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Back to School

  • Posted on August 28, 2011 at 12:46 AM

The boys go back for the first day of school on Friday, so it'll be a busy week getting them ready to go.  I'll be back online by Saturday.

Enjoy the last of the summer--if you've got any left.

Hiatus

  • Posted on June 25, 2011 at 8:46 PM

I will be offline for about a week as my new class starts up for the summer. Have fun!

Hiatus

  • Posted on April 9, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Purple Pen Writing Services is experiencing a heavy demand for my services, so I am going to have to take a break from blogging for a few weeks.  I will upload a new post and reconnect with all of the blogs I like to read starting April 22nd.

2011: Resolutions or Goals?

  • Posted on December 31, 2010 at 8:01 PM

I believe in progress.  I don’t mean I’m politically progressive, though I am depending on the definitions you use.  What I mean is that I believe that people—as individuals—are here to progress.  We grow, we change, we develop—and, if we’re lucky—we improve ourselves in the process.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  Relying on the New Year to reinforce commitments indicates to me that one’s commitment isn’t strong enough to face up to the challenges progress requires. 

Instead, I believe in goals.  Goals can be made during any point of the year.  I make goals, change them, and adapt them throughout the year.  And I work towards them.  I succeed.  I fail.  I grow.  I change.  I progress.  And I strive to improve.

Yet, despite my lack of belief in New Year’s resolutions, the change in year marks one of those times I re-evaluate my progress.  It’s not the only time, but it’s a pivotal time, because the New Year is potentially inspirational.  It’s a new start—one that relies solely on our perception, but a new start nonetheless.

One goal I have had is to write a nonfiction book tentatively entitled Neurodiversity at Work: A Manager’s Guide.  The purpose of this book is to prepare contemporary managers to cope with and capitalize on their neurologically diverse workforce.  Simply put, managers aren’t trained for this.  And I want to give managers a tool to improve their skills and awareness in this area.

Yet, I haven’t made much progress with this goal.  That’s got to change.  The New Year, with its fresh slate, is a good time to commit to that change.

So, I commit to you, my lovely readers, that I will post one book-specific post per month.  I commit to myself to follow up this book-specific post with book-specific work, related directly to completing the proposal for this book (a precursor to writing the book).

Another goal I have isn’t very well formulated.  I want to help my children grow and develop, but unlike many of my fellow parents of autistic kids, I usually don’t plan this.  Sure, there are IEPs and therapy goals.  There are even medical goals.  And while I contribute to the planning process and strive to achieve those goals, they are neither personal nor familial.  These commitments aren’t made from parent to child.

So, I also commit to you, my lovely readers, that I will post one progress report on each of my children each month.  I commit to myself to plan the kind of progress I want to work towards in that regard.  And I commit to my children to make my plans and my efforts wholly respectful, honoring the people they are and not simply enforcing “shoulds” and “coulds” on my children.

Now, I’d like to ask you:  Goals or resolutions?  What are yours?

Ending the Hiatus

  • Posted on August 17, 2010 at 6:35 AM

It’s been a busy summer.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, launched a business, and started working on my Master’s degree.  I started two novels, a nonfiction book, and many shorter projects.  And, of course, I’m always trying to keep up with my boys.

Soon, Ben will be transitioning from the intensive to the post-intensive stage of Wisconsin’s autism waiver, which means more flexibility but fewer hours of therapy.  Willy is going to middle school, which is a point of anxiety and excitement.  Alex is still struggling with bouts of aggression, but has been much happier this summer.  There’s been considerable excitement, loudness, and activity all around.

Recently, my brother, my uncle, and their friend—along with a lot of local helpers—implemented a landscaping plan to address the leak in the basement.  Unfortunately, the only rain we’ve had since then was a big gusher—four and a half inches of rain in an hour and a half, but it rained for much longer than that—and it did not give us a clear idea of whether or not our efforts were successful.  The cleanup work is still not done, but I’m doing a little at a time.  The important thing is the system is in place and should work during a normal rainfall.  But, there is still a lot of rock and dirt to move.

Despite all the activity and all the good things that are going on, I have been struggling with depression.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “because of all the activity and all the good things that are going on, I’m struggling with depression.”  Each day there is more to do than I can possibly get done and I’ve tried for too long to do it all anyway.  Working on the landscape project was unavoidable—it’s my house and there wasn’t as much labor as we needed—but after that I let myself crash.  But I predicted that, so it’s all good.

I guess the point is that I’m back, but I’m still tired and still trying to get back to a manageable schedule.  But my to-do list is still over-full.  Hopefully I don’t work myself to a crash again this year, but that’s the risk of being me.

Short Hiatus

  • Posted on August 3, 2010 at 7:59 PM

I just wanted to let everyone know that with all the busyness going on last week and for the next two weeks, I will be taking a short hiatus from this blog.  I will be back with a new post on August 16.

Hiatus

  • Posted on April 10, 2010 at 5:03 AM

I have been too busy preparing my business plan to post lately.  I apologize!

