Happy Father’s Day!

My dad bailed when I was 3. I saw him off and on until I was 9, then my mom and step-dad moved us to California and I didn’t see my dad nor hear from him until I was 15–a few months after he quit drinking. I spent less than 2 months with him before he shipped me back to my mom because I couldn’t get along with his secretly alcoholic and abundantly abusive girlfriend. She was the controlling sort and ended up tearing him down to almost nothing before he left her. Or at least I blamed her for years. I no longer feel this way.

I thought it was timing that made this mouse of a man hard to deal with when he divorced her a year after marrying her. He avoided his family and didn’t even tell my sister or I about his marriage. We both found out about it after the divorce and it was too soon to confront him about his absence, I told myself. Give him time, he’ll recover. Except he never did. He wasn’t going to because there wasn’t anything to recover from. It would be a couple more years, after my sister killed herself, before he’d start making a consistent effort. I was 23 when she died and for 15 years I’ve been building a relationship with this man whom I called dad. I thought that he was ready to be a dad, finally. That he’d embrace his role as a parent to a self-sufficient adult-child like gangbusters. No such luck.

I embraced him. Forgave him even.

Five years ago I started bugging him about moving over here where he can be closer to his grand-kids. I was pregnant with my third child and I wanted my children to know their whole family, including my dad. I explained how easy it’d be for him to sell his house and find property over here. I let him know that I would be there for him and support him through it. I’d even let him stay with me while he worked out the buying end over here. It would have been easy for anybody else who had also built 2 houses and bought and sold 2 houses by this point in his life. The man he pretended to be on the phone never indicated he was incapable of this “small” but complicated task. The issue would reveal itself after only a few short months of living together.

This man-child was fully incapable of taking care of himself. He subsisted on donuts, cookies, chips, Coke, cigarettes and coffee, and maybe the random sandwich. I was floored by his bad habits but was willing to overlook the eating issues just to have my dad nearby for my kids to get to know. I found out the issues exceeded executive functioning and bled profusely over into daily decision making. So much so I thought he was coming down with dementia. I was reassured by his doctor that he shows no signs of dementia. I even attended an appointment with him and realized the helplessness he expressed to me was an act. He expressed concern for being able to ask the doctor questions and retain the information given. When I spoke with the doctor privately about the possibility of dementia and observed my dad interacting with the doctor, nurse and other people in the office, that he had absolutely no issues with handling this level of self care unlike he had expressed just the day before. I had skipped a very important class to attend this appointment to find that the issues he was expressing was a manipulation tactic to get more attention. He could only take care of himself if I removed myself from the equation, otherwise he would lean heavily on me for all his care.

When someone is broken, and I mean completely broken, sometimes it’s best to just let them be.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed his behaviors were hedonistic and based solely on feeling. My 18 year old son saw it too. He eventually started getting irritated with grandpas “inability to be a man, about anything.” And my son isn’t the type to show stress. He’d make a wonderful nurse or pediatric something or other. Anyhow, in the past couple months he and I have been arguing more. He reminded me just the other day that grandpas behavior was affecting him too. He’s so even keel all the time (read as superman), I forget he’s human too sometimes. And I forget how observant he is. It must be all those times he pretends to not notice anything.

It really wasn’t until this week that I realized that my father had not changed one iota from when I was a child. His hedonistic behaviors were claiming his health and he didn’t care. The clearest indicator was when his recent and first colonoscopy revealed that he had precancerous polyps and will need a colonoscopy every 2 years for the rest of his life. The ping pong ball sized lump I found in my breast last year was enough to change how I deal with life–it wasn’t cancer, but scary enough. One would assume these polyps would be just as scary. They’re precancerous for fucks sake! The doctor indicated that his eating habits caused the polyps. He responded by continuing to eat exactly the way he was before the news. (Have I explained how I’m a health nut and know more about liver function and nutrition than any civilian should know?) Nothing scared him and that’s when it hit me, he had given up on life. His behavior was that of a 14 year old kid whose parents went on vacation and left the kitchen fully stocked with the only food they can get him to eat. Except my dad is 64. One would think he’d have learned a thing or two by now.

