Forty to?

Burgers of the Asp
15 February 2011, 11:05 am
Filed under: Aspergers, Blog, Science | Tags: , , , , ,

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing more and more traffic about Asperger’s lately. Maybe it’s because I get a lot of Asperger’s (AS) news in my feeds, maybe it’s because I just notice it more, or maybe there really is more news about AS lately.

I’ve seen some interesting research into treatments, not that I wholly prescribe to the notion that AS can be “cured”.  But I do feel that the effects that some of us live with can be lessened. For example at one point, several years prior to my AS diagnosis, I was prescribed Paxil. Now while the drug definitely has it downsides, it did make me “chipper”. People literally started asking me if I was on drugs, because of the difference in my personality. However I quickly stopped using the drug because of all the negative side affects I was experiencing.  But none-the-less there was a noted difference, that I was not even aware of. So that one I feel is a point for the medication.

Some years later, just after my AS diagnosis, my psychologist recommended to my primary care physician that I be prescribed Zoloft. The drug, and the effects were explained to me. However I again never noticed a change while on the medication. The one noted difference I did see was that the severity of panic attacks were dramatically decreased.

Now for the past 5 years I’ve been on no medication to alleviate any AS effects. I have been to some counseling however, with AS being a pre-existing condition that most insurance companies either will not cover or will cover for obscene premium increases, the counseling did not last long. But I was introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy there, as interesting as it was it was short lived.

More recently I’ve seen some interesting research surrounding Oxytocin, and it’s potential benefits to persons with AS. Oxytocin is the so called “Love Hormone”, it’s been tied to helping and reinforcing the brain develop bonds, such as the integral parent/child bond. I remember reading about some Aspies who were administered a dose of Oxytocin through a nasal inhaler and noted marked increases in both socialization abilities and empathetic areas. That alone piqued my interest. Even though further reading found that the effect was short lived, and only lasted about 5-15 minutes the news was, refreshing.

Not that I’d like to a Neurotypical (NT), Asperger’s is an adventure, of sorts. While it certainly has its pitfalls, home life, family life, social life they all have their more than fair shares of hardships, but my wife and I persevere. It’s because of my wife that I trudge on, her and my kids are the reason that I keep trying to better myself. Not for the sake of one day being “cured” but so that I can be a father, and a husband to my wife and family. That’s my goal, everything else is just an added bonus.

As hard as NT’s might see living with AS, people like my wife might see it differently, or at the very least I know I do. It’s not that living with AS is harder, sure it has its challenges, but it just means our lives are different. In the same light I see an NT’s life as harder, not that it is, it’s just different. I personally like my AS, it gives me abilities that others might not have. Or at the very least, a unique perspective of the world and the way it works, and that’s a powerful and important thing.

For instance the ability to focus, intensely, on a given subject for long periods of time. Sure anyone can focus on a topic. But it’s been show that individuals with AS can focus so narrowly on particular subjects that it borders on obsession at times, I personally can testify to this. In middle school and high school I would check out dozens of books, a day on whatever subject I was hooked on at the time. Be it time travel, lasers, astronomy, cosmology, relativity. Now imagine if you could assemble a team of Aspies to do research in a given field or area, now that would truly be a think tank!

It’s ideas like that that are pushing me to go back to university and pursue another degree in a field that fascinates me. I yearn for that type of immersion again, and I think going back to school can provide that, along with furthering my own education and expanding my own boundaries.

So this is sort of a call to other Aspies. I want to hear from you, for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve never met anyone else with AS, secondly I’d like to hear your thoughts.  So answer the call and let me hear what you think.

How do you think?
27 January 2011, 10:30 am
Filed under: Aspergers, Blog, Movies, Science | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I watched the HBO movie ‘Temple Grandin’ last night. It was both entertaining and enlightening. For starters I already knew who Ms. Grandin was, having seen her talk at a TED conference. There’s also that fact that she’s Autistic, well, a High Functioning Autistic. Watching the movie, as so often does for those of us that can related to a character or person, provided several insights. Most importantly to me, was the realization and you and I, and everyone else for that matter think differently.

I’d read some about this before, the physicist Richard Feynman had spoke about this before, and was able to do some rudimentary experiment. Dr. Feynman had mentioned to a colleague that he could both perform calculations in his head and read the morning paper, his colleague vehemently opposed this, saying it was impossible and that he refused to believe it. Viewing this as a challenge, Dr. Feynman located some newspapers and the two of them sat down and began counting to themselves while reading the paper. Dr. Feynman was able to count to 20 or so before his college gave up stating he could not carry on. When Dr. Feynman asked him why, the answer provided surprised him.

You see, the way Dr. Feynman thought was somewhat similar to Ms. Grandin’s way of thinking, he visualized things. When Dr. Feynman was counting, what was actually in his mind was a ticker, and as he counted he would visualize the dial clicking over to the next number as he went on, this mental imagery was dealt with in a completely different manor than the text he was reading on the newspaper. However his colleague stated that when he counts in his head he actually speaks the numbers in his mind, this method directly conflicts with how he was processing the text he was also trying to read at the same time. Dr. Feynman realized that this would certainly cause issues when trying to perform a task similar to his little experiment.

Now all of this has caused me to stop and think about how my own mind processes information, and I’ve come to realize that my mind works the way Dr. Feynman’s colleagues does. Everything in my mind is spoken, by this sort of internal monologue. My own little announcer you might say. Now that’s not to say that my own mind is void of imagery, quite the contrary. When I need to think about how something works, or say I’m trying to imagine how a character should look for a short story, I can easily conjure up an image in my head. I don’t however have the near perfect recall that Ms. Grandin has, I do find that I can think in images the way Dr. Feynman spoke of. However this isn’t the norm for me.

So I’d like to ask, how do you think? Do you think in pictures? words? sounds? maybe number or colors swirl in your brain when you think? perhaps you’re the type of person who develops thinking systems, such as the Though Castle or Memory Palace? Who knows, but I’d love to hear all about it.