Posts tagged ‘Asperger Syndrome’

December 5, 2012

anatomy of an argument – sweating the small stuff

27.03.2011 – Journal entry [btw, we’re fine]

Well yesterday started out ok then M. and I had a massive row at the supermarket, after we’d been running in the park, about something ridiculously trivial and I am still in a rage about it. It’s making me feel crazy. I have just tried to clear the air, but M. maintains he has nothing to say, he’s happy, he got up early this morning, he’s feeling a bit tired, but otherwise he’s fine. I am seething. I’m not sure why I am making such a big deal of this. He has nothing to say and I can’t bring myself to look at or speak to him.

I am convinced that M. was trying to pick a fight with me. He won’t admit it. He reckons I escalated it beyond the two-minute moan he was having about my having bought an unnecessary plastic bag at the supermarket, and beginning to expand on the theme about how wasteful I am and all the food I’ve ever bought which I haven’t eaten. Perhaps I did. But I could feel a cloud descending on me as he repeated variations on the theme over and over again.

It’s not as if he was paying. It’s not as if the plastic bag wouldn’t get used as a dustbin bag anyway. It’s not as if I’m never going to miscalculate the number of bags we need again, and will be penalized to the tune of 15c. And since I’m the one who does most of the shopping, and I prefer to have too many plastic bags than over-fill too few, plus I pay for the fucking stuff, I don’t see why I should have to listen to him droning on about it. So it feels like he was picking a fight.

So why did I take the bait? I was starting to feel resentful, thinking how happy I’d felt running around the park, how relaxed, how normally right now I’d be in a dreamy state of well-being and instead I’m being nagged, having my balls broken about something absolutely trivial. I kept thinking “don’t sweat the small stuff”, actually, I kept thinking “why does he have to sweat the small stuff”. Maybe if I’d been thinking the first thing, I’d have been better able to resist the temptation to explode, because that’s what I did in the end. I told him to shut up, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!!! I think I might have missed the stage of politely asking him to change the subject. No, I didn’t. I could probably have been more polite or humourous about it, but I did ask him to change the subject.

Did I tell him he was right? He said something strange yesterday morning, that he was going to have to leave me because I always told him he was right. I often appease him, it’s the easiest way. He also said that it was because he was nearly always right, and I’d do better to just listen to him and do whatever he says. At the time this was a light-hearted conversation, but I wonder if there’s anything behind it.

Anyway, after I told him to SHUT UP, he didn’t, which ramped up my frustration, which was rapidly turning into rage, even further, and I doubled back on myself and took the parallel route home so I wouldn’t have to keep listening to him. Unfortunately I was the only one who had the keys, so he was waiting for me. We got home in silence, with me banging every door I could. He seemed calm and cheerful. It felt a bit sadistic.

This does remind me of rowing with mum. I think she believed this was what communication was about, this was how people were supposed to interact with each other, this was “being Italian”, being honest, being oneself, expressing one’s feelings. I would be the one having the amygdala hijack, and I’d feel completely drained and crazy afterwards.

It’s funny, M.’s always more likely to do this when people are coming over, especially if it’s D. He has been known to behave like a whiny pain in the arse with T. around as well, but less so.

What happened when we got back? It was quite late, so I started tidying up the house, clearing the table in the kitchen. M. started to go on about the plastic bags again, because, evidently, I hadn’t understood what he was trying to say. I started screaming at him to shut up, what was there not to understand that he’s pissed off because I bought a plastic bag we didn’t need, and how dare he break my balls about something so fucking trivial, about a 15c bag. How would he like it if I broke his balls in this way? I don’t break his balls so why the fuck does he think it’s alright to break mine. He denied he was breaking my balls, at which point I threw the folded-up table-cloth at him.

I went into the living room to try and cool off. I realized that wasn’t going to happen so I decided to have a shower. I’d just finished getting dressed when D. & A. arrived. There followed a fairly excruciating day of my pretending that everything was alright. M. was showing affection towards me, leaning against me at the table, but as soon as D. & A. went outside on the balcony for a smoke, he said, half jokingly, “I hate you, and I’m going to hate you until you apologise.” I couldn’t trust myself to speak. Before D & A came back, I hissed at him in the toilet that I was happy to apologise if he was. He announced that he had nothing to apologise for.

