Asperger’s and Pain

So often I have read that people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and other ASDs do not respond correctly to pain. It is true that we do not respond typically to pain. It is often assumed that we must not feel pain at the same level that others feel it. We definitely do have a different way of integrating our senses than others. But the thought that we do not feel pain as strongly as others, I believe to be untrue.

Here is what is really going on (at least for me, my son and other biological relatives of mine who do  not think they have an ASD, but probably do). We sense the pain, but we do not want anyone else to know that we are sensing it. To let someone know means that they will start asking questions, and they may start pressuring us to treat our pain. We fear the treatment, because it may involve  even more pain, and there is often no 100% guarantee that the treatment will treat the pain. There is often a tiny percent possibility that the pain may actually become worse, or that even if the pain goes away, some other horrible side-effect will remain.

We have seen how life can work, we are generally not optimists, so we assume that the worst will happen to us. Therefore, we would rather stick with the current known pain and its familiar circumstances than trade it for a lot of unknown circumstances, that could include a lot of social interactions with a lot of unknown people in a lot of unknown places that could result in even more pain and unknown complications.

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This is my Father’s world

While driving home from vacation this past weekend, it really struck me how we US citizens really are newcomers and usurpers of this land we call America. I have known this since studying American history in 5th grade – I loved how our teacher had us play quizbo to study for tests. She would divide us up into teams of four or five kids, so that must have been 6 or 7 teams since there were always around 33 of us in a class. Then we would spend one class period writing questions from our textbook on slips of paper. The next class period, our teacher would read the questions. Teams would compete against each other – the details on how that all went fail me now, but the team with the most correct answers at the end of the game, won.

I have read a lot of novels set in the days of westward expansion, and devoured many a National Geographic detailing archaelogic finds of Native American sites dating back thousands of years. But there was still always this sense of, “Manifest Destiny,” I guess. Though I was always horrified when confronted with what we did to the Native Americans to get this land, I never felt an immediate sense of the reality of the situation. Everything was still just head knowledge.

Until driving across Wisconsin on Interstate 94, Sunday, July 11 at about 2 pm. First there’s, Milwaukee, then Pewaukee, which reminded me of Waukesha, and farther east, a sign for Wausau. “I wonder what, “wau,” means in whatever Native American language was spoken here,” I thought aloud. “It sure must be important since it is so common.”

My husband thought that maybe it meant, “water,” sort of like, “minne” means water in Minnesota. Let me go check that out – be back in a moment. OK, so it seems that since the Chippewa who lived in the area had an oral, not written language, when white folks tried to write down Chippewa words, they didn’t always catch all of the nuances of the language, so, “wau,” ended up being used a lot. The words that it is used in often have very disparate meanings.

But seeing so many names of places that obviously hearkened back to a different people’s tougue really brought home how we are now living on lands that once held a very different people with a very different lifestyle.

Why God allowed us to take this land, I cannot say. I am sure He was not happy with how everything happened. I do know that he wanted the peoples here to learn of him, but many things happened that I am sure broke his heart.

It reminded me that I am only here, living life as I know it because He has allowed it to be so. The United States of America is just one of many sovereign nations that has ruled this little patch of land currently called Minnesota and Wisconsin, but God is the ultimate ruler and decides who rules what, when. I wonder if he will decide that it is time for us to be overthrown? If we strive for true equality, as God sees equality, would he have mercy on us?

This reminded me of Jesus words when he said that His kingdom is not of this earth. I am so glad for the current comforts we enjoy in America, but if they were to end, I would be bummed, but am thankful that I don’t have to worry about my soul – since it is included in His kingdom. I hope yours is, too!

The Peaceful Playground

My kids attend a two-year-old charter school. Last year they had no playground equipment until some parents donated balls and another parent lent the school a portable basketball hoop last spring.

As with most new charter schools, we went through quite a bit of staff changes the first year. At the beginning of this second year we had a new director. He was a physical education teacher before becoming an administrator, which has been a great boon for our kids when it comes to physical opportunities.

A physical education teacher was hired this year – last year classroom teachers were in charge of physical education for their classrooms. Then, over MEA weekend, new playground equipment was installed. This was great, especially for my child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Before the playground was put in, he often found himself in trouble fighting over balls with other kids. Because of his syndrome, he is not able to play team sports. He is able to play ball with one other child, maybe two, but even that is very difficult. Since there are not enough balls for every child to have his or her own, he would get into trouble for not sharing, or for stealing a ball from a group of classmates playing a game.

With the addition of the playground equipment, he now had something else to do when a ball was not available. And then came the addition of the Peaceful Playground over spring break. This playground is painted on the parking lot. There are hopscotch boards, four-square courts, a map of the United States and a big circle with shapes and colors that seems to lend itself to all sorts of games. I think there also may be some baselines to play kickball, or something.

