Friday, 13 July 2018

Eye contact

When people are speaking to me I spend most of the time watching their mouth area.
I first began to learn this as a young child from about 4yo onwards from my moms friend who is deaf and lip reads, she would often turn or lift my face towards her, because I begin speaking with someone looking in their general direction, but soon look elsewhere.
My mom would sometimes call me over a few times during the day to stand in front of her for various reasons, I would look at her face I thought at the time, and for some years afterwards.

When at home or around people I am comfortable with I mostly look somewhere else, maybe like a 45-90 degree angle away from their face, eg; they can usually see my left cheek.

In shops I may look at the cashier on approaching, but once nearer, or if they are looking in my direction, I tend to look at the floor, at the items on the checkout, not the cashier, often in a world of my own thoughts wise.

How does it Feel

When I have practiced, built up major effort, and concentration, over a period of time, and made a plan for that attempt, I have had a bit of success.

I made my eyes look at my moms, it took a huge effort, it was very quickly, my mind sort of took a picture of them so I can see them as a memory image in my mind, she was not looking at me but slightly lowered eyes, she realized I looked at her and looked up, instantly I looked away, for me later when processing the thoughts, and still now, it is partly upsetting, but also partly I am happy for the bit of success.
 
The only way I can describe the physical sensation when trying to force myself to look at eyes is that it feels like there are strings attached to my eyes and they pull them to look away with an overwhelmingly strong pull of the string.
I have tried to resist that, it was not possible, and it felt painful, and also unsettled me a lot.

It was the most difficult thing I have tried, I know it made my mom really happy, she mentions it often.😊

More generally when I look in a persons face direction there is no urge to look at the face above the tip of their nose height, but I will look at the sides of face from the front view such as looking at their hair, or their ears.
The majority of time I will look at the persons mouth, except sometimes not males, some family or friends have told me they notice that.
Facial hair on men can make things easier or worse, it seems more to vary by person themselves rather than them having facial hair.

Women are easier to look at if they have their hair tied up, or showing their ears, especially if they have interesting earrings, or ones that suit their ears well.😊
I think maybe it distracts me a little so I become more relaxed and the interaction becomes a bit easier.

Practice

Practical training for eye and facial expressions, plus also some other communication skills, I visited a Consultant Clinical Psychologist for 2 years, 1 session per week, this completed about 3 years ago.
She was not a specialist for AS, and admitted not knowing much at all about AS or how to go about helping but she was the only person available to me.
It consisted of some exercises of initially line drawings of faces which she said had exaggerated expressions to help learn this, for homework I would write down below each image what I thought it meant.
I would then be given the correct meaning printed below the images, to compare, this would also be talked about and try to explain how to recognise why an expression meant something, this didn't improve knowing facial expression, although I was able to memorize the line drawings and correct answers of course.  At first I would ask a lot of questions as to why they meant that, as it seemed very odd to me.
Later it involved some actual faces, and some software games of cartoon faces basically egg shaped, it involves noticing faces amongst other items, slowly the faces are revealed as the timer counts down, there can be 10-20 faces on the screen at one time, you have to click on each face as soon as you notice it is there, it feels like running 10 miles whilst breathing badly/tense.
It compares the times by gender, age, eye colour, facial hair, face shapes, mouth size, mouth shape, lip shape, teeth size, skin tones, how the tones vary near the mouth, and then determines the weakest ones and adapts to use more of those, it also uses things like hats, scarves, different types and colour backgrounds, walls, flowers, trees, shapes, and different types of patterns.
For example it will say click on the faces of girls, boys, women, or men only, other times it will say click on the women wearing lipstick, or the men with beards, the boys with hats, and so on to determine which parts of the face you look at in the fastest reaction times v/s most accuracy.
It also includes men in balaclava, and people with hoods up and scarves over their faces so only the eyes are visible, this makes you end up not looking at the screen, so it is a pretty useless exercise.
Ultimately at the end of the 2 years, as this is the maximum time the NHS will fund for this, the consultant said she had learned more from working with me than every class and book she had read on Aspergers Syndrome, and felt it may help her in future with the next person with AS.
That's wonderful for her, and hopefully the next person.