Over the past couple months I’ve watched this man attempt running away over trivial issues multiple times. Each time I’d call him out and remind him, again, of how that behavior isn’t serving him. I’ve been telling him this for 15 years. I’ve felt like a therapist with him, and I thought I was actually having an affect. I’d teach him little tricks for regaining his lost confidence while I was learning to regain mine after leaving a domestic violence situation. He’d talk a big game on the phone, but I quickly saw once he moved in that he wasn’t doing anything he said he was doing. He was running away at every turn even when he was still physically present. Most of the time was wasted chatting on the phone with people for hours every day. And I mean 4 hours minimum spent on the phone every, single, day.

It wouldn’t be long before my son and I would notice that everything he did was about puffing himself up. I felt like I was living with my ex again. It was a nightmare. He’d yell at me when I didn’t understand what he was saying, but would gaslight and excuse himself if he wasn’t being clear. If I talked to him about a conversation I had with someone that was bothering me, he’d threaten to punch the other person in the face. I eventually stopped confiding in him because I had to explain to a 64 year old man that punching people in the face isn’t the answer to every conflict. His ego was in the way of our relationship just like with my ex. He bought a motorcycle when he already owned one. He would talk about how he loved how people would look at his new bike and admitted that it was purely for ego. Yet complained when spending that money came round and bit him in the ass.

If you haven’t been reading my blog, you won’t know that I have autism, late diagnosis. We’re slowly getting used to what that means, but one thing I know it means is I will not be apologetic about who I am. With that said, I will not tolerate a few things. I will not be told to learn something my neurological condition prevents me from learning, nor will I be apologetic for it. I will not be cursed at no matter how upset you are. I also will not live with someone who uses the silent treatment to get their way and then get even more pissed when I don’t concede to the silent treatment. Finally, I will not be subjected to someone who is completely unwilling to discuss issues and address complaints like an adult. My autism makes it hard for people who are unwilling to understand the condition. If you’re willing to understand how it works, it will be much easier to communicate with me. I’m exceedingly reasonable and scored as savant in logic on my cognitive assessment. In contrast, I also get overwhelmed by seemingly innocuous stimuli and get emotionally drained very quickly with hyper-needy/clingy people, like my dad and my ex. I need lots of alone time or chill time cuddling with my girls. That’s how I recharge in order to deal with the day to day demands of life. When someone interrupts that with expectations, pretense and excessive demands, I shut down and function on needs-only basis.

It seems obvious now that I eventually had to stop coming to him with complaints¹ because they were always met with aggression, martyrdom and the silent treatment. I eventually didn’t want to be in my own home. I eventually resented every moment he was here. I couldn’t communicate with him, I could reason with him eventually but it took days of hard work to do it, and I couldn’t get him to understand that his inaction and expectation for me to take care of him will not work with my being a pre-med student. I have a certain level of responsibility to manage and without support I will struggle, even more so than the average person. And even if I don’t get into med school in 2017, I sure as hell will have tried my best and let nothing but my very sweet, very small little girls get in my way. No one else is worth it to me. Not that, not my future.

So what did my dad give himself for Father’s Day? He bailed and this time without consulting me. I assume he overheard my son and I talking about our difficulties with him last night, so he gathered his shit together today and bailed. Not a word. Didn’t even say goodbye to my darling girls before I took them to see their dad this morning. I am a little concerned, but not surprised at all. I feel like I’ve been beat to shit over the past 5 months and, honestly, quite relieved to be starting summer quarter with an empty house. My sympathy? Oh, yeah, that went out the window when I realized the person who came over here was not the person he pretended to be on the phone. He’ll never realize what he did wrong and I will give zero fucks about it until he does. Someday I’ll make up for whatever imagined slight² he came up with, but until then I’ll continue my life as if nothing happened.

That’s it. That’s my Father’s Day. Lesson learned? Live alone, definitely don’t live with family, stop helping people who refuse to help themselves, and work on better communication. Yup, I’ve got work to do. Gotta get that empowered me going. I know she’s in there somewhere.

¹ The most common one was “please ask where something goes if you don’t know. There’s two people here to ask. Guessing where something goes and putting it away wrong just frustrates everyone in the house.”

² For some reason he was convinced that we would live together and was butthurt when I showed him my plans for a tiny house (future goal) that included a building off to the side for him. The “compound” has three buildings total. I never said we’d live together except for that long off goal. I said he could stay with me for up to 6 months while he looked for a new place or buy property. He never looked. I got tired of waiting.

