As the summer winds down and the school year is looming larger than life, I find myself thinking about and wondering how I will do. I’m armed with more knowledge about myself and my condition, and that can only help… right?
There are other, personal things that are making these last few weeks before we get back to the school grind a little (read excruciatingly) more difficult than usual. Things that I don’t want to go into on here, which should probably let you know just how bad it is, since I even spoke about my pregnancy scare that was part of what made the Bartender’s departure so particularly painful.
But those things aside, I’m more concerned about whether or not I’ve made enough progress over the past year to be able to not crater, to not go into a shut down or melt down or whatever the official term is for those times when I’m so absolutely overwhelmed that I just need to lock myself in my space, be it my own apartment or, as is currently the situation, just my own bedroom, for an extended period of time.
I feel like I have… if I can overcome these last few crises before the school year begins. That is beginning to feel like a more difficult task than it should be…
This year is definitely going to be different than last year. If I’m right about the classroom numbers, I’ll be teaching freshmen next year, a grade level I don’t particularly care for because they’re not quite ready for abstract thought. Literary analysis is really, really lost on freshmen kiddos, and that is arguably my favorite part of teaching English. On the other hand, teaching grammar and writing is significantly easier for me, so perhaps it will be a good change for me, since the writing portion of the test is such a big deal…
Speaking of, I don’t want to get completely off topic and go into that ridiculous state test, but I did finally figure out why the essay that isn’t really an essay bothers me. Rather, I knew why it bothered me, but I couldn’t put it into words until I was explaining it to a math teacher friend of mine: What the state is calling an “essay” is really little more than an academic “abstract.”
An abstract, for those of you who don’t remember it from college, is basically a summary of your essay; a preview, if you will. This handy dandy handout explains that it is usually the last part written, though it is the first part seen by your audience. That’s because you’re explaining all the key points that prove your point, so you have to have written them in order to explain what they are…
It’s like a movie trailer, you know, one of those ones that shows the entire premise of the movie in less than 3 minutes.
I was at a workshop once where the woman, who worked for TEA, explained to me that the reason why the “essay” was only 26 lines and could receive the highest score with five well written sentences was because it was designed by business people. The state wanted a test that wasn’t only for students planning to go to college, but for people who were going to go into the job market straight out of high school. So what did the business people want?
Someone who could get right to the point.
No flowery language, no in depth explanation, because in the business world, nobody has time for that…
Unless you’re unclear of what your point is, or of what it is you’re trying to say.
The reason why we teach the long form essay is because it helps students to develop the thinking skills to give the concise answer.
The 3-5 paragraph essay that we used to teach in high school is the literary equivalent of “show your work.” By taking it away, you’re telling students that you don’t care where or how they got the answer, you only care about the answer. And yet you are testing them on their ability to think…
I’m going to walk away from that because that wasn’t really what I wanted to talk about today.
But maybe someday soon I’ll come back to it.
Today what I really wanted to talk about was inspired by one of the videos from the girls at the Curly Hair Project. They discuss what it’s like to be a woman on the spectrum. One of which is more extroverted, and her videos have helped me a lot. For one thing, she helps me to realize that I’m not that different, even though I often feel like I’m some sort of circus sideshow freak… for a couple of reasons, some of which are even physical appearance.
Today I happened upon her video about making first impressions and how those of us who can mask our autistic tendencies or struggles are often told that we are NOT autistic because people assume that if you don’t fit their perception of what autism looks like, then you must be making it up.
I encountered this very thing when I first realized there was a term that described me. Most of my “friends” told me I was self-diagnosing and it wasn’t acceptable, and that I must be wrong because I didn’t “act like someone with Asperger’s.”
I’ve encountered it recently, even, with the Internet Troll who decided to intervene in a situation that was already handled, though I was still analyzing my decision because I needed the pieces of the puzzle to fit. This Internet Troll, when he/she admitted what he/she had done told me it was “so easy.”
