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Guest Vapourware

2 (and something) months out

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OT, but I just love how a thread about autism evolves into a discussion on Dr Who.

It happens all the time. For those of us who feel somehow "alien" among our own species, The Doctor gives us someone to relate to, and to look up to. At least, that's how it is for me.

Okay, I didn't say it before because I was afraid of seeming like one of those people who's gone waaaaaay too far off the deep end - and I do not go to Comic Con-type conventions or try to meet the actors or any of that - but I did teach myself to knit in college for the sole purpose of knitting myself a massive scarf like the 4th Doctor's. And yes, I wore it around campus. In Dallas. In July. And yes, I still have it. And yes, I still wear it sometimes.

And, I'm almost finished building my own personal sonic screwdriver; it's not modeled after one in the show, it just has functions in it I want: blue light, ultraviolet and infrared emitters, digital thermometer, miniature powered screwdriver (of course), USB flash memory, and sound generator, all controlled by a Basic Stamp microcontroller. I was going to add a burning laser, but thought better of it. I still might...

Did I mention I'm also building a robot?

*sigh* I have no other life except my children (and my son loves Doctor Who. My daughter prefers the darker humor of Futurama). Do I sound like a freak now? It looks harsh, reading it over in black-and-white.

[steering this topic back around] I'm actually very conscious of my "special interests", and try very hard not to talk about them with other people for fear (and I do mean fear) that I will end up boring someone. I wasn't like this before I got the dx. Since this thread started, I've been thinking a lot about my reaction and I see now that my Asperger's dx has had a much more profound effect on me than I had realized - it has caused me to withdraw. I have given up trying to be a part of my community. I have pulled back to my home and now never go anywhere. I've stopped being active in everything I was active in before the dx, and on reflection I believe it's mostly to do with a new belief that I am fundamentally unlike others and cannot successfully interact, and am doomed to social failure. This is a brand-new awareness for me. On the plus side, it's given me a lot more time to tinker with tech... but that's a poor exchange for a life of loneliness and isolation.

Signing off. Must think.

Cerberus Who now realizes he's going to have to post pictures of all this tinkering or everyone will think he's talking out his ass.

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Guest Vapourware

Yes, you must post photos now. I'd love to see the robot and the screwdriver. By the way, have you seen the official sonic screwdriver? It doesn't have as many cool functions as your screwdriver, but it was pretty interesting. If I was actually handy in any shape or form and had use for a screwdriver, I would've bought it.

RE: special interests. I can relate to your post. I rarely talk about my special interests either, also out of fear, and also out of embarrassment. My long-standing special interest is in a particular Hong Kong actor [who will go unnamed]. I started becoming obsessed with him as a child, so it's likely that I've been interested in him for around 20 years. I've seen almost all his movies [even the ones where he made 30-second cameos], and one of my great pleasures in the past was to sit down with some of his movies and constant watch [and re-watch] his scenes. I even used to put him on slow-motion.

I think I've out-freaked you by now...

I sometimes bludgeon people with some of my other more socially-acceptable interest areas [guitars, Metallica, Jethro Tull...] but this interest is staying under wraps.

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OT, but I just love how a thread about autism evolves into a discussion on Dr Who.

It happens all the time. For those of us who feel somehow "alien" among our own species, The Doctor gives us someone to relate to, and to look up to. At least, that's how it is for me.

Okay, I didn't say it before because I was afraid of seeming like one of those people who's gone waaaaaay too far off the deep end - and I do not go to Comic Con-type conventions or try to meet the actors or any of that - but I did teach myself to knit in college for the sole purpose of knitting myself a massive scarf like the 4th Doctor's. And yes, I wore it around campus. In Dallas. In July. And yes, I still have it. And yes, I still wear it sometimes.

Oh yes, several ways.

We can be especially good at latching on to an interesting detail and running with it, even if it means leaving the rest of a conversation behind. With me it can be an interesting word, or use of a word or metaphor. Something I've trained myself to watch out for in live conversation.