It’s a remix

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I found this on facebook and wanted to do a remix. I identified with so much, but not everything. I love cynicism. I hate dogs. I have no patience for pity parties and public suicide attempts (left that last one out of the remix). So, I figured I’d rewrite it, but give credit to the original author, Jose Teixeira. Here it is:

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for willfull ignorance, pity parties (even my own) and inaction. I lost the will to please those who don’t like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who expect them no matter the pretense. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping (unlearning this one from my family has been hard, I’m mostly there though). I hate conflict, competition and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship, I dislike betrayal and an utter lack of loyalty. I do not get along with those who do not know how to adjust temporarily for others idiosyncrasies. Exaggerations are how I communicate and dog lovers bore me. I have difficulty accepting those who do not understand science. And on top of everything, I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience (luckily that’s only a handful of people).

Original by Jose Micard Teixeira, remix by Lindsay H.

Spelling isn’t always a skill, sometimes you need help

I was reviewing some comments I made on Facebook this morning when I noticed I spelled breathe wrong AGAIN! So, I figured I’d share with the world a list of words I commonly have issues with. The list below are the words I couldn’t spell right without that red squiggly line or an open tab to google or a mnemonic. My favorite mnemonics are princi-PAL to spell both principle and principal right, and B-E-A-utiful (from Bruce Almighty) to spell beautiful right. I before E except after C is a fallacy which I discovered very early in life, so never depended on it. Mostly I depend on sheer repetition mixed with a little phonics and an understanding of most of English to help me with my spelling, but for times when that fails, I love that little red line. And, as you can see, a couple of these words are actually spelled right, but for the wrong context, so easily missed.

Plus, I make up words all the time. Some of these words I don’t have trouble with every time, because I slow down and actively spell the word instead of relying on my muscle memory (typing). Words with two C’s in them seem to give me the most trouble. What words do you have trouble with?

My misspelling (correct spelling):

breath (breathe)
ocassional (occasional)
beutiful (beautiful) <– Bruce Almighty helps with this one
restaraunt (restaurant) <– I say “re-staaar-ant” to get this one right
eek (eke) <– two different meanings
discluded (excluded)
principal (principle) <– when I see the “pal” I remember the Simpsons skit
acommodate (accommodate)
theif (thief) <– and most other -ief words.
ryme (rhyme)
rythem (rhythm)
liscense (license)
ocurrance (occurrence)
fliar (flier or flyer)
greatful (grateful) <– I think cheese grater
innoculate (inoculate)
noticable (noticeable) <– I say “notice able” to get this one right
judgement (judgment) <– American vs English spelling
ocassionally (occasionally)
priviledge (privilege) <– I used to spell this privledge, but I started saying privy while typing it, still trying to drop that D
vaccum (vacuum) <– I have to say vac-yooooom when I actually get this one right the first time or I just won’t

BOOK REVIEW: “CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT PATHOLOGICAL DEMAND AVOIDANCE”

Just found out about this and it seems to fit why some things are different about my aspiness than other aspies. It’s exactly the things listed on this site (http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-an-introduction/what-is-pathological-demand-avoidance.aspx) that fit where a straight ASD diagnosis with SPD doesn’t. Go ahead, click the link. Subscribe to her blog. It’s all interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: “CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT PATHOLOGICAL DEMAND AVOIDANCE”.

Aspies for hire… or not!

There’s been a lot of hubbub about hiring autistics in technology or STEM fields.

As I scroll through Facebook, I see many articles in my feed. For the most part they fit a trend–especially when I follow so many pages and groups on autism, aspergers and self-advocating. One of the recent trends has been about Microsoft and other companies like it hiring autistics specifically. I have to say, I’ve avoided reading anything regarding this trend until today.

In November of 2014, I was hired on as an intern Grant Writer. When my project management and research skills shone brighter than my writing skills, I was diverted to Grant Coordinator/Project Manager Intern. I gathered info about our current projects, current grant makers and our budgetary needs and assessed which grant maker to match the project with. There was one thing that got in the way: the directors complete inability to stay on task and finish projects in a timely manner. Now, this wasn’t my first conclusion. I made excuses for how busy she was and how soft some of the deadlines seemed. But, when the internship ended and I got my review, I realized that she assumed she was making accommodations for me. Because I’m autistic. Wow! I wanted to tell her, “you mean to tell me that all that waiting around I did was because you didn’t think I could handle the job?” I didn’t. I left, gladly to be ridden of a place so ablist. (side note: I will not be disclosing my SPD, autism or PTSD to future employers from now on)

This is why I didn’t read the articles until today. This is why I scrolled past without a concern or care for what was being said about this issue. I was afraid for the people who would fall prey to this targeted hiring practice, but couldn’t bring myself to get involved in the discussion. Today, I felt an urge to say something. To add my peace to the mix. To tell my side, my perspective. If someone finds it here on my lonely little blog, then great. If not, I will not say another word about it.