I can see how hopscotch and the map are considered peaceful. And when I was a kid four-square was a mild game enjoyed by the less athletic girls, like me. But I have seen how four-square is played now, and it is not peaceful! As you can imagine, my Aspergian wanted in on the fun, with somewhat disastrous results.

He would get so frustrated with his inability to win everytime (which is not possible for anyone – and even less possible for a less-coordinated individual) that he was getting in trouble for pushing classmates when things didn’t go his way. Now he has a paraprofessional who shadows him on the playground and helps him lose gracefully. Since his para joined him several weeks ago, he has only had one physical altercation.

It is good that he is getting help learning how to lose gracefully. We try to teach him that at home, but often we just try to avoid situations that we know will cause trouble, because we want to have a fun, peaceful time. So he is getting the opportunity to learn important life lessons, but I sure miss the peaceful days before the Peaceful Playground!

Illegal immigration

Hmmm, I am not sure what to say about this one. It is my understanding that the amount of money illegal immigrants add to the system far outweighs the amount of money they take through education and health care. It is my understanding that if it were not for the illegal immigrants, social security would not be doing as well as it is, because the birthrate of legal Americans is not keeping up with the amount of people who are needed to keep social security solvent. So thank goodness for illegal immigrants and their many children who are working and paying into the system.

On a more personal note, I have been told that one of my great-grandfathers was an illegal immigrant from Italy. He never learned to read or write English, but he was also never a drain on the system. He worked at a mattress factory, and when he was too old to work, he spent every day bicycling around the city, delivering flowers to patients at the various hospitals in his city.

I understand that there are some illegal immigrants who are criminals. But I also believe that most aren’t, and that our immigration laws are strange – why do we let in all of the brilliant minds from around the world to compete with jobs that our bright children need, while we shut out people who are more than happy to do the jobs that none of us want to do?

The office I used to work at was cleaned almost exclusively by immigrants. I truly appreciated them giving me such a clean comfortable work environment, while allowing me to focus on my writing. It was refreshing to only have to clean my house, and not my office space, too.

As with all issues, I realize that this is very complex issue. But I do believe we need to realize that, unless we are Native Americans, we are all illegal immigrants, from their perspective. Oh, and we are illegal immigrants of the worst kind. We steal their land, murder them, imprison them on tiny tracts of land, patronize them and then wonder why they are alcoholics and have the highest suicide rate of any people group in America.

We should be thrilled that most of the current illegal immigrants want to work with us rather than against us.

So what’s up with the cute skull and cross bones?

Okay, okay, I did enjoy Treasure Island when I was a kid, but the pirates didn’t win everything. And it certainly didn’t leave me wanting to be a pirate. I was just thrilled that the boy made it back safe.

Johnny Depp made pirates into clowns, so I can see, from that perspective, why people now consider wearing pirate symbols as just something fun. But a skull and cross bones? Really, what is fun about that? A big red nose, rainbow hair and giant shoes are fun. But a dead man’s bare bones plastered on a little girl’s pink shirt? Oh, wait, the skull is rounded into a cute baby shape with a little pink bow on the top, so that makes it alright. Baby skulls are cute – what?!!!?

So I was at a local fabric store waiting to pay for some festive St. Patrick’s Day textiles, when I overheard this conversation. I don’t try to eavesdrop, I just happen to have excellent hearing, and because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, I have to try to block noises out, which means that I automatically hear all conversations around me unless I try not to listen. I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard, so here’s the jist of what I heard.

“I found the cutest little outfit the other day for Stephanie’s (chose not to remember the real name, so this is just a filler) baby. I am going to give it to her at her shower. It is the soft gray with a skull and cross bones on the front. I know she will just love it! She brought over a cute pink outfit with a skull and cross bones with a matching hat when my little girl was born this fall.”

“Oh, that is so cute. Now your kids will match. How adorable.”

What? Adorable? It’s great that there are matching babies wearing the Jolly Roger? What planet are these women on? What is cute about dressing your infants in symbols of death, destruction, lying, cheating, stealing, pillaging, plundering, marooning, mutinying, and so on?

How is it that we think we are going to have a strong, good nation full of people who will be interested in taking care of the world in a positive, unified manner when we dress from their first days, and entertain them with ideas of the above mentioned? Kids won’t hear how you must not actually act like pirates when that is all we feed them.

I have an acquaintance who often has the right things to say – has great wisdom and often gives proper advice when I am faced with difficulties. But I very seldom take that person’s words seriously because that friend’s life does not show that they use anything they preach. I have another acquaintance whose life and words do usually match. I don’t need to tell you what I do with that friend’s advice.

Please tell me that we don’t need to go as far down as enjoying live gladiator shows again before we wake up to the truth of choosing life to have a good life.