To my children, Cameran and Sara, and all the other people who are of my life, but not currently in my life, I want to say Merry Christmas, I love you.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a symptom of Aspergers and traits of normal behavior, but not always. In surveying the events of my own life, I can clearly see evidence of my Aspergers as early as Kindergarten.
I started Kindergarten in 1966. Back then, Kindergarten was the time when kids learned the basics. It's funny to me that now, schools require students to know the basics before entering Kindergarten. I distinctly remember having to recite my home address and phone number. It was expected of every kid to know this information. The teacher would group about 6 kids at a time, and would check to see if each kid knew their home information. When it came time for the teach to ask me for my address and phone number, all the other kids would look at me, I would become extremely shy and wouldn't say a thing, I would only shrug my shoulders. This happened several times. The thing is, I knew this stuff, had known this stuff long before I started Kindergarten. The anxiety I was feeling from all the attention caused me to clam up. Actually, that was a favorite saying of my mother's, when people would ask about me. People would inquire "is he all right?" or "he seems awfully quiet", my mother would respond with "oh, he's as happy as a clam". She made it seem as if my quietness was a sign of contentment. Nothing was further from the truth.
The verbal and other communication difficulties I had, which are associated with Asperger's, began to make themselves more obvious as soon as reading was assigned at school. Again, back in the 60s no one knew that such things were a sign of a developmental problem. I was doing adequately well in other school subjects, so no one thought me to be one of the "slow" kids. I was a slow reader, but not so slow that people associated me with Autism. Back then, Autistic kids were thought to never speak, to never read. The most obvious sign of my language problems was in the 4th grade. The teacher would give the class dictation. She would read aloud a sentence, and the students were to right it down. After every sentence the teacher would stop until everyone in the class had caught up. With each exercise, the entire class would be finished with the sentence, and I'd only be a quarter the way through it. The class would then have to wait until I had finished the sentence, every kid turned to look at me disparagingly. It only made my anxiety worse, and slowed me down even more.
As a little kid, socializing with other little kids wasn't much of a problem, at least at first. But we I grew older the other kids started noticing a difference in my behavior, noticed I had some deficiencies, lacks certain social skills. This began the teasing bullying that became a part of my every day school life. In Junior High, classes were scheduled differently, so I didn't have as much contact with kids I had grown up with, so there was less opportunity for teasing. This was also the time I started withdrawing from social activities. It meant that I would spend most of my time alone, but it would save me from the trouble that came from other kids. I was becoming more and more socially isolated.
I was also experiencing depression at an early age. I started contemplating suicide in Junior High. Though I scored high in state aptitude tests (in the top 10 percent) I was not doing well in my classes. Once I was called to the counselors office, who tried to inspire me to do better, so he accused me of being lazy, etc. This had the effect of making my depression worse, not better, and my grades suffered even more. I made my first attempt at running away from home in the 8th grade, but after talking to someone, I went back home the same day, and my parents didn't know I had gone.
Part 4 by tomorrow hopefully
Saturday, December 22, 2012
I can't tell you the depth of despair and depression I experienced since last Friday, and the Sandy Hook incident. Pretty much any time I relive events of my past, I also relive the emotional pain and turmoil from then too. Add to that the current sadness we all have been feeling over the Sand Hook incident, and I was feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to write about it when it happened, but it was too difficult. Several days have passed now and I'm feeling better about it. The depression has subsided, but so has some of the desire to write this. I will write, but I can't guarantee how much effort I'll put into it.
To understand Adam Lanza, you really must understand how Asperger's Syndrome affects people (again, it must be said that Asperger's doesn't make people violent) And to understand the motivation for his shooting spree, you must understand the environment Adam was living in, you must understand the psychology and dynamics of his family, especially that of his mother.
I have no doubt that my own family shits a collective brick every time I write about them. But that's perhaps the crux of the problem of our own family dysfunctionality. I no longer talk with my family, except for brief chats with my nephew. Some time a ago my parents moved and did not give me their new address or phone number. I only know that they moved to Arizona to be near my brother. But all of this is of little importance. What is important for the telling of this story is the environment I was living in as I grew up at home, and how my family reacted when I displayed symptoms of Asperger's.