Is it too much to ask that he shows some basic consideration of my feelings, like if I’m clearly about to erupt with fury to stop doing whatever it is he’s doing which is presumably provoking it, reasonable or not? Apparently it’s too much to ask. I really feel like I’m dealing with Sheldon here, but am I being a bit Sheldon-like?

November 25, 2012

how to play

110402 – watching A. play basketball in Casalecchio

Yesterday we were out of milk, and I asked A., nearly 6, to come and buy some with me. He had just opened one of those little juice boxes, so I thought I’d wait until he’d finished drinking. I distracted myself for a couple of minutes, and when I looked back to see if he’d finished, he a) hadn’t, and b) was playing with the juice box rather than drinking. I took a deep breath and suppressed my natural urge to bark at him to hurry up, and, instead, observed him.

A. announced he didn’t like the drink – “organic blueberry” – but that he liked sucking the droplets from the straw when he took it out of the box. I resisted grinding my teeth, contented myself with a martyred sigh and kept watching. He started pulling the straw out and sucking the juice from it; then he wanted to see what would happen if he put the straw back in up-side down with the short part in the box (it still worked) ; then he noticed that he’d put some kinks in the bendy part of the straw and wanted to see if he could get them out by pressing with his teeth (more or less). After about five minutes of this, he finally handed me the almost undrunk drink, saying he didn’t want it any more. I couldn’t resist muttering something about “wasteful!” but otherwise kept my hair on. I was impressed by how absorbed he’d been in his ‘messing around.’

Later. A.’s skateboarding process:

  1. Get auntie to carry skateboard downstairs.
  2. Pause to consider skateboarding across the flower-bed. Decide against.
  3. Complain that the skateboard keeps stopping and won’t go in the direction I want it to; when auntie points out all the cracks and pot-holes in the pavement, get auntie to carry skateboard until the next bit of smooth pavement.
  4. Wonder what kneeling on skateboard and pushing yourself along with your hands is like. Ignore auntie telling you to stand on it, or you’ll never learn.
  5. Scrape thumb painfully on tarmac. Ignore auntie telling you not to put thumb in mouth. Decide to try sticks. First stick breaks immediately.
  6. At the park the tarmac path slopes down. Find a bigger stick. Discover that the stick won’t slow down the skateboard without endangering fingers. Rolling off the path and onto the grass will. Also the tips of my shoes dragging on the ground will. Get auntie to carry skateboard back up hill. Again and again. Have not given up on sticks.
  7. Notice path through the grass, decide to try and skateboard across it. There are a lot of stones in the earth along the path. I must dig them out or I can’t get across. Where’s my stick? Oops, it broke. Here’s another bigger one. Scrape, scrape, poke, poke, there goes the first stone. This one’s big. Scrape, scrape, scrape…
  8. Here are some more good sticks. I’m a caveman. Look, I’m rubbing two sticks together to make a fire.

Lessons learned:

Shoes are better than sticks for steering and stopping.

You can ride down the hill with a friend if you’re both kneeling.

[NB. Interesting post here about playing and Aspergers]

November 6, 2012

non-verbal communication breakdown

20.10.12 – journal in Morgex

Is my frustration with being talked at for hours another symptom of my misanthropy/ undiagnosed Asperger’s or is M.’s family really annoying? I assume that if I’m sitting there reading, or typing on my computer that this will be taken as a strong signal that I don’t want to be disturbed. This is obviously one of my remaining British pre-conceptions, as reading is considered vaguely anti-social over here, and of course you’d prefer real human interaction to that.  Still, I have not yet worked out how to extricate myself from my mother-in-law’s hour-long monologues about stuff she must remember she’s told me before. Sometimes I see it as a kind of payment for the hospitality and affection she has always extended towards me.