And I do have a scarf over 20ft long: knitted for me by a friend at her suggestion, not mine.

(Oh, and while a Dr Who fan, K-9 clearly had to go, after a while. He was turning into far too much of a get-out-of-jail-free card.)

[steering this topic back around] I'm actually very conscious of my "special interests", and try very hard not to talk about them with other people for fear (and I do mean fear) that I will end up boring someone. I wasn't like this before I got the dx. Since this thread started, I've been thinking a lot about my reaction and I see now that my Asperger's dx has had a much more profound effect on me than I had realized - it has caused me to withdraw. I have given up trying to be a part of my community. I have pulled back to my home and now never go anywhere. I've stopped being active in everything I was active in before the dx, and on reflection I believe it's mostly to do with a new belief that I am fundamentally unlike others and cannot successfully interact, and am doomed to social failure. This is a brand-new awareness for me. On the plus side, it's given me a lot more time to tinker with tech... but that's a poor exchange for a life of loneliness and isolation.

Signing off. Must think.

Cerberus Who now realizes he's going to have to post pictures of all this tinkering or everyone will think he's talking out his ass.

I can see how that might happen, but it needn't necessarily be so.

The new knowledge can help the understanding of where social misunderstanding was likely to crop up, and suggest changes of approach thus *improving* the odds of positive outcomes.

It can, admittedly also show up where the desire to be part of the community in any particular respect was tied up with "achieving acceptance by conformity".

This balance between "being yourself" and "fitting in" is an issue for all, but probably plays out at a far more conscious level for those of us with ASD.

And, depending on local culture, we tend to get far more propaganda about fitting in. conforming, "being like folks" etc. than we do about being ourselves, standing up for our difference and enjoying it, and so on.

(unless made acceptable by some notable success as assessed by the crowd: then the mainstream will have "single-handed", "unique" and "go-it-alone" in their vocabulary. Otherwise "he was a loner" is two strikes against even before the first of the bodies is discovered. (Is murder as part of a group somehow less socially reprehensible? Sorry, must not take that tangent.))

Last aside: I was a little embarrassed about my major hobby when I was diagnosed.

Model railway enthusiast is such a cliché for a male adult with Asperger's

I'm still unrepentant, though, about this not-if-you-want-to-get-a-girlfriend interest.

Chris.

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Okay, I didn't say it before because I was afraid of seeming like one of those people who's gone waaaaaay too far off the deep end - and I do not go to Comic Con-type conventions or try to meet the actors or any of that - but I did teach myself to knit in college for the sole purpose of knitting myself a massive scarf like the 4th Doctor's. And yes, I wore it around campus. In Dallas. In July. And yes, I still have it. And yes, I still wear it sometimes.

Do I sound like a freak now? It looks harsh, reading it over in black-and-white.

I'm actually very conscious of my "special interests", and try very hard not to talk about them with other people for fear (and I do mean fear) that I will end up boring someone. I wasn't like this before I got the dx. ... on reflection I believe it's mostly to do with a new belief that I am fundamentally unlike others and cannot successfully interact, and am doomed to social failure. This is a brand-new awareness for me. On the plus side, it's given me a lot more time to tinker with tech... but that's a poor exchange for a life of loneliness and isolation.

I think you're misinterpreting "freak" with "geek". I am a geek. I have been to conventions. I have dressed up. I can talk about the same thing for hours on end. I LIKE that about myself.

I can also realize when the other person couldn't care less, and limit how and when I talk about such things to my choosing. I have other interests besides that that I can pick to relate to those who aren't in any way, shape, or form "geeky". I get more happiness and meaning out of the geek stuff though. There's just a certain level of interest that generally goes along with that that I respond to and enjoy.

I think you've taken something that's not a problem and turned it into a manifestation or symbol for only the negative aspects of it. Not seeing it for the positive it could be. True, engaging people with an interest they don't share will create a distance.. however, that same engagement with someone who shares that interest is actually unifying and has the opposite effect from loneliness and isolation.