It is also important to understand how relatively new the diagnosis of Aperger's Syndrome is. It was first discovered in 1944, but didn't become a part of mainstream psychiatry until the 80s and 90s - long after I had left home and eventually became homeless. As a child I was suffering from an unknown condition, so, as is often the case, my parents were led to believe that I didn't have a condition. It was then easy for my parents to believe that the problems I was having were of my own selfish creation.
Every human being has an innate desire to belong, to be a part of and participate with other human beings in all the activities that make up life. To do this successfully, humans must be able to communicate with each other. One of the biggest problems for people with Aspergers involves communication. Not only do Aspies have difficulty communicating their own thoughts, ideas and interests with others verbally, they have a difficult time understanding what other people are trying to say back to them - especially in a social context. I believe that is why for some Aspies they are drawn to, and excel at, other types of non verbal communication - it's about the desire to connect and belong, and compensating for a lack of verbal skills.
Although I did well enough in other areas of study in school, I did rather poorly in English, especially with spelling. Instead of getting me some specialized help to overcome this problem, my parents accused me of a variety of negative things, of being lazy, of "not paying attention in class", of "not trying hard enough", of "day dreaming", etc. And for these infractions, my parents thought that the proper corrective action was to punish me. It was this punishment that created feelings of guilt, which in turn started my lifetime of depression. The punishment, and the disapproval of my parents for things I had no control over was painful, and damaging. Now, there was period when I was about 6 or 7 years old, when my parents were considering sending me to a psychiatrist. But first they thought they should talk to my school teacher. I have no idea how that conversation went, but afterwards, my parents gave up on the idea.
Funny, but I just remembered something similar which happened about the same time. The whole class was sent to the school nurse for eye exams. I struggled to read the chart. I told the nurse I could not see the letters. She said to me, "you're making yourself not see them." She was under the impression that I just wanted to have a pair of glasses. She said that my vision was fine. During that summer I joined little league baseball. The coach noticed I had a hard time catching the ball. After playing catch with me for a couple throws, he suggested to my mother that I get a real eye exam. Not only did the optometrist discover my need for glasses, he was astonished that I could function with such poor eye sight.
Yes, we need to appreciate the job that school staff does for students, but we need to also remember that they are not experts in everything. If only my parents had gone ahead and sent me to a psychiatrist way back then, I probably wouldn't have had the problems I've been living with all these years. But I digress. I searched for it, but could find nothing to indicate that Adam was seeing a psychiatrist at the time. If anything, psychiatrists can teach a person the coping skills necessary for dealing with the difficulties they face in life.
Stay tuned for part 3
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I feel an overwhelming need to tell my story as it relates to Asperger's, Adam Lanza, and my own school shooting that almost was. Click on this link http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com/2012/12/14-of-inch.html to read about the events that took place some 35 years ago.
I have Asperger's Syndrome, a term used to describe people who are Autistic but to a lesser degree than usually associated with Autism. There are many traits associated with Asperger's, including social awkwardness and difficulty in communicating with others. And being that human growth is very dependent on communication, the difficulties people with Asperger's face begin early in life.
I'm not writing this to teach people about Asperger's, there are plenty of resources on the internet for that. But I do want to tell you of my own experience as a person with Asperger's who almost did what Adam Lanza did. Perhaps this will shed some light on what happened at Sandy Hook on that very sad day.
First of all, I would ask everyone to dismiss what has been said on television and in the media about Adam Lanza and the events at Sandy Hook. These people who prop themselves up as experts truly have no clue. They are shills, paid by media to create spin and content. I know that most people understand this as the nature of media, but I still feel it should be said.
Asperger's does not cause a person to become violent, Many experts have already chimed in, in reaction to initial reports about Adam suffering from Asperger's. You can read several articles specific to this on the GRASP (the Global and Regional Asperger's Syndrome Partnership), website.