Two carpenters are staying here to do various jobs around the house. The two of them on Friday had been up since 4.00 am, and were only released from company at 10.30 p.m. Yesterday we had dinner downstairs, and G. & L. were holding forth until nearly 11.00. The older guy didn’t seem to mind, the younger guy, like me, seemed desperate for some peace and quiet. Finally, I put my jacket on and started giving very hard-to-miss leaving signals, and ended up waiting for 10 minutes outside for the others to come up and let me in. The younger guy, kept disappearing for a smoke and to make phonecalls. The older guy excused his rude behavior, saying he’s a bit “rozzo” – uncouth. God, what does that make me?

November 1, 2012

blogs I have spent entire days reading


An analysis of my blog-reading habits. And when I say “days on end reading,” I mean that, literally. In my pyjamas, becoming progressively more feral.

1. These are blogs I spent days on end reading when I discovered them, and the only 3 blogs I keep up with. The two main things they have in common is that they post regularly, and the posts are short, which is good, given my goldfish-like attention span.

2. Below are blogs I spent days on end reading when I discovered them. Blogs 1-4 I admire for their brilliant story-telling, humour and quality of writing. Blogs 8-10 are cartoon blogs. Dude, I’m an Aspie, in addition to being a clever, minimalist cartoon, taught me a lot about what it means to have Asperger Syndrome. As did blogs 11 and 12.

  1. parma violet tea
  2. tired dad
  3. belgian waffle
  4. defective yeti
  5. the trephine – the most interesting blog I’ve yet read about writing, being a woman, and trying to have integrity
  6. the idler – specifically, Tom Hodgkinson’s ‘a country diary’
  7. scott adams – I get Dilbert mailed to me daily as well
  8. indexed
  9. cartoon church – I am not religious, but I love this blog
  10. dude, I’m an aspie
  11. aspie strategy
  12. asperger’s diary

3. Blogs I regret spending days on end reading: blogs 1 and 2 are highly addictive if you’re feeling lazy and inadequate. They don’t stop you being lazy and inadequate, but while you’re reading them, they give you the illusion you are doing something useful.

  1. 4 hour work week
  2. lifehack

4. Blogs I have not spent any time reading, in spite of a nagging feeling that I should:

Anything to do with consultancy, more specifically, creativity, innovation and  change management, with the possible exception of creative think. Maybe it’s because the blogs in this field are written by desperate, self-employed people like me, and the overall tone is one of forced self-aggrandizement.

My theory is that in this field you cannot be good at what you do AND be good at marketing yourself. That’s what I tell myself every time I force myself to re-read anything I have ever written about work.

October 25, 2012

oh my god, I’M Sheldon!

22.02.2011 Tuesday

What did I learn from attending Toastmasters for four years?

  • that I either feel like the most boring, weird person in the world. Or I feel like I’m some kind of misunderstood genius and no one could possibly grasp what I have to tell them.
  • that the point of what you say, even if it’s the most beautifully constructed story or argument can be totally obliterated by the way you say it: i.e. if you’re inaudible, monotonous, don’t make eye-contact with them, make no reference to your audience, ignore your audience, talk over your audience’s heads, …
  • that even the people who make your eyes glaze over, the most boring-sounding geeks, the most self-obsessed spinsters, often have hidden interesting sides and fine brains. You’ll only find this out if you assiduously attend the bi-monthly meetings for at least two years. It takes this long to make you feel that you belong to the same race as your fellow toastmasters. NB. I met two of my best friends and my partner of 5 years at Toastmasters.
  • That I find it almost impossible to listen to feedback, that I don’t trust it and find most of it useless. It’s also that I don’t believe I’ve got anything to learn from these people.
  • I still don’t understand the point of the speech where you’re supposed to practice body language. And vocal variety.
  • that I sound like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
October 22, 2012

The most insulting self-help books to give as gifts

22.02.2011 Tuesday

I wonder if there’s a book that would teach S. the social skills she lacks to get on in life? What would I put in a book to help people with no social skills develop them? I ‘ll have to interview myself.