I have one more week to complete my business plan (as well as the work from my other class), and then I'll be back online.  I'll also be finished with my bachelor's degree!  Well, everything but the ceremony.

I anticipate getting a real post up on Wednesday, April 21.  See you then!

The Little Things

  • Posted on March 1, 2010 at 7:14 PM

Little things seem to be undervalued.  Even the label little things implies insignificance.  Not too long ago a little thing set my world reeling.

 “I love you,” I said, sincerely but also distractedly.

“Yeah, but sometimes I wonder why,” my husband responded.

I stopped in my tracks.  Distractions…gone.  Words…gone.  Thoughts…gone.  Seconds passed and the only thing in my conscious mind was a fleeting thought to count in anticipation of a response, something I do with my boys when there is an apparent delay in processing.  But this time the delay was my own.

A response surfaced, along with a tragic sense of…something.  The response was completely inadequate yet completely true: “If you don’t know, I can’t explain.”

In twelve days Mark and I will celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary.  We’ve had our ups and downs, our yelling matches, our rough patches, and our breaking points.  We’ve survived them all.  Yet, depression and the words of others eat away at us.

These moments come and I’m never prepared for them.  I can no more put into words why I love Mark than I can put into words why I love my children or anyone else.  Love doesn’t have a why.  Love goes deeper than all the whys we’ve ever put into words.  I can tell you why I like Mark, and even why I sometimes don’t like Mark.  I cannot tell you why I love him.  I just do.  I always will.

The tragic sense of…something lingers.  Again, there are no words for this.  Loss, sorrow, and regret…these words are part of it, but they’re as inadequate as my response.  I mourn for that part of him that is lost in the depression, where the light my love shines cannot reach.  I regret the busyness that keeps me moving and going and trying, working towards a dream that seems both too big to accomplish and too necessary to fail to accomplish.

Somehow I have to express to him (and others who find room for doubt) the why for something that has no why.  Perhaps this will be enough:

This morning, as Alex was just getting his morning started he slipped a DVD too far down his finger and it got stuck and started to swell.  I tried to get it off, but it would not budge.  I buttered it, but it would not budge.  I tried to break the DVD, but it would not break.  Mark was sleeping, so I lead Alex—who was fussing about the pain in his finger and wasn’t I going to fix it, now please!—upstairs and woke Mark up with a hasty plea and he removed the DVD without hurting either Alex or the DVD.

It seems little all by itself.  But there are many strings of little things over these last twelve years.  All together they prove to me, if only to me, that we complement each other.  We fit.  We are two “wholes” that make a better “whole” (versus two “halves” that make a “whole,” which is a phrase that I feel inaccurately describes people).  Our relationship isn’t perfect.  Our lives aren’t perfect.  We’re not perfect.  But we’re the perfect “wholes” for each other.  We enrich and complete each other.  All the struggles, the complications, the disagreements, the deficits, and the inadequacies mean nothing compared to this.

Together we are whole and the little things prove it so.

Quiz Me

  • Posted on February 16, 2010 at 11:36 PM

The question has been lurking in my mind: Am I on or merely near the “spectrum?  When I was gathering some more links for my collection I came across three different quizzes.  Here are the results if you’re at all curious.

First, I took a quiz from PsychCentral:

They call theirs an Autism/Asperger’s Screening Quiz.  I scored 33.  They say if you score 34 or more autism is likely.  If you score between 30 and 33 autism is possible (which is where I fit in according to this quiz).  If you score 29 or less, no autism.

This puts me at the cusp of the criteria, however I found their questions to be rather stereotypical than definitive.  It makes it rather difficult to feel confident about the results.  Particularly, I find this passage to be bothersome:  “Based upon your responses to this autism screening measure, it appears that you may be suffering from an autism spectrum disorder, or Asperger’s disorder. People who score similarly often qualify for a diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s,” (emphasis added).  No test of this nature can indicate whether one is suffering or merely experiencing.  This presumption betrays a bias that I find rather untrustworthy.

Next, I took an Aspie Quiz on RDOS.net:

This site kindly provided HTML code, so I can share the results.

The summary is as follows:

Your Aspie score: 146 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 58 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie
Your MBTI type: INTJ

Next, I went to a site I’m unfamiliar with that offers what it calls an ASC-Plot:

They also kindly offer HTML code, so there’s a visual.

And here’s the summary:

0 indicates no autistic component, 10 indicates a strong autistic component. The components of this plot are outlined below:

  • Repetitive or restricted Behaviours and Interests (RBI) - Stereotyped, repetitive behaviours and interests
  • Social Impairment (SI) - Social understanding
  • Language problems (L) - Speech, words and sentences
  • Planning, Organization and Concentration problems (POC) - Cognitive skills related to being able to plan, organise and stay focused
  • Imaging and Recall problems (IR) - Visualisation, imagination and remembering past events
  • Reasoning and Problem solving problems (RP) - Cognitive skills related to rational deduction and working things out
  • Sensory problems (S) - Impact of senses
  • Motor problems (M) - Control of own movement

And my scores are:

  • RBI =7
  • SI=8.25
  • L=3.75
  • POC=7
  • IR=8.25
  • RP=4.5
  • S=7.5
  • M=4.25

I think I can say with confidence that I’m not neurotypical, but I knew that.  This didn’t make me want to go out and get a diagnosis though.  Not because I’m convinced I’m not an Aspie, but because there are so many barriers to a diagnosis I’m not sure it’s worth the energy.