Regardless, I do not believe this is the end of the story in regards to Asperger's and the Sandy Hook shooting. How people interact with Aspies (people with Asperger's) has a tremendous impact on the quality of life that Aspies experience. Treating an Aspie with compassion and understanding will help him/her to live a productive and meaningful life, but treating an Aspie without such things can be disastrous.
Have no doubt, raising a child who has Asperger's can be difficult and frustrating, especially if the child's condition is not diagnosed. Temple Grandin's life is perhaps the best example of the difficulties faced and overcome. She has gone on to live a happy and rewarding life, mainly because of the care and positive influence of her mother. For other Aspies, whose parents are not up to the challenge, their future is not so bright.
Stay tuned for part 2
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Don't pull, just squeeze the trigger. That is how you hit your target. That little piece of metal, hugged by your index finger, you only need move it a 1/4 of an inch to change the world.
Whenever there is news of a school shooting I cannot help but relive my own experience as the shooter, almost.
The psychiatrist told me that if I had fired the rifle, I would have "snapped", would have been transformed into a totally different mindset, would have gone into an auto pilot sort of mode where I would be mentally detached from myself, no longer fully in charge of my own actions. I would have been more of a front row witness, than a perpetrator.
Back in the real world, the police would have been called, their first task would have been to bring an end to me. If I had pulled the trigger just once, I would have pulled it again. I would not have stopped. And people would have continued to die until I was dead.
In the Spring of 1977 I was in my first year of high school. I joined the JROTC and had taken up target shooting. I wasn't very good at it, but I enjoyed the sport. In a show of support, my father bought me a rifle to practice with. One morning, while everyone else was still sleeping, I picked up the rifle, put a box of ammunition in my jacket pocket, and headed to school.
At school, I climbed a short wall, a fence, and found myself on the roof of a row of classrooms. I walked along the roof until I came to the cafeteria, hoisted myself up to that higher level, and laid in the prone position, looking out over the empty courtyard. It would be a while before people started showing up for the start of the school day. I waited.
Eventually, some students showed up, a couple small groups, chattering. I pointed the rifle at a girl, drew a bead on her, my finger wrapping around the trigger, I took a deep breath.
Then I thought to myself, if I shot now, the few people in the courtyard would scatter and I wouldn't get a second shot. There would be more people if I waited until the first bell rang. I put the rifle down and rolled over onto my back. The sky was a dark blue, spotted here and there with clouds catching the first rays of daylight. It was beautiful. I asked God to help me.
The moments passed as I waited for the bell to ring. The bell, located on the wall a couple feet below my position on the roof, didn't ring. Or, I didn't hear it ring. In the distance I could hear people on the P.E field. I sat up and looked around. The courtyard was empty, classes had already started. I picked up the rifle, climbed down off the roof, and made my way to the security guard's office.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
We humans, in order to live happy and healthy lives, need compassion in large quantities. The reason why we humans are having such difficulties is that the supply of compassion is too low to meet demand. The problem is that Capitalists who have a strangle hold on the world see compassion as an obstacle to creating wealth, and so they are doing all they can to destroy our supply of it. More and more, we humans are being asked to choose between wealth and compassion.
If we are to regain the health and happiness necessary for the survival of humanity, we all must begin to choose compassion over wealth.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
I've been inside all day so didn't notice until just a few minutes ago. Got on my bike to ride the two miles home. It's 37 degrees outside with a strong breeze. Quick, here's what you do. Go to your linen closet and pull out all of the old blankets you don't use anymore. Yes, all of them. Next, call a couple of your friends and tell them to do the same. Seriously, there's not much time! As soon as you are ready, go pick up your friends, with your several blankets, and drive around town looking for homeless people. Check out the bus stops and near liquor stores and parks and wherever there are benches for the public. You will find homeless people in metro areas and in suburban areas too, like shopping centers and malls, behind Walmarts and Targets and such. Once you find these people, just hand them a blanket, don't ask them if they want one, it doesn't matter, they need one, or two.
And, if you have the chance, pick up some dollar burgers at McDonalds and give them out too, some coffee as well, if you dare to care that much. Now! I mean it. Go!