I don't think that the goal should be to hide it - but to guide it. Not doing something you enjoy simply because you're afraid of others not agreeing with it isn't a good thing either.

Did I mention I'm also building a robot?

Who now realizes he's going to have to post pictures of all this tinkering or everyone will think he's talking out his ass.

Ok, you can't just leave it there.. and more to the point, if you *don't* show us pictures of the tinkering, I will be personally disappointed and hold you in contempt of the sharing of cool things. Heh.

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Don't get me wrong - I don't bother to hide anything. I am who I am. When I first started being shunned in elementary school as a 'weirdo', I decided early on that I wasn't going to conform, and I never have, not even at times when I could have. It cost me in terms of social ties, but it left me with a sense that I could depend on myself to be strong in adversity. It's been a long, long time since I was afraid of what somebody would think. My difficulty is that I live in a very backward, rural area where the general educational level is low, and my chances of finding a kindred spirit are vanishingly small. Like I would have a better chance of finding a village of Whos on a grain of pollen.

I used to be somewhat prominent in my community. I also actually wrote children's books and quite a few of them were published nationally, and were well reviewed, though I was never what you would call famous. Now I've just sort of let myself dwindle away. My family has been from this place for generations, since the late 1700s, and I was born here, yet I'm not accepted. I keep thinking how I would love to move away and find where I belong, where my people really are, but in anybody else's story, I would have found it already. Rationally, I know that people are pretty much the same all over, which means they're pretty much not like me anywhere. Wrong planet.

I am not a geek, by the way. I am a capital-G Geek. A card-carrying, Vulcan-hand-gesturing, Princess-Bride-quoting, D&D-playing (when it was not cool), Star Wars Atlas-memorizing, droid-loving, high-quality Steampunk Geek, and actually know how to use a sword, thank you very much. I am not, however, a nerd. To my mind, the latter has pejorative connotations, and I keep remembering a commercial that was on two or three years ago, where this gal says, "Geeks get things done. I'm a Geek."

And I've always been proud to be one. But now there's something else, another feeling, too. There are NT Geeks, just because of their choice of interests, but I'm a Geek by genetics - I have Asperger's. 'Have' it? 'Am' it? I don't even know the right verb for it. 'Have' suggests something external, but this is part of my fibre, and I'm stuck here. There's no TARDIS coming to pick me up. So in a grandiose gesture of wishful thinking, I build a console in my living room, teach myself electronics and computer programming and applied science, build a sonic screwdriver that actually does something -- in essence, to subconsciously try to become what I wish I was, rather than accept what I am. And yet it's my Asperger qualities that allow me to actually accomplish some of this, and become even more unusual than, and less comprehensible to, the average person. I'm just digging myself in deeper.

The preceding paragraph just spilled out of my head in one big 'Blop'; it's the kind of self-analysis that runs through my head all the time.

Cerberus (Certified Geek)

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Don't get me wrong - I don't bother to hide anything. I am who I am.

Rationally, I know that people are pretty much the same all over, which means they're pretty much not like me anywhere. Wrong planet.

I am a capital-G Geek... And I've always been proud to be one. But now there's something else, another feeling, too. There are NT Geeks, just because of their choice of interests, but I'm a Geek by genetics - I have Asperger's. 'Have' it? 'Am' it? I don't even know the right verb for it. 'Have' suggests something external, but this is part of my fibre, and I'm stuck here. There's no TARDIS coming to pick me up. So in a grandiose gesture of wishful thinking, I build a console in my living room, teach myself electronics and computer programming and applied science, build a sonic screwdriver that actually does something -- in essence, to subconsciously try to become what I wish I was, rather than accept what I am. And yet it's my Asperger qualities that allow me to actually accomplish some of this, and become even more unusual than, and less comprehensible to, the average person. I'm just digging myself in deeper.

I'm glad you do have that self-confidence. That appeared to be lacking in the other post. I'm very happy to hear it and just wish you had more support.