On Why Pity Isn’t Charity

  • Posted on February 6, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Recently I had a discussion with an individual who described charity as giving that is motivated by pity, and used this definition in a Christian context.  I tried to explain to this individual why this was not the case.  Yet, this form of “charity” is so engrained in the American culture that she could not see the distinction I was making.  So, I’ll try here in hopes of being understood.

“Charity” as the word is used in the King James Bible is synonymous with Christian love.   Specifically, charity is defined as:

The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ.  It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive.

Holy Bible, King James Version, 1979, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“Charity” when defined as Christian love is never pity.  Pity involves a sense of superiority:  when you pity someone, you look down on them and think they are somehow less than yourself; less fortunate, less talented, less valuable.  Less.

Matthew 25:34-40

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and too thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

While “charity” is not used in the Bible as an action, if it were to be an action, then this would be the actions of which it would speak.  The phrase the least of these my brethren is misleading, apparently.  Some people associate it with pity, because if they are the least, then are they not less than us?  Jesus, who tells the parable, is NOT agreeing that those who are in need are, as so many perceive them, of less worth than those who give; He is comparing the least of these my brethren with a King and as brethren of the King.  Giving unto them is not an act of pity; it is an act of charity.  It is not done because you pity them and look down on them; it is done because you love them and feel compassion for them.

Compare this passage with the following hypothetical scenario:

A woman walks into the church with a Crockpot of hot, home-made soup.  She sets up her offering on the table and gets to work preparing the space for the homeless who will be coming in.  It is 5:30 and very cold outside.  The doors are locked, but she hears the shuffling of people on the outside.  The doors will open at 6, so they have to get busy to get everything ready.

At 6 pm, the pastor opens the door and the stiff, cold people wrapped in layers of poorly mended and unclean clothes shuffle in.  He lines the people up along the buffet so they each can get their dish, while the woman busies herself filling bowls with the hot, savory soup.  The gentleman next to her is putting together sandwiches, some turkey and some ham.

“It’s so sad,” the soup lady says to the sandwich guy.

“I know.  Everyone’s shivering.  We should have opened the door earlier,” the guy says.

These words startle the lady.  “But we weren’t ready yet.”

He smiles at the young man who just made it up to them.  The soup lady hands him a bowl, and prepares another.  The sandwich guy asks, “Would you like turkey or ham?”

“Ham, please,” he says in a gravelly voice that sounds like it doesn’t get much use.  The man takes one of the sandwiches heaping with ham, and asks him whether he’d like mayonnaise or mustard.  Before the young man can answer, the soup lady pipes in, “You see, it’s just so sad that all these poor people can’t find work.”

The young man’s cheeks color, but she doesn’t see him.  His gaze goes dark and his shoulders slouch.  He takes his sandwich and his soup, his milk and his apple, and even his little cookie into a far corner and eats in silence in the draftiest part of the church hall, while families and individuals gather under the blowing heat from the vents.

When everyone is served, the sandwich man tries to talk to him.  But the young man shakes his head.  “She don’t know,” he says.  “She don’t think.”

It’s not an accusation, but his voice is full of sorrow.  Neither of them will ever know that this man works twelve hours day, six days each week, working two back-breaking jobs.  The soup lady couldn’t imagine it.  Yet, he comes to the soup kitchen, because he doesn’t leave himself enough to have more than two meals a day.  Even working so hard, he cannot afford to because so much of that money he works so hard to earn has to go to his mother’s medical bills and his children’s tuition into the one private school that takes children with special needs.

The sandwich man tried to show love; the soup lady only felt pity.  Pity is not about love.  Pity is about making yourself feel better by exposing yourself to the misery of those who are so much worse off than you.  They’re not people; they’re certainly not brethren.

This is why I see pity as being the cousin to bullying, not to love.  Bullying is about making yourself feel better, too.  Instead of the passive harm you do to people when you pity them, you’re harming people actively, intentionally.  That’s the only difference I see between pity and bullying.  You’re harming people either way; you’re looking down on people either way.

Love isn’t about you.  Love is about giving yourself to others.  You may be called to give your heart or your time, your money or your ear.  But you are called to give.  Love—the pure love of Christ—is about recognizing the humanity in others and celebrating it.  You give not out of obligation, not because you feel sorry for them, but because you recognize their need and want to share yourself and your possessions with a fellow human being.  That’s charity.  Pity and charity should never be confused.