Theory finds that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t lack empathy – in fact if anything they empathize too much

I haven’t been blogging lately. I have one in my Drafts folder “What is Empathy?” that fits in so well with this.

Seventh Voice

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

“A ground-breaking theory suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s do not lack empathy – rather, they feel others’ emotions too intensely to cope.”

“People with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is a response to being overwhelmed by emotion – an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?

This idea resonates with many people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders and their families. It also jibes with the “intense world” theory, a new way of thinking about the nature of autism.

As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the theory suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency but, rather, a hypersensitivity to experience…

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The “Witty Little Knitter:” A Talk With Tara Carstensen

I was looking for references to a fanzine I published in the ’80s (written by Alan Hale) “The Witty Knitter” (I don’t think we included “Little” but I could be wrong) and found this.

lisathegeekmom

IMG_2606 Tara Carstensen (aka Witty Little Knitter) works on one of her Fourth Doctor scarf creations at El Paso’s Sun City SciFi. Photo by Rick Tate

Since she was 15 years old, Tara Carstensen has been watching Doctor Who and knitting Fourth Doctor scarves.

Like many Whovians, she intensely studied photographs and videos to create patterns for her early attempts, although she said the results were “crude and totally incorrect.” As her work began to improve, she received her first official BBC pattern from John Nathan Turner, producer of the series from 1980 to 1989.

By 2005, she begin studying the scarves even closer. She even had a chance to examine what she calls the “Shada” scarf (the pattern used in the famous episode from Season 17 that didn’t air until 1992), as well as the Season 18 variant scarf. From there, she begin to design patterns, find colors and yarn…

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The iPad Compatible Bed Dilemma

I keep having flashbacks to the Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon goes to Penny’s apartment, she invites him to sit down and he says, sadly, “If only it were that simple.”  I’m hoping blogging this will help somehow.bed whereI’ve been a full-time RVer for about 10 years and will soon be moving into a small manufactured home.  In RV’s the beds are built-in, so I got rid of the bed I had before that.  Now I need a bed.  With my disabilities and the likelihood that they’ll get worse as I get older, I decided to splurge on an adjustable bed.  I’ve been researching them off and on for almost a year, and finally decided that the option of getting a bed that was iPad compatible was just too cool to resist, even though I don’t have an iPad yet.  Although since I made that decision, I’ve discovered other options with Bluetooth.  (I think there was a joke about that on BBT, but can’t remember it.)

This blog is probably going to get long, but I’ll try to keep it from getting too long, and won’t go into all the research and decisions that have been going on, and I’ll get straight to the Dilemma that’s (ironically) keeping me awake lately: where to put my new bed.

I can’t remember ever facing a decision like this before.  In RV’s I have no choice, and everywhere else, there was just one obvious “right” place.  Not only isn’t it obvious in my new bedroom, there’s no place that feels right.  I’ve been lying in my current bed, imagining each of the options, and all of them feel wrong.  Have I screwed up really badly?

Again, trying not to go into boring detail, I tried to plan carefully in ordering a custom-made manufactured home, and it’s gone through many revisions, but never did I sit down with a floorplan to scale and figure out where my bed would go.  In hindsight I can look back and realize that each revision made my bedroom less and less suitable to having a bed in it.

But really, I’m not as bad as Sheldon.  Every time he explains why he has to sit in His Spot and he gets to the part about “and in the summer” I want someone to stop him and say, “Sheldon, it’s not summer now.  What difference does it make today what it’s like in summer?”

Well, actually, I know the answer.  It’s the same reason I buy Angel Soft Double Roll 9-pack toilet paper.  Because I don’t want to have to make a decision every time “TP” is on my grocery list.  I want, no matter what store I go to, no matter what’s on sale, no matter what’s “new and improved” and be able to get something acceptable without having to go through all those calculations about price per square inch.  Come to think of it, I have no idea how other people buy toilet paper, but I doubt they do it my way.  Sheldon probably does.

But with this bed, because it’s an adjustable, it makes a difference which is end is the head and which the foot.  And because my new bedroom is so small and the bed so big, I don’t think I’ll be able to rotate it by myself if I change my mind after the delivery people leave.

It’s too late to change my mind about the house floorplan, but I don’t think it’s too late to change my mind about the bed.

I went through agonies over deciding between full size and Queen, but when I got to Mattress Mania and they had just one floor model in stock, and it was on sale and it was Queen, that settled me.  Only today I’m looking at the actual numbers and realizing that my current Queen bed is really a little smaller than standard, and my new bedroom, while much bigger than my current bedroom, is, in fact, by any other standard, small.

Here’s my floorplan with Queen bed, more or less to scale.  This is the placement I’m currently leaning towards, the head of the bed being towards the top.  But that would require me to sleep on the wrong side of the bed!  Or at least get up on wrong side when I go to the bathroom during the night.  (There’s a long whining story about that, but I’ll spare you.)

I had asked if I could get that bathroom door as a pocket door, and they said no, but I could still either remove the door or get it replaced with some kind of sliding, closet door, so it wouldn’t need so much clearance.  Here’s now it looks:

DSC03981

Here’s the original floorplan.  It had a lot more blank wall space to put a bed headboard against.  And was 3 inches bigger.

GS 481MNow that I think about it, the reason I thought those corner windows would be so cool was because I had them in my Coquille house, where the master bedroom was bigger than my whole RV.

rink bedroom

My current floorplan is:

Northwood arctic-30U

My previous RV was:

3250TS

You can see why I feel the bathroom should be to the left of the bed, or at its foot, right?  But with the closet and door clearance, I can’t do that.  Unless I get a double bed instead of a Queen.  (Looks like, in the UK, a standard King is smaller than an American standard Queen.  http://www.csgnetwork.com/bedsizes.html  I’m sure there’s a good joke in there, but haven’t thought of it yet.  It’s still politically correct to make fun of Americans and Brits, isn’t it?  Although I think most other nationalities are out.)