You'll never find someone exactly like you. All that can really ever be hoped for is bits and pieces. Differences do separate, and you have an intrinsic one that I do not. I can't understand it on the level that you do. I can however accept it. I think who you are is fine. Difference doesn't equal bad in my mind. But that's just me.

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" When I first started being shunned in elementary school as a 'weirdo', "

I was "The Prof": at five the only one wearing glasses. Only one already reading.

" Rationally, I know that people are pretty much the same all over, which means they're pretty much not like me anywhere. Wrong planet."

Which as you know is an informal name for our condition: "wrong planet syndrome."

I was quite late (mid-teens?) finally concluding I was a human being, or if I was that the other people around me were too.

It was just so clear that everyone else was operating on some sort of different system from me.

Not least in that I could consider thoughts like that.

" Princess-Bride-quoting"

That's perfectly normal, surely..?

"high-quality Steampunk Geek"

Good stuff. Overlaps somewhat with my Guru, Mr Rowland Emett.

Or the utterly fantastic Chris Walas (http://4largescale.com/chris/index.htm.)

"There are NT Geeks, just because of their choice of interests"

Nouveau-geek?

" I have Asperger's. 'Have' it? 'Am' it? I don't even know the right verb for it. 'Have' suggests something external, but this is part of my fibre, and I'm stuck here. "

Good questioning thought. Perhaps my Asperger's characterises me, but does not define me or pin me down like a butterfly on a board. We certainly vary enormously so are hardly neatly boxed in by the condition.

Less so than some employees in offices with dress-codes and "companyspeak" environments.

"And yet it's my Asperger qualities that allow me to actually accomplish some of this, and become even more unusual than, and less comprehensible to, the average person. I'm just digging myself in deeper."

Understood.

When it works well it's called finding your niche.

Unfortunately the late Victorian period does seem to have been the peak era for the acceptability of half-crazed scientist inventors.

By the 1930's-50's we were down to being "boffins" who could not be understood or really communicated with.

(see Arthur C Clarke's Tales from the White Hart for his boffin extraordinaire.)

I really regret never finding a proper job advert for a mad scientist.

(more Professor Branstawm than Dr Strangelove, in my case.)

Currently on "accomplishing things" I'm not well placed, but I may just have something quick-and-dirty to put in my window for Halloween.

Dracula will rise from his coffin, I hope.

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Oh, Emmettman, I had meant to say you need not be embarrassed about the model railway interest. Within less than an hour's drive of my home are not one, but two separate railway museums devoted to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and both have elaborate models on public display built and constantly "improved upon" by local clubs of aficionados. My former division chief here at work was also an extensive iron horse hobbyist and devoted an entire basement to it.

Myself, I have to say I've never been bitten by the locomotive bug, but I will confess to getting the theme to "Thomas the Tank Engine" stuck in my head from time to time...

Cerberus

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I am much less autistic than I used to. I fit in more often, I can socialise without be a social clutz like I used to. I'm not even that interested in my special interest any more (Star Trek). It's quite weird, to be a guy who felt alien (as Cerberus describes) to becoming a girl who feels llike maybe she can fit in.

I dunno if it's transitioning and/or hormones that did, or maybe my autism symptoms were a by-product of not dealing with then gender issues... I suppressed a lot of stuff when I was younger...

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I generally don't have special interests and it has been that way since I started taking antidepressants. Although I did earlier today talk at my mum about qualitative research methods.... I guess I normally just don't bother because I figure no one is interested. It is already an effort to talk most of the time so why do it if no one wants to listen?

I like Metallica.

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All right, you lot - just so you know I'm not all talk, I've put my money where my mouth is in this gallery. The images aren't the best, but they're good enough to show that I really am as crazy as I claim.

Cerberus

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Nothing wrong with those Cerberus... Good stuff!

My trains in the garden. (The chapel has zombies)

Darda_002_opt.jpg

And you'd definitely have got on with Rowland Emett.

A lot of this is about niches.

That many in the mainstream won't "get".

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Guest Vapourware

Awesome stuff, both of you!

Don't really have much to show in terms of my various interests, except that I have several guitars [including a 1966 Fender Mustang and there are four guitars sitting in my room alone - more in the music room], and 800+ recordings of Metallica, live [i stopped counting a while ago. Not interested in trading, either].

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(The chapel has zombies)

It is in such delights as this that the Asperger brain shines.

And you'd definitely have got on with Rowland Emett.

Indeed. I sometimes think I was born not only on the wrong planet, but in the wrong era. I think I would have had a whale of a time in the Age of Steam.

And Vape, in the first image of my TARDIS console, you might notice in the background a couple of my Appalachian dulcimers hanging on the wall. I collect instruments too. Play them, not so well...

Cerberus

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You know, getting back to the topic of the effect of an Aspie dx, in thinking about things I've made (note the graceful and effortless segué) a few years ago I wrote a novel for young adults that was published, had some critical success, and was even republished in a Spanish edition, and was basically about an Asperger's character. But I had never heard of Asperger's when I wrote it, and though I was pleased with it then, now I very much wish I had it to do over again, because I think it would have been better told as a story of someone dealing with being on the Spectrum. It doesn't necessarily make the book flawed, but it's a regret I'll have to live with; a story I told before its time, I guess.

Cerberus

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bludgeon you with their special interest

Sadly, I have never met anyone who wanted to discuss the differences between Armenian Red Stitch vs Elizabethan Blackwork, or how european crewel work varies from Japanese thread painting...

However, I will admit to be very impressed by the Tardis. Very, very impressed. As in, I-want-that-in-my-living-room impressed. And I totally share Vape's interest in Metallica. It's only logical. Only Rush can share that pedestal imho.

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Guest Vapourware

I'm not really into Metallica's latest works - I started being turned off in 2000, St Anger sucked, Death Magnetic was Metallica recycling their riffs from the past, and their latest collaboration with Lou Reed is a total joke - but I can still recite random information about their history, etc.

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"The Outlaw Torn" is one of my favourite Metallica songs. There is a guitar riff near the end of it that has given me shivers, plus it is just good all-round.

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      Some days I have overwhelming depression and hopelessness and can barely get out of bed. Some days I feel constant looming terror like something bad will happen and I'm afraid to leave my room. Some days I seem to be emotionally all over place. Some days I feel completely groggy, like my head is in a fog, and have difficulty making sentences or even playing solitaire. As far as I can see all of this is totally random and happens for no reason. However -- and this is big -- from the outside most people see nothing wrong. I'm never "sick enough" to have an "excuse" for my problems. 
      I've had several different brief periods with talk-therapy, usually 6 months max, and I hate them because they've never seemed to do anything beneficial. I talk about my feelings and do whatever little "tips" they tell me and then go home and nothing is changed. Currently I'm supposed to be doing "affirmations" (yet again) but I simply cannot -- they say that negative self-talk is "a self-fulfilling prophesy", but the fact is I didn't have negative self-talk when I was younger and first having problems. Every evidence of my adult life shows that I fail out of everything and can't function as an adult. I have zero confidence in myself because I have zero evidence of capability. I feel defective. 
      My mom and some other people are pushing me to get disability, but I've tried to tell them I don't even have a diagnosis -- being a dysfunctional loser isn't a legal disability. They are also pinning a lot of hopes on the Psychiatrist, as if taking a pill is the solution to all problems instantaneously. I know it doesn't work that way, because even if they put me on the "right" meds the first time around, they don't start working right away anyway. I'm enrolled in college but I am barely hanging on, and I don't know if my problems are going to get better fast enough to avoid getting kicked out. And if I lose that, I have absolutely nothing left in life. 
      I just wish I had an "explanation", and some "validation", but it feels like most people think that even if I do have genuine problems, they aren't actually bad enough to explain my dysfunctional life. 
      So I don't know what I'm asking or what kind of support I need right now.
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