natural place. I love to walk on animal trails and try to remind myself that we are animals and it's O.K. to build trails and so I join trail building teams but I get frustrated by how people do the work as they tend to be overly destructive and I try to minimize destruction... of the earth, in any way... it is a major stumbling block in getting stuff done on my land, but sometimes I release myself of this responsibility and allow things to happen. I get really attached to the results, good or bad, and especially obsess and beat myself up if I view it as bad.

    Interestingly when it comes to eye contact, I am super conscious if someone else is avoiding it, and I seem to crave it. I seem to be the opposite of the 'norm' in the Aspie spectrum in this case. I have been accused of not breaking eye contact often enough; this doesn't happen often, but I think that the person I was with (who comes to mind in this example) was even more neurotic or neurologically diverse than I am. I find that when I'm hiking with others, I can associate with a group, showing them things that I see, and this makes me feel very socially connected and useful.

    I can imagine projects endlessly, but have a hard time focusing to get motivated to start, but then once I get going, I find it hard to stop until I'm done. I get really troubled by getting things done, and sometimes do not enjoy the project. I become obsessed with little details and problems, and sometimes this makes me stop a project or get stuck despite knowing that I am smart enough to get past it. It's frustrating.

    When I write something on this forum I am very obsessive about reading and editing my posts. I'm not doing that now, and as a result this probably has been rather random for me. I really, really want to re-read and rearrange everything I wrote. I probably wont like or approve of it if I re-read it. So I wont. I do this sometimes on this forum, but most of the time, I spend way WAY too long editing my posts and getting everything right. Sigh. The whole autism and anxiety thing I get. I do control it sometimes, but I really get it and it gets me sometimes too. I'm not sure if any of what I wrote will be useful to anyone else. Hopefully it will.

    I look forward to reading more of this thread and watching those videos. Maybe I can figure myself out after 46 years.
     
    pollinator
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    I also fit in: people see to not understand that I lack skills but that I am more honest and less manipulative than most in relationships!
    It seems that most post I read this day turn me into speaking out about Somatic Experiencing, which was a blessing for me, and so much understanding.

    Really, get to know also about steven Porges work, he worked with autistic people, which led him to the poly-vagal theory.
    There are 2 parts in the parasympathic sistem (act thruough the vagus nerve or 10th nerve).
    The dorsal one is the one that freeze the syste when overwhelmed (too much activation of the sympathic system).
    The ventral branch is responsible for social engagement.
    And this is soothing for people who developped it properly.
    And this is difficult for some.
    The fact is that when the ventral part is wounded, then the dorsal part blocks the person, which is what happen in shyness.

    The main problem that leads to this is a shock between conception and 6 months of age. The nervous system is not finished and relies on the vago-ventral of the mother. If the mother is sensitive, less easy for the baby to recover. Just a difficult birth can lead to this. In my case, there is an antenatal accident. So this affects a lot of people!

    Then, like what Burra mention about not accepting to be forced, it can be internalized up to the point to not be able to force oneself. I have tricks about this. When I cannot do sothing, I find what else I should do, and that I do not want to do, and it akes me do the 1st thing that I did not want to do!
    This comes from the environment praising you for doing, and so you force yourself and internalize it, and then you act as the parent and the child at the same time.

    I tell about this because it is why we are so keen on ethics as mentioned: ethic has been said to be the way to "force the unforceable"!
    It also has to do wuth permaculture: it helps me to DO, just because I believe that i HAVE to, for ethics. I a forced to do what I do, and I love obligation, I do not believe in freedom. When I put my jacket on, this is because cold FORCES me to put it.

    Osho also wrote that you illuminate when you understand that you HAVE to. He says that is like being in a house on fire: you do not think but you act: you jump out of the window. You have to. Whenn you live in nature, well you have to, cultivate etc. It has more sense than going to a shop. I am ready to bow to nature's will and obligations.

    Because of the freezing of the autonomic nervous system, the ventral branch, which is social engagement, does not work properly. And Somatic experiencing helps a lot, through discharging the nervous system from the freezing. Under any shyness and any type of freeze and dissociation, there is an unfelt very high global activation of the sympathic nervous system. When you come into contact with it through the felt sense, you can hyper activate and re-hurt your self, that is why it is so difficult to discharge this high activation. When it is done properly, you get back part of this locked energy, and it is sooo freeing, soothing.

    So yes I feel different and with some capacities (taht are the gift of having to adapt to the world), but at the same time I accept the part that I am also "ill", and not only different. Anyway, we are all ill and hurt in a way or another.... So there is no problem for me. The good news is about healing most of it, AND keeping the gift we have developped while surviving and adapting to this world.
     
