Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Answering Julie

I'm still in a deep low at the moment, but that's one of the reasons why I love blogging; each week is something completely different. If I can turn a negative into a learning experience for someone else then, I guess, it was all worth it. I did notice that another blog linked to yesterday's post and they deduced exactly what I was talking about.

Another thing of the past two days blog posts is that there have been several great questions asked by Julie so instead of answering within the comments section I thought it best to make a dedicated post answering those questions.

The first question, from my "Flying Blind" post is Is it easier to pick up on social cues of those you know well like family versus strangers? I would say so but this isn't the ability to pick up on cues, exactly. What I mean by that is that it isn't something that is done naturally. And what I mean by that is it is more of a pattern based and not an intuition. Does that makes sense? I think it does, but then you could have a counter question asking, "Well, can't you do that with strangers?" and the answer is no. If I see the exact same thing twice I can pick up on that but it is down with memory and not with a subconscious knowing. And of course, then, the problem with strangers is that no two people are the same; no two people are going to exhibit the exact reaction, or rather facial expression/social cue, than the next person.

In my presentations I have started referring to the social game, if it were a board game, as a confusing place for me. The rules change so often and they can even change by the same person. For someone not on the spectrum it would seem, at least to me, that adapting to these changes comes much easier than it does to myself. So, using the game metaphor, it is easier for you to go from Monopoly (speaking of Monopoly... short rant... did you see the news? They're taking out two of the tokens and replacing them. They're going to decide it via popular interet vote. This is a travesty! You don't change perfection, and they are. I haven't been this worked up about a game since Monopoly took out the 10% on income tax... Okay, rant over) to Scrabble to Chess and adapt to each of those games' rules. Now for myself the social game becomes confusing as, say, I just rolled a 7 and landed my piece on Boardwalk which has a rook on it checking the king on St. Charles Place while there's a triple word space under the rook. Think of how confusing a game that would be! This is what socializing is like because of this trouble with social cues with strangers and even those that I know but haven't known them all my life.

The next question was on yesterday's post, What gets you out of the feeling? I wish I had an easy answer that was quick, but I do not. It seems anything that triggers a major emotional response stays with me a long time much like dropping a gigantic rock in a pool; the waves will be going back and forth much longer than if a pebble were dropped in it. One of the things that does help is when I talk about it. One of the things about this though is that, at least for me and with this answer I implore you to remember that, "if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism" is that I can only talk about it when I'm ready. Part of the reason of this is that it takes me a while to process what I am feeling. Once I feel comfortable and want to talk about it the window may not be open for long so, should a person on the spectrum be ready to talk about something emotional and is starting to open up, you've got to try and make the time to listen because in an hour, or maybe even five minutes, when you go to talk about it the person may respond with the all too familiar answer of, "I don't know."

Another thing to remember is that, if something is lingering, we may talk about the same issue for many days, weeks, or in extreme instances months or years to come. This may be frustrating if you don't understand the way our brains work but when there's is a proverbial boulder dropped in our proverbial pool the effects are long lasting. We don't "move on" like it seems those not on the spectrum are able to. That being so we may talk about something that happened several months ago as if it is now because to us it's been just a few minutes.

I hope these answers have been decent enough for those questions. Tomorrow I head to San Antonio to speak at a Lutheran Early Educators Conference and it will be a special day as I believe I will go over the 20,000 mark in amount of people spoken to in my career.

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