Self Practice

A while after this I began to try out some of my own experiments in more realistic scenarios.

One I have been practicing at times over the past 2 years now, is I notice sometimes I can look at the eye socket area, such as eyelids, and below eyes, but not at the eyes themselves, when people are wearing specific styles of makeup.

Another I have also been practicing is, looking at peoples eyes from the side of their face. That is they are watching tv, or reading, and I look at their eye on the side nearest to me, for maybe 1 seconds, it feels like a really long time to me though.
Sometimes it makes me feel dreamy, sort of like lots of daydreams, maybe it overwhelms me.

In the last few years I have thought an awful lot about this.
I really had the wish to look at a persons eyes, like my mom, and I also worry that maybe in the future I also won't be able to do that at critical times.

Experiment

I hope some of the experiments above are interesting for you to try, or encourage you to think up and make your own experiments with those you can trust around you.
I would like to read about your self practice and experiments.

Cheats

There is a cheat I was told about, this is to look at the bridge of a persons nose quickly, this makes them believe you have made eye contact with them, and it is meant to satisfy their desire for eye contact.
Personally I think this is a cheat used by NT people, as I am not able to look at the bridge of a persons nose only the tip of their nose rarely in some people, and with major effort needed.
Additionally I do not have the desire to try cheats to deceive people, I also don't think I or anyone should have to go to such an extreme, to satisfy someone else's demands of them.
Trying to genuinely improve in however small a way, and cheating are two very different and distinct things.
This cheat was told to me by a very dodgy support worker who was not trained to work with people with AS, so I am unsure of the origin for this either.
It is maybe how he managed to get the job.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Stimming

Stimming is a repetitive movement or activity that is not a habit or tic.
It can, and can not, be related to going to that Other Place, which some do call Zoning Out. I'll be writing a post about this at some stage.
Both are really very difficult to explain, I will start with this post on Stimming and try my best.

For me an example is -
If I put my elbows on the desk whilst sitting, and position my front teeth upper on the left thumb tip and slowly very gently rub the lower teeth towards the stationary upper teeth, literally in about 2-3 rubs with my eyes closed my eyes roll, I then open my eyes I am really giddy for about 1 second or less.
I know I am doing this, I don't decide, now I am going to do this, it is sort of my mind or body knows when I need to do that similar to blinking or an itch.
The movement is less than 2mm.
When I do it is a sort of way of distracting my thoughts as the sensation is extremely intense in my mind. I rarely do it this way. I only ever do this at home, and alone.

If I do the same thing with my eyes open, I focus mentally quite strongly, I may be thinking on an idea and running its route from start to end and all the different branches I come across during that, to see if it seems interesting or not as an idea, and may do this on and off, my eyes don't roll, I never feel giddy.
I mostly only do this at home alone, but where I have been in my own project space in secure & safe environment to me, I may also do this whilst doing a project.
Some days I may do this on and off quite a lot.

If I listen to music with headphones and do this, with my eyes closed, I feel my eyes roll, I don't feel giddy. Backed up thoughts or distractions, worries or anxieties, literally flood through my mind very quickly in a few seconds, until I am no longer thinking of these. After which I continue to listen to the music in a regular way.
I only ever do this at home alone.

These 3 ways leave no mark on my thumb, cause no pain, or damage, it has zero negative effects. All 3 are the same in that my heart beat slows down (I have measured this), I am at a low stress level, and calm. In some smaller different way it is like after completing Mindfulness Buddhist Meditation but in much shorter time eg; seconds.
Unlike with meditation, the relaxed effect is not long lived, but fairly short.
Where I want to more generally relax mind, and body, and lose anxiety tensions  I would/do meditate, I am at the early stages and still learning this.

Stimming is not like a light switch, I cannot choose to do this to produce a more intense focus on something when I want to.
I know as I've tried 😊
Stimming can either totally empty the mind of thoughts, empty the mind and then allow extreme focus running several months of thoughts in a few minutes or hours, or be used to switch off from stress of external causes/others.
This is how stimming differs from an action NT people may choose to do, to aid their concentration, or when working on something where they choose to do this by will and it eventually becomes a habit or tic, that they can utilize for their needs when they wish to, like a light switch.

