Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 9: My Trip to CVS and Further Questions (With a Big Revelation?)

Waking up today was difficult. My body is letting me know I spent four days flagging and on top of that I forgot my tennis shoes so I did all those races in dress shoes. Believe me when I say I will NEVER make that mistake again!

After multiple returns home due to forgetting numerous items, I finally made it to the Interstate that leads me to the office. Once there, at the red light, I realized I forgot my phone, but I wasn't making a 4th return trip. I can't tell you how exposed I feel without my phone. I hope I don't get any important calls today because that always seems to be the case.

On my way to the office I needed to stop at the CVS to get a mailing envelope. This, I decided, would be a great place to write about because everything else in my research project has been food related.

Walking into the store, I went unseen. No "hello" or "How are you, can I help you?"

I walked past the counter towards the drinks section because I, more than most days, needed a Red Bull to kick-start me out of this zombie like state and noticed the employees behind the counter. Oddly, neither of them looked at me.

What makes this lack of them looking at me relevant? In my mind, I am always being looked at. Using my line of "I think therefore you should know" applies to this. If I am afraid of being looked at this means I assume everyone is looking at me and because I never look at people this has never been proven to be false.

I got my drink and mailing envelope and proceeded to the checkout counter. My goal was to fight the reflex that has been prevalent so far in this experiment, avoiding eye contact. I wanted to fight it, but the cashier never once looked at me. It was odd for me to be the one sustaining eye contact and having the other person be the one looking everywhere except at me.

If I had been wearing my normal glasses I would NEVER have known the other person wasn't looking at me and assumed that they were looking at me the entire time.

My secondary goal was to try and remember features of the sales clerk, but as I left the store I instantly forgot her details. I don't even know what color her shirt was, what color her hair was, or even her height. This saddened me, somewhat, because I was trying to remember, but my mind, when it is thinking, doesn't put a large emphasis on remembering the people around me.

So that was my trip to CVS, but this entry isn't over because after I wrote yesterday's "What I've learned" article I continued to dwell on the mysteries of eye contact and I have a few hunches.

I am a private person. I won't tell you what I like (I can go on all day about stuff I can't stand, like the music in EA's NHL 10 video game) and I don't want you to know if I find something interesting. With that being so, could my eyes reveal to the person I am with that I may like something of find something interesting?

That could be a huge statement, I think. I am mostly afraid to ask for something and I know, from observation not practice, that when one person wants another person's attention eye contact is made. For me, asking is difficult and eye contact would simply add to the degree of difficulty. Could it be that if I don't make eye contact it allows me to make it impersonal?

I think this line of thought that spurred this question could be monumental. Could it simply be that eye contact, in my mind, allows you to know too much about me? If this is the case, it isn't that you are looking at me, but me looking at you. I never knew which way the issues were, but if this example of asking for something and the need for privacy goes across the entire board, then it is 100% me looking at you that is the issue.

As the next 21 days progress I may change my mind on this, but for right now I will continue thinking about this and hopefully will be able to provide my insight on this as the experiment continues.

Later today I will be returning to the police academy to give my presentation on Autism to the class currently going through Crisis Intervention Team training. This will be a moving experience for me because this will be my first time back since my last in-service training ( and I know I owe my ability to make presentations to those presentations I gave. If I have any more experiences or thoughts today I will most certainly share them with you later today.


  1. Hi Aaron. I've been recently following your blog and I just wanted to ask something. I'am Asperger too, and I've been reading that you drink a Red Bull daily. In this segment you said that you needed it to kick-start you out of the zombie like state. Do you know if feeling like a zombie is an Asperger condition? Because all of my life I've been feeling like out of energy or maybe like a zombie, like you said, and if I drink a coffee, or as you said, a Red Bull, I feel full of energy, and I think that I can accomplish more things or that I can do many activities. I also hate when people ask me if I'm tired or something like that when they first know me. I want to tell them that I'm like that, I don't look like the others, but that doesn't mean that I'm lazy or something like that. I hope you can understand me. Thanks

  2. I have been getting the "Are you tired?" question a lot recently. I do start with a Red Bull, or drink like it, each day, but I don't know if it has an effect or not. For me, I started drinking a Red Bull before each race I would flag, but now that carried over to a daily thing, so long as I am working that day. So it is routine, and I don't know if it does anything or not.

  3. It's very hard to make eye contact if people are doing multiple things at once. I know this because I have been on that end of in my hand therapy clinical internship when it comes to range of motion testing and swelling measurements. There were MANY things that I have to focus on. First, I had to make sure I used the right device (there can be a few used in an evaluation). Second, I had to make sure I put the goniometer (for measuring range of motion) or swelling measurement device in the right spot and position my hands correctly for support. Third, I had to make sure the client didn't use other motions to compensate for the motion I was measuring while measuring the range of motion. Forth, I had to jot that information down and prepare for the next location (as the information is vital for the evaluation report). Fifth, while I was doing all this, I had to make sure the client wasn't in pain, see if the client was able to do more, and be mindful of any precautions he/she had. Sixth, if the client was making progress, I had to say something that would make him/her happy. This would rinse and repeat until all the measurements were done. Seventh, by the time I have enough experience, I was expected to have no visual or verbal cues in performing the task. Did I wish I make better eye contact during the whole process? Absolutely. But, the priority at hand was trying to get the measurements right as soon as possible (usually no more than 10 minutes for upper extremity evaluations- forearm, wrist, and 5 if there were not that many places that need to be measured) so that the client can proceed and receive the care that he/she needed. (10 minutes is already considered slow for an upper extremity evaluation!)

    Now picture yourself doing this kind of task. Can you realistically make sustained eye contact with people while completing the task in a safe and efficient manner and be somewhat sociable?