Oh no, not again

One of my favorite lines in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is about the bowl of petunias falling through the sky. It’s only thought as it fell was, “Oh no, not again.”

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I signed up again for online dating a few months ago. Mostly it’s just been discouraging and depressing. Yesterday I had a much more negative experience than usual, though.

I was tired. I didn’t sleep well at all the night before, and I have been troubled all week by what’s going on right now in America. My emotional resources were running low.

There was a guy on the website who had exchanged several of the multiple choice questions with me. . . the ones ranging from relevant to a dating relationship (“What do you prefer doing on a Saturday night?”) to silly hypotheticals that would maybe be good open-ended conversation starters, but don’t go very far as a multi-choice question (“If you had a time machine that could travel into the past, what era would you visit?”).

After a bunch of those, I sent a typed message, saying that recent events were weighing heavy on my heart, and asking his opinion of a political leader. (I had actually sent a similar question to another guy the previous day.)

After lunch, I got a notification that he responded, so I took a look. Immediately, I got that cold, stomach-dropping feeling.

I had done it again.

I said the wrong thing.
I upset someone.
I broke some rule I didn’t know existed.
I failed at human interaction.
I pushed someone away before they had a chance to get to know me and understand me.

He had answered my question, but followed it with a second paragraph, which took a reprimanding tone – “I also feel the question was completely inappropriate for the context of what this service is used for . . .”

I tried to explain why I asked the question.  Part of his response to that included, “There is a time and a place to ask that type of question.”

Needless to say, he decided we aren’t a good match.

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Before I had responded to the other guy that morning, I got this “EnneaThought for the Day” from The Enneagram Institute. I thought it was really appropriate for the topic I was going to be addressing.

Remember your outstanding healthy qualities include caring deeply about the dignity of your fellow humans and maintaining strong personal convictions. Notice how you express these today.

Once I read the offended guy’s messages, I texted my sibling about it, who responded, “Dude. That’s a totally legit question to ask.” That made me feel better, like maybe I don’t TOTALLY suck at this human interaction thing.  And like the EnneaThought reminded me, my personal convictions are important, especially in regards to the dignity of my fellow humans.  But the latest online dating interactions have left me feeling drained and somewhat defeated.  It’s just hard to imagine that there’s actually a guy out there who can deal with my unique combination of quirks and brokenness and strengths and awkwardness.

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Combat This

Musings of an Aspie

The Combating Autism Act (CAA) is up for re-authorization in the US Congress and ASAN is asking autistic people and their families to let Congress know that the CAA needs to be reformed. If you can want to know more, you can read ASAN’s message. There is a Twitter campaign taking place today and a flash blog next week to raise awareness and encourage people to contact their congresspersons in Washington.

Because I’m a bit of a wonk, I read the CAA last night and then I read the GAO’s report on the CAA. Fun times. One thing that struck me is how autistic adults, if they’re mentioned at all, always come last. When it comes to autism policy and research, we’re barely an afterthought.

But that’s not really what this post is about. The theme of the actions around the CAA is #stopcombatingme, a reference to how damaging…

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Link – Intense World Theory

“The boy whose brain could unlock autism,” by Maia Szalavitz

I stumbled upon this piece when browsing facebook.  It’s quite long, but talks about some fascinating research (I had heard of “autistic symptoms in rats” in studies, but didn’t know what that was supposed to look like).  I was of course interested to reach the parts on empathy, such as:

Indeed, research on typical children and adults finds that too much distress can dampen ordinary empathy as well. When someone else’s pain becomes too unbearable to witness, even typical people withdraw and try to soothe themselves first rather than helping—exactly like autistic people. It’s just that autistic people become distressed more easily, and so their reactions appear atypical.

And:

That’s the paradox about autism and empathy. The problem may not be that autistic people can’t understand typical people’s points of view—but that typical people can’t imagine autism.

Empathy – a postscript

I’m watching a training through the system my company uses, and I got so excited by this part that my hand started flapping.  It just fit so well with yesterday’s post on empathy that I couldn’t help but get excited and share it.  The lecture is called “Psychological Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders,” given by clinical psychologist W. Bradley Goeltz, PsyD.

I’ve had kids with Asperger’s and we’ll be talking about another kid with Asperger’s – and they get it.  The can assume the perspective of somebody else who thinks like they do.  It’s still a conscious process – it’s not intuitive – but man they got it.  And the thing is, my Theory of Mind for somebody with an autistic spectrum diagnosis is not very well developed and it is definitely a conscious effort to assume that perspective. It’s not intuitive.  . . .
“I understand, I’m empathic.”  All of us who are in the helping professions, well we’re in it because we’re empathic.  That’s great as long as you’re accurate.  But empathy, in order to be empathy has to be accurate. If you can’t relate, if you can’t get inside that kid’s mind and think cognitively or at least appreciate how they think, empathy is a really tough task.

He also talks about how professionals haven’t been required to work to be empathic to the autistic kids; they expect the kids to have to adapt.

I tried to find more information about him and this lecture to give proper credit, since what I’m watching isn’t available without an account; I found a link to purchase the lecture – http://www.cequick.com/Psychological-Assessment-of-ASD.aspx