If autistic people are hired for their gifts, they will only be seen for their gifts. What happens when the rude truth happens and a meltdown makes everyone “uncomfortable”? What happens when they decide that one meltdown a quarter isn’t worth all the skills they are gaining from employing an autistic? What happens when they say, “oh, we cut back on your work because we didn’t think you could handle it” because of that one bad day you had last quarter? Can we scream discrimination after receiving special treatment in the first place? Can we say, “I don’t like being treated like a special case anymore” when we’re tired of the ablism? Will we only be seen only for our gifts which would make some autistics less hirable? (hint: not all of us are good at math, spatial reasoning and logic)

I learned a long time ago not to present an issue with also presenting a solution (this doesn’t count when just venting about bad shit). So, here’s my solution… stop the interview process. Hire people based on their resume and application. Change the resume format to ensure that strengths are highlighted. Train HR to pick out the best applicants. If there is a hiring interview, then have it be a hiring party/luncheon and have all the candidates and employees mix for an 30 mins to see who they “feel” they can get along with the best (everyone is expected to act natural, NOT on their best behavior). If the best candidate has the worst resume, throw it out. If the worst candidate has the best resume, throw that one out too.

See, the issue is people not giving their instincts enough credit. You know before you even talk to someone that you don’t like them. Even when you try hard to like the person and things go well, something ALWAYS happens to prove that first instinct. Why not go with it? Why not change the hiring process to fit that natural born ability? The best jobs I’ve ever had were given to me by people who followed their gut. The worst jobs I was never offered were also denied by people that followed their gut.

I shit you not, a potential employer said to me during a second interview, “I just don’t think it’ll work out. It’s not that I don’t think you could do the job. I feel you’d be an amazing asset to our purchasing department. I just don’t feel like your strong personality would fit well with Phyllis.” “Who’s Phyllis?” “Oh, she’s our company secretary. I just think she’d have a real problem with you.” A look of “boy did I make a bad decision hiring that woman” crosses his face and he says, “It will be a couple months before we find the right candidate. If something opens up before then, I’ll give you a call.” We parted and I was thinking, “jeez, if this woman is so much trouble, why is she still around? And I get fired for having an attitude?” Then I wondered if he was thinking she was going to die or quit soon. Maybe he was hoping. O_o Go with your gut.

Is that the best solution for this problem? Nope. The best solution will be the one that works. Will my solution inspire someone else’s solution? Well, there’s no point in sharing if you don’t think someone might be inspired by it.

So, my conclusion is that this hiring of autistics is a slippery slope. One that I hope all the kinks are worked out of by the time I graduate university. You’ve got two years America. Two years (maybe 4 if I push through to my Masters before looking for work in my field) to get this ironed out. I won’t expect special treatment and will be wary of accepting any.

Beautifully Written

I was shown this blog post today and cried as my SpeakIt! read it out loud to me. This is an amazing story and not completely unlike my own. My mother wasn’t as bad as this, but she was pretty damn bad. One day I’ll write about it, but for today, read someone else’s story and get the feels. Go on! Click the link!

http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2014/03/aspie-in-narcissist-jungle.html

Theory of Mind – a reflection

Last year, when I found out I had autism–more specifically aspergers–I read and read and read every list of symptoms, traits and attributes of the disorder. Well, I’m an aspie after all, so why wouldn’t I obsessively research the hell out of something? Anyhow, one of those traits is Theory of Mind. It’s a relatively easy way for psychologists to diagnose children as young as 3-4 years old with autism spectrum disorder. I have my own thoughts about it.

Theory of Mind Defined

First, what’s theory of mind? As it’s defined by Google

Theory of mind (often abbreviated ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own.

