Thursday, July 16, 2009

ADD vs Obsessive focus in Aspergers (part 1)

"I should be cleaning/organizing" is pretty much a constant mantra in my head . One that has very little effect on my actual behavior, but I'm sure it does take some energy to constantly be ignoring it .

This has led me to wonder, as I have most of my life...."what the heck is wrong with me and how can I try and make myself function better ." "Function better" is a very relative term based on each individuals ability, priorities and values . I think, from a logic perspective, it is easiest to reach a goal if you fist define the terms your using to measure the out come....(very sciency stuff so I will try and begin there .


is one of the most difficult for me to define . When I originally went in for DX to see if I was Asperger, I did so because I felt that something was blocking what I felt was my potential . I was a 45 year old women with a BA and considered intelligent and insightful according to others,(unless they were lying ?), and yet I was remained stuck at entry level jobs . I read incessantly and yet could barely spell above a 10th grade level. I had panic attacks while driving an hadn't gotten my license until I was 3 . Co-workers were nice to me but none seemed interested in developing a friendship. I was often told what a hard worker I was but no one ever suggested that I "move up" in the companies I worked for . I know you have to actually seek out and promote your self...."smoozing anyone"...but I did not have this ability . I can lie but I am very bad about it and have to work hard to even say anything misleading. That might not seem like a bad thing but I can assure you, it is a requirement for just about any management level job .

I had hoped that I would be able to take some kind of career development testing as part of the Aspergers DX but they offer nothing in that area . If your a recovering alcoholic, leaving jail, or have other neurological conditions, you often can get such testing, but it's not a resource available if you are able to work even the most menial job . I know in this economy, having any job is a blessing but I do think that there are many Aspies who are a wasted resource to society because their specific abilities are not being tapped . A bit like having a reserve of oil under your feet but deciding the cost of excavation is to high to bother . What I am not saying is that "I" am such an aspie . That is just what I was hoping to find out during the DX . Do I have some abilities that are going unused because I don't know where they would be most useful ? The truth is, I am blind to many of my own abilities and disabilities . Until I begin researching about Aspergers and the most common co-morbids, I had no idea that there where people whose brains seemed to do things that mind did not and vise-versa . I could observe differences but had no language for it so found it difficult to understand the "why" .


This one is a bit easier for my to define as it is personal and knowable to me .
Based on the pyramid of needs , I am with Maslow on basic needs of shelter, food sleep and other biological necessities begin met first . I do not like being dependent on the government or family to meet these needs for me . However even with the intellectual knowledge of these things being most important....I have found times when they took a back seat to my obsessions . I consider myself fortunate that I can stop what I am doing long enough to go to the bathroom though I have waited...until the last second a few times . Food is not often a priority unless I get to the point where I can no longer ignore the burning pain in my stomach . Hygiene is very low on my list of needs perfunctory at best to avoid possible skin infections and further dental problems or offending others if I have to leave the house . It's not something I enjoy and I happen to think that it is less neurotic then some "normal" peoples need to shower everyday or wash clothes they wore for a few hours . My theory is that you are doing your immune system a favor by exposing yourself less to toxic cleaning chemicals and more to some natural bacteria .

Priority two is ...time to engage in my "special interests" . Ideally, I would like to get a job doing them . Unfortunately, I have yet to find a job that allowed me to read only the books that I want and not have to edit or critic it, both of which ruins why I read a learn and to feel and to laugh . No one's going to pay me to laugh . The other problem with this is that my interests change . One day, I just stumble upon something else that catches my interest and the old one goes on the back burner to stew awhile . Why....? That is what I am interested in understanding . It just seems that I reach a peek of understanding and it is as far as I am able to go with it .

After 45 years of such changing interests, I often find myself dipping back into old interests as they relate to a new subject . For example, I had an interest in plants used for healing for several years, collecting books and samples and tried to teach myself how to process them memory (often the culprit of my stopping from going further in an interest), made it difficult for my to identify a plant without carrying a back pack of reference books everywhere I went . Not being able to spell, also made it difficult for me to recall their Latin names . I think I would have gone into the sciences had I not had such a problem reading those words .

in summery...meeting basic bodily needs and time for my interests are highest priority for me .

The next step up on my pyramid would be having things, people, animals to give and receive love from . Some times in my life, that was a cat or a rock or a book . For the past 7 years it has been human, which has the added benefit of something that can communicate back on a different level then I am used to, but that I enjoy . Having met some very cool people on the internet has also opened up this area of my life . I still find it difficult sometimes as animate objects....animals and people often don't understand how "interests" could possibly be listed before "them" . I wish I could make them understand that it is not from lack of love for them but an actual physical need for me . I do my best to compromise but I have often lost "friendships" because of this "need" .

What's not high on my list of priorities is social status...though I would prefer not being invisible ALL the time and like it if someone likes the things I do, make, say . I'm not immune to others opinion of me but if doesn't carry the weight of my own values about who I should be .


I think this is one of the most bothersome issues of my work life . I do not believe I have the right to hold others to my values or opinions and don't think they are bad people if they don't share them . That doesn't mean I want to hang-out with some of them, but I don't spend a lot of time and energy evaluating their life choices . The exception would be "mean people" , "greedy people and "people who have no interest in educating themselves but desire to control others based on their ignorant beliefs" .Yeah, those people do bother me and often make me wish to avoid people all together because they wear such clever camouflage that I often don't recognize them until it's to late to avoid them .

So my personal top value is to avoid doing things that are against my own ethics .
My ethics mostly consist of trying to avoid harming the living things more then necessary for my own survival . There were times when I wanted to die because I felt like just being alive contributed to much pain to the planet and others . I can not eat inert matter and survive . Something must die for me to feed this husk . It seemed to me to be a very bad way of setting up the universe but I will spare you the 10 pages of my thoughts on this topic . Just to say, I have decide that since this is the universe I currently find myself, I have tried to make the best of it .

Values/ethics in practical terms means this to me....

I can not work at a job where I must constantly lie to others
I can not work a job where I must trick, manipulate or mislead others for gain
I can not work at a job that contributes to the harm of animals, earth or humans
I can not work at a company that values cash flow over humans, animals or earth

Have I ever ? Yep, I have worked several jobs in social service that I believed went against my own ethics and I would often speak up....(yes, that may be why I as never advanced above entry level position .) I have justified staying in these jobs based on two factors . One is that I believed that my advocating for the clients had some value to them even if I couldn't get the changes I thought were more ethical . The other is that I believed that abandoning them, just to avoid my own discomfort with a breaking of my ethical values, would be selfish .

How does this all apply to ADD and Aspergers.....? More tomorrow, (unless actually decide to do some cleaning) .

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