Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ode to Headphones

A more perfect accessory, is there one?
Wearable input, encasing my eardrums, the universal “Do Not Disturb.”
Atop my head, they go with me everywhere, my armor against the world.
Distraction-free, I’m a dynamo. Give me my cans, and I “can-do!”
Spectacular bubble, admittance one.
Float me to a destination of my own piloting, envelop me in a singular soundtrack I alone choose.
Choose your own adventure! Feed your ears, your soul, your brain, it’s all a click away.
Why click away?
Isn’t it obvious?
All around is mindless babble.
Silence has gone extinct, a void we rush to fill with all manner of jabbering.
Talking heads, gloom and doom, commercialized homogenized carbon-copy sound bytes, bothersome beats beating me down... intrude no more!
Amid the hubbub of audio offense, my defense is strong. Put on a new set of ears, like you would a new outfit, it’s a new day.
Splendid isolation! Why, I can even hide from my own mind.
So let’s drop all pretense of “friendly chatter,” my ears need better buds. 
Give me my drown sound.
Seal me in my listening chamber!
With these shells atop my head, I’m goin’ full tortoise mode.
Text me if you need me. If you must talk to me, feel free to look for my body, though I may be out of it.
Would that I could evolve headphone ears! An extra appendage, always close at hand.
Perhaps we'd be better off as pod people.
An end to all bickering, just add distance and our divisive differences dissolve into one big silent rave.
Now that would be splendid.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Aspie's Lament

Here’s the lone cowboy riding off into the wide, wild prairie. The misunderstood drifter. A dude who was wired different, but never meant no harm. Sharp as a tack, but with one fatal flaw.

They called him Trigger. The fastest meltdown in the West. He had super-senses, and when his mind ran too fast and furious, he was liable to get anxious and bothered! He would scream or break things, and generally pitch a fit. ‘Specially when other folks got to hollerin’ and makin’ a ruckus. Even so, ol’ Trigger would never hurt nobody, and he knew when things got rowdy, that was his cue to shuffle off.

Cause ordinary folks don’t know what to make of a meltdown. Mamas would grab their babies and skedaddle for the hills. Men would draw their pistols. And especially the law didn’t understand. The sheriff stared him down and said, “Boy, we don’t like your kind ‘round here. Cause if you melt down in the public square, it’s the Scragg’em Fair for you!”

His mama tried to warn him. She said, “Now boy, you make sure to blend in! You comb your hair and shine your boots, and push your different-ness down. And whatever you do, don’t melt down in town, son. Don’t melt down in town.”

Well, the cowboy kept his mood swings bottled up for a good long while. But the years went on, and the creeps got noisier, the bullies got bullier, and the big bazoos got bazookier. Until one day. And it wasn’t even anything big, just enough little things at once, the perfect storm of triggers, that pushed him over the edge. Maybe it was the long-tongued folks, shootin’ off at the mouth, airin’ their lungs. And maybe they set the saloon temperature down to 68. And maybe somebody parked his horse upwind. And maybe they cranked up the juke box with that Four Non Blondes song – he never did like that song. 

Whatever it was, Trigger felt a deep burning pain to his senses. Though he tried to stay in the saddle, he was getting weary, unable to ride… And he finally snapped, and let loose a terrible tirade, in front of everybody. A nuclear meltdown!

And that was the last anyone saw of ol’ Trigger. Cause when it comes to meltdowns, the law don’t understand ‘em, they just cuff ‘em and brand ‘em. They say that he sang as the sheriff led him away, “Oh beat the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly… for I’m a young Aspie and I know I’ve done wrong…”

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Systematic Like Me

Hey, do you like personality tests? Maybe you know your Myers-Briggs type, but do you know your communication style? Before you read the rest of this post, take this 25 question test. [PDF]  

Note: When scoring, you may notice that question 8 has no number. The scoring form (page 5) goes in order, numbering is just off by 1 starting with #9. Please excuse the glitch; this is the only “free” version of the test available online.


So, which style did you score?

If you’re on the autism spectrum, I have a hunch that your dominant score was Analytical. (Also called Systematic.) The vast majority of my answers were in this category. Many common autistic traits can be found under the Systematic type. (Introverts in general will probably score here too.) But I also scored in other categories for certain questions… weird!

The HDRQ Personality Style Model posits that there are four communication styles, based on your choice of words, the way you say them, your body language, and personal space preferences.

It can also be described as a continuum from low to high expression of emotions, and low to high assertiveness in influencing others, with the four styles representing four quadrants. Read a more detailed analysis of the HRDQ model here. [PDF]

There’s something fascinating about this test. Look what they say! Systematic is one of four normal communication styles you find. All four styles have their strengths and weaknesses - and none is considered undesirable! I find that a nice bit of neurodiverse thinking, don’t you?

I wrote some time ago about “chasing typical,” how back in school, I was told my style was a weakness, limited my potential, needed to be changed, and so on. Imagine if my "shortcomings" had been viewed as a normal personality style instead. Not only normal, but valued! Hm, perhaps I am more typical than I thought...

So, to review: When an acquaintance puts their hand on your arm, you get annoyed: Normal!

When someone messes with your neat, organized desktop*, you get upset: Normal!

When people get upset or cry in front of you, you try to remove yourself from the situation: Normal!

So if you’re Systematic like me, use your strengths! Flex dem muscles! You don’t need to change.

* Thanks @shitmyaspiesays for words to live by.