This person had insulted me multiple times, and caused a situation that was basically over to be prolonged because it took my nice neat little puzzle and threw a bomb in the middle of it, causing all the pieces to become scrambled, and some to be broken in such a way that they would never fit into the overall picture ever again.
One of the more harmful insults was the one where he/she told me to stop saying I had Asperger’s because, as has been said to me before, I self-diagnosed (not entirely true) and it was insulting to people who actually had it. The troll, as is spoken of in the video, told me that I was just using it as an excuse for some of my behaviors…
I cannot tell you how much of a pet peeve that is.
But it brings us to another point, the point that Nele hits on (at about 8:02) in the video: do you tell people up front that you are autistic? Or do you hide it in order to fit in?
I didn’t know it was even an issue before the Boy, and he was one of the naysayers who didn’t believe me… or rather, he seemed very critical of me, though he has since said that it wasn’t that he didn’t believe me. I’d really like to hear him actually say the words that he does believe me, but that may be asking too much.
Then, I didn’t say anything to Mr. Nice Guy, though I really wanted to, and by the time I got my courage up to do so, I had started acting inappropriately and scared him away.
One of the things about being on the spectrum is that you struggle with social skills. Things that seem to be normal to me, apparently aren’t. And I struggle with it a lot.
With my friends, I don’t keep in touch as often as I should because I don’t think to contact them unless something in my life makes me directly think about them or if I need something (often advice) from them. It’s not that I don’t value their friendship, but that I don’t think to make contact, and then, because I’ve had issues in the past, sometimes when I’ve become aware of how long it’s been, I’m embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t do my part… I’m also often upset that perhaps because they haven’t reached out either, that it means that they don’t want me around.
It becomes a really big stressor, and so it is easier to just let that friend go. It’s a very lonely existence for someone who is actually a bit of an extrovert.
And with guys, it’s more complicated than that. I become very fixated on trying to figure them out so I don’t make the same mistakes I have in the past. Thus I analyze and re-analyze everything. Every conversation gets filed away and replayed while I try to figure out exactly whether or not they actually like me or not. How many times did they try to touch me? How many times did they ask about me versus how many times did I ask about them? How many times did they make a joke? Did I laugh accordingly? Did they laugh at my jokes? Were there any other body language cues that they liked me?
Believe it or not, what you guys get on this blog is the short version…
Frightening, isn’t it?
Thus, I have since started telling guys before we even go out, unless, like with the Marine, I don’t really think it’s going to go anywhere. I do this because it takes me all of that extra effort to figure out if I’m reading the situation correctly, and often people mistake my focus for being too interested too soon, or for being just plain crazy. I want the guys I’m seriously interested in to know what I’m up against, and to understand that sometimes I’m going to need patience, or that I’m going to misinterpret things unless they are very, very clear with me.
That’s why, when the Pirate swore up and down that his bluntness was the cause of his issues in previous relationships, I was actually very excited. I gave him a pass on a lot of things that weren’t desirable to me because I expected that bluntness and brutal honesty that he swore was a problem in his past, and it just wasn’t true.
Honest communication was not what he wanted. He wanted a cheerleader that would listen to his tales and tell him how awesome and wonderful he was at everything. What a great cook, what a great lover, what a great artist, what a great friend he was to his roommate, what a great overall person…
But he’s mediocre at best at most of those things, and so busy trying to fluff himself up with praise that he’s not aware of anyone around him. So telling him I had Asperger’s Syndrome did no good. He didn’t know what it meant, and he didn’t care to learn what it meant.
The Bartender did the same thing. Heard the parts that made sense to him, and ignored the rest.
So was I really doing anything by telling them I have Asperger’s without showing them? Should I have been actively stimming so that they would know that I really am different?
It’s just another layer of stress to add to my interactions with people. Which is one of the reasons why I’m pretty much hiding in my room this week. Well, that and the other stuff that we won’t talk about…
I’ll let you know when I feel human again, but don’t hold your breath.