What did I read and do when I was last unemployed and at my most misanthropic? I read the book I got mum for Christmas, “How To Talk To Anyone”, (that she was really insulted I bought for her), “Change your life in 7 days,” “Resistance is Useless,” …  Did I ever manage to read “I’m OK you’re OK”? Dad had a shelf of books like this, “Straight And Crooked Thinking,” “Games People Play.” I bet dad bought them hoping mum would read them. I also did Toastmasters, I went “biodancing”, I read any new-agey crap anyone passed on to me about Bach flowers and equations to do with love. I should make a complete list. I should make a list of books that would be the most insulting to give as gifts.

Here’s an idea for a self-help book for the badly-brought up.

“Were you raised by wolves? A checklist of the things good parents should have taught you.”

October 18, 2012

they’re nothing to do with me


One of my sister T.’s memories about going holiday with the family was when they missed the overnight train from Milan to Paris. I wasn’t there, although it feels like my memory. My mother and four children, including 3 small ones, were waiting on a train platform late at night to catch another night train to Paris. They wouldn’t have had couchettes to look forward to, or even booked places, they wouldn’t have had any food or water, or anything that would offer any comfort, since mum would have been in charge of packing. There would have been luggage all over the place, and no obvious way of transporting so much with so many small children. At least one of the small children would have been crying. They would all have looked scruffy. Not dirty exactly, but unkempt. T remembers a man looking askance at them all and remarking to his companion “I hope I’m not expected to travel with that bunch of gypsies.” T remembers stepping away from the family, not wishing to be associated. I wonder how old she would have been – 16?

October 18, 2012

do I have Tourette’s too?


Interesting: it takes 45 minutes to get to Piacenza. I thought it took a lot longer than that. Fucking hell, this whole carriage has filled up. Can’t the guy go and sit somewhere else for fuck’s sake. Can’t he see the rest of the train is empty? Ok it sounds like he’s going all the way to Naples. That stupid woman could have sat somewhere else. Anyway, it’s not going to kill me to sit with these people for another hour and a half. God, I am such a misanthropist. There’s a word that sounds like misanthropist, that means the opposite? What is it? What’s Mr. Microsoft now? A philanthropist, that’s it. Gosh, what a vocabulary I have.

October 17, 2012

notices, but chooses to ignore social cues

Journal  09.02.12

I asked M, after he told me off for not listening to him, if he’d noticed that I I’d been yawning my head off while he was talking at – not to – me, that at one point I’d rested my forehead on the table, that I’d been reading when he’d started talking, that I’d given plenty of non-verbal signals that I was feeling knackered after a day of listening to people and I didn’t feel like listening to him. I asked him if he understood non-verbal language. He said he notices and understands, but he doesn’t really care and chooses to ignore it.

October 17, 2012

asperger social skills

Summer 2011, on the phone with my sister, S. S. is talking about her initiative to set up a summer school, something she’s never done, with a school-teacher friend of hers. Things aren’t going to plan, although the plan seems to be that the school-teacher friend, who’s in the process of getting married, gets permission from the school and recruits all the parents and children. There’s no progress and S. is expressing feelings of betrayal towards her friend, referring to her as “a cow”, and possibly “a stupid bitch”. I point out that S.’s plan seems to be dependent on her friend making everything happen, and in the interests of maintaining a positive working relationship, perhaps she shouldn’t refer to her as “a cow” and “a bitch”. S. tells me that’s how she deals with things, because “she’s a fighter.”


October 16, 2012

a theory that explains everything

Saturday 11 February 2012

I’ve just told S about my theory that most of our family have Asperger Syndrome. She was insulted. She said “That’s complete rubbish, I’m not afraid of crowds, that’s complete bullshit.” This is in front of A, who wants to know what we’re talking about, probably relieved that the attention is off him. He told me earlier that the TV was broken. This evening S. told me that he broke it. They were arguing about watching TV, he pushed it, it fell off the table and smashed. S wants to take him to see a neurologist because “he doesn’t recognise any limits.” She tells me this while eating a carrot and play-fighting with A on the bed with the pouf – oh, and A is eating a rice-cake.