    Kitty Leith
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    So yes I feel different and with some capacities (taht are the gift of having to adapt to the world), but at the same time I accept the part that I am also "ill", and not only different. Anyway, we are all ill and hurt in a way or another.... So there is no problem for me. The good news is about healing most of it, AND keeping the gift we have developped while surviving and adapting to this world.



    I like this a lot. I've spent the past few days thinking about how some Aspies don't want to be pathologized when it's what it seems I sought to do by seeking a diagnosis. While I agree that the path to diagnosis is inaccessible to a lot of adults, and that disclosure could prove harmful to a lot of people trying to get by in our present society (for instance, I can tell my colleagues and ask for their support but I can not risk telling my boss because he will find ways to hold that against me), the confirmation that there is a biological physical difference in my wiring is comforting because my best efforts to be like everyone else have always fallen short. I also just spent the last seven or eight years exploring nature vs. nurture and pretty much worked through the nurture portion (abandoned, exported, adopted, abused) and yet that didn't fully explain my relationship (or lack thereof) to the rest of the world. The nature part remained a mystery and being on the Autism spectrum has been the only thing that made sense, but without confirmation, I just questioned if I was grasping at straws and feared being judged as a hypochondriac.

    There seems to be so much attention given to the "other" these days that it causes envy in the mainstream. They want to be applauded for being good at being normal, and resent the romanticizing directed at those who have turned their back on society. Like this article:

    The self-reliant individual is a myth that needs updating

    The thesis that even celebrated loners in history and literature had companions so they weren't really self-reliant, that true strength lies in the courage to make oneself vulnerable to connection, that this is a feminine act, and that connection in society is the thing we should really be celebrating, and this is what we are all supposed to want...rubs me all wrong...it's not like that wasn't thought of or attempted.

    I'm a woman, and I've been vulnerable and I am strong, and I AM WORN OUT trying to connect. Props to them that can, but more power to me in my inability to. My NEED to distance myself from society is now verified as REAL and biological. So now I feel like I finally have permission to explore that with less criticism and self doubt. I welcome the pathology, while at the same time celebrate the gifts and insights it brings us. I love that some of the most beautiful minds in the world, historically and present day (and here) seek a different path, a more sensitive environment, and answer the call to their true nature. Once (oh God, please let it be sooner than later) I have my own permaculture homestead, then this label will become meaningless and I can just revel in being who I was always meant to be.
     
    Neil Layton
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    The self-reliant individual is a myth that needs updating

    The thesis that even celebrated loners in history and literature had companions so they weren't really self-reliant, that true strength lies in the courage to make oneself vulnerable to connection, that this is a feminine act, and that connection in society is the thing we should really be celebrating, and this is what we are all supposed to want...rubs me all wrong...it's not like that wasn't thought of or attempted.



    I think there was a lot to be said for this article, but I think it needed to be three times the length, and the conclusions were a mess.

    I liked how it talked about the need to be vulnerable to make those connections with others. That's something I've been doing here (and elsewhere) with some, but not really enough, success. Like Kitty though, I'm worn out trying it.

    It did have failings: a lot of failings.

    The first is that the loner myth speaks to us on the level of myth, not of practicality. We don't just tell ourselves stories to pass time around the campfire. It's a literary trope that, among other things, teaches us to face "normality" and do something different, in the face of inevitable adversity.

    The article also equates being antisocial (I'm not antisocial: I'm socially inept, and prefer not to associate with certain other mindsets, although those do seem to be shared by the majority) with being independent, which is a completely flawed concept.

    It also inadequately examines a particular kind of mindset. I started a thread a couple of months ago on the prospects of me going it alone. It was met by some encouragement, but I quickly ran into realism, and concluded that it wouldn't work. In some western cultures we have the myth of the purely self-reliant man (and it usually is a man), but this also supports the hidden parts of the narrative, which is that in doing as he **** well pleases he will trample over the rights of others, whether that's Man Friday or the wildlife and the other humans at Malheur.

    The fact is that I do need that connection - being alone will drive you completely crazy! - but I also need, as Kitty does, to distance myself from society. It's not just that I can't fit into that society, but that I don't like that society, and I don't like what it stands for (and I don't mean the ones freaking over Big Gov'mint, but the narrative of dominance and control - and the "self-reliant individual" is as prone to that as any corporation, just on a smaller scale: he may object to those "controlling" him, but he will then go on to control the land and exploit "his" cows).