When dealing with autistic kids, this tends to be true. They don’t understand that you don’t know what they know. But, in hind sight, normal kids struggle with theory of mind, but have to actively remember that not everyone knows the same things. It’s the number one reason mom and dad cease being cool in your teens. Your theory of mind has developed and your experience has removed itself from your parents, so they’re no longer impressively knowledgeable. /tangent

I have been an active participant in quite a few groups on Facebook that facilitate interaction with other autists. I have noticed over the past 8 months that it’s not adult autistics that struggle with theory of mind. It’s adult NT’s (NT stands for NeuroTypical, which accounts for the other 67 people). I have interacted with a lot of NT’s in the world and the common underlying factor is they expect you to read their mind, experience what they experience, do what they do, see things the way they see them, etc ad naseum. It’s quite frustrating really. Especially when I go to my autism groups and chat with my lady friends and there’s very little misunderstanding, lots of asking questions and not much arguing (if any at all). We come from all walks of life with very different interests and beliefs and we tend to take people at face value.

How do NT’s have 0 theory of mind?

All I can give are examples. Ranging from the very rich commentary during Katrina “Why didn’t they just go to their summer homes?” to the idiot on facebook that says “everyone knows who Jim Parsons is, he’s on Big Bang Theory, played in [some obscure Broadway shows] and [some other really really obscure random fact about Jim Parsons].” As if that’s a reason for me to know him at all let alone recognize his face. I’ve only seen one episode of BBT and thought it was droll. I have no desire to watch it and probably never will.

Honestly, though, I don’t recognize faces very well and if I haven’t developed a way of recognizing you, I won’t. I still have to map my mother-in-laws face every time I see her because I only remember her by her short pudgy build. You should have seen me when I used her hair as a mnemonic… haha, I would look at her completely confused whenever she dyed her hair or changed the style. She’d ask me if there was something wrong with her hair and I’d have to tell her no, but really I wanted to say “you look like a completely different person.” I had to find another feature to recognize her by. She loses weight or starts walking more elegantly and I’ll be lost.

So, another example would be a lawyer I’ve dealt with recently. When you live in the city, as a woman, it’s kind of a running joke to carry a weapon with you when you’re out alone at night. Women are 10x more likely to be raped than a man. Especially at night, especially in the city. A weapon is a necessary thing. It doesn’t make the neighborhood unsafe for children to grow up in. Children aren’t going to the store by themselves at 10pm and they’re not playing outside by themselves. So the point is moot. But he says, “why did you have to carry a knife to the store with you at 11pm if the neighborhood is so safe?” Mind you, the neighborhood my ex lives in has survived 3 murders during the day within the past 4 years. The guy was never caught. So… How does this question even get asked? For one, your white male privilege is showing and two, you’re completely oblivious to the real world and how it works. Honestly, he got the idea from a tweet I posted. If you take a tweet seriously, I got some tweets to show you that my ex posted to a 17 year old girl. I’d love to bring those up in court and use his complete lack of theory of mind against him. But I’m not petty.

Plus, there’s just about every republican or rich person who doesn’t understand poverty. Michelle Bachman, this chick… “It’s so bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere warm like the Caribbean where they can eat fresh fish all day.”  —model/socialite Lady Victoria Hervey. It’s really a matter of theory of mind here. They assume the whole world is like them and lives like them.

Reflection

When reflecting on this, I start to think theory of mind isn’t an autism issue. Over the past 8 months, I’ve definitely figured out that I don’t have theory of mind issues. What I thought was a struggle with theory of mind was just being a considerate person. I assumed that consciously thinking about other people and their needs and emotions was struggling with theory of mind. After a few talks with both Aspies and NT’s I realized that this is the exact opposite of lack of theory of mind. I realized that people who expect you to read their mind, live the way they live, understand things the way they understand them lack the theory of mind. Only a few of the autistic women I know and none of the autistic men have this issue (I know way less men than women, so this is not a representative comparison). The idea that theory of mind is a way to determine autism is a joke. I think it’s a way to determine nuerotypicalism. And the more I interact with people who assume I know what they’re trying to say when they call a DVD player a tape deck and Facebook messaging texting, the more I am aware that, as adults, autistics don’t suffer from theory of mind issues, NTs do.

So, maybe it’s flipped. Maybe young Autists struggle with theory of mind and young NTs don’t, but because autistic children have to develop or be taught theory of mind, they don’t lose it like NTs do. It’s actually pretty rare for an NT to have theory of mind. When I find them, I am so refreshed and the interaction is so easy and smooth. I would love for everyone to have theory of mind. I wish they taught it in school so the kids don’t lose it as they get older.