Not stimming but a strong effect -
when others such as mom, or sister in law (mom role currently and for the last few years), rub my left ear, they sort of place their thumb on the top back of my ear then rub the front .
I don't know how they know when to do that, I tried to pin Rie (sister in law) down about it, she said ask mom as she showed her how to do that, she said she can just tell when to.
I asked mom how she knew this if it was some special mom skills or an ancient thing she learned, she was very not willing to give much detailed info, she said she noticed when I was little I would sometimes wriggle to that or try and move her hand there, and she learned then how to do that the best way.
If I lay on the couch or sometimes lay my head on Rie's lap then she may do that, I notice I do "the big exhale", it's where I had been very tense and not realizing this, and suddenly relax, it happens sometimes just as I am about to fall asleep but where I know am very tense, so it differs.
I guess the breathing moves to a more natural rhythm, where as a lot of the day I control my breathing into other patterns at short periods of time, as I need to.
When they do it I don't feel tired, it makes me relaxed but with alertness.
There is nothing else that can cause that to happen and in such a short time, (seconds) than this action. I cannot do that to cause that effect myself, it's strange to me, but I just accept it as it is because it works in an efficient way.
I have never asked either of them to do that, I don't think I would be able to choose the correct time for it, as when they do it I actually feel relaxed but am not at all so in reality.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Effect of Islam

Fairly often I do hear a variety of words and opinions spoken about Islam.
I know little at all about Islam, I want to share a story though.

About 3 years ago a neighbor lady of my moms was speaking about her nephew who had came to live with her over the summer.
Her nephew has Aspergers.

She told about how she was visiting as he was watching the Islam Channel, I am unsure if this is the actual TV channel name, or whether it was the name she gave to the channel.
She said he watches it 5 times a day and performs the actions, seeming somehow to understand it even though he didn't know the language.

The neighbour said she had phoned his mother about this as she wanted to know if this was his usual behaviour.
His mother knew nothing of it and said he didn't do this at home, she didn't like the idea of it, as her sister would not be able to monitor what exactly he was watching as she didn't understand the language either.
It was decided with his mother to allow him to watch it for now.

This year I asked the neighbor if he still watches the Islam channel ?
She said yes he does, and it had made a difference in him, it had given him a good structure to his day, and knowing he has times where he can be at peace and have quiet helped him a lot overall.

I don't know Islam's standpoint, or views, on people with Asperger's.
I do know it is always good to see another person with AS find their way in life that works for them.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Fakes, Trolls, Shine

What is not a Fake

Any AS or NT person.
A person in the middle who is awaiting clinical assessment.
A parent, sibling, partner, or friend of someone diagnosed or awaiting assessment.

What is a Fake

A troll online, or manipulative person in life, who may pretend to have Aspergers, pretend to be awaiting a diagnosis, or pretend to have a family member or partner with Aspergers.

I noticed recently some such individuals on a Linux Community online, I had not noticed it anywhere else online, although it may occur elsewhere.
These individuals are so obviously NT people, they are almost instantly detectable as Fakes.
In all other respects it is extremely worrying that there are individuals so manipulative in their nature as to attempt that.
Please be aware these people exist and take care to avoid them. 

The attitudes of the supposed family members of people with Aspergers seriously worries me, but I do have some family who can be that way towards me, the ones I avoid mostly.

There are many other kinds of trolls/trolling behaviors, and attracting them is too easy for the online AS user. In addition to many other kinds of users being targeted by them.

Shine

There will always when you least expect that in life it seems be Fakes who would like to see you have problems, struggle, or suffer in some way.
That in itself, without any other thing will let you know they are fakes, if they or anyone around them lived with AS every day there is no way they would do that to someone in the same position.
Best way to deal with them is don't, at all.
Instead just do your own thing, unrelated to that, and eventually you will shine in all your usual ways in life and not realize it (as usual), other than you will feel happier and more settled for it.😊