    Where I think the author is right is that it takes strength to be open to connection, with the vulnerability that implies. If you are neurologically atypical there is an additional level of vulnerability, because of the increased likelihood of rejection. I have a personals ad up elsewhere on the site. I once estimated that I'd make a possible connection with about 0.1% of women at a romantic level. Given the current page views on that thread, compared with the number who have actually contacted me (taking into account repeat visits) it's closer to 0.1% of the selective sample reading that thread. To be told by 99.9% of even that selective sample that they just aren't interested opens up all kinds of existential issues.

    Where I think she is wrong is that we should be celebrating making the maximum number of connections possible. At some point, that descends into the trivial, and people with hundreds of Facebook "friends".

    I want to make the connections with that limited number of people, the 0.1%, or just the one or two individuals, who I can get on with at that deeper level, willing to be themselves and do something different.


    I also want to tackle the question of "ill", mentioned above. As an Aspie I am not "ill": I am different, but I am not "ill". You may be an Aspie and also be ill, but being an Aspie does not make you ill.
     
    Xisca Nicolas
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    Instead of ill I could say wouldened. And i am not ill, but part of my nervous system is, for sure.
    But it also gave me the gift to see what is woulned in other peple, especially in a close relationship.
    And this is general, that is why I do not mind about accepting that something is ill, woulned, etc.
    Every one is at a level or another.

    The autonomic nervous system is just not enough taken into account.

    When you know about it, then you do not mind any more about pathology or not.

    What I reject is not pathology, I reject the violence with which some people use pathologizing others. The problem is to condemn people for being different, whatever the difference. But I am forgiving. When you behave differently, yes indeed people can be distabilised, and so they react with some fear. So they reject, and yes I do not like being rejected because I am not good at chosing the right code to relate myself.

    For example I like hugs. But for me the problem is that people rupture the hug before is has reached the energy balance. And I do feel it. There is a calming balance that can establish. Only then it is possible to separate. Most people are not able to stand to feel this.

    I also know this about interconnection between things. I can apply a knowledge in link with others.

    I repetedly scowl people who throw organic matter on my terrace when eating. "But this is organic". Yes, and they d not undersand by themselves that I do not want ants and rodents there, and that I compost elsewhere than between the stones of my terrace. And as a friend told me, I am bad in the way I say it. Well I just say it, and not even in an angry manner. I just do not have the right way because I do not know which it is. I admit that this is a real weakness that I have. this part of me is ill, but not all of me.

    I also have big inner strenght, and a lot of people admire what i can do. I just answer that I am not brave enough for what people judge as a more secure and easy life. I am also able to speak in public etc. I am less shy than as a child.
    And I have bettered a lot of things through Somatic experiencing.

    When the global activation of the nervous system goes down, then the "social engagement" (see Porges again) gets better with no effort.
    Also, the social skills that I thought nearly had to be learned, just come by themselves.
     
    steward
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    I am really glad to announce that I got Neil to write up an article for Permaculture Magazine, North America's website that was inspired by this thread. It's titled "The Importance of Neurodiversity in Permaculture" I have been so excited to announce it here in this thread, so here you go!


    You can read it by clicking here!


     
    Xisca Nicolas
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    Chris Pampo wrote:My son is 13, and when he was probably 10, his pediatrician convinced me to take him to a psychologist because she was sure he had Asperger's.  ...  Well, the "experts" told me that he tested "just below" the threshold for Asperger's, so they would not give him a diagnosis. ... He is very intelligent and gets straight As in school, but I have a hard time getting him interested in anything other than video games.      



    I also feel I am below the threshold.
    If aspergus is a mild form of autism, well, we can also have a mild form of aspergus, can't we?!

    Now just let me give an idea.... I make profit that Chris is a mom....
    I practise SE, somatic experiencing of Peter levine, and so learnt a lot about the nervous system and overwhelming experiences, and their consequences, especially at young age, before the nervous system is operational, which would be around 6 months old.

    I have noticed that, more over than what I have learnt,  it seems to be true that we are affected at the nervous systen level, in a very special way, by what happened between conception and 6 months old. You can also see Stephen Porges for this, about the polyvagal theory, and he worked with autism. What is affected is especially the social behaviour capacity.

    In my case, it is before birth. But I have found the same sort of issues in diverse shocks such as an early or difficult birth, surgery, accidents.... Some people are fully recovered from premature birth or early surgeries etc, but some are not, because it depends on the mother too. It can even be only a temporary difficulty, or physically because of a health issue at birth that also affected the mother.

    The fetus and the baby relie fully on the nervous system of the mother, and if we knew it, and to what point it is important, we would act differently as parents. There some missing knowledge that makes us do mistakes without wanting. Even if my mother does not know what was affected in myself over some digestive problems, she is soooo guilty about the part of the iceberg she knows about! But she was a victim too....

    So, I would like to know if some of you, if you know it, share this common story of an early shock.


     
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