It’s not just that I regret my decisions about buying this house.  I feel like an idiot for selling the house in Coquille eleven years ago.

It’s amazing how lumpy my current bed has gotten since I tried out new beds.

And then there’s movers

a previous move
a previous move

I was planning to use the only mover I got an estimate from, but then I asked them if they could also move my steps.  The answer came back: “I am not sure how we would load the stairs. ”

This is another recurring problem of mine.  I ask a Yes or No question and can’t figure out from the response if the answer is supposed to be Yes or No or Maybe.  I think this is a No and I’d be wasting my time to try to find out what the problem is and look for a solution.  If it was a maybe, he’d say what the problem was — that the van wasn’t big enough or the steps too heavy or whatever.

I want so much to email back “I would think you’d load them by picking them up and putting them in the moving van.  Isn’t that how you planned to load my other things?”  movers

Instead, I asked for an estimate from another mover and when he came, had him look over the steps and we discussed it.  He said he could do it!  And the packing.  He said he really liked to give accurate estimates.  I told him the move wouldn’t be for a couple of weeks.  That was on Sept. 1.  I still haven’t heard back from him.

Lies, Damned Lies and Contractors

This pic doesn't really have anything to do with this blog.
This pic doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog.

I had a contractor come to give me an estimate about a year ago.  He asked me how much I could afford.  Not only did I give him an answer, but the number I gave him was actually for the whole project, not just the part of it I was asking an estimate for.  Not surprisingly, the estimate I got was only a few dollars under the number I’d given him, twice the ballpark figure he’d given at first.

(During the discussion, he was throwing out a lot of terms I didn’t recognize.  I stopped and asked him what “DG” was.  “Decayed granite,” he said.  I suppose he meant decomposed granite.  I just googled “decayed granite” and it gave me lots of links about decomposed granite. And one that did use the term “decayed granite” but that was from Texas, so I don’t think it counts.  Again, am I being too “Sheldon” here?  How bright does a guy need to be to spread rocks?)

I knew better, really I did. But, well, he asked me.  What was I supposed to say?  It’s not that I can’t lie, but I’m not good at it.  I have to decide on it ahead of time and practice, and even then, I can’t always go through with it.

I love the scene in the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon is trying to cover up and follows each invented story with “And that’s a lie.”  When he finally confesses the truth and ends with a very gracious comment that he’s happy about how it all turned out, Leonard says “And that’s a lie.” Sheldon responds, “Yep.  Great big fat one.”  And I envied Sheldon’s social skills for trying the white lie and not confessing until prodded.  I probably wouldn’t have done it.  The attempt to lie, followed by instant confession, that sounded just like me.

I hate to tell anyone about how hard it is for me to lie because then they think I’m “Holier than thou” and looking down on them.  Which is ridiculous.  I envy them their ability to lie so well.  I wish they could teach me.  It would sure make it easier to deal with contractors, salespeople and other authority figures.

I should know better

I keep saying to myself “I’m 57.  I should know better by now.”

I'm trying to get another one like this. This cost $600.
I’m trying to get another like these, which cost $600.

Actually, I do.  I know this is the way to do things, and I know it’s the way everyone does them, but I just can’t get over feeling it’s dishonest to ask multiple contractors for estimates.

It feels like I’m going to two different people saying “I’ll give you money as soon as you tell me how much” and then having to tell one of them that I was lying.    I think my discomfort gets interpreted as something else.  I seem to have an awfully hard time getting any estimates at all.

The first contractor gave an estimate to someone else without my input — $2,200 for “3’x4′ front and back door wood steps and landings with no more than 3 steps per entry. Does not include paint or stain.”  Note, that’s for two sets of steps.

I told him what I wanted, asked some questions and requested a new estimate.  I heard nothing until I told the person who gotten the first estimate that I was still waiting.  Then I immediately got an email saying  “[We] will build you new steps just like the old , with blocks on right , and hand rail. We will do the steps for the $2,200.00”  One for the price of two, what a deal.  No specifics.  (And “hand rail” singular, when I’d emphasized the need for two.) No estimate document such as he’d given her.  No answers to my questions.

The other contractor said he could do what I want but “As far as cost I don’t have any idea as to what to quote you. Each situation is different. As to modifing your existing steps I think it would behoove you to bring them over only for temperary use until we can construct what you need. Each situation is different and need to be built to fit your particular application. Your stepps arent fanct ones so I t can’t cost to much to fit your needs.”

What does “to much” mean in dollars? Am I being too “Sheldon” when I wonder if someone who writes like this can do the math and geometry needed to build steps?

The Case of the Missing Words

Doesn’t everyone do this? I proofread my stuff alot and get particularly annoyed when I’ve mixed up “now” and “not” completely changing the meaning.

Musings of an Aspie

I’ve mentioned my “missing word problem” here before. You may have noticed it in reading the blog or my comment replies–my tendency to skip over a small but necessary word when I write. This is more than a simple problem with typos, which I can easily catch and fix when proofreading.

The mystery of the missing words had proved intractable enough that I’d given up on solving it.

Until now, that is! I’m reading “The Mind’s Eye” by Oliver Sacks and right there in Chapter 2 is a potential answer: aphasia.

Aphasia is a disruption in expressive or receptive language. It can be as severe as a complete loss of understanding of language, including the inability to speak or think in words. (Aphasia usually affects all forms of language, not just speech.) “Global aphasia” often results from a brain tumor, stroke, traumatic brain injury or degenerative brain disease.

However, milder…

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