Saturday, 30 June 2018

a few misconceptions - part 2

Following on from part 1

In part 1 I base paragraphs 1 thru 3 on my life experiences, not on ideas or opinions.
I have been in hubs and working groups specifically for only those with AS (Aspergers Syndrome).
I have also been to events for a range of reasons/purposes. As such I have seen the diversity amongst my peers with AS first hand, many times, and very often I was surprised too, at least in the early times of meeting others with AS.
I have also sat and discussed with my peers, and I have described something myself or heard others describe to me, I have heard them and myself say at times, no it's not like that for me.
I have seen people with AS that can do everything I cannot do, that do not struggle at all with things I do, and I've seen them struggle with things I do not struggle with.
Yet in many other ways we can be similar.
That is there are a few key areas people with AS will have difficulty with, these are used as diagnostic criteria, along with extensive discussions.
Other than these areas, there are many ways it can have an effect upon a person, and to varying degrees.
Adding to this there can fairly frequently be coexisting conditions, these can be caused by the symptoms of AS or a reaction to them.
Or they can be something totally unrelated in some people.
For these reasons a group of people with AS can be a neurologically diverse group.

In part 1 paragraph 4-5, where the AS brain does not have the heavy wiring to the emotive centre to process those automated reactions they are fed automatically through the more heavily wired logic centre, a logical decision is made rather than an automated one, we base it for example on the speed, distance and angles of the person to us, we calculate this very quickly, it is not automated but can feel that way as little effort needs to be used to calculate it as it is something we do many times a day in every scenario we are in, each room, zone, buildings shelf layouts, and with scents, sounds/noises too.
Myself I also do assign patterns to things, future images or scenes are also compared to known patterns in addition to adjustment of calculations.

When creating patterns it is never usually intentional, it is conscious thought, and it does use effort, some environments can therefore become very stress inducing and also make you feel drained or tired afterwards from overload of data/info input.
If I am in a good place (to me), or suitable environment the same does occur floorplan and patterns wise, but it doesn't overload me until later in the day or in the evening I may be then very tense, I use various ways to try and ease that, music not loud, with headphones being the main one.

Although I am very bad at reading eye expressions, I instead sometimes watch the mouth, (such as when watching TV). I read the mouth expressions, it is not anywhere near as accurate as the movements surrounding the eyes on the sides of face, above the eyes and below the eyes.
I notice tone, pitch in peoples voice without any conscious effort at all.

Friday, 29 June 2018

a few misconceptions

People with Aspergers are not all the same, we are as diverse as any other groups of people out there, we vary by age, gender, ethnicity, race, and orientation.

We are not all good at any given specific subject, task, or hobby, we vary in our choices and interests.

We do not all react the same way, or process things the same way. That is there are ways we may process information but the manner in which individuals use those varies quite widely.

The logic centre of the Aspergers brain is more heavily populated/wired than the emotive centre, this does not mean we do not have emotions, it is a common misconception.
Those parts of the emotive centre wired up in the Neuro-Typical person (a person not having Aspergers) are used for the processing of automated decisions for things like reading eye expressions, and reading and deciding threat assessment in their peripheral vision whilst walking along a high street.
The remaining parts of the NT brains wiring to the emotive centre is similar to the only part of the person with Aspergers wiring to the emotive centre, that is the actual "emotions" or feelings.
Here we have nothing lacking, it is one of the largest misconceptions about people with aspergers.
That said feelings and emotions are expressed very differently by people with aspergers when compared to NT's.
Also amongst a group of people with AS as with a group of NT people, each person will express themselves or their feelings differently.

People with Aspergers are one of the groups with the very lowest numbers of people likely to be a perpetrator of a crime.
Statistically there are disproportionate numbers who are victims of crime, per percentage committing crime when compared to other demographics in society.
This said there can be criminals amongst the Aspergers community as with any other group of people.

Girls with Aspergers can be very different to boys with Aspergers.
NT girls can be very different to NT boys.
No difference there then within each group 😉
To me this seems logical, it makes me wonder why some health professionals struggled in the past to notice this apparently.
It may be a good time to mention although I have more wiring to the logic centre than an NT person, their logic, true logic, and my version of logic are usually very different things altogether lol.
That is sometimes an NT person may really struggle to see any logic to the way an AS person thinks or solves something, if it is explained, if only the solution is given more often the NT person will be happier.
This often works the same in the other direction too, many "logical" things to me appear to be overly complex, inefficient and just totally lacking in any logic, it doesn't mean I am right, it's just how I may